Re:.................Adeptus Astartes; Renegatus- The Violent Gods
Thought:…………The love of wisdom walks a mere step in front of its eternal cohorts: blissful ignorance and wanton temptation. Fate would, of course, not deign to have them run in opposite directions, but, rather, they run in the same. -(Ancient Terran Philosopher, Unknown)
Our Gracious Lords,
In what follows we share new developments within our ongoing investigation into the renegade Astartes faction colloquially known as Saevus Dei, “the Violent Gods”. We are imminently grateful for the opportunity to provide assistance and hope you will find our work helpful to the ongoing progress of your invaluable research.
May the Emperor protect.
We argue here that the available evidence suggests, specifically, that the rogue Astartes warband we will hereafter refer to as “the Violent Gods” is led by the Prognosticator assigned to the missing Silver Skulls Strike Cruiser Aevum immediately prior to its disappearance.
The facts of Aevum's otherwise-unremarkable disappearance return to the fore of our project given the involvement of the rogue Astartes warband known as Saevus Dei, the Violent Gods, in a number of conflicts preceding the specific grouping of events composing what has been called "The Night of a Thousand Rebellions". [The involvement of the Violent Gods in this specific grouping of events- and the events that now can be seen as leading up to them- is, of course, the reason for this report.]
It is not only, however, the mere existence of structural similarities between two extant Strike Cruisers that we think constitutes good reason to give credence to the thesis advanced at the start. It is, furthermore, the striking similarities among belief systems to which we point to further our case. We have long keep at merely an arm’s distance the Silver Skulls Chapter due to their deviation in the form of the use of the so-called Prognosticators instead of Librarians. Prognosticators are assigned to each company and are highly revered in a manner unique to the Silver Skulls. Relying solely on the Emperor’s Tarot or the use of runes, even the Chapter Master defers to the plan of action as interpreted by the Prognosticators. In addition, the belief among the Silver Skulls in the power of the divination methods of the Prognosticators makes them spiritual advisors, taking on some of the duties assigned to Chaplains in Codex-compliant chapters. As such, we consider that (ceteris paribus) a detachment of Silver Skulls is more likely to fall under the sway of an influential rogue Prognosticator than a typical detachment falling to a rogue psyker in the average chapter, given a culture of distrust of psykers (given that the psykers in question command such reverence) is conspicuously absent among the culture of the Silver Skulls.
If the aforementioned two reasons justify continued investigation, one would expect to see two types of evidence: first, a case in concreto of a deviant Prognosticator, and, second, a case in concreto that substantiates an explanatory route from a somewhat overenthusiastic belief in divination to full-blown heretical cult of personality via the manipulation of an otherwise benign trust of the approved forms of divination. Here we submit that we have instances of both, with the former causing the latter. We now move to a demonstration of both points, taken in turn, interspersed with arguments for their connection.
A simple archival search shows the rather abrupt cessation of transmissions from Silver Skulls Strike Cruiser Aevum while on a mission of unknown (classified) specification near the Minisotira sector within Segmentum Pacificus. Internal reports disclosed by the Silver Skulls note increasingly erratic transmissions from Aevum, which contained a task force drawn from the 5th and 8th companies (in toto significantly less than a full company), with the entire detachment falling under the command of an 8th Company Captain Kehan. Correspondence mentions mild unrest among the battle-brothers, including increasing paranoia from the some of the assigned specialists, in particular from the assigned Prognosticator. After reports involving steadily increasing intensity in the aforementioned ways, transmissions (as noted previously) ceased altogether. Aevum is officially listed as lost in the warp anomaly known as "the Gate of Fire" and the erratic reports preceding its disappearance have (in our estimation) so far been justifiably dismissed as unrelated to the direct causal circumstances of Aevum's disappearance.
We have arrived at [redacted], as per Jaruk’s guidance. Though I confess that I am puzzled as to why our mission has taken us this far from Varsavia- and with relatively small numbers and limited resources- I am not one to question the readings of the Prognosticators. Time will tell- as it always does- the precise nature of our business here.
Jaruk has been unable to read the runes. Protocol demands that we wait to move on until Jaruk no longer suffers what from what the other Prognosticators call “the Deep Dark”, an inability to understand the will of the Emperor using the runes or the Tarot. Periods within this closed window of communication are said to only ever be temporary, momentary lapses in access that fade with time such that the ability eventually fully returns. Jaruk, however, does not seem encouraged by this apparently common piece of knowledge and has become increasingly isolated. He is, as is well known, normally a well-liked and inspiring figure, both charismatic and wise. He has been in his chambers for over two months as of the time of this log and has spoken to no one. Even as Captain, I fear to ask of his well-being as to not disturb his attempts to successfully use his gift of sight again. May the Emperor protect.
The Prognosticator’s continued silence has engendered a number of violent episodes in the fighting cages, with loyalties often divided along regional affiliations. Brothers from the southern tribes of Varsavia have most often been the aggressors. Disciplinary actions have been taken but the number of incidents continues to rise. I worry that my ability to properly adjudicate between the two factions will erode if Jaruk’s silence forces us to remain in limbo. The indefinite nature of the halting of our progress has clearly made members of our detachment restless. Whatever its true cause, it nonetheless remains that I cannot afford to have continued erosion of trust between us due to infighting.
I sense whispering. I know not of what, or how, but I am beginning to expect that some of the brothers are unified against my command. I am convinced the southerners do not trust me. Or, rather, perhaps they do not trust me nearly as much as they trust Ovis, the southern-born Techmarine, or his twin brother Kelsus, our Apothecary, who are the highest ranking of those born of the southern tribes, and seem to speak for them. More than half of my command is southern-born, including my chaplain. Only with the first sergeant, my delegatus and confidant, am I willing to share these thoughts. Jaruk has been around far longer than I, and will prevail if we do not end up on the same side and the situation escalates.
I have no direct evidence of Jaruk’s machinations, but I have long suspected that there was far more to his silence than mere penitence or even the semblance of genuine faith. Indeed, paranoid as I feel for even entertaining the thought, I know his silence has been quite productive for his aims. Warp storms continue to make outside communication difficult for days on end, all the more reason to suspect that Jaruk the Seer sees far more than I. It is only now that I can see that he has only tolerated my command, and it now seems that I am not in charge in anything more than name. If Jaruk speaks, we are bound to it. If I question his judgment, I question the word of the Emperor himself. When he finally speaks the word as given him by the runes, perhaps only then will I know if I am betrayed or not. Until then, I dare not utter such thoughts to anyone, save the first sergeant, whom I have asked to investigate the matter by any means necessary. I speak these thoughts only to give voice to them in case such ominous events do come to pass. I pray they do not, and if my suspicions are wrong, then I ask forgiveness for ever harboring them at all.
Nothing has substantiated my previous delusions, and I expect nothing will, as the first sergeant has found nothing out of the ordinary to report. I am embarrassed by my lack of faith. The Emperor has finally made our fate clear to Jaruk, the infighting has ceased, and we are set to return home when the warp storms subside and the Navigator gives the appropriate clearance. With Jaruk relieved from the burden of the Deep Dark, I suspect my doubts will subside as well. I remain alert regarding the fissures in our detachment that has been born out of this regional rivalry, but for now, I am happy to report that it seems as if my worries were in vain. May the Emperor protect.
Imperial forces arrive to the dying throes of rebellion on Enneardia, a feudal world in the Sabbat Worlds in the galactic northwest region of Segmentum Pacificus. Upon further investigation, authorities also find evidence of past activity in the forms of unauthorized (assumed to be excommunicate) Astartes presence (including extensive vehicle activity) as well as evidence of several forms of outright butchering by the locals of human and animal bodies in conjunction with forms of ritual divination. Drawing and inscriptions at the various sites show what seemed to be rough versions of Astartes figures- clad in dark metallic armor, and almost always labelled with what translates from the local lingua franca into Low Gothic as “Violent Gods”. Though at the time it was unclear as to which Astartes faction might be responsible for such depictions, a pattern emerges with a later discovery elsewhere within Segmentum Pacificus.
Reavers of the West
Imperial Navy escorts throughout Segmentum Pacificus begin compiling reports of sightings of several Astartes vessels of unknown designation, largely unadorned and colored dark metallic. Boarding actions by then-unknown Astartes result in significant casualties and pillaging, in several cases leaving the vessels functionally immobile.
Elsewhere, Astartes (presumably of the same faction) make planetfall and are taken to be responsible for several cases of abductions of a number of adolescent males, often leaving significant casualties in their wake and quickly disappearing with little more than a few eyewitnesses. Reports from those eyewitnesses speak of the same dark metallic armor, adorned with totems, severed skulls, runes, etc., and subsequent investigation corroborates mentions of psyker activity.
In 951.M41, a Dark Sons Gladius Class Frigate is the subject of a boarding action by same dark-ironclad warriors. All but a few survivors- presumably those left for dead- were either killed or captured. It is from this incident that we have most of our knowledge of the actual tactical tendencies of the Violent Gods. Consistent with reports elsewhere, they are reported to have arrived quickly and with little warning, were equipped for maximum versatility, and were thought to have access to resources beyond those possible from simple piracy, a point to which we will later return.
The discovery of a ruined and abandoned Astartes-class Strike Cruiser on a sparsely-inhabited moon known as Taru in the Adrantis system (also northwest Segmentum Pacifus) marks what we consider to be the primary piece of direct evidence for our claim(s). Within the ruins of the vessel are quarters clearly marked off for what seems to have been the commander of the vessel, filled with objects of a similar sort to those found during the investigation of the aftermath of the events on Enneardia. They are speculated to have been used for heretical forms of divination, specifically haruspicy. Furthermore, the vessel has been refinished in a dark metallic color, consistent with the depictions at Enneardia.
Though most of the insignia that would otherwise show the original Imperial owners of the vessel is defaced, the investigation returned with a pair of Mk VII pauldrons, obviously repurposed and refinished, but still bearing the outline of Silver Skulls insignia, prompting the investigation undertaken here- though their mere existence in this context need not imply anything further. Contact was initiated with the Silver Skulls, who quickly provided necessary ship specifications for comparison. As thought, analysis reveals this ship to have no significant structural differences between the ruined Cruiser found on the Adrantis moon and Aevum. Mysteriously, however, little was found in the way of bodies, wargear, vehicles, etc., leaving authorities to assume that the ship was successfully unloaded and its contents salvaged before it was abandoned prior to its eventual descent to the surface of Taru.
For further context, we offer the following (tentative) profile of what we currently know of the so-called “Violent Gods”:
It is so far unclear where the faction is based, and so it is equally likely that they are simply nomadic and fleet-based. At least the one relatively uncorrupted aformnentioned Strike Cruiser- otherwise indistinguishable at a distance from a loyal Astartes Strike Cruiser- is confirmed to have once been under the control of the Violent Gods, though it seems as if they are capable of drawing upon resources of unknown origin. In particular, there exist confirmed evidence the activity (from the Enneardia site) of relatively extensive vehicle use, including both Predators, Land Raiders, dreadnought(s), drop pods, and Thunderhawk-class gunships, suggesting either the existence of alliances with other renegade factions, or even perhaps a larger fleet than what has been thus far observed.
They do not seem to lack access to more fundamental resources generally, however, and we suspect they have a number of competent Techmarines and Apothecaries, given the evidence of the activity of vehicles at their disposal and the seeming influx of new gene-seed, though we can only speculate as to how the new geneseed is acquired. How they are formally organized (and if at all), however, is as yet unclear.
Despite limited contact, generalizations can be reasonably made regarding a coherent fighting style. Seeming to favor lightning assaults using drop pods and close quarters fighting, the average member of the Violent Gods is nonetheless equipped for maximum versatility, and have even been observed to be quite adept at effectively operating the boltgun one-handed, a feature responsible for leading earlier researchers to speculate a VI Legion lineage, though that theory, we argue, ought to be discarded and replaced with the one we defend here.
Though it is now suspected that many of the Violent Gods are indeed of Silver Skulls lineage, it cannot be the case that all members now are, given the size of Aevum's originally assigned detachment and what we know of the current fighting strength of the Violent Gods. If, as suspected due to their fairly robust access to resources, they are in collusion with other more established renegade factions, we maintain that it is likely that their ranks may include other traitors, perhaps even those allied with Huron or otherwise involved in the Badab conflict, though we dare not speculate here. Further, this explanatory gap means that we cannot rule out the existence of new rebel Astartes of their own creation with genetic material and/or aspirants acquired from unknown sources. This being the case, some of the Violent Gods may very well have geneseed of chimeric heredity.
The Violent Gods- given what was found at the site at Enneardia and at the site on Taru- are thought to practice trophy-taking, haruspicy, and likely even ritual forms cannibalism, perhaps focusing on consumption of the liver and the brain, presumably for the benefits they have been known to impart via the function of the omophagea.
We have attempted to architectonically reconstruct a possible belief-system that may serve as a profile that may add to the resources of those who may come into contact with the Violent Gods, given what we now believe are the facts regarding their origin. It is likely that the average member of the the group in question is-if it is even helpful to speculate that they have any reasons beyond pure treason for their compliance with the agenda of traitors- explicitly or implicitly adheres to some sort of pantheistic/animistic mysticism, characterized by the belief in the efficacy of omens, tokens (such as the skulls/teeth of a number of different megafauna), runes, and other primitive practices of divination.
Consistent with our thesis, similar beliefs are present among the brutal, southern tribes of Varsavia, the source of aspirants and homeworld of the Silver Skulls. Though great care is taken in the psycho-conditioning of aspirants to analyze and eliminate beliefs that are inimical to orthodoxy, the chapter cult of the Silver Skulls (in particular- their abnormal reverence for their Prognosticators) we think all but ensures that the eventual attraction to unorthodox forms of divination would not arise as spontaneously as it might otherwise be expected to in chapters with fundamentally different chapter cults. The same general caution we have emphasized for those who investigate or otherwise monitor the Silver Skulls has (at least in this case) been urged for the sake of cases like this one, where such beliefs are now thought to have manifested themselves here in the case of the Violent Gods.
From an inscription at Enneardia: "Astra inclinant, sed non obligant."
We leave the decision on whether or not to notify the Silver Skulls of this hypothesis and the evidence that we have amassed in its defense to your discretion. The composition of the Violent Gods that are of Silver Skulls lineage could turn out range anywhere between just a single member and the entirety, as we believe Jaruk to continue to be alive. Whether it is made up of many or even just one would likely be of little import to the Silver Skulls, and we have scant direct evidence that could further demonstrate our hypothesis in any way other than in the (admittedly) circumstantial way in which we have been proceeding.
Nonetheless, the similarities between the profiles of the renegatus Astartes faction known as “the Violent Gods” and the unquestionably loyal Silver Skulls is one that suggests reason for caution in our dealings with the Silver Skulls, present or future, and provides some reason to continue to keep a watchful eye of the Chapter, particularly now given the existence of a plausible scheme for how such beliefs may yield a particular kind of traitorous Astartes, particularly the case a of a rogue Astartes psyker.
To continue with this line of investigation would be to develop a richer schemata for how and why a special sort of deference to divination in the case of the Prognosticators might make such a case as this one possible, but such a task has not yet been attempted, though we suggest that it ought to be.
We hope to have succeeded in supplying useful information for the aid of those who may come into contact with the Violent Gods when the current unrest in Segmentum Pacificus can be addressed.
May the Emperor protect.
M. D. C., A. X. N.; Ordo Hereticus
Edited by bloodhound23, 18 May 2017 - 07:11 AM.