- "There is a terrible darkness descending upon the galaxy, and we shall not see it ended in our lifetimes."
The Necrons are a mysterious race of robotic skeletal warriors that have lain dormant in their stasis-tombs for more than 60 million Terran years and who are the soulless creations and former servants of the ancient C'tan, the terrible Star Gods of Eldar myth. The Necrons are ancient beyond reckoning, predating even the birth of the Eldar. At long last, however, they are beginning to awaken from their Tomb Worlds, for the galaxy is ripe for conquest and the restoration of the Necron Empire since the disappearance of the Old Ones more than 60 million standard years ago. The Necrons are a completely robotic humanoid species whose technological prowess is probably unmatched by any of the other intelligent species of the galaxy. Yet out of a desire for vengeance against the more fortunate long-lived ancient xenos race called the Old Ones, and the trickery of the godlike intelligences known as the C'tan, the Necrons shed their original organic forms and lost all forms of compassion and empathy, becoming ruthless, undying killing machines who are determined to exert their mastery over the galaxy once more.
Across the galaxy, an ancient and terrible race is stirring back to life. Entombed in stasis-crypts for millions of Terran years, they have slumbered through the aeons, waiting for the galaxy to heal from the wounds of a long and bloody war. Now, after sixty million years of dormancy, a great purpose begins. On desolate worlds thought long-bereft of all life, ancient machineries wake into grim purpose, commencing the slow process of revivification that will see those entombed within freed to stride across the stars once again. The unstoppable, undying Necron legions are rising. Let the galaxy beware.
All Necrons, from the lowliest of warriors to the most regal of lords, are driven by one ultimate goal, to restore their ancient ruling dynasties to glory and to bring the galaxy under their rule once more, as it was in ancient days. Such was the edict long ago encoded into the Necrons' minds, and it is a command so fundamental to their being that it cannot be denied. Yet it is no small task, for the Necrons are awakening from their Tomb Worlds to find the galaxy of the late 41st Millennium as recorded by the Imperial Calendar much changed. Many Tomb Worlds are no more, destroyed by cosmic disaster or alien invasion. Others are damaged, their entombed legions afflicted by slow madness or worn to dust by entropy's irresistible onset. Degenerate alien races squat amongst the ruins of those Necron Tomb Worlds that remain, little aware of the greatness they defile with their upstart presence. Yet there is no salvation to be found in such ignorance. The undying have come to reclaim their lands, and the living shall be swept aside.
Yet if billions of Necrons have been destroyed by the passage of eternity, countless billions more remain to see their dominion reborn. They are not creatures of flesh and blood, these Necrons, but android warriors whose immortal forms are forged from living metal. As such, they are almost impervious to destruction, and their mechanical bodies are swift to heal even the gravest wounds. Given time, severed limbs reattach, armour plating reknits and shattered mechanical organs are rebuilt. The only way, then, to assure a Necron's destruction is to overwhelm its ability to self-repair, to inflict such massive damage that its ancient regenerative systems cannot keep pace. Even then, should irreparable damage occur, the Necron will often simply "phase out" -- an automated viridian teleportation beam returning it to the safety of the stasis-crypts, where it remains in storage until such time as repairs can be carried out.
The sciences by which such feats are achieved remain a mystery to outsiders, for the Necrons do not share their secrets with lesser races and have set contingencies to prevent their supreme technologies from falling into the wrong hands. Should a fallen Necron warrior fail to phase out, it self-destructs and is consumed in a blaze of emerald light. Outwardly, this appears little different to the glow of teleportation, leaving the foe to wonder whether the Necron has finally been destroyed or has merely retreated to its tomb. Victory over the Necrons is therefore always a tenuous thing, and a hard-won battle grants little surety of ultimate victory. For the Necrons, defeats are minor inconveniences -- the preludes to future triumphs, nothing more. Immortality has brought patience; the perils that the Necrons survived in ancient times carry the lesson their race can overcome any opposition, if they have but the will to try. And if the Necrons possess only a single trait, it is a will as unbending as adamantium.
Only one hope can now preserve the other intelligent races of the galaxy from the Necrons' advance, from the endless legions of silent and deathless warriors rising from long-forgotten tombs. If the Necrons can be prevented from waking to their full glory, if the scattered Tomb Worlds can be prevented from unifying, then there is a chance of survival. If not, then the great powers of the galaxy will surely fall, and the Necrons shall rule supreme for all eternity -- undying, cruel and utterly implacable.
The Old Ones
Just as the stars gave birth to their children so the planets of the newborn galaxy eventually gave birth to lifeforms composed of matter which began the long evolutionary climb to self-awareness. The first sentient beings of the Milky Way Galaxy known to have developed a civilisation technologically advanced enough to cross the stars was a reptilian race of beings called the Old Ones by the Eldar, who knew them best. They possessed a slow, cold-blooded, but still deep wisdom, having long studied the stars and raised astronomy and physics to such a level that their science and technology appear to humanity like an arcane art. Their understanding of the workings of the universe were such that they could manipulate alternate dimensions and undertake great works of psychic engineering. Their science allowed them to cross the vast gulfs of space with only a single step through the myriad Warp Gates they built to connect the worlds of the galaxy in a vast network much like the Eldar Webway of today, though on a much larger scale. The Old Ones spread their spawn to many places in the galaxy, but they also knew that all life was precious. Where they passed, they seeded new intelligent species and reshaped thousands of worlds to make them their own according to their predetermined environmental and geographic criteria. It is believed by some in the Adeptus Mechanicus that even Terra felt the Old Ones' touch long before humanity's rise to self-awareness, though this notion is considered heretical at best by the Ecclesiarchy, as the Imperial Creed teaches that Mankind was made in the image of the God-Emperor before his spirit was incarnated in physical flesh millennia ago.
The Old Ones' civilisation reached its height in excess of 60 million years ago. The Old Ones were responsible for the creation or genetic advancement of most of the currently active intelligent species of the galaxy, including the Eldar, the Krork (the Orks' precursors), the Slann and the Jokaero, though it is unknown if they played any role in the evolution of humanity. The Old Ones were potent psychics who routinely used the powers of the Warp for a wide variety of technological applications. The Old Ones constructed a system of instantaneous faster-than-light portals through Warpspace that were ultimately adapted to create the Eldar's Webway (and was its more advanced precursor). These portals connected all of the Old Ones' colony worlds across vast swathes of interstellar space.
Birth of the Star Gods
The birth of the entities known as the Star Gods occurred at the same time as the moment of Creation itself, as they formed from the vast, insensate energies first unleashed by that churning mass of cataclysmic force. In that anarchic interweaving of matter and energy, the sea of stars began to swirl into existence and for an eon the universe was nothing more than hot hydrogen gas and light elemental dust ruled over by the gravitic force of billions of newborn suns. Long before the first planets had formed and cooled, the very first truly self-aware beings emerged, their thoughts encased within the lines of force produced by the plasma and electromagnetic flares of the stars themselves. In later times, these entities would become known as the C'tan, but early in their existence they were nothing like the malevolent beings they would eventually become. They were little more than monstrous energy parasites that suckled upon the solar energies of the stars that had brought them into existence, shortening the lives of otherwise main-sequence stars by millions of standard years. In time, these star vampires learned to move on the diaphanous wings of the universe's electromagnetic flux, leaving their birthplaces to drift through the cosmic ether to new stellar feeding grounds and begin their cycle of stellar destruction once more. Beings of pure energy, they paid no mind to the hunks of solid matter they passed in the vacuum of space, the blazing geothermal fires and weak geomagnetic fields of these nascent planets insufficient to be worth feeding even their ravenous hunger.
The Necrontyr and the Wars of Secession
The humanoid species that would become the Necrons began their existence under a fearsome, scourging star in the far reaches of the galaxy known as the Halo Stars region, billions of standard years before Mankind evolved on Terra. Assailed at every moment by ionising solar winds and intense radiation storms, the flesh and blood Necrontyr became a morbid people whose precarious life spans were riven by constant loss. What little information the Imperium of Man has recovered on the Necrontyr tells that their lives were short and uncertain, their bodies blighted and consumed at an early age by the terrible cancers and other illnesses linked to the high levels of ionising radiation given off by their sun. Necrontyr cities were built in anticipation of their inhabitants' early demise, as the living were only brief residents living in the shadow of the vast sepulchres and tombs of their ancestors. Likewise, their ruling dynasties were founded on the anticipation of demise, and the living were thought of as no more than temporary residents hurrying through the more permanent and lasting structures raised to honour the dead. On the Necrontyr homeworld, the greatest monuments were always built for the dead, never the living. Driven by necessity, the Necrontyr escaped their crucible-prison and struck out for the stars, hopeful of carving an empire in which they could realise their species' potential free from the lethal energies of their birth star.
Unable to find peace on their own world, the Necrontyr blindly groped outward into the universe to explore other stars. Using stasis crypts and slow-moving antimatter-powered torch-ships that were clad in the living metal known as necrodermis to resist the millennia-long journeys through the void, the Necrontyr began to colonise distant worlds. Little by little, the Necrontyr dynasties spread ever further, until much of the ancient galaxy answered to their rule. From the earliest days, the rulers of individual Necrontyr dynasties were themselves governed by the Triarch, a council composed of three Phaerons. The head of the Triarch was known as the Silent King, for he addressed his subjects only through the other two Phaerons who ruled alongside him. Nominally a hereditary position, the uncertain life spans of the Necrontyr ensured that the title of Silent King nonetheless passed from one royal dynasty to another many times. The final days of the Necrontyr Empire occurred in the reign of Szarekh, the last of the Silent Kings.
Sometime during their slow expansion, the Necrontyr encountered an ancient species far older than any other in existence in the known galaxy. Collectively, these beings were known as the Old Ones, and they were absolute masters of forms of energy the Necrontyr could not even conceive of, yet alone wield. The Old Ones had long ago conquered the secrets of immortality, yet they refused to share the gift of eternal life with the Necrontyr, who yet bore the curse of the bitter star they had been born under. The colonisation of much of the galaxy by the reptilian mystics had been immeasurably swifter and more expansive than that of the Necrontyr because of their Warp Gates and mastery of the Immaterium. That, and the Old Ones' incredibly long, if not downright immortal lifespans, kindled a burning, jealous rage in the Necrontyr, which ate at their culture spiritually as much as their physical cancers consumed their bodies. The Necrontyr were astonished to learn that another intelligent species enjoyed such long lives while their own were cut so brutally short.
But as time wore on, further strife came to the Necrontyr. Each dynasty of the Necrontyr sought to claim its own destiny and soon the great houses were engaged in all-out conflicts known as the Wars of Secession. Had circumstances remained as they were for but a generation more, it is possible that the Necrontyr would have wiped themselves out, as so many species had before them and shall do in the future. As their territory grew ever wider and more diverse, the unity that had made them strong was eroded, and bitter wars were waged as entire realms fought to win independence. Ultimately, the Triach -- the ruling council of the Necrontyr Empire-- realised that the only hope of unity lay in conflict with an external enemy, but there were few who could prove a credible threat. Only the Old Ones, the first of all the galaxy's known sentient species, were a prospective foe powerful enough to bind the feuding Necrontyr dynasties to a common cause. Such a war was simplicity itself to justify, for the Necrontyr had ever rankled at the Old Ones' refusal to share the secrets of eternal life. So did the Triarch declare war on the Old Ones. At the same time, they offered amnesty to any secessionist dynasties wjo willingly returned to the fold. Thus lured by the spoils of victory and the promise of immortality, the separatist Necrontyr realms abandoned their Wars of Secession and the War in Heaven began.
It was the last of the Silent Kings who headed the Triarch of the Necrontyr Empire, Szarekh, who formulated the plan that would change everything forever and have consequences that would echo through history for countless millions of years. In a typically bitter act of jealousy and resentment for the Necrontyr race, it was the Silent King who used the Old Ones' refusal to share the secret of immortality as a pretext for war, forcibly uniting the entire Necrontyr species beneath the rule of the Triarch against their common foe. War erupted across the stars, yet while the Silent King succeeded in uniting his hateful people, it was a war the Necrontyr could not win. Not on their own.
The War in Heaven
The terrible wars between the Old Ones and the Necrontyr that followed, known later in Eldar myth as the War in Heaven, would fill a library in their own right, but the Necrontyr could never win. Their superior technology was consistently outmanoeuvred by the Old Ones thanks to their mastery of the Webway portals and Warp Gates. The Necrontyr were pushed back until they were little more than an irritation to the Old Ones' dominance of the galaxy, a quiescent threat clinging to their irradiated world among the Halo Stars, exiled and forgotten. The Necrontyr's fury was cooled by their long millennia of imprisonment on their homeworld, slowly transforming into an utter hatred towards all other forms of intelligent life and an implacable determination to avenge themselves upon their seemingly invincible enemies.
But in the face of defeat, the always fragile unity of the Necrontyr began to fracture once more. No longer did the prospect of a common enemy have any hold over the disparate dynasties. Scores of generations had now lived and died in the service of an unwinnable war, and many Necrontyr dynasties would have gladly sued for peace with the Old Ones if the ruling Triarch had permitted it.
Thus began the second iteration of the Wars of Secession, more widespread and ruinous than any that had come before. So fractured has the Necrontyr dynasties become by then that, had the Old Ones been so inclined, they could have wiped out their foes with ease. Faced with the total collapse of their rule, the Triarch searched desperately for a means of restoring order. In this, their prayers were answered,though the price for their species would be incalculably high.
It was during the reign of the Silent King Szarekh that the godlike energy beings known as the C'tan first blighted the Necrontyr. It is impossible to say for certain how the Necrontyr first made contact with the C'tan though many misleading, contradictory and one-sided accounts of these events exist. The dusty archives of the Tomb World of Solemnace claim it was but an accident, a chance discovery made by a stellar prove during the investigation of a dying star. The Book of Mournful Night, held under close guard in the Black Library's innermost sanctum, tells rather that the raw hatred that the Necrontyr held as a race for the Old Ones sang out across space, acting as a beacon that the C'tan could not ignore.
Another account claims that from the earliest days of their civilisation, Necrontyr scientists had been deeply engaged in stellar studies to try to understand and protect themselves from their own sun's baleful energies. After long, bitter centuries of searching for some power to unleash upon the Old Ones, the Necrontyr researchers used stellar probes to discover unusual electrodynamic anomalies in the oldest, dying stars of the galaxy. In the complex skeins of the energetic plasma of these suns, the Necrontyr found a sentience that was more ancient than that of any of the corporeal species in Creation, including the Old Ones, entities of pure energy that had spawned during the birth of the stars eons before. These entities had little conception of what the rest of the universe entailed when the Necrontyr first found them, feeding upon the solar flares and magnetic storms of these bloated red giants. Here was the weapon the Necrontyr had long sought to bring about the downfall of the Old Ones, beings they believed were the progeny of the death-god they worshipped. Howsoever first contact occurred, the shadow of the C'tan fell over the oldest Necrontyr dynasties first.
The power of these star-born creatures was incredible, the raw energy of the stars made animate, and the Necrontyr called them the C'tan or "Star Gods" in their own tongue. The C'tan were dispersed across areas larger than whole planets, their consciousnesses too vast for humanoids to comprehend. How the Necrontyr ever managed to communicate with them is unknown to the Adeptus Mechanicus. Understanding that such diffuse minds could never perceive the material universe without manifesting themselves in a material form, some Necrontyr actively sought the C'tan's favour and oversaw the forging of physical shells for the C'tan to occupy, cast from the living metal called necrodermis that they had once used for their colony torch-ships. Fragmentary Eldar legends tell of translucent streamers of electromagnetic force shifting across space as the star vampires coiled into their new bodies in the physical realm across an incorporeal bridge of starlight. Thus clad, the C'tan took the shapes of the Necrontyr's half-forgotten gods, hiding their own desires beneath cloaks of obsequious subservience.
Incomprehensible forces were compressed into the living metal of the necrodermis bodies which the Necrontyr had forged as the full power of the C'tan at last found form. As the C'tan focused their consciousnesses and became ever more aware of their new mode of existence, they came to appreciate the pleasures available to beings of matter and the other realities of corporeal life. The deliciously focused trickles of electromagnetic energy given off by the physical bodies of the Necrontyr all about them awakened a new hunger in the C'tan very unlike the one they had once sated using the nourishing but essentially tasteless energies of the stars.
So it was that one of the C'tan came before the Silent King Szarekh, acting as forerunner to the coming of his brothers. Amongst its own kind, this C'tan was known as the Deceiver, for it was willfully treacherous. Yet the Silent King knew not the C'tan's true nature, and instead granted the creature an audience. The Deceiver spoke of a war, fought long before the birth of the Necrontyr, between the C'tan and the Old Ones. It was a war, he said, that the C'tan had lost. In the aftermath, and fearing the vengeance of the Old Ones, he and his brothers had hidden themselves away, hoping one day to find allies with whom they could finally bring the Old Ones to account. In return for this aid, the Deceiver assured, he and his brothers would deliver everything that the Necrontyr craved. Unity could be theirs once again, and the immortality that they had sought for so long would finally be within their grasp. No price would their be for these great gifts, the Deceiver insisted, for they were but boons to be bestowed upon valued allies.
Thus did the Deceiver speak, and who can say how much of his tale was truth? It is doubtful whether even the Deceiver knew, for trickery had become so much a part of his existence that even he could no longer divine its root. Yet his words held sway over Szarekh who, like his ancestors before him, despaired of the divisions that were tearing his people apart. For long months he debated the matter with the other two Phaerons of the Triarch and the nobles of his Royal Court. Through it all, the only dissenting voice was that of Orikan, the court astrologer, who foretold that the alliance between the Necrontyr and the C'tan would bring about a renaissance of glory, but destroy forever the soul of the Necrontyr people. Yet desire and ambition swiftly overrode caution, and Orikan's prophecy was dismissed. A Necrontyr year after the Deceiver had presented his proposition, the Triarch agreed to the alliance, and so forever doomed their race.
For their part, the Necrontyr soon fell into awe of their discoveries and the C'tan moved to take control over their benefactors. The powers of the C'tan manifested in the physical world were indeed almost god-like and it was not long before the C'tan were being worshiped as the Star Gods the Necrontyr had named them. Perhaps they had been tainted by the material universe they had become a part of, or perhaps this had always been their nature even when they were bound to the suns they fed upon, but the C'tan proved to be as cruel and capricious as the stars from which they had been born. They soon revelled in the worship of the Necrontyr and feasted upon the life energies of countless mortal slaves.
Biotransference and the Rise of the Necrons
- "When the Silent King saw what had been done, he knew at last the true nature of the C'tan, and of the doom they had wrought in his name."
- —excerpt from the Book of Mournful Night
Armed with weapons of god-like power and starships that could cross the galaxy in the blink of an eye through the use of quantum phase technology, the Necrontyr stood ready to begin their war against the Old Ones anew. But the C'tan had another gift for their mortal subjects. They offered the Necrontyr a path to immortality and the physical stability their race had always craved. Their diseased flesh would be replaced with the living metal of necrodermis that made up their Star Gods' own physical forms. Their discarded organic husks would be consumed and their cold, metal forms would then be free to pursue their great vengeance against the Old Ones and the rest of a hateful universe, freed forever from the weaknesses of their hated flesh.
With the pact between Necrontyr and C'tan sealed, the Star Gods revealed the form that immortality would take for the Necrontyr, and the great biotransference process began. Colossal bio-furnaces built by Necrontyr artifice roared day and night, consuming weak-bodied flesh and replacing it with enduring machine forms of living metal, much like the C'tan themselves. As the cyclopean machines clamoured, the C'tan swarmed about the biotransference sites, drinking in the torrent of cast-off life energy and growing ever stronger.
Whether the Necrontyr actually realised the price they would actually pay for accepting this pact with the C'tan is not known. The immortality the C'tan promised would be delivered unto the Necrontyr by way of the arcane and terrible process of bio-transference. Vast bio-foundries were constructed, and into these the Silent King's peoples marched according to the terms of the pact he had made with the C'tan. What blasphemous procedures the Necrontyr were subjected to within the raging bio-furnaces cannot be known, but certainly, each was stripped of flesh and of soul, his body replaced by a shell of living metal animated by what remained of his guttering self. Above each furnace swooped and dove the ethereal true-forms of the C'tan as they glutted themselves on the spiritual detritus of an entire species. It was only when the Silent King himself emerged from the bio-transference process and looked upon what had become of his people that he saw the awful truth of the pact he had made. Though immortality and nigh godlike strength and vigour were his, it had come at the cost of his soul, the effluvial remains of which had already been sucked down the gullet of a circling C'tan.
As Szarekh watched the C'tan feast on the life essence of his people, he realised the terrible depth of his mistake. In many ways, he felt better that he had in decades, the countless aches and uncertainties of organic life now behind him. His new machine body was far mightier than the frail form he had tolerated for so long, and his thoughts were swifter and clearer than they had ever been. yet there was an emptiness gnawing at his mind, an inexpressible hollowness of spirit that defied rational explanation. In that moment, he knew with cold certainty that the price of physical immortality had been the loss of his soul. With great sorrow the Silent King beheld the fate he had brought upon his people: the Necrontyr were not but a memory, and the soulless, undying Necrons had been reborn in their place.
Yet if the price had been steep, biotransference had fulfilled all of the promises that the C'tan had made. Even the lowliest of the Necrontyr was now blessed with immortality -- age and hard radiation could little erode their new mechanical bodies, and only the most terrible of injuries could destroy them utterly. Likewise, the Necrons now enjoyed a unity that the Necrontyr had never known, though it was achieved through tyranny and the complete loss of individuality and emotion rather than by consent. The biotransference process had embedded command protocols in every Necron mind, granting Szarekh the unswerving loyalty of his subjects. At first, the Silent King embraced this unanimity, for it was a welcome reprieve from the chaos that had consumed the Necrontyr Empire in recent years. However, as time wore on he grew weary of his burden but dared not sever the command protocols, lest his subjects turn on him seeking vengeance for the terrible curse he had visited upon them.
Thus the Necrontyr became the Necrons, cursed to the eternal servitude of their Star Gods. The C'tan feasted upon the entire Necrontyr race's life energies even as they made the transfers, leaving behind only the ghostly echoes of the Necrontyr's consciousnesses. Only a few of the most strong-willed Necrontyr retained their intellect and self-awareness and even they were but shadows of their former selves. They had been purged of so much of what had made them unique individuals. The Necrons cared not at all for their loss; all that mattered to them was that they would live forever without disease or death as their Star Gods had promised. Nevertheless, the Necrontyr species was united as never before. The process imbued in every one of the Silent King's subjects the command protocols with which he would rule over them with an iron hand. The entire species was his to command, and so it fell upon the Necrons to honour their side of their terrible bargain. Renewed by their devouring of the souls of an entire species, the C'tan were unstoppable, and with the legions of the Necrons marching in their wake, the Old Ones were doomed. Only one thing truly remained of the old Necrontyr -- their burning hatred for all the other living, intelligent species of the universe. Legions of the undying living metal warriors set out into the galaxy in their Tomb Ships and the stars burned in their wake. The Old Ones' mastery of the Warp was now countered by the C'tan's supremacy over the physical universe and the ancient enemies of the Necrons suffered greatly in the interstellar slaughter that followed.
The Necrons Ascendant
With the C'tan and the Necrons fighting as one, the Old Ones were now doomed to defeat. Glutted on the life force of the Necrontyr, the empowered C'tan were nigh unstoppable and unleashed forces beyond comprehension. Planets were razed, suns extinguished and whole star systems devoured by black holes called into being by the reality-warping powers of the Star Gods. Necron legions finally breached the Webway and assailed the Old Ones in every corner of the galaxy. They brought under siege the fortresses of the Old Ones' many allies amongst the younger intelligent races of the galaxy, harvesting the life force of the defenders to feed their voracious C'tan masters.
In the closing years of the War in Heaven, one of the primary factors that led to the Necrons' ascendancy was their ability to finally gain access to the Old Ones' Webway. The C'tan known as Nyadra'zath, the Burning One, had long desired to carry his eldritch fires into that space beyond space, and so showed the Necrons how to breach its boundaries. Through a series of living stone portals known as the Dolmen Gates, the Necrons were finally able to turn the Old Ones' greatest weapon against them, vastly accelerating the ultimate end of the War in Heaven.
The portals offered by the Dolmen Gates are neither so stable, nor so controllable as the naturally occurring entrances to the Webway scattered across the galaxy. Indeed, in some curious fashion, the Webway can detect when its environs have been breached by a Dolmen Gate and its arcane mechanisms swiftly attempt to seal off the infected spur from the rest of the Labyrinthine Dimension until the danger to its integrity has passed. Thus, Necrons entering the Webway must reach their intended destination through its shifting extradimensional corridors quickly, lest the network itself bring about their destruction.
Of course, in the present age, aeons have passed since the Necrons used the Dolmen Gates to assault their archenemies. The Old Ones are gone, and the Webway itself has become a tangled and broken labyrinth. Many Dolmen Gates were lost or abandoned during the time of the Necrons' Great Sleep, and many more were destroyed by the Eldar, the Old Ones' successors as the guardians of the Webway. Those that remain grant access to but a small portion of the immense maze that is the Webway, much of that voluntarily sealed off by the Eldar to prevent further contamination. Yet the Webway is immeasurably vast, and even these sundered skeins allow the Necrons a mode of travel that far outpaces those of the younger races. It is well that this is so. As a race bereft of psykers as a result of the loss of their souls during the biotransference process, the Necrons are also incapable of Warp travel, and without access to the Webway, they would be forced to rely once more on slow-voyaging stasis-ships, dooming them to interstellar isolation.
In the wake of these victories, the C'tan and their undying Necron servants now dominated the galaxy. The last planetary bastions of the Old Ones were besieged and the intelligent races they had once nurtured became cattle for the obscene hunger of the C'tan. To the younger sentient species of the galaxy, the Necrons and their Star Gods were cruel masters, callously harvesting their populations at will to feed the C'tan's ceaseless hunger. The C'tan were figures of terror who demanded their adoration and fear in equal measure. For unknown reasons, but probably because their individual hungers for mortal life energies knew no bounds, the C'tan ultimately began to fight amongst themselves for both sport and out of spite as they unleashed destructive forces beyond mortal comprehension. Among the Eldar, an ancient myth holds that their Laughing God tricked the C'tan known as the Outsider into turning on its brothers and beginning their long war for ascendancy. In the course of the C'tan's struggle against one another, whole planets were razed, stars were extinguished and whole solar systems were devoured by unleashed black holes. New cities were built by the efforts of millions and then smashed down once more. As the "red harvests" of the C'tan and their Necron servants grew thin, C'tan eventually devoured C'tan, until only a few were left in the universe and they competed amongst themselves for a long age.
Eventually, even the Old Ones, who had once been defined by their patience and unstoppable will, became desperate in the face of the Necron assault. They used their great scientific skills to genetically engineer intelligent beings with an even stronger psychic link to the Warp, hoping to create servants with the capability of channeling psychic power to defend themselves. They nurtured many potential warrior races, among which are believed to be the earliest members of the Eldar species and many other xenos races, including the Rashan, the K'nib, the Krork and many others. Millennia passed as the Old Ones' creations finally bore fruit and the C'tan and their Necron servants continued to extinguish life across the galaxy.
The Tide Turns
The Old Ones' psychically-empowered servant races spread across the galaxy, battling the advanced Necron technology with the psychic power of their Warp-spawned sorcery. Facing this new onslaught, the C'tan's empire was shattered, as the psychic forces of the Immaterium were anathema to soulless entities whose existence was wholly contained within purely physical patterns of electromagnetic force. For all the destruction they could unleash, they were unable to stop the Old Ones and the younger races' relentless advance across the stars.
The C'tan, unified by this great threat for the first time in millions of years, sought a way to defeat the soul-fuelled energies of the younger species. They initiated a great warding, a plan to forever defeat the psychic sorceries of the Old Ones by sealing off the material universe from the Warp, a plan whose first fruits can still be found on the Imperial Fortress World of Cadia in the form of the great pylons that litter the surface of that world in intricate networks and create the area of space-time stability near the Eye of Terror known as the Cadian Gate. With their god-like powers, it was only a matter of time until the C'tan succeeded and the greatest work of the C'tan was begun. But before it was complete, the seeds of destruction the Old Ones had planted millennia before brought about an unforeseen cataclysm. The growing pains and collective psychic flaws of the younger races threw the untapped psychically reactive energies of the Immaterium into disorder. War, pain and destruction were mirrored in the bottomless depth of the Sea of Souls that was the Warp. The maelstrom of souls unleashed into the Immaterium by the carnage of the War in Heaven coalesced in the previously formless energies of the Warp. Older entities that had existed within the Immaterium transformed into terrifying psychic predators, tearing at the souls of vulnerable psykers as their own environment was torn apart and reforged into the Realm of Chaos.
The Enslaver Plague
The denizens of the Warp clustered voraciously at the cracks between the Immaterium and the material universe, seeking new ways to enter the physical realm. The Old Ones brought forth new genetically-engineered warrior races to defend their last strongholds, including the technology-mimicking Jokaero and the formidable, green-skinned Krork who were the ancestors of the present day Orks, but it was already too late. The Old Ones' intergalactic Webway network was breached from the Immaterium and lost to them, several of their Warp Gates were destroyed by their own hands to prevent the entities of the Warp from spreading to uncorrupted worlds and Old Ones' greatest works and places of power were overrun by the horrors their own creations had unleashed. The most terrifying of these horrors were the Enslavers, Warp entities whose ability to dominate the minds of the younger races and create their own portals into the material realm using transmuted possessed psykers brought them forth in ever greater numbers. For the Old Ones, this was the final disaster as the Enslavers took control of their servants. The Pandora's Box unleashed by the creation of the younger races finally scattered the last of the Old Ones and broke their power over the galaxy once and for all. Life had stood at the edge of an apocalypse during the War in Heaven between the Old Ones and the C'tan. Now as the Enslavers breached the Immaterium in epidemic proportions, the survivors looked doomed.
Ultimately, beset by the implacable onset of the C'tan and the calamitous Warp-spawned perils they had themselves mistakenly unleashed, the Old Ones were defeated, scattered and finally destroyed. Whether the species went extinct or simply fled the galaxy to seek a new haven elsewhere is unknown.
The Silent King's Betrayal
Throughout the final stages of the War in Heaven, Szarekh bided his time, waiting for the moment in which the C'tan would prove vulnerable. Though the entire Necron race was now his to command, he could not hope to oppose the C'tan at the height of their power, and even if he did and met with success, the Necrons would then have to finish the War in Heaven against the Old Ones and their increasingly potent allies alone. No, the Old Ones had to be completely and utterly defeated before the C'tan could be brought to account for the horror they had wrought. And so, when the C'tan finally won their great war, their triumph proved short-lived. With one hated enemy finally defeated, and the other spend from hard-fought victory, the Silent King at last led the Necrons in revolt against the C'tan masters.
In their arrogance, the C'tan did not realise their danger until it was too late. The Necrons focussed the unimaginable energies of the living universe into weapons too mighty for even the Star Gods to endure. Alas, the C'tan were immortal star-spawn, part of the fundamental fabric of reality and therefore nigh impossible to destroy. So was each C'tan instead sundered into thousands of smaller and less powerful fragments with a similar energy signature. yet this was sufficient to the Silent King's goals. Indeed, he had known the C'tan's ultimate destruction to be impossible and had drawn his plans accordingly; each C'tan Shard was bound within a multidimensional Tesseract Labyrinth, as tramelled and secured as a Terran djinn trapped in a bottle. Though the cost of victory was high -- millions of Necrons had been destroyed as a consequence of the rebellion, including all of the members of the Triarch save the Silent King himself -- the Necrons were once more in command of their own destiny.
Fall of the Khansu Dynasty
By no means did all of the Necrontyr people go willingly to the chambers of transformation, but the nobility of the Khansu Dynasty fought the onset of biotransference more than most, and at every turn. When it became clear that no amount of political manoeuvring or manipulation could prevent what was to come, the Khansu Dynasty fought in armed revolt against the Triarch. Yet one Phaeron, no matter how powerful, could not hope to fight the rest of the dynasties and their C'tan masters. Ascendant Prince Rakszan was one of the few nobles amongst the Khansu Dynasty to choose biotransference of his own volition, and he cursed his people for their foolishness in resisting what could be a new age of glory. For his loyalty to the Triarch, Rakszan was granted high military rank and his first campaigns were those that brought his rebellious kinsmen to heel. One by one, Khansu's coreworlds fell, the crownworld of Hamun last of all, and those few rebels that survived were dragged to the chambers of transformation.
At first, Rakszan was pleased, for his people would now have the chance to regain the honour lost in revolt against the Triarch. Yet, as the War in Heaven ground on, he witnessed the C'tan and their underlings systematically destroying his dynasty. Indiginity was added to defeat, with the Necrons of the Khansu Dynasty deployed at the forefront of every battle, or else despatched on campaigns where there was little hope of success and none of survival. Little by little, Rakszan came to realise the terrible depths of his mistake. When the Necron rebellion against the C'tan began, none fought so hard as he to see the Star Gods toppled.
By this time, the Khansu Dynasty was lost forever, its nobles destroyed in the War in Heaven, its Warriors and Immortals seized by other dynasties and reprogrammed to their service. In all the galaxy, only Rakszan remained to speak for his slaughtered kin, and he held himself a traitor to their memory. With no other way remaining to atone for his betrayal, Rakszan swore that he would see every surviving fragment of every C'tan caged, so that they could never again arise. It is a quest that continues to this day...
The Great Sleep
The Necrons had been vindicated in their pursuit only of science and control over the material realm and certainly took pleasure in seeing the Old Ones' civilisation collapse as a result of their over-indulgence of psychic power and the end of the C'tan's domination over their race. Yet even with the defeat of the Old Ones and the C'tan alike, the Silent King saw that the time of the Necrons in the galaxy was over -- for the moment, at least. They would allow the Enslavers to take what was left of the sentient life in the galaxy and let it become an interstellar wasteland; the psyker swarm would then die away and in time the galaxy would evolve new lifeforms who would be less sophisticated and easier to dominate. In addition, the Necrons understood that the mantle of galactic dominion was soon to pass to the Eldar, one of the psychically-potent races that had fought alongside the Old Ones throughout the War in Heaven and had thus come to hate the Necrons and all their works with the burning passion that is the defining characteristic of that species. The Eldar had survived where the Old Ones had not and the Necrons, weakened by their expenditure of lives and resources in overthrowing the rule of the C'tan, could not stand against them. Yet the Silent King knew that the time of the Eldar would eventually pass, as it must pass for all those beings still cloaked in the flesh. It would take millions of Terran years for the Eldar's power to fade, but what mattered is that the Necrons would be there to take advantage of it.
So it was that the Silent King ordered the remaining Necron cities to be transformed into great tomb complexes threaded with stasis-crypts. Let the Eldar shape the galaxy for a time -- they were but ephemeral, whilst the Necrons were undying and eternal. The Silent King's final command to his people was that they must sleep for the equivalent of 60 million standard years but awake ready to rebuild all that they had lost, to restore the Necron dynasties to their former glory. This was the Silent King's final order, and as the last Tomb World sealed its subterranean vaults, Szarekh destroyed the command protocols by which he had controlled his people for so long, for he had failed them utterly. Without a backward glance, Szarekh, the last of the Silent Kings of the Triarch, took ship into the starless void of intergalactic space, there to find whatever measure of solace or penance he could.
Meanwhile, aeons passed and the Necrons slept on, their machine slaves and constructs guarding them while they slept on Tomb Worlds that had been purged of all life to keep the Enslavers from their door. This plan worked with an amazing degree of success until the Necrons were awakened by the forces of the Imperium of Man in the late 41st Millennium to plague the galaxy once more. They discovered a new and unexpected age of interstellar civilisation and war much like the one they had left behind 60 million years before. The galaxy is blossoming with life once more but is still overrun with latent psykers and worshippers of the infernal Chaotic Warp energies unleashed during the War in Heaven. It will take time and a great many machinations for the Necron dynasties to regain their rightful place as the rulers of the galaxy; the agents of Chaos must be overthrown; the dangerous Eldar, inheritors of the Old Ones' mantle, eliminated; Mankind subjugated and the great work cutting off the material universe from the Warp completed before a new age of Necron dominion can truly begin. But the Necrons are ageless and undying, their technology still unmatched by any of the younger races. And time is always on their side...
The Great Awakening
- "Adversary, know that your squalid colony rests upon a rightful crown world of the Novokh Dynasty. Know also that whilst your presence cannot be tolerated, we are bound by code of honour to allow you opportunity to withdraw. You are therefore granted one solar month, commencing at termination of this transmission, to remove all trace of your presence. If you fail to accept this generous offer, my armies shall conclude these negotiations. We advise you not to mistake honourable warning for lack of resolve."
None can say for sure how many Tomb Worlds entered the Great Sleep, but it is certain that a great many did not survive into the late 41st Millennium. Technologically advanced though the Necrons were, to attempt a stasis-sleep of such scale was a great risk, even for them. For 60 million Terran years the Necrons slept, voicelessly waiting for their chance to complete the Silent King's final order: to restore the Necron dynasties to their former glory. As the centuries passed, ever more Tomb Worlds fell prey to malfunction or ill-fortune. For many, the results were minor, such as a disruption to the operation of the Tomb World's chronostat or revivification chambers, causing the inhabitants to awaken later than intended -- but some of the Tomb Worlds suffered more calamitous events.
Cascade failures of stasis-crypts destroyed millions, if not billions, of dormant Necrons. Some Tomb Worlds were destroyed by the retribution of marauding Eldar, their defence systems overmatched by these ancient enemies of the Necrons. Other Tomb Worlds fell victim to the uncaring evolution of the galaxy itself. Tectonically unstable planets crushed Necron strongholds slumbering at their hearts; stars went supernova, consuming orbiting Tomb Worlds in their death throes. And everywhere, inquisitive lifeforms scrabbled and fought over the bones of Necron territories, causing more damage in their unthinking search for knowledge than the vengeful Eldar ever could.
The Great Awakening has been far from precise, and the Necrons have not arisen as one people but in fitful starts over scattered millennia, like some gestalt sleeper rising from a troubled dream. Errors in circuitry and protocols ensured that a revivification destined to take place in the early years of the 41st Millennium of the Imperial Calendar actually began far earlier in a few cases, or has yet to occur at all in others. The very first Tomb Worlds revived to see the Great Crusade of the Emperor of Mankind sweep across the galaxy in the late 30th Millennium. A handful stirred in time to see the Nova Terra Interregnum, when Nova Terra challenged the might of the Golden Throne in the 34th Millennium for 900 years, or arose at the hour in which the Apostles of the Blind King waged their terrible wars that began in 550.M37. Some have still never awoken. Even now, at the close of the 41st Millennium, billions of Necrons still slumber in their stasis-tombs, silently awaiting the clarion call of destiny.
It is rare for a Tomb World to awaken to full function swiftly. With but the slightest flaw in the revivification cycle, the engrammatic pathways of a Necron sleeper scatter and degrade. In most cases, these coalesce over time to restore identity and purpose, but it is a process that can take decades, or even centuries, and cannot be hurried. Sometimes recovery never occurs and the sleeper is doomed forever to a mindless state.
There are thousands of Tomb Worlds scattered throughout the galaxy whose halls are thronged with shambling automatons, Necrons whose minds fled during the long hibernation, and whose bodies have been co-opted by a Tomb World's master autonomic program in an attempt to bring some form of order to their existence. Other Necrons refer to such places as the Severed Worlds, and they loathe and fear their inhabitants in equal measure. None of this is to say that even an individual lucky enough to achieve a flawless revivification awakens alert and aware.
One of the hidden tyrannies of biotransference was how it entrenched the gulf between the rulers and the ruled, for there were not enough resources to provide all Necrontyr with living metal bodies that possessed the density of engrammatic pathways required to retain the full gamut of personality and awareness. Thus, as was ever the case, the very finest necrodermis bodies went to those individuals of the highest rank within Necrontyr society: the Phaerons and Overlords, their Crypteks and Nemesors. For the professional soldiery, the merely adequate was deemed appropriate. As for the common people, they received that which remained: comparatively crude mechanical bodies that were little more than lobotomised prisons for their minds. Numb to all joy and experience, they are bound solely to the will of their betters, their function meaningless without constant direction. Yet even here a tiny spark of self-awareness remains, enough only to torment the Necron with memories and echoes of the past it once knew. For these tortured creatures, death would be far preferable but, alas, they no longer have the wit to realise it or the autonomy to search it out.
A Tomb World is at its most vulnerable during the revivification process. The colossal amounts of energy generated are detectable across great distances, and are an irresistable lure to the inquisitive and acquisitive alike. In these early stages, it is unlikely that the army of a Tomb World proper will have awoken to full function, so defence lies in the hands of the Necrons' robotic servitor constructs -- the Canoptek Spyders, Scarabs and Wraiths. Initially these defenders will be directed by the Tomb World's autonomic master program, whose complex algorithmic decision matrix allows it to calculate an efficient response to any perceived threat. As the threat level rises, so too does the intensity of the master program's countermeasures, prioritising the activation of the Tomb World's automated defences and the revivification of its armies according to the needs of the situation at hand. If all goes well, the master program's actions will be sufficient to drive out the invader, or at least stall their progress until the first Necron legions have awoken -- at which point the master program surrenders command of the facility to the Tomb World's Necron nobility.
When a large population centre of a younger race of the galaxy has evolved or expanded across the stars close to a Tomb World, the encoded programming delves deep into its data archives and armouries in order to conduct an aggressive defence. Such Tomb Worlds are the ones that have expanded their spheres of influence most rapidly, for its rulers have awakened to find their full military might already mobilised and awaiting their commands. Indeed, the speed with which many Tomb Worlds of the Sautekh Dynasty have recovered lost territory is chiefly attributable to the (ultimately doomed) wave of Ulumeathi colonies established on their coreworlds during the late 39th Millennium.
To external observers, the behaviour of awoken Tomb Worlds must seem eclectic almost to the point of randomness. Some Necron Lords send diplomatic emissaries to other worlds, negotiating for the return of lost territories and technological artefacts, or cast off into the stars, searching for distant Tomb Worlds not yet awoken. Others focus attention inwards, avoiding unnecessary conflict with alien races to pursue internal politics or oversee the rebuilding of their planet to the glory of 60 million years past.
The vast majority of Tomb Worlds, however, take a more aggressive tack, launching resource raids, planetary invasions or the full-blown genocidal purges the Necrons' former C'tan masters once called "red harvests." Yet even here, it is impossible to predict the precise form these deeds will take. Sometimes the Necrons attack in the full panopoly and spectacle of honourable war, rigorously applying their ancient codes of battle. At others, every possible underhanded tactic is employed, from piracy and deception, to assassination and subornation. On other occasions, the campaign is less a martial action than a systematic extermination, the swatting of lesser lifeforms as they themselves would swat insects.
All of these acts, diverse though they are in scope and method, are directed towards a single common goal: the restoration of the Necron dynasties to rule over the galaxy. Yet, with the Triarch long gone and huge numbers of Tomb Worlds lying desolate or still dormant, there can be no galaxy-wide coordination, no grand strategy that will bring about Necron ascendancy. Instead, each Tomb World's ruler must fend for himself, pursuing whatever course he deems most suited to circumstance. For some, this is the domination of nearby threats and the sowing of terror on alien worlds. For others, it might be the recovery of cultural treasures of the lost Necrontyr, the stockpiling of raw strategic materials for campaigns yet to come, or even the search for an organic species whose bodies might prove to be suitable vessels for Necron minds, thus finally ending the curse of biotransference. Indeed, this last matter -- the apotheosis from undying machine back to living being -- is the key motivating factor for many Necron nobles and royals, for its possibility weighed heavily on the Silent King's mind at the moment of his final command.
All this is further complicated by the fact that the departure of the Silent King and the dissolution of the Necrontyr Empire's Triarch left no clear succession. As a result, the rulers of many Tomb Worlds see an opportunity not only to restore the dynasties of old, but also to improve their standing within the galaxy-wide Necron political hierarchy. The motives of Necron nobles and royals are often muddied by the pursuit of personal power, making accurate divination of an individual's intentions -- and therefore of the campaigns conducted by his undying legions -- nigh impossible.
Having slumbered in dusty stasis crypts scattered across the galaxy, the Necrons have been slowly awakening, one Tomb World at a time, for several millennia. The process is far from stable, however, for the legions have lain immobile and undreaming for 60 million standard years. It is a staggering feat of science that any Tomb Worlds have survived at all, and many have fallen prey to corruption in their arcane systems, planetary upheaval, and the actions of other species, most of them in ignorance but a few very deliberate indeed. Throughout the long aeons of slumber, the Tomb Worlds' autonomic systems have worked tirelessly to maintain these vast structures and to defend them against the intrusions of the lesser species of the galaxy. It is not known to the Imperium exactly when the first Tomb World initiated its revivification protocols, and it is quite possible that some did so in error well before the ordained time. Only now, as more and more Tomb Worlds awaken, is a pattern becoming visible to those whose mission it is to stand watch upon the trackless reaches of the galaxy and beyond. Piecing together scattered accounts of skull-faced reaper-machines rising from the dust of Dead Worlds the length and breadth of the galaxy, the xenos-savants of the Inquisition are faced with a stark realisation. What at first appeared to be unrelated alien raids serving no overall purpose were, in fact, the heralds of a disaster of galactic proportions.
Having slept so still and for so long, it is not possible for a Tomb World to awaken quickly into a fully alert state. While dormant, each is controlled by a master artificial intelligence program that oversees its essential maintenance and defence, mobilising what resources it judges appropriate to any given situation or threat. As the long awaited time of awakening nears, as best can be judged by the master program, more of its systems are brought online and more of the interred revived. Often, it is the lower order of Necrons, the Necron Warriors and Immortals, that are awakened in the initial phases. These nearly mindless automatons following their lifeless protocols are brought online first, so that the way might be prepared for the more senior members of the dynasty. As each tier in the Necron dynasty's hierarchy is revived, each more intelligent and bearing more individuality than the last, the whole process gradually begins to appear more like the workings of an ancient civilisation and less like that of some great machine. At the allotted time, a Necron Overlord is awakened, and upon his full revival the master program cedes power to its creators. From that point onward, a truly ancient mind leads the Tomb World, and what happens next depends entirely upon his character and ambition.
Some Overlords are cunning and patient, seeking to muster every resource at their disposal before launching the legions into the void to fulfil the destiny of the lost Necron Empire. Others are bellicose and impatient, launching a string of attacks before those other starfaring races settled in the region discover the Tomb World's awakening. While most are likely to assault nearby worlds occupied by sapient races, some have been known to offer such worlds an ultimatum -- serve the Necrons, or die. The process of awakening presents a massive danger to a Tomb World. If anything other than miniscule numbers of Necrons are revivified at once, a staggering amount of energy is unleashed, which can be detected within light years and inevitably leads to investigation by ignorant and curious mortal species. Thus, should a Tomb World awaken to find itself lying near (or even beneath!) the territory of a younger species, the massive energy spike might draw such attention that it is overwhelmed before its warriors are able to respond.
Having been awakened and control turned over to an Overlord, the Tomb World must in time take its place in the domains of the Necron dynasty that created it. While many dynasties have never awakened and, due to a variety of disasters never will, many are slowly piecing together their former domains. One world at a time, empires that vanished aeons ago are being rebuilt and long-dormant hierarchies are reasserting themselves once more. At the centre of each of these risen empires is a crown world, the glorious capital and seat of the Phaeron who rules an entire dynasty. Below it are numerous lesser Tomb Worlds and other Necron holdings, though rarely are these anywhere near as extensive as they were in their full glory 60 million years ago.
Necrons in the 41st Millennium
The Necrons are still a shadowy presence rather than a full-fledged force in the galaxy of the present time. They strike out of nowhere without warning, wreak havoc and leave before any major reinforcements can arrive. The origins of these various attacks and their motives are unknown, though it is known that the current Necron forces in the galaxy are only soul harvesters, not the full-fledged fighting machines of the C'tan.
They seem to attack from nowhere often simply appearing at nearly any location in the galaxy, no matter how well-defended. Once in the recent past they touched down on Mars, simply passing by the Imperial Navy fleets protecting the Sol System unnoticed, and ultimately casting doubt on the impregnable status of Terra itself. The Necrons reached the Red Planet's surface and explored its subterranean Noctis Labyrinthus, perhaps in search of one of their C'tan masters, believed to be the entity known in the legends of the Adeptus Mechanicus as the Dragon of Mars, before being destroyed by the agents of the Imperium. This incident, however, is a heavily guarded secret within the Imperium of Man, which greatly fears that the Necrons may awaken the C'tan known as the Void Dragon which inhabits a stasis tomb beneath the sands of Mars. At the same time, the Imperium has been unable to capture a Necron in an attempt to learn their secrets; entire Necron forces simply vanish into thin air using their phase technology -- and they always take their "dead" with them.
The Necron forces come from Tomb Worlds as yet uncharted by the Imperium. Their phase technology allows them to deploy anywhere in the galaxy, almost instantaneously through unknown means, since the Necrons are incapable of entering the Warp. In defeat, they "phase-out" and return to their associated tomb-world for repairs. Any Necrons that have fallen in battle can be repaired there and re-animated so their losses thus far have been minimal. Should a Necron be totally annihilated in battle, then they are truly beyond phase-out or repair, but again, often so little survives that Imperial or Tau scientists (the only two races that want to know more about these deadly enemies) have nothing to study.
The Necrons may have infiltrated the Imperium to an extent. Their elite anti-psyker troops, the Pariah, are an unholy cross of human mutant and Necron technology. But it is believed by Mechanicus savants that the Necrons had the Pariah Gene engineered into what became the human gene pool over 65 million Terran years ago. This gene has since manifested itself in the agents of the Culexus Temple, the specialised anti-psyker assassins of the Officio Assassinorum. Recently, however, there has been a dramatic decerase in the use of Necron Pariahs in Necron armies, and the Ordo Xenos believes that these troops may not have proven as effective as Necron commanders had once hoped and are being phased out of the Necron dynasties' order of battle.
Of all the galaxy's great powers, only the Eldar see the Necrons for the threat they truly are to all of the other sentient species -- and even they cannot be sure how many Tomb Worlds slumber in the darkness. After the War in Heaven, the Eldar took up a silent watch for any sign of Necron reemergence, and set watch on worlds they suspected of nurturing hidden stasis tombs. Many such worlds were seeded with life and adopted as homes by Eldar outcasts and Exodites, whose descendants would maintain the vigil. Where this was not possible, suspected Tomb Worlds were marked on a great crystal map so that their locations would not be lost as the millennia passed. Yet, as the ages of the galaxy passed, the Eldar became distracted by their own plights and thus forgot the duty they had sworn to uphold for their lost patrons, the Old Ones. By the time of the Fall of the Eldar in the 30th Millennium -- the terrible birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh -- the slumbering Necrons had been all but forgotten. Only in the Black Library and amongst a few outspoken segments of Eldar society did the vigil continue.
For the Eldar, the Necrons are a nightmare come to life. The children of Isha hold soullessness to be the very worst of all fates, and the Necrons therefore provoke an abiding terror that the Eldar can never truly suppress. For the Seer Council of the Alaitoc Craftworld, however, a time of terrible vindication is at hand. The Eldar of Alaitoc remembered their ancient duty whilst their peers forgot. They recovered the fragments of the great map from one of the Crone Worlds of the Eye of Terror, spread their networks of Eldar outcasts and Exodites ever wider and waited for the ancient enemy to return. So it is that whilst most Craftworlds are re-honing half-remembered strategies from the War in Heaven, Alaitoc is reaching its hand, assailing the Necrons on their own territory, sabotaging their Tomb Worlds and bringing the fight to their legions of undying warriors whenever the opportunity presents itself.
In the late 41st Millennium, humanity is widespread throughout the stars of the galaxy and encounters the Necrons with some frequency, but there is no mechanism by which the experiences of one embattled world can be shared with the wider Imperium of Man. Even if there were, by what means would the data be catalogued? Hundreds of human worlds are depopulated or destroyed every year, and if their fates are noted at all by the Administratum, the cause of their demise is rarely discovered. There is no single repository of information in the Imperium, no established central historical record -- in a galaxy-spanning civilisation so shrouded in ignorance and superstition, it would be remarkable if it were otherwise.
Some Imperial scholars hold that the slaughter of the Sisters of Battle stationed at Sanctuary 101 in 897.M41 represented the first contact between Mankind and the Necrons. Such men do so in ignorance of the many millions of encounters that, though predating the Sanctuary 101 event, went entirely unremarked upon because no one survived to make note of them, the records were lost or deemed mythic, or simply took place on a world where the inhabitants made no distinction between differing alien perils. More so, it displays the classic arrogance of men who assumed that the boundaries of their knowledge are, in fact, the boundaries of reality. What follows is a list of the most pertinent recent events in the history of the reawakened Necron race and its encounters with the other intelligent cultures of the galaxy:
- 666.M41 The Yuctan Incident – The Yuctan System was a sparsely inhabited Imperial star system close to the Eastern Fringe, and the site of the first naval encounter between the Necrons and the Imperial Navy in 666.M41. A minor Imperial fleet of 6 Escort ships and 1 Light Cruiser were destroyed, with the only survivor being a single Cobra-class Destroyer. By the time a full Imperial fleet could be dispatched to the region to deal with what is now called the Yuctan Incident, the Necrons had disappeared, and the system was found devoid of all human life. Although similar and unexplained events had taken place up to this time, the incident at Yuctan was the first fully documented account of a Necron "harvest" of a populated world, as they sought fresh subjects for their research into "apotheosis," the restoration of their consciousness to organic bodies.
- ca. 744.M41 The Return of the Silent King - The long-lost final Silent King of the Necron Triarch, Szarekh, enters the bounds of the Milky Way Galaxy once more. Having encountered the Tyranids in the intergalactic void, he recognizes the threat they pose to the Necrons' apotheosis -- if the Tyranids devour all organic life in the galaxy, the Necrons will never find living bodies to house their consciousnesses once more. Thus does the Silent King break his self-imposed exile with the goal of marshalling his people against this new threat. However, the Silent King has not anticipated the torpor in which the majority of the Necrons still lie. Many Tomb Worlds have been destroyed over the aeons, others still slumber and most of those that have awoken are still disoriented or somehow damaged. The Silent King is therefore forced to re-evaluate his plans. Working with the surviving Triarch Praetorians, he begins a pilgrimage across the galaxy, stirring those Tomb Worlds yet to revive, and speeding the recovery of those Tomb Worlds already awake. It is the Silent King's wish that the younger races' flawed attempts to destroy the Tyranids do not simply feed the invading Hive Fleets beyond the point where even a united Necron people have any hope of victory.
- 781.M41 Storm Clouds Gather - After long years of preparation, Imotekh the Stormlord assumes control of the Crownworld of Mandragora as the Phaeron of the Sautekh Dynasty and begins his conquest of the galaxy.
- 793.M41 Raid on Solemnace - Following the onset of Hive Fleet Behemoth's assault on the galaxy and its defeat at the Battle of Macragge, the xenobiologists and Inquisitors of the Imperium are left with many questions that require answers. One such question brings Inquisitor Helynna Valeria to the ghost world of Solemnace, seeking an explanation for why that world had gone untouched when all other planets in the Hive Fleet's path now lie destroyed and consumed. Nothing could have prepared Valeria for what she finds in the silent darkness beneath Solemnace's pitted and barren surface: endless catacombs filled with highly advanced xenos technology, long-lost artefacts from the Imperium's history and gallery after gallery of intricate life-size holographic sculptures laid out in silent tableau to commemorate historic scenes. Valeria's party is briefly awestruck by what they discover, but then the entire Tomb World comes to angry life. Wave after wave of Canoptek Scarabs and Necron Warriors descend from all sides and the still air is filled with the whine of discharging Gauss Weapons. Seeking to regain the initiative for her beset Acolytes and followers, Valeria leads a charge against the shadowy figure orchestrating the carnage. Sighting carefully, Valeria unleashes a pulse from her Graviton Beamer that reduces the Necron Lord to mangled and fused scrap. Yet moments later, an identical figure emerges from the darkness, hale and undamaged. This time Valeria plunges the Dagger of Midnight 's blade into her adversary's heart, yet even as her opponent's sparking frame sinks to the ground, another identical Necron Lord strides forwards, trampling the now-faceless ruin at her feet. With that, Valeria orders a retreat back to her team's waiting shuttles. Only a handful of the Acolytes survive to reach their destination, and they do so empty-handed. Much to Valeria's disappointment, the Tomb World of Solemnace keeps all of its glorious secrets. Sometime after the conflict, Valeria received a personal hyperscroll message from Trazyn himself, thanking her for sending five regiments of Catachan Jungle Fighters to add to his galleries. Accompanying the message as a return gift was a Hyperstone Maze, one of a series of Tesseract Labyrinths constructed at the height of the Charnovokh Dynasty. It is unknown what became of this gift thereafter.
- 798.M41 The Siege of Somonor - Imotekh the Stormlord and the forces of the Sautekh Dynasty repel a war host of Eldar from Craftworld Alaitoc commanded by Farseer Eldorath Starbane from the minor Tomb World of Somonor during the campaign later known as the Siege of Somonor. Following the campaign, Somonor agrees to join the Sautekh Dynasty's growing empire. Starbane is the only survivor of the assault, and he is sent back to Alaitoc but with one hand amputated by Imotekh as a reminder of his defeat. The Eldar of Alaitoc prepare to launch a major assault on the Sautekh Dynasty.
- 799.M41 The Unexpected End of WAAAGH! 'Eadcrumpa - Big Mek 'Eadcrumpa leads his Ork WAAAGH! to the newly awakened Tomb World of Suranas. After initial skirmishes prove his still lethargic Necrons to be no match for the Orks, Necron Lord Nepthk strikes a pact with 'Eadcrumpa. In exchange for several dozen functioning Doomsday Cannons, 'Eadcrumpa agrees to leave Suranas and seek plunder elsewhere (whilst secretly resolving to return to Suranas at a later date). Three solar months later, when the WAAAGH! descends on the Imperial Agri-world of Eden Prime, 'Eadcrumpa is unable to resist his urge to investigate the Doomsday Cannons' systems. One breached containment core later and 'Eadcrumpa, his WAAAGH! and the planet of Eden Prime are erased from existence.
- 805.M41 The Ruin of Morrigar - A battle between hive gangs on the Imperial Hive World of Morrigar inadvertently awakens the Necron Tomb hidden there. All contact with Morrigar by the Imperium is lost shortly thereafter. When the Imperial Guard's 207th Cadian Shock Troops regiment makes planetfall six solar months later, there is no trace of any inhabitants, human or otherwise. Before the Imperial Guardsmen can leave Morrigar, the nomadic Necron warlord, Anrakyr the Traveller, arrives. Assuming the humans are responsible for the apparent destruction of the Tomb World, he launches an attack that leaves his own forces decimated and the Cadian 207th utterly eliminated.
- 813.M41 Escape from Cano'var - At Nemesor Zahndrekh's instruction, the Necron armies of the Tomb World of Gidrim invade the Tau world of Cano'var, routing the planetary defenders after two standard weeks of campaigning. The Necron victory is short-lived however. A demi-company of White Scars Space Marines, led by Kor'sarro Khan, arrive on Cano'var, pursuing a now-obsolete punitive mission against the previous Tau inhabitants. As overwhelming volley of Gauss fire destroys the White Scars' Thunderhawks moments after they land, leaving Khan and his Battle-Brothers to fight a bold, but doomed, series of hit-and-run battles. Almost all of the White Scars are slain on Uzme Plateau, but Zahndrekh commands that Kor'sarro Khan be spared and imprisoned. So does Khan begin a peculiar period of captivity beneath the surface of Cano'var. Zahndrekh treats him with honour, through few of the other Necron Lords even acknowledge his presence. At a bizarre feast, where food is placed before Zahndrekh and his court but goes uneaten, Khan learns he us but one of a dozen prisoners. With the desire for freedom outweighing any ranklement or rivalry, Khan and the other captives conspire to escape. The Necrons are slow to react and so the breakout goes well at first. Only when Vargard Obyron takes command do things go badly for the escapees. Several of the fugitives are slain by Obyron's Warscythe, leaving only Kor'sarro and an Eldar Ranger by the name of Illic Nightspear to fight on, and the latter swiftly receives a blow that sends him sprawling from the fight. Thus does the battle devolve into a duel atop bleeding bodies and broken machines. Khan's sword is quicker and guided by a desperate fury, but Obyron's undying machine body repairs any damage within only moments. Little by little, Khan tires, and the sweeping Warscythe comes closer to connecting with each swing. Finally, one of the Vargard's blows is too swift for Khan to evade -- the Warscythe slices through his armour and deep into his flesh. Before Obyron can finish his foe, there is an intervention from an unexpected source. Unknown to either combatants, Zahndrekh has been watching the fight from afar and, impressed by Khan's skill and bravery, orders Obyron to stand aside and let him leave. Dragging the crippled Nightspear behind, Khan finally escapes to surface, finds a still-functioning Tau spacecraft and leaves Cano'var far behind. Khan and Nightspear part ways shortly after, the Eldar to his Craftworld and the White Scar to Chogoris. Shortly after Khan's return to his Chapter planet, Nemesor Zahndrekh and Vargard Obyron are added to the Scrolls of Venegance, their names to be put forward as possible quarry for the next Great Hunt of the White Scars Chapter.
- 815.M41 The Disappearance of Explorator Fleet 913 - Explorator Fleet 913 strays into territory controlled by the Tomb World of Gheden and is destroyed by the fleet of Nemesor Azderon. When the void battle is over, wreckage is set adrift in the projected territory of the Eldar's Alaitoc Craftworld. By the time three companies of Ultramarines come in search of the Adeptus Mechanicus' overdue Explorator Fleet, Azderon has long withdrawn, but the presence of Alaitoc's pathfinder vessels draw the Space Marines into a conflict with the Eldar, who they blame for the destruction of the Imperial vessels.
- 824.M41 The Return of Thaszar the Invincible - The shadow-shrouded Imperial world of Athonos is wracked by severe earth tremors. The cause remains a mystery until a colossal Tomb Ship captained by the Necron pirate king, Thaszar the Invincible, emerges from beneath the ground, shedding soil, rock and fragments of hab-block from its hull as it rises after sixty million standard years. The world's defences are, understandably, in disarray. Fortunately for the inhabitants, Thaszar has yet to realise that humans are an intelligent form of life, and pays no more attention to the panicked defenders than h would to a nest of insects, The Athonosian planetary capital lies in ruins, but the rest of the planet survives relatively unscathed as the Tomb Ship heads into the stars, towards the Tomb World of Zapennec, the Crownworld of the Sarnekh Dynasty that he will soon rule as Phaeron, pausing only to obliterate a holo-stealthed Eldar listening post hidden in near-orbit for millennia.
- 829.M41 The Enslavement of Aryand - Necron Overlord Vitokh masterminds the invasion of the Imperial Hive World Aryand. After a long and bloody siege, Aryand's Planetary Governor accepts Vitokh's terms and Aryand becomes a slave world in service to the Necron Altymhor Dynasty.
- 831.M41 The Dissolution of Burr - After a long archaeological expedition on the mysterious planet of Phall, famed Explorator Benedict Draconis returns to the binary worlds of Burr. The Imperial Planetary Governor holds a banquet in Draconis' honour, which proves to be a fatal mistake when a swarm of Mindshackle Scarabs burst bloodily from the Explorator's brain to feast on the governor and his guests. From there, the Mindshackle Scarabs multiply and swiftly infest Burr's military echelons. With his trap sprung and much of the bonary worlds' defences thus under his control, the Necron Overlord Janzikh of Phall launches an invasion of Burr. Burr Major is the first planet to fall, thanks to recklessness on the part of its remaining human defenders, but soon both worlds are firmly under Necron control. The dissolution furnaces roar day and night, and when Captain D'Estev and the Fire Lords Chapter's 5th Company finally arrived, all they can do is destroy Janzikh in retaliation for his deeds.
- 857.M41 The Lazar Blockade - Seeking vengeance for the destruction wrought upon their 4th Company, the Silver Skulls blockade the Lazar System and attempt to purge the Necrons from its planets. Though the main Tomb World is overwhelmed and obliterated, the Silver Skulls are quick to regret their hasty assault, as secondary Necron bases throughout the system whir into life. Unable to admit defeat, the Silver Skulls dig in, and what should have been a simple exercise in reciprocity becomes a far more grueling campaign.
- 859.M41 The Traveller Has Come - The nomadic Necron Overlord Anrakyr the Traveller arrives in the embattled Lazar System and immediately joins his forces to those defending against the Silver Skulls' onslaught. Necron victory is finally assured at the Battle of Dreadpeak, when Anrakyr's Pyrrhian Eternals spearhead an assault on the Silver Skulls' downed Battle Barge Argent Hammer. Though the Space Marines battle hard against the veterans of Pyrrhia, their efforts are undone when Anrakyr seizes control over the Battle Barge's still-functioning weapon batteries and turns their fury on the Imperial defenders. With their Chapter Master slain and their forces in disarray, the Silver Skulls are forced to withdraw their blockade of Lazar -- though they take great care to ensure that word of their defeat does not spread. His duty done, Anrakyr takes ship and heads out into the galaxy once more to aid the Necron cause.
- 910.M41 The Storm Grows – Imotekh’s campaigns are halted briefly by the Imperium’s resolute defence of the Forge World Hypnoth. Imperial Guard and Space Marine reinforcements flood into the battle zone, and though they cannot achieve a lasting victory, they succeed in tying down the Necron assault for several months. Encouraged by the prophecies of the astromancer Orikan the Diviner, Imotekh finally breaks the stalemate by launching a series of attacks on Hypnoth’s supply worlds Praedis-Zeta and Nyx. The first two raids perform entirely as expected, with the worlds laid to waste and their vital supplies destroyed or claimed by the Sautekh forces. However, an unforseen Tyranid infestation on Nyx wreaks havoc amongst the Necron forces and threatens to completely derail Imotekh’s entire campaign. Nevertheless, Imotekh rises to the challenge, weaving a strategy that manipulates the Tyranid swarm into venting its fury on the remaining Imperial defenders. With both sides thus distracted, Imotekh is able to extricate his remaining forces.
- 911.M41 The Fall of Hypnoth – Sautekh Crypteks succeed in introducing a mechanophage into the defence systems of Forge World Hypnoth, reducing its formidably armed bastions to helpless ferrocrete shells. Despite a valorous defence by the Flesh Tearers and Iron Hands Space Marines, Hypnoth is conquered by the Necrons within days.
- 912.M41 - 926.M41 The Assault of the Worldengine - A violent coup on the Tomb World of Borsis sees its introspective Necron Lord replaced by one of a more expansionist bent. Thus are the long dormant engines of the artificial Tomb World of Borsis fired into life once more, signalling the start of a Necron campaign that leaves much of the Imperium of Man's Vidar Sector in ruins. The massive mobile artificial Tomb World of Borsis, known to the Imperium as the Worldengine, was attacked in 926.M41 by 15 Space Marine task forces plus elements from the Imperial Navy, and even the mightiest weapons the Imperial forces could bring to bear could not harm it. Drop Pods and torpedoes could not penetrate its shields and it was impossible to lock on to with teleport beams. The Imperial task force tried twelve times to overwhelm it through sheer valour and firepower and was rewarded with a string of destroyed and crippled starships and millions of casualties. The Worldengine destroyed a third of an entire Imperial Navy battlefleet before the Chapter Master of the Astral Knights Chapter decided to ram the hideous planetoid with his Battle Barge, the Tempestus. It was only when the enormous Space Marine starship collided with the Necron construct's shields that they finally failed, allowing the Imperial forces to approach their target. A force of over 700 Astral Knights deployed from Drop Pods onto the Necron vessel's surface. For over 100 hours the Astral Knights fought against tens of thousands of Necron warriors and destroyed every flux generator, weapon forge and command node they came upon. Only after the Chapter had been reduced in size to the Chapter Master, Arthor Amhrad, and five Battle-Brothers did they succeed in their quest. Amhrad detonated Melta-charges that destroyed a vast Necron tomb complex that housed many of the Worldengine's command arrays which brought down the vessel's impenetrable Void Shields and also silenced the machine's weaponry. This allowed the Imperial Navy's starships to destroy the Worldengine with Cyclonic Torpedoes. After the battle, as the Adeptus Mechanicus picked over the remains of the destroyed Worldengine, the Ultramarines retrieved the twisted wreckage of the Tempestus and placed it amid the ruins of Safehold, the planet that had been the last victim of the Worldengine. The 2nd and 4th Companies of the Blood Angels had been amongst the Astartes task forces dispatched to the Vidar Sector to assist their fellow Space Marines against the threat posed by the Worldengine. After the sacrifice of the Astral Knights lead to the final destruction of the Worldengine, Captain Donatos Aphael of the 2nd Company proposed that an Imperial shrine be erected upon the world of Safehold in eternal memory of the Astral Knights Chapter. The shrine consists of seven hundred and seventy-two arbalstone statues, one for every Astral Knight Battle-Brother that died stopping the Worldengine, that stands a silent vigil within the dead heart of the Tempestus. From that day forth, 2 Blood Angels of the 2nd Company, and Battle-Brothers from nearly a dozen other Chapters, are always assigned to stand guard over the memorial, which is considered a singular honour for the Astartes that fought beside them for the last time.
- 930.M41 Battle of Schrödinger VII – In 930.M41, the forces of the infamous Necron Overlord Imotekh the Stormlord, Phaeron of the powerful Sautekh Dynasty, descended upon the frozen plains of the Imperial Ice World of Schrödinger VII. The Necrons drove the local defenders to the shelter of the labyrinthine cryonite mines, but were unable to prevent the planet's Astropathic Choir from dispatching a distress hymnal. A counterattack swiftly arrived in the form of a Black Templars strike force under the command of Marshal Helbrecht. Imotekh was not caught by surprise so easily, and had already shifted his undying Necron armies into a formidable defensive configuration. Helbrecht lead the assault, intended as a crippling alpha strike, but was instead blunted by a series of impeccably-planned Necron ambushes on the Space Marines' Drop Pod and Thunderhawk drop zones. As the frozen caverns echoed to the roar of explosions, scores of Black Templars and Necrons alike were hurled into rivers of molten cryonite. Eventually, Imotekh and Helbrecht met in single combat atop the stalactite-heavy span of an ice bridge. In the battle that followed, Helbrecht, driven by zeal and hatred of the xenos, dealt Imotekh a dozen ruinous blows, but each time the Phaeron's living Necrodermis was able to quickly repair in a matter of seconds. Despite being the better swordsman, Helbrecht failed to land a truly crippling blow on his opponent, and as the duel drew on, the Marshal finally collapsed under the assault of the Necron Overlord, blood flowing from a score of serious wounds. However, instead of finishing off his opponent, Imotekh brought his Warscythe down and merely severed Helbrecht's right hand to remind the Marshal of his "much-deserved defeat". Helbrecht roared in fury and pain as Imotekh pitched him off the ice bridge to the frigid cavern floor far below. The surviving Black Templars quickly rallied to their fallen Marshal's side and made a fighting retreat, leaving Schrödinger VII in the Stormlord's hands. Following this humiliating defeat, Helbrecht swore an Oath of Vengeance against the Necrons in general, and Imotekh in particular, vowing that the next time they met, only one would leave the battlefield alive.
- 955.M41 Alliance at Devil's Crag - The Silent King Szarekh reluctantly joins forces with the Space Marines of the Blood Angels Chapter to defeat a Tyranid splinter fleet. Commander Dante and the 3rd Company of the Blood Angels Chapter battled against the Necron legions of the Silent King amidst the dusty wastes of the world of Gehenna. For three weeks, neither side could seize the upper hand, with Dante's tactical brilliance stretched to its limits in countering the time-space manipulations of the Silent King. The stalemate was broken only when a Tyranid splinter fleet entered orbit, forcing the two armies to break off hostilities and fight the common foe. The impromptu alliance proved to be the Tyranids' undoing. Following the final battle at Devil's Crag, Dante and the Silent King went their separate ways, both forces too battleworn to guarantee victory over the other, and, at least for the Blood Angels, the idea of turning on those they had so recently fought alongside, proved rather distasteful.
- 970.M41 The Hall of Swords - The Emperor's Swords Chapter of Space Marines, the second to bear that name, is destroyed when a Tomb World awakens beneath their fortress-monastery on the world of Bellicas. Those forces isolated outside are swiftly overwhelmed, but the fate of those within is far grimmer. Subverting the systems of the fortress-monastery, a conclave of Crypteks shut down the defences and entomb the Space Marines within their own citadel. Seeking sport from their captives, the new rulers of Bellicas take it in turns to lead waves of Necron Warriors through the shadowed galls, each with the aim of accruing more kills than his peers. Though the Space Marines fight with determination and never once surrender to terror, after three weeks the contest goes to the Necron Lord Trakesz for his personal decapitation of Captain Arnoc Voreign.
- 973.M41 The Rise of Damnos (Damnos Incident) - By some fateful quirk, the Necron tomb on the Mining World of Damnos wakes swiftly to full function; overwhelming the human settlers and repelling a counterattack by the Ultramarines 2nd Company. The Necrons of Damnos then proceed to awaken their Dolmen Gates and reconquer a crucial spar of the Webway, driving out the Eldar who had reclaimed its paths during the Great Sleep. With their Webway access restored, Necron raiding parties from Damnos reach out across the Ultima Segmentum of the Imperium of Man, leaving carnage in their wake.
- 985.M41 Fall of the Inevitable Conqueror – Marshal Helbrecht would get a chance at fulfilling his Oath of Vengeance after the events on Schrödinger VII, when his Crusade fleet detected Necron activity around the Sautekh Dynasty's coreworld of Davatas in 985.M41. Moving swiftly to intercept, Helbrecht rejoiced when their quarry was identified as the Inevitable Conqueror, Imotekh's Cairn-class Tombship and the Sautekh flagship. Moving in with all haste, the Black Templars' Battle Barge Sigismund managed to land crippling broadside blows on the Inevitable Conqueror’s propulsive array, stranding it in place. Intending to get his revenge on his opponent personally, Helbrecht ordered an immediate teleport and boarding torpedo assault upon the Necron Tombship. Within minutes, the decks of the Inevitable Conqueror were swarming with vengeful Black Templars Astartes. Alas, Helbrecht would not even get the satisfaction of seeing his opponent: while Imotekh's pride urged him to fight, logic won out, and the Stormlord teleported himself and many of his most valuable assets away from his flagship to his unengaged Escort ships. The Necrons immediately accelerated away from the fighting and made good their escape. Fuming with impotent rage, Helbrecht could only gain a meagre measure of satisfaction from ensuring the total destruction of the Inevitable Conqueror by personally setting his foe's beloved flagship on a collision course with the closest star and blasting to smithereens those other Necron spacecraft too slow to flee. The frustrated Helbrecht reaffirmed his Oath of Vengeance, swearing once again that he would see Imotekh dead once and for all. Those Black Templars with some familiarity with the undying Necrons fear that their Marshal has bitten off more than he can chew. While Helbrecht is certainly capable of besting the Necron Phaeron in single combat, preventing the undying mechanical fiend from teleporting to safety and destroying Imotekh outright may prove to be an impossible feat for a single Chapter of Space Marines, no matter their zeal.
- 999.M41 The Carnac Campaign - The Necron Overlord Anrakyr the Traveller arrives on a planet he supposes to be the Tomb World of Carnac, only to find it infested with Eldar Exodites. Realising that the tomb, if it remains, will be buried too deep for him to awaken it before the Exodites can themselves summon aid, Anrakyr entreats the Necron Lords and Overlords of other Tomb Worlds for aid. Reinforcements swiftly arrive from Mandragora, Gidrim and Trakonn, through the most unexpected of all is a contingent from Solemnace, led by Trazyn the Infinite himself. All this takes time, however, and by the time the Night Scythe fleets deploy the invading forces, the armies of the Alaitoc Craftworld stand side-by-side with the Carnac Exodites. Guided by the prophecies of Farseer Eldorath Starbane and the strategies of Illic Nightspear, the Eldar attempt to stall the Necron invasion with a series of hit-and-run attacks. Their aim is to sever the command structure by destroying Anrakyr and his closest allies, but the Pyrrhian Lord manages to subvert the prophesies of the Farseer through the astromantic analyses of Orikan the Diviner. Though Orikan's divinations are by no means as focussed as those of Eldorath Starbane, they are sufficient to tangle the skeins of fate and leave many details of the campaign beyond the Farseer's reach. So it is that Pathfinders arrive at what they thought to be Anrakyr's location, only to find him long gone and squads of Deathmarks waiting in ambush. After several inconclusive battles on Carnac's verdant plains, Anrakyr forces the Eldar to engage in a head-to-head confrontation by marching on the Exodites' World Spirit shrine. As the tireless Necron legions advance upon the walls, Doom Scythes duel with elegant Eldar fighters in the skies above. Deathmarks ply a deadly trade of ambush and counter-ambush with Alaitoc Pathfinders, and all the while Flayed Ones prowl the flanks, pouncing on any Eldar foolish enough to show even a momentary sign of weakness. The two sides are well-matched, with Necron hardiness countered by the Eldar's tactical precision. Victory finally falls to the Necrons when Carnac's tomb unexpectedly begins to awaken, stirred from dormancy by the tumult above. With Necron reinforcements now starting to trickle into the campaign, the Eldar have little choice but to abandon Carnac and its World Spirit to their their ancient enemies. Anraky is grimly jubilant in the campaign's aftermath, and gladly accedes when Trazyn requests the entire World Spirit shrine as spoils of war. For his part, Orikan requests no trophy or payment for his part in the victory, and merely hopes that when the flush of victory fades, no one thinks to question the convenient coincidence of the Carnac tomb's awakening.
Notable Necron Dynasties
Even in life, the Necrontyr civilisation was one of strict protocol and process, governed by nobles whose rule was absolute. This rigid hierarchy became more entrenched during the transition from flesh to machine, and th awakening Necron civilisation is far more complex and stratified than the one that once ruled the galaxy. Every Necron belongs to a royal dynasty, one of the great houses of the ancient Necrontyr Empire. Allegiance to a dynasty was once purely a matter of family and tradition, but it is now entrenched through conquest and programming. Every Necron noble s truly individualistic and, whilst they might share a common set of customs and loyalties, they rarely have a unity of purpose beyond that imposed by their superiors. Accordingly, whilst several neighbouring worlds might owe allegiance to the same royal dynasty, the agenas they pursue depends entirely on the whims and goals of each Necron Overlord or Lord, rather than the broader traditions of the dynasty.
Before the coming of the C'tan, there were many hundreds of Necrontyr dynasties. Some wielded vast political and military power while others were vestigial and broken, mere echoes of once great noble houses. Through the Wars of Secession, the rebellion against biotransference, the War in Heaven and the Great Sleep, many thousands of royal dynasties were destroyed. It is impossible to say how many survived, save that they number in the hundreds, or possibly thousands. Those dysnaties listed below can be considered the most powerful of those that remain and are known to the Imperium of Man:
In the times before biotransference, the Sautekh Dynasty was ranked as the third most powerful of all the Necrontyr royal dynasties. Through chance or design, many of the Sautekh coreworlds survived the aeons better than those of other dynasties. Now, this Necron dynasty is more powerful than any other in the galaxy, and its nobility is the most aggressive in attempting a new wave of expansion intended to reforge the ancient Necron Empire.
Much of the territory once ruled by the Charnovokh Dynasty lies far to the galactic southeast. Many of its dormant Tomb Worlds were devoured by the Tyranids' Hive Fleet Behemoth, and countless others have been ravaged during the Imperium of Man's counterattacks against the Great Devourer. As a result, the remaining star systems of the Charnovokh Dynasty are many, but small and scattered.
The worlds ruled by the Oroskh Dynasty are heavily infected by the dreaded Flayer Virus--the result of a deliberate contamination conducted by Eldar Pathfinders from the Alaitoc Craftworld. Year by standard year, the populations of the Orosokh Tomb Worlds shrink further as ever more Necrons devolve into Flayed Ones.
The Atun Dynasty rules many Tomb Worlds on the northern galactic rim -- the original birthplace of the Necrontyr species. Many of the ancient wonders of the galaxy lie under the control of the Phaeron of Atun and his powerful Overlords, and still many more wait to be uncovered from Tomb Worlds not yet awoken.
During the Wars of Secession, the nobles of the Nekthyst Dynasty earned themselves a reputation as turncoats and betrayers, for many of them held to pacts and alliances only so long as it served their interests. Though these events were long ago, the taint of dishonour still hangs heavy over the Nekthyst Dynasty, and few Phaerons of other noble lineages will stoop even to treat with them, let alone trust them.
The Ogdobekh Dynasty was ever famed for its technical mastery. As a result, its Tomb Worlds were more prepared for the Great Sleep, and more completely outfitted with backup systems and multiple redundancies. The dynasty's relative power is therefore greater than it was in ancient times, for its people have emerged far more reliably from stasis hibernation than most other Necrons.
The Necrontyr nobles of the Oruscar Dynasty were ever bitter rivals with those of the Sauthekh Dynasty. Whilst the power of the Sautekh was spread wide throughout the ancient stars, Oruscar's holdings were limited to a handful of hallowed ancestral worlds laden with a multitude of technological wonders. This rivalry is not ended in the current era, merely dormant. Both dynasties are, thus far, pursuing the wider goal of reclaiming the galaxy for the Necron race -- but such a state of affairs is unlikely to last forever.
The territories of the Nihilakh Dynasty are parochial in the extreme, venturing little outside their domains. Whilst this isolationism is perhaps a boon to those alien races that dwell near to awakened Nihilakh Tomb Worlds, it also carries significant peril. Undepleted by the grind of military expansion like their counterparts in the more expansionist dynasties, the Necron armies of Nihilakh stand ready to take their vengeance upon any interloper. If attacked, the Nihilakh do not rest until the aggressor has been utterly destroyed.
Necron Dynasty Hierarchy
The highest of the Necron nobles are the Phaerons, the rulers of entire dynasties, including many planetary systems. Beneath these nobles are the Necron Overlords, who rule clusters of Tomb Worlds within their Phaeron's domain. Lower still are the Necron Lords, each charged with the keeping of a dynasty's single core or fringeworld. So deeply are these titles mired in Necron tradition that they are universally constant across all of the dynasties. However, the titles of subordinate nobles and functionaries, which make up advisory councils and specialist convocations, are subject to an almost infinite variety.
Gravs, vymarks and thantars are but a few of the titles given to lower tier Necron nobles; almost identical in terms of rank and responsibility, the only real difference arises from which dynasty the individual hails. Many Necron titles are hereditary, dating to the earliest days of the Necrontyr -- some were relatively later inventions, crafted as a means by which nobles of lesser rank could be rewarded for their service. As the sphere of Necrontyr dominion expanded ever further, the scope and application of titles passed far beyond any form of central control. Each royal dynasty created ever more elaborate titles based on its own traditions as a means of self-justification. Like many civilisations, the more grandiose or long-winded the title, the more likely it was merely an attempt to disguise low status.
This tanglework becomes particularly byzantine when a Phaeron from one royal dynasty gains sway over a world from another. The resulting protocol is tedious beyond the endurance of living creatures, but for the Necron nobility it is merely another way of whiling away eternity. To make matters worse, if a Phaeron is deposed or destroyed, his replacement will sometimes insist that all existing ranks be amended to reflect the traditions of his own house. To take such a step, the incumbent must be entirely sure of his own position, as a challenge to tradition is sure to rouse discontent within his own court.
The ranking structures within the Necrontyr armies and fleets have remained constant, no matter how vast and disparate the dynasties have become. For example, every time any Necrons go to war, the title of Nemesor is bestowed upon the overall commander of the battlefield or campaign. This allows armies from across the stars to join forces, even if they have never met, and suffer no decrease in efficiency. This entrenche command structure helped ease the transition of Imotekh the Stormlord from Nemesor to Phaeron of the Sautekh Dynasty.
Every Phaeron and Overlord is served by a Royal Court, which assists in the administration of Tomb Worlds and the execution of military campaigns. A Royal Court consists of a group of Necron Lords, Crypteks, and in the courts of Phaerons, Overlords, who owe fealty to the ruler through oath or family bonds. Through flesh is long since a memory for the Necrons, ties of blood remain as important as they ever were to the Necrontyr. Each Necron Lord will also be served by their own lesser courts. Only nobles of the very lowest ranks do not have courts of their own, yet even these mimic their betters by keeping a circle of untitled advisors from the most acceptably sentient of their vassals. Of course, given the paucity of wit in such advisors, these courts are but shadowed mockeries of the real things. However, in the ongoing battle for status and proper protocol, even a laughable court is considered better than no court at all.
- "What care I that my legions are faceless? Identity matters only to those who have the ability to think: my Immortals and Lychguard, perhaps; my Lords and Crypteks, certainly. For the remainder of my vassals? Well, suffice to say that the concept of glory is wasted on the inglorious."
- — Imotekh the Stormlord, Phaeron of the Sautekh Dynasty, Regent of Mandragora
The size of a Royal Court is not only important in terms of political status and prestige; it also determines a noble's military status. The larger the Royal Court, the greater his seniority and the more troops under his command. Even a noble who lacks for a Royal Court commands a legion of Necron Warriors, a few phalanxes of Immortals and Deathmarks, as well as a phalanx of Lychguard. Added to this are forces not aligned to any particular dynasty. Triarch Praetorians, the surviving agents of the vanished Triarch, fight alongside any Nemesor whom they judge to have the best interests of the dynasties at heart. Nihilistic Necron Destroyers can be lured to a battle with promises of carnage and slaughter, whilst Crypteks can be retained through acts of patronage. Few nobles, no matter how desperate their plight, deliberately seek out the aid of the devolved Flayed Ones, although as these charnel creatures inevitably turn up to Necron battles of their own accord, this reluctance is of little account.
The more senior a noble's poistion in the hierarchy, the greater the number and quality of the troops he has authority over. Furthermore, a ranking noble also has indirect command over all the forces controlled by the members of his Royal Court, who, in turn, have authority over the forces controlled by their subordinates, and so on. As even the smallest of Tomb Worlds has at least two-score nobles of lesser rank, an Overlord can commonly draw upon at least a hundred legions of Necron Warriors, should he have need.
All Necrons, noble and common-born alike, are bound together by the symbol of the ancient Necrontyr Empire, the Ankh of the Triarch (pictured above). Each of the royal dynasties also has its own glyph, the designs of which have remained unchanged over the aeons. Necron nobles bear the dynasty's mark, normally upon a death mask, cloak or sometimes as a stylised detail on personal weaponry or tokens of office. The most arrogant of nobles bear a glyph upon their breastplate in place of the Ankh of the Triarch, though to do so is to defy tradition and protocol.
Only nobles of the highest rank are permitted to bear their dynasty's glyph in its fullest form. Those of lesser rank bear only elements of the glyph, symbolising their position relative to a royal dynasty's heart of power. A handful of nobles do not bear a glyph at all -- some hail from royal dynasties destroyed during the War in Heaven, while others were stripped of rank and status for some long ago transgression. In either event, such a noble is considered untrustworthy at best, with treachery either in his past or in his future.
Dynastic glyphs are unique to Necron nobles. The common soldiery, such as Necron Warriors and Immortals, are largely considered to be interchangeable chattel by their noble masters. As such, they are thought unworthy of direct association with the proud lineage of a particular dynasty -- although the colours of their necrodermis death masks and armour sometimes echo ancient Necrontyr heraldry and thus indirectly reflect their allegiance. In contrast, Necron war engines, such as Monoliths and Doomsday Arks, are often marked with dynastic glyphs -- they are considered to be the personal weaponry of a particular noble and therefore warrant a higher status than even the Necron Warriors that crew them.
Notable Necron Tomb Worlds
- "Order. Unity. Obedience. We taught the galaxy these things long ago, and we will do so again."
- —Imotekh the Stormlord, Phaeron of the Sautekh Dynasty, Regent of Mandragora
For many of the galaxy's myriad intelligent species, the re-emergent Necrons are but one terror amongst many in the darkness between the stars. Even within the Imperium of Man, the Necrons are only dimly understood, with just a handful of individuals aware of the true scale of the threat they represent to Mankind's dominion over the galaxy.
Just as Necron society is rigidly hierarchical, so too are its Tomb Worlds. The most important are the crownworlds, oldest and proudest of all the Necron-held planets and the sites from which their dynasties and planetary clusters are governed. Crownworlds were once hubs of galactic power in the ancient days of Necron might, buttressed by tithe and tribute sent from elsewhere within the territory of their ruling dynasties. With access to such great resource-wealth, crownworlds were able to construct the most reliable stasis-crypts for their inhabitants. As a result, crownworld inhabitants that have weathered the slumbering millennia, without falling afoul of external circumstances, have done so in excellent condition -- though this only dampens the tragedy for the Necron race when a crownworld is lost to galactic calamity.
Next in importance for any Necron dynasty are coreworlds, planets which together form the heart of a dynasty's interstellar territory. The rulers of coreworlds would inevitably be the close kin to the regent of their dynasty's crownworld, ensuring a bond of dynastic loyalty endured between the often diverse planets. Though neither so majestic nor so mighty as crownworlds, the coreworlds were great powers to be reckoned with in their heyday and, barring disaster, are so again in the late 41st Millennium.
Finally, Necron fringeworlds are planets of tertiary importance to their ruling dynasty, not viewed as being of high enough status to be numbered amongst a dynasty's coreworlds. Fringeworlds were often poor or distant colonies of a dynasty, able to contribute to the wider realm only in terms of manual labour or as a location for penal institutions. Some fringeworlds will once have counted amongst the coreworlds of a different dynasty, but have since been conquered or otherwise subsumed into the dominion of their current ruler, thus descending in status.
There is no such thing as a "typical" Necron Tomb World. Each answers only to the will of its noble ruler, and thus his proclivities define everything from its grand campaigns to trivialities such as architectural styles and forms of address between noble ranks. Nevertheless, there is one common cause that binds all Tomb Worlds: the rebuilding of the Necron dynasties of old, and the return of the Necrons to their rightful place of supremacy over the whole of the ignorant galaxy. The Tomb Worlds listed below represent no more than a handful of the many millions spread throughout the galaxy. Each revived world has its own idiosyncracies, and the number is ever growing. Who can say how many far-flung outposts of Mankind have their foundations set upon a planet long ago claimed by an immeasurably older civilisation, its inhabitants blissfully unaware of the slumbering horror at their planet's core. In these days of the Necrons' awakening, no world in the galaxy can rest easy...
Mandragora the Golden, Crownworld of the Sautekh Dynasty
Mandragora was always an important world, a hub for the Necron armies that did battle on the eastern rim of the galaxy. When the War in Heaven ended, Mandragora's stasis-crypts were filled to capacity with some of the finest warriors that the Necron dynasties could command. Mandragora's defences were second to none, as befitted a world of its status, and it survived the Great Sleep intact and safe from the attentions of plunderers. So did Mandragora emerge from hibernation not only hale and whole, but with vast Necron legions at its command -- a situation its new Phaeron, Imotekh the Stormlord, was quick to exploit. Ordering Mandragora's Dolmen Gates reactivated, he sent forces to seize the many coreworlds from the Ork hordes of Warboss Snagratoof. With the Orks driven off or destroyed, the reclaimed Tomb Worlds were then awoken, swelling Imotekh's forces further. Since then, the armies of Mandragora have proved an ever-present threat on the Imperium's eastern borders, and one that continues to grow.
Gheden, Planet of Shadow, Crownworld of the Nihilakh Dynasty
Due to a devastating fault in a dimensional stabiliser array, the crownworld of Gheden is half-phased into a pocket dimension for all but a few standard hours of its stellar orbit. What was first thought of as a catastrophe has since proved to be a great boon to the Necrons of Gheden, as their world is now almost entirely impervious to assault. Deep beneath Gheden's surface lies the Oracle Chamber, where the bulbous head of an ancient alien prophet gifted with psychic precognition is kept alive through a combination of stasis field technology and temporal stabilisers. The prophet's thoughts are projected as multifaceted holographic images which, in theory, show events yet to unfurl. That said, the creature continually rails against his ghoulish imprisonment and obfuscates the images so that they mislead his captors as often as they are truthful.
Thanatos and the Celestial Orrery
The Tomb World of Thanatos is a hollow planet, and hidden at its heart is one of the galaxy's greatest treasures -- the Celestial Orrery. Crafted by artisans of the Oruscar Dynasty long before the onset of the War in Heaven, this web of hologram and living metal is beyond price for its artistic value alone. Yet the Celestial Orrery is far more than mere decorative finery. The tiny pinpricks of glowing light suspended within the impossibly intricate holographic matrix record the positions of every star in the galaxy. Snuff out one of these lights and its physical counterpart in the real galaxy will go supernova long millennia before its destined time, bringing fiery oblivion to all nearby worlds through the use of technology far beyond the understanding of Mankind. Such an act cannot be performed without consideration, however, as each star destroyed in this fashion upsets the fundamental forces of the galaxy, setting off a catastrophic chain reaction of events. Only with further manipulation of the Celestial Orrery can these forces be returned to their proper balance, and this invariably takes many thousands of standard years of constant and precise micromanagement. With so much power at their fingertips, it is well that the Royal Court of Thanatos is not given to maniacal displays. Rather, they see themseves as the gardeners of Creation and dispassionately use the Orrery in a precise and sparing manner, pruning the galaxy only out of need to prevent it from becoming wild and overgrown. Alas, this restraint is not something universally respected. Unending war rages across Thanatos' barren continents and in the skies above, as the armies and fleets of the Oruscar Dynasty seek to prevent the Celestial Orrery from falling into the incautious hands of aliens and other Necron dynasties alike.
Bone Kingdom of Drazak
In the extreme northeast of the galaxy lies the region known as the Ghoul Stars. here, on worlds lit by cold rays of dying suns, tread creatures out of primal nightmares: Cythor Fiends, Togoran Bloodreeks and other creatures so alien as to seem born out of the supernatural. Yet even here, one horror outpaces all others -- the Bone Kingdom of Drazak. Drazak is a world that serves as a haunt for the Flayed Ones, those cursed Necrons blighted by a terrible disease that has given them an irrational hunger for organic flesh. They stalk Drazak's desolate streets, fighting over gobbets of rotting meat and shards of bone, desperate to sate the clamour of their deluded senses. Only one amongst Drazak's entire population of Necrons is proof from the Flayer Virus' pervading madness -- Valgul, the Fallen Lord. Fron his throne of splintered bone and tanned skin, Valgul rules over this charnel kingdom, his one good eye ever fixed upon retaining what small measure of order he can. Seemingly, Valgul remains untouched by the Flayer Virus that has consumed his people, but what truly sane creature would willingly live mongst gibbering Flayed Ones? Perhaps he remains from a sense of duty, or maybe his personal madness merely takes another, more subtle, form. Valgul's rule is not founded on reason -- the devolved nature of his subjects makes such notions laughable -- but is grounded in his ability to provide the gory bounty in which his subjects delight. Every few solar months, when no more meat remains -- whether because it has been torn into fragments too tiny to scrabble over or simply due to inexorable rot -- Valgul announces a new Time of Bounty, and despatches the fleets of Drazak to raid nearby worlds. These reavers of Drazak seek not riches nor conventional plunder -- only red harvests of gore and cooling blood.
Trantis, the Raider's Moon
Though nominally a Tomb World, Trantis is, in truth, but a Necron fringeworld, and the satellite of the much larger and resource-rich Imperial world of Mandal. Since revival, the Necrons of Trantis have been a terror on Mandal's human farming and mining communities. Striking always in the hours of darkness, low-flying squadrons of Night Scythes flit over the landscape, deploying small forces of Necron raiders to plunder and pillage. It is not uncommon for entire human settlements to be overwhelmed and harvested within a single night with only a large and barren crater to show where people once lived and worked. Mandal's communes are so far apart that whole solar days can pass before a disappearance is noted, and certainly too distant for help to be dispatched once a raid begins. The inhabitants of Mandal have thus learnt to dread the onset of dusk. As darkness descends, a curfew begins, blast doors are sealed and sentries set. Yet every few nights another human settlement vanishes without warning and without trace. Ironically, Trantis was only ever intended as a Necron way station for resources and raw materials. It lacks the ability to use more than a fraction of the plunder taken from the planet below and was to ship the excess to other nearby coreworlds. Since the Great Sleep, however, Trantis' portion of the Webway has become sundered from all others, effectively isolating it from those Necron worlds it used to supply. Accordingly, Trantis is slowly drowning in plundered resources for which it has little use. Yet still the raids on Mandal continue...
Zapennec, the Reaveworld
In the final hours of the War in Heaven, one of its greatest battles occurred above Zapennec, the crownworld of the Sarnekh Dynasty. There, Zapennec's royal fleet fought valiantly to repel an Eldar assault of almost incalculable size. The battle was a brief one, but no less deadly for all that. Whilst the surviving Eldar retreated, leaving the planet itself unharmed, its orbit was, from that moment, clogged with the spiralling and blackened wreckage of the once-proud fleets. So soon after the battle did the Great Sleep descend, that the Necrons of Zapennec had no time to clear their skies. Thus did they enter hibernation with their planet shielded by a spinning shroud of Wraithbone and living metal necrodermis. So would things remain until the late 41st Millennium and the return of the Sarnekh Dynasty's most notorious outcast, the self-styled pirate king Thaszar the Invincible. Awakening on Athonos, the Tomb World to which he had been exiled, and driven by some urge he could not identify, Thaszar returned to Zapennec. Finding its people deep in hibernation, he inveigled his way into the Tomb World's master program. In short order he convinced the master program that he, Thazar the Invincible, was no dishonoured noble returned from exile, but in fact the rightful Phaeron of the Sarnekh Dynasty! For good measure, he then ordered that this updated status be engrammatically encoded into the minds of the Tomb World's slumbering Necrons. So did the outcast of Zapennec become its ruler, and those who had banished him become his servants. Under Thaszar's command, the ancient and noble crownworld of the Sarnekh Dynasty has been made over into the Reaveworld. In the shroud of orbital wreckage surrounding the planet, Thaszar has access to all the raw materials he will ever need to build a Necron pirate fleet the scale of which has not been seen for 60 million standard years; in the reprogrammed Necrons of Zapennec, he has crews and captains of unfailing loyalty. Thaszar's vessels have already begun to prowl both the Webway and realspace, and the galaxy will surely come to rue the day he awakened.
Empire of the Severed
When electromagnetic radiation storms ravaged the Tomb World of Sarkon, they destroyed forever the memory engrams of every Necron interred within its stasis-tombs. With its charges thus rendered mindless, the complex's master program (Artificial Intelligence) took charge of their living metal bodies. Little realising that its own logic systems had also been damaged by the radiation storms, the master program observed the quiet order it had brought to Sarkon and resolved to bring this same order to other worlds far and wide. Searching its databases, the master program sent its mindless Necron legions of the Severed to invade Takarak, a slumbering Tomb World located nearby. Takarak's defences were swiftly overwhelmed, and the "Sarkoni Emperor" (for this was how the Sarkoni master program now thought of itself as its madness deepened) erased the minds of Takarak's slumbering inhabitants and claimed their bodies for itself. As of 967.M41, another three Tomb Worlds have been overcome in this same manner, and the Sarkoni Emperor has begun to extend its will across other, non-Necron worlds, using Mindshackle Scarabs to bring any unruly organic creatures under its direct control just like its Severed servants.
Moebius, the Twisted Catacomb, Crownworld of the Nekthyst Dynasty
The Necron nobles of the Nekthyst Dynasty ever had a talent for decpetion, and their crownworld stands as an enduring testament to that devious mindset. The extradimensional hyperspace corridors connecting Moebius' countless crypts take the form of an ever-shifting maze, ensuring that no journey through the catacombs is ever the same twice -- as at least one Deathwatch Kill-team has found out to its cost.
Stasis Docks of Seidon
In ancient times, Seidon lay at the heart of Necrontyr expansion. It was from this coreworld's stardocks 60 million standard years ago that the first Necrontyr antimatter-fueled torch-ships set out into the stars, carrying colonists beyond the boundaries of Necrontyr space. Throughout the War in Heaven, the wharves of Seidon continued to ply their trade, but instead sent expeditionary forces in search of fresh worlds to conquer. Every thirty-three solar weeks, another vast stasis-ship would launch from the dockyards of Seidon, carrying a legion of Immortals to some distant planet. When the Great Sleep ended and Seidon woke once again to full function, its rulers decided that they could best serve their final orders by continuing on their mission of conquest. Alas, unbeknownst to the Tomb World's Overlord, Seidon's master program suffered corruption during the great Sleep and many records were destroyed or inexplicably altered. No longer are the great ships set forth on courses that intersect with planetary systems. Instead, each vessel is launched on a random heading, as likely to plunge it into the blazing heart of a star or into the tendriled maw of a Tyranid Hive Fleet as it is to result in safe planetfall. Yet as Seidon's Necron nobility have no need to query the master program, the fault continues to go unnoticed. Thus, for every thirty-three solar weeks that pass, another legion of Immortals depart on their perilous journey into the unknown...
Trakonn of Ten Thousand Spires, Crownworld of the Dyvanakh Dynasty
The Necrons of Trakonn originally awoke in the early 41st Millennium, but were not to shake off their hibernation-induced disorientation for nearly five hundred standard years. This proved sufficient time for their Tomb World to draw the attention of the Tech-priests of a neighbouring Forge World of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and the internal battle to regain consciousness swiftly overlapped with a series of wars against the forces of the Imperium of Man. Now the siege has finally ended, and Trakonn's armies have finally cast the upstart humans from their planet and begun the search for the other Tomb Worlds of their dynasty. Alas, they have been unable to make contact with even a single one, and must now assume that the records of old no longer match the reality of the present-day galaxy. n this they are, at best, only tangentially correct. The missing Dyvanakh Tomb Worlds were actually engulfed and destroyed by a Warp Storm thousands of standard years before Trakonn ever emerged from the Great Sleep. Ignorant of this fact, the nobles of Trakonn continue their hopeless search to this day.
Blood Vats of Zantragora
The Necron nobles of the Tomb World of Zantragora have but one overriding goal. Their aim is apotheosis, the undoing of biotransference's curse of soullessness by transferring their consciousnesses into the organic bodies of other sentient beings. Their belief that such a thing is possible is rooted both in the final command of the Silent King, and in prophecies made at the time of the Great Sleep. These, while predicting that apotheosis would come to pass, lacked much in the way of detail, and it has ever been unclear whether the Necrons need to take over other organic bodies, or clone new ones drawn from the original Necrontyr genetic material for their eternal minds to reinhabit. To this end, the legions and fleets of Zantragora scour the galaxy for fresh subjects, following strict search patterns lest they somehow miss a world whose inhabitants hold the key to their transformation. Hundreds of thousands of such "samples," both living and dead, are taken from every inhabited planet in the search pattern. Sealed in stasis-sleep, these individuals are conveyed back to Zantragora to feed the never-ending series of autopsies, gene-splicing, tissue mutation and molecular deconstruction that typifies the Necron quest for apotheosis. Progress has proved excruciatingly slow, and every step is marked in the blood of the "lesser" species.
Necron Combat Doctrine
Hibernating deep within the hearts of their Tomb Worlds, the Necrons have been dormant for more than 60 million Terran years. Scattered Necron raiding parties heralded the undying race's awakening to full activity once more in the late 41st Millennium, but now as their thirsty Star Gods, the C'tan, rise to a hungry wakefulness for life energy, the dreaded Necrontyr have returned to claim the galaxy for their own.
Every Necron Tomb World has been constructed to accord to a complex template that was devised by the Necrontyr at the height of their civilisation. Utilising physical principles and technology that have not been rediscovered by any other intelligent species since they began their long sleep, the Necrons created immense subterranean warehouses to store their race for the millions of years they would spend inactive. Using their mastery of advanced interdimensional geometry, the Necrons built massive chambers that could house tens of thousands of their kind in a space seemingly larger on the inside than without. Deep beneath these pyramidal structures, the Necrons stored their horrific weaponry and erected powerful temporal stabilisers that would shield these warriors and their savage weapons from the ravages of time much like a stasis field.
Each Tomb World, once it has been reactivated, awakens its sleepers in a rigid and predictable algorithmic sequence that is as inevitable as the dying of the stars. First, the Tomb World releases swarms of robotic Canoptek Scarab and Canoptek Spyder constructs to attend to the rudimentary needs of the stasis tombs. Soon after the Necron Warriors are reawakened and begin reconnaissance patrols of the region of the world surrounding their tombs. Using the information gained by these Necron Warriors' scouting missions, the Tomb World's automated systems assess the current circumstances that dominate its environment. According to ancient, pre-determined algorithms, the stasis tombs then bring on-line other Necron machineries and weapons as the circumstances warrant. The Necron Lord or Lords present on the Tomb World are encoded with this information and the data necessary to form artificial personalities so that when they awaken they can embody the singular purpose of the Tomb World and make independent decisions.
A large population centre of one of the galaxy's younger races, usually Mankind, may have been settled unwittingly on what is actually a Necron Tomb World. When this situation is encountered, the Tomb World's encoded programming reacts extremely aggressively to defend its hibernating charges. These Tomb Worlds are the ones that have activated the most rapidly during the current awakening of the Necrons and are now hives of activity for the undying race. As their automated systems delve ever deeper into their existing archives of data and storehouses of units and weapons, the Tomb Worlds whose areas of influence have been "invaded" by the younger races are gearing up to begin what will eventually become a full-scale retaliatory action against the Imperium of Man and any other organised force that stands in the Necrons' way. This is a programmed behaviour pattern that Imperial savants have dubbed "the Harvest." When it comes to pass, it will be a genocidal-level event on a par with the War in Heaven against the Old Ones millions of years ago.
Necron Tomb Worlds appear to have no permanent organisation or command structure, nor is the interaction of the various forces altogether clear to the savants of the Imperium. The Necrons' form of warfare could best be described as a continuous process of causality, as each battle, campaign and Harvest produces preordained responses from the controlling program of the Tomb World. This evolving structure is made possible by a system similar to that used in the most complex assemblies of the Adeptus Mechanicus, which is known as Nodal Command. Nodal Command organisation allocates a strict hierarchy to all of the elements within it. This system grants greater operational and decision-making capacity to certain "nodes" whilst slaving the rest of the system to these nodes' autonomous command decisions. Necron Lords form the nodes of the command structure, allowing each Lord an allocated hierarchical value at any given time. Though the Adeptus Mechanicus can only guess at how this Nodal Command system truly operates, they have determined that there are at least four levels of hierarchy within the Nodal Command, which the Tech-priests have designated Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels, in ascending order of command priority. The Nodal Command system is also a communications structure and forms the basis for how intelligence information is gathered and orders issued to the necessary Necron units. The system is often likened to the ancient flow charts once used to design Cogitator algorithms during the Dark Age of Technology.
The decisions taken by a higher-level Necron Lord (such as a Gold-level), give a single, quick response. All relevant data and orders are then automatically disseminated to any subservient Lords -- the Silver-and Bronze-level Lords slaved to the Gold-level commander. In situations where speed is less important than processing all of the relevant information, decision-making defers across several Bronze or Silver-level Lords, and can even devolve down to the individual Necron Warriors at specific times during combat. This system allows for a great deal of coordination when required, but also still leaves room for independent action by distant combat groups should the need arise. A Platinum-level Necron Lord, also known as a Necron Overlord, has not yet been encountered by Imperial forces. Savant speculation indicates that this level of Necron Lord would command massive Necron fleets intended to Harvest entire swathes of the galaxy. Such a Necron force might prove unstoppable.
After multiple encounters with the Necrons, it has become obvious to Imperial savants that as a conflict worsens, a Tomb World will temporarily withdraw its existing forces from combat before releasing a new, more potent army led by an extended Nodal Command. Essentially, the more a foe escalates its response to Necron forces, the more devastating will become the Necron offensive. In most situations, only a few Necron Warriors and specialist support units like Destroyers or Wraiths are deployed to defeat an emerging threat. But as resistance grows, so does the strength of the forces that will be released by the Tomb World's autonomic systems to the Nodal Command structure for use by the commanding Necron Lord or Lords.
Combat escalation with the Necrons of a specific Tomb World will grow in this exponential fashion until the forces that are capable of being deployed by the Necrons represent a level of destructive power that can surpass that of any other enemy Mankind has ever faced, including the Tyranids and the Forces of Chaos. Seemingly endless ranks of Necron Warriors will be transported into combat by armadas of newly-awakened Monoliths, while Immortals and Destroyers by the hundreds will be released in relentless waves against enemy troops. Scores of horrific Flayed Ones and Wraiths will terrorise civilian populations and destroy morale behind the front lines. It is believed by many Imperial savants that some Tomb Worlds still maintain a wide variety of units more powerful and destructive than the massed phalanxes of Necron Warriors and Monoliths that have been encountered by the defenders of the Imperium to date. All that is required for these unseen units to be committed to the fight is for the combat to escalate to a level that has not yet been attained. The mind reels from imagining what kinds of horrific machines the Necrons may yet unleash upon an unsuspecting galaxy when this unknown line is finally crossed in the not-too-distant future. The Dead Worlds that have been found close to many present Tomb Worlds scoured of all life are perhaps testaments to the true fate of those who oppose the undying Necrons.
Tomb World Nodal Command Stages
- Primary Awakeners - The first elements activated by a Tomb World's autonomic systems once the outside environment has been judged to be receptive to the hibernating Necrons' awakening are the Tomb Spyders. These robotic custodians begin the initial tasks of opening and performing basic maintenance to the Necron stasis tombs. Embued with the powers of Necron resurrection, the Tomb Spyders activate the Tomb World's initial reconnaissance forces, known as Raiders. Meanwhile, the second group of Primary Awakeners, the smaller robotic constructs called Scarabs, secure the interior of the stasis tombs. In massive swarms numbering in the thousands, Scarabs seek out intruders and carry out any remaining essential maintenance on the stasis tombs' defence systems.
- Raider Force - Made up of a small number of Necron Warriors and Scarabs, the Raider forces emerge into the outside environment with complete autonomy to carry out their mission as they see fit within the limits of their programming. The Raiders' purpose is to scout the surface of the Tomb World and any nearby star systems, seeking data on the location and status of the galaxy's other intelligent races. The destruction of a Raider force will produce one of two outcomes: the Tomb World may despatch a second Raider force to determine what happened to the first or the Tomb World may proceed immediately to the second stage of activation if a threat has been identified.
- Reserve Command - After the initial data gathered by the Raiders has been received by the Tomb World, the command of all Raider forces is subsumed under the Nodal Command of a Necron Lord, usually one tasked with a Silver-level of priority. When required, the Reserve Command will enter combat led by this Necron Lord, who also serves as a reserve commander who can take control of any already-deployed Necron forces should their primary Necron Lord be destroyed or incapacitated.
- Necron Line Formations - The majority of the units that make up a Necron field army are placed under this extension of the Nodal Command. Led by up to 4 Bronze-level Necron Lords, the Line Formations are made up of a wide variety of Necron fighting units. Ground forces are organised into units called phalanxes, which are made up of a core of Necron Warriors transported by Monoliths and supported by secondary fire support units like Destroyers, Immortals and so on. These phalanxes are often accompanied by units comprised of more specialised Necron troop types known as cohorts. The Necron Lords of the Line Formations serve as a battlefield command circuit that is able to pass data between themselves, upload data to the Platinum-level Necron Overlord or call upon the Reserve Command for reinforcements or a more in-depth analysis of tactical information. Each Tomb World may have dozens of full Line Formations, which are activated as needed by Tomb Spyders and inserted into or removed from the Nodal Command as the flow of combat dictates.
- Priority Command - Three Gold-level Necron Lords form the highest Necron command structure yet encountered by the forces of the Imperium on the battlefield. These Necron Lords are responsible for all strategic deciion-making and can override the command and communications of Bronze or Silver-level Necron Lords. They are also capable of committing and commanding the most powerful Necron units known to exist to combat, including the Pariahs, larger war machines like Tomb Stalkers, aerial forces and starships.
- Platinum-level Commander - No Platinum-level Necron Lord, known as a Necron Overlord, has yet been encountered by the Imperium and their existence has only so far been hypothesized from observing the actions of the Gold-level Necron Lords. It is still speculation amongst the few Imperial savants who have been trusted with data about the Necrons whether the Platinum-level Nodal Command is still hidden on a Tomb World or might perhaps even be the Tomb World itself. The Adeptus Mechanicus' Tech-priests, however, are quite confident that the Platinum-level Necron Overlord is not the C'tan, who do not interact with the Nodal Command structure in any obvious way, and who are, in fact, now the unwilling servants of their former slave race in the form of the C'tan Shards.
Null Field Matrices
As creatures long without any kind of spiritual essence, the Necrons cannot project their minds into the Warp or harness its power to any degree. They are unable to use the Warp to journey across the galaxy and are thoroughly bereft of any native psykers. In many ways, this is a boon, for the Empyrean is always a fickle servant, given to wreaking havoc on those who seek to claim its power. Yet this absence of psychic ability enforces its own limitations, particularly when combating creatures to whom sorcery is as much a part of war as conventional munitions, as there is no surer defence against a psyker than another, more powerful, psyker.
To compensate, many Necron Tomb Worlds are shielded from psychic disturbance by vast Null Field Matrices. Developed during the War in Heaven, these networks of anti-psychic field emitters generate an unknown energy field that destabilises a psyker's connection to the Warp, rendering him unable to utilise his full power. Similarly, daemons in the presence of Null Field Matrices have a tendency to flicker in and out of existence, as if unable to maintain a solid foothold in reality. In the later years of the 41st Millennium, the Null Field Matrix has also proven to have a deleterious effect upon the Tyranids. The vassals of the Hive Mind are not immune to the unsettling soulessness of the Necrons, and the Null Field Matrix only serves to exacerbate this effect on the normally inviolate Hive Mind. Alas for the Necrons, such defences are far from complete. A Null Field Matrix requires incredible amounts of power to function properly and is a fragile device that must be hidden away ata Tomb World's very heart to prevent its destruction. Nonetheless, they stand as testaments to the Necrons' ability to create a technological defence against any form of attack, no matter its genesis. Additionally, it was a further extension of this same technology that led to the Necrons' uncompleted Great Work, the creation of the network of anti-psychic pylons erected on Cadia and many other worlds across the galaxy that were intended to cut off access to the Warp by all inhabitants of realspace forever. Luckily for the psykers of the galaxy, the Necrons entered the Great Sleep before this project could be completed, though it is possible that the Phaerons of the more active dynasties might like to see it completed...
Forces of the Necrons
Most Necrons are tall, skeletal figures made of a living metal called Necrodermis that provides excellent protection in battle. It also has the special self-repair effect, which means even heavily damaged Necrons can quickly return to the battle. This ability seems to only work when the Necron is in the vicinity of other Necrons of the same type since the repairing Necron needs a "template" on which to re-create himself.
Another interesting phenomenon of the Necrons is that when a battle has turned strongly against them, the entire army will simply vanish from the battlefield using their unknown phase technology. This includes even 'dead' Necrons (those who have not yet repaired themselves) and those already engaged in close combat. Because of this, enemy forces like the Imperium have had great difficulty in obtaining Necron artifacts or "corpses" to study.
It should be noted that the terms for the weapons and Necrons that follow are given to them by their opponents, not the Necrons themselves. Aside from the C'tan known as the Deceiver, the Necrons never communicate with non-Necrons; and even then the Deceiver has only been observed communicating with non-Necrons rarely at best.
The C'tan or Necron "Star Gods", known in the Eldar Lexicon as the Yngir, are said to be the oldest intelligent beings in existence in the Milky Way Galaxy. It is said that they were created at the very beginning of the universe, spawned from swirling gases and enormous amounts of energy, and as such are etheric creatures by nature. In their natural form they are vast beings and spread themselves over the surface of a star, absorbing its solar energy to feed themselves. After a time, they learned to use diaphanous wings to travel to other stars to continue their consumption when their host star died. The matter around them was so insignificant that it did not register on their voracious appetite. They are able to interact with the physical world thanks to the technology of the Necrontyr which transferred their consciousnesses into robotic bodies made of the living metal called necrodermis. The C'tan used the hatred of the Necrontyr towards the ancient species called the Old Ones to help them gather the more appetizing energy of living beings that they came to crave.
The C'tan hate the Warp and its psychic energies (even as they crave the living energies of organic beings) and had the Necrons construct a series of pylons on the world of Cadia and other planets across several sectors in the Segmentum Obscurus which, when completed, were intended to close off the Warp from the material universe entirely, utterly destroying any living creatures with a soul, leaving all other life in the galaxy as nourishment for the C'tan.
It was the C'tan who designed the process of bio-transference for the Necrontyr, transferring their proteges' consciousnesses into undying mechanical bodies composed of Necrodermis. However, the biotransference process also transformed the Necrontyr into the Necrons, soulless beings who have difficulty taking pleasure in anything and who can never truly enjoy their immortality. After the end of the War in Heaven against their ancient foes the Old Ones, the Necrons, led by the Silent King Szarekh, successfully rebelled against their C'tan Star Gods. Those C'tan who survived the revolt were broken into fragments known as C'tan Shards that were more easily contained and imprisoned within arcane Necron devices known as Tesseract Labyrinths. At present, since the Necrons' Great Awakening began in the mid-41st Millennium, these C'tan Shards are deployed when needed as the Necron Dynasties' greatest weapons on the battlefield. However, there always exists the possibility that the imprisoned C'tan will escape their captors. Then they will wreak a terrible vengeance upon their captors and the innocent alike...
A C'tan Shard is all that remains of the once mighty Star Gods of Necron antiquity. They are now only echoes of their former selves, splinters of energy that survived their Necron servants' ancient betrayal and were enslaved in turn. Most now languish in unbreakable servitude to their former vassals, utterly incapable of acting without commission. Should a C'tan Shard rebel, or a fault develop in its control relays, then fail-safe mechanisms automatically activate, whisking the creature back to its tomb, there to languish for long Terran centuries until times are dire enough that the Necrons must call upon its services again. Even with these precautions, the Necrons are wary of employing C'tan Shards in battle. Though the chance of escape is remote, the possibility remains, so the day must be dark indeed for the Necron cause before the Tesseract Labyrinths are opened and the C'tan unleashed upon the galaxy once again. In the late 41st Millennium, the foes of the Necrons have so far only encountered two types of C'tan Shard, those of Aza'gorod the Nightbringer and Mephet'ran the Deceiver.
Even now in their reduced and wholly fettered state, C'tan Shards are beings of near-unlimited power. They can manifest energy blasts, control the minds of lesser beings, manipulate the flow of time, and banish foes to alternate dimensions. Indeed, a C'tan Shard's abilities are limited only by two things: its imagination -- which is immense -- and glimmering memories of the being from which it was severed. Whilst no individual C'tan Shard has full recall of the omnipotent beings it once was, each carries the personality and hubris of that vaster and more puissant being. Though a C'tan Shard has the power to reduce a tank to molten slag with but a gesture, it might simply not occur to it to do so, as its gestalt primogenitor would have tackled the situation through other means, such as by devolving the crew into primordial ooze, or deceiving them into attacking their own allies. The only hope of defeating a C'tan is to breach its Necrodermis shell -- the living metal form that cages its energetic essence. If the Necrodermis is compromised, the C'tan Shard explodes in a pulse of blinding energy, its being scattered to the galactic solar winds.
Whilst it is true that many C'tan Shards are now indentured to Necron service, this by no means accounts for the entire pantheon of C'tan. Rumours of C'tan-like beings can be found across the galaxy, though many are merely entities that exhibit inexplicable reality-warping powers. Indeed, any such being -- whether Warp-spawned daemon, energy-based life form or an alien with advanced technology -- can be mistaken for a C'tan if the observer is primitive, credulous or simply ill-informed enough. This discrepant information causes great confusion concerning the exact number and nature of the surviving C'tan, even among the Eldar. Records held in the Black Library contradict those maintained on Ulthwe, which are again at odds with the archives held on Alaitoc. There might be four C'tan at present in the galaxy, four thousand or any number in between. However, all Eldar agree that the splinters of knowledge held by the Imperium of Man are so flawed and confused that they, if anything, move further from the truth with each fresh discovery made. Any who go looking for proof of a C'tan's existence can easily uncover it, but this speaks more to the mindset of the searcher than it does to any value of the "evidence."
Transcendant C'tan are the most dangerous of their kind amongst the C'tan Shards. Each is an aggregation of anywhere between a dozen and a hundred lesser C'tan Shards, and its power far surpasses the sum of its parts. Those few that are chained to Necron service are not contained by Tesseract Labyrinths, but by energy shackles designed aeons ago by the legendary Necron artificer Svarokh. Such devices are unstable, making the deployment of a Transcendant C'tan without the device known as a Tesseract Vault to contain it something of a risk, only undertaken in times of direst need. For this reason, when contained within a Tesseract Vault, a Transcendant C'tan is also kept within a special energy shield generated by a robotic Necron construct known as a Canoptek Sentinel. Canoptek Sentinels are used to control the raw elemental energies of a Transcendent C'tan. The Sentinel draws from the Transcendant C'tan's own power to generate a force shield strong enough to keep the C'tan shackled to the mechanisms of the Tesseract Vault.
The C'tan who are known to currently still exist include:
- Aza'gorod the Nightbringer - Aza'gorod the Nightbringer has impressed its image as that of the grim reaper itself on the psyche of the younger races, apart from the Orks (since they do not fear death). Upon entering stasis it was almost destroyed and starved but was released accidentally by the Space Marines in the 41st Millennium, which caused the Necrons to begin to awaken from their ancient sleep. The Nightbringer is one of the two types of C'tan Shard that have so far been encountered by the foes of the Necrons since their Great Awakening.
- Mephet'ran the Deceiver - Mephet'ran the Deceiver came out of stasis an unknown time ago and has been weaving plots ever since, including the destruction of the ancient Old Ones weapons the Eldar call the Talismans of Vaul and the Imperium knows as the Blackstone Fortresses which were designed to destroy the C'tan on their emergence. The Deceiver is the second of the two types of C'tan Shard that have so far been encountered by the foes of the Necrons since their Great Awakening.
- Mag'ladroth the Void Dragon - Mag'ladroth the Void Dragon is the most powerful C'tan and still resides in stasis, theorised to be located beneath Mars in the Noctis Labrynthus. The Void Dragon is believed by some Tech-priests to be the actual Machine God venerated by the Cult of the Machine of the Adeptus Mechanicus. A master of the material realm, this particular C'tan was a figure of oblivion, devastation and wanton destruction and it's warriors were nigh invincible.
The names of several other C'tan are known to the Imperium of Man and the Eldar, though they have not yet been encountered as active C'tan Shards and it remains unknown whether they still exist in Necron captivity like their brethren or have ceased to exist.
- Iash'uddra the Endless Swarm - Nothing is currently known about this C'tan, other than that it exists.
- Kalugura - Kalugura is a C'tan who was captured and transformed into a C'tan Shard. Kalugura was once a horrific engine of destruction. This particular C'tan Shard was entombed on the world of Kalugura aeons ago, at the command of the Silent King Szarekh, then the supreme overlord of the Necron race's ruling Triarch. The reason why this Shard was imprisoned and is no longer deployed by the Necrons is unknown.
- Og'driada, the Arisen - Nothing is currently known about this C'tan, other than that it exists.
- Nyadra'zatha the Burning One - It was the C'tan known as Nyadra'zatha, the Burning One, who had long desired to carry his eldritch fires into the Webway and beyond, who enabled the Necrons to gain access to the Labyrinthine Dimension, showing the Necrons how to breach its boundaries. Through a series of living stone portals known as Dolmen Gates, the Necrons have finally been able to turn the Old Ones' greatest weapon to their own purpose. As a race bereft of psykers, the Necrons are incapable of Warp travel, and without access to the Webway, they would be forced to rely once more on slow-voyaging stasis-ships, dooming them to isolation within the galaxy.
- Tsara'noga the Outsider - Tsara'noga the Outsider became insane due to its consumption of other C'tan, a trick played on it by Cegorach, the Eldar Laughing God. It developed a hellish presence, causing madness in all who came close, and many killed themselves rather than have to face the Outsider. The Outsider shares some similarities with the Nightbringer, in that it is said that to look upon it would cause terror, much like the Nightbringer's infusion of terror in the younger races produced by the Old Ones. Furthermore, one of the Harlequins' many dances depicts the moment when the Laughing God tricked the C'tan into consuming each other, except that the C'tan depicted is the Nightbringer, rather than the Outsider. The Outsider is currently imprisoned in a Dyson Sphere beneath the galactic plane. The Harlequins whisper that "one dark night, it shall return."
- Yggra'nya, the Shaper - Nothing is currently known about this C'tan, other than that it exists.
Of all the Necron Lords, the Necron Overlord is by far the most powerful and dangerous. At his command are uncountable legions of Necron Warriors, terrifying war machines and a vast array of devastating weaponry that could shatter entire worlds given half the chance. When he marches to war, the Necron Overlord does so with the surety of victory -- he has cogitated and calculated every possible outcome in the ensuing conflict and formulated strategies to ensure that everything goes to plan. Only the most unlikely situations can outfox him and only the most potent foes have any chance of beating him in combat. Weapons glance off his armour or simply pass straight through him as he shifts in and out of reality using the Necrons phase shifting technology. In return, his own attacks are brutally meticulous as he severs heads, shatters armour and pulverises his foes with every swing of his ancient blade. Should a Necron Overlord rise to the position of Phaeron, and ruler of an entire sector, then few will have the strength to stand before his might.
A Necron Lord is the most sophisticated of the ancient race of soulless xenos known as the Necrons. A Necron Lord serves as the commander and energy supply for the much larger Necron armies composed of the standard Necron Warriors. When the Necrontyr gave up their organic bodies to serve the C'tan, they transferred their consciousnesses into bodies made of the living metal "necrodermis". However, they soon discovered that over an extended period of time, their new robotic bodies dulled their minds and their ability to feel any type of emotion or pleasure. Over many millennia, the ultimate outcome of this process of gradual desensitisation was that the Necrons became the soulless warrior-slaves of the C'tan, harvesting intelligent life from across the galaxy to feed these souls to their insatiable masters. Only the most powerful and strong-willed of the Necron nobility, referred to as Necron Lords, managed to gain access to necrodermis bodies following biotransference that were sophisticated enough to allow them to maintain their full sentience in the face of the growing dullness of their minds. A Necron Lord is a high-ranking member of a Necron dynasty's noble hierarchy and is usually placed by the dynasty's Phaeron or his own Overlord in control of an entire Tomb World. Clad in crumbling vestments and wielding ancient, arcane staff weapons, the Necron Lord is a chilling sight to behold on the battlefield as they direct their Necron Warriors in unnatural silence. Their ancient metallic bodies are marred by the patina of age and they wear the accumulated power of millennia like a robe. With every silent gesture, glittering arcs of viridian energy surround them as their empty eye sockets burn with soulless fire.
A Cryptek is one of the technologists and engineers of the Necron race, and they are responsible for studying and maintaining the technology of the Necron dynasties. A Cryptek's powers mirror that of the psykers found amongst the other intelligent species of the galaxy. However, while psykers channel the energies of the Warp to accomplish their seemingly supernatural feats, a Cryptek uses his highly advanced knowledge of science and technology to manipulate the universe's fundamental forces and produce many of the same seemingly magical effects. They are masters of dimensional dissonance, singularity manipulation, atomic transmutation, elemental transmogrification and countless other reason-defying technologies. What a Cryptek often accomplishes with his technology is nothing short of magical to the eyes of the lesser intelligent races. With his knowledge of arcane sciences, a Cryptek can transmute a foe into liquid adamantium, turn him into a speck of dwarf star matter, set the air ablaze, call down eldritch bolts of lightning and other equally impressive feats of technological arcana. Such technological aptitude and power is highly sought after by Necron Overlords, who will meet whatever demands are made by the Crypteks in exchange for their services.
Necron Deathmarks are one of the highly-skilled snipers and assassins of the Necron forces, appearing from apparently nowhere and striking with terrible precision. The name is fitting: once given the "hunter's mark", a Deathmark's targets are almost certain to meet their deaths scant moments later. Like most Necrons, the Deathmarks' technology lies far beyond the realm of human comprehension and they can effectively phase in and out of normal space-time at will. Their victims will assume that they have been ambushed, that the Deathmarks teleported onto the battlefield. The reality is that they were already there, waiting out of phase for just the right moment to slaughter their victims. Few enemy commanders encounter Deathmarks and live to tell the tale. In appearance, Deathmarks are more akin to Necron Immortals in the craftsmanship of their mechanical bodies. They are distinguished by a single, large green-glowing eye and the arcane orbs projecting from their spines. These orbs flare with an unnatural light as a Deathmark utilises its occult powers. In keeping with their role, Deathmarks display a propensity for stealth that is all but unique amongst the Necron ranks. Moving as they do with the eerie silence that is the hallmark of the Necron legions, Deathmarks can be surprisingly stealthy for their slow, deliberate movements.
Triarch Praetorians hold a great responsibility -- to ensure that the ruling Necron dynasties never fall. The Praetorians held the responsibility of maintaining the Triarch's rule, to ensure that wars and politics alike were pursued according to ancient codes. As such, they acted outside the political structures, and held both the right and the means to enforce their will should a Lord, Overlord or even a Phaeron's behaviour contravene the edicts of old. During the War in Heaven the Triarch Praetorians fought at the forefront of that cataclysm, but their efforts were all for naught. When the Necron race entered hibernation after the end of the War in Heaven over 60 million Terran years ago, the Triarch Praetorians chose to remain awake. Now, as the Necrons awaken once more into a strife-torn galaxy, the Triarch Praetorians have also re-emerged to serve the Necron Lords' dynastic legions. They will rarely join a battle immediately, preferring to hover above the fray on Gravity Displacement Packs before launching themselves right into the heart of the enemy army. With the devastating weapon known as a Rod of Covenant at their disposal there is very little that can survive the assault of a Triarch Praetorian.
The Necron Lychguard are the elite protectors and emissaries of the Necron nobility. In order to serve as a bulwark against those who would harm their charge, Lychguards were gifted with the highest quality of living metal bodies, equal in resilience and power to those inhabited by the Lords and Overlords they protect. In addition to serving as wardens, Lychguards often act as messengers and envoys for their masters. In order to better serve in this capacity, the personality and intellect of the Lychguards was preserved through the process of bio-transference to a much greater extent than the rank and file. As with other Necrons, Lychguards fulfil the same roles in undeath as they did in life, and, as with other Necrons, the capability for disobedience has been removed. The Necron Lords and Overlords of the 41st millennium need never worry about a treacherous knife in the back from a supposedly loyal guardian, making the Lychguards the last defence against the machinations of rival nobles. Owing to their powerful frames, Lychguards are taller and broader than Necron Warriors, with broad shoulder blades and a pronounced spine that extends above their heads. Reflecting their status and, perhaps, their individual preferences, Lychguards are often adorned with decorative headgear and segmented metal tabards. Lychguards are typically armed with warscythes, massive polearms with blades sheathed in a highly advanced and devastating power field. Backed up by the formidable strength of a Lychguard, a warscythe can split even an armoured warrior of the Adeptus Astartes nearly in two. Some will also carry Hyperphase Swords and Dispersion Shields, which are marginally less powerful, but offer increased protection.
Necron Warriors are the primary infantry troops of the soulless, robotic Necrons. They were created from the majority of the Necrontyr people who agreed to be bound to the will of their Star Gods, the terrible entities known as the C'tan. The Necrontyr's consciousnesses were transferred into robotic bodies made of the living metal called Necrodermis. Over a long period of time, the new unliving bodies dulled the Necrontyr's minds and their abilities to feel emotion or pleasure. Over many millennia, the ultimate outcome of this process of gradual desensitization was that the Necrontyr became little more than souless automatons, the warrior-slaves of the C'tan who scour the galaxy for souls to feed their insatiable masters' appetities for living energy. In battle, their massive numbers and superior firepower overwhelm their enemies before they retreat back to their Tomb complexes, awaiting the next call to battle from their Necron Lord. The skeletal forms of Necron Warriors are a spine-chilling sight to behold; kinetic projectiles and lasblasts bounce harmlessly from their metallic limbs. The Gauss Flayer which they wield is no less terrifying, as it strips its targets to atoms, dissolving skin and muscle in a heartbeat and then disintegrating bone until nothing remains.
Note: This unit was once considered canon but its canonicity is now questionable.
Pariahs are crafted from a terrible symbiosis of Necron technology and human evolution. They are created from human victims abducted by the Necrons who bear the "Pariah Gene" that severs the bearer's psyche completely from the Warp, effectively making them both soulless creatures and immune to the effects of all psychic abilities. However, despite this psychic immunity, Pariahs tend to not live long as the feelings of hatred and distaste they generate among others due to their soulless state means they have few friends and many enemies. Pariahs are very rare in the galaxy since perhaps only one person on an entire world will be a carrier of the gene in every human generation. Pariahs are often used by the Inquisition and the Ordo Hereticus against the witches and renegade psykers. Also, due to their soullessness, human Pariahs are completely without fear. Necron Pariahs are former human bearers of the Pariah gene who have been encased within new cybernetic bodies forged from the living metal called necrodermis by the Necrons and their minds are soon enslaved to the will of the Necron noble caste in a manner similar to the standard Necron Warriors as their new bodies drain their abilities to feel any emotion or pleasure. The Pariah Gene is extremely rare and confined solely to Mankind, meaning that Pariahs are quite rare in the galaxy, and there are very few even amongst the Necrons. Pariahs have an extreme detrimental effect on the psychic powers of any psykers they come into contact with. Pariahs wield spear-like Warscythes that are also outfitted with built-in Gauss Blasters that make them extremely dangerous opponents. Pariahs also radiate an unnatural aura as a result of their soullessness that has a terribly unnerving effect upon their enemies, but especially for psykers who can become incapacitated by their sheer presence.
The Necron Immortals are those favoured Necrontyr who were among the first to give up their flesh and embrace the necrodermis and their C'tan gods. For this, they were rewarded by being turned into Immortals. In life, Immortals were the professional soldiery of the Necrontyr empire. In death, they surpass the Warriors in nearly every way. Possessed of even more resilient frames, Necron Immortals prove almost impervious to small arms. Their training and experience in combat survived the process of bio-transference undiminished, and Immortals seem to have retained a brighter spark of intellect than their less favoured brethren, although only in regard to the practice of war. Outside of combat, Immortals display about as much personality as a monotask servitor. Immortals are typically armed with gauss blasters, weapons even deadlier than the gauss flayers used by Warriors.
Flayed Ones are twisted and ghoulish terrors afflicted by an ancient infection that act as specialised close combat troops who appear from an unknown pocket dimension of their hideous kind to join the Necron armies in battle, though never by invitation from the Necrons themselves. These loathsome creatures were once Necrontyr who managed to retain some of their original consciousness when they were transferred into their living metallic bodies of necrodermis, but were cursed with a terrible disease, manifesting a hunger for flesh that cannot be satisfied and that eventually drove them to madness. Advancing before a Necron force, these stooped yet terrifyingly agile automatons excel at infiltrating and spreading terror like a plague within the ranks of their foes. They are quite capable melee fighters, and make use of flensing blades that extend from their fingers and can flay a man alive in seconds. Thin and wiry, they habitually adorn themselves with the still-wet pieces of skin and hide they have stripped from their victims, leaving behind the skinned corpses to sow fear and confusion. In such a state they are a terrifying sight to behold, so much so that enemy combatants lose their nerve when they see pieces of old squadmates hanging from the undying machines approaching their lines. In addition to their wicked claws, some Flayed Ones utilise Necron Disruption Field technology that allows them to rip even armoured vehicles apart.
A Wraith is one of the more sophisticated units employed by the forces of the Necrons. Wraiths prowl the corridors of slumbering tombs of a Necron Tomb World, gliding silently through the cyclopean corridors, guarding against intrusion and ensuring the safety of its slumbering occupants. These grotesque floating killers lack legs or body except for a serpentine spinal column, and float over the battlefield using anti-gravity technology like ghosts. Their wide, hunched shoulders support a leering, skull face and long, whip-like arms that wield Necrodermis scalpel blades for fingers and a nightmare array of surgical implements. Moving with unnatural fluidity, Wraiths are fearsome in close combat, but what makes a Wraith such a fearful combatant, however, is the advanced phase shifter housed within its durable frame. This dimensional destabilisation matrix allows a Wraith to selectively phase parts of itself, whether that be momentarily phasing its body to avoid a strike, or even phasing its vicious claws in order to bypass armour and rip into the flesh of enemies. Thus, they have been granted the Imperial sobriquet of "Wraiths". This phase shifting ability which is based on the standard Necron phasing technology that they use to travel across the galaxy allows Wraiths to avoid physical damage from weapons or to even move through solid objects. It has been suggested by certain Imperial savants that in ancient days before the War in Heaven the Wraiths were once Necrontyr murderers and psychopaths before their eternal entombment within their cold, metallic husks.
Necron Destroyers are deranged agents of annhilation whose sole reason for existence is centred around an unshakeable yearning to quench the flames of life. A Destroyer cares not for borders or dynasty allegiance, nor does he maje any distinction between the innocent and the damned -- all life is his enemy, and all living creatures are his prey. A Destroyer is a heavily altered variant of the Necron Immortal. Their torso is fused to a skimming anti-gravity flyer that enables them to attack faster and further than the standard Immortals. Destroyers are equally broad with a more pronounced spine from which their terrible weapons draw their power. Ferociously quick, the most common use for Destroyers is as mobile fire support platforms. Remaining at the forefront of the Necron force's bloody harvest, they reap a heavy toll on the enemy, the speed and ferocity of their attacks undiminished by their antiquity. Destroyers are equipped with a Gauss Cannon that reaps a heavy toll on their enemies and is especially effective against light infantry forces. Destroyers are even capable of reliably damaging light armoured vehicles. With their superior anti-gravity technology their mobility equals that of an Eldar Jetbike.
A Necron Destroyer Lord is a sentient member of the Necron elite, a former Necron Lord or Overlord, who has fallen prey to the madness of the Necron Destroyers. Even the Necron nobility are not safe from the madness that consumes the Destroyers. When a Necron Lord or Overlord succumbs, a great threat to all life is born. Ironically, the only reason the Imperium is not aware of the extent of this threat is precisely because these Destroyer Lords are so aptly named. No one has borne witness to the atrocities committed by these steel harbingers of apocalypse and lived, and so it can only be guessed at the threat stirring on barren worlds scattered across the galaxy.
While many Necron Lords and Overlords are afflicted by "eccentricities," the insanity that consumes the mind of a Destroyer Lord is something else entirely. Like other Destroyers, Destroyer Lords modify their bodies and minds, so that they might be better suited to their overarching purpose, to cleanse the stars of all life. While this most often includes the attachment of an anti-gravitic suspensor platform in place of legs, Destroyer Lords tend to forgo the ranged weaponry favoured by other Destroyers in favour of melee weapons. The Warscythe is a particular favourite, as a Destroyer Lord hovering above the heads of his enemies can take full advantage of the reach afforded by these massive melee weapons. Curiously, Destroyer Lords forgo the decorative finery commonly worn by Necron royalty. Whether this is representative of their single-minded obsession, an intentional statement, or a simple matter of practicality, none can say, for the Destroyer Lords are avoided by their former peers as much as the other Destroyers, and are not keen to engage in conversation (except to learn the location of potential targets).
A Canoptek Wraith serves as the eyes and ears of the central operating systems of any Tomb World, patrolling for intruders and inspecting the Necron sanctuary's ancient systems for signs of damage and decay. Its primary weapon is its Phase Shifter, a dimensional destabilisation matrix. This is an advanced Necron technology that allows the Wraith to phase in and out of synch with the normal space-time continuum, and which was originally designed to allow a Canoptek Wraith to reach into and repair solid machinery, though it is equally effective when used to deal with intruders who have breached the protections of a subterranean Necron stasis facility. A Canoptek Wraith can phase its claws and tendrils inside an opponent, and resolidify them to sever arteries, nerve clusters and other vital pathways without leaving an external mark of what caused the victim's death.
Canoptek Spyders are huge metal constructs, their immense weight effortlessly propelled by sophisticated anti-gravitic engines. Their bodies are large and rounded in order to accommodate the internal systems that construct the smaller constructs known as Canoptek Scarabs as needed. This, combined with their multiple limbs and compound visual sensors, give an arachnoid aspect that enhances the fearful appearance of these monstrous robots. The fabricator claws that allow Canoptek Spyders to effect repairs on nearly any of the tomb's systems also make for frighteningly destructive weapons, and they sometimes sport additional weaponry. When the Necrons do rise from their crypts, Canoptek Spyders often accompany them in battle, both for their combat abilities and their capability for repairing damage that is beyond even the abilities of their Necron masters' advanced systems.
The Tomb Stalker is a massive Necron construct that serves as a guardian on Necron Tomb Worlds. The Tomb Stalker is the Necron equivalent of a small Imperial Battle Titan. During their long periods of dormancy the Necrons left their sepulchres guarded by silent, tireless machines. Of these powerful constructs, the most fearsome known to Mankind is the Tomb Stalker. The Tomb Stalker is an enormous mass of living-metal carapace teeming with flashing legs and possessed of a murderous will. Easily the size of a dozen men, this centipede-like robotic construct makes use of arcane Phase Generators, allowing it to stalk the Tomb World of its slumbering Necron lords, burrowing through solid ground. It uses its powerful senses to trail its prey from miles away and can sense the frenzied rhythm of a panicked man's heartbeat through hundreds of metres of solid stone. The Stalker's immense size combined with its natural capacity for regeneration as a result of its Necrodermis carapace creates a nearly indestructible creature. Even beyond the more common warriors of the undying Necron legions, these insectoid constructs continue to thrash and fight with deadly ferocity despite damage or dismemberment. The individual segments of the insect-like machine seem drawn to one another and will reconstitute themselves to reform the whole mechanical nightmare should they come back into contact.
While Necron forces are usually land-based, Necron space vessels are not unheard of, and they are quite possibly much more common than people realize, and simply not seen. This is supported by the Necrons' terrifying ability to appear anywhere using their phase technology. There are more than two dozen records of Necron contacts in space in Imperial archives, and accounts of other intelligent races like the Orks, Eldar and Tau battling Necron fleets also exist. Necron technology is beyond anything the galaxy has ever seen, surpassing even that of the highly advanced Eldar. Their voidships are stunningly fast and agile, equipped with propulsion systems which are capable of traveling interstellar distances without entering the Warp. This is achieved, as far as is known, by somehow making their ships unbound by inertia or mass, allowing them to accelerate almost instantly and infinitely, which explains why Necron voidships are often seen to be visibly decelerating upon reaching the site of battle. This also protects them from many of the practical problems and dangers of Warp travel. All Necron starships are well-armored in necrodermis, equipped with self-repair systems and utilize some sort of advanced stealth technology which makes them difficult to detect for enemy targeting systems, granting Necron vessels surprising staying power. Although still devastating, Necron naval weaponry does not seem to match the raw power of some Imperial designs. However, the Necrons weaponry is known to bypass many conventional defense systems, such as void shields and even Eldar holofields, and strike with an unearthly accuracy.
In every battle so far the Necrons could only be defeated by superior numbers, and engaging Necrons on even terms proved to be suicidal. Fortunately, all of the Necron fleets encountered so far were small task forces that usually disengaged and phased out like their land-based counterparts, rather than putting up a full fight. But their frequency seems to be increasing and the possibility of a massive Necron attack is dreaded by the Imperium as well as other sentient races. Even as a raiding force, they are a serious threat because they are fully capable of outmaneuvering most other fleets (probably with the exception of the Eldar and their dark kin) to pick fights on an even footing. This often leads to catastrophic losses for enemy fleets and forces them to somehow stall with an utterly inferior fighting force for overwhelming reinforcements to arrive, at which point the Necrons simply disengage and phase away.
Necrodermis is the xenos material created millions of years ago by the Necrontyr species that is often described as "living metal." Literally, the name means "corpse skin" (from Greek νεκρος and δερμις, or dermis). It was originally used by the Necrontyr to construct their massive sub-light starships that explored and settled the Milky Way Galaxy millions of years ago. It was later adapted to create the robotic bodies possessed by the C'tan and inhabited by the Necrontyr after they agreed to have their consciousnesses transferred from their short-lived organic forms. This process transformed the Necrontyr into the undying Necrons.
Necrodermis is a material of unknown origin and chemical or molecular structure that possesses the extraordinary ability to regenerate almost all damage instantaneously, "flowing" back together as if it were a liquid while closing bullet holes, mending gashes and tears, or even reattaching severed pieces with little delay. The material is also adaptive in some unknown fashion and can learn to repair itself given enough time from nearly any form of damage, even a blast powerful enough to reduce it to its constituent molecules or atoms. In addition to the bodies of the C'tan and the Necrons themselves, all Necron vehicles and starships are made from Necrodermis, including Monoliths and Gauss Pylons. The Imperium's C'tan Phase Weapons are also crafted from Necrodermis. It should be noted that Necrodermis is not an alloy of other metals but a fundamentally new material created by the Necrontyr. Necrodermis is unbelievably resilient, and can absorb incredible amounts of damage and then reform all tears or punctures over a period of time.
- Apocalypse (4th Edition), pp. 162-163
- Apocalypse (6th Edition), pg. 174
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 343, 368-371
- Black Crusade: The Hand of Corruption (RPG), pp. 79-139
- Black Crusade: The Tome of Fate (RPG), pp. 107-122
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pp. 5-53
- Codex: Necrons (3rd Edition)
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 100-144
- Warhammer 40,000: Planetstrike (5th Edition), pg. 55
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 210
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition), pp. 126, 128, 179
- White Dwarf 383 (UK), "Rise of the Necrons," "Building the Machines," "'Eavy Metal: Necrons," and "The Rulers of War," pp. 2-16, 24-29, 30-35, 36-39, 40-43
- White Dwarf 287 (UK), "The Firebrands"
- White Dwarf 272 (UK), "Nightbringer and Living Metal: Necron Monolith"
- White Dwarf 271 (UK), "Index Xenos – Necrons"
- White Dwarf 230 (UK), "Chapter Approved: Necrons"
- White Dwarf 218 (UK), "Necron Onslaught"
- White Dwarf 217 (UK), "Necron Raiders Background and Rules"
- Games Workshop Article, "The Necrons Return"