- "There is no truth in flesh only betrayal, and for that your crimes were foreseen.There is no certainty in flesh but death, and for your crimes you will die."
- —Alphaeus; The Rite of Judgment
Alphaeus is the current Lord Malagra of the Chamber Cardinal of the Ruling Synod of the Forge World of Hephaestia and Alpha Dominus of the Anima Cult. Hailing from Hephaestia-II, Alphaeus rules the majority of the lesser foundries upon the moon from his domain of Fane Deculus, having seized political power through his ties to the Cult of Anima Omnissiah and his high standing within it. Befitting his position as head of the intelligence network, Gearhardt is a patient and intelligent man who embodies the nature of the machine, capable of implementing and employing long running calculations for maximum benefit. It is this aptitude for long term planning which has seen him rise from lowly chirurgeon to one of the most potent of the Prefecture Magisterium in the history of Hephaestia.
- "You of Mankind are components of a flawed equation, and it is predicated on an error; the error that anything escapes the sight of the all knowing Omnissiah. Compounding this error is the deliberate distortion by those who would deem themselves mankind’s masters, the greatest of falsehoods being the claim that these masters speak for the Omnissiah, a misrepresentation rivaled only by the patent error that these masters of mankind cannot be reached or touched. The truth is far simpler; that all men are but men, and all men are corrupt save for those of the purest of will and iron. This equation cannot stand and will decay to entropy as all cogitation errors must, and it is the duty of the Magisterium to hasten that runtime to conclusion."
- —Alphaeus; Rite of Terror
The early life of Gearhardt is known among those of the lowborn ranks of the Machine Cult of Hephaestia; an inspirational story for the masses that ambition can lead anyone from the dregs of society to the very heights of knowledge, technology, and power. Born to a menial household upon the forge moon of Hephaestia-II in the middle of millennium 41, in distant orbit around the main forge, Alphaeus was destined to a lifetime of medicae work serving the menial population. Though talented, it was truthfully chance which blessed the once man with the chance to prove himself. Though capable of performing augmetic surgeries which restored menials to full working capacity in highly efficient manner, all medicae workers upon the forges are expected to return their fellow menials to working order, lest they be rendered to servitors, it was during a tragic accident in which Alphaeus drew attention to himself by the priesthood.
While assigned to the work facility of Autokrator assembly yard 72-D, a routine inspection by the Magi Lord Jergan ended in disaster as a batch of Krios battle tanks particle cannons cooked off and detonated, incinerating hundreds of menials and slagging the augmetics of dozens of tech priest artisans. Among that number was the Magi Lord, a prominent member of the Autokrator and Ordinary Priest of the Lord Ordinator at the time, Malassiag. Finding himself in a position to save the magi, he took his chance. Rushing to the priest lord, he was able to quickly analyze his damage and stabilize the failing augmetics, enough that the magi lord was able to survive, and his unique augmetics returned to a life sustaining condition. When the genetors and augmeticists were finally able to reach Jergan, they took Alphaeus with them such that his improvisational work could be detailed and accounted for. His work impressed the magi, and his exceptional talent was rewarded with selection for the induction trials into the cult proper.
Rise Through the Mechanicus
Little is known about this portion of the Magi’s life. What is known is that his rise through the base ranks was meteoric and that he worked his way through his trials with startling efficiency. Alphaeus was considered to be a genius, a studious and apt mind that comes about maybe once a century. Mastering nearly all the traditional crafts of the Adeptus Mechanicus within his masters teachings. Showing aptitude for fine machinery, robotics, and of course cybernetics, showing incredible talent for installation procedures and developments. He made many enemies at this time, his eye and devotion toward cybernetics surpassing even the most studious of the other adepts. Numerous times he would see his fellows fail to adhere properly to doctrine and to sacred forms and patterns, and see them punished for their failures. His dedication to doctrine lent him favour with his superiors and by his third decade of tuition, he was considered to have reached the peak of innovation and invention by his peers. Such that eventually his interests began to stray into the higher mysteries.
To fulfill these desires for knowledge, gearhardt began to spread his influence outward. He had already made a name for himself among the lesser forge fanes of the moon, eventually coming back to the notice of Magos Jergan and his forges. He would supplicate himself before the Magos and request to become his Apprentii. The Magos, recognizing his debt, accepted, and Alphaeus was permitted to study under him amongst 17 other Apprentii. Alphaeus would know disappointment though as the bulk of the study came under Jergan's apprentii prime, or head apprentice, a priestess by the name of Dessia. The two clashed constantly, Dessia’s close minded ways and refusal to integrate new technique saw gearhardt chafe under her direction, he learned nothing from her.
The issue would resolve itself some months later, as it was suddenly revealed that her close mindedness has been a cover for extreme heterodoxical practices skirting the border of heresy. The magi under Lord Malassiag were thrown into a frenzy, the woman had been a reliable lynchpin of bureaucratic prowess and were shocked that she could be revealed to do such a thing. She vehemently denied it, but it ended with her exile from Malassiag’s employ to the sciptorums. The fact that this happened so suddenly and was so convenient for Alphaeus would go unnoticed by the priesthood, but rumors of foul play would eventually emerge that hung about the incident for years to come.
With the removal of Adept Dessia, Alphaeus was selected to take her place, and with it, take over her meager forge domains within the feudal structure under Malassiag, gaining control of a small manufactorum which produced focusing lenses for laser weapon and barrels for photon weaponry. With this standing came the rank of Adept and further freedom for Gearhardt to expand his research and with further resources, into more areas. Eventually coming to rest on the highest mysteries of Hephaestia; the cybernetica. Plying his expertise into photonic weapon assembly, Alphaeus found his true calling in the Cult of Anima Omnissiah.
Cult of Anima Omnissiah
The Anima cult is the dominant sub-cult of the greater Cult Mechanicus upon Hephaestia, and has stood ascendant for over 10,000 years. Worshipping the crude semblance of machine intelligence that is the Beastia Anima, seeing the will of the Omnissiah acting through vessels of unliving metal. Developing his skill into battle automata weapons construction, Alphaeus’ renown for the crafting of finely made Darkfire Cannons, melta shoulder mounts, and the fine cybernetic components required for automata function. As his skill increased under the Dominus Proctors of the cult, he grew to be held in high regard by the artisans of the Sub-Cult, drawing further attention to himself as dedicated to orthodoxy and a genius of fine bionic manipulation whose reverence for automata grew daily. His zeal for the machines lent well to his prestige and his reputation grew, and he was selected for candidacy for the greater secrets and blessed with the key augmetic of the Cybernetica orders; a cortex controller and with it he was given his ultimate chance to prove himself; to join a Tahgmata battlegroup and serve as part of the Triad Magna. His distinguished service under command of the Magos Prime Malifiga brought glory to his sect and prestige among his peers. In particular, was his service upon the world of Kasr Partox, of the Cadian System where he and his fellow priests of the Tahgmata had made pacts of alliance with the Conservators chapter of space marines. Together they would plunge into the depths of chaos controlled citadels and recover critical technological relics long stolen from the mechanicus.
The Time of Trials
His growing stature in the Anima Cult lent Alphaeus a growing influence. Slowly, he masterminded a series of alliances with other cult members, taking on additional responsibilities and delegating others. Eventually he maneuvered his way into a position of overseer of robotic construction, and with that he secured his path. Utilizing his position, he began the gradual takeover over the workshops and manufactorums around him, ousting fellow tech priests through buyout, transferring pacts of fealty to himself, or in some rumored cases, sabotage and murder. He established forge temples to his creed and the peoples of the moon came to witness the gilded spectacles and the finely wrought automata and machines who gracefully tended to all requirments of the altars. For his work and his devotion, the ruling Synod elevated him to Magos. His influence spread further as his motions to enhance the temples across the moon took root, and the wondrous automata, the Apostle-Pattern, grew in demand among the laity of the Anima Cult. Through careful positioning and targeting, he attracted new members to the Cult from the other sub cults and through the devoted assumed control of their assets. Slowly and gradually, Alphaeus began his planned takeover of the foundries, seeking to place the moon under his control such that he could impose the same level of devotion he possessed unto the rest of his brethren. His takeover eventually ground to a halt at Fane Managry and the surrounding lesser forges, the order within totally unmoving and unwilling to engage in dialogue but in possession of Primus-Level authority codes. Their Silent Order most mysterious to Alphaeus. Though he and his subordinates came into limited conflict with the mysterious order of priests, at the precipice of their discoveries they were shut down by the order of the Lord Malagra, Richter, at penalty of death.
As his power and influence grew, in time he was summoned to Forge Deculus upon Hephaestia itself, the domain of Archmagos Xeros Richter, the Lord Malagra of Hephaestia and one of the seven lords. Along with five other magi lords of the various sub-cults and factions. They were summoned to come together to form a Tahgmata Battlegroup to pacify the nearby world of Armaoan, whose mysterious Mechanicus personnel had refused to heed the orders of Hephaestia and failed to pay tribute, claiming fealty to a distant forge on the other side of the galaxy. The order to mobilize was given, and the convocation of war marched forth under the personal command of Lord Richter.
The assault was disastrous, upon entering orbit, emplaced stations launched boarding torpedoes in colossal numbers such that the battleship of the Lord Richter could not intercept them all. Infected machine monstrosities lurched out, and scrapcode began to overtake the ship, washing through code defenses and overtaking key systems. Shipwide firewalls were not able to stop the highly virulent meme-code and the Lord Malagra was overcome. At the moment of corruption, all guns began to open fire upon the fleet, crippling several of the transport vessels and Tahgmata ships and immediately changed course, heading for the mandevile point. Alphaeus immediately orders defensive actions for his frigate and analyzed the code pattern, managing to block out the scrap transmissions and raise reinforced shields in time. Demonstrating critical adaption ability on the fly, he continued to fight the scrapcode transmissions and ordered his ship to make chase.
Gathering his fellow tech priests, they caught up the battleship and launched a daring boarding assault, they moved through corrupted automata, skitarii, and a slew of frightened workers. Eventually they managed to reach the bridge after suffering great casualties and only Alphaeus and two of his subordinates, Johan and Gallymaw, remained. The battle was short, but intense, for Richter made use of dark age technology, a phase walker. Using this ancient teleportation technology, he was able to eliminate Adepts Johan and Gallymaw, with a wounded Alphaeus delivering the killing blow. Left alone aboard the bridge, Alphaeus retrieved the phase walker, Richter's cognition buffers, and several other minor items of import and returned to his ship. The renegade tech priest sites upon the planet were partially bombed from orbit, surface risk was not taken, and Alphaeus made the journey home.
The Chamber Cardinal
The arrival at home was met with intense suspicion from the priesthood initially, as Alphaeus' ambition was known to the chamber cardinal. With all guns trained upon his ship, Alphaeus' frigate was guided to dock and escorted directly to the Courts of Judgment within Fane Deculus, where the Apprentii Primus of Richter, Magos Constantine Pemelton, demanded answers for the missing Lord Malagra, Richter. Upon being presented with the recovered cognition buffers to the assembled court and demonstrating the full extent of the event, Alphaeus was quarantined and every augmetic was carefully examined for corruption in a process which took several weeks in which he remained in total isolation as the rituals were carefully undertaken. During this time, rumors began circulating among Alphaeus' holdings of his corruption. Combined with the enmity he had created within a great number of magi upon Hephaestia-II with his ambition, several of his vassals broke their oaths of fealty and took their own power back.
With his purity assured, he came before Magos Constantine Pemelton once more, who was preparing to ascend to the rank of lord Malagra. The magi-lord declared Alphaeus pure and was given dispense to leave. Returning to his forge domains, he began a period of bitter political turmoil, eventually unable to totally reclaim his previous holdings. Frustrated, but not deterred, he sought out the source of the rumors, moving through the underworld of the forge and spreading his influence out through those loyal to him. Through those links he eventually located the source of the slander as spreading from the scriptorums, snaking out from the data dissemination pathways as manufactured controversy. At the center was Adept Dessia, capitalizing upon his isolation for revenge only for Dessia to vanish from her position in the scriptorum some days later.
Possessing evidence of the rumor's source and how it spread, he returned to now Lord Pemelton, appealing to his ego and need for agents in his new position, which Alphaeus knew to be much more tenuous then Pemelton would be willing to admit. Elevated from adept to the position of Magos and granted authority under his patron, he immediately swept into the domains of what adepts had turned against him, and crushed them. As he had searched through the underworld of the forge, he had uncovered many secrets and heresies, scientific or otherwise, in the scriptorums and used them ruthlessly against the rebel priests. Magnum Opus work submitted to the Grand Cathedral blocked and held hostage, alliance petitions to other priests intercepted and rewritten in Alphaeus' name, and ident-codes for personal vaults decrypted and re-encrypted under his own designs. With leverage such as this, he was able to reunify his forges under his domain and enforce his idea of cooperation under the Lord Malagra.
His power and influence under the Lord Malagra only grew with time. As knowledge, intelligence, and technology flowed into his position Alphaeus entrenched himself well into the workings of the Chamber Cardinal such as to make himself indispensable, and began his ascension through the orders of the Prefecture Magisterum, taking in a number of hunter-killer claves into his forge domains as well as constructing a new and grand Hall of Law within his domain such that the rulings of the Archmagos Intendant could better reach the moon.
Personality and Beliefs
Befitting his position as head of the intelligence network, Gearhardt is a patient and intelligent man who embodies the nature of the machine, capable of implementing and employing long running calculations for maximum benefit. It is this aptitude for long term planning which has seen him grow to one of the most potent Malagra in the history of Hephaestia. Calculating and studious, Alphaeus surveys the personnel of his own domain constantly, seeking out promising magi and recruiting them to his service and retinue, choosing magi which complement his needed areas of expertise, hunting down talented members of the Digitalis cogitator science, Orbologis planetary scientists, Logis, and Cybernetica priests. Those who gain his patronage find themselves elevated and given technological access undreamed of and face expectations unheard of.
While ultimately a man and a Unitarian, seeing emperor and omnissiah as one and faithful to the Imperial cause, he is still above the rest of mankind, and can be unspeakably cruel and callous if he deems it necessary. As Lord Malagra of Hephaestia, he is tasked with the destruction of heretics and their armies, and it is his sense of justice which has dictated the law of Hephaestia for hundreds of years. The dedication of this priest is without peer, it is said that the apex of his research has granted him a phylactery, a continuously updating real time copy of his own brain with his personality, thoughts, and memories. Rumors about that Gearhardt cannot be truly slain and that he has survived countless assassination attempts through dark and arcane science, and Gearhardt does little to dispel these rumors.
Wargear and Cybernetics
Alphaeus is 98.6% augmetic, with only 65% of his brain and part of his cranial flesh left intact after over 600 years of service. Befitting his status as an Archmagos and ruling lord of his Forge, he has accrued an incredible array of masterwork bionics wrought by both his own hand as well as an arsenal of potent wargear.
- Atomizer Pistol: A deadly and focused melta weapon built using ancient patterns. Far more concentrated and deadly.
- Volkite Serpentia: A symbol of status among the mechanicum is to own an ancient volkite weapon, these weapons are incredibly difficult to manufacture and are only produced by a handfull of mechanicum addepts across the galaxy.
- The Terminator's Blade: The Apex of craftsmanship, this master crafted Omnissian Power Axe is fitted with a disruption field so potent as to be heralded as Dark Age Provenance. The ancient axe and staff of office of the Lord Malagra, this supremely wrought blade is perfectly balanced and durable. Using power conduits built into the haft designed to interface with the users implanted Potentia Coil, the blade can over charge the disruptor field to cleave through armor of titans.
- Mechadendrite Integrated weaponry. Among the coils of mechadendrites that make up his body, several have integrated laspistols, flamers, and blades.
- Machinator Array: This monstrous system of manipulators, augmentic body replacements, tools, augurs, and energy projectors is used by the most able Magi of the Mechanicum and integrated across his frame. Eschewing the use of bulky servo arms, Alphaeus uses a finely crafted machinator claw for his shearing and grabbing needs.
- Enhanced Potentia Coil: Allowing alphaeus to cast blasts of short ranged electricity, absorb energy from machines to rejuvenate himself, or impart stored power unto lifeless machines. The energetic charge allows the priest to magnetically summon things to their hands or repel them.
- Mechanicum Protectiva: A rotective energy fields used by high ranking priests of the Mechanicum to defend against the dangers of the battlefield and attacks by rivals. The frequency and modulation of each protectiva is known only to the owner. These symbols of status mark the bearers as truely favored by the machine cult and worthy of respect.
- Cyber Familiar: A series of servo-drones assist Alphaeus in his bodily power distribution needs.
- Cortex Controller:The Cortex Controller is a cybernetic that allows the bearer to command and control Battle Automata of the Legio Cybernetica, seeing what they see and experiencing what they experience. Only the greatest of adepts can hope to interpret the storm of data Battle Automata produce.
- Full body Augmetics: Every single one of Alphaeus's organic systems save his mind and part of his head have been replaced with augmetics. Even his remaining bone has been totally replaced with plating and augmetic armor. His legs are a serpentine mass of coiling mechadendrites, and his senses are far beyond the mortal norm, fitted with magnifiers to see things both distant and small, and suits of integrated information technology. His nigh complete rebuild has left Alphaeus an incredibly deadly opponent.
- Photon Grenades: Alphaeus carries photon grenades, a product of his forges.
- Phylactery: Alphaeus got to his position in life with dilligence and a healthy degree of paranoia. As such, in his deepest sanctum, there lies a well-protected organic/mechanical 'backup brain' made in his image containing perfectly duplicated implants and brain structure. While on Hephaestia, his data connection stores a virtually perfect imprint of his personality and memories in real time. In the event of his death the imprint can be used to reconstruct his mind and rebuild his augmetic body upon Hephaestia. Through this dark science, rumor has spread that Alphaeus cannot be slain and has survived dozens of assassination attempts. Truthfully, he has never had to use it, but he does not work to dispel the myths about him, as he fears in the back of his mind that he will not be reborn as himself.
- Contagia Mechanica: A forbidden Data Djinn held in care by Alphaeus. Derrived from scrapcode used to pervert the previous lord Malagra, the virus was reverse engineered from drivel to a modicum of order. It is contained within a physically isolated subsystem located on Alphaeus' person. If unleashed, the virus could wipe out a whole planets infrastructure in days. During analysis, it was found that the source code was similar to the pattern of an ancient meme weapon created by Hephaestia during the scouring, this possible provenance is kept as one of his darkest secrets.