- "Unravelling the myths and lies surrounding the Mordechai is relatively straightforward, but determining the truth is seemingly impossible."
- —Inquisitor Globus Vaarak
The House of Mordechai is a highly successful Rogue Trader dynasty, as well as a major industrial, shipping, financial and political family. They descend from Morgan Mordechai, who fought on behalf of the famed Regis Sectora Myram Harvala in the Meritech Wars. Over the generations they have amassed one of the largest fortunes in the Calixis Sector, and is widely considered to be one of the most powerful dynasties currently operating in the Koronos Expanse. The dynasty is also known for its hereditary governorship of the mining world of Junos in the Calixian Sector.
Given their wealth and power, House Mordechai is astonishingly young for a Rogue Trader dynasty. Their success can be explained by a series of strong and very capable Patriarchs, a penchant for long-term planning, and a rejection of personal glory in favour of enriching the House as a whole. Even so, there are persistent rumours that their meteoric rise is the result of dark bargains made with things best not even thought off.
These rumours are primary fuelled by the lack of solid facts about the Mordechai themselves. While the some of the cadet branches of the family are relatively open and forthcoming, the main branch, and especially the core bloodline, in notoriously secretive. There are Inquisitors who believe that the Mordechai is hiding some sort of horrible mutation or other mark of evil, but so far their reputation and political power has deterred further investigation.
- "The closer we get to the present, the sparser the records become. The Mordechai are hiding something, mark my words!"
- —Inquisitor Lexon Angelus
The Founding (214.M41)
The Mordechai were granted a Warrant of Trade by Sector Governess Myram Harvala, in recognition of their sponsorship of her ascension to the throne. At the time the family was but a mid-sized merchant house operating out of Hive Tarsus on Scintilla, and the Warrant represented the culmination of a century of shrewd political dealing. The abrupt elevation of Septimus Mordechai, then a 'mere trader', to a Peer of the Imperium was widely considered to be the greatest political achievement of his generation.
The Warrant was conditional upon their service against the nomadic secessionists known as the Meritech Clans, who were raiding out from the Merates Cluster. However, the ageing Patriarch felt that he was too old to take to the field himself. Instead he recalled his youngest son, the ambitious and dynamic Morgan Mordechai, from the Sector Battlefleet and charged him with meeting the terms of the Warrant. The Navy was reputedly glad to see him go, given his tendency toward unconventional tactics and inappropriate political views.
Several of Morgan's many siblings were disgruntled over their Patriarch declaring him the next Bearer of the Warrant, not least their oldest brother, Lucious Mordechai. Lucious believed, quite correctly according to some, that he as the oldest son should have the honour of fighting the Meritech Clans under the authority of the Warrant. That, however, ignored both the Mordechai clan's by-laws and their tradition of meritocracy. Patriarch Septimus refused the appeals of his oldest son, insisting that Morgan be the one to take them to glory.
Morgan took to the task with great enthusiasm. The Mordechai had been granted a frigate, a pair of raiders, and two regiments of Brontian Longknives. If any of the crew or Guardsmen thought life would be easier under a Rogue Trader than in the Navy or Guard, respectively, then they had obviously never heard of the human dynamo named Morgan. He promptly ordered the voidsmen to drill day and night in preparation for their departure, while the Longknives were sent out into the Scintillan wastelands on manoeuvres.
Meanwhile, he persuaded his father to raise an additional regiment on their own expense. Though it would be simper and faster to hire mercenaries, good mercenaries were expensive. And recruiting their own troops allowed them to customize their training, organization and equipment from the ground-up. Eventually Septimus gave in, though he declared that actually raising the regiment would be Morgan's responsibility. Morgan attacked the problems with characteristic burning energy, rapidly building up a force consisting of Mordechai armsmen and new recruits. Unlike their Imperial Guard counterparts, the 1st Mordechai Dragoons were organized as air cavalry, with the troops transported into battle by Valkyrie Assault Carriers. They were supported by Vulture Gunships, Lightning air-superiority fighters, Thunderbolt fighter-bombers, and Marauder bombers.
It spoke well of Morgan as an organizer, that he accomplished his goal within just two years. He even managed to convince his older sister, Dahlia, to abandon her promising career as an officer in the Imperial Guard, and instead take command of the new regiment.
The Meritech Wars (216-226.M41)
Morgan hurled his small force into the Merates Cluster, operating first at the very edge of the Imperial advance, and soon outpacing it. The 1st Mordechai Dragoons were employed in devastating search-and-destroy missions; attacking Meritech outposts, annihilating all opposition, and immediately withdrawing before reinforcements could arrive. Information cleaned from captives and heretical Meritech datastacks were sent back to the Navy. Reconnaissances-in-force provided the location and patrol-routes of Meritech fleets, while destroying the enemy's own scouting elements.
The intelligence Morgan gathered for the Sector Battlefleet was invaluable. His success soon drew the attention of Admiral Kounthapanya, who saw the value in deep penetration raids. He gave the young Rogue Trader the right to requisition supplies from the Naval base on Fenksworld, and provided him with intelligence gathered by Imperial scouts. Morgan appeared at Fenksworld only three times over the next ten years, always to offload loot and put captured Meritech ships into mothball. The rest of the time, his small and highly mobile force 'lived of the land', taking what they needed from enemy supply depots.
It was during the early part of his involvement in the Meritech Wars, in 218, that Morgan first encountered the Hashishin, later known as the Order of the War-Artisans. That event would would have a massive impact on the future of the Mordechai.
Two years later rumours began circulating of entire Meritech laboratories and manufactorums being found looted bare of heretical technology. Though it was never confirmed, all traces pointed Morgan; surprise-attacks from unexpected directions, extensive use of air-assault forces, and pin-point bombing by aircraft, among others. A that point, Lucious Mordechai publicly denounced his brother for intending to obtain heretical technology for his own dark purposes.
The Inquisition took notice, though they considered Lucious to be an unreliable source at best. However, it was well within the terms of the Mordechai Warrant of Trade to deal with heretical technology as they saw fit. Only if heretical devices was brought back within the Imperium's borders would it become an issue. So far, the only examples examples of such was the Meritech ships in mothball outside Fenksworld, but Morgan had already publicly declared his intention to have the Mechanicus investigate the ships and remove all heretical technology as soon as the Wars ended. With little to go on, and with no agents within Morgan's inner circle, the Inquisition decided to wait until the next time Morgan returned to the Imperium.
That happened just a year later. Morgan had caught a Meritech bandit-squadron at anchor and with cold reactors. In spite in fierce opposition from enemy fighter-units, he'd battered several to hulks and successfully boarded several more. As a consequence of this victory, he'd been compelled to return to Fenksworld to repair damage, put his prize-ships into mothball, and requisition replacements for his attritted forces.
The Inquisition easily placed several additional agents onboard Morgan's ships. However, an attempt to assassinate Morgan's seneschal and replace him with one of their own, was a spectacular failure. The War-Artisans, whom the involved Inquisitors had dismissed as 'cheap barbarian bodyguards', turned out to be almost inhumanly deadly and vigilant. An entire cell of acolytes were wiped out, along with several valuable informants. Immediately reassessing their intelligence on Morgan's security force, they attempted to capture and interrogate a War-Artisan. That, too, was a miserable failure. By then, Morgan was making ready for departure, and the Inquisitors were forced to abandon further efforts.
Eventually, Imperial forces broke the backs of the Meritech Clans, the survivors fleeing into wilderness space and eventually into the Ixaniad Sector. Behind them, the planets of the Merates Cluster was being purged by the lasgun and the chainsword. Morgan turned his attention toward the prospects of loot the situation offered. Operating with several captured merchantmen (which themselves had been captured by the Meritech), he systematically plundered the former Meritech holdings of weapons, vehicles, industrial equipment, and entire disassembled laboratories.
Morgan's looting-spree came to an end when he returned once more to Fenksworld in 224 to offload a massive amount of plunder. He was met by a joint task force of Inquisitorial and Administratum investigators who demanded full access to his fleet, which Morgan graciously (and wisely) permitted. The task force spent a full year making a full accounting of the cargo he carried. To their disappointment, while they found some questionable items, it was nothing worth persecuting a Rogue Trader over. Morgan was eventually permitted to auction off his 'battlefield salvage', as he had previous times.
In spite of this outcome, rumours persisted of an ancient relic-ship Morgan had pried out of a space hulk and filled with a fortune of heretical and damning technology. Neither the Inquisition nor the Adeptus Mechanicus was ever able to confirm or disprove these rumours, but when investigations revealed the involvement of the heretek group known as the Logicians, Morgan received a politely worded 'suggestion' that further 'salvaging' in the Merates Cluster would not be viewed in a favourable light. When the purges began shortly afterwards, Morgan thought it best to comply.
For the remainder of the Meritech Wars, Morgan's fleet fought bravely and ably alongside regular Navy units. Consisting mostly of fast raiders at this point, his force was ideally suited to chasing down their Meritech counterparts. They hounded the remnants of the Meritech Clans deep into the Ixaniad Sector, before a diplomatic incident forced their withdrawal.
Triumphant Return (226.M41)
In the aftermath of the the Meritech Wars, Morgan Mordechai returned to Scintilla in triumph. His forces were granted the honour of a place in the grand military parade held in Hive Sibellus. First the proud 1st Mordechai Dragoons, now hardened veterans to the last man and woman. Then the 55th/97th Brontian Longknives, now consolidated into a single unit. And at the front, riding in an archeotech land speeder recovered from a nameless planet in the Merates Cluster; Morgan Mordechai himself with his elite cadre of bodyguards.
The Mordechai sold the majority of the captured Meritech ships, once the Adeptus Mecanicus had cleansed them of heretical technology. Though Morgan and his father both dreamt of a vast fleet with which to explore unknown regions and bring treasure back to the Imperium, they knew that voidships were fantastically expensive to maintain. Even with the wealth Morgan had brought back, they simply lacked the resources to repair and crew all those vessels. The Mordechai did, however, keep two Shrike-class Meritech raiders, thus bringing the fleet up to a total of one frigate and four raiders. Even that strained their finances to the limit.
Once the plunder had been auctioned off, the combined fortune Morgan brought home would have been more than respectable even for a well-established Rogue Trader dynasty. For the Mordechai, then still largely a mid-sized merchant house, it was wealth beyond their dreams. Advised by Morgan, Septimus invested a sizable amount in the Forge of Fykos and the Fane of Takara in Gunmetal City. That was followed by larger investments in House Krin and the Skaelen-Har Hegemony, and finally in the trade route between Scintilla and Sepheris Secundus. The Mordechai had taken the first step toward their dream becoming a Sector House.
Morgan had covered himself in more glory than any other Mordechai in recorded history, and Patriarch Septimus was almost giddy as he worked to convert it into political capital. His fame and magnetic personality made him a highly sought after guest at balls and receptions, with even high nobility eager to hear stories of his adventures. In one of the more informal balls, he was gifted a set of identical triplets as concubines by High Lady Kempon herself - "to ensure the continuation of the bloodline".
The Mordechai Massacre (227.M41)
Even a tenth of all this was far more than Lucious were able to accept. Consumed with jealusly and resentment at his younger brother's success, Lucious began developing a plan for seizing control of the Warrant. The survivors of Lady Sector Harvala's purge of the Lucid Court were still skulking in the shadows, hateful and eager at any chance for revenge. In them, Lucious found willing allies. Striking at the Mordechai might not have been the same as striking at Harvala herself, but it was well known that she held Morgan Mordechai in high regard. That made destroying the "new rich" Mordechai both worthwhile and almost entirely risk-free - or so they thought.
The Mordechai Massacre occurred a year later, as Morgan were outfitting his fleet for his next expedition. While the servants were preparing for the grand feast to be held in commemoration of Morgan's return, several of Morgan's personal armsmen were doing a routine-check of the mansion's basement. One of them happened to find a false wall, behind of which was several canisters of nerve gas connected to the ventilation system. Unfortunately, he also triggered the fail-safe. The canisters, set to trigger the next day, instead triggered immediately.
Nearly the entire Mordechai clan were present, and the casualties were total. Among the dead was Septimus Mordechai.
Morgan and Dahlia were beyond horrified when the devastating news reached them. By then, there was nothing they could do, beyond recovering the bodies from a home turned into a tomb. But the conspirators weren't done, and the tragedy would have been complete were it not for the War-Artisans. When Morgan and his sister returned to the Mordechai flagship after two exhausting days of organizing a mass-funeral, Morgan's 'concubines' leapt into action.
Six armsmen died to hidden blades within a heartbeat. Mono-knives cut through the air. One War-Artisan tackled Morgan and Dahlia both. The two others literally sliced the concubines/assassins apart in mid air.
The Night of the Hungry Shadows (227.M41)
Morgan and Dahlia Mordechai survived the attempted assassination, and for a while it seemed as if they were the last two Mordechai alive, save for a few distant relations. The Magistratum launched an investigation, but it didn't go anywhere. High Lady Kempon sternly denied all involvement in the Massacre, and with her connections even the Magistratum had to step lightly.
Six days after the Massacre, High Lady Kempon vanished from her manor in the middle of the night. She was never seen again.
Seven days after the Massacre, Morgan unleashed the War-Artisans.
What followed was a long night of blood and terror. High Lord Cudan and a dozen of his bodyguards were killed by what some described as "phantoms with blades". Lord Thedotus were found in his bed, strangled to death without his wife having noticed. Lady Bredice were garrotted in the middle of the street by a "living shadow". High Lord Calidus was disembowelled by a "dark blur" which crashed through the windows of the ballroom and vanished before their eyes. High Lady Clementina were decapitated by an "unclear figure" on her private balcony. Lord Jovinus was stabbed through the heart by something that landed on the roof of his groundcar hard enough to dent it; the assassin was never actually seen. And so on it went.
When the day finally dawned, the architects of the Mordechai Massacre were no longer among the living, and people would still speak of Morgan Mordechai and his "hungry shadows" a generation later.
Lucious Mordechai was dragged, bound and gagged, before his younger brother. In a supreme display of contempt, Morgan judged him unworthy even of being killed. Instead, as the designated heir of Patriarch Septimus, he declared Lucious cast out from the family. Lucious No-Name was left literally on the street, dishonoured, penniless and friendless.
What became known as the Night of the Hungry Shadows was of course a massive scandal. Assassinations among the nobles of Scintilla was hardly unknown, but they were rare and always the result of months and years of planning. That something had casually bypassed the finest protections money could buy, not once, but multiple times, caused shockwaves throughout Hive Sibellus.
Nothing, however, linked Morgan and the War-Artisans to the assassinations, and the Mordechai Warrant of Trade offered him enough protection that they weren't hauled in regardless. Even so, relatives of the dead nobles were screaming that something-or-the-other had to be done, and done now! Morgan, disgusted with the entire viper pit that was the Scintillan nobility, were to once more take matters out of their hands.
Morgan sold many of the family estates and reorganized their presence on Scintilla. He expanded his family's offices and warehouses in Hive Tarsus, turning them into a Commandry; a fortified estate in the old tradition that would serve simultaneously as trading post, warehouse, defence, support, and headquarters. Management of the his Scintillan holdings was left in the hands of a capable High Factorum, whose family had served the Mordechai family for three generations.
After that, he finished the preparations of his fleet and broke orbit. Neither he nor his sister would ever set foot on Scintilla again.
Family Members of Note
The Mordechai Warrant of Trade
The House Fleet
The Household Troops