"Their misplaced passions have led these people to stray from the God-Emperor's guidance. They can have no place within the Imperium and must be eliminated."
- —Inquisitor Qi Walthon, Ordo Hereticus
Sovereign is a Dead World found within the Jericho Reach. Though currently under the control of Dark Mechanicum Hereteks, the planet is also a slowly-awakening Necron Tomb World of the Suhbekhar Dynasty.
During the height of the long-lost Jericho Sector, Sovereign was an Agri-world known best for the craftsmanship of its remembrancers. Because of its substantial agricultural assets, this distant world weathered the sector's political collapse in the Age of Shadow far better than most.
In fact, after its forced separation from the Imperium, its populace was able to maintain a comparable standard of living. The bountiful harvests kept its citizens well-fed and a conservative feudal government prevented revolution and heresy from fomenting.
Ironically, it was the return of Imperial power to the region that ultimately led to Sovereign's devastation. For, as the Achilus Crusade began to rage, Sovereign became a target of first the Stigmartus Chaos Cult and later the Inquisition.
Without a Human population to oppose them, other forces have seized control of this world -- powers that represent a significant threat to the Imperium.
Before the Jericho Reach's Age of Shadow, Sovereign represented a valuable resource for the entire region. It did so in two primary capacities; the first was that it was a hugely successful Agri-world.
The planet's food output was capable of adequately supplying two Hive Worlds in addition to supplying its own needs and that of several other Imperial colonies. The output was considered stunningly productive.
This was in part due to a year-round growing cycle, but was also aided by a dedicated workforce who believed that their magnificent farms were a sign of their devotion to the God-Emperor.
Sovereign was never densely populated. The vast majority of its bountiful land masses were devoted to the world's massive farms.
Agents of the Adeptus Mechanicus had deliberately engineered massive machines that were capable of harvesting acres of farmland in moments, so the world's bounty could be rapidly harvested and fresh seeds quickly planted. In this way, the land's efficiency exceeded all reasonable expectations.
Many of the world's citizens were capable of operating the machinery -- under the guidance of the Tech-priests -- but through their efficiency, much of the population was far idler than would be expected on a typical Imperial world.
To fill the idle time, many of Sovereign's citizens began to dabble in the ways of the remembrancer. Initially, these were largely amateur efforts. However, in time, some of the works became quite accomplished.
Even as the world continued to export agricultural goods throughout the region, many of the artistic works created by these remembrancers were also enjoyed.
Others spun dramatisations of the first Human colonists to the region. A few surviving examples of these works represent some of the best existing records of the region's early history.
When the region's Age of Shadow began, countless worlds within the Jericho Sector fell into chaos and anarchy. Sovereign, however, was unusual in that it managed to retain much of its identity.
Because of its agricultural footing, the planet was far less dependent upon interaction with other worlds for survival. Its capacity to manufacture food vastly exceeded its local needs.
The world's artistic cultural tendencies provided another substantial benefit. As other planets began to fall to the depravations of Chaos, Sovereign's population had constant reminders of the glory of the God-Emperor.
Public artwork, well known plays, and even locally crafted prayers had become a core portion of the world's identity. Countless recitations and performances reminded the citizenry of the power of their faith. Over the millennia, there were minor incidents, but ultimately the populace remained true to the Imperial Cult.
The largest change was in the world's oversight. Without any external influences, there was no one capable of appointing a planetary governor to oversee Sovereign in the Emperor's name. In the absence of such authority, the position became a hereditary one.
For thousands of Terran years, the governor's heirs oversaw the world's populace under the title of "Interim Governor." The "temporary appointees" also lacked the authority to make permanent assignments to many of the world's government positions.
These lesser titles also were filled by interim workers, who were most commonly descendants of the person that held the position dating back to the time of the Jericho Sector.
In this way, the Imperial government of Sovereign gradually transformed into a feudal society. Appointees became the effective nobles of the world. The agricultural workforce essentially became trapped in their jobs, as it became impossible to earn a promotion unless a dynasty died out.
The only paths to power outside of the planetary government's lines were as a minister among Sovereign's branch of the Ecclesiarchy or through the natural talent required to launch a career as a remembrancer.
The 41st Millennium
Sovereign was far from the front-lines of the Achilus Crusade. Because of this, it has not yet had any direct interaction with the forces of the Imperium aside from those based upon Watch Fortress Erioch.
Had the crusade not encountered significant difficulties near the Hadex Anomaly, Sovereign's population might have survived to reunite with the Imperium in a glorious celebration.
Magos Phayzarus, an avowed Heretek, deliberately introduced a dangerous contagion to the world's water supply. By design, the contagion was capable of laying dormant within the populace until the dark magos chose to trigger its activation.
In 193.809.M41, he activated it in response to the arrival of a Deathwatch Kill-team. The world's Human population were suddenly transformed from friendly farmers and artists into blood-crazed lunatics.
Deathwatch forces attempted to identify the cause of the sudden madness, fearing that xenos Enslavers might somehow be involved. Before a definitive solution could be reached, agents of the Ordo Hereticus became aware of the issue.
An Exterminatus action was carried out on Sovereign, completely eliminating the world's Human population and destroying the world's vast capacity for agriculture.
In the solar years since that destruction, Heretek forces have taken over much of Sovereign. Though the world remains incapable of agriculture, the Hereteks have been devoted to the study of signs of an ancient xenos presence. These Hereteks and their Stigmartus allies among that militaristic Chaos Cult have established a substantial and defensible foothold on the world.
Rumours, however, have begun to circulate that the ancient xenos artefacts could still be functional. A survivor of the Kill-team involved with the situation that led to the Exterminatus reportedly discovered complex geometric designs on the walls of an enormous cavern complex. This xenostech could be what drew the Hereteks to Sovereign.
Up until the last years of the 41st Millennium, Sovereign was a temperate, bountiful world. Her oceans teemed with life and her seemingly endless plains produced a vast bounty. The seasons were consistently mild and ideal for agriculture.
The water was pure and pollution had been kept to a manageable level in spite of thousands of standard years of Human habitation. If there was a major challenge for Humanity, it had not been discovered since the colony world had been established.
When the Exterminatus action was executed in 809.M41, all of the planet's native life was completely purged. Sovereign became a barren wasteland.
Though the planet's astronomical coordinates are unchanged, its atmosphere and environmental characteristics have been transformed. Massive planetary strikes from orbiting warships and the release of devastating virus bombs destroyed the world.
As firestorms swept across its surface, the explosions and toxins transformed every living thing into little more than ash. Huge quantities of carbon dioxide, along with many complex organic substances, were released into the atmosphere. Smoke filled the sky and the heat of the flames transformed Sovereign's weather patterns.
Over the intervening years, the planet's recovery has been negligible. Most of the changes induced by the Exterminatus have not yet abated. The atmosphere remains heavily clogged with ash and toxins. Little light can reach the world's surface through these dense clouds.
The world's weather patterns remain unstable and massive fronts of hot or cooler air still occasionally sweep across the planet. Where they clash, savage storms erupt, stirring more debris into the planet's upper atmosphere.
Without any life, there is little potential for the atmosphere to quickly change. There is currently too little remaining free oxygen in the atmosphere to safely support Human life -- though with the atmospheric pollutants, a rebreather would be necessary even if there were enough.
The concentrations of water vapour and carbon dioxide in the air leave it feeling sticky, as well. An increase in surface temperature, due to all of the atmospheric changes and the massive release of heat during the global conflagration, has only intensified this unpleasantness. Most of Sovereign's temperate regions were once a comfortable twenty-four degrees during the day throughout most of the year.
Now, those same locales average a daily temperature of more than thirty-three degrees centigrade. There are no known surviving native species of plant or animal upon Sovereign's surface, in its skies, or under its seas.
While it is possible that some might yet dwell deep beneath the planet's surface or at the very bottom of its oceans, any such creatures have not yet made an impact on the world's environs. Without some sort of biological processes involved, cleansing the world's atmosphere and restoring its soils to a useful status could take millions of Terran years.
Alternatively, some group might attempt to accelerate this process through a combination of technological and biological means. At this time, there are no Imperial forces within the Jericho Reach that have access to the necessary resources to restore the world to a habitable status.
In order for the world to become fit for resettlement, substantial resources would have to be spent to seed the world with organisms that could be used to first restore the atmosphere to a sustainable level. Then, organisms more suited for long-term settlement could be introduced.
Such a process would require at least a few thousand standard years if it were monitored closely, though Human settlers could be reintroduced much sooner if they were provided ample supplies and survival gear.
The conundrum, of course, is that Sovereign is far from the front of the Achilus Crusade, and it is no longer a desirable habitat for colonisation.
Unless other valuable resources were discovered, there is little motivation for Human forces to restore the world to habitability -- as numerous other, more suitable worlds could be claimed and exploited during the thousands of years it would take to complete the restoration.
As things stand, it is much more likely that a group opposed to the Imperium would begin such a restoration long before Imperial forces decided to devote the necessary assets to such a project.
Since the completion of the Exterminatus, there are no Loyalist Humans surviving upon Sovereign. The entire Human population was completely exterminated. None were capable of surviving the devastation. The world is effectively abandoned, save for irregular patrols by Deathwatch assets.
Not even a garrison is maintained upon Sovereign. In the Imperium's absence, others have begun to encroach upon the abandoned world. While its atmosphere is toxic and its soil is inhospitable, Sovereign does offer one thing of value to its visitors -- privacy.
Few have visited the world, for any reason, since its devastation. The pollution-choked atmosphere is impenetrable to visual sensors and can even block more complex active and passive sensor systems outside of the visual spectrum.
A group that seeks complete isolation could scarcely find a world better-suited to their shadowy purposes. Key among these visitors is a substantial group of Dark Mechanicum Hereteks and their followers. Taking advantage of the world's isolation, these Chaos-corrupted technologists initially came to Sovereign in search of resources.
The absence of any Imperial influence and its effective isolation made it an ideal place to create a Hell-Forge devoted to the Stigmartus cause -- if they could find the necessary minerals. In the course of their first visit, they discovered a complex series of caverns beneath the planet's surface.
These were exposed for the first time in millions of standard years after the Inquisition's bombs cratered the surface. As they investigated these tunnels, the Hereteks were surprised to discover evidence of an ancient xenos culture. The first caverns they explored, nearest the planet's surface, showed ancient inscriptions and artistry.
As they descended ever deeper beneath the planet's crust, the Hereteks first discovered complex security systems, which utilised technology that pushed the boundaries of their understanding. Taking great care to avoid tripping these systems, over the course of several years the Traitors discovered how to disarm these traps.
Eventually, they discovered a vast complex storing thousands of inanimate mechanical humanoids -- Necron Warriors. Clearly of xenos origin, the Hereteks soon began the process of investigating this ancient xenotech in the hopes of seizing control of it to exploit its power. The research was conducted under the strictest of conditions.
With the utmost care, they began by attempting to master the inscriptions and language used throughout the complex, even before they tampered with any devices.
This was in part so that they could avoid inadvertently activating anything. This study lasted several years, during which time an extensive base camp was established within the caves, near the world's surface.
Before the Hereteks could complete their analysis, they were shocked when many of the ancient devices suddenly activated. Confident that they had done nothing to trigger the activation, they initially attempted to continue their survey.
Elsewhere within the vast tomb complex, thousands of Canoptek Scarabs also returned to awareness. Their first command was to identify the intruders who had taken up residence within another of the stasis crypts.
In short order, a small swarm of robotic scarabs descended upon the Hereteks and their servants. The ensuing conflict was brief, but definitive. The Hereteks were able to maintain a foothold within the xenos crypt, but they sustained substantial losses in the process.
A vessel was immediately dispatched to obtain reinforcements -- the potential knowledge was far too vast to so easily surrender. The Necrons of the Suhbekhar Dynasty, in contrast, had awakened in response to a signal received from their crownworld.
They knew that the time to awaken from their sleep of aeons had finally come. However, they were also aware that another intelligent species had intruded upon their sleeping chambers.
Fearing what might be lost, they began to activate additional defenders at the same time as they attempted to identify the severity of the intrusion.
As soon as additional forces can be prepared, the Necrons plan to extract the most severe payments from those who would dare to disturb their rest.
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 95-98