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"Operations that far out are fraught with peril. Physical peril most certainly, but we are Adeptus Astartes and pain means nothing to us. The real peril is to our souls. Therefore, we arm our spirits as we arm our bodies, and none may stand before us."

—Chaplain Xeres of the Minotaurs Chapter
Jericho Reach

Departmento Cartographicae map of the Jericho Reach.

The Outer Reach is the term for a vast crescent of largely unexplored space in the Jericho Reach lying beyond the borders of the old Jericho Sector.

The Outer Reach stretches from the worlds beyond the tip of the Achilus Crusade's Orpheus Salient all the way down to the Black Reef.

The Outer Reach is largely the territory of the Necron Suhbekhar Dynasty, whose Tomb Worlds in the region have just begun to awaken from the Great Sleep.

The Suhbekhar represent a potent new threat to the Imperial, T'au, Tyranid, Chaos and other forces already contesting control of the Jericho Reach.

History

Even during the long-forgotten heyday of the lost sector, the region's spinward wastes were shunned and the subject of numerous superstitious tales and legends. When the Age of Shadow fell and the sector was plunged into isolation and despair, the Outer Reach was largely forgotten, though the legends refused to die entirely.

Millennia later, the superstitions have grown and mutated out of all recognition. If they could ever have been said to bear any relation to the truth, they certainly do not now.

Long ago, void-farers warned that the lambent depths of the Slinnar Drift were haunted by the restless ghosts of long dead xenos species. Millennia later, the Drift is said to be the domain of aliens somehow brought back from their own extinction.

Once, it is rumoured, a species of inscrutable reptilians skulked amongst the outlying systems, yet Terran millennia later they are said to have suffered some hideous death at the hands of other, still more terrible xenos foes.

Some claim that entire empires have risen and fallen out beyond the borders of the old sector between the fall of the Age of Shadow and the coming of the Achilus Crusade.

There are tales of black-hulled and silent starships able to slip through the most violent of Warp Storms, yet not pausing to deliver the lost worlds of the Jericho Reach from the miseries of the Age of Shadow.

Numerous myths speak of long-dead kings waiting to return, of wizards older than time itself casting spells of cosmic horror across the vast gulfs of space.

They talk of the curse of aeons, of dreams that echo across vast gulfs of time and space, of mirthless laughter audible at the very edge of hearing in the instant just before a vessel plunges into the depths of the Warp.

Madmen rant of the stars expending an entire lifetime's energy in the blink of an eye, and in so doing, bringing cleansing oblivion to the Jericho Reach and all of its worlds. Starships lost in other regions of the galaxy have mysteriously appeared amidst the haunted stars of the Outer Reach, while at least one lost in its depths has reappeared on the other side of the galaxy.

Furthermore, history states that the Jericho Reach is the home of the famous Haarlock Dynasty of Rogue Traders, a line that earned its Warrant of Trade during the long distant Reign of Blood in the 36th Millennium and whose intrepid son Mordecai first opened up the Calyx Expanse.

For long millennia it was held that the Haarlocks voyaged across the length of the galaxy to reach the region that would one day be known as the Calixis Sector, but the discovery of the Jericho-Maw Warp Gate offers other, disturbing possibilities. These and countless other tales are told of the Outer Reach.

Quite apart from the rants of Warp-touched voidborn and the scratched writings of half-mad seers, the Outer Reach is host to numerous other mysteries. None can say, for example, why there is not a single life-sustaining world within the Slinnar Drift, or what bizarre process led to the creation of the gravity-twisting Black Reef.

Nor is it known what lies beyond the Outer Reach, for that region of unknowable emptiness is now the feeding ground of the all-consuming tendrils of the Tyranids' Hive Fleet Dagon.

If any worlds did exist beyond the Outer Reach, whether they harboured lost Human colonies or autochthonic xenos cultures, they have almost certainly been reduced to barren, lifeless rocks by the passing of the Great Devourer.

Nonetheless, such cosmic graves are ever an allurement to interstellar grave-robbers, and there are those who would seek them out and plunder their secrets no matter the danger.

Of those who travel into the Outer Reach, few do so with the blessings of the High Lords of Terra or their duly appointed officers. Most are outcasts or Heretics, those of the Jericho Reach who refuse to bow down to the returned Imperium yet who value their own hides too much to stand and fight.

The Outer Reach is the haunt of brutal slavers, whether Human, mutant, or xenos. Its depths are prowled by every manner of pirate and predator, ever ready to strike at those weaker than themselves. Its darkest corners are host to people and things that shun the light, for whom the Imperium is a distant irrelevance to whatever reality they occupy.

Some, however, ply the empty void with the Emperor's blessing, for when the Achilus Crusade was launched to reclaim the Jericho Reach a number of Rogue Trader dynasties threw in their lot with the crusaders in the hope of plundering its riches.

Most found only death or disappointment, for unlike regions such as the Koronus Expanse, the Jericho Reach is not some vast land of plenty waiting to be claimed by those with the courage to overcome its perils.

Rather, those systems that once formed the core of the old Jericho Sector are now seething cauldrons of war, while those of the Outer Reach are either empty, the abode of ghosts, or have been devoured by the ravenous Tyranids.

Compared to the Koronus Expanse and other such regions beyond the borders of the Imperium, the Outer Reach is a cold, lifeless place where most find nothing more than a lonely death.

Astropaths that accompany Rogue Traders and other such explorers in their voyages into the outer darkness commonly describe regions like the Koronus Expanse as echoing with the thoughts and emotions of long-dead, unknowable xenos minds.

The Outer Reach, so they claim, is empty, silent, and devoid of even a trace of such things. They describe travelling there as akin to intruding in a vast mausoleum, yet one where the silent dead are not dead at all, but suspended in an unnatural state between life and death.

Because of this and the proximity of the wars raging on all three salients of the Achilus Crusade, few explorers dare enter the Outer Reach, and most who do so vanish into the whispers of legend without a trace.

Sources

  • Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 48-50
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