“The price of our survival is pain, suffering, and death.”
–General Cradtz at the Golgenna offensive
Even more extreme in their views than the Recongregators is the Radical faction known as the Isstvanians. Taking their name from the infamous bombing of Isstvan III, said to have been the spark that ignited the Horus Heresy, they seek to ferment conflict and crisis wherever they tread. It is their belief that the Imperium requires constant strife to survive (a reasonable assumption given the galaxy’s state of near total war), and if it were ever to find itself at total peace, it would collapse and decay. To this end, Isstvanian Inquisitors seek conflict head on, instigating discord within and without the Imperium, starting wars, leading invasions, and stirring discontent into rebellion. Where the flames of war burn, more than likely an Isstvanian can be found fanning them. Isstvanians are not uncommon within the Calixis Sector, as its proximity to both the Eye of Terror and the galactic fringe makes it a ripe location for turmoil.
Isstvanian Domains Edit
Like much of the Imperium, the Calixis Sector is no stranger to war, and it is to these zones of conflict that the Isstvanians flock. Less interested in local, isolated struggles, such as the constant fighting on Iocanthos or the civil war on Acreage, Isstvanians seek out places where the fighting may spill out across star systems, setting countless worlds ablaze with carnage and strife. Such Inquisitors commonly travel the fringe where the rule of the Imperium is most in dispute, and xenos forces, renegade worlds, and the slow seep of Chaos are strongest. The Halo Stars, in particular, are a breeding ground for conflict, one which the Isstvanians have been known to nurture when it suits their purposes.
Isstvanian Operations Edit
Across the sector, Isstvanians and their agents seek to stir up conflict and tear down weak leaders and regimes. In the process, they have been known to invite invasions and cover up small, benign problems until they mutate into large, malignant ones. Isstvanians also work covertly within the networks of the Recongregators, ostensibly appearing to aid them in their efforts, only to send carefully engineered events spinning out of control at the eleventh hour. This has earned them a dire reputation among both the Recongregators and the Amalathians, who both have, intentionally and unintentionally, ended up working on the same side against the “unpredictable” Isstvanians.
Certain fringe followers of the Isstvanian doctrine are known to employ Imperial Diviners to foretell the future.
Isstvanian Inquisitors Edit
The Isstvanian faction attracts a certain kind of Inquisitor, such as the merciless and cruel Inquisitor Amaros. Having made a name for herself in the Ordo Xenos purging indigenous life forms in the Josian Reach, Inquisitor Amaros was repeatedly appalled by the lack of action that local sector authorities were taking to combat what she saw as the spread of potentially dangerous xeno-forms. To remedy this problem, she manipulated a cabal of smugglers and bio-pirates into modifying and distributing gene-engineered aliens as pets and guard-forms. The result was the Trygor Xeno Plague, which led to the deaths of countless citizens and the Euthanous Edict which in turn led to the purging on a dozen worlds of all non-human life. Amaros’s whereabouts are currently unknown.
Isstvanian Secrets Edit
The Isstvanians prefer not to waste excessive efforts on concealment or moving behind the scenes in the same way the Recongregators or Amalathians are known to do. Rather, they act swiftly and decisively, bringing with them fire and ruin. In years past, Ork invasions have cut through the Calixis Sector, spreading destruction in their wake and rallying the sector’s forces against them. Some Isstvanians believe that the time is almost ripe for another such invasion. Through rumor and divination, they have begun to get an idea of where and when a strike might occur. Rather than try to avert the disaster, they are, of course, creating havoc in its path. They are destabilizing worlds that they perceive as weak and diverting questionable military commanders to the area. Thus, when the hammer blow of the Ork attack is felt, it will ringout loudly across the entire sector.
The Crusade into the Calyx ExpanseEdit
Not all wars have at their heart the conspiracies and designs of an Istvaanian, but the war that created the Calixis Sector did, according to those Istvaanians who passed the torch to their successors within the Conclave Calixis today. For millennia before a crusade was launched to claim it, the Calyx Expanse was known thanks to the writings of the Rogue Trader Solomon Haarlock who declared it to be a “chalice of great and ancient wickedness” that would only be purchased for the Imperium with a “great effusion of blood.” It was this malign reputation that drew the notice of Istvaanians, who saw it as a cauldron of wrath and fire into which servants of the Imperium could be plunged, and so be tempered by a war of the bloodiest kind. Of those Istvaanians active in Segmentum Obscurus at that time, it was the great and notorious Inquisitor Lord Stark who saw the possibilities of the Calyx Expanse as a field of trial. He used the patronage and the alliances he had assembled over hundreds of years to draw together a conspiracy of Inquisitors of Istvaanian convictions. Under the direction of Lord Stark, these disparate Radicals bent their will to create a movement for war to be waged in the Calyx Expanse.
It took a decade of maneuvering in every branch of the body Imperium before their objective was at last in sight: the raising of a warrior to the rank of Lord Militant and the granting to that warrior of a writ to persecute a crusade within the Calyx Expanse. The design of Inquisitor Lord Stark and his fellow Istvaanians was a success in all but one, crucial detail. At the last minute, the High Lords of Terra decided to pass over Lord Stark’s carefully groomed choice for Lord Militant and instead invested Golgenna Angevin as Lord Militant of the crusade. So it was that the Istvaanians succeeded in creating their crucible of blood and fire but saw the forces plunged into it led, not by a fierce and blooded warrior of their choosing, but by a weak and vain man obsessed by status and patronage. No matter what great qualities lying poets would later give him, to the Istvaanians Angevin’s weakness was plain enough that it would require no testing to be proved. To them Angevin’s slow decline and the rise of a stronger figure was inevitable, for the only other alternative was that the crusade would turn to a slaughter and the Calyx Expanse remain a place still of darkness.
The Fenksworld Calamity Edit
The Fenksworld Calamity lives in infamy as one of the greatest disasters of the Angevin Crusade. Its consequences can still be seen in the towering mausoleums on the world of Orendal’s Tomb, to say nothing of the decades it took to complete the conquest of the Calyx Expanse. In 359.M41, a second front of the Angevin Crusade was opened by a fresh army group gathered from the core worlds of Segmentum Obscurus. Commanded by High Admiral Vaakkon, the new front was intended to link up with Lord Militant Angevin’s forces in the central worlds of the Calyx Expanse and shorten the crusade by years. Such was the intention, but from the outset the Vaakkon’s forces were beset by warp storms that threw battle groups off target, causing a terrible toll in ships and troops who were lost to the warp. Intelligence on the strength of enemy forces and hostile worlds also proved terminally inadequate, as the 100,000 troops lost in an attempted landing on Woe attested. Despite these setbacks, Vaakkon’s forces moved forward inch by blood-bought inch, and it seemed to all on the second front that matters could get no worse. In fact, they were very wrong. The eventual misjudgment, although none knew it, was the product of premeditated design by servants of the Holy Ordos.
The planet of Fenksworld had been established as the crusade’s primary staging point. The space above the planet swarmed with loaders, troop transports, and spear-prowed warships, all gorging on the fuel and supplies fed to them by the installations that had been towed into the system and anchored in high orbit. The life blood of the second front flowed through the docks of Fenksworld, and its loss would be disastrous---but also nearly impossible, given its defenses. Impossible, that is, as long as one ignored the possibility of treachery. The Istvaanian cabal that shadowed the crusade had so far been most satisfied with how the Admiral Vaakkon and his forces had risen to the challenges on the second front, but in Fenksworld they saw an opportunity that could not be wasted to grant the man either death or glory which would see the endeavor of the crusade “put back on the right track.”
It took months of careful work by covert agents to introduce just enough terminal stress and potential flaws into the systems controlling the movement of craft around the Fenksworld docks, and considerably more effort to get suicide-programmed tech-priest and assassin Acolytes aboard the Apocalypse-Class Battleship Tempest’s Child. Then, as the vast form of Tempest’s Child approached Fenksworld, several crucial scanning and communication systems were crippled, the bridge crew massacred, and its engine and reactor output locked to maximum. As flocks of craft jostled in confusion around the docks, the stricken warship ploughed into them. Over fifteen warships, twenty mass conveyors, and countless other craft were lost in an expanding cascade of destruction. The Fenksworld life line was cut, and hundreds of thousands of troops scattered amongst the hostile stars had their support stripped away.
The Fenksworld Calamity did not destroy the second front, but cost the lives of millions and extended the crusade by years, even decades. For the Istvaanians, their actions were later vindicated when the unbreakable warriors that came out of the hell of the second front became the keystone of the battle against the dark forces that were to beset the Crusade in later years as it pushed ever onwards into the Hazeroth Abyss and the Adrantis Nebula. They would say that such heroes were bought by fire and calamity in the void above Fenksworld.
The Mara Landing MassacreEdit
The Mara landing massacre was, apparently, one of the greatest tragedies of mis-navigation ever to occur within the Calixis Sector. The ice world of Mara is a cursed place where no man is permitted to set foot. A frozen world devoid of life, Mara was once home of a number of Imperial installations, including a mining facility. Through a series of incidents so dark and terrible that their details are held under seal by the Holy Ordos, Mara was stripped of all living souls and left alone in the cold void to be a place of secret legends and tales of madness. It remains quarantined to this day, patrolled by ships from Battlefleet Calixis.
The tragedy of the Mara landing massacre began when the troop transport Vervilix, bound for the war on Tranch, suffered a critical navigational error and dropped out of the warp close to the ice world of Mara and within the cursed world’s quarantine zone. Disaster might have been averted had the ship’s engines and communications not failed and left it drifting alone and lost above one of the most dangerous places in the Calixis Sector. Not knowing where they were but detecting structures on the surface, the officers commanding the 100,000 troops on board decided to mount a landing onto the surface in an attempt to gather information on their position and press aid from any that might live on the ice world. This decision was to cost the lives of over 50,000 men.
Soon after the landing, all communication with the surface was lost. First-person reports from breathless dropship pilots told how the troops deployed to the surface had begun to slaughter each other, and discordant sounds began to rip through the communications networks---alongside cries imploring someone to “make the buzzing stop.” Not knowing how to respond, the officers poured more troops onto the surface of Mara until most of the soldiers had been deployed. When the Imperial Navy patrol ships reached the Vervilix five days later, only a few hundred survivors could be recovered from the thousands who had set foot on Mara. An investigation by the Holy Ordos determined that it was a tragedy of misadventure.
Most of the survivors were executed, and quarantine patrols around the ice world were doubled. Since the massacre, rumors have persisted in the Calixian Conclave that the cascade of accidents and coincidences that lead to the disastrous planetfall were not the product of chance, but carefully planned and orchestrated by the renegade Istvaanian Inquisitor Amaros and her close servants. It is said that Amaros was keen to see whether any useful survivors could be created and harvested from exposing untried guardsmen to such a great, unknown threat. The involvement of Istvaanians in engineering the circumstances of the massacre has never been proven, although a number of the survivors who were not executed for potential taint were quietly drawn into the service of several Inquisitors with suspected links to Amaros, a fact which may itself have sparked the theory. This harvest of survivors was bought in the blood and madness of thousands, but if the stories are true, its creator likely considered it a small price to pay.
Current Conspiracies Edit
“Our test is crisis; no others are of worth. All life is war, all war is life. It is self-evident. Every human being is born with blood on their hands.”
–Lady Alecto Amaros, On War, Vol I
Istvaanians are commonly seen as rash and headstrong individuals who will not allow the Imperium a moment’s respite from strife and conflict. The relative current stability of the Calixis sector might, therefore, indicate a small or inconsequential involvement by the warmonger Inquisitors within the sector. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Istvaanian actions have been woven into the fabric of the sector since before the Angevin Crusade, and a hardened core of Istvaanian Inquisitors operates at the heart of the Calixian Conclave. The current situation is simply the quiet before the coming storm as far as they are concerned, a storm that may be unleashed if several powerful Istvaanian conspiracies bear fruit.
The Hyades Locks
A number of powerful Istvaanians within the Tyrantine Cabal have discovered passages within the deep archives that speak of the Hyades Locks, a subject with which they have become rapidly obsessed. The nature of these devices is uncertain, but the fragments of ancient legend and prophecy speak of them as “great locks to the portals through which all shall pass to endless sleep, held fast by ages and secured by the key,” and indicate that they are present on a number of worlds within the sector.
It seems clear to the Istvaanians that opening these locks will destroy the worlds on which they rest. The efforts of a number of Istvaanian Inquisitors, including Lady Amaros, have uncovered indications that one of these devices exists in the heart of the Golgenna Reach. Using any means at their disposal, these Inquisitors are racing to discover the exact location of this and other Hyades Locks, and the keys to open them. Whether the key is metaphorical, allegorical, or literal is currently unclear, as the only reference to it is contained within the Propheticum Hereticus Tenebrae and speaks only of a “key once held by the herald.” The intent of the Istvaanians, should they find both lock and key, is simple: open the lock and let the death of a world shake Calixis out of its dormancy and content.
Unfortunately for the Istvaanians, the matter of the Haydes Locks pertains to events and powers already in motion far outside the warmonger’s usual remit. They are dangerously late comers to a particularly dark and terrible game and may well suffer for it.
The Madness of Marius Hax
Sector Governor Marius Hax is a fair and even-handed man who many believe is slipping into paranoia and tyranny. This change has not been one of his own making, nor a consequence of some weakness of mind. It is the product of careful manipulation by agents serving masters of the Istvaanian conviction, Inquisitors who see the myriad threats and dark prophesies that are rising like shadows all around the Calixis Sector as a coming trial by fire, in which Hax must prosper or the sector must die.
Devoted to ordered rule, and harsh in his judgment of any thing that threatens it, Hax has had his nature played on by carefully engineered assessments of the sector’s stability, steered by incidents which cause him to question the loyalties of his servants and the Adepta. Moreover, advisors who serve other, secret masters have been carefully positioned to bend his ear. By these means, a number of Istvaanians have succeeded in making Hax increase the military power of the Lord Sector’s office beyond its direct necessity and secure the armed forces loyal to him alone, such as the notorious Chaliced Commissariat. These manipulators are also nudging the Lord Sector’s perception and mental state further and further into fear of rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy. Inch by inch, they are creating Marius Hax as a fanatic who will rise to a crisis at the head of a tide of blood and iron. Such a deadly crisis is surely not far off.