- "Scientia est potentia, quia potentia ad corruptionem. Hoc ex eorum notitiam, ne forte in eo."
- —The Oath of the Arce
The Arce Secretorum is a top-secret Inquisitorial facility devoted to the secure storage and study of powerful Chaos Artifacts, Daemonic Apocrypha, and other Warp-related arcana. Created by the newborn Ordo Malleus in the years following the end of the Horus Heresy, the Arce has served the Imperium's Daemonhunters well for millennia, for the contents of it's vaults and libraries has provided many an important insight into combating the Ruinous Powers. However, those same contents are extremely dangerous, and if even a few of the relics from it's vaults were to fall into the wrong hands the results would be catastrophic, thus the existence of the Arce Secretorum is known to a precious few.
Aftermath of the Heresy
In the wake of the Horus Heresy, the Imperium was in turmoil. The Traitor Legions had been defeated, but at the cost of the Emperor of Mankind himself, and thus great changes were made to His Imperium. During the discord of this era, the Great Scouring was underway, as the newly-formed Inquisition retook all that was lost to Chaos during Horus' civil war. During that time the Inquisition also recovered potent weapons and artifacts of Chaos that had once been used by the Traitors, and with no safe way to destroy them, the Ordo Malleus faced a dilemma. On one hand, they could not afford to keep the compiled arcana for fear of moral corruption, but on the other hand they could not risk it falling back into the hands of the Traitors. Thus a plan was formed to create a vault of sorts, a hidden safehouse in which these Daemonic relics could be safely stored, kept away from the rest of the Galaxy.
The solution was to create a space-bound fortress the likes of which had never been seen before. Using their considerable power, the whole of the Ordo Malleus requisitioned the use of an entire army of Mechanicus Tech-Priests and a Ramilies-Class Starfort, and set to work. While the outside was equipped with enough offensive capabilities to take on a small fleet, the inside of the mighty space station was reconfigured into a labyrinth of archives, libraries, and near-impenetrable vaults equipped with some of the most advanced security the Imperium could procure. The construction took nearly an entire century to complete, the Inquisition gained their finally vault in 100.M31, which they would later christen the Arce Secretorum, High Gothic for "Fortress of Secrets".
The Arce Secretorum has only been attacked once, but not by xenos nor the servants of Chaos, but rather by soldiers of the Imperium. More specifically, soldiers of Goge Vandire's Imperium, in which he nearly brought ruin upon the Arce through his arrogance and madness. It was during the Reign of Blood, in which the Inquisition had not taken any direct action against the clearly deranged High Lord, but maintained their autonomy and fulfilled their duties to the best of their ability. Those of the Ordo Malleus aboard the Arce Secretorum at the time did their best to work around Vandire's outrages commands and policies, gathering lore and artifacts of devastating power and safeguarding them aboard the Starfort. Of course, Vandire had plans to change that as well.
In 269.M36, an Imperial warship arrived within the Vaucas Sector, bearing the markings of the Brides of the Emperor, Goge Vandire's most trusted servants. The Brides docked their ship at the Arce and came aboard in force, their Cannoness demanding to speak with the Warden. Lord Inquisitor Darik Atalus, a renowned Daemonhunter and current Warden of the Arce Secretorum, met with them at once, along with his retinue and his fellow Inquisitor Overseers, among which just so happened to be a recently promoted Lord Inquisitor known on as the Archivist. As soon as the Cannoness laid eyes on Alatus, she bluntly presented him with a decree signed be High Lord Vandire himself, ordering the destruction of the Starfort and all it's unholy contents. The Warden of course balked at this proclamation, arguing this would be a complete waste of all the effort and accomplishment that had gone into creating the Arce, further cementing his legitimate point the fact that many of the items within the Starfort could not be destroyed through conventional means. The Brides completely refused to see the logic in his reasoning, their Cannoness declaring that if the Inquisitor did not step out of her way she would see everyone aboard the Arce branded a heretic, and summarily execute them.
It was silent for a moment, although the tension was so thick one could have cut it with a knife. But, to this day, nobody knows who fired the first shot, only that one Brides fell over dead, a lasbolt having pierced her cranium. The "meeting" then erupted into chaos, as the forces of Vandire fell upon the forces of the Ordo Malleus. The second casualty was Warden Alatus, as when her sister-in-arms fell to the floor, the Cannoness drew an Inferno Pistol and shot the Lord Inquisitor point-blank, vaporizing the upper part of his body in a flash. The rest of the Brides cocked their Bolters and drew their Power Swords while the Apocrypha Guard unleashed a hail of Hellgun fire upon them. Needless to say, the battle was a bloodbath, for while the Inquisitorial Storm Troopers had the advantage of numbers, in close quarters they stood little chance against the heavily armored Brides of the Emperor. The presence of the Inquisitors and their various retinue members certainly helped, but as a result what should have been a quick, one-sided fight ended up becoming a slaughter. The turning point came when the Cannoness keeled over, a neurotoxin shard from the Archivist's Needler Pistol sticking out of her neck.
With their leader dying and their numbers sorely diminished in the meat grinder of a battle, the Brides decided to cut their losses and retreat, climbing aboard their ship and setting a direct course for Terra, hoping to return with reinforcements. Sorely wounded themselves but knowing that retaliation would come, the forces of the Arce Secretorum prepared themselves for a siege, yet as the weeks slowly crawled by, they found that none was forthcoming. They would later learn that that Terra had been besieged, and that Goge Vandire was killed during the battle. Needless to say, the Inquisitors aboard the Arce found it highly ironic, not to mention hilarious, when the news came that he had perished at the hand of his own Brides of the Emperor.
++FURTHER RECORDS CENSORED BY ORDER OF THE INQUISITION++
From the outside, the Arce Secretorum follows the same layout as most Ramilies-Class Starforts, albeit it's hull lacks the ornamentation and decoration as others of it's kind (save a large Inquisitorial Seal that decorates it's central control tower), while keeping an abundance of Gun Batteries and other offensive capabilities. On the inside however, the Arce is a labyrinth of hallways and heavily fortified rooms, three quarters of which serve as various basic facilities. They include a kitchen, armory, various living quarters for the Starfort's many inhabitants, engine room, gun control room, main control room, starship hangers and a barracks for the Arce's security force; a regiment of Inquisitorial Storm Troopers known as the Apocrypha Guard. The rest of the Arce Secretorum is broken up into two specialized areas designed to hold it's dangerous "contents":
Taking up nearly a quarter of the space inside the Arce, the Vault is a cavernous system cell-block like containment units, each one specifically designed to hold and protect the various Daemonic relics and artifacts. No one has ever broken into this area, but nonetheless the Vault is the most well-protected part of the Starfort. The Vault only has a single entrance, a four-foot thick wall of adimantium that requires two of the Warden's gene-locked keys to be turned simultaneously to be opened, and is guarded by a full squad of Apocrypha Guard in shifts. The inside is covered in protective runes to dampen the artifact's power, and each of the individual cells are cubes of solid adimantium, each with a single door which can only be opened through a certain one of the Warden's keys. The inside of the fault is also protected through a small army of Gun Servitors and Automated Turrets, although none are armed with any weaponry that could potentially compromise the cell-blocks. The Vault does not even have air vents.
A smaller but no less high risk area, the Librarium is used to store and protect dangerous books, tomes, and other apocrypha of daemoic or otherwise warp-related lore. While harmless enough on their own and not nearly as dangerous to passers-by as the artifacts within the Vault, in the wrong hands the contents of the Librarium could spell the doom of any number of Imperial worlds in it were to fall into the wrong hands, and thus is heavily protected. Like the Vault, the Librarium has only a single heavily fortified entrance, but requires only one of the Warden's gene-keys to open. The inside is guarded through Gun Servitors and Turrets, though in smaller numbers than those with the Vault, and is structured much like a conventional library, twisting halls of shelves filled with data-slates, leather-bound tomes (or tomes bound in less savory materials), and ancient scrolls. Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus that visit the Arce Secretorum often use these books to research and provide insight on various Daemonic entities.
The Arce Secretorum lies in a rather remote part of the Segmentum Solar just bordering the Sol System. The Sub-Sector in which it it located is known simply as Vaucas Sub-Sector, a derelict and largely empty area with only one major feature; a nebula known as the Veil. Hidden within this multicolored cloud of gas is the Arce, where it has remained for nearly ten millennia, one of the Imperium's most well-kept secrets. However, the main reason for this position is mostly due to it's proximity to Holy Terra itself, as if the Acre comes under attack an Imperial armada can be arrive at the Starfort in a single warp-jump, to assist against potential invaders.
The Arce Secretorum has many personnel, most of which perform basic menial duties to keep the Starfort running. Most of this workforce is made up of Servitors, although a small cadre of Tech-Priests also live aboard the Arce, as to service and fine-tune the Starfort's many mechanical systems. Other non-servitor personnel include the space station's security and retrieval force, the Apocrypha Guard, and several Imperial Navymen and women who man the Arces central control tower. All of these persons' identities are deleted from official Imperial records, as a means of keeping the Arce a secret.
The only other beings that are constantly aboard the Arce Secretorum are the three Ordo Malleus Inquisitors assigned to it, as well as their respective retinues. The first of these Inquisitors is known as the Warden as he/she is responsible for overseeing the Arce as well as safeguarding the Warden's Keys. The other two are known by the rank of Overseer, their specified duties being to assist the Warden is his/her endeavors and act as the Warden's lieutenants.
- The Archivist - The current Warden of the Arce Secretorum, the mysterious Lord Inquisitor only known as the Archivist has presided over the Inquisitorial Starfort for nearly a century now. An extremely enigmatic yet eerie individual, the Archivist is known for his fixation on discovering ancient lore, apocrypha and other warp-related arcana, a fixation which has earned him quite a bit of scrutiny in recent years...
- Jae Carinus - The infamous Thallax Inquisitor, Carinus has been an Overseer of the Arce Secretorum for quite some time now. This is mostly due to his prowess at fighting the Daemonic, particularly in close-quarters, but also because he finds a strange comfort in the isolation that his position requires.
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Other Notable Personnel
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Artifacts of Note
Over the ten millenia since it's creation, the Arce Secretorum has become the home of many powerful Chaos Relics and Artifacts. These are are but a few of the Arce's more infamous items:
The NightshardA ancient Daemonblade of unknown origins, the many legends exist about the Nightshard, although all of them are little more than stories. Some say it was discovered on Terra itself during the Unification Wars, kept hidden within the Imperial Palace until it was given over to the Arce for safekeeping. Others say it's origins stretch even farther back, claiming it was once wielded by the Black Knight, a terrifying figure from ancient Terran folklore. More rational thinkers say that it may have been the weapon wielded by a Daemon Prince known as the Black Knight, who was banished by the Ordo Malleus during the early days of the Inquisition's founding. But whatever it's origins may be, this sword is infamous amongst the forces of Chaos, and many a Chaos Lord and Daemon Prince would murder entire worlds just to get their hands on the Nightshard, all the more reason to keep it safe.
The sword itself is massive, fit for a giant to wield, yet it is ornately worked and crafted in with such skill, leading many to believe the Nightshard is a warp-forged weapon. It's blade is made of a jet black metal-like material, which seems to absorb and light shined upon it, and can cut through the toughest of materials with ease. But what makes the Nighshard truly deadly is it's ability to drain the vitality from anyone it so much as scratches, draining their very life essence and using it to empower it's wielder, an leaving it's victim a shriveled husk.
The Heart of Bael'Kora
An artifact recovered by the Archivist early in his career, the Heart of Bael'Kora is not actually a living heart, but a strange daemonic clockwork that somewhat resembles a human heart. Made by pre-Imperial techno-artificers, the Heart was apparently created to measure fluctuations within warp in order to predict oncoming daemonic incursions. However, something definitely went wrong, for the Heart is possessed by a malefic daemon known as Bael'Kora, who gave this infernal device it's namesake. Utilizing the ethereal powers of the Heart, with the proper rites the Daemon can pull the fabric of reality asunder, creating a Daemonic Incursion all on it's own.
The Heart of Bael'Kora is a highly complex clockwork, made from various gears and wires sheathed in an oddly-shaped shell of interlocking bronze and adimatium plates, all of which are covered in strange runes. When the Heart is active, the plates shift and turn while the runes glow with eerie witchlight, and the devise begins to emit a strange, pulsating sound like the beating of a heart.
The Succubus Mask
Created by the Slaaneshi Psyker-Priestess known as Lareth the Succubus, this daemonic mask was the source of her overwhelming power and charisma that nearly toppled an entire Imperial Sub-Sector into the thrall of the Dark Prince. The mask itself is made out of a strange golden material, masterfully sculpted into a stylized likeness of a woman's face, it's brow adorned with the symbol of Slaanesh which seemingly blends into the maddening yet eye-catching spirals and designs that flow across the surface of the mask. Apparently the Succubus Mask was is a warp-forged item. given to Lareth by the Dark Prince himself as a sign of his favor, giving her the power to literally seduce millions of new followers within just a few short years.
The Succubus Mask's powers allow the wearer to overpower the weak-willed almost instantly, transforming them into the wearer's slave. Those who are stronger willed can resist the mask's thrall, but it has been shown that prolonged exposure will eventually break them. Even more disturbing, when the Succubus Mask is not being worn, it actually begins to enthrall those who look upon it for to long, overwhelming them with the desire to put the mask upon their face and use it's power to further the goals of Slaanesh.
++FURTHER RECORDS CENSORED BY ORDER OF THE INQUISITION++
Feel free to add your own!
- "This galaxy has many secrets. The Arce Secretorum is merely one of the better-kept ones."
- "The Arce Secretorum is a place of great sin. Once again, the Ordo Malleus, my greatest foes, insult me and imprison the sacred relics of the Gods. In the name of the Primordial Creator, we must take the fortress and liberate all the secrets inside. Knowledge is power, and that power is rightfully mine."
- "A dear lady retains a great many mysteries upon her person, but it takes very little to ease the secrets from her shoulders. A gentle tickle against shoulders, or a blunt enough pound to the spine. And absolutely none will disagree when I state that I know at least a thing or two regarding pounding from behind, would you not agree?"
- "I have heard rumours of a place the Ordo Malleus store chaos artefacts. If such a place were to exist-well, the roots of chaos run deep, and must all be purged. Every single one. "
- "There's a rumour of some Inquisition fortress, where they hold their loot and other crap, but then again, there can't just be one. Wouldn't make sense, would be a ticking time bomb waiting to happen, and also exceptionally stupid. If we find it though, we're bound to have our fun."
- "Many a happy hour has been spent inside the Vault, identifying and testing the various artefacts found within. It annoys the Warden to no end, but that's part of the fun."
- —Inquisitor Jacob Flux
- "They've put all their most potent, terrifying weapons in one convenient place. It's not often our friends in the Inquisition are this considerate. "