Story:The Shape Of The Nightmare To Come 50k section06

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Section 06: Church of the Deluded: Grand SicariumEdit

Ultramar, during the tempest that engulfed the galaxy, became, at least initially, a bastion of sanity and security for the huddled and fearful servants of the Imperium. As their empire collapsed around them, Ultramar was seen by many as the only option left to the Emperor's people.

The Ultramarine Successors tried their best to return to Ultramar, to their ancestral home. Some could not abandon their worlds, due to their gene fortresses being located there. However, most managed to convert their chapters into fleet based chapters. This was the only way to avoid the new devourer relatively intact, and the only way to travel to Ultramar. In the dark early days of the M42, the small Empire within an Empire expanded its area of effect, with defenceless, leaderless post-Imperial worlds eagerly joining the union of Ultramarines and successors. This expansion was not just a humanitarian one, for the sudden influx of successor chapters necessitated a massive increase in recruitment and training worlds, in addition to a larger infrastructure to accommodate these new arrivals. By the close of M42, almost three thousand Astartes had come to Ultramar, and continued to desperately help fight off the devilish xenos invaders and heretical monsters, that poured from all directions near constantly. The remnants of the Eagle Warriors and the Genesis Chapter, in particular, were instrumental in defending the nearby systems around and within Ultramarian borders. As the first thousand years of the second Age of Strife ploughed onwards, the successors and the ultramarines became an almost homogenous mass, as reinforcements for under strength companies came from anywhere they could find them, be they parent or successor. In general, Ultramarian armies of the period appeared to be strange multi-coloured groups, with each company often having marines from up to six different chapters within their organisation. Geneseed was used in Ultramarine recruits, and that same stock used in other chapters, regardless. During the period, any former guardsmen or PDF left within Ultramar, were press ganged into service in these haphazard affairs.

Calgar tried to keep to his father's codex, but inevitably, compromises had to be made. They had never encountered a situation like this before. Whatever troops he could muster were pressed into multiple running battles across the sub sector. The organisation of the worlds would come later, he just needed to hang onto the ones he already had.

Quality of life in the Ultramar worlds became much lower than the comfortable conditions of M41. Over crowding and over population due to refugees made resources scarce, and intense rationing and high taxes were thrust upon the general populace. As memory of the Emperor became more distant, and rumours of his death spread, devotion and prayer eventually began to drift towards the protectors of the Realm: the Angels Astartes. Cults of personality began to spread across the various worlds of Ultramar, and the Marines became figures of divine judgement and awe. No tithe was ever rejected by these ignorant peasants. Even as they died in the street, blind devotion grew in intensity. Some would say despicably, none of the marines discouraged this. Many secretly believed themselves superior than mortal men, and confirmation of this by the laity must have inflated their self importance to monstrous levels. None moreso than the famous Cato Sicarius. 

Formerly of the Ultramarines second Company, Sicarius became Centurion Maximal of the defence effort, a rank created by Calgar, who was becoming a very ancient man by this point. Sicarius commanded the offensive war effort, to keep the heretics, horrific xenos, and rival Imperiums, from tearing down what they had won, whilst Calgar instructed Agemman, Regent of Ultramar (and Sicarius' rival) to look after the administration and regulation of the realm, in co-operation with Calgar himself.

By the 455.M42, Calgar had grown restless. He desired for the expansion of Ultramar, to bring sanity back to the galaxy, and remake the Imperium. He saw himself as like unto Guilliman himself, who had pulled the Imperium from chaos back into Order following the Horus Heresy. He was supremely angry that Sicarius was not expanding, and demanded an explanation. Sicarius tried to explain that he was too pressed simply with keeping the realm secure, and that to expand would be to leave other worlds vulnerable.

Nevertheless, Calgar began to accompany Sicarius, and led some expeditions of his own. However, in the people's minds, Sicarius was the true hero, and many began to praise him openly. Sicarius's supporters began to turn his points about security, into ones about racial purity. 'Ultramar for the Ultramarians' began to be heard in the filthy overcrowded cities across the Realm.

It was in 553.M42, that this mounting distrust between the three men came to a head. A great chaos Warlord called Vashnaraman, had gathered a vast army of insane and deluded minions, backed up by demonic engines and a huge fleet of vessels, and had ravaged the Goldian Imperium, and the Imperium of the Thorians. Calgar called for a vast force of Ultramar, to sally forth from his realm, and engage this force in battle, for glory and for the Emperor. Sicarius, amazingly, openly dissented, claiming this was a fool's folly. The Ravager's forces were not on a path to Ultramar. Why risk a war they could not win, which would leave the realm weak?

Sicarius was not alone in this, and several Vassal-Chapter Masters lobbied Calgar to reconsider.

He did not. Thus, a force of 500 marines, with their attendant fleet vessels and human Auxiliaries, surged forth to engage the Warlord. Notably, Sicarius remained within Ultramar's borders, while Agemman, keen to curry favour with Calgar, joined the crusade (the second largest marine force since the fall of the Imperium) as it plunged into the dark, uncharted region beyond the border worlds of Ultramar.

It was upon the world of Thracis, that Calgar engaged the Warlord and his forces. A seven million strong force of frothing madmen and callous mercenaries, faced Calgar's force of 3000, only 500 of which were Marines. The battle upon the plain of Canthor was legendary. Calgar used every trick and ploy taught in the codex, and even some improvisations suggested by Telion and the dreadnought Uriel. The war was thuggish, brutal and short. Calgar simply could not defeat the huge force which assailed him. It was grim testimony to how far even Ultramar had fallen, that it could not longer defeat a force such as this. Calgar determined that he would be the one to end the war. He fought his way through the press of foul chaotic bodies, Agemman and the Honour guard following in his wake. The Chapter Master reached to within fourteen feet of the skull-helmed Vashnaraman. However, tragically, a venomous dart, fired by a sickening depraved Eldar mercenary, struck the great man in the throat. The Eldar was said to have told Calgar, as he lay dying, that the bolt had been from a prominent lord of the Shadow realm. The Vile thing had not managed to tell Calgar who it was, as Agemman struck its head from its shoulders, and dragged Calgar from the fighting.

Bloodied and broken, after weeks of fighting, the few survivors of the ill-fated crusade managed to claw their way back to their vessels, and made haste back to Ultramar. However, when Agemman and the few survivors returned, Ultramar was not how they remembered it.

Banners proclaiming Sicarius' ascension to Chapter Master fluttered in the wind, from banner poles across every world. Work was beginning upon statues and memorials to Sicarius. As Agemman was to learn, Cato had informed the Council of Chapter masters that Calgar, upon heading for the Crusade, had promised him leadership of Ultramar, knowing that he would die on his crusade. Sicarius had denounced Calgar as a dreaded Codex-breaker (which had become the gravest heresy according to Sicarius), and accused Agemman of corrupting Calgar's mind.

The defence monitors and warships that engaged the returning fleet gave them two options: surrender Agemman, and be welcomed back into the fold of Ultramar, or be slain as heretics of the highest order. Heroically, they refused. They were promptly boarded by the vile sycophant Master Titus, of the Genesis Chapter, who had become regent in the absence of Agemman. His forces overwhelmed the crusaders, and Agemman was brought back to Macragge in chains.

Of Telion and his contingent, no trace was found. Some said he died on Crusade, while the most prevalent theory is that, upon seeing what his Ultramarines had become, he had cast off his armour in disgust, cursing. "Oh Imperium! What has Man fashioned of ye?", before he and his closest acolytes donned simple hooded robes, and vanished into the wilderness beyond Ultramar.

Agemman was executed by Sicarius' own Talassarian blade, before millions of adoring subjects.

Over the next millennia, Ultramar became more internally concentrated, and Sicarius' cult of personality grew and grew, until the Chapter Master now demanded that he be worshipped as the apparent God he was. The Marines became semi-divine Angels, and were worshipped alongside him. The Sons of Orar were particularly concerned with ensuring worship of Sicarius was regulated tightly. Holy books and histories grew up about him, and myth became fact, and fact became lies, and all the while, Sicarius grew more and more insane. He was the descendant of the God-Emperor. Thus, as the God-Emperor was dead, he, Cato Sicarius was God. He had the great Obsidian Fortress built on Macragge, the titanic structure sprawled across the back of the former polar defence fortress. Tapestries depicting him fighting and killing Behemoth single-handedly, or battling the monstrous daemon-infested Calgar, began to spring up across the fortress' monolithic interior.

In M43, Ultramar was renamed Grand Sicarium, in honour of their God. He was king of all Space marines, and he demanded they treated him as such. Though powerful beyond measure, he was always paranoid, and the secretive, hollow-eyed special force of Chapter Serfs, known as Idoltrators, moved amongst the squalid societies of Grand Sicarium, from the ash fields of Tarsis, to the Mines of Colchis. Anyone even so much as voicing a concern about Sicarius was arrested and tortured.

His vast throne room within the Obsidian fortress, was said to be lavishly decorated, in all the finest decorations and adornments. His guards flanked every door, and he allowed no one to enter his sanctum, and all business of state was handled by Titus, the miserable and base Regent of Grand Sicarium.

Upon great pikes lining the citadel, Calgar and Agemman's heads were struck upon spikes. It was a stark reminder that Ultramar, and all the glory that came with it, was dead. Only the madness and abomination of Sicarius remained.

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Continued in Warhammer 60K: Age of Dusk