"Look to the heavens! What do you see? A universe of glory, denied to you, to yours, and to me! But denied by who? It is a most terrible thing to forget who holds your leash, whose boot rests on your neck! Never forget your enemies' names, though they will forget yours!" - Entor Nanua, Clamavus
When the time of Ascension came, Hakkon burned.
The Hakkon system contains a single inhabited world, formally designated Hakkon III but more commonly known merely as Hakkon. The planet's crust is rich with heavy metals, and as a result networks of mining operations covered much of the planet's surface. Of the vast harvest reaped from the planet, much was sent off-world to nearby forges and hives, and much was kept for Hakkon's own arms factories. In particular, the manufactories of Hakkon were known for their atomic weaponry - whether Deathstrike missiles for the Astra Militarum, or any of several kinds of nuclear munitions for the Imperial Navy, Hakkon was a reliable source of these classic tools of total destruction.
The cities that sprawled around the manufactories housed not only the workers who toiled within, but also the nobility whose lifestyles they labored to sustain. Rival aristocratic houses hoarded their own personal arsenals of nuclear weapons, constantly brandishing their world-destroying power to intimidate rivals, motivate workers and stroke their mountainous egos.
In this fertile ground, a Genestealer planted his seeds, and they grew quickly. The Cult of the Radiant Dawn spread quickly throughout the planet's underclasses, infiltrating every level of mining, manufacture and eventually even the lower nobility. When the time of ascension came, they seized the nuclear stockpiles of the nobility and finally made good on their long-promised annihilation - unleashing the terrible weapons against those military elements that the cult did not already control. Hakkon burned.
Thanks to the efforts of the cult's Clamavus sects, Imperial authorities outside the system believed that an internal conflict between nobles had led to the planet's ruin. As a result they were slow to put forward any serious military effort to pacify the planet's survivors, whom they assumed would simply die in the radioactive wasteland their masters had left them. Plans were made to turn the planet over wholesale to the Adeptus Mechanicus, who promised that they could continue mining operations in spite of the radiation, resuming productivity within a mere century.
Meanwhile, the hybrids of the Radiant Dawn were little-bothered by the elevated radiation, so long as they avoided the most devastated blast sites. They toiled in secret to rebuild the world themselves and to fortify their position. Vast underground complexes were established, designed to hide from Imperial eyes and resist bombardment if necessary. All of the planet's arms production was moved into the vast tunnel networks carved into the world's crust, and began producing new tools for the cult's crusade.
"Our father came to us, descending from above, because he saw what we could not see! He saw the darkness in mankind's heart, the gray silence of our ignoble souls! He brought his radiance to us so that we might ascend, and become as he! That we might know the glory of the true light!" - Anara Khav, Magus of the Radiant Dawn
The structure of the Radiant Dawn is broadly ordinary for a Genestealer cult - the Patriarch, commonly known as the "Fallen Star," is the absolute master of the cult's business. A handful of primuses and magi control various sub-sects of the cult, occasionally bickering with eachother but always united in the Patriarch's presence. While much of Hakkon's military equipment was destroyed during the Ascension, enough remained to outfit a substantial standing force of soldiers in addition to the typical cult elements.
The cult maintains relationships with various piratical and black-market organizations, bartering their obscene weaponry in exchange for the services of smugglers and freight captains. As a result, while the cult only actually operates a handful of ramshackle ships of their own, they are remarkably adept at showing up where they wish to be.
"Two months before the Burning of Hakkon, a splinter of Hive Fleet Leviathan was destroyed by the heroic actions of the Imperial Navy and the Imperial Fists chapter. It is my belief that this splinter was intended to eventually strike Hakkon, and that its destruction is what triggered the cult's radical change of direction. The Radiant Dawn's mission changed in that instant - no longer concerned with securing biomass for the Tyranid menace, they instead seek only to deny the Imperium the tools and resources produced in their immediate vicinity. This explains their obsessive use of atomic weaponry, which would otherwise be anathema to Tyranids, who above all seek to preserve their prey for consumption." - Lyanto Korrib, Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos
The Radiant Dawn worms its way into a planet's underclass, promising a glorious and fiery dawn that will wipe away the impurities of the decadent oppressors and set free the downtrodden. Everything built by corrupt hands must be torn down before truth and beauty can rise in its place, they insist - the old world must be burned away.
When the The Radiant Dawn chooses to reveal itself, the bulk of its enemies die within minutes. Weapons of terrible power, smuggled into key locations weeks beforehand, detonate in a grand show of power and authority. Atomic weapons are of course their specialty, but they are not limited in this regard - they will happily rig a city's own power generators to explode or send a freighter screaming through the atmosphere into the city center. When resources are tight, a well-planned pattern of ordinary arson will suffice. These obsessions extend to the cultists themselves, who display an almost psychotic love of explosives and flamethrowers.
When the smoke clears, the cult's enemies are left in a shattered world, deprived of reinforcements, communication or infrastructure. With all of these advantages removed, the cult strikes in earnest, storming out into the rubble-strewn wastes to tear down their weakened enemies. Outriders circle the blast zones to pick off survivors while abberants seek out those who had the foresight to hide from the cult's retribution.
The Radiant Dawn is an idea I've been tossing around in my head for a while. Heavily influenced by the Fallout series, of course - part of that series' premise is often the notion that the bombs falling was probably for the best, that the world had grown so awful that the apocalypse was as much cathartic as tragic. The idea of a cult that promises the same thing, promises to destroy everything so that new beauty can arise in its place, is neat!
Also, I have a fondness for nukes in the far future Sci-fi. It's easy to look at a plasma gun and think "Wow, that's a really powerful weapon!" but the reality is that it's absolutely nothing compared to something we invented in the 1940s. Weapons do not advance along a linear scale.
Edited by Shinespider, 11 September 2019 - 01:37 AM.