THE ORDER OF THE ROTTEN HEART
Penned by Inquisitor Vivian Drasquette
Excerpts retrieved from interrogation session of [EXPUNGED] at [DATE UNKNOWN]
=][= SEALED BY ORDER OF THE INQUISITION, TO BE VIEWED WITH ORDO HERETICUS PERMISSION ONLY =][=
I should start this document by stating that the information contained within is not to be shared with anyone beneath Inquisitorial Clearance Level 3. If it became known that the holy warriors of the Adeptas Sororitas were vulnerable to Chaotic corruption, the results would be truly disastrous. All combat personnel below this level who encounter them are to be instructed they are facing traitor guardswomen bearing pillaged armour from loyal Battle Sisters, and to be mind-scrubbed if necessary.
+++ ORIGINS +++
The Heretic Sororitas Order known as the Rotten Heart were once known as the Order of the Virtuous Deed. Originally based on the shrine/agri-world of Karidad within Segmentum Obscurus, the Sisters of the Virtuous Deed were known across the sector for their selflessness and generosity, as often performing charitable work and helping to rebuild war-ravaged worlds as waging battle.
Karidad was a largely waterlogged world within the optimum inhabitable zone (if a little close to its parent star), with a mostly tropical climate and landmasses consisting predominantly of island chains. A large exporter of food for the sector, the population was somewhat impoverished due to various factors, including labyrinthine Administratum errors leading to the planet not receiving the correct monetary tithes for its food output. Between this, the fairly low technology base of the world's people and the sudden appearance of the Cicatrix Maledictum cutting it off from the blessed Astronomicon and leaving it stranded in the Imperium Nihilus, the Order was hard pressed to maintain some semblance of the rule of law. Nevertheless, it must be noted that the efforts they made to keep the far-flung world in the fold of the Imperium whilst also caring for its inhabitants was commendable, which makes their fall far more tragic.
The Order was headed by Canoness Ramza Dalisay, an experienced leader and great philanthropist, whose belief in the importance of kindness and protecting the weak was inspirational to all who met her, and shaped the beliefs of the Order- and also brought them to their downfall.
Whilst the exact date is unknown, some time around Mortarion's Plague Wars, an otherwise unassuming meteorite descended upon the world. It was far too small to cause any planetary damage, and indeed most of it burnt up in the atmosphere, but it is believed that this meteorite was somehow tainted with a foul daemonic prion. A few mere days afterwards, sickness began to spread across the world. Crop yields failed, the usually bountiful harvests being riddled with disease. Livestock were struck down with hideous deformities. Water became foetid and undrinkable. Before long, the entire planet was starving, with all forms of sustenance being seemingly contaminated.
Naturally, the Order was quick to act, doing what they could to support the communities and putting the people's needs before their own. But they were few in number, and what resources they had were stretched thinly; they too were dependent on the produce of the world's farmers.
It was on the 7th week of this ordeal that the plagues began to spread to the people. Various infections and diseases were noted, but the most common was what is now known to be the Walking Pox strain known as “Crooked Curse”. Causing bones to warp and joints to misalign, sufferers became horrifically crippled and in constant pain. The resulting plague spread quickly and soon a third of the world's population was incapacitated.
Despite having only three Sister Hospitalers on the entire planet, Canoness Ramza declared that the Order would do their absolute best to cure the disease and save their beloved planet from the ravaging sickness. Hospitals were set up and Sisters were deployed to every settlement they could reach. The sick were quarantined, but cared for by the Sisters, and the healthy were routinely monitored for any sign of ailment.
Alas, it did not take long for the situation to break down. In spite of the utmost care being taken to maintain quarantine procedures, before long the infections began to spread outside the care centres- and worse still, to the Sisters themselves. Cut off from the wider Imperium, with scant resources and mounting death tolls, despair began to drive itself deep into the souls of the Sisters of the Virtuous Deed. Within three months the entire population was infected, and three quarters of the Order had been contaminated. With a heavy heart, Ramza was forced to recall the survivors back to the fortress-shrine of Puregrove.
Sadly, even here there was no escape from the tide of contagion that had consumed the once-verdant world. And on the seventh month of the catastrophe, every single Sister and Order serf was infected with some manner of plague. The world was a charnel house of decay and misery, and there seemed to be no escape for the Sisters of the Virtuous Deed. Through spasms of agony, they prayed to the Emperor for relief, for an end to the suffering.
Their prayers did not go unanswered- but not by the Emperor. Instead, the Daemon of Nurgle known as Botarax the Blightbringer materialized within the central sanctum of Puregrove, and offered Ramza and her Sisters an ultimatum- either die in excruciating agony, or submit to the God of Decay and be released from pain. She accepted the offer of the Daemon, and the entire Order was damned.
Every single Sister that still lived was transfigured into a living idol of entropy and pestilent fecundity. Invigorated with the power of the Plague God, and having seen the “beneficence” of Grandfather Nurgle firsthand, they pledged themselves to him mind, body and soul. The Order of the Virtuous Deed was no more- now they were the Order of the Rotten Heart.
Emerging from the ruins of their fastness, they gathered the populace- now a mixture of plague cultists and Poxwalkers- and delivered a blasphemous sermon, denouncing Him and declaring unholy war upon the Imperium. The assorted rabble of the damned were herded onto their now-tainted spacecraft, and the Order abandoned the world on a dark pilgrimage, to spread decay and plague wherever they went.
The Rotten Heart has been confirmed as operating with the Death Guard Vectorium known as the Congregation of Filth (formerly the Iron Hands successor chapter the Knights Penitent), and are regularly witnessed together on the battlefield; where one force appears, the other is inevitably close behind. Most notably they have been sighted as assisting with the operation of the “Carnicropolis” disease factory/human livestock plantation on the tainted world of Molus III. Forces of the 188th “Tangmyr Hunters” Astra Militarum regiment and the Raven Guard successor chapter the Emperor's Warhawks have faced heavy losses against them in recent years.
The former Canoness Ramza Dalisay's current status is unknown. Multiple Imperial Assassins claim to have eliminated her, and her followers claim she is very much alive. In addition, there have been multiple individuals claiming to be Ramza, including at least two Daemon Princesses. It is hypothesized that this is a deliberate ruse intended to spread confusion amongst Imperial forces, but the actual status of the true Ramza is a mystery.
The current and most frequently sighted battlefield leader of the Order of the Rotten Heart is known as Grandmother Masakita Mabuloka. Though she appears to be physically frail and clearly of great age, she has been observed as being frighteningly strong and resilient, clearly as a result of Nurgle's favour.
There have been other leaders encountered in confrontations with the Rotten Heart, however, most notably the Daemon Princess Ur'bloth the Bountiful (notable for her repulsive spawn which she produces which follow her at all times), the tripartite priestesses of Nurgle known as the “Sisterhood of the Harvest” (consisting of the Arch-Deacon Ibilia Vitiso and her younger sisters Xama and Clori), and the entity known only as Mortilatia (who appears to be clad in heavily modified Terminator armour). This is in addition to the many who have referred to themselves or been referred to by others as Ramza.
Other notable figures within the Order include Sister-Butcher Hegritha Klommox, Plaguesmith Cereties Gorg, and the infamous “Blighted Siren”.
The Order is not especially large and is heavily bolstered by Nurgle cults and renegade Astra Militarum contingents. Generally speaking, a Rotten Heart operation will consist of a relatively small number of traitor Sororitas commanding other forces.
The Plague Sisters of the Order are generally equipped for long-range combat, utilizing their lesser pawns as meat shields. Notably, the former Retributor squads make extensive use of Heavy Bolters, though other weapons have been witnessed in use as well. The Order of the Virtuous Deed was never particularly well supplied, and most of their original vehicle fleet has long since fallen into disrepair. As such they are largely an infantry-based force, with most of their vehicles being plundered from Imperial storage.
Despite being relatively poorly equipped prior to their fall, the Rotten Heart has access to a number of rare assets of war materiel. Most notably, they were a very rare example of a Sororitas Order in possession of a Dreadnought, to be exact the incredibly scarce Castra Ferrum-Ignea pattern which was designed explicitly for the Sisters of Battle. The current occupant is unknown. In addition, the “Plague Dogs” warband splintered from the former 43rd Vastivian regiment of the Astra Militarum, which works closely with the Order, possess a tainted Mars-pattern Baneblade, which is often sighted alongside the Rotten Heart.
Having had to replace a great deal of their existing vehicle inventory, the Order does not use many Sororitas vehicles. They do, however, utilize corrupted vehicles taken as spoils of war from foes and also a small amount of Daemon engines, many of which appear to be based on tainted agricultural machinery. Most prominent amongst these are the insectoid constructs known as Carrion Mites, which appear to be somewhat based on the Venomcrawler design, and the loathsome creations known as Thresherfiends, a former grain harvesting device twisted and perverted into a foul engine of war.
A great deal of the weaponry utilized by the Rotten Heart is Bolt based, with Heavy Bolters being a particularly favoured weapon amongst the Order. Other non-Sororitas-standard weapons have been incorporated into their armoury for other roles such as anti-armour, and some Plague Sisters have been sighted wielding “Fumigator Guns”, modified Flamer weapons loaded with poisonous chemicals instead of Promethium.
The Order's tactics are largely based on ranged combat and weight of firepower, using screens of lesser minions to protect their gunline and drowning the enemy in bodies and ammunition. Due to their “blessings” they are extremely resilient and can tolerate an absurd amount of punishment before expiring, with some Plague Sisters being able to take blows that would slay an Astartes.
They also make use of psychological warfare to some extent- though how much of this is intentional as opposed to a side effect of their twisted attempts at “charity” is unknown. Civilian areas captured by the Order are usually “tended to” by the rearguard of the force, with disease and sickness consuming the populace with a grim inevitability. They have also been observed using the dead of both sides for a variety of purposes, ranging from blasphemous rituals to rations and biological weapons.
There have been reports of them summoning Daemons of Nurgle to the field, but these are usually difficult to confirm and may have been summoned by their allies in the Congregation of Filth.
The Order of the Rotten Heart is a dire threat to the safety of the Imperium that I fear has been overlooked in the face of other, more obvious threats such as Hive Fleet Goliath and the Legion of Vice. It is my considered opinion that we should be focusing our efforts on fighting them and their allies, lest they grow to become a truly fearsome enemy indeed.
(OOC details for those wishing to run a Rotten Heart force for some reason)