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Ciaphas Cain

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Ciaphas Cain

Commissar Ciaphas Cain

Ciaphas Cain was an Imperial Guard Commissar. He was in active service during the last century of the 41st Millennium, and was over 200 Terran years old when he was recalled into service during the 13th Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler. It is certain that he survived more than a quarter of a century into the 42nd Millennium. Imperial propaganda made him out to be a great hero of the Imperium of Man in the late 41st Millennium, although in truth he was primarily focused on his own survival during his long career. However, Cain differed from many other Imperial Commissars in that he would not readily sacrifice his soldiers unless it ensured his own survival. Cain tried his utmost to avoid engaging in actual combat, but usually was required to do so to maintain his status as a Hero of the Imperium, which ironically would involve him in more dangerous situations than any he would usually have seen as a simple Commissar. He was responsible for many successful campaigns throughout his career and retired to become an instructor for new Imperial Commissars at a Schola Progenium.

Cain's Memoirs

Commisar Ciaphas Cain

Commissar Ciaphas Cain of the Imperial Guard

In the early 42nd Millennium his Memoirs were published amongst the ranks of the Inquisition. They were sequestered by order of the Inquisition, and were kept and organised as the "Cain Archive" by Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Amberley Vail with whom Cain had many encounters over his career, and shared a close working and personal relationship. Vail edited Cain's chaotic notes, and using information from additional sources, such as the memoirs of Valhallan General Jenit Sulla, published 101.M42, made available -- for the internal use only of the Inquisition -- first-person accounts of several Cain missions, often annotated by herself. It is worth noting, as Inquisitor Vail did in footnotes throughout the memoirs, that Cain was a skilled liar and dissembler, however his narrative is refreshingly honest concerning his shortcomings, and even, according to Vail, overly modest in recording his victories against the enemies of the Imperium.

Origins and Early Life

Cain makes numerous mentions of his homeworld, apparently a Hive World, though he never mentions a name or any feature which could lead to it being identified. At one point in the archives, Inquisitor Amberley Vail speculates that Cain may not in fact know the name of his own homeworld. However, he shows a definite affinity for underground passages and has a natural sense of direction when underground. He claims that his parents were killed while serving in the Imperial Guard, which is why he was sent to be trained as a Commissar. However, it has not been stated in which regiment they served. His record at the Schola Progenium where he was educated and trained shows that his marks were on the low end of average in everything save sports and combat training. He also had a clear disciplinary record, however this probably means he didn't get caught that often in bad behaviour.

Service History

Throughout his service in the Imperial Guard Commissariat, Cain seems to have served predominantly with regiments raised from the Ice World of Valhalla. He picked up a number of their habits and slang terms, although he never became enamoured of the cold they enjoyed, or their habit of taking showers in ice water. His loyal aide Ferik Jurgen was a Valhallan Guardsman who happened to be a psychic Blank, and served Cain faithfully for many years. Also with him was General Jenit Sulla, early in her career. She was a lieutenant in most of the published extracts from the "Cain Archive", later promoted to Captain.

He began his service with the Valhallan 12th Field Artillery in 919.M41, apparently as a Commissar attached to the command battery, but soon took up duties over the entire regiment. His first taste of battle was on the world of Desolatia, where the regiment had been defending against Orks, but soon they were faced with a Tyranid splinter Hive Fleet, which they held out against until an Imperial fleet arrived to pick up the Imperial forces on the planet.

Cain, and his regiment's, next destination was the planet of Keffia, where he spent a restful few years of the 920's, and the only major battle he participated in was assisting the local law enforcers (calling themselves Custodes, though the title is unrelated to the Adeptus Custodes of the same name) in revealing a Genestealer infestation in the sector and assisting in the defence of the enforcers' headquarters.

From Keffia, Cain went to the world of Perlia, where he was first earmarked for greater things. After a space battle, he and his adjutant Jurgen were left isolated on the ground of Perlia, presumed dead after their escape pod crashed behind Ork lines. From there, he raised an army and, in what became known as the March of the Liberator, successfully fought his way through the Orks to the Imperial front line, killing the Ork warlord personally. The Imperial forces took the opportunity to attack the remaining Ork forces, who were in disarray.

On the world of Slawkenberg, Cain and three Guardsmen were nearly seduced by a Chaos sorceress whilst accompanying scouts, but managed to destroy the enemy position with artillery. From there, Cain was assigned to Commissariat Command for a few years, which was at first a simple desk job, but his reputation meant that he was sent on risky missions. These included a trip to Interitus Prime, a Necron Tomb World, Viridia and Viridia Secundus, the cleansing of a Space Hulk, campaigns against the Eldar, the cleansing of the world of Sanguia, and the campaign to reclaim Archipelaga. He survived these campaigns purely by being able to keep his head down, and commonly being the only survivor. Before long, he requested transfer back to a full regiment since it seemed to be less dangerous work. Of these experiences, Cain notes that his encounter with the Necrons was the most horrific, and left the most lasting impression on him.

Currently the majority of extracts available from the Cain Archive tell of his time serving with the 597th Valhallan Regiment. While serving with that regiment Cain appears to have been very close to the troopers, particularly with the senior officers with which he had a personal friendship. This bond is only natural; Cain himself can be said to be responsible for founding the regiment, which was comprised of the combined remains of the 301st and 296th Valhallan Regiments. One was an all-male regiment, and the other was all-female. Designated the 296th/301st Valhallan Regiment, they had a deep and bitter resentment of each other, which escalated into a cafeteria riot which left a few regiment members and a few transport voidship's crewmen dead. Cain took steps and petitioned the Administratum to allow the regiment to be renamed the 597th Valhallan Regiment -- which was the sum of 296 + 301, a name symbolic of their origins while also enforcing the unity of the combined regiment. Cain insisted on combining squads from both regiments and instituted a few rewards for good behaviour and performance, practices which turned it into an unified and disciplined force, and remained traditional even after he moved on from the regiment.

Cain was present with the 597th Valhallan Regiment of the Imperial Guard for their first action during the Gravalax Incident of 931.M41, where he was awarded the Order of Merit of Gravalax, Second Class, for his part in preventing the Tau Empire's annexation of the planet Gravalax on the Eastern Fringes of the Imperium. Cain was to joke in later years that if he had allowed the Tau to kill Governor Grice, the grateful populace would have given him the First Class decoration! In truth, the planet had been infested by a Genestealer Cult that had been trying to spark off a meaningless war over a backwater planet between the Tau and the Imperium in order to distract them both from the approach of a Tyranid Hive Fleet. It was during this affair that Cain first encountered Inquisitor Amberley Vail, and also discovered that his aide Jurgen was in fact a psychic Blank: a trait which saved Cain's life as he duelled the Genestealer Patriarch. The campaign concluded with the death of Governor Grice, revealed to be a member of the cult, at the hands of Inquisitor Vail and the withdrawal of Tau military assets from Gravalax.

The next year, he served on the world of Simia Oricalcae, defending a refinery against Ork predations and an awakening Necron threat beneath the ice. Shortly after this, he was sent to the planet Periremunda after a civil uprising occurred. It was discovered that Genestealers were behind the uprising, and had already attracted the attention of a splinter fleet. After many hard-fought battles, the infection was finally cleansed.

After fighting the xenos Hrud on Skekwi and Orks on Kastafore, Cain arrived at Adumbria in 937.M41, where he assisted in uncovering a Chaos ritual and defending against landing Chaotic forces. His actions defeated a Daemon Prince and prevented the transformation of the planet into a Daemon World. He was later court-martialed, an action initiated by Commissar Tomas Beije, for leaving the front line on Adumbria to attack the site of the Daemon Prince's summoning, but Cain was cleared of all wrongdoing, and Beije was charged himself for obstructing Cain's activities. Beije was later acquitted after Cain testified that Beije was incompetent but did mean well and was attempting to perform his duties as he believed them to be.

The Valhallan 597th was called on in 938.M41 to help with the pacification of Lentonia. They arrived as the battle took a new and sinister form; a strange plague was sweeping through Guard and locals alike, and those killed by it would rise from their graves to attack the still-living. Attempts to create a vaccine worked in laboratory settings, but failed when used on the infected. Cain happened to notice that a cut Jurgen had suffered from one revenant had healed completely, when less-severe wounds inflicted by their claws festered in others. Cain realized that there was both a physical and Warp factor to the plague. Jurgen's Blank nature had blocked the second factor, allowing him to heal normally. At his suggestion, some vaccine was blessed by a hierophant, and then proved fully effective. While carrying blessed vaccine to be placed in artillery shells for use against the revenants, Cain and Jurgen encountered the Nurglite cult controlling the revenants and destroyed them.

In 942.M41 Cain and the Valhallan 597th were tasked with suppressing an Ork outbreak on Nusquam Fundumentibus, a remote Ice World outside of major Warp routes, where Cain had been on a mission two standard decades earlier. While pursuing the action against the Orks, Cain discovered the presence of a Tyranid swarm that had been hibernating for millennia (likely since pre-Imperial times, certainly long before the arrival of Hive Fleet Behemoth) in the planet's permafrost, carried over by a crashed Hive Ship. The swarm was partially awakened by the action on the planet, but the Hive Mind was destroyed before it could become fully operational, largely due to Cain's efforts.

In the mid 900s, Cain left regimental service to become the Commissarial Liaison Officer on Lord General Zyvan's staff. As with his earlier command posting, it wasn't quite the routine desk job he was hoping for. In 990.M41, Tau sympathisers in the Deepwater System would have destroyed Zyvan's flagship (with the Lord General on board) had Cain not intervened. In 991.M41, Cain accompanied reinforcements to Quadravidia, then under attack by the Tau, and was present when the Tau requested a truce to deal with Hive Fleet Kraken. Cain then accompanied Zyvan and a Tau emissary to Fecundia to coordinate that world's defenses.

An undated fragment from the "Cain Archive" may fall in this time period as well, or may be from one of the occasions when he was pulled out of retirement during the Tyrannic Wars. Cain was forced into a temporary alliance with a Dark Eldar Succubus when a Tyranid force attacked the world both were on. The Succubus attempted to capture Cain to boost her own standing in her cult, but he outwitted her in the resulting duel and slew her. He then ordered an airstrike to destroy the Webway portal the Wych Cult had used to reach the planet.

Ghosts of Perlia

Cain's actions on the world of Perlia would come back to haunt him on two occasions during the eighty years between the first and second sieges of that planet. The first occurred during the campaign on Periremunda, when Cain discovered that the Ordo Xenos and the Adeptus Mechanicus had been working on a secret project surrounding an artefact known as the "Shadowlight". This unusual artefact, which predated the existence of mankind itself, activated the powers of latent psykers and boosted the powers of already active ones. The Shadowlight had been contained in a secret Mechanicus shrine located within the dam in the Valley of Daemons on Perlia's eastern continent until it had been taken by a rogue tech-priest named Metheius, in the employ of Inquisitor Killian of the Ordo Hereticus. When Cain arrived at the dam -- shortly before destroying it, flooding the valley and drowning scores of Orks -- he had found that the Tech-priests of the shrine had been killed with surgical precision, and learned later that this had been the work of Killian and Metheius, Killian having co-opted the services of an Adepta Sororitas force to raid the shrine.

Killian had allied with a number of Chaos Cults on Periremunda and intended to use the Shadowlight to boost their psychic powers, turning them into servants of the Emperor without them realizing it. Killian's ultimate plan was to use the Shadowlight to create an army of psykers powerful enough to storm the Eye of Terror and take the fight to the forces of Chaos on their own ground (a plan that another psyker deemed could potentially have caused the destruction of the galaxy).

At Inquistor Vail's behest, Cain assisted in tracking Killian down to his lair at an Adepta Sororitas convent on Periremunda. Having already made several attempts to assassinate Cain, Killian tried to win the Commissar over as an ally, but upon learning of Killian's deranged plans and discovering he was using a captive Lictor to lure in a nearby Tyranid swarm to cover his tracks, uncaring of the civilian casualties his escape plan would incur, Cain refused him and a firefight broke out. In the confusion, Jurgen grabbed the Shadowlight and Killian, unawre Jurgen was a blank, made the mistake of assuming Cain or the Mechanicus had found a way to deactivate the device, seized the Shadowlight and attempted to make a break for it, only to be fatally exposed to its full power once he was out of range of Jurgen's abilities. Methius was later killed by Tyranid Gargoyles during the evacuation of the convent before Vail called in an orbital bombardment to exterminate the Tyranids. After Killian's death, the Shadowlight was returned to Perlia in the shrine set in the rebuilt dam in the Valley of Daemons, where it would remain for another sixty years.

The other occasion was during the Second Siege of Perlia, in 999.M41. Cain had by that time retired and made Perlia his home, teaching at a Schola Progenium on the western continent, in a mountainous village near the planetary capital of Havensdown. Meeting with the Rogue Trader Orelius, whom he had met on Gravalax, Cain discovered that there was a Chaos force headed in the direction of Perlia, having overrun two neighboring star systems. It was Cain's suspicion (and Inquisitor Vail's as well, as she had sent Orelius to meet with Cain) that the Chaos horde and their leader, Warmaster Varan the Undefeatable, had their sights set on the acquisition of the Shadowlight artefact, potentially either at the behest of Abaddon the Despoiler or to gain his favour. Called once again to defend Perlia, Cain coordinated with the commanders of the Planetary and System Defense Forces, appearing in pictcasts calling for civilians to join the militia, and leading attacks against Chaos insurgents, culminating in a final showdown with Warmaster Varan himself. Though Cain succeeded in killing Varan and effectively ending the Second Siege, the Shadowlight was taken by a Necron scouting party, presumably to destroy it as psykers were the most potent weapons that could be used against the Necrons. From the Necrons' actions Cain and Amberly Vail theorized that the Shadowlight may have been built by the Old Ones in order to combat the Necrons, who had a documented fear of the Warp and psychic powers. While not an ideal resolution, Cain and Vail concluded that if the Necrons had feared the Shadowlight so, they likely had no plans to use it against the Imperium, which made it preferable for the artefact to be in their hands, rather than those of the forces of Chaos.

After the 13th Black Crusade

Cain spent the years after his service during the 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41 teaching at the Schola Progenium on Perlia and writing his memoirs -- both his public memoir To Serve The Emperor: A Commissar's Life, and the secret Cain Archive that Inquisitor Vail distributed among her colleagues. Cain presumably died sometime in the first or second century of the 42nd Millennium, and remains the only person in the known galaxy to remain on the active duty roster of the Imperial Guard even after being buried with full military honours. This is the result of a confusion in the Departmento Munitorum during the First Siege of Perlia, in which Cain was listed as killed in action until some point after he rejoined his regiment at the campaign's end. This pattern of returning alive after being declared dead occurred often enough during Cain's career that the Munitorum made a special ruling that Ciaphas Cain is to never be considered dead, despite evidence to the contrary. It may be interesting to note that there is a small sect in the Tallarn Desert Raiders regiments of the Imperial Guard who consider Cain to have been a physical conduit of the Emperor's divine will. There even exists a religious text of the Imperial Cult dedicated to Cain, called the Book of Cain.

Personality and Skills

Although Cain performed acts in his long commissarial service that were nothing short of heroic, they were always -- by his own admission -- done reluctantly. He chose his first posting with the Valhallan 12th Field Artillery specifically to avoid front-line combat, as artillery regiments generally remained at the rear of any Imperial army. After the events on Desolatia, however, Cain often made the observation that his commanders were bent on sending him into deadly situations simply on the basis of his reputation. The first thing on his mind was always his own safety, and how he would be able to escape the situation he was in. Despite his reluctance to participate in combat, Cain was by no means unprepared for it, as one of the things he focused on while at the Schola Progenium (in addition to sports) was combat training. He was described as an exceptional swordsman who even had the respect of the Astartes -- a skill which "undoubtedly came from the sort of combat experience no amount of practice could emulate", in the words of Inquisitor Vail, though he still practiced his techniques anyway. In his memoirs he describes his Chainsword skill as a habitual and instinctive one. He was also skilled enough with a Laspistol to actually hit his target well beyond the weapon's accepted operational range, even against Necron Warriors.

Cain had a great degree of social acumen, which he used throughout his career to reinforce his public image as a hero of the Imperium. His deep grasp of practical psychology led him to be much more lax about discipline than he would have been within his rights to be as an Imperial Commissar. The cold-acclimated Valhallan soldiers, for example, were allowed some leniency in their dress as a concession to the uncomfortable temperatures they experienced in non-freezing climes. Cain always tried to find a way around executing soldiers, and preferred to give friendly warnings rather than outright punishments. Cain admits this was to cultivate popularity and give the Guardsmen incentive to try to keep him alive. Whatever the reason, Cain's regiments tended to have high morale without necessarily compromising discipline or combat effectiveness.

Gallery

Sources

  • For The Emperor (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
  • Caves of Ice (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
  • The Traitor's Hand (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
  • Death or Glory (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
  • Duty Calls (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
  • Cain's Last Stand (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
  • The Last Ditch (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
  • Dead in the Water (Audio Drama) by Sandy Mitchell
  • Traitor's Gambit (Short Story) by Sandy Mitchell
  • The Greater Good (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
  • The Devil You Know (Audio Drama) by Sandy Mitchell
  • Old Soldiers Never Die (Novella) by Sandy Mitchell

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