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"This is attempt 407 to pierce the Shadow in the Warp; 149 days have passed since the Shadow descended upon the Orpheus Salient. If this message is received, I urge you to respond as soon as possible. I will make another attempt during the next chronosegment."

—Loquator-Majore Emil Varras
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Icon of the Deathwatch.

Watch Station Arkhas is a Deathwatch watch station that takes the form of a circular void station that sits hidden within the gas clouds that wreathe Arkhas VII, the Arkhas System's outermost planet. There, it remains in constant vigil over the worlds now claimed by the Achilus Crusade's Orpheus Salient in the Jericho Reach.

The watch station is only crewed by a handful of Tech-priests, a pair of mortal Deathwatch serfs, and a single astropath.

The Arkhas System is located deep into the frontier territories claimed by the Orpheus Salient, within a region dubbed the "Tuam Transitional Nexus," a point where three distinct stable routes within the Warp intersect, named for the Navigator who discovered it.

The system itself contains many worlds, none of which are inhabited, though two -- Arkhas III and Arkhas IV -- both possess the capacity to support Human colonisation.

As a result, the Imperial Navy regards the Arkhas System as being a vital strategic location for the movement of troops, fleets and resources. However, unbeknownst to even the most senior officers within the Achilus Crusade, the Arkhas System was claimed long ago by the Deathwatch for exactly that reason.

Located upon several swift and stable routes through the Warp, Watch Station Arkhas has been a hub for Deathwatch movements along the rimward edge of the Jericho Reach for thousands of standard years, and even amidst the onslaught of the Tyranids and the Shadow in the Warp they bring, the Tuam Transitional Nexus provides comparatively swift and reliable travel. As a result, many missions within the Orpheus Salient begin at Watch Station Arkhas.

Arkhas' armoury is surprisingly large and well-stocked, considering the watch station's small size, and while a number of the rarest items are absent from its stores, everything else is in plentiful supply.

The powerful augur arrays allow a considerable amount of information to flow through and from the watch station, and the astropath Emil Varras' skill at prophecy can provide information leading to other worlds and other threats.

His continued efforts to pierce the Shadow in the Warp may prove invaluable to the operations of the Deathwatch, the Achilus Crusade and the Imperium as a whole, if they bear fruit.

History

Set in place thousands of Terran years before the Achilus Crusade began, tens of thousands of personnel have manned Watch Station Arkhas since its founding, each and every one adhering to the duty given them by their Adeptus Astartes masters -- be ever vigilant.

Appearing roughly like a pinwheel of black iron, Arkhas is concealed by cunning design and arcane technology, which has allowed it to remain unnoticed for its long watch over the rimward edge of the Jericho Reach.

The station is equipped with some of the most accurate and sensitive augur arrays the Adeptus Mechanicus can provide, under ancient compacts dating back to the Apocryphon Conclave, and is said to have been constructed above Mars itself.

Since its founding, Arkhas has been a rallying point for numerous Kill-teams, but few have stayed within the station for more than a few solar hours before departing, either headed towards a vital mission, or returning from one before heading back to Watch Fortress Erioch.

Each time, they have departed bearing a precious crystalline datacoil, containing the watch station's augury logs and transcripts of the astropath's auto-séances, to be analysed at length by the Lexmechanics and Librarians stationed at Erioch.

In recent years, Watch Station Arkhas has been overseen by Loquator-Majore Emil Varras, a skilled and experienced astropath, oath-bound to Deathwatch service for more than two solar decades.

Strong-willed enough to endure the burn-out that plagues many of his kind, Varras is nonetheless entirely blind and deaf and his flesh numb from the mind-searing effects of the Soul-Binding, his senses deteriorating over the years as his psychic powers have increased.

A quiet, proud man, Varras has a particular talent for prophecy, his psychic senses keen even if his mortal ones are almost entirely gone. He turned this talent to gaze upon the furthest edge of the Jericho Reach, unsettled by the portents and omens that dominated his visions.

Varras' visions were lamentably accurate, foretelling a great and hungry darkness beyond the rimward edge of the Reach, which descended to cloud his sight at the end of 812.M41.

Defiant of the Shadow in the Warp, Varras has persisted in attempting to cast his psychic gaze upon the void and attempts to send a new message out to any who can hear it.

What little can be discerned from his attempts, he records as he has done for many years, upon a crystalline data-coil to be passed into the care of any Kill-team that sets foot aboard Watch Station Arkhas.

Amidst this, however, has come a new complication. The last few solar months have brought increasing numbers of vessels to the Arkhas System, as Imperial Navy patrols have withdrawn from the ferocity of the Tyranid advance and regrouped in the otherwise lifeless system.

Composed primarily of elements from Battlefleet Daedalus under General Javier Casterlix and Commodore Ektor Cavanno, the forces gathered in the Arkhas System are oblivious to the Deathwatch, and muster for a renewed offensive against the Tyranids as soon as contact can be made with Hethgard to direct their assault.

Arkhas's Vaults

Watch Station Arkhas has served the Deathwatch within the Jericho Reach for a long time, and in that time, many heroes have passed within its doors, and more than a few have left some sign of their passage within the station's armoury.

A few of these items are described below, and are considered relics of the Adeptus Astartes in every way. Thus, they can only be requisitioned from within Watch Station Arkhas.

Forgeheart

Borne into battle by Re'kem of the Salamanders, a Deathwatch Battle-Brother who served his vigil within the Jericho Reach a Terran century ago, the master-crafted Meltagun known as Forgeheart was crafted by his own hands within Erioch's central armoury, and is renowned for the swiftness with which it sears through flesh, bone and steel.

Hallowed Razor

The master-crafted Power Axe Hallowed Razor was the personal weapon of Champion Heydrich, who served six vigils with the Deathwatch, two of them within the Jericho Reach.

When he fell in battle, his blade was borne to Arkhas' vaults by his Battle-Brothers, where it has lain ever since.

Omnissiah's Gaze

The work of Forgemaster Gharran, the famed Omnissiah's Gaze is an auspex of unmatched awareness, its Machine Spirit (artificial intelligence) able to perceive more clearly than any other device of its kind.

Indeed, it can detect objects and phenomena up to 100 metres away, instead of the usual 50 metres, and can penetrate walls up to a metre thick.

Sources

  • Deathwatch: The Jericho Reach (RPG), pp. 131-132
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