The Age of Apostasy is one of the largest and most destabilising events in the history of the , occurring in , five millenia after the . It grew out of the power struggle between two Imperial organizations, the and the .
The Ecclesiarchy, the rulers of the Imperial religion, the bearers of the sacred word of the . It spread into the lives of every citizen and servant of the Imperium, from the most humble miner and scribe, to the greatest heroes and the most influential officials, including the . The High Lords, believing like every other citizen that the Ecclesiarchy was speaking for the Emperor, would often follow their words in directing the Imperium. Though they did not actually speak the words of the Emperor, the Ministorum did little to retract this image, and soon they were indirectly controlling the fate of the Imperium, influencing law changes, army distribution and organization, threat priority decision making and where Imperial resources should be directed, often towards themselves.
Eventually, the power of the Ecclesiarchy grew too much and the of the along with a group of rallied together, and eventually the joined, to fight against the strength, will and control of the Ecclesiarchy.
The Administratum, often thought of as the centre of the Imperium, was angered at its loss of power. This began a feud that lasted at least 7000 years to the present day, and is likely to continue far into the future. It began to use its position to undermine the power of the Ecclesiarchy. They could influence voting and position its own loyal followers in other departments. From to , the power of the Ecclesiarchy waned and, following the election of a series of weak , the Administratum managed to wrestle back control of the Imperium. They continued to gain power at the expense of the Ecclesiarchy, although allowing them to keep their external image as dictating the words of the Emperor and ruling the Imperium, while the Administratum actually had the power.
In a desperate attempt to escape the iron grip of the Administratum, the entire Ecclesiarchy was moved from to in the . The Ecclesiarch at the time was and he moved here for two reasons: it was his when he was a and that it was probably the wealthiest planet after and Terra in the Imperium. The magnificent Ecclesiarchal Palaces on Ophelia covered 90,000 square miles of surface and soared 4,000 miles into the sky, rivaled only by the palaces on Terra. As they were separated from the Adminstratum by sheer distance, the power of the Ecclesiarchy grew again and they raised huge tithes to pay for massive works performed by the Cardinals across the galaxy, which were in competition to build the greatest monuments. Also, purges of cults increased significantly, and any resistance to the Ecclesiarchy was viciously put down.
They also began to form their own fleet of ships and armies. These forces became known as the , and they also contained many commercial transports and warships and armies which rivalled the regiments in strength. All of this time passed, and the buildings on Terra withered and crumbled.
Nearly three hundred years after the Ecclesiarchy left Terra, was elected Ecclesiarch and one of his first commandments was to move the Ecclesiarchy back to Terra again. None could dissuade him, as he thought the home of religion should be Terra, close to the Emperor, the centre of the cult. It took twelve years to bring about, but the doors to the on Terra were finally opened again. The move stretched the funds of the Ecclesiarchy, and the refurbishment of the palaces even further so, and so were forced to raise tithes again to pay for it all.
Greigor also put forward radical changes in the Ecclesiarchy, although he died of food poisoning before he could implement them. Millions walked past his coffin and tears were shed, but no sooner was he dead and buried, they elected a new, more conservative Ecclesiarch. This shows that the Ecclesiarchy was very resistant to change and had an internal mechanism for providing Ecclesiarchs to do as they desired.
Yet again, the demands for palaces and statues grew, forcing further tithe rises. The people, already disgruntled, saw this increase as exorbitant and the population of many worlds across the Imperium rebelled against the rule of the Ecclesiarchy and refused to pay any tithes. Even spoke out against the tithes and redirected the funds to their own purposes, although their pleas went unheard.
The Ecclesiarchy responded violently. They dispatched the Frateris Templar to crush the revolts and executed the higher ranking officials as heretics. Ecclesiarch Alexis XXI used the to remove several governors who redirected their tithes to arming their in an attempt to hold back the Frateris Templars. Even with the revolts, the palaces and temples grew bigger and more elaborate, the funds lined the roads of entire planets with statues of past Ecclesiarchs and decorated the biggest temples with gems and diamonds. The uprisings continued, massive swathes were cut through the Imperium, only for the Frateris Templars to put them down. All who disobeyed the Ecclesiarchy were declared heretics and executed. Some questioned the methods used but kept quiet, fearing those methods they spoke out against.
Even while the Imperium was collapsing under the weight of rebellion, further dangers befell humanity. In early M36, warp storm instances increased and warp travel became impossible between most planets. With the resources of the Administratum and Ecclesiarchy centred on the power struggle, massive areas fell to anarchy as they became cut off. Those planets which could still be accessed by starship were patrolled and controlled by the Ecclesiarchy with an iron fist. Burnings and executions became commonplace of all but the most faithful.
raiders poured from the , Ork rampaged across the galaxy and nobody could halt them. On the isolated worlds, Chaos and grew up, overthrowing the governments. Those worlds not overrun struggled to survive and eventually even the greatest of the planets collapsed. Even worship of the Emperor collapsed without direct leadership, most people splitting into cults that worshiped the Emperor in their own way and tried to force their ideas on the other cults forcefully.
Crazed zealots across the galaxy denounced the Ecclesiarchy and preached that the Emperor was displeased with their greed and excesses, sending the warp storms as a test of the most faithful. Citizens turned to flagellation and self-mutilation to prove their love of the Emperor. The cults grew and fought and settled into seething masses of discontent, while some preached extreme measures, creating bloodthirsty pogroms to eradicate many innocents. Sometimes, whole populations were slaughtered for the heresy of just one person.
The rise of High Lord VandireEdit
, the name most closely associated with the Age of Apostasy, and the Reign of Blood. He was the 361st High Lord of the Administratum and had a reputation as a staunch resistor to the dominance of the . It is said he used assassins to gain his position, but any who spoke out against him mysteriously disappeared or were found dead, so none dared oppose him. Shortly before his rise, Vandire was instrumental in the rise of Ecclesiarch , an incompetent who was easily controlled by Vandire and his followers.
Once he had taken full control of the Administratum, he used his powers to undermine the Ecclesiarchy while he led a ground of Imperial Guard officers into the Ecclesiarcal Palace and overthrew Paulis III in what can only be described as a military coup. He declared Paulis a heretic and had him shot. He then moved in and took control of the Ecclesiarchy, effectively controlling both at once as High Lord of the Administratum and Ecclesiarchy.
The Ecclesiarchy could do nothing to stop Vandire, shaken and battered as they were. Vandire purged the Ecclesiarchy, getting rid of any who opposed him. Those who had not already fled gathered onto a single ship and set off for in an attempt to escape Vandire. Their ship was, however, engulfed by a gigantic and never seen again just as they entered the warp. Vandire used this as evidence to claim that it was the Emperor's will that they should die and that he himself should lead the faith of the Imperium. Vandire then elected Cardinals of his own choosing to fill the benches, including many weak-minded fools and several brilliant geniuses who were just cruel enough to follow Vandire. He now had total control of the two most powerful facets of the Imperium.
The Reign of BloodEdit
As time went by, it became increasingly clear that Vandire was insane. He was a paranoid megalomaniac who saw traitors and conspiracy everywhere. His mind was twisted in every way and he enjoyed personally torturing people, declaring to onlookers that he was purging their souls for the Emperor. He had his every word recorded for posterity and had a long trail of scribes whose job was to note anything he said and to note any particularly ingenious torture methods. He performed his tortures in the underground catacombs of the Ecclesiarcal Palace. His mood was particularly volatile and would swing from laughing one moment to murderous the next. He would often fall into a trance-like state during which, according to him, he was receiving the words of the Emperor, although what he was actually mumbling arguments with himself and occasionaly shouting out-loud for no reason. These periods were often followed by bouts of excessive violence; possibly in these trances he was rehearsing his torture methods and his random screams were those of his victims. He had a huge map of the galaxy plotting the up to date warp storm movements so that whenever a new planet was revealed, he could send out a fleet to reinstate his will.
There were those under his command who would do his every command, including bombarding the of without reason. He also ordered them to invade the farmlands of Boras Minor and enslave every female child under twelve years of age and melt the ice caps of with the orbital defense cannons, drowning nearly four million people. All of his orders were meticulously done for posterity, including the deaths of millions. He would dictate long speeches bemoaning the state of the Imperium and demanding justice.
Daughters of the EmperorEdit
Vandire had a vast network of spies that notified him of cults that were not under his control. One of these was a small cult of perhaps only five hundred members on the little known world of . Naturally, Vandire was furious at this; people were worshiping the Emperor in a way the he didn't control. But the more he heard the more he began to covet this knowledge. The sect was called the and was open only to women, who devoted themselves to the worship of the Emperor through inner purity. They studied the arts of war tirelessly and honed their skills throughout their entire lives. Vandire saw this as an opportunity, but didn't say what for. He ordered a ship ready and announced he would be visiting the planet.
He took with him almost 100 soldiers and servants to San Leor. The mile long procession weaved its way to the temple of the Daughters of the Emperor as Vandire's agents moved ahead of him, forcing the population to line the streets and show respect. Those who resisted were executed as heretics, no matter whether they were or not. Even newly born babies and the aged were forced to go. The crowd were supplied with laurels and gifts to present to Vandire at gun point. Holo-vids of the proceeds were sent across the galaxy as propaganda to the masses.
When Vandire reached the temple, he found the gates barred against him and was informed by a young Daughter that he was not recognized by the cult. His servants, knowing Vandire's temper, believed they were all doomed, but Vandire had expected this and ordered them to witness an example of the strength of the Emperor in him. With a small bodyguard, Vandire entered the temple and clutched his Rosarius while kneeling to the Emperor, praying for protection. He then stood and ordered one of his guards to shoot him. The officer refused at first not to put himself in danger, but Vandire persuaded that he had the Emperor's protection. The officer loaded his laspistol and shot Vandire in the chest. There was a blinding flash of light and when it died down, Vandire was standing still, unhurt. As one the warriors in the temple fell on their knees to him. Later, Vandire boasted to his scribes that he assumed the Daughters would not have heard of a Rosarius and the it created.
The Daughters took oaths of fealty to Vandire and he elevated them to the position of Ecclesiarcal bodyguards, taking them back to Terra. From then on they were the bodyguards and closest companions to Vandire, and he renamed them the Brides of the Emperor. They were trained by the best of the Imperial Guard and given the most modern weaponry and word of their dedication to Vandire spread throughout the Imperium. They would perform any action that their lord wanted, at any time.
Not only were the Brides Vandire's bodyguard, but also his companions and servants. They tasted his food, fed him when he fell ill, nursed his frail body and entertained him with singing, dancing and other more exotic skills. Even though they were used in this way, they were still hardened fighters and when the Ecclesiarchy tried to assassinate Vandire, the Brides entered the meeting chamber of the traitorous Cardinals and locked the doors. One hour later they emerged with the heads of every cardinal present.
For seventy years did the reign of Vandire mar the Imperium. The resources of the Ecclesiarchy were directed towards Vandire's perverse orders and the construction of new, huge monuments to the Empire and Vandire himself. But, Vandire's insanity was only ever directed outwards. Though other planets had spires reaching to the stars, the Palaces on Terra were falling into decay again. Whole wings collapsed from the weight of centuries and the huge chandeliers and incense burners in the audience chambers were allowed to go out. Dust lay at knee depth in some places, and holy relics fell into disrepair. Tapestries were ripped and chewed by rats and the priceless carpets were used by the rats for warmth. Occasionally a candle would be lit and footsteps could be heard, testifying to the vigilance of the Brides. Even during the day, the rooms were dark due to the horrible amounts of dirt on the windows, blocking out the sun. When it rained and cleaned the windows, the light would pour in and Vandire would retreat to his chambers and sit in silence for days at a time. He would often fall into long, nightmare ridden sleep and would cry out in hysterical screams. His body was ancient and was pumped full of drugs to keep the diseases away. His scribes, in Vandire's more lucid times, noted down his even increasing fear of life.
It was now that a young agent arrived, with fear, on Terra, bringing a report from the distant world of . His report was disturbing, but Vandire burst into an apocalyptic rage. Dimmamar had denounced Vandire as a traitor to humanity, and one name was to be heard many times across the : .
No one knew where this man had come from but the High Lords raged in debate for over a month on what should be done. Vandire fell more into himself and was seen huddled on the velvet throne in the meeting chamber, flanked by his Bride of the Emperor body guards. Within three months, eighty planets had fallen to the new and only the power of the Frateris Templars held other populations in check. The most trusted of the Templar Frateris were dispatched to raze Dimmamar to the ground.
Soon after the war fleet jumped into the from the base on , it was destroyed by a gigantic . The last astropathic reported white arcs of light tearing the ships apart, literally, as well as the soldiers on board. The Clax system has been cut off since, by the .
With the death of a vast fleet, the whole of Segmentum Obscurus burst into rebellion. The were stormed and the beautiful hangings were destroyed. No one knew who Thor was, and many suspected him to be a entity, but he was just a man, born in a Dimmamar Schola Progenium habitat. Thor claimed also to have had visions from the Emperor and warned that humanity was falling. He had an eloquence and charisma that none could match or understand and could reach into the hearts and minds of the people.
Quickly, thousands traveled to hear Thor speak and preach and went away again, spreading the message themselves. Governor Gaius Welkonnen of Dimmamar was so impressed that he placed the army of Dimmamar at Thor's command. Anarchy followed. Most of the Segmentum Obscurus fell and many of Vandire's spies were sought out and driven away, although he still knew that Thor's army had grown to at least five million. He also knew it was slowly making its way to Terra.
There were many tales of his trip to Terra. Each planet he passed pledged their loyalty to him, mostly through his oratory skills. Though the rest of the galaxy was still covered by warp storms, Thor's ships had no hindrance as they moved from planet to planet. The of the Navigators dubbed him Abstracta Preomnis, Master of the Warp. Soon, in the far reaches of the galaxy, Thor was being hailed as a god-like figure. The Ecclesiarchy could do little to stop him after the destruction of the Frateris Templar, but the Cardinals and Confessors put up a resistance, though their populations were eventually converted to the Confederation of Light. Now, the masses moved against Vandire, as he had pushed them too far, and this time, they had a leader to unite behind.
The end of EmpireEdit
The most disturbing news was yet to reach the High Lords and Vandire. They soon learned that the and had been kept distant by the problems with warp travel. They found that their worlds had become bastions of the old faith and were protecting the people from the invasions of Vandire. Many voiced their praise of the Confederation of Light and the Adeptus Mechanicus called for the High Lords to account for themselves and to execute Vandire as a traitor. Vandire, in response, dissolved the High Lords and ordered his remaining forces to attack the revolting Space Marines and Adeptus Mechanicus forces. Many of Vandire’s officers refused and were hung or burnt as heretics and replaced by more loyal leaders, but by this time Vandire had been revealed as the fraud he was. Gastaph Hedriatix, the of the Adeptus Mechanicus ordered his Martian Tech-Guard to transport to and was soon joined by units from the , , and .
Though Vandire had let some of the Ecclesiarcal Palace to fall into ruin, the central chamber was still an almost impregnable fortress. Images were set up relating to the , except this time the other way around, the heretics within the palace. The huge cannons of the Adeptus Mechanicus pounded the walls, but the Brides of the Emperor, numbering around 10,000 by now, defended with all their might. Eventually, however, it was to be from within that the greatest threat came.
The Fall of the High LordEdit
There was one other organisation which had remained distanced from the activities of the High Lords and of Vandire, although they were at the heart of his domain. The Adeptus Custodes had maintained their vigil over the body of the Emperor, but had closed themselves off to protect themselves. It was only when the Space Marines and Adeptus Mechanicus moved on the that they learned of the full extent of Vandire's treachery. They had secret meetings with Space Marine commanders and advised the Space Marines to continue their attack while they would do what they could.
The defenses were nothing to the , as they knew every pathway and hidden passage in the building and a small unit led by a Centurion of the Companions infiltrated the palace, emerging close to the inner sanctum of Vandire. There, the Centurion met with a unit of the Brides of the Emperor and attempted to show them that they were fighting for evil, not the good of the Imperium. They were not to be swayed however, and the Centurion had to find another way to persuade them. Eventually the Centurion came up with a plan and, leaving his men as hostages, led the leader of the Brides of the Emperor away into the tunnels under the palace. No record exists of what happened there, but it is commonly believed he led her to the Golden Throne of the Emperor himself, and upon seeing his blessed form came to realize the truth in the matter. It is a matter of record that after whatever may or may not have occurred with the Centurion, the leader of the Brides personally executed the traitor Vandire.
Officially, the Age of Apostasy ended with the death of Lord Vandire, though the turmoil within the Imperium would last for centuries to come. The significant changes include:
- Sebastian Thor was tried as a Traitor to the Imperium, found innocent and named Ecclesiarch.
- The Ecclesiarchy was forbidden from retaining men at arms.
- The Brides of the Emperor were re-formed into the , aka Sisters of Battle, becoming the military of Ecclesiarchy due the technicality of not being "men at arms".
- The Holy Synod of Terra was created by Sebastian Thor.