"The cleanest kill is one that another performs in your stead, with no knowledge of your incitement."
- — Dictatus Vanus
The Vanus Temple is one of the temples of the Officio Assassinorum, acting as its intelligence-gathering arm. They primarily train their operatives, known as info-cytes, exclusively in the use of predictive engines and prognostic simulations, to determine the probability of success in completing missions. These operatives are also used to hack through secure networked communications and data management systems to obtain encrypted information through the means of signals and electronic intelligence.
"To think that we know everything is a condition of the human mind. The animal within us cannot tolerate the possibility that knowledge is a matter of selection, judgement a matter of focus, clarity a consequence of exclusion. There is not one truth. Reality does not break along clean lines."
- — Precepts of the Vanus Temple, Officio Assassinorum
Like the other temples of the Officio Assassinorum, the Vanus Temple was originally the Vanus Clade, created some time during the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium at the behest of Malcador the Sigillite, the Regent of Terra, who was secretly the Grand Master of Assassins, and the clade's first Director Primus, who was known only as Sire Vanus. The Vanus Clade was established in a secret location on Terra at the direction of the Grand Master of Assassins and was tasked, like all of the Assassin clades, with killing those who opposed the formation of the Imperium of Man and the will of the Emperor of Mankind. The Vanus Clade was known for being able to remove the enemies of the Imperium through the manipulation of data rather than outright termination through the use of lethal force. Unknown to anyone outside their Temple, the Vanus watched over all of the Imperium's components, even the other Assassin Temples. Their Cogitator-stacks were filled with terabytes of data on all of the Officio's Temples' operations and personnel. It was how they maintained their own position within the Officio when their operatives specialised in non-lethal operations -- through blackmail.
During the Horus Heresy, the Assassin clades were handed the monumental task of assassinating the Traitor Primarch Horus. Each clade threw their most gifted students into a proverbial meat-grinder, sending them in blind and half-prepared. Every strike against Horus was broken, and he shrugged off these attempted assassinations without notice. In all the history of the Council of Assassins, there had never been a target whose retirement required more than one mission to prosecute. The Horus problem eventually claimed 8 Officio Assassinorum operatives across all 6 of the primary clades. The Sigillite demanded a solution to rid the Imperium of the Emperor's turbulent and wayward son.
The veil of secrecy preserved all that the Officio Assassinorum were. Its operatives continued to work in the shadows of the Imperium, at the margins of the Emperor's knowledge, and for good reason. They served Him in deeds that he must never know of, in order to maintain His noble purity. The deployment of an Assassin was a delicate matter and never one taken lightly. In ths period, some clades had fielded two or three operatives in a single mission when the circumstances were most extreme, but then always from the same clade, and always after much deliberation.
With the approval of the Master of Assassins, the founders of each clade devised an audacious plan to provide members to the secret Imperial Execution Force, an elite unit hand-picked for the task, that contained Assassins from all 6 prime clades of the Officio Assassinorum to try and eliminate Horus upon the world of Dagonet. Deploying six Assassins at once, from every prime clade, was unheard of. The Emperor would never sanction such an action. But Malcador reasoned that the Arch-Traitor had displayed no such qualms about violating the so-called "rules" of war. He had bombed his sworn brethren during the Istvaan III Atrocity, his own men, into obliteration. No action was beyond the pale for him. Unfortunately, the mission to Dagonet ultimately failed, much to Mankind's ill fortune.
The Vanus Temple's stock-in-trade is employing operatives known as "info-cytes;" essentially human computing engines, but at the very far opposite of the spectrum from the mindless cybernetic automata known as Servitors. In matters of strategy and tactics, the insight of an info-cyte was unparalleled; their existence cemented the Vanus Temple as the intelligence-gathering faction of the Officio Assassinorum. It was said they had never been known to make an error of judgement. There were those that considered this as little more than disinformation, however; the creation and dissemination of propaganda was also a core strength of the Vanus Temple.
The Vanus also employ operatives known as "cryptocrats," whose primary role is to provide the means for securing communications between its own operatives. This is accomplished by encrypting data using cryptographic algorithms, transmitting it in an encrypted state, and later decrypting the received information. Cryptocrats are also adept at analyzing and breaking the encryption of protected data and detecting whether or not data has been modified by an outside force. Most operations carried out by info-cytes and cryptocrats are accomplished through telepresent means directly from a Vanus sanctum, or from aboard an Officio-sanctioned starship. The thought of actually physically deploying into the field is deeply disturbing for most Vanus operatives.
Assassins of the Vanus Temple usually operate remotely, manipulating events through altering data to bring about the termination of a target. The noble killed by a jealous lover, after the discovery of rather explicit pict images; the cartel bosses eliminated by their business partners, when they discovered evidence of theft; the city wiped out by a plague because the shipment of a vaccine, which would have saved it, never arrived -- all these were the murder trade of the Vanus Temple, and, for most, the executioner did not have to see their target, or set foot on the killing ground. In fact most of Vanus clade siblings did not take to the field. Direct methods were the preserve of the other Temples, but occasionally one of the Vanus Temple was designated as an Unbound Infocyte, and became an exception to the rule. It was not a condition set lightly. An Unbound Infocyte both designated and executed their targets. Once they had eliminated one target they selected another, and so on, extrapolating from termination to termination, until their Unbound Condition was withdrawn. Death at the hand of a Vanus was normally ordained and delivered with the remoteness of an angel enacting the will of a deity. To be Unbound is to be both the eyes that see and the hand that cut.
Vanus operatives often hide discreet bronze vents beneath their hair in the back of their skulls, where interface sockets gleam alongside memory implants and dataphilia. Unlike the cohorts of the Mechanicum, who willing give themselves fully to the marriage of flesh and machine, info-cytes' augmentations are often discreet and nuanced. Info-cytes are also adept in the acquisition of information through the penetration of local sensor webs, which only presents a minor impediment to one of these operatives. This is accomplished by sending a small swarm of organic-metal "netfly" automata out to chew into any opti-cables they find, and transmit any rich data flows they locate back to their handler. Each netfly by itself is a relatively unsophisticated device, but networked en masse, the information the swarm returns can be combined into a dense picture of what was happening in the surrounding area. An operative could assemble maps of the nearby structures, the flows of foot and vehicular traffic, and worm their way into the encoding of several hundred monitor beads scattered throughout a city zone. Info-cytes also carry an array of specialised equipment for a mission, such as electro-pulse projectors built into a Cogitator gauntlet that projects hololithic panes that floated in the air for means of accessing data as well as a menagerie of other exotic weapons; psyber eagles, eyerats and of course, their ubiquitous netfly swarms.
Notable Vanus Assassins
- Sire Vanus - The founder and first Director Primus of the Vanus Clade, Sire Vanus was the namesake of the Vanus Temple. He was the foremost info-cyte and cryptocrat of his age. He, along with the other founders of the various Assassin clades that would evolve into the modern Assassin Temples, was present on Mount Vengeance. They swore a pact in the shadow of the Great Crusade, an oath that breathed life into the creation of the Officio Assassinorum. The newly created clades hunted down the enemies of the Emperor through stealth and subterfuge, establishing the fact that there was no safe place in the galaxy to hide from the Emperor's justice.
- Fon Tariel - Fon Tariel was a Vanus Assassin during the Great Crusade and the opening days of the Horus Heresy. He was an info-cyte of the Clade Vanus ranked at Epsilon-dan, the senior-most rank of his order. He was dispatched with the first ever Imperial Execution Force that was composed of Imperial Assassins from every clade, who were tasked with assassinating the Traitor Primarch Horus upon the world of Dagonet. Ultimately, this assassination attempt failed and all the Assassins were slain by the Traitors.
- Iaeo - Iaeo was a Vanus Assassin operating during the Great Crusade-era and the dark years of the Horus Heresy. A former pupil of Master Senus, Iaeo had been selected to operate as an Unbound Infocyte, which meant that she was authorised to select and hunt down targets of her choosing on her own. Iaeo was operating on Tallarn at the time of the planet's invasion by the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion, which considerably complicated her chosen task -- the hunt of Alpha Legion infiltrators amongst the survivors of the virus-bombing. Of these infiltrators the main target had been identified as an entity named Jalen, a triplet of operatives suspected of having operated on Tallarn for months before the Iron Warriors’ invasion and who was responsible for the corruption of several civilian notables and military officers. Successfully infiltrating the Iron Warriors’ stronghold on Tallarn - the Sightless Warren - Iaeo had to escape several assassination attempts on herself to reach her designated objective. Realizing she was outmatched, Iaeo used the presence of the Warmaster’s emissary - Argonis "the Unscarred"- to seed distrust amongst the Traitors and enable her to close on her prey. In tradition of the Vanus-clade Iaeo did not have to kill her targets herself, as one of the triplets was killed by the escaping Argonis and another trapped in a stranded vehicle on the poisoned surface of Tallarn. However to fully eradicate the Alpha Legion-cell, Iaeo had to let herself become captured by the third Jalen-operative before revealing her own location and that of the Alpha Legion to the Iron Warriors. Through her sacrifice did Iaeo ensure that the artefact known as the "Cursus of Alganar" was kept hidden, and the Alpha Legion’s attempt of recovering it spoiled.
- Clementina Yendl - Clementina Yendl was an operative of the Vanus Temple during the mid-32nd Millennia during the War of the Beast against a massive Ork WAAAGH! that threatened the Throne World of Terra itself. During this conflict, she was despatched by the Grand Master of Assassins, Drakan Vangorich, to lead a force of Assassin to infiltrate the Adeptus Mechanicus home world of Mars, and to discover the secrets of the clandestine project the Tech-Priests of Mars were working on that involved the greenskins. Unfortunately for Yendl's team, their presence did not go undetected, as they were soon discovered by Fabricator-General Kubik, who despatched a force of fifty deadly Sicarian Ruststalkers who managed to kill one of her assassins. Their mission compromised, Yendl took refuge in an subterranean shelter in a Mechanicum facility where she revealed that she was working with Magos Eldon Urquidex in foiling the Fabricator-General's plans. Yendl eventually came across a facility housing tens of thousands of Ork corpses, and she became determined to discover what Kubik planned to do with these corpses. Unfortunately, Yendl and her assassin retinue would be discovered once again, and would be massacred by an elite force of Mars' finest Skitarii led by Argus Van Auken.
- Kurei Adamta - Kurei Adamta was a member of the Vanus Temple, who unusually, was covered in hardened muscle and adept at combat, though he typically avoided it at all costs. Kurei was a key member of Execution Force that was sent to the world of Achyllan Prime, located close to the Cadian Sector, during the 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41, in order the halt the invasion of a large Chaos force of the infamous Crimson Slaughter Chaos Warband led by the Sorcerer Severin Drask. The Sorcerer was intent on sacrificing its suns with the Temple of Shades in order to create a Warp Rift that would endanger Terra itself. During this mission, the assassins were successful in assassinating Drask, though when the Temple of Shades collapsed with the death of Drask, the planet was left devastated. Kurei would ultimately be the sole survivor of this mission, and most unusual for his Temple, believed that the death of his fellow assassins would haunt him for the rest of his days.
- Assassinorum: Execution Force (Rulebook), pg. 21
- Nemesis (Novel) by James Swallow, pp. 33-36, 40, 59-62, 71, 81-82, 93, 100-102, 112, 114-115, 124, 130, 151-152, 157, 171-172, 174-176, 203, 205, 267, 290, 305, 336-337, 339, 345, 347, 349, 364-365, 369-370, 393-395, 397-399, 401
- Tallarn: Ironclad (Novel) by John French
- Assassinorum: Execution Force (Novel) by Joe Parrino
- War of the Beast (Series):
- Predator, Prey - Book 2 (Novel) by Rob Sanders
- Throneworld - Book 5 (Novel) By Guy Haley
- Echoes of the Long War - Book 6 (Novel) by David Guymer
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