The Jericho Reach, Eastern Fringe of the Milky Way Galaxy
Year: 817.M41 (Current WH40K fluff is around 999.M41, so some events found in some of the novels or written into newer editions of the Core Table Top lore have not yet transpired for the purposes of our game).
How Marines View the Rest of Humanity: A Summary
A. Protective: Some chapters feel that humans are the source and future of the Empire. Humanity is the reason they are doing what they do. They [Marines] are "created" by the Emperor from humans, to "protect" humanity. Are the individual marines able to relate directly to an individual human? Probably not. The space marines are so far above and removed from human desires and connections that cannot relate to them at all. But they still value them.
B. Paternal: Humans are usually incapable of knowing what is best for them. They are like children in the eyes of the Marines. The typical space Marine, as we know, is far more intelligent, wise, and certainly physically superior to any human. So much so, that they are gods unto the human race. But even gods must still repect the lives and needs of those they rule. Humans may be ignorant, but they are still living, sentient beings with souls who worship the emperor (misguided though that may be). Thus, all humanity is worth protecting and guiding to greater glory in the service of the Emperor and the Empire of Humanity.
C. Indifferent: Some chapters feel that humans are beneath them, but humanity has value. The mass of humanity (as a whole) has value; it produces, it repairs, it toils, and it grows. The Human race (as a whole) is the Empire. An individual human, has a duty to the Empire. Sometimes an individual must give up his/her needs for the group. The marine knows that humans are necessary, and valuable commodities. They will not go out of their way to harm humans without cause. They will however, not be above sacrificing an individual, a group of humans, or even an entire planet for the greater good, or to fulfill an important objective. There needs to be justifiable cause, of course.
D. Scornful: Some chapters feel that humans are useful, yet disposable (as one writer put it, as humans->squirrels). The mass of humanity has its purpose and place. The Space Marines of this mentality place no value on individual humans. They are a resource, necessary for the continuance of the empire, a labor force, a tool. However, a single human is no more valuable than a single nail in a box. There are more to replace it.
-This does not, however, insulate them from the subsequent taint and corruption of their souls resulting from acts wanton cruelty and neglect.
2. One must also keep in mind that an individual marine, has his own personailty, opinions, thoughts and desires. It is a given that he will be heavily influenced by his training, indoctrination, and the over-arching influence of the primarch's gene seed he carries (thus gaining much of his primarchs personaility). Even this will not wipe out all traces of an individual personality. If this were the case, all Marines would merely be autonomous clones of their primarch and have no (true) free will of their own. This is simply not true.
The Achilus Crusade
The Achilus Crusade is a war of re-conquest fought on three fronts within the region. It is a brutal conflict waged with every weapon that the Imperium possesses and its leaders have sworn in the Emperor's name that they will never retreat and never surrender. Even still, the Crusade has come to a grinding stalemate. The growing Tau Empire, ever mindful of opportunities to further spread the Greater Good, has cast covetous eyes over the worlds and resources of the Reach and has initiated its own efforts to claim it. On worlds long forsaken by the Imperium, the slaves of the Chaos Gods reign while at the Reach’s heart, unsuspected at the Crusade’s start, the servants of the Ruinous Powers have created a blasphemous domain ruled by Daemon Princes and Chaos Lords, where the mutable laws of the Warp rather than those of realspace govern the fragile bounds of space-time. Even worse, from the depths of the intergalactic void the Great Devourer has once more made itself known. The Tyranids of Hive Fleet Dagon seek to consume all the inhabited worlds that lie within the Jericho Reach and leave nothing but the corpses of dead planets spread amongst the ancient stars.
The fate of the Jericho Reach now hangs in the balance and only the Deathwatch may possess the skill and tenacity required to bring victory for the leaders of the Achilus Crusade -- and protect the Emperor's children from the terrible threat to all the galaxy that breeds within the Reach's confines
The Jericho Maw Warp Gate
+++ Restricted Access +++
+++ Kill-Team Authorization Approved, Override Procedures Initiated +++
++ Security Clearance: Hazel ++
++ Thank you, Watch Captain Angellion ++
Discovered in 777.M41, the Warp Gate is a piece of advanced technology whose mysterious creators remain unknown but which connects the Eastern Fringe to the Calixis Sector of the Segmentum Obscurus by allowing instantaneous travel via the Warp from one edge of space to another, the possibility of using this stable Warp conduit to launch an Imperial Crusade into the Jericho Reach and reclaim this strategic area of space for the Imperium quickly found favour with the High Lords of Terra. As a result, the resulting Achilus Crusade was born.
This star system is a place of mystery and foreboding. The central astral body within this system is the Erioch star, which is a crumpled, angry white dwarf whose slow death has been measured in eons. Seven planets -- no larger in diameter than Terra -- circle this ancient star, orbiting perfectly in a circular pattern, the distance between them astronomically exact and thus unnaturally precise. The worlds of Erioch are nothing more than bare rock, completely devoid of life with no known life signs having ever existed. Even stranger, these planets bare no marks or craters that show signs of impacts with meteorites or other stellar debris. Circling the sixth planet is the Watch Fortress Erioch, the primary bastion of the Deathwatch in the Jericho Reach. It is unknown why the Watch Fortress was placed in this isolated star system. Unless granted the highest clearance and the most secret information, it is impossible for a Navigator to even locate Erioch within the Warp, never mind guide a starship into the system. Even with the appropriate information, those wishing to visit the system must drop out of the Warp into realspace at the system's edge, or not at all.
Watch Fortress Erioch
+++ Restricted Access +++
+++ Kill-Team Authorization Approved, Override Procedures Initiated +++
++ Security Clearance: Obsidian ++
++ Thank you, Watch Captain Angellion ++
Watch Fortress Erioch is a notable Watch Fortress of the xenos-hunting Deathwatch based within the Jericho Reach of the Segmentum Ultima. Within Erioch the Deathwatch's Kill-teams train and prepare for coming missions. Watch Fortress Erioch combines the functions of a command centre, keep, archive, garrison and more. The Watch Commander often coordinates the monitoring of a hundred different threats; or his attentions might be focused exclusively on one single, overriding concern towards which all of his and his Battle-Brothers' efforts are turned. The commander is assisted in his duties by a cadre of specialists, some of whom are Space Marines, such as Techmarines, Apothecaries and the like, while many more are normal humans who are the equivalent of Chapter Serfs who have been assigned to the Deathwatch by the Inquisition's Ordo Xenos. Erioch is also home to all manner of Astartes training facilities. In vast domes, unique environments can be recreated in which the Battle-Brothers can perfect their battle drill and rehearse their missions. Some of these domes have been stocked with life forms, such as Death World flora and fauna, in order to create the most realistic training conditions possible. It has even been known for captured aliens to be set loose in the training domes, to be hunted down by the Kill-teams in deadly mission simulation exercises. At the heart of Erioch is to be found a sealed vault, known as the Omega Vault, which contains the most sensitive and valuable of assets available to the Inquisition in the Jericho Reach -- and perhaps the galaxy.
The Orpheus Salient
The Orpheus Salient was once the most secure of the three fronts of the Achilus Crusade within the Jericho Reach. The planets located rimward of the Reach were made up of sparsely populated frontier worlds and a few former Imperial planets -- many of which had kept faith with the Imperial Creed through the long millennia of the Age of Shadow. These still-Loyal worlds even managed to maintain some haphazard contact with the Imperium, providing the Crusade's scout forces with aid and intelligence about what to expect within the Reach. In recent years, the Orpheus Salient has been the scene of misery and loss as the Great Devourer has made its presence known within the Salient's star systems. Entire systems have fallen to the Tyranid menace and it will take more miracles than effort to stem the tide of Hive Fleet Dagon.
Planets within the Orpheus Salient: +++ Restricted Access.... Access Granted... +++
Importance: High - the raw materiel obtained on Serenity is crucial for the war effort in the Orpheus Salient.
A mining backwater that was quickly taken during the first weeks of the crusade into the Orpheus Salient, Serenity was quickly established as a materiel-world due to the high levels of natural resources contained within the core. Imperial settlements were quickly set up with specialists overseeing mining operations that are largely handled by servitor and penal-laborer. As enemy presence on the planet was almost non-existent, the Crusade made no effort to keep a PDF or Imperial Guard force planetside; manpower was a resource that the Crusade effort could not afford to spare. Discipline and order in the Settlements is maintained internally while discipline within the mining operations and penal-laborer barracks is maintained through a mixture of explosive death-collars, food/water incentives and in rare instances automated combat servitors. Monthly drone pick ups move raw materials from Serenity to the vast Forge-Ships of the Mechanicum fleet in the Salient.
Serenity is unique in one aspect: the Mechanicum offered to set up and install mostly automated mining systems of advanced and ancient design supplemented by penal-laborers rather than opening up continent-wide mostly manned mining operations. There reasons for doing so have not come to light, but their efforts have ensured that a small number of Imperial citizens can maintain the same production and distribution numbers of a much larger operation.
Recently, Kill Marine Back Breaker was sent to the world in order to investigate rumors of a growing Ork presence. If true, his mission was to then neutralize the Ork problem by any means necessary - the most likely scenario being cutting off the serpent's head and watching the body wither and die. However, after a week of no contact, Inquisitor Carmillus sent in the Kill-Team appointed to her (codenamed Doomsayer) to rescue Back Breaker. After a hard fight, it was clear that the presence of Orks has grown significantly. Furthermore, evidence of Chaos Traitor Astartes has been found along with the apparent arrival of Mechanicus agents. Why either enemy or the Mechanicus is taking a vested interest in Serenity remains to be determined.
The Hadex Anomaly
++++ Restricted Access: Override Procedure Initiatied +++
+++ Security Clearance: Magenta +++
+++ Authorization Approved +++
++ Thank you, Inquisitor Carmillus ++
At the centre of the Jericho Reach lies a raging Warp phenomenon known as the Hadex Anomaly. This malefic phenomena is similar to a Class III Warp disturbance, whose overlapping vortex of turbulence in the Immaterium spills over into realspace, distorting reality and making stellar navigation and observation nearly impossible. The origins of this phenomena can be traced to an ill-portended planetary alignment which occurred in 656.M40 -- the result of some great and bloody design of mortal Chaos worshippers, whose forbidden ritual unleashed the abyss of the Warp into reality. Nearly a dozen inhabited worlds that made up the core of the Jericho Sector of old was drowned within its hellish radiance, including the once-vaunted Hive World of Varrus. This world fell into bloody civil war and was rumoured to have been transformed into a Daemon World, where the servants of the Ruinous Powers planned the ultimate destruction of the Reach.
Cobra-Pattern Destroyer "Doomsayer"
-Commanded by her highness Inquisitor Hezika Carmillus of Ordo Xenos
-Crew of 150 Serfs of the Chamberlain, Astrotechnis and Naval orders.
-Capable of supporting a full tactical squad of marines and several vehicles.
-Three (3) atmospheric crafts, including one Thunderhawk Gunship and one Caestus Assault Ram
The Doomsayer is a ship of some renown. Having originally belonged to Rogue Trader it is surprisingly heavily armed for its size and loaded with all sorts of archaic and xeno technological wonders. It has a fully functional teleportarium and a xeno-tech ghost field which allows it to move near the enemy undetected. The macrocannon mounted on the prow of the ship is several times more powerful than anything else found in ship of this small size. In addition to all this the ship itself is a real predator. Its machine-spirit is resolute, aggressive and downright nasty towards anyone who wishes harm to it. In short, it is the perfect vessel for a Deathwatch kill-team.
The bridge of the Doomsayer is called the Silver Dome. It is both the main control surface of the ship and the home of the serfs naval. The top level of the dome, called the Dome Proper, is devoted purely for the navigators uses and is, in fact, totally separated from the other parts of the bridge and is only accessible from the Brass Palace by a special elevator. The main bridge is always manned by at least three members of the serfs naval, but at moist times the whole cadre of twelve
are present along with their children.
The Brass Palace is a true work of art. Although its three stories and thousand square meters are only a small part of the total space of The Doomsayer it is the heart of the ship. Built of the very best materials and decorated to highest standard with rare works of art from all around the Imperial space, the Brass Palace includes housing for ten battle brothers, a medical facility, a Church of Emperor Ascendant and separate sub-palace level used by the Inquisitor and her closest Acolytes.
The Great Rail
In a way the Great Rail is the spine of the ship. It is also one of the main technological marvels of the Doomsayer. Several dozen meters across and spanning the whole lenght of the ship the Great Rail is, in fact, a huge power-station used provide energy for all the sub-systems within the ship. It also houses several instruments of alien design, including the Ghost Field generator and hundreds of stasis field units used for tranporting samples of xenos creatures and artefacts. Below the Great Rail runs an actual maglev railway system which allows easy and fast trasportation from the stern of the ship to the different hangar bays along the length of the ship.
The Hangar Bays, easily accessed by maglev railway system, house the majority of the Doomsayer's wargear and various tech after actions in the field. It also doubles as a training grounds for the Kill Team. If packed full the hangar bays could probably house a full regiment of Imperial Guard along with any supplies they would require. In reality at any given time nine out of ten of the bays are purposefully left empty so that there is always more than enough room aboard the ship for setting up a fully functional, several hectare training field for the Marines or a biohazard and radiation proof machine shop for the Techmarines to clean and repair vehicles after operation.
The enormous Macrocannon of the Doomsayer goes by the name of Iron Kraken. It is a truly ancient, fully automated work of mechanical art built in the legendary great-forges of Mars itself. The weapon itself is so huge that nothing short of the massive Great Rail of the Doomsayer is capable of powering it and it is constantly served by a hundred mindwiped servitors. The great barrel of the Iron Kraken actually houses two weapon systems: a huge laser lance designed to burn away planetary atmospheres, creating a clear path for orbitally launched projectiles, and the magnetic rail-launcher, designed to hurl multitons and ordnance against any enemy or planetary body. The laser lance can be used as a precision weapon in itself, as it is well capable of melting ferrocrete and ceramite, but the true power of the weapon lies in its
missiles. The Iron Kraken can launch Purifier plasma missiles, multiple-impact laserguided melta-torpedo packages, disruption shells if a ship is needed in tact and cyclonic torpedoes with equal precision. If absolutely necessary, and the drop pod bays are non-functional, the Iron Kraken can also be outfitted to launch Astartes Drop Pods.
When a Deathwatch Kill Team first steps aboard the Doomsayer they will be met with the Serfs Chamberlain who will show them to their quarters and handle any specific requests they might have concerning their accomodation, meals and other day to day affairs. These humans are recruited from among the most trusted Deathwatch serfs and, in addition to serving Astartes and Inquisition personnel aboard the Doomsayer, also act as a link between passengers and rest of the crew.
The Serfs Naval form the upper echelon of the Doomsayer's crew, acting as the leaders and spiritual guides for the rest of crew and manning the actual bridge. Hailing from old naval families the Serfs Naval retain the traditions of the Imperial Navy and are very proud and self-conscious of their status as the main operators of the arcane machinery aboard the Doomsayer. Numbering only a dozen men and women, they tend to be aloof and prefer to communicate through the Serfs Chamberlain.
Every Imperial ship needs a large number of human hands to perform a multitude of critical functions aboard the ship. Even though the Doomsayer is extremely effectively automatized and all of its basic functions are maintained by the unsleeping watch of the machine spirits, it still needs a sizable detachment of laymen teks who maintain the machines, oiling and cleaning them, changing spare parts and making sure the necessary rituals of reverence are attended. The ancestors of these serfs are often prisoners captured in purges of heretical planets and sometimes new blood is introduced into the families by selective recruitment from Imperial prisons. The demeanor and culture of the Serfs Astrotechnicus mirror their origins and they are most certainly the strongest, the toughest and the most ruthless of all crew. This actually works for the advantage of the ship as Serfs Astrotechnicus are able to work long, endless shifts of back-breaking labor and still be fit to defend the ship with a blade and gun if anyone dares to try and assault their jealously guarded home-vessel.
Doomsayer Hangar Bay Armory
(1) Thunderhawk Gunship (Currently Unnamed).
(1) Caestus Boarding Ram - Krull
(1) Arvis Lighter - (Currently Unnamed, referred to as "Squat" by the Low-Gothic speaking Serfs Astrotechnicus)