The Ordo Sinister's domains, known as the Four Chamber "fortress-crypts", exist on Terra: these include the Occedentalis, Orientalis, Polaris and Borealis Fortress-Crypts
Deep Green-Black Verdigris
- "...I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds."
- — The Apocrypha Terra
The Ordo Sinister, known formally as the Titanicus Terranic Ordo Sinister, is an elite Divisio Militaris Titan Legion of the Collegia Titanica, one of the military arms of the Adeptus Mechanicus. The Ordo Sinister is known by the informal cognomen "The Left Hand of the Emperor" and the "Nightmare Titans", and is considered one of the most covert and macabre of all the Imperium's agencies of war and political control. During the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras, this Titan Legion was known to employ weapons of such hidden terror and secrecy, such as the Warlord-Sinister Pattern Battle Psi-Titan, that few even within the Imperium's hierarchy suspected their existence. There is very little information in official Imperial records about this Titan Legion, including when it was founded.
- "Fools have asked 'Why did the Dark Age of Technology end in the fall of humanity?', and other fools answer back 'Folly' or 'Pride' or 'The Worship of Progress', as if these things alone had any meaning. The answer, as the wise know, is simple. It is because finally humanity had the arts at their disposal to make their dreams reality, and the dreams of humanity have ever been the darkest things in all creation."
- — Introduction to the Emerald Testament, Suppressed work of the Technoarchaeologist Synecius Thorn, M39
The forces of the Great Crusade were myriad in nature, and as the Remembrancers were wont to style them, "...as numberless as the stars themselves." This is only befitting, as the task for which the vast host of the Imperialis Militarum was conceived and embodied was for no less than the staggeringly incomprehensible goal of the domination of the entire galaxy. This required weapons and warriors as diverse as uncounted Pioneer Corps of indentured labourers, hundreds of thousands strong, to the superhuman might of the Legiones Astartes, a purpose-created gene-crafted post-human fighting force greater than any in history. The will and reason of the Emperor divined and designed for the Great Crusade in effect a weapon and a warrior for every conceivable form of war, and even those inconceivable until they had to be fought -- unhallowed wars against powers and horrors beyond human imagining and beyond merely human endurance. One such dark creation, an experiment perhaps in weaponry long forbidden, and carried out not by any Mechanicum Archimandrite nor by Strategos Magister, but by the hand of the Emperor Himself, led to the creation of the Ordo Sinister.
Forbidden to All Save OneEdit
The exact genesis of the experiments which led to the creation of the Ordo Sinister is difficult to pin down by scholarly observers in later ages. As with almost all that began in the prohibited vaults of the Emperor's own laboratory complex beneath the Imperial Palace on Terra, its nature remains sealed by time and by the destruction that was to follow. Such records that do remain within the Martian Mechanicum, however, who, given the nature of the Ordo Sinister's origins, were seriously perturbed by the project -- or more accurately their exclusion from it -- do evidence certain speculations. They believed that it was arrived at either as a tangent of what was to become the Emperor's Greater Work in the control and manipulation of the psyker factor in human evolution, or as a direct attempt to develop esoteric weaponry on the macro scale to combat certain encountered menaces which had proven terrible in the cost of their destruction. These menaces, such as the Enslaver Alpha-incursions, the Rangdan Osseivores and the Hellespont Void-forms, all of which had taken the lives of millions of Imperial soldiers and thousands of star vessels to combat, and had broken whole Expeditionary Fleets and Titan Legions in the past, were menaces to which no sure counter existed save that of Exterminatus.
The purpose of what became the Ordo Sinister was the battlefield employment of macro-level weaponry of terrible potency and of a nature which was expressly forbidden to any within the Imperium, be they Primarch or Planetary Governor, on pain of death. These were weapons born of the Dark Age of Technology and perhaps ancient relics of civilisations which had risen and fallen before life had even begun on primeval Terra, weapons forbidden to all but those under the Emperor's direct shadow and control, and even then only under the greatest possible conditions of secrecy and failsafe. The Ordo Sinister was the cadre set up to build, maintain and use these weapons, classed as their name suggests as Sinistrum. This word has long stood as the Terran tech-arcana classification for prohibited technologies designed to artificially amplify or weaponise the psyker's gift, usually at the cost of the psyker himself, body or mind, and examples, such as the "Culexine-shackles" used by the narco-enslaved psyker covens of the Caucasus Wastes subjugated by the Emperor during the Unification Wars, had long since been bywords for the evils of the Dark Age of Technology.
It is not known just how long the Ordo had existed in the Emperor's shadow, but their first prominence came during 967.M30 when a Writ of Compulsion was issued by the Emperor requiring the deliverance of a grand total of twenty-five fully operational Battle Titans of the Warlord-class to the Vault Imperialis, in perpetuity. This extraordinary request caused a strong reaction in the Mechanicum hierarchy, splitting it between those who fervently considered the Emperor to be the living incarnation of the Omnissiah, and therefore immediately entitled to any of His servants' works, and those who saw with a more political eye, deeming the demand to be a violation of the spirit if not the letter of the Treaty of Mars which bound the Mechanicum to the Imperium and guaranteed its rights. To this latter group, the spectre of potential Titan Legions being formed without the sacred imprint of the Mechanicum at their inception or control was the start of the end of Mars' independence. Schism threatened, but after an audience between the Fabricator-General and the Emperor, the colossal demand was met and any further open malcontent within the Machine Cult's ranks over the issue was suppressed, though what ill-feeling remained in secret can only be speculated upon in light of later events. Mars herself bore the brunt of the burden, delivering eight Warlords from her reserve, while new production and requisitions from the Forge Worlds of Metalica, Pharon, Arachnus, Caradryn Magna and Voss made up the rest. The transfer was viewed as a crime by some and a blessing by others, but of this event, or the "Oblation," as the followers of the Machine Cult named it, nothing would come to pass for several standard years, the God-engines swallowed up as if without trace on Terra despite their scale and power. Twenty-five of the most powerful war machines ever fashioned by humanity simply vanished.
The King of TerrorsEdit
Skagan VI was a largely unremarkable human-occupied world upon the southern border of the Segmentum Solar. Rendered Compliant in 860.M30 by the IV Legion in a relatively bloodless action, it had grown rapidly in population, seeing waves of migration brought in from overcrowded worlds closer to the Segmentum Solar core, as well as the rapid increase in hive-style urbanisation and industrialisation which followed. The result for Skagan VI was political instability, simmering insurrection and the threat of full-scale civil war by the year 946.M30, when the local Lord-Arbitrator requested aid from the sector overlords, saying that the world had become a factionalised powder keg ready to ignite.
The response to the Lord-Arbirtrator when it came was an unexpected one; a flotilla of vessels sent from Terra itself, comprised of a single unmarked Titan conveyor, flanked by an escort of Saturnyne fleet Solar Auxilia cruiser and, most shocking of all, an Augur-frigate in the scarlet and gold panoply of the Imperial Household Squadron. A single lander-crucible deployed from the unnamed Titan conveyor and descended to the starport of Decorah Breaks near the capital city-plate of Skagan VI. Its cargo upon dismounting was to be a single Warlord Titan liveried in deep green-black verdigris and bearing a snarling lion head in cold argent as its sigil. Upon its armourial was featured no symbol or sign recognisable as belonging to any Titan Legion of the Imperium, instead it bore the words "Ordo Sinister - Pavore Dominetur" and what was judged to be the Titan's blazoned name, Polaris-Albedelach, though within solar days such a strange-sounding title was replaced with one far more appropriate in the whispers of the natives of Skagan VI -- they called it "The King of Terrors" after the psyker-tarot card of the same name. For where the God-engine walked, fear walked with it. Of course, such towering colossi of destruction rightly engender fear in those who look upon them, such is their inherent quality of awe and warlike splendour that even the most jaded soldier cannot but quake when in the presence of such a terrifying machine of destruction or while contemplating what it is capable of, but the fear this monstrous newcomer inspired was something else. Fear bled from it like a miasma, flowing out to chill the bone and still the heart. Crowds fled from it in unreasoning panic, while others could do nothing but fall prostrate in abject terror as the Titan passed through the city's great arterial travelways, never firing its hulking weapons nor sounding its war siren in anger.
Where it walked the world was stilled, and where its shadow passed upon the horizon, the sleep of the just and the guilty alike was wracked equally with cold dreams of death and oblivion. Would-be revolutionaries were silenced, insurrectionists abandoned their arms and dispersed to outlying districts, their causes and grievances ashes upon their tongues. The "King of Terrors" brought Skagan VI to heel without firing a shot.
The Witch-Idol of Magc'SithraalEdit
The second time the Ordo Sinister would take to the field would be a far bloodier and more terrible affair, as part of a protracted series of battles that has since come to be known as the Defence of Helioret. The Helioret Sector had, since the opening years of the 960s.M30, been under escalating attack from Eldar Corsairs and marauder forces based upon a half-shattered Craftworld known as Magc'Sithraal. These Eldar were by any example of their species who had been encountered, insane, tortured creatures, still reeling from the fall of their ancient power, driven by grief and suicidal with bitter hate for all other intelligent races oif the galaxy. They had fallen upon the worlds of the Helioret with merciless violence, burning planet after planet, unleashing strange synthetic plagues that fused flesh into bloodied crystal, and fractured moons and orbital void stations to tumble down upon worlds below.
The Imperium's response to the onslaught soon escalated until scores of regiments of the Imperialis Auxilia had been mobilised against it, with them Taghmata forces from Anvilus and Incaladion, supported by a demi-Legio of the Tiger Eyes Titans who contested bitterly to hold the line against the splinter-bone Wraith Titans of the Magc'Sithraal Eldar at Luxor and Ratep. Utter loss of those key worlds was only averted when a full third of the strength of the Blood Angels Legion took to the fray with their Primarch Sanguinius at the fore. Not even this apocalyptic force could win outright victory though, but instead it saw the Eldar forced back to a defensive ring around their sundered and debris-trailing Craftworld.
It was as the angelic Primarch girded his forces for an all-out attack against the Magc'Sithraal Craftworld that he was unexpectedly joined by a squadron bearing the Seal and Writ of Terra and the Imperial Household. With it were a dozen Black Ships carrying within them cohorts of the Silent Sisterhood and with them a trio of unmarked Titan conveyors with the Warlords of the Ordo Sinister within their holds. The battle which followed was shocking in its intensity, with the barbed, swift hulls of the Eldar warships set burning across the void as they fought both the steel-grey war-barques of Anvilus as well as the proud, white-hulled Battleships of the Armada Ultima. As the void battle raged, the sleek Black Ships and the crimson predators of the Blood Angels fleet dove straight on to their quarry. Crashing through the decaying spires and force-domed atmosphere of the desolate Craftworld, the invaders were met by Magc'Sithraal's army of the dead; thousands of Wraith war constructs ranging from swift-footed assassins to towering warriors and Titan-walkers, all powered and animated by the vengeful souls of that haunted realm.
Reality rippled and shuddered as the Eldar distortion weaponry rent the air, tearing crimson gunships from the skies, while below, ancient colonnades and towers that had stood for centuries toppled, hammered by remorseless shellfire -- and as missiles rained down in detonating waves, the landing was forced. A score of Eldar Titans rose up from the depths of their ancient vaults, and at the head of them was a Warlock Titan, filled with the souls of Magc'Sithraal's fallen seers and prophets. The Imperium had encountered it before and named it the "Witch-Idol," and where it had walked, no Imperial victory had yet been won. Against this massing of force, the Imperial assault first faltered and was checked, as even the Titans of the Legio Fureans landing with the second wave were swiftly torn apart by the "Witch-Idol" and its kinsmen, though it is said that the Angel Sanguinius destroyed one of their number himself, tearing open its head with his bare hands and sending it crashing to destruction before being struck a grievous blow by the Warlock's Psi-Lance from which none other would have survived. It was then that the three Titans of the Ordo Sinister made their landing, and at their footfalls the very fabric of the Craftworld was said to have shuddered as if in revulsion.
From their carapace weapons poured volleys of rocket fire and searing Turbo-Laser blasts as might have been expected from any Battle Titan, while their right hands were vast Power Claws which twitched in expectation of the close-quarters kill, but from the baroque and strange weapons that served as their left arms, there spat a silent darkness. These bolts of black nothingness slammed through the ranks of the Wraith-constructs, devouring everything they touched. While in the aftershock of their detonation, scores more Wraith-kind simply fell like severed marionettes, never again to stir. Howling a great chorus of grief and outrage, the Eldar Titans rounded on the newly arrived giants and let fly, Pulse Lasers cutting the sky apart between the two while the "Witch-Idol" conjured forth a tempest of eldritch Warp-lightning, its coruscating wave of destruction suddenly met by an ice-white blaze of force emanating from the God-engines of the Ordo Sinister and shattered. The backlash of the forces negating each other shook the Craftworld like an earthquake, tumbling Space Marine and Wraithguard alike to the ground like toys. Empyreal force had been met with Empyreal force and it was clear to every spectator to this clash of colossi how; the God-engines of the Ordo Sinister were Psi-Titans. The conflict that followed was a true battle of the gods, and the recovering Primarch Sanguinius had wisdom enough to withdraw the warriors of the Legion to give the Titans a wide berth for what was to ultimately follow.
For three standard hours the Titans fought, unleashing destructive forces on a scale enough to break a dozen cities; Pulse Laser slashed metre-thick ceramite Warlord armour, only to have it melt and reform whole in the wake of the destruction, though not even such occult protections could hold back the lethal strike of a gigantic Eldar Power Blade plunged deep into the reactor-fuelled heart of one of the Ordo Sinister's number. Ghostlike holo-fields flickered and shuddered as the Eldar Titans danced the dance of death with impossible grace, and fusillades of screaming rockets found only empty air, but not even such mastery of speed and confusion could stop the ravaging darkness of the Warlord-Sinister's baleful primary weapons. Slowly but surely for the Eldar Titans, four became three, became two, became only the wounded "Witch-Idol" beset still by two of the Ordo Sinister's Warlords, although both were damaged. Its lance shattered by a blast of ravening emptiness, it sang its defiance across the Empyrean but was answered by prisoning hurricanes of psychic force against which its superior manoeuvrability became nothing more than the struggle of a battered scarecrow caught in a storm. One of the Warlord-Sinisters then seized the "Witch-Idol" 's broken shoulder, holding it captive while its dark companion tore off the Warlock Titan's head.
With the "Witch-Idol" 's destruction, it was if the soul of Magc'Sithraal had died as well. Lights flickered and died across the ruined Craftworld, systems failed and the end began. The last remnants of the Eldar who had not already fled their dying home came on in a suicidal frenzy, but found only the fury of the Blood Angels Legion and the cool savagery of the Sisters of Silence waiting for them. The Psi-Titans of the Ordo Sinister did not wait, instead they bore up the remains of their fallen comrade, and without further communication departed the battlefield. The last of the slaughter was not long in coming, and the final act of the Defence of Helioret was for the wreckage of the broken Craftworld to be hurled into a nearby sun to die its final death.
The Ordo Sinister in the PresentEdit
The Ordo Sinister continues to function as an elite special purpose Titan Legion. Comprised of an unknown number of Battle Titans under the command of the renowned Grand Master Ferromort, the purpose of the Ordo Sinister is simple -- to inspire terror and obedience in those who are in danger of disrupting the Pax Imperium, to lend the weight of steel to the words of the Mechanicus' ruling Magi. In this respect the Ordo often works in conjunction with the Adeptus Arbites, the Inquisition and the Ecclesiarchy, providing transport and fire support for their ground troops in innumerable short, vicious campaigns. The carefully planned assaults of Grand Master Ferromort are famous for their precision and flawless execution. Great pains are taken to use the Legion as an example of impersonal and faceless Imperial efficiency. In persuading truculent Planetary Governors to submit to the Imperial will, the Ordo Sinister has destroyed hundreds of supposedly impregnable fortresses and allegedly unassailable palaces. However, this Titan Legion remains an instrument of precision for the Imperium -- a well-honed sabre rather than the sledgehammer of an Imperial Navy planetary bombardment or the scalpel of a Space Marine intervention.
The Deeds of the Ordo SinisterEdit
The account of the Ordo Sinister's involvement in the Defence of Helioret contained within the battle chronicles of the Blood Angels remains the most detailed and certain account of the secretive Ordo in battle. There are perhaps a dozen other such incidents of less certain variety or of little detail elsewhere, but each also features the account of some vastly potent enemy to be contested, usually possessing great psychic power, or conversely as with Skagan VI, a fractious world brought back to peace through almost preternatural terror. The most important perhaps of these is the passage of three Titans of the Ordo Sinister within the Imperial host despatched to censure Prospero, a fact which appears was kept even from Leman Russ until well after the fighting had already begun. What does seem certain, however, from all these accounts was that very few Titans were ever fielded at once by the Ordo Sinister, and when they appeared, it was often without the foreknowledge of any of the forces on whose side they intervened. The Ordo was never despatched to the frontiers of the Great Crusade, and never left Terra for any length of time that can be discerned. Nor, unless by some far more secret means, does it appear that any more Titans were added to their number. To many Imperial savants, this has led to the belief that the Ordo Sinister all through the latter days of the Great Crusade was an experimental field trial, an unfinished project still in its testing stage when the wars of the Horus Heresy upset many destinies and intended courses of action. Tellingly, even before his treacherous fall from grace, never once was the Ordo Sinister placed at the disposal of the Warmaster Horus or any other independent commander, but it always remained in the shadow of the Emperor's authority.
When the Horus Heresy came, a representative of the Ordo Sinister did present himself to the Council of Terra when requested and answered various questions of the force's structure and command during the period of the Emperor's self-sequestrage; a meeting from which some of the details of this account are drawn, but citing express orders from the Master of Mankind, the Order was then not included in the general preparations for the wars of the Heresy that came afterwards. Instead they waited, as part of Terra's last line of defence, until almost the end, or at least such is the official record.
- Retallus IV Campaign (Unknown Date.M41) - On the ancient Ork planet of Retallus IV a WAAAGH! on a colossal scale gathered pace as hundreds of Mekboyz directed the labour of thousands of human slaves in order to raise the towering forms of gigantic Mega Gargants over the Retallus IV's desolate plains, and, inspired by this effort and the promise of war, countless Greenskins rallied to the world in preparation for this crusade. The Imperium was determined to not let this happen, and by the Emperor's direct order, the twelve Imperator-class Titans comprising the entire strength of the Ordo Sinister were dispatched to Retallus alongside other Imperial forces, tasked to smash the WAAAGH! before the green horde spread and drowned the galaxy in blood. Imperial records sadly do not indicate what became of this force, though one can presume that it was successful. Note: This particular campaign discusses material that was once considered canon but whose canonicity is now questionable.
Notable Titan Classes of the Ordo SinisterEdit
In information given to the Council of Terra by the Ordo Sinister's representative, an officer of the Ordo styled Prefect Kelner Anahat, it was confirmed with authenticated patents that the organisation of the Ordo Sinister was arranged and provisioned entirely to an exacting order laid out by the writ and dictate of the Emperor, from which it could not deviate nor innovate upon pain of destruction. It comprised four allied but self-contained fortress crypts -- each with their own defences, support staff, menials and techno-arcanists, all in support of a "Chamber," each comprising five specially modified Warlord Titans. These God-engines, properly classified as Terranic Pattern Warlord-Sinister Psi-Titans, were each rebuilt around an Emperor-designed psychic amplification matrix device called the Ciricrux Anima. In place of the standard Titan configuration of Mind Impulse Units, it was this which controlled and empowered the Warlord-Sinister and in place of the Moderatii that would normally crew a Battle Titan, the Psi-Titans were instead crewed by what might be considered the damned -- bound psykers surgically locked in place and slaved to the will of the Preceptor-Intendant who mastered the God-engine in place of a Princeps. By direct cortical control, the power and spirit of the bound psykers were siphoned off and focused by the arcane technologies of the Ciricrux Anima, the baleful device that truly makes the Psi-Titan what it is. This energy was controlled by a techno-arcane interface quite unlike that of a standard configuration Mind Impulse Unit, while much of the Psi-Titan's other functions were slaved to sub-automata systems and Machine Spirit homunculi. Set at the heart of the storm of these energies, the Preceptor-Intendant sat in a shielded command crucible in the Titan's head. But even this was insufficient to entirely protect them from the psychic forces at play, and so each Titan commander of the Ordo Sinister was a psychic Blank, an Untouchable, but selected it would seem on entirely different criteria from those who served within the Sisters of Silence or the Culexus Clade, and cybernetically augmented to allow for human-machine interface. Although in his testimony Prefect Kelner Anahat would not be drawn out on his or his comrades' recruitment or training, he did state that of the psykers bound within the Warlords-Sinister that "..for some, it was a punishment for their crimes, and others, a blessed relief from their torments, and that...a balance was maintained in order that optimum conditions were met." He would also not be drawn out on the rate the bound psykers were exhausted by the process.
Through the use of the Ciricrux Anima, a Warlord-Sinister is able to project psychic phenomena on a truly gargantuan scale, although without any of the nuance or fine manipulation available to an individual trained psyker. These phenomena include waves of preternatural fear, psychokinetic effects, biomantic leaching of life in the immediate area and even the temporal distortion-based reversion of damage to the Titan itself. But the most devastating use of the psychic potential of the Ciricrux Anima is the focusing of its power through a unique weapon system, the Sinistramanus Tenebrae. This is a hybrid of strange technologies, more akin to a mutilated Warp-Drive in design than a conventional weapon, but it serves to focus the psychic antipathy of the bound psykers into a fracture in reality -- a fracture, much like the forced Warp-breach inherent in Vortex Weaponry which is then channelled and released as a projectile of nightmarishly destructive force. Where the projectile -- which manifests as a sphere or bolt of "darkness" as it eats the light of whatever medium it passes through before striking dense matter -- detonates, it causes complete annihilation in the immediate impact area, as what was there is disassembled and hurled bodily into the Empyrean molecule by molecule until the mercifully brief rupture self-seals. Those in the wider area of the impact are simply struck dead, their bodies left unmarked as if their souls had been sheared from their bodies. While Vortex Warhead ordnance is both more powerful in its blast and limited in range only by its function, the Sinistramanus Tenebrae Psi-cannon has the advantage that it may be fired repeatedly, at least while the psychic strength of those on board lasts to power it.
The Hereteknica of the Psi-TitanEdit
While the Warlord-Sinister appears to be a singular creation in form and function, the concept of the "Psi-Titan", however, is not an entirely unknown one, at least in the annals of the Great Crusade's foes, and even the more obscure reaches of the Mechanicum's own Titan lore. In the depths of pre-Unification history, there are numerous occluded references of what might be described as "Psi-Titans;" in this case, Titan engines designed to be piloted by and amplify the powers of a single psyker as experiments and unique relic engines of war. Though now long suppressed by Martian orthodoxy, what became of the machines themselves or the sub-cults of the Omnissiah who created and piloted them remains unknown. Among the psychically potent xenos species with which Mankind has warred, psi-construct war engines were known to be possessed by both the Eldar and the Fra'al, and more tenuously by the now exterminated Vaxal'rek, some of which easily matched the Titans of the Imperium in scale if not always in form.
- Polaris-Albedelach - A Warlord-Sinster class Titan that had the honour of making the presence of the Ordo Sinister known to the wider galaxy during the Great Crusade in 946.M30. This Battle Titan arrived on the unstable Imperial world of Skagan VI, which was rife with simmering insurrection and political instability. Wherever this God-engine walked, fear walked with it. It soon earned the far more appropriate title, "The King of Terrors" by the local populace. The mere presence of the "King of Terrors" brought Skagan VI to heel without firing a shot.
- Grand Master Ferromort - A Grand Master renowned for his precisely planned assaults and their flawless execution which contributed to the Legion's upholding of the image of impersonal and faceless Imperial efficiency.
- Grand Master Volkus
The Ordo Sinister's colours bear deep green-black verdigris livery. Their Battle Titans' armourial features no symbol or sign recognisable as belonging to any Titan Legion of the Imperium, instead they bear the words "Ordo Sinister - Pavore Dominetur" which loosely translates from High Gothic as "Masters of Fear."
The Ordo Sinister's badge is a snarling lion head in cold argent.
- Adeptus Titanicus (1st Edition), pg. 13
- Titan Legions (2nd Edition), pg. 10
- Imperial Armour Apocalypse II, pg. 79
- The Horus Heresy - Book Seven: Inferno by Alan Bligh (Forge World Series), pp. 132-139
- White Dwarf 181 (UK), pg. 19