"In blood consecrated, in grief blessed, in iron bound, in tears bathed and with souls fed! Bless’d engine of woe, I abjure thee: Awake!"
- — The Incantation of Anima Malifica
A Phaenonite is a member of a malevolent Xanthite splinter faction of the Inquisition, reviled even by their fellow Radicals, that has long been declared Excommunicate Traitoris by the Ordo Malleus. They are dedicated to the overthrow of the God-Emperor and the Ruinous Powers alike, seeking a new future for humanity through the blasphemous fusing of flesh, machine and the powers of the Warp into a new mode of existence for Mankind. Once thought utterly destroyed in more recent years, the heretical Phaenonite philosophy has reared its head again and taken dangerous new shape in the Calixis Sector.
Unlike some Radical factions whose existence is at least tacitly tolerated within bounds by their peers in the Holy Ordos, the Phaenonites stand as a declared enemy of Mankind. To harbour one of their number, even for an Inquisitor, is an inviolable death sentence. Cast out and persecuted for their unthinkable blasphemies and their unprincipled callousness towards the Imperium of Man's citizenry, the Renegade sect has been charged with the breaking of commandments laid down in the Imperium's very early days and of turning their faces from the God-Emperor's divinity.
The fact of this faction's survival -- despite the might of both the Holy Ordos and the Adeptus Mechanicus being turned against them -- is a testament to their insidious nature and the crucible of dark power at their core. Just what governing force or intelligence first founded and perhaps is still guiding the Phaenonites' actions remains unknown even to the high councils of the Inquisition.
The faction's first power base at the very edge of what would later become the Calixis Sector was brutally smashed and their ranks purged from the Inquisition and the Adeptus Terra with a great effusion of blood. However, their cancerous creed did not die. The Phaenonites' long-slumbering evils have come again, drawn to a sector already beset by troubles and conspiracies, ill-prepared to confront their subtle and dark powers.
Since rumours first began to be heard of their appearance, the Phaenonites have very slowly gained fresh converts to their dread cause both within the Inquisition and among other powerful Hereteks and Renegade groups within the Calixis Sector. In their current incarnation, the Phaenonites operate as pure conspirators, insidious whisperers, and murderous shadows.
Hiding their presence and actions behind shrouds of secrecy and deception, they are swift to conceal their true nature behind the persona of loyal members of the Inquisition, or by simply leaving no witnesses alive to tell of their passing. There are few Radical factions of the Inquisition more hunted, more loathed, or more deadly.
Since their excommunication and purging more than two Terran millennia ago in the 39th Millennium, Phaenonism is thought to have become a growing influence in the Calixis and Ixaniad Sectors, where their operatives have been engaged slowly spreading their corrupt influence and questing after dark lore and forbidden artefacts to further their power. One thing is certain; if the Phaenonites are slowly being reborn, it is a matter of dire import for a Calixian Conclave of Inquisitors already consumed with intrigues and threats aplenty of its own. Where the Phaenonites pass, history has shown that hell and death follows with them.
The Death of Phaenon Prime
The Phaenonite Schism can be traced to a recent and specific point in space and time; the rebellion of the Vanderveken Trinity in 367.M39 during the bleakest periods of the Angevin Crusade. The Cluster was situated in an otherwise desolate area of space at the edge of former domains of the perished Madragora Sector, along the Spinward edge of the Ixaniad Sector and what several bloody years later would be formally recognised as the Calixis Sector. A trio of star systems centred around the isolated Hive World of Phaenon Prime suffered from pirate activity, xenos slaver raids, and much worse -- the region was often cut off from aid by Warp squalls -- its situation only worsened during the Crusade years as what little Imperial protection it received was cut away to aid in Angevin's wars.
Increasingly embittered, Phaenon Prime's Imperial Commander declared the trinity's secession from the Imperium during the Crusade's weakest ebb. He bargained that the authorities' preoccupation with the bloody toll of the ongoing conquest of the Calyx Expanse would protect him from swift retribution. The Renegades soon crushed any resistance from their neighbors with the aid of voidships from their new pirate allies, and in an orgy of bloodletting, he threw down the blessed icons of the Adeptus Ministorum and raised the foul idols of Chaos in their place. However, the Traitor Governor of Phaenon Prime had badly miscalculated the Imperium's response.
Already on the way to reinforce the floundering Crusade effort was an Inquisitorial taskforce under the command of the notorious Xanthite and warlord Kobras Aquairre. Along with his own private warfleet and a Strike Cruiser of the Charnel Guard Astartes Chapter, Aquairre was quickly re-diverted to quell the rebellion with extreme prejudice. Smashing aside the raider ships and crippling the planetary defences, the Inquisitor Lord's judgment on Phaenon Prime was as harsh as it was merciless, and he deployed the Life-Eater virus without delay.
A Hive World of fourteen billion souls was slaughtered in punishment for their pride and blasphemy unto the last living thing. In the aftermath, Aquairre deployed a force of several Inquisitors from his personal staff and their retinues as well as an Adeptus Mechanicus detachment from his forces to the now dead planet in order to discern what could be found from the wreckage.
He was particularly interested in the daemon-tainted war machines deployed against the Crusaders during their assaults. Kobras Aquairre swiftly moved on to join the war for Calyx, restless as ever for new conquests and fresh horrors with which to do battle. By his order, Phaenon Prime was given over as a dominion of the Holy Ordos. After the Crusade once again gathered strength rimward and pushed into the terrors of its Hazeroth and Adrantis phases, the planet -- emptied of life and conveniently isolated -- quickly began to be used as a repository for captured weapons and prisoners to be studied by the cabal of Xanthites drawn to the distant Dead World.
The Phaenonite Schism
Within a space of only a few solar decades after Phaenon Prime's establishment as an Inquisitorial base, disquieting reports began to reach the senior Inquisitors both in the Crusade forces and the nearby Ixaniad Sector that darkness and heresy had taken hold on the Dead World. Troubling reports of the impiety and strange doctrines being espoused there were placed by Adepta and Inquisitors using the world as a way station, whilst covert investigation by agents of the then-newly founded Calixian Conclave reported that a number of self-professed "Phaenonite" Inquisitors based there had begun traveling through nearby sectors and slowly gaining converts to their cause.
With measured subtlety, the Calixian Conclave chose a known "Renegade" among its numbers -- Inquisitor Phibes (an ardent Xanthite whose actions had earned him official censure in the past) -- to infiltrate this growing faction and uncover the truth. Phibes and his Acolytes conducted their intrigues for more than three Terran years, traveling between Phaenon Prime and the still turbulent corners of the newly founded Calixis Sector where the Phaenonites' agents were at work.
For a long period of time, Phibes was considered missing and presumed dead. However, he returned unexpectedly to the newly constructed Tricorn Palace on Scintilla with the hounds of hell at his heels, his flesh burned down to the bone and kept alive only by the fruits of his own warped genius. His testimony to the Conclave revealed the awful extent and enormity of the Phaenonite's crimes and heresies; chief among which were the denial of the Emperor as divine, and the pursuit of Warp-tainted sciences and the horrors of the Dark Age of Technology.
Phibes also revealed that the Phaenonites had infiltrated and taken over several fledgling Chaos Cults, Heretek cabals, and Renegade warbands that had been thrown up on the edges of the new sector to further their dark aims. The Phaenonites had been the hidden forces behind numerous pirate attacks and raids on Adeptus Mechanicus facilities in order to feed their requirements for fuel, ammunition, and other such vital supplies. Phibes explained that Phaenonite agents had suborned several fledgling governments in the sector and used ongoing pacification conflicts at the edges of the Halo Stars in order to conduct their blasphemous experiments. There, they had secretly tested corrupt weapons directly against human Imperial colonists. Worse yet, they had armed the forces of the Archenemy from behind veiled intermediaries in order to test the efficacy of their designs.
In response, the Phaenonites and any who aided them, whatever their degree or station, were declared Excommunicate Traitoris by a specially convened Grand Council of the Calixian Conclave in 427.M39. This sparked an immediate schism and open warfare within its own ranks and that of the Conclave Ixaniad. A bloody and merciless purge within the local Inquisition soon followed along with a supporting Carta of Extermination ratified by the Chamber Inquisitorial of Terra whose writ still holds to this day.
As for Phaenon Prime, some within the Ordo Malleus judged that the corruption of so many hardened to the wiles of the Warp so quickly could be not be coincidence. Some dark force dwelled there, they believed, although whether it had always been so or something that had been brought there to fatally spread its influence like a virus remained unknown. In any case, the Priesthood of Mars were happy to grant the Calixian Conclave's request. By the dictate of the Fabricator-General himself, they marshalled the power of their city-sized voidships and tore a moon from its natural orbit to strike Phaenon Prime, smashing the planet to fragments.
The Shadow of the Dark Mechanicus
The Adeptus Mechanicus hold their darkest hatred for those Renegade forces of their own brethren that turned on them during the Horus Heresy, Traitors who live on to this day as the Dark Mechanicus. The forbidden histories of those terrible days show that the destruction wrought by the Traitors on Mars and in a dozen other spheres of war was unparalleled, and have left a stain of the soul of the Omnissiah's priesthood that has never been cleansed.
In the aftermath of the Warmaster's fall, many of the Dark Mechanicus who survived found sanctuary with the various Traitor Legions and in dark corners of the Imperium where their terrible arts have prospered and their undying hatred of the Imperium has festered down the millennium. The forbidden psycho-Sonic Weapons of the Emperor's Children, the gene-atrocities of the hated Fabius Bile, the malign perversion of the techno-viral technology used to create the terrible Obliterators -- all have been laid at the Dark Mechanicus' door. Hellish Forge Worlds bestrode by cyber-daemonic overlords deep within the Eye of Terror ceaselessly churn out the weapons and munitions that arm the Forces of Chaos and fuel the dreaded Black Crusades.
The Phaenonite faction looks on the Dark Mechanicus with jealous eyes and covets its ancient and twisted designs for their own use. They also see the Dark Magi themselves to be an object lesson in the inherent weakness of the Tech-priesthood, regardless of who or what its serves. The Phaenonites believe them to be no more than deluded and enslaved pawns of Chaos, no better than their parochial counterparts of the machine cult. To the Phaenonites, the Dark Mechanicus and the Traitor Legions both are small-minded fools who have squandered the power in their grasp and now dance to the sound of the laughter of the Chaos Gods, who gave them all they desired until it choked them.
The Art of Destruction
No mere group of shadowed conspirators and outlaws, Phaenonism is also an ideological doctrine, and its followers believe fanatically in the fundamental rightness of their cause. Inquisitors (Radical or otherwise) are by their very nature usually men and women of conviction, and the Phaenonite creed is centred on the mastery of the Warp via technology for a reason beyond the power it may grant -- for the future fate of all humanity. For those that come to it, the Phaenonite path offers the only viable way that Mankind can survive the horrors and growing threats that assail the Imperium on all sides. For them, the weapons and tools of the past and the prating ideologies that would offer no more than a retreat into superstition and fear are antiquated and useless. A truly visionary way is required to ensure the future dominion of existence rests in human hands.
At the core of the Phaenonite philosophy is the harnessing of the Warp and the enslavement of the daemon by use of arcane technological processes whose nature has been long forbidden to the Imperium. The doctrine -- which as an outgrowth of the Xanthite ethos focused on a technological method rather than an entirely occult one to achieve their goals (as the Xanthites are wont) -- rapidly and quickly mutated into something far worse, taking onboard the most extreme doctrines of Monodomination.
The Phaenonites quickly cast aside the creed both of the God-Emperor and the worship of Chaos, and instead came to the conviction that Mankind's destiny lay as a fusion of man and machine, united and made immortal by the limitless and protean energies of the Warp. If the Phaenonites can be said to have any god at all it is ambition, for they do not bend their knees to worship but crave instead to be worshipped, to crush the cosmos beneath their heel and become lords of all that is or will be.
The Phaenonites see the Imperium reborn under their leadership and see humanity shaped in their hands as clay on the potter's wheel to become the ultimate masters of machine, flesh, matter, and spirit. For this to come to pass, the Phaenonites know that the body politic of the Imperium must be decapitated and replaced, and the deluded slaves of the Ruinous Powers must be destroyed entirely to make way for their new order.
Recognising that their numbers are few and their enemies many, the outlawed faction's first goal has been to acquire and develop superior machineries of destruction in order to accomplish their ends. This quest has lead them to gather the darkest of Hereteks and Renegades to their hidden forces and pursue knowledge and malevolent invention unfettered by the dictates of the Imperium, the ancient traditions of the Adeptus Mechanicus, or the restraints of morality and sanity.
In doing so, they have fast forged for themselves tools and weapons of shocking power and also great risk even to themselves. These weapons are made all the more dangerous by the Phaenonites who use them with all the subtlety and guile that might be expected of members of the Inquisition.
Weapons of the Phaenonites
The Phaenonites' power is best manifested by their brutally efficient armaments and their skill in wielding them. To this end, their organised cells have a tendency to stockpile weapons and equipment, and the members boast a high degree of individual augmentation, both of a mundane and more esoteric quality. As a result, Phaenonite Inquisitors and their Acolytes rarely take to the field unprepared, often concealing their most fearsome wargear, daemonically-infused cybernetic systems, and Warp-augmented weapons until they are needed, giving them an unforeseen and terrifying advantage over their foes.
Although they have been known to make use of ancient Terran and xenos designs, the principal obsession of the Phaenonites is the fusion of technology with the occult lore they have acquired, thereby investing it with the power of the Warp -- a development they consider ultimately superior to all other systems. Though dangerously unpredictable, this often–nightmarish category of devices is referred to as "maltek" by the Adeptus Mechanicus and can prove extremely effective and difficult to counter.
Such technology can range from bolt ammunition that unleashes mutating Chaos energies to aetheric signal generators capable of disrupting psychic powers and decimating psykers over a wide area. One of their more recent developments is rapidly becoming a signature -- the Maltek Stalker. It is an assassination engine, a human killer or Death Cultist which has been augmented with proscribed bionic systems and graven with runes of occult power, combining a human's mastery of lethal skill with unyielding metal and a daemon's fury.
"If a man dedicates his life to good deeds and the welfare of others, he will die unthanked and unremembered. If he exercises his genius bringing misery and death to billions, his name will echo down through the millennia for a hundred lifetimes. Infamy is always preferable to ignominy."
- — Fabius Bile at the Desecration of Kanzuz IX
The current goals of the Phaenonite faction are threefold; infiltration, expansion, and acquisition, all geared towards the end of regaining their fallen might and ultimately to exceed it. From their small remaining seed, they have long planned to spread their Radicalism to the Calixian Inquisition and subvert it from within, until one day the shadow can consume the substance -- fitting vengeance against the force that once all but destroyed them.
Driven almost to extinction by Inquisitorial purge two Terran millennia ago, the few Phaenonites that remained were scattered and much reduced, but it was a fatal mistake for the Calixian Conclave to believe that they were powerless and effectively destroyed. Cast out of their stronghold, the survivors fled, bearing with them terrible weapons and forbidden lore from the shattered world of Phaenon Prime, some taking refuge deep within the anonymity of distant sectors whilst others took to the limitless voids beyond the edge of the Halo Stars, there to purse their nightmare sciences beyond the writ of the Imperium to interfere.
Nor were all their agents ever fully rooted out and purged. Instead, sinking into secret obscurity, they watched and waited. With spider-patience, these agents slowly spun their webs. So the cancer of the Phaenonite conspiracy slept deep in the marrow of the Calixis body politic, and as the sector grew and history took its course, the Phaenonites became lost almost to Inquisitorial myth. Their transgressions were deleted from the records, their enormities replaced in the minds of the Conclave by a succession of more immediate threats and conspiracies down the centuries. So matters remained, until events came into configuration to herald this monstrous faction's return.
Evil Calls out to Evil
Drawn back from the outer darkness, the agents of the ancient Phaenonites returned in subtle force to the Calixis Sector by the actions of one man; the Renegade Explorator Archmagos Umbra Malygris, whose recent rebellion had riven the Calixian Cult Mechanicus with civil war. An insane genius and master of arcane technology beyond all measure, the Phaenonites had hoped to make an alliance with Malygris and perhaps offer him safe haven elsewhere to carry out his work.
The Phaenonite cell quickly re-established contact with those who had kept their ancient faith. Identifying and making alliance by insidious corruption and malign force with Calixian Inquisitors who might be suborned to their cause, the Phaenonites mounted their own shadowy pursuit of the Renegade Tech-priest. Although the Phaenonites made contact with Malygris, he proved to be too dangerous and erratic for even the Phaenonites to manipulate or control, and crossing the dark Archmagos' path nearly resulted in the Phaenonite cells' complete destruction. In fact, the operation partly exposed the Phaenonites' returned presence to the Calixian Conclave for the first time.
The Spread of the Phaenonite Taint
Even though their primary mission had failed, the Phaenonites decided they had indeed made a wise choice in coming to the Calixis Sector. They found it rife with corruption, conspiracy, and dark lore, its Conclave turbulent and sown with factionalism and discord. This afforded the Phaenonites many opportunities to hide in the shadows, further their pursuit of power, and expand their influence. Soon, the surviving cell members and their agents were in pursuit of the plethora of ancient secrets that lay buried beneath the Calixis Sector's civilised façade on the damned worlds at its fringes that still echoed to the footsteps of older races than Man.
In the short span of Terran years since then, the Phaenonites have sunk their claws into both the Calixian Conclave and the Adepta, corrupting some, converting others and outright murdering and replacing a few. Few in actual number, there are perhaps no more than perhaps a dozen true Phaenonite Inquisitors in the Calixian Conclave and none openly known as such by their fellows, but these are the tip of the iceberg for the Phaenonites' organisation.
They have in a short span of years proved frighteningly adept in building up their powerbase, and possess resources extraordinarily extensive for a faction of their size, bankrolling several minor noble houses and free trade captains, and now have agents highly placed both in the sector's Commercia and the Cold Guild. They have also proved more than able to deal with opposition in the shape of local cults, and other more wisely spread conspiracies and rivals for the main part, able to call both on their own dark might, and the veneer of Inquisition authority when needed.
The Infiltration of Idumea
The greatest inroads the Phaenonites have made into the governance of a Calixian world have been into the Machine Cult on the minor Forge World of Idumea. Long disadvantaged by its location on the edge of the Hazeroth Abyss and lack of strategic importance, the Forge Masters of Idumea have for centuries considered themselves to be sidelined and undermined by the central Mechanicus authorities of the Lathe System, a disaffection the Phaenonites have been quick to exploit. Much of Idumea's upper echelons were hopelessly entrapped by the Phaenonite conspiracy, corrupted by the offer of forbidden technological lore and coerced through a concentrated program of targeted murders and sabotage. The Forge World itself now houses numerous secret facilities for the faction, as well as serving to provide a steady supply of manpower, experimental subjects, and a hidden port.
The Phaenonite infiltration of Idumea and its activities on nearby worlds have caused the Phaenonites an unforeseen problem -- the attentions of the Amaranthine Syndicate. The Syndicate is a mercenary alliance of far traders and smugglers operating within the deeps of the Hazeroth Abyss. At first, it seemed a perfect target for the Phaenonites' attention. However, as they moved against the group, it quickly became apparent that they had made a grave error. The Syndicate proved already to be the cat's-paw of another, darker force more than able to take on and destroy the Phaenonite agents with almost contemptuous ease.
Rather than fight a war against a power whose nature and extent they did not fully understand the Phaenonites are now giving the Syndicate a wide berth where they can until they can find out more. This reversal has placed them in an invidious position, and so now they must thread a tightrope of bringing other, more legitimate Inquisitorial authorities to bear on what is a clear threat not only to them but to the sector itself, and do so without exposing their own true nature in the process. Regardless, the Phaenonite conspiracy's pride and power has been directly challenged, and it will see the Amaranthine Syndicate and its mysterious backers destroyed at any cost. The Syndicate is not the only group with unseen masters stalking the dark stars beyond the Imperium's borders that be called on if needed...
The Altar of Genocide
A fragment of dark lore that has obsessed several of the Calixian Phaenonites since the faction's arrival in the sector concerns what some sources name as the "Altar of Genocide." Referred to repeatedly but obliquely by the fragments of techno-arcane lore left behind in the wake of the insane Archmagos Umbra Malygris, the "altar" is reputed to be a hidden vault containing the master templates for all of Malygris' dark creations, as well as dread artefacts recovered or seized in his long career as an Explorator out beyond the Emperor's light.
The myth has brought the Phaenonites into conflict both open and covert with other seekers for its nightmarish treasures that have included rival Inquisitors, Explorators, and -- most bloodily -- the rival heretical tech-cult called the Logicians. A widespread and powerful conspiracy of uncertain origin, the agents of the Logicians have battled the Phaenonites elsewhere and quickly recognised their rivals for what they were. Since then, the Logician presence in the Calixis Sector has plotted to expose the Phaenonites' presence to the Holy Ordos, hoping that the Inquisition will do them the service of wiping out this hated rival, whilst the Phaenonites have likewise plotted to do the same in return from within the Conclave.
The Forgotten Apocalypse
There is an ancient myth attached to the cold and darkly fabled stars at the edge of the Segmentum Obscurus of an ancient war with no remembered name fought in the depths of the Imperium's history. This war was unequalled in ferocity, and so terrible that every mention of it has been purged from the Imperial records, save perhaps for a few fragmentary references in the most heavily restricted archives of the Holy Ordos, the cycles of certain Astartes battle sagas, and ancient Mechanicus data-canticles. This myth, discredited and dismissed by many pursuers of dark lore, has become an obsession of many among the Phaenonite faction. They seek both the possibility of supreme power and an apotheosis of their own desires in the ancient secrets left over from that war.
Scattered fragments of stories hoarded by Heretics and other apocryphal sources tell of a great and terrible conflict, erupting by some accounts in the middle of the 32nd Millennium, a legendary time of anarchy for the post-Heresy Imperium. According to the legend, a strange artefact -- a vast labyrinthine contrivance seemingly spun of dust and magnetism -- was encountered by Explorators somewhere deep in the Halo Stars beyond what was then known as the Calyx Expanse (though other sources place it in the dread Mandragora region or even as far afield as the Unbeholden Reaches). This great and mysterious artefact they designated the "Echoing Vault."
This vast artefact -- perhaps an embassy from an unknown realm of existence -- unleashed a wave of horror never before seen on an unsuspecting and unprepared Mankind. The xenoforms which mercilessly ravaged forth, if in truth they could be called such, were creatures of such abhorrent terror they are referred only obliquely in the records as "The Harrowing." These entities disobeyed known physical laws, and close proximity to them alone was enough to kill or drive the unprotected mind insane.
The Harrowing mercilessly ravaged all in their path, and no force could stand against them. In a few short years, the deaths of a thousand inhabited spheres -- both human and xenos -- were laid at their feet, along with unprecedented losses for the Adeptus Astartes and the Inquisition-led forces trying fruitlessly to check them. According to a version of the legend favoured by dark Hereteks, ultimately the Holy Ordos found only a fusion of archeotech and sorcerous lore could hold the Harrowing so that the Imperium could strike; although at supreme risk to the Inquisitors that employed them.
Suffering defeat, the Harrowing fled back across the carcasses of Dead Worlds to the Echoing Vault, where it is said the Mechanicus employed a forbidden weapon of the Dark Age of Technology to destroy their foothold and seal the breach between dimensions through which they had passed.
So terrible was the conflict and its implications that afterward, all records of it were purged from Imperial histories, and its remaining traces all but lost in the turbulent years that followed. Some Heretic Adepts point to the sudden weakening of Imperial power in those long forgotten days and the vast deserts of lifeless worlds on the Eastern Fringe as proof of the Echoing Vault's existence. Most (including many in the Holy Ordos) scorn this legend as either outright fabrication, misinterpretation, or a lie designed to cover some other, darker truth.
However, in more recent years, some within the Calixian Tyrantine Cabal have drawn parallels with this long discredited legend and the phenomena known as Komus, the Tyrant Star, whilst others instead favour different explanations of the myth -- a mangled misinterpretation of a Chaos incursion, a short-lived Warp rift or even some long forgotten Tyranid precursor hive. Some few who know of the story wonder if somewhere in the vastness of their silent other realm, removed from both euclidean realspace and the Empyrean seas of the Warp, the Harrowing yet wait patiently for their hour to return.
The Phaenonites and other Inquisitorial Factions
The Phaenonite faction holds the rest of the Inquisition in murderous contempt, as only those that have been persecuted and hunted beyond reason can. Of the other factions, Radical or otherwise, they reserve a particular hatred for the Xanthites. This group both gave birth to the Phaenonite splinter doctrine and were at the forefront of their past denunciation and destruction.
Phaenonites also loathe the Thorians, who for them, personify the Imperium's greatest failings. Phaenonites are also singularly dismissive of the Recongregators, who they see as holding a naive and weakling dilution of their own position. If the Phaenonites were to find a common cause with any of the other Radical fractions of the Holy Ordos, it would be perhaps the Istvaanians, as their goal of strengthening the Imperium through conflict and the use of any means necessary to do so resonates with the Phaenonites own practices.
Recently, the Phaenonites have come into intelligence regarding the "cult" known of the Sleepers of Solomon and its possible links to a hyperextremist Istvaanian faction. Although they have yet to make any concrete contact, the Phaenonites are highly interested in the cult's motives and methodology if their intelligence proves to be true.
For the other factions of the Calixian Conclave and its high authorities, the Phaenonites presence is more rumour than fact. Save for their exposure when battling Malygris' followers, they have done all they can to preserve their secrecy and security. Several Inquisitors have, in fact, encountered them in the past, but have been unable to firmly ascertain their nature. More than one such Inquisitor holds definite suspicions as to the Phaenonites' true identity.
As the Phaenonites grow in power and numbers, however, so does their chance of discovery. If their presence were to be evidenced in the sector, they can expect opposition and inquest from the whole Conclave thanks to their excommunicate status and legendary horrors, and above all, the Oblationists who would stop at nothing to see them destroyed if they knew of their existence.
Beyond the Emperor’s Grace
Unlike many of the other Radical factions, the Phaenonites have been rendered Excommunicate Tratoris by the High Lords of the Inquisition itself. This fact makes the Phaenonites far more than suspect Radicals whose individual actions might lead to their destruction by the Holy Ordos; it casts them squarely among the foremost of the Imperium's enemies, unprotected in any way by the rights and authority that an Inquisitor or their servants would usually possess.
In short, for the Phaenonites, there is no "benefit of the doubt," no right to dabble with what for others is forbidden, and no right of trial before the Conclave. If any member of the Holy Ordos, from Inquisitor Lord to the lowliest Acolyte, falls under the accusation of being a Phaenonite or of harbouring or aiding them -- however unwillingly -- they can expect only death at the hands of their fellow Inquisitors. In becoming a Phaenonite, or even in serving one, an individual (no matter what their rank or connections) has essentially embraced a sentence of death. They must be prepared to stop at nothing and balk at no act of violence or betrayal in order to maintain their secret and in doing so survive.
Likewise, if others confront a Phaenonite or uncover their intrigues during the course of a wider investigation, they must be prepared to face an enemy of great subtlety and power who will stop at nothing in order to defend themselves and will never submit to the Holy Ordos for judgement. With nothing to lose, Phaenonites are more than willing to unleash their darkest arts in order to make good their escape or to carry out their mission, regardless of who or how many die in the process.
Acolytes of the Phaenonites
"...As you can see, the Warp-mutant's regenerative powers allow us to conduct a live vivisection to explore the extent that we can successfully inculcate the biomechanical feeding tubes into the nervous tissue, where a normal human would quickly die of shock. Of course I have had to sever and completely cauterise the vocal cords, as I find the incessant screaming such a distraction..."
- — Phaenonite Magos Barabbas to his students
Most of those who serve a Phaenonite master have no idea that they are doing so. Most such Inquisitors hide under the guise of an independent operator or offer lip service to one of the major Ordos only to better conceal their true allegiance or spy on the wider Conclave. Some few claim to be operating under special secrecy and keep their entire operations hidden from the Calixian Conclave.
This last group are in fact true Renegades, Phaenonites either believed dead or on the run from Conclave authorities for their crimes. They rely upon distance and concealment for their safety. Life for Acolytes (ignorant of their leader's terrible secret), in service to such masters can be harsh indeed. They are considered to be entirely disposable tools to be used as the Inquisitor wills it.
As such, the Phaenonites have use for Acolytes of every background and persuasion to some extent, with the exception that they never bring the Sororitas into their service and only have interest in Ecclesiarchy Priests whose faith is less than sincere. Their favoured agents, however, are killers of one sort or another. Former Imperial Guardsmen and murderous scum are chosen for their brawn and moral adaptability respectively, while Tech-adepts who have strayed from the Cult Mechanicus' orthodox teachings are particularly valued as potential assets for the Phaenonite's "great work."
The most talented, promising, or simply the most callous Acolytes in a Phaenonite Inquisitor's service will find themselves singled out for special attention to bring them into the true fold, either by conviction, manipulation, or (if necessary) mental reconstruction. These chosen Acolytes are then branded with a Warp-infused electoo that marks them as belonging to their master, body and soul. It is likely that further darkly tainted augmetics and other "improvements" will follow.
- Suresya, the Forsaken - A veteran Daemon Hunter and long-serving member of the Scholariate at Arms, Inquisitor Suresya espouses the Xanthite philosophy, even going so far as to openly wield a known Daemon Weapon called Kherez'phyr. Suresya's methods have earned him the condemnation of dozens of fellow Inquisitors, especially Puritans, but so far he has avoided formal censure. This is largely because his methods have always proven highly successful, but also due to the governing principles of the Scholariate at Arms, which enforce an uneasy truce between peers with widely divergent beliefs. Suresya has been instrumental in purging many widespread conspiracies and cults, and has halted several potentially devastating daemonic incursions. He maintains a small, but highly competent, household that includes dozens of oathbound Banishers and Tech-priests, as well as a large cohort of warded Gun-Servitors. Suresya rarely undertakes missions alongside other Inquisitors, although he will cooperate in the early stages of an investigation if circumstances dictate. However, the final execution of any mission is always undertaken exclusively by Suresya and his followers. None outside of his household have ever witnessed the methods he uses to such great effect in the banishment of the enemies of Mankind. The true reason that Suresya refuses to work alongside other Inquisitors is that he is not a Xanthite at all. He is in fact a member of a Renegade splinter faction known as the Phaenonites. These individuals are rare indeed, for their philosophies have caused them to be outlawed the length and breadth of the Imperium. The faction was thought wiped out long ago, but has recently reappeared in the Calixis Sector. The faction takes the philosophy of the Xanthites -- that Chaos can be used against Chaos -- to such an extreme that even their fellow Radical Inquisitors often believe them to have crossed a line. The Phaenonites believe that the Warp and technology can be fused to create an ultimate weapon, which they are fated to wield. But what truly sets them apart from even the most Radical of Xanthites is that they believe that anyone who follows a god -- whether that god is a Ruinous Power or the Emperor Himself -- is nothing but a deluded fool. They denounce the worship of all gods and believe themselves the true ultimate power in the universe. It is through their mastery of Warp-based technology -- known to the Adeptus Mechanicus as "maletek" -- that the Phaenonites hope to become far greater than the gods themselves. Suresya follows this pariah creed and surrounds himself with servants useful to him in the pursuance of its ends. His daemon blade is in fact the least of his heresies, and he wields it to draw attention away from his true allegiance. In the field, Suresya uses the most wretched of technologies, including Warp-infused armour and infernal engines of destruction. His legion of Gun-Servitors are in fact heretical parodies of the constructs used by the Adeptus Mechanicus, created through a combination of Daemonhost-summoning rites and forbidden technologies. Very few of Suresya's servants are aware of his true loyalties, for his every word and deed is part of his web of falsehood and deceit. Even the closest of his allies believes that his Xanthite beliefs are his worst excess and are unaware that impossible depths of heresy lurk below that mask. The only Inquisitor in the Calixis Sector seemingly able to exercise any authority over Suresya is Inquisitor Lord Dhar, Proctor of the Scholariate at Arms. Whether or not Dhar is aware of Suresya's true loyalties remains to be seen, but so long as the false Xanthite maintains his record of success in the eternal battle against the Enemy Beyond, the question is likely to remain unanswered.
- Dark Heresy: Daemon Hunter (RPG), pg. 32
- Dark Heresy: The Radical's Handbook (RPG), pp. 117-123