Athaliah Kane aka St. Athaliah the Flame; Bride of the Emperor; Savior of Aliris, Mother of the Faithful, Our Lady of Necromunda - and so forth and so on for about a quarter of an hour - has led an uncomfortably interesting and temporally convoluted life that has brought her honors she does not deserve - and she frequently says so. Unfortunately it is always put down to Holy Humility and ignored.
Athaliah Kane was enrolled in the schola progenium on Rigant at the advanced age of thirteen or fourteen. She was identified by the Assessors as a potential priest almost immediately and transferred to the seminary on Orphelia VII where she was ordained a Confessor of the Faith in 918.M41 and assigned to the newly created Eurydice diocese in the Hades Sector recently restored to full Imperial control. So much for the ascertainable facts. Athaliah's life there after is cloaked in myth and legend.
The Bad Beginning
Athaliah had the bad fortune to graduate from Seminary at exactly the time the Cardinal of Eurydice was looking for Confessors to firm up the shaken faith of his new flock. Athaliah's entire graduating class was shipped to him for assignment. The Acta Athaliah claims that the Cardinal fell on his knees before the Saint-to-be and fired by holy inspiration handed over to her the greatest relic his cathedral owned. In truth the relic was entrusted to the young Confessor to carry to the desecrated grave world of The Emperor's Peace to be enshrined in the great Mortuary Hall. It was handed over to her - with a long list of instructions and admonitions - by a Pontiff of the Diocese. Cardinal Vorthys never so much as laid eyes on the future saint.
The Emperor's Peace was on the far side of an infamous stretch of space known as the Erebeus Deeps from the Cardinal world of Eurydice. The Deeps were known to be full of hazards and Athaliah's vessel was far from the first to come to grief there. Far away in the Jericho Reach and more than a century earlier a Strike Cruiser of the Consecrator Chapter was lost with all hands in the Slinnar Drift. The young Confessor unsurprisingly did not know this, so though astonished to be rescued by Astartes of the Consecrator chapter she wasn't as stunned as she might have been. She and the Company Master shared the shock when they discovered that one hundred and seventeen years and innumerable parsecs separated their two disasters.
The Consecrators had taken refuge aboard a Craftworld they'd found abandoned in the drift near a huge webway entrance floating in space. Lacking any other form of transport the Company Librarian had attempted to steer them through the webway, realizing in transit that section they were in had ruptered, possibly during the Fall, and been contaminated by leakage from the Warp. They emerged in the Erebeus Triangle over a century later. All agreed they had no choice but to try again and this time ended up on a long dead world in the Aliris sector, Zode Prime home to the Phoenix Brethren Chapter, in the year 832.M41. Fortunately for her Athaliah was not well enough versed in Segmentum Obscurus history to recognize the date as the Year of the Black Sun.
It Gets Worse
Thus Athaliah found herself caught up in stirring events of the Black Sun Crusade and thrust into most unwelcome prominence as the religious leader thereof more than sixty years before she was born. This was all the more unwelcome as it not only exposed her to the dangers of numerous battlefields as well as riot and civil unrest but drew down the attention of the Ordo Chronos a secretive sub-division of the Inquisition tasked with investigating temporal anomalies and preventing reality endangering paradoxes. Athaliah, being from 'the future' represented such a paradox and she was placed under special watch by Ordo Chronos Inquisitor Jaq Shadoe. By her own account Athaliah found this surveillance very pleasant indeed. And she needed some pleasant interludes as her post-Crusade life consisted of one war and/or crisis after another as she wandered the Imperium desperately seeking a little peace and quiet.
But Jaq Shadoe was an Inquisitor so of course he had an ulterior motive. Athaliah's two life-streams could not be allowed to overlap, her older self had to be eliminated before her younger self was born. Athaliah's date of birth was uncertain but could have been no earlier than 893.M41 so Jaq was regretfully forced to see to it she died well before that time. Trouble was she kept coming back....
Jaq manipulated Athaliah into a crusade against the Dracolith which resulted in her first martyrdom. The Cathedral of the Flame was built on Zode I to shelter her body and the process of declaring her an Imperial Saint begun. Her ressurection during the service celebrating the twentieth anniversary of her martyrdom was embarrassing to many - not least Athaliah herself henceforth labeled a Living Saint. After her second martyrdom at the hands of the Procrustean Rebels her disciples didn't bother to bury her but instead held vigil over her incorrupt corpse as its wounds miraculously healed. She revived just over a year later. Jaq was finally driven to the extreme of shooting her himself, with an Eldar D- cannon. At least he said he was sorry before pressing the trigger.
The Harrowing of the Eye
- "I may be crazy, but I'm not crazy enough to stay here!"
- —Saint Athaliah the Flame in the Eye of Terror.
Miraculously - and the Saint's followers use the word literally - the d-cannon blasted Athaliah through the warp to the relative safety of a planetary surface 'relative' because it was, of course, the surface of a Chaos world deep in the Eye of Terror.
The Acta Athaliah depicts her escape from the Eye as a triumphal progress with the Saint converting Fallen and adding them to her following at every planet she passed through. According to Athaliah herself it was a picaresque series of escapes from one deadly peril only to fall directly into another. She emphatically denies all accounts of preaching to the Fallen pointing out that such a course would have been suicidal. She did however collect a numerous following ranging from renegade Space Marines to lost remnants of Imperial Guard units, from trapped ship-crews to escaped slaves. This small army eventually succeeded in fighting its way out of the Eye aboard a hijacked ship, a captured Overlord-class heavy cruiser which St. Athaliah cleansed and named The Invictus, emerging near the Sentinel Worlds in 921M.41.
Needless to say they were not welcomed with open arms. Ship and crew would doubtless have been summarily disposed of had they not been accompanied by a living saint of Holy Church - or more prosaically a woman capable of talkng fast and persuasively under pressure. The Grey Knights summoned by the garrison commander proved less susceptible. The hightly fraught confrontation opened with St. Athaliah calling then Knight-Captain Kaldor Draigo a 'big grey bugger' and ended with Andreas Solar, formerly of the Blades Eternal and unofficial commander of the rag-tag army, demanding to face the trials as surrogate for his followers, Astartes and Mortal alike. Draigo was not inclined to accept this offer and St. Athaliah strenuously opposed it however the argument was soon to be resolved by the Emperor himself.
Summons to Holy Terra
The arrival of a Custodes Warrior with orders direct from Him on Earth confirmed St. Athatliah's sinking feeling that she was the object of His personal attention. Kal Draigo was commanded to accept Solar as a surrogate for his followers as for St. Athaliah herself she was summoned to Earth to meet the Emperor face to face.
A great deal of ink has been spilled on pious fantasies of the interview between the Emperor and his Bride but the truth is nobody but Him on Earth and the Saint know what passed between them. Athaliah clearly found it a shattering experience, it took her weeks to convalesce from the shock tended by the holy sisters of the Convent Prioris and even now, decades later she bursts into tears when reminded of it.
- "This is getting ridiculous!"
- —St. Athaliah the Flame
The Saint's third martyrdom (so far) took place on the ancient hive world of Galaspar in the course of the Mandragoran Crusade. Famously devastated by Mortarion's Death Guard prior to the Heresy the planet never really recovered. Ten thousand years later it was assumed to be a dead world covered by the crumbling ruins of it's massive hives, all but forgotten by the Imperium until Necron fleet activity was spotted in its system.
As the Saint herself observes she's got too much nose and chin to be a traditional beauty but - as she always adds - that's never kept her from getting any man she cares to set her mind on, though Sainthood has done nothing for her love-life. Her black hair is sometimes knotted at the nape of her neck or plaited but often left loose. It is fairly long falling to below her shoulder blades.
Athaliah is a very tall woman with considerable physical presence and a good figure too. She normally wears red and white confessor's vestments with a black silk stole embroidered with texts in gold thread. She dislikes the mitre and almost never wears it.
Acerbic, hedonistic, occasionally dishonest and a devout coward... not exactly traits one expects of a Living Saint. As Athaliah would gladly explain to you - at length - there is nothing saintly about her. It's all a mistake and misunderstanding that she has been desperately trying to straighten out for nearly two centuries now. Her admirers gently counter with examples of her unquestioning faith and obedience to Him on Earth; the inspiration she brings with her presence, her unfailing maternal concern for the Faithful, The might of her cleansing flame and her healing touch.
All accidents, coincidences and well, yes, some things she can't explain that do look like miracles - but she certainly didn't work them! Athaliah will retort with greater or lesser degrees of fury depending how tired she happens to be. Of course she believes in the Emperor - who doesn't? - and she's quite certain he's meddling personally in her life - very much against her will! And the whole reason they made her a Confessor in the first place was because she could talk the metal legs off a titan and convince an audience that black was in fact white - so much for 'inspiration'. As for her 'maternal love for the Faithful, well that's overstating the case by quite a bit but it's not like she wishes the Emperor's people any harm now is it?
And so the debate continues.
Abilities and Traits
Athaliah's title 'The Flame' decribes her most unusual and inexplicable ability; the Sanctifying Flame. This power is characteristic of the Phoenix Brethren, one of the earliest Space Marine Chapters associated with Athaliah, and the talent first manifested itself through the Crozius Arcanum the Brethren's artificers created for her. Originally a faint werefire it strengthened over the years, possibly with practice, into a incadescent flame too bright to look at directly which the Saint is able to project in searing fireballs. Athaliah's theory is that the Flame is fueled not by her own neglible faith but by that of the soldiers of the Emperor following her. Maybe so but it is Athaliah who ends up drained and exhausted after calling upon the Flame.
Athaliah Kane is unusually tall, nearly two meters in height, and strong in proportion. She excelled in her self defense courses at the Seminary and constant training has rendered her quite formidable to opponents even with purely conventional weapons. Her preference is for ranged weapons with plenty of stopping power and failing that a polearm like her Crozius - in other words anything that keeps the enemy at a comfortable distance. Failing that she is a fine swordswoman, one of the few tall and strong enough to use an eviscerator with some deftness rather than just as a sort of chopper. Her fighting technique is highly pragmatic - she is interested in results not style and not particularly worried about honor or fair play.
Being friends with Sector Governors Space Marines, Sororitas and an Inquisitor gets one some seriously good presents - though not, alas, the vintage bottle of amasec or box of cheroots Athaliah would really like. She has also picked up a remarkable variety of useful items on her various battlefields.
The Saint possesses two separate sets of Power Armor. The first, master crafted for her by the Sororitas armorers of Dominica, is gold plated as is customary for the leaders of Crusades but otherwise tastefully restrained in design with icons limited to helmet visor, knee plates and pauldrons - and no heels. The last thing Athaliah needs is more height. Even so it is a little too attention grabbing to suit the Saint hence her second set of armor. This was crafted for her by the armorers of Convent Prioris on Holy Terra to her detailed specifications. It is steel finished with gilding on the pauldrons and visor and some gold edging. Both the plate and soft armor is designed to be easily disassembled so pieces may be worn selectively - as seen in the illustration right.
Her collection of weapons began with a bolter carbine like like those issued to the Serfs of the Phoenix Brethren Chapter and an eviserator chainsword acquired on the killing fields of Zode II from an over-fervent and short lived Ministorum colleague. These were quickly supplimented by a chain-glaive and bolter pistol from the armory of the Sisters of the Bloody Rose presented to the Saint shortly before the Battle of Inquanok.
Her accension as the reluctant figurehead of the Black Sun crusade brought further gifts; from the Arch-Cardinal of Bezant a blessed rosarius in the form of a winged ecclesiastical Imperial 'I', which was to become the Saint's personal emblem; the competing Arch-Cardinal of Romuleia, not to be bested by his rival, conferred upon her the Golden Halo. The most iconic gift however came from the armories of the Phoenix Brethren; a crozius arcanum as tall as the Saint herself upon which was mounted the platinum skull containing the precious relic entrusted to her back on Eurydice sixty years in the future.
The vambrace mounted bolter and power shield she is carrying in the illustration were created for her at the same time as the armor she is wearing and complete her small armory of personal weapons.
A reliquary of pure platinum in the shape of a skull and of size to fit comfortably in the palm of a Space Marine's hand set with ruby eyes and pearl teeth contains an even more precious relic; nothing less than a piece of the Emperor's holy body - a fingernail. Said skull is mounted between the spread aquila wings tipping the Saint's Holy Crozius which has itself become a relic of some fame eagerly sought by the likes of Silinurl Luvt, Berheven Jirlis and even Trazyn the Infinite
Friends and Disciples
Watcher in the Dark
One of these enigmatic creatures, formerly associated with the Dark Angel successor chapter the Consecrators, attached itself to the Saint - to everybody's surprise - and has followed her devotedly ever since.
- ""There is a time tested and nearly infallible strategy for getting a man firmly on your side - unfortunately it doesn't work on Space Marines."
- —St. Athaliah the Flame
The young confessor was accustomed to using her sexuality to relate to and manipulate the male of the species. As she observed that strategy most emphatically did not work with Space Marines. Though completely asexual the Astartes' hyper-masculinity all too often takes the form of psychopathic violence, but it can also result in a drive to nurture and protect women and children which surfaces unexpectedly on those rare occasions when they are thrown in close contact with normal humans, a trait Athaliah has learned to use to her advantage.
Marcella Claudio-Julia and Drusilla Livio-Julia
Palatine Minoras of rival branches of the Julian gens, a renegade Aquilon noble house split into two separate lineages; the Livio-Julii governing the Reach planet Jaren and the Claudio-Julii the neighboring Pleasure World of Arya. Both worlds and their gubernatorial families were Chaos tainted; Jaren by a Tzeentch witch-cult, Arya by Slaanesh worshippers. The cousins, formerly deadly enemies and deep in their house's heresies, were converted by Athaliah after hearing her preach - once - to her complete confusion. After assisting the Saint and Inquisitor Shadoe in the cleansing of their two worlds they became Athaliah's devoted acolytes. Upon her (first) death the cousins founded the Order of the Burning Rose in St. Athaliah's honor.
- "The thing about Solomon is even when it isn't pouring out his face looks like a rainy day."
- —St. Athaliah the Flame
An extraordinary warrior-penitent Athaliah calls her 'pet sociopath'. Formerly a fanatical Redemptionist enforcer for House Cawdor he has since repented of his extremism - and his several attempts to murder Athaliah - and now seeks the Emperor's Forgiveness as her disciple and bodyguard.
- "Such a handsome man too. It seeems a shame...."
- —Saint Athaliah the Flame
Solomon is pretty much a walking armory hung about with weapons under his jacket and cloak. These include a pair of master-crafted slug guns of unknown provinence, a pump action shotgun of antique design, and an unsual two edged powersword with matching dirk also of unknown make and provinence.
- "If I could just get that child to comb her hair - and to put down the axe...."
- —Saint Athaliah the Flame
A young Moritat assassin Athaliah calls her 'pet psychopath'. If Diyra remembers her family and world of origin she's not talking, it is highly probable - given the Moritat Cult's recruiting practices - that neither exist any more. Though only sixteen or seventeen Diyra has passed her initiation and is on her travail. She has attached herself to Athaliah because being in the Saint's company gives her lots of opportunities for combat and murder.
Diyra wields a pair of evil looking Ork 'choppas' - it's probably best not to ask where and how she got them - one vaguely scimitar-like the other as vaguely axish both seeming too heavy and awkward for her slight arms. She also has blades of various kinds tucked into her boots, strapped to her thighs and hidden in various other improbable locations about her person.
The Saint on the Emperor's Enemies:
- "Perverted Alien scum with seriously bad fashion sense."
- —Saint Athaliah's considered opinion of Dark Eldar
- "I saw a lot of Dark Eldar when we invaded Commarragh. To me you all look alike."
- —St. Athaliah the Flame
- "Their cannon fodder never speak and their overlords never shut up"
- —St. Athaliah the Flame, on Necrons
- "The thing about a Daemon is they've always got to make a speech before they kill you. This of course gives you plenty of time to get them first."
- —St. Athaliah the Flame on Daemon fighting
- "I worry about the man - or woman - who thinks Daemonettes are attractive."
- —St. Athaliah the Flame
- "I like sex as well as the next woman, especially when that next woman is a nymphomaniac joygirl, but torture and self mutilation? How is that pleasurable?"
- —St. Athaliah the Flame on Slaanesh Cultists.
- "As you have gathered I am not the most devout follower of the Emperor ever, Saint or no, but I've seen Chaos up close and personal and I just don't get the appeal. I really don't."
- —St. Athaliah the Flame to Azunar the Dark Prophet
- "That's the difference between us then, Azunar. I don't care about truth. I care about my own comfort with the well being of the Imperium coming a long way after. If it's a lie that lets us keep our sanity and enjoy life, I am all for it. "
- —Athaliah the Flame in reply to Azunar
The Saint on Space Marines:
- "And we are all going to wear our helmets, aren't we boys?"
- —St. Athaliah the Flame disapproving of the no-helmet custom
- "Astartes are sons of the Emperor. If I'm the Emperor's Bride does that make me their mother? No, please no!"
- —St. Athaliah on her relationship with the Adeptus Astartes
- "They're good boys at heart, but they've got problems."
- —St. Athaliah Kane the Flame, on Blood Angels and successor chapters
- "Who the Frak decided 'Marines Malevolent' was a good name for a Chapter?"
- —St. Athaliah the Flame
- "I love a Space Marine that thinks. Just keep a close eye on any valuables you want to keep."
- —St. Athaliah the Flame, on Blood Ravens
The Saint on His Divine Majesty's Inquisition
- "Granted they're psychopaths, but at least they're on our side - more or less."
- —St Athaliah on the Inquisition
- "I hear Ezekiel Cornatus is going around saying he's been deflowered, debauched and despoiled by an Imperial Saint. I don't know if he's boasting, complaining or just angling for a second date."
- —St. Athaliah the Flame
- "Elegant, cultured and still damn good looking in spite of his age. What a pity he's in a committed relationship."
- —St. Athaliah on Malleus Skotus
The Saint on Her Life
- "You wouldn't believe the frak I've seen. I don't believe the frak I've seen!"
- —St. Athaliah
- "I watched as a familiar expression marched across that heavy slab of a face, the somewhat glazed look I've seen on Space Marines, Planetary Governors, Underhive Crime Lords, even aliens; in short on the face of anybody who gets sucked too deep into the insanity I call my life."
- —St. Athaliah the Flame
- "I've always had a temper but since Terra I've sometimes had the spooky feeling it isn't just me who's angry."
- —St. Athaliah the Flame on the Firestorm of Iagos[src]
- "His Divine Majesty has a sick sense of humor, Inquisitor, I just wish He'd find Himself another butt."
- —St. Athaliah answering Greyon Autaris
- "Here we go again. Wait here, boys, I'll be right back."
- "Oh she's a saint all right - but don't tell her I said so."
- —Captain Andreas Solar of the Lost Sons[src]
- "Lady Athaliah, not all of the Emperors Saints set out about such a course by their own intentions. Frequently it is a mantle bestowed upon those who do not desire, but those who deserve it. The Emperor knows all, and if he did not approve of your path, he would not be still watching over you."
- —Leadros Kerventes, Chief Librarian of the Wings of Salvaxes
- "I think it's safe to assume that Saint Hotness over here wasn't promoted for her faithfulness. I mean, Emps has to get off that chair for something, then again, holo vids save both time and effort."
- "As much as converting an Imperial Saint to the worship of the Dark gods would be an interesting and no doubt lengthy affair, I fear that even in service to chaos you would be useless. Your little daughter of death here however, in her I see a very worthy recruit."
- "Oh Saint Athaliah! I'm aroused! I meant honored, honored! Sorry, I have trouble dissembling around hotness. I meant holiness!"
- "DIE, HERETIC!"
- —Cultist of the Dark Priesthood right before attempting a suicide bombing on the Saint. Failed miserably.
- "The unwilling star of the Emperors light bends more and more to her unwanted plight. She fights and opposes the Emperors will, but she will serve. Or her martyrdom will."
- —Unknown Mortarchs Serpentia Marine
- "Don't think you can flirt with me Saint. Do you really think they'd let me in the Ordo Malleus if I couldn't resist temptation? Ever heard of daemonettes? Clearly not."
- —Inquisitor Rayas Mearas responding to St.Athaliah flirt
- "You ask me the appeal of my faith, pretty girl? Tell me, what Millenium were you born in? The 41st? Interesting. You know when I was? Early 31st. I've seen far more than you can ever imagine, and I tell you now, everything you believe in is a Lie. The Emperor is no God, he is a God-LIKE entity, a Man who I once walked besides. You ask me the appeal of Chaos? Because it is true. Not kindness, not compassion, not even mercy - no, Truth is what is most important to me. The Emperor lied to me. He lied to all of us. And you, saint, are a living embodiment of that Lie. Allow me to open your eyes."
- —Azunar, before engaging Athaliah in single combat
- "My Lady, you are living proof that the God-Emperor has a sense of humor."
- "I think this woman exists to spark my ire, once got mad enough to actually tell her to just go let someone lay her out....she must have misinterpreted as a few months later the Mon-Keigh were mourning the death of their beloved saint...Only for her to show up again as I was trying to grab my share of the...inheritance, looking light as rain."
- "Ah, the glorious Saint Athaliah, your reputation proceeds you! Please, allow me a moment to compose myself! So rare is it in this dreary business of throat slitting that I come across individuals of such caliber. Oh but where are my manners? Umbal the Duelist, honored to make your holy acquaintance. Shall we begin then? En garde!"
- —Umbal the Duelist of the Storm Draugar bows respectfully before dueling St. Athaliah during the Choinius Raids[src]
- "You're telling me that THIS is a Living Saint of the Ecclesiarchy!? Well, I must say she isn't as pious as most. Interesting...."
- —Azunar, Dark Prophet of Chaos
- "Do you want to get married? I think it's viable. Totally viable."
- "I'm so sorry, Your Holiness...I'm spoken for."
- —Sir Jacob to a (drunk) St. Athaliah
- "Seems we've walked a similar path Saint Athaliah. We've all got our burdens to carry, and perhaps your defiance to this power is why you were chosen."
- —Chapter Master Agathus Colchian
- "Not another one."
- "I feel like she's selling herself short. I mean, the statistical likelihood of temporal displacement while in Warp transi- aaaaaaargh! Ow. Ow. Nevermind."
- —Echo, trying (and failing) to analyze time travel
- "That... Hurt... Athaliah. I don't appreciate it when those I am being kind to hurt me, you CRETIN! HOW DARE YOU TOUCH ME YOU PATHETIC DISCIPLE OF THE CORPSE. I WILL KILL YOU AND ALL YOU CARE ABOUT AND TORTURE YOUR SOULS FOR ALL ETERNITY! THE DARK PRINCE HIMSELF WILL CRINGE WITH REVULSION AT THE THINGS I WILL DO TO YOU! "
- —Valkyura Warpschild after being shot by St. Athalia over Valkyuras interests in Diyra Thant.
- "Hmmmm........... Are you a virgin??? (Laughter in background)"
- —Random Laughing Skull Marine during an encounter with the saint.
- "You've caused me so many headaches over the years - intentionally or not - I have decided to simply ignore you. So PLEASE STOP FLIRTING!!!"
- —Inquisitor Jacob Flux to St. Athaliah
- "A Sister Saint who can't die...Lord Khorne rewards his followers well after all. You won't be the first "saint" I force to my bed, and you won't be the last. Come to think of it, a wench of your demeanor...I doubt it'll even be rape..."
- —Tasquatar the Scorned after getting the jump on St. Athaliah
- "If I'm being above-board, our appellation is not a reflection of core competencies but rather the action of a buy-in by Barstar's elite after blue sky brainstorming session reaching alignment between all parties. As per scuttlebutt, getting them all together is not unlike herding cats, so..."
- —Whitney Saltinstall of the Sinopia Mongooses, explaining the origin of his chapter's name with his flair for verbiage.
- "JUST FREEZE ALREADY!!!"
- "You can't fool us! Anyone a den of thieves and destroyers like the Imperium would consider a saint would have to be a paragon of evil!"
- "Look, my Lady, I'm aware you're not a stellar example of a saint, but people still look up to you...Hell, I do from time to time. Now, maybe there is a chance to be something more. I've lost the light of my life, Athaliah...she was killed by the Witch Valkyura. But I think I've found a way to get her back. So...what say we do something really stupid?..."