Today Loremasters, we revisit one of the myriad bloody struggles to grip the Imperium–today we speak on the Age of Apostasy and the birth of the Adepta Sororitas.
Any loyal subject of the Imperium should know of the Ecclesiarchy and its pronouncement of Imperial Faith throughout the galaxy. As well any good subject should know of the Administratum, the bureaucratic power that wields well the missives sent from the Golden Throne. These two organizations have often been at odds–but never were they more conflicted, or strangely united, than when they were both ruled by one man. Plunged into the darkness of the Age of Apostasy, the Imperium struggled–but as proof that struggle gives rise to the greatest of heroes, it is out of this conflict and the bloody reign of a maniacal tyrant, that some of the Imperium’s greatest heroes, the Adepta Sororitas, were born.
The Adepta Sororitas date their founding from the 36th Millennium, and more specifically from the later events of the Age of Apostasy. The Adepta Sororitas trace their origins to the world of San Leor. An order known as the “Daughters of the Emperor”, an all-female cult dedicated to worship of the Emperor, had been discovered on San Leor by members of the Ecclesiarchy. How might a small cult (of no more than 500 or so who devoted themselves to both the Emperor and strength through Inner Purity) have grown into the massive force that now marches into battle wherever their Faith and Flames are needed?
It all comes down to the cruel tyranny of one man who seized control of the Imperium (or so he believed) for a few brief moments. We are speaking of Goge Vandire, High Lord of the Administratum (and also Ecclesiarch of the Adeptus Ministorum). His is the name that heralds the Age of Apostasy and the Reign of Blood, which should tell you everything you need to know about how his rule turned out. His sinister reputation and alleged use of assassins to foment his rise to power led him to quickly move through the ranks of the Administratum, bringing others along with him. Indeed, even in the Ecclesiarchy–which he vocally opposed, claiming their power was being abused to steal resources from those who needed them (and there is some truth to this)–Vandire’s influence can be seen. His was the hand that elevated Ecclesiarch Paulis III, and the hand that pulled his strings.
Thus when Vandier and the forces of the Administratum invaded the Ecclesiarchical headquarters and executed Paulis III for treason, did Vandire find himself at the head of two organizations. Vandire purged the Ecclesiarchy of any who opposed him. Those Cardinals who had not already fled gathered onto a single ship and set off for Ophelia VII in an attempt to escape Vandire. Their ship was, however, engulfed by a gigantic warp storm and never seen again just as they entered the warp. Vandire used this as evidence to claim that it was the Emperor’s will that they should die and that he himself should lead the faith of the Imperium. Vandire then elected Cardinals of his own choosing to fill the benches, including many weak-minded fools and several brilliant geniuses who were just cruel enough to follow Vandire. He now had total control of the two most powerful facions in the Imperium. And a thirst for blood that would make a Daemon of Khorne take note.
But Vandire, megalomaniacal and paranoid that he was, was not an unintelligent man. Canny and twisted was his mind–and vast was his network of spies, who would search the galaxy for cults that were not under his control. One of these was a small cult of perhaps only five hundred members on the little known agri world of San Leor. Naturally, Vandire was furious at this; people were worshipping the Emperor in a way he didn’t control. But the more he heard the more he began to covet this knowledge. The sect was called the Daughters of the Emperor and was open only to women, who devoted themselves to the worship of the Emperor through inner purity. They studied the arts of war tirelessly and honed their skills throughout their entire lives
Recognizing an opportunity where he saw one, Vandire decided to visit San Leor and recruit the Daughters into his own private army. He took with him almost 100 soldiers and servants to San Leor. Though showing canny foresight, the Daughters at first refused to accept his authority. When Vandire reached their temple, he found the gates barred against him and was informed by a young Daughter that he was not recognized by the cult. Vandire had expected this and ordered them to witness an example of the strength of the Emperor in him. With a small bodyguard, Vandire entered the temple and clutched his Rosarius while kneeling to the Emperor, praying for protection. He then stood and ordered one of his guards to shoot him. The officer loaded his laspistol and shot Vandire in the chest. There was a blinding flash of light and when it faded, Vandire was still standing, unhurt, owing not to any special protection of the Emperor, but rather the secret conversion field embedded within the Rosarius.
As one the warriors in the temple fell on their knees to him. The Daughters took this to be a sign, and swore allegiance to Vandire virtually on the spot. They were renamed the Brides of the Emperor, and became Vandire’s most loyal followers.
The Daughters took oaths of fealty to Vandire and he elevated them to the position of Ecclesiarchal bodyguards, taking them back to Terra. From then on they were the bodyguards and closest companions to Vandire, and he renamed them the Brides of the Emperor. They were trained by the best soldiers of the Imperial Guard and given the most modern weaponry, and word of their dedication to Vandire spread throughout the Imperium.
When the Ecclesiarchy tried to assassinate Vandire, the Brides entered the meeting chamber of the traitorous Cardinals and locked the doors behind them; one hour later they emerged with the heads of every cardinal present During the Siege of the Ecclesiarchal Palace, the Adeptus Custodes, the praetorians of the Emperor himself, tried to approach the Brides and convince them of Vandire’s treachery.
But the lies of a Traitor can only deceive those around them for so long, before the Light of the Emperor’s Truth shatters it like shadow before the morning sun.
In a last ditch effort to convince them, the Custodes took Alicia Dominica, leader of the Brides, and her chosen bodyguards deep into the Imperial Palace where they stood before the Emperor himself. What happened there remains unknown – Dominica and her companions were sworn to secrecy – but it became clear that the Brides, who reverted to the title of Daughters of the Emperor, had been awakened to the evil that Vandire represented. Marching into his audience chamber, Dominica paused only to condemn Vandire for his crimes before she beheaded the power-crazed dictator. Reportedly, Vandire’s final words were “I don’t have time to die – I’m too busy!”
After this episode, the newly appointed Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor proclaimed the Decree Passive which forbade the Ecclesiarchy from having “men under arms”. Under the literal interpretation of the decree the Adepta Sororitas, being female, were not obligated to disband. Thor, recognising the need for the Ecclesiarchy to have some kind of force and internal regulator, allowed them to remain even if the spirit of the decree was rather blatantly disregarded.
Thus have the Adepta Sororitas learned how treacherous a heretic and traitor can be. A lesson that all of us must learn, whether by word or by flame.