- "We Scions of Sanguinius are often the sons of hard worlds - worlds red in tooth and claw. Worlds such as our own sacred Baal Secundus. And Cretacia, the savage home of our cousins, the Flesh Tearers. Vesperium is no less deadly or dangerous. Its deadliness, however, is of a different kind. What struck me when I first beheld Vesperium during my visit was that I could think of no world more singularly beautiful. At first glance, nothing on Vesperium seems ugly, crude or jagged. It is a world with a striking elegance and primal appeal to it - as if something out of a dream. Every tree, every pool of water, every stone, every cloud in the sky - everything is... soft, smooth, graceful and fluid in a way that makes any other place seem plain and clumsy. But this ethereal beauty, alas, is naught but a dangerous deception. Baal is a world of slow suffering and bitter despair - a world that crushes a man's spirit and strips away his hope little by little, like corrosive acid. Cretacia is wrath and fury incarnate - a world that punishes and devours the weak swiftly and without mercy. Vesperium is different. It is like a beautiful flower that beckons you to touch it, only to sting you with poisoned barbs hidden amongst the fragrant petals. It mesmerizes you with a sweet soothing song, only to stab you with a poisoned dagger. At night - that is when Vesperium shows its true face. The very air comes alive with terror and suffering. The scent of spilled blood fills the air and the cries of rage and anguish - men and beast alike - ring in the air. You can almost feel the malice and hate crawl on your skin and smell it in the cool night air. After my visit, I understood them a little better, those sons of the world of eternal dusk"
- —Lord Commander Dante of the Blood Angels
Vesperium is the homeworld of the Angels Crepuscular Space Marine Chapter. A Feral Death World twice the size of Terra, it is located in the periphery of galactic north-east, close to the boundary between Segmentum Obscurus and Ultima.
The origins of human presence on Vesperium have been lost to the mists of time. All that can be said with any certainty is that the colonization of the planet by Mankind must have taken place only shortly before the onset of the Age of Strife as there is virtually no evidence of any advanced civilization having ever existed on the planet. It has been theorized - based on the primitive nature of the planet's inhabitants - that the colonization of Vesperium must have failed before it even properly began, undone by the abrupt end to interstellar travel and communication caused by the chaos and anarchy of Old Night. During the following millennia, the human colonists regressed into barbarism. What drew the colonists to the planet in the first place has long since been forgotten.
Vesperium is the only planet in the system, orbiting a rather dim red star at a distance of 1.79 AU. Almost exactly twice as big as Terra, it has a surprisingly low gravity of only .82 G. The star of the system lies within the boundaries of what has been labelled the Ruby Strait Nebula by the Imperium due to its distinctive colour. Deep within its heart lies the minor, natural Warp Rift known as the Well of Night.
A Vesperian day is 31 Terran stardard hours long and one month of the native lunar calendar is 25 days long. There are 14 months. Vesperium takes 452 standard Terran days to complete one revolution around its sun. Every 12th year is a loping year.
Vesperium has one moon, called Khorytos ('the caring' in the Vesperian dialect of Low Gothic). Proportionally smaller and more distant than Terra's Luna, it appears a ghostly pale pink in colour.
Climate & Geology
With an axial tilt of only 8.3 degrees, seasonal variation on Vesperium is quite minimal. Some 66% of the planets surface area is water, including both of its polar regions which have only small ice caps. Vesperium has many volcanically active mountain regions and therefore its skies are perpetually choked up and shrouded by smoke and volcanic debris. This, combined with the planets distance from its dim star, could be prohibitive to human presence.
It is, therefore, fortunate in the extreme that Vesperium has a high concentration of regions where its seas are shallow and have surfaces pockmarked with underwater geysirs and sea vents. These formations warm the seas and bring with them an abundace of minerals and nutrients that feed a multitude of voracious microscopic life (algae etc.) which then churn out massive quantities of carbon dioxide and other natural emissions with maximum efficiency, generating a natural greenhouse effect which helps the planet to preserve heat very efficiently. Consequently, the planets temperature varies from subtropical to tropical.
As it happens, because of the combination of the gases and debris in the atmosphere and the red light of its star, Vesperium is at virtually every daylight hour shrouded in the soft, ethereal glow of what (to an outsider) amounts to a constant twilight, making it a "world of eternal dusk." As the planet happens to have a small axial tilt, the notoriously dark night of Vesperium makes up half of the day at any given time of the year.
Vesperium is rightly famous for the wide variety and breathtaking natural beauty of its rock and gemstones.
Adaptation to both little light and darkness are the hallmarks of Vesperian lifeforms. Bioluminescence, infrared/heat vision and extremely acute hearing and feeling are characteristics of many native lifeforms. Many animals on the planet are either crepuscular or nocturnal. The biologists of Adeptus Mechanicus have theorized that the higher-than-average amount of radioactive elements in the planets biosphere as well as the (speculated though not confirmed) influence of Warp-spawned energies emanating from the nearby Well of Night have encouraged and accelerated these mutations, giving birth to certain life-forms which - many agree - are extremely unlikely to be the product of natural selection alone.
Some of the more noteworthy deadly creatures of Vesperium are listed here:
- Nightfiend: Possibly the most feared of Vesperium's many dreaded monsters, the nightfiend is a disturbingly human-like, semi-sentient nocturnal predator with short and stout hind legs, very long and powerful arms ending in clawed hands and a face with large bulging eyes, a huge mouth full of sharp teeth and vicious, somewhat canine features. Its skin is leathery and earthen brown and its back, neck and head are covered in thick coarse hair of mottled black and white. The largest have been known to grow up to six feet tall. The nightfiend stalks its victim silently before attacking from behind and sinking its long teeth into its prey. Despite its hulking and quite awkward build, it can move extremely stealthily. Its saliva is laced with potent neurotoxin which paralyzes the prey almost instantly, rendering it defenceless so that the nightfiend can then suck its blood. Dark legends of the Vesperians tell of humans that have been held captive and sucked on by a nightfiend for several days before dying. The Vesperians believe the nighfiends to be the vengeful spirits of those unjustly slain.
- Plagueuana: Sluggish and slow yet aggressive and very powerful, the plagueuana is a massive reptilian predator that can grow up to 15 feet long. Relying on the superb camouflage provided by their chameleonic skin, these lizards lay prostate (sometimes for days) and wait for their prey to come close enough to bite. The bite itself is quick and rather painless but the plagueuana has a disgusting cocktail of extremely virulent contagions in its teeth. As the prey runs away, the contagions from the lizards bite set in and, after several agonizing days (or even weeks), the prey crumples, at which point the plagueuana (having patiently tracked the scent of the prey) shows up and closes in for the kill.
- Tyrantbird: Standing over ten feet tall when fully erect, the tyrantbird is a large, flightless avian predator. It has long and extremely powerful legs covered in thick yellowish skin and with the three toes tipped by sharp black talons, a covering of coarse and wiry feathers (bright white on males, mottled sandy brown on females), stunted wings, a long neck, small colourless eyes and a disproportionately large, razor-sharp bright red beak. The males' heads are topped by a small crown of longer black feathers. Deceptively docile when viewed from afar, they are very aggressive when they feel threatened. They have been known to sustain speeds of up to 75 mph for minutes on end when hunting their prey. The tyrantbird will eat just about anything that is smaller than itself. Their movements are lightning-fast and the largest have been known to snip the head off a man's shoulders with a single bite.
- Bloodcat: Similar to the extinct Terran sabretooth cat, the bloodcat has a red fur with black stripes, a white belly fur, piercing blue eyes and elongated upper canines that can grow up 20 inches on long on the largest individuals. Strongly built and muscular, the bloodcats have extremely powerful jaws and can open their mouth to a 120 degree angle. The teeth and claws of a bloodcat are black in colour and are purportedly almost hard as diamond. They possess one of the most acute senses of smell of any animals known to Mankind, able to smell their prey from distances of up to 25 miles.
Due to their planets low gravity, the Vesperians are notably taller than baseline Humans (though this advantage in height does not translate into the Angels Crepuscular being any taller than other Astartes). They are lithe and slim, with graceful and well-developed physique. Over the millennia, the Vesperians have developed several recognizable and quite striking traits: they have extremely pale alabaster skin, black hair and red eyes. They also possess a natural infrared and heat vision as well as a very acute hearing.
They also practice extensive ritual scarification, employing simple perpendicular lines or, more rarely, the most basic geometric patterns. When making the scars, the fresh cuts are rubbed with powders that turn the resulting scar tissue red or black. These scars are not merely decorations but they have an ancient language and code of their own, telling the recipients life story and acting as blessings and wards.
The Vesperians are organized into hundreds upon hundreds of clans and tribes. The most primitive tribes make a living as nomadic hunter-gatherers, while some practice agriculture and erect more permanent settlements. Taken as a whole, the Vesperian civilization is comparable to the late Terran Bronze Age at best.
The Vesperians are reserved and taciturn, instinctively wary of and even hostile to outsiders. They are tough, stoic and quite unsentimental in nature. While none can question their courage and martial prowess, the Vesperians are superstitious and apprehensive in a way characteristic of the primitive peoples of the Imperium's Feral Worlds. They are savage and warlike, hardened from birth by the daily fight against their deadly world as well as their neighbouring tribes. But while they may come across as hard and belligerent, they do also exhibit unflinching loyalty and fierce protectiveness towards their own kin.
The Vesperians are superbly talented in night warfare, frequently attacking their enemies under the cover of darkness after moving into position during the hours of twilight when the shift in the light most impairs human vision. They often use knives, arrows and blow darts laced with strong poisons and toxins extracted from the local plants and animals. They are also masters of stealth and concealment, able to move silently and without being detected through even the most challenging terrain. The Vesperians are headhunters and cannibals, routinely displaying the skulls and body parts of slain foes as trophies and consuming their flesh as well as that of their own people.
The practices of cannibalism, human sacrifice and blood rituals are rooted in the arcane mysticism and primitive spiritualism of the Vesperian people, heavy with imagery of darkness and death. As people of a violent and dangerous world, the Vesperians have understandably developed deeply reverent, cult-like attitude towards death and mortality. Far from being morbid, however, they regard death with solemn respect and devout veneration. In a world where existence is defined by struggle, hardship and pain, death is seen as something to be embraced and anticipated.
Vesperian language is characterized by its hissing and sibilant sounds and its soft, quiet pronunciation. In short, it is a language of a people who want to avoid detection. The Vesperians also have a rather sophisticated sign language that is used in conjunction with or even separately from their spoken language.
The Vesperian religion is one of primitive pantheistic animism. The most interesting feature of the Vesperian religion, however, is that - innumerable minor tribe-specific deities notwithstanding - all Vesperians worship a deity known as (approximate translation) the Dark Father. Though details and specifics vary from tribe to tribe, the uniting theme of the legends told of this character is that he is an immaculate child of the moon goddess, descended from heavens as a falling star and slew hordes of monsters to make room on earth for his countless children sired on female spirits. Consequently, all tribes of Vesperium claim some manner of descent from the Dark Father. The Dark Father gave name to everything in the world and his wisdom formed the foundation of the arcane laws and rules of the Vesperian tribes.
Additionally, Vesperians venerate many spirit totems and practice a form of ancestor worship. Their practices of cannibalism and blood mystique are closely linked to these beliefs. The consumption of the flesh and blood of humans and animals alike is not merely a matter of survival but also a matter of spiritual significance - an act of veneration.