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"We failed in our attempt to create an icon. Instead, we created a hero, and must now deal with the consequences."

—Prefectus Nyl Riefenstadt of the Administratum Historical Revision Unit, Jericho Reach Division
Magratha Orvel von Karlack

Lord Commander Magratha Orphel von Karlack of the Achilus Crusade's Acheros Salient.

Magratha Orphel von Karlack is both a duchess of Karlack and a prominent Lord General of the Astra Militarum.

A scion of House Orphel, she is a native of the Jericho Reach, and was groomed to become its future Imperial administrator, yet now claims the position of Lord Commander of the Achilus Crusade's Acheros Salient.

History

Duchess Magratha von Karlack was born into House Orphel, one of the few lines of Imperial hereditary nobility to survive the onset of the ancient Jericho Sector's Age of Shadow.

Little more than a child at the time of Lord Militant Tiber Achilus's death, Magratha was taken from her family and sent to the Calixis Sector by order of the Adeptus Administratum, there to be educated and indoctrinated into the ways of Imperial orthodoxy.

Under the supervision of Administratum-vetted tutors and advisors, Magratha was groomed for a position as a political figurehead, moulded into a leader capable of maintaining order in a tamed and re-founded Imperial Jericho Sector.

As a native of the Jericho Reach she would easily command the loyalty of the locals, but being raised within the confines of an established sector, she would hold loyalty to the Imperium itself. However, this was all under the assumption that the Achilus Crusade would proceed swiftly.

During Magratha's absence, the Administratum propaganda machine in the Jericho Reach prepared for her return. With a program of targeted propaganda beginning on Karlack and eventually spreading to worlds throughout the Iron Collar, broadsheets, pict-reels, and folk hymns began to circulate proselytising the virtues and natural leadership qualities of Magratha von Karlack.

In time Magratha became a symbol of everything the Astra Militarum's soldiery were fighting for. Most importantly, she became a unifying icon of hope for guardsmen tithed from the worlds of the Iron Collar. Portraits of Magratha adorned barracks halls, conscription posts, and shrines from Hethgard to the Greyhell Front.

When Magratha returned to the world of her birth in 813.M41, she was welcomed by an adoring, war-ravaged populace and an Imperial command structure with little use for an inexperienced noblewoman entitled to a leadership position that did not exist.

Her future in sector politics circumscribed, Magratha was forced into the highly visible token position of adjutant to Lord Admiral Gorvus Xant, then commander of the Acheros Salient. Magratha's rise to true power would not come until 815.M41, during a push beyond the Cellebos Warzone.

During the siege of Vespasia, Lord Admiral Gorvus Xant and most of his command staff perished when a chance strike from an orbital defence platform destroyed the bridge of the salient flagship Sword of Macharius.

The surviving crew and officers, influenced by over twenty year's crusade propaganda, instantly saw Magratha as the obvious successor to their commander. Magratha, viewing herself a natural leader by virtue of her noble blood and the promises made by her handlers in the Administratum, eagerly assumed command.

As the orbit of the Sword of Macharius decayed, Magratha fled from the crumbling battleship with a host of guardsmen aboard every drop pod, gun cutter, and freight lighter that could be salvaged.

Magratha and the warriors under her command touched down upon Vespasia's only functioning spaceport, claiming the installation, cutting off the main Stigmartus supply line to the world, and winning one of the salient's few victories.

Word of Magratha's victory spread quickly through the ranks of the salient, bringing the first hope of overall victory most guardsmen operating in the region had ever known.

When Magratha demanded Lord Militant Solomon Tetrarchus officially name her as Xant's successor, he agreed, much to the surprise of the Canis and Orpheus Salient commanders.

Despite many public objections, and her inexperience and cavalier leadership style, the newly ascended Lord General Magratha Orphel von Karlack tenaciously holds to her current position and has yet to fall prey to the tragic ends which claimed her predecessors.

Her short career has seen a handful of victories in the Cellebos Warzone and a handful of worlds beyond. While the tide has not turned in the Imperium's favour in the campaign for the core of the Jericho Reach, the eyes of countless soldiers now look to a brash young duchess for leadership, hope, and victory. However, not all eyes look upon the lord general with adoration.

The Von Karlack Conspiracies

There are many within the Achilus Crusade's command structure that question Lord General Magratha von Karlack's sudden rise to power. Many look upon Magratha and see a desperate gamble for victory in a war where loss is inevitable. Others see a commander long on luck but short on competence.

A quiet few observe Magratha's ascension and see the workings of a conspiracy. These few nurture and spread their theories among those of like mind, and work tirelessly to gather whatever scraps of data and speculation support their claims.

Of the many rumours haunting Lord General von Karlack's career, three continue to surface despite repeated attempts at suppression by the lord general's own agents.

Treason by Blood

It is claimed that the Orphel bloodline shares ancestral ties to the exiled overlords of Khazant. Those who advocate this connection believe Magratha is also aware of these ties and has forged an alliance of sorts with the surviving overlords.

In exchange for the impressive but strategically insignificant victories on which Magratha has built her career -- the lord general's detractors say -- the overlords reap a harvest of munitions and intelligence from the supply convoys supposedly lost to Kokabiel's Drop.

The Ignorant Martyr

Few can fathom the notion of Lord Militant Tetrarchus trusting the future of an entire salient to a commander with anything less than solar decades of experience.

However, some take solace in the notion that Magratha's promotion to salient commander is merely a prelude to her ultimate purpose as a tool of propaganda.

Lord General von Karlack is meant to fail gloriously. As a martyr, her value as a symbol of the Achilus Crusade is incalculable. Like Saint Drusus, Magratha will become a being of legend, fuelling the conquest of worlds with her memory alone.

Assassin and Mutineer

The sheer improbability of the strike that destroyed the heavily shielded, armoured, and reinforced bridge of the Sword of Macharius is seen as proof of sabotage by many.

They claim Magratha orchestrated the hull breach which killed Xant and his command staff, taking advantage of the resulting chaos to assume leadership of the siege.

As the remains of the salient's former flagship plummeted into the depths of Vespasia's northern sea shortly thereafter, the firsthand accounts of Magratha and her loyal guardsmen stand as the only records of what transpired.

Sources

  • Deathwatch: The Achilus Assault (RPG), pp. 135-136
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