Deathwatch - Purgation
The Lusitanian Expanse
At approximately 90,000 light years from Holy Terra, Lusitania’s location makes it the furthest human controlled sector in the Imperium and the most isolated from its bureaucracy. Its isolation is a result of both the waning power of the Astronomican, and thus the Emperor’s strength, and the region’s physical distance from Terra.
From Lusitania the Astronomican is at best obscured and at worst hidden from the psychic sight of ship navigators making warp travel a dangerous and long endeavor from both within and without the sector.
Presently, the Lusitanian Expanse is divided into five sectors of power. Each is under the rule of a praetor, who in turn owes allegiance to the Caesar, who rules the expanse on behalf of the Imperium. Each sector is further divided into systems, which are under the rule of lord marshals and with the planetary governors below them.
These five sectors are:
Since its founding, the Lusitanian Expanse has been seen as an untamed and damned sector by the Imperial citizens living there—a realm bathed in blood and born in crusade, and with little of worth to be had.
Aged stars and dead words populate the Centaurus Arm, and for every planet capable of life here there are dozens more rife with the decayed and withered husks of aeons old empires: human and alien.
So many civilizations brushed aside with complete indifference.
It is a sector unamenable to life, yet the Imperium survives here—it must—because across the sector’s worlds are the tell tale signs of something anathema to all the races of the galaxy. A disturbing otherness, an outside context without malice or care . . .
By Imperial standards, Lusitania is a young sector new to imperial conquest and settlement. While most of the Imperium can claim a history reaching to a time when the Emperor of Mankind still walked the galaxy, the Lusitanian Sector has only been under the Imperium of Man’s control for a few millennia.
Field reports from the expeditionary fleet’s initial surveys reported a slew of star systems with the remnants of advanced human and alien civilizations. they also discovered a number of surviving low-tech feudal societies eeking out an existence here.
It was during this initial sector survey that the sectors hidden nature was first hinted. The fleet’s tech adepts recorded a strange signal from the void inconsistent with normal stellar background noise. Unfortunately, the onset of war prevented further exploration of the sector as the Imperial Crusading Force withdrew to Ultramar, at the behest of Primarch Roboute Guilliman, to prepare for contingency operations elsewhere.
End of a Dream
The entombment of the emperor on the Golden Throne in M31, and the ensuing chaos following the defeat of The traitor Horus forces saw an end to the Imperium’s Golden Age and its dream to reconquer the galaxy in humanity’s name. Expansion and exploration were halted as the Imperium struggled to survive.
The Centaurus Arm would remain lost as the Imperium focused on a war of retribution against the traitor legions while also struggling to reinstate some measure of control over humanity. This period would come to be called the Great Scouring and would consume the Imperium’s total attention until the traitor legions were at last pushed back into the Eye of Terror.
The rest of 31st Millennium would remain a tumultuous time for humanity. Throughout it, the Imperium would continue to suffer from internal strife and external threats, which would test and nearly shatter the whole of humanity, but all things pass and humanity endured.
By the dawn of M33, the darkness had lifted for a time, and the Imperium was entering a new Golden Age referred to as The Forging. During this period the Adeptus Terra launched several large-scale expeditions to bring under control the human-settled star systems that had not been reached by the Great Crusade. For the first time in millennia, the Imperium was expanding and thriving, rather than simply enduring.
It was during this period of new found stability that the Explorator Fleet Experientia, along with the Naval Flotilla of the House Sforza Rogue Trading Dynasty, began surveying the Centaurus Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy in what would become the sectors of the Lusitania Expanse.
Nightmares made real
Initial forays into the Lusitanian sector were slow and rife with problems. The area’s distance from Terra made navigation difficult for the explorator fleet, and the realization that the Emperor’s holy light emits only a flicker in the Warp here played on the minds of the crews. Nevertheless, the mechanicus and trader fleet made way for the sector glimpsed at by the Ultramarines several millennia before.
The explorator fleet made its initial push into Lusitania from what is now known as the Praeteritus Zone. Today, this area is given a wide berth by all who call the region home, but at its founding this place was viewed as the most accessible and logical region for the mechanicus’ ships to enter the sector from colonized space.
This belief would be quickly discarded as the zone’s dark and surreal nature became known to the crews plowing the warp here. Already dim, the Emperor’s light vanished from the sight of ship’s navigators as an unnatural cloud seemed to bathe the zone in death. This meant warp navigation was a very deadly prospect and ships entering the zone were forced to navigate this region through real space.
Worse still is the fact that traditional astrological navigation, such as the utilization of pulsars for telemetry, is impossible here. Upon entering the zone, most astronomical data becomes obscured both visually and electronically. Why or how remains a mystery to all, except the Inquisitorial forces who call this region home in the present era.
Entering Praeteritus has been compared to entering an inky void. from the outside, nothing appears odd, but from within travelers find the light of the universe dimmed to a near extinguished glimmer, like a dense fog obscuring street lights at night.
This darkness prevented the fleet from finding their way back out of the zone, so the explorators pushed onward in the hopes of finding a breakout point where once again they could see the Emperor’s light.
For years the combined fleets mapped the region. Where they hoped to find useful worlds they instead found emptiness. Only a handful of stars near the end of their lives, each orbited by equally dying or dead worlds, were found. Even the soup of life, gas clouds and element rich nebulae, were swept aside in some great event eons ago that left the zone almost as barren as the void surrounding the galactic arm.
In time, ships and their crews were purged and scuttled as madness descended across the flotilla. Not since the heresy were so many ships lost to mutiny and internal purges, but no taint could be found. The mark of chaos was absent from this dead place just as everything else was. Yet a madness befell the Emperor’s servants as the whispers from fallen gods filled their ears.
The whispers grew with every newly discovered dead world. Expeditions to their surfaces bore the markings of lost civilization’s too alien to comprehend, but in an Imperium where ignorance is viewed as a blessing, their racism was a boon. Their faith in humanity and disgust with the alien likely prevented more of the fleet from falling to madness even as they discovered evidence of a once powerful civilization that shaped the region to its whims and whose final battle against the “Old Ones” caused the darkness that blocked even the Emperor’s light. Another mystery in an already mysterious place.
After a decade of wandering the zone lost and in search of an exit, The Experientia, flagship of the Adeptus Mechanicus fleet, detected several strange signals and readings which punctuated the darkness and gave hope to the crews that salvation was near.
With few options left to them, the fleet pursued the sole signal found in the region in the hopes it would lead them from this damned region.
The signal pulsed as if alive and after a time it began to draw closer to the fleet on its own power. With each beat of it’s unholy heart it closed on them. The flotilla was powerless to draw out forces to meet it without clear lines of communication through the warp. Hopes that the signal would lead them to safety, like a lighthouse along the shore, were dashed as it closed on them.
Long range scans read the signal as a coreless planet three times the size of Terra with three objects orbiting it.
Days before the object would have intersected the fleet, it just stopped, and the veil of darkness, which covered the zone, lifted to reveal an expanse of space ripe for human conquest. Once again the Emperor’s light was visible, though only faintly.
What pursued them would remain a mystery for several millennia and only the highest ranking members of the sectors Ordo Xenos would be privy to that knowledge. The entire region, called the Praeteritus Zone, would be declared off limits to all.
Upon exiting the region, and having reestablished communication with the Imperium, the fleet began the work of surveying the sectors of the newly christened Lusitanian Expanse, named after the captain of the Astra Militarum’s crusading fleet.
From the start, Lusitania appeared distorted and unnatural to the Cult Mechanicus forces leading the expedition. It was, however, far better than the madness of the Praeteritus Zone. Many stellar formations throughout the expanse did not follow any known or discernable patterns of natural creation and organization. Entire sectors seemed to have been managed through unnatural means with entire systems of planets realigned and reshuffled at the whimsy of someone, or something.
Worlds were burned away and stripped of life by gamma bursts from pulsars, which did not exist, and atmospheres were crafted around planets that could not have naturally formed or naturally remain in place. Above all were the telltale signs of countless corrupting and unfathomable alien civilizations lost to time here. So much life lost through unknown means.
To the fleet’s explorators, Lusitania was an enigma crafted by design and scarred and damaged without a thought, but by whom?
The Traders of House Sforza, one of the preeminent trader dynasties from before the Emperor consolidated power on Terra, would be the first to discover a piece of Lusitania’s puzzle.
Forward of the fleet, The lead ship of Sforza’s, the In Amber Clad, discovered signs of a pre-industrial human colony on the planet Tarraco in what is now known as the Tarraconensis Sector. Initial contact revealed a people ignorant of Terra and the history of mankind’s push into space. Some in the fleet went so far as to speculate that the planet’s natives did not arrived on their world during the exodus of mankind from Terra, but came through other unknown means.
Regardless of how they came to call the world home, the savages’ lives revolved around rituals and occult events, mysticism and the apparent control of magic. Measures were enacted to test the population for mutation and psychics, but none was found.
During a meeting with the peoples of the planet’s sole community of humans, Sforza and his exploration team witnessed a ceremony not meant for outside eyes. In it, an elaborate dance, whose rhythm and flow symbolized all manner of perversions, began. No record of the situation survives, few of the witnesses could bare to recount what they saw. What is known is Sforza ordered the first inhabited human world discovered by the expedition to be stripped of all life before the people’s “benefactor” could fully return. Within days of the event, half of the landing party had killed themselves because they were unable to bear what they witnessed.
This event was the first of many purgings to occur as the fleet pushed onward. The reclamation of Lusitania saw more uses of genocidal weaponry than any other colonization effort by the Imperium. This did not go unnoticed by the Inquisition, who began to suspect a larger threat lurked within the expanse, something similar to, but not, chaos.
The few human worlds the expedition did successfully rediscover and integrate were composed of hardy and unforgiving survivors whose legends all spoke of dark times and dread beings from beyond the stars who rose and fell in climactic battles for unknowable ends. These beings could form planets and break them apart on a whim. Their legends spoke of Gods returning one day to reclaim all that was theirs.
These worlds were all developmentally backward, stunted at a medieval technological level. Witch Hunts and purgings were commonplace and done to prevent anyone from daring to bring the Gods back.
To this day, Lusitania maintains the largest number of worlds deliberately kept at a depressed tech-level.
This trait in the human worlds was coveted by the weary fleet and plans were made to foster this attitude during reintegration and colonization.
Such bigotry is common in the Imperium and, given the expanses’ disturbing nature, was not viewed poorly. Such discipline is equally good for combating chaotic taint and Xenos machinations. For the Inquisition, it was proof against whatever hides in Lusitania.
For all the madness rife within the expanse, little is spoken about the successes of the BLANK fleet.
While it is true the fleet had to wipe clean hundreds of worlds suspected, but incorrectly identified, of chaotic taint. Many more worlds were discovered, colonized or reintegrated into Imperial control with little fanfare.
The Lusitanian Expanse possess many described paradise worlds and many others comfortably habitable by mankind. Hundreds of lush green worlds populate the realm offering the citizens of Lusitania a limitless breadbasket and relatively comfortable lives.
Additionally, a pristine and priceless naval shipyard was discovered near BLANK, dating from the dawn of mankind’s expeditions to the stars. Its discovery and recovery gave the Imperium a much needed addition to its still recovering Navy, but also provided the expanse with a powerful bulwark against seen and unseen enemies. From this station’s docks, new and once thought lost keels are laid and built for the Imperium of Man.
During this early period of rediscovery the Knight world of BLANK was also rediscovered and returned to the Mechanicus in the early years of sector exploration. There devotion to duty allowed the Knights to hold and defend more than 50 worlds from an ancient foe they called the Rapine Storm. The storm has not been seen for millennia but legends speak of its return. Just what the Rapine Storm is has yet to be articulated by Inquisitorial savants, but few within the Inquisition doubt the Knight house’s old tales of the horrors the storm brought with it.
In the current age, the Knight house has pledged its knights in service to the Inquisition and its ongoing war to prevent the storm and other eldritch threats from returning.
The most prized discovery, and secretive, made by the fleet was the discovery of an orbital fortress of unknown make and design called Watch Fortress Purgation by the Inquisition and the Deathwatch forces living there now.
Orbiting a degenerate neutron star and its sole pulsar planet, Purgation was a mix of human and alien construction found beyond the Centaurus Arm and deep in the void of space. The structure dates to the Dark Age of Technology, but little else is known or fully understood about the station.
When discovered, the fortress opened itself to the human explorers and its cogitators began revealing a mass archive of data regarding the sector’s worlds to the explorers. This initial data influx has informed much of the Inquisition’s current understanding of Lusitania and its threats, but remains, to date, incomplete. Whether this was by design or accident is unknown to the Inquisition.
At first, it was believed that the information dump was a programmed operation set to go off when contact was made between the station and a third party, but that was brushed aside when the station began conversing with the tech-priests laboring over the station’s inner workings.
The revelation that the fortress possesses an A.I. led to a brief war between the Mechanicus, who decried the station as a heresy of the first order, and the Inquisition, who viewed the AI as a force to be used and exploited in the wars to come. Within the station’s halls, Skitarri and acolytes fought, one to possess it and the other to destroy it.
A greater war was prevented thanks to the secretive nature of the station’s workings because only those on board Purgation knew what was at stake and fought.
Representatives of the Deathwatch, enraged by the fratricidal war being carried out, quickly involved themselves in the fighting, but were honor bound to side with the Inquisitorial forces. The Astartes’ role in in the fighting quickly broke the impasse and led to a third of the Mechanicus’ forces being killed in short order.
Before the conflict could spiral further out of control and drag the entire explorator flotilla into open war, the Genator Cult proposed a theory, which allowed the Mechanicus to back down and save face.
The Genator Cult believe the AI sentience is a human mind uplifted into binary divinity rather than a crafted digital monstrosity. The AI has not confirmed their assumption, but it seems content to go along with the idea. Regardless, the theory ended open conflict within the fleet, and saved the expedition and a wealth of information from being lost.
To date, the digital sentience has shown itself to be friendly and is encouraged by the Imperium’s sector-wide conquest.
At present, the Lord Inquisitor of Lusitania and the Fabricator-General of the Expanse are the only two individuals allowed in direct contact with the AI. What they have revealed of their conversations is restricted but what is known is that the base was to be its creators’ final gift to those who came after their fall. Sometime during the long night. The colonists who made Lusitania their home fought against what they called “the Inconceivable.”
The Inconceivable are grotesque mockeries of reality beyond comprehension whose disturbing otherness cannot be encompassed in any mortal tongue. Humans suffer Brown Note or Go Mad from the revelation effects just from witnessing their Alien Geometries. Reality itself warps around them. Any rules that they do follow are beyond our understanding, as are what motives they might have for any of their actions.
Slowly, more and more data was revealed to the explorers of the station giving hint to this and other threats to come. Threats that are beginning to reveal themselves in increasing numbers in the current era.
As the threats grow, the station awakens further, seemingly without the AI’s direct involvement. New weapons, knowledge and even magic have been released to Purgation’s personnel, and with this knowledge in hand, the clandestine forces of the Imperium fight their secret war from Watch Fortress Purgation against the mutant, Xenos and the heretic.
However, the Inquisition knows that if the station’s creators failed to stop the encroaching darkness, they have little hope to do so themselves.
Lusitania today is a thriving Imperial sector dealing with many of the same struggles and tribulations affecting all Imperial space. There are worlds of beauty and enlightenment, and worlds of fear and suspicion. Some are ruled by great leaders and others by despots.
Its people are varied in outlook and life. Some are blind to struggle and others are keenly aware of it. Each planet has a role to play and its people act out their part. From their works Lusitania is born and the Imperium strengthened.
Its Lusitanian Naval Fleet plows the lanes between worlds and is legendary throughout the Imperium for its skill and prowess. Its people’s agricultural productions feed countless worlds, and its feudal warriors are sought out to serve on the harshest of Astra Militarum fronts.
Sadly, for all their skill and determination, the people of Lusitania are oblivious to the threat hanging over their heads, save the Inquisition and key military leaders.
The bulk of Lusitania’s wealth comes from its naval shipyards and agriculture worlds. The exploratory fleet, which helped to reclaim the system, found an ancient forge world with near pristine naval docks capable of laying the keels of the most vaunted of imperial ship designs.
Because of this, Lusitania possesses a formidable naval defense fleet capable of rivaling many of its older and wealthier neighboring sectors. This, of course, makes the sector an increasingly valuable resource for the beleaguered Imperium.
Its numerous breadbasket planets add to its usefulness to the Imperium and its peoples. Entire planets are devoted to growing and harvesting vast swaths of foodstuffs capable of feeding all of the Lusitanian Sector and its neighbors in segmentum ultima.
Unfortunately, Lusitania’s great distance from Imperial space makes the delivery and deployment of these assets perilous at best and near suicidal at worst. The light of the Astronomican is only a faint pinprick of light in a handful of systems and it is only visible to the greatest of navigators. The emperor’s protection does not fully extend into this troubled region and in a galaxy of darkness, Lusitania is truly alone.
Lusitania’s distance from many of the most violent war zones in the Imperium means its resources can be devoted to fielding Naval vessels and crews rather than wasting it on defensive measures and bloody ground wars, which is not to say Lusitania is free of such things.
Yet Lusitania’s incredible distance from even it nearest neighbors in Segmentum Ultima means the system cannot quickly respond to anything outside its immediate space.
Calls for ships, men, soldiers, and food can take decades to heed. Ships In Lusitania must travel by traditional in-system propulsion and navigation or risk small and frequent warp jumps without the support of the Astronomican to move within the expanse.
This means traveling far enough towards the galactic core to be able to see the emperor’s light can take years and sometime decades to do. This has led some to call the sector a potential rogue state with ambitions for power, and many within the administratum, including several high lords, have speculated that the system could become the site of another civil war as the Caesar ruling it could attempt to break from the Imperium, a baseless accusation at present.
These difficulties with navigation have forced the Navy to get creative and have led to a skilled astrogation corp within the fleet and navigator force.