Magos Barbas Vholk
++ Primus Annorum ++
Fully initiated into the Stygian priesthood in the mid 32nd millennia, Barbas Vholk spent two and a half millennia diligently (and many would say obsessively) working on a variety of projects and numerous expeditions. His efforts garnered many accolades and a sizable amount of influence amongst the hierarchy of the Stygian priesthood, and yet he showed little concern for the accolades and only used his influence sparingly to secure resources and materials for his works.
Even by Mechanicus standards Vholk is aloof and calculatedly logical, unwavering in his resolve, and considered by many to be misanthropic and cynical. With such a divisive personality it's unsurprising that it has lead to many strained and fractious relationships amongst his peers. However his work and it's results have secured many a like minded priest to join him, seek his tutelage, or align themselves with him politically.
In mid M34, Vholk secured in perpetuity the cruiser Caminus Aeternum and its attendant vessels for his latest undertaking thanks to his supporters, and rather surprisingly, his detractors and rivals. The details of his expedition and it's goals were rather undefined, only that it would be long term and would ultimately be for the greater glory of Stygies and the Imperium at large. His opponents threw their support behind Vholk hoping that at minimum he would spend decades away from Stygies on a ludicrous personal quest, and at best, that some galactic horror might rid them of him during a foray on some backwater planet.
Unfortunately for them, Vholk persisted and thrived. Caminus Aeternum regularly returned to berth in Stygies docks over the years, bearing materials, artifacts and code fragments for analysis and cogitation. Vholk whisks the prize pieces away to his personal facilities for him to paw over in detail. While Caminus Aeternum is well equipped for such activities, it paled in comparison to resources available in his planetside facility. He has often spent decades locked away with his latest baubles and data, only engaging with the forge at large when it suits him, and then frenziedly gathering up his followers, materials, and munitions onboard the Caminus Aeternum and disappearing into the void chasing his next whispered lead.
At the turn of M35, Vholk was passed a snippet of information from Magos Errant Orobas Vuel, a former student sequestered aboard the Rogue Trader vessel Magnus Adonias. The Magnus Adonias had recently stopped to trade and take on supplies from Anostos IV, where the Governor had discussed an irradiated and much maligned desert region on the planet that predates the planets current human populace. While many such planets are afflicted with such places, this one was of great interest as there were clearly the remains of ancient human built machines and edifices observable from orbit, along with a vast crater at the center of the sprawling mass of buildings and shattered machinery. Such a place could hold precious STC templates, data fragments, or any archeotech of provenance amongst its rad soaked sands and blasted metal. Vholk knew he had to visit the site, even if it was just to satiate his curiosity at the thought of what treasures such a place might hold. Vholk spent a year and a half to gather everything he could for the expedition to Anostos IV, then it took a further three years to reach. Having to travel across the Segmentum Pacificus to its furthest edge bordering the Segmentum Tempestus, Anostos sits on the precipice of the galactic plain, gazing out on the terrifying and immeasurable intergalactic void.
Vholk spent months negotiating for access to the site, something which grated in the extreme. He was well within his rights to simply make planetfall with his expedition and ignore the local governor and the populace, but having an agreeable relationship with the planets aristocracy and populace would hopefully facilitate an unimpeded and expedient investigation of the site and allow access to other potential sites and resources. Once agreed it took six months for the expedition to deploy it's basecamp on the edge of the rad blasted desert, and a further month before they safely reached the site. They quickly found tantalising pieces of archeotech amongst the sand and ruins, and at the edge of the crater, splinter like obsidian shards of unknown origin, made of a material beyond the ability of man.
As they were preparing to discover what lie at the heart of the crater, the Ur Council of Nova Terra and a multitude of supporting worlds seceded from Imperial rule and threw the Imperium into turmoil. By the time the news reached Vholk, the rulers of Anostos had thrown their lot in with Nova Terra. Vholk had to make a choice, one that would determine his and the expeditions fate.
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~ Multi Spectral Pict-capture of Vanguard Mu 22 while on perimeter patrol of the Anostos Basecamp Site.
++ Subject: Aethon Pattern Plasma Caliver ++
The Aethon Pattern Plasma Caliver was recovered from the sepulchral world of Kur by Magos Explorator Aethon Zhor in the late M33, and officially recognised as an STC design a mere hundred and fifty two years after its discovery. The design is far more refined than the most common variants. Much lighter, less bulky, and far more maneuverable in cramped conditions, without sacrificing any of its potency. However, production rates of this variant are very low due to the intricate nature of the components compared to the more robust pattern that is commonly used. Unfortunately for Aethon, he didn't live to see his discovery officially recognised by the Stygian Priesthood, as he fell foul of an archeotech artifact he was studying. The device discharged a vast amount of energy that scorched every neural fibre and synaptic pathway he possessed, utterly destroying the biological portion of his mind and corrupting what was left of the synthetic parts. At the time of his death, a cache of the weapons recovered with the schematics disappeared without a trace. There were some that felt his demise wasn't as accidental as first thought, and many whispered allegations spread through the priesthood. It was theorised that one of his rivals may have tampered with the device, or that it was used merely as a convenient cover. However the Magos investigating found no tampering or evidence of foul play, only that Aethon had dabbled with a unpredictable device and suffered the consequences.
++ Nova Terra Interregnum: The Anostos Accord ++
Twelve days after hearing about the Anostan leadership's decision to secede from Terra and join the Ur- Council of Nova Terra, Vholk was finally visited by representatives of the governor and now self styled king. Within the hour of them arriving they had left. Vholk refused the summons they had presented him. He was no vassal of this world, not obliged to offer deference to this "king". No, he would come to him and exchange words.
Three days later Flauros Hane, formerly governor and now king of Anostos IV stepped into Vholks basecamp. Escorted by a vast entourage, Flauros entered with great pomp and ceremony, choral singers performing ancient Anostan songs and poetry, billowing silk standards thrashing in the desert wind, and military minded nobles and Hanes personal guards all bedecked in finely crafted weapons and carapace. The showmanship did little to impress or intimidate Vholk. He had seen such displays countless times on hundreds of worlds by the fragile transitory rulers, all for the same reason, ego.
As Hane stepped in front of Vholk the display stopped and Hane offered his hand. Vholk dismissed it and asked one simple question, "What do you want?". Hane had grown used to Vholks brusque nature during negotiations, but this pointed question took him aback. Once he had composed himself he asked to sit so they may discuss and redefine their agreement. Vholk agreed and a lengthy exchange was had.
Hane explained his and the other nobles decision to secede and join Nova Terra. For centuries Anostos had suffered regular raids by vicious eldritch raiders, once every twenty five years during a period known as the Hallowtide they come. On the hundredth year the whole host and it's Archon descend for a great hunt and to gather up the Anostan aristocracies offerings. The aristocracy are only spared the worst of their depredations by giving up a child from each family to the raiders. The commoners have no such protection so are hunted like dogs and strung up like fatted grox at the slaughterhouse, or dragged off for a life of torturous servitude. In the last two centuries the levels of violence have increased due to the nobility struggling (and in some cases unwilling) to fulfill their tithes, as the numbers of children being born to the families dwindling due to a variety of causes.
Despite the pleas for assistance, none came nor were replied to by Imperial authorities. And this went on for centuries, then millenia, three to be exact. Attempts to fight back were futile, and the raiders vessels slipped past the vast orbital defense array without it so much as it registering them being there. This is why they seceded, in the hopes that they might court the ear of the Ur-Council and be granted salvation from the vile xenos, instead of carrying on pleading to a deaf and decaying Imperium.
But with Vholk being there it offered another course of action, were he amenable to it. Hane offered up his proposal. First that they had no intention of provoking the expedition and wished for a peaceful resolution to the whole affair. Vholk and his expedition would be allowed to continue their excavation and have unfettered access to anything they needed or any site they wished to visit as per the original agreement, and that no Anostan loyal to the king would take up arms against them. All that he asked for was assistance in investigating and correcting the orbital weapons inability to register the raiders craft, and restarting the ancient void shield that protected the capital so that they may be able to defend themselves. He left Vholk to mull over the deal, but not too long, they had only a couple of years before the next centennial Hallowtide, and each minute of indecision was a wasted moment.
Two days after the meeting, Vholk made a decision. He would agree to the terms, and once done he would leave them in peace
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Pict Captures of Skitarii Vanguard Squad Delta Mu-20. M35
Pict-capture of Vholk and Vanguard Squad delta Mu-20 occupying Promethium Platform T-92. M??. Location: Unknown.