Continued from part 1 . . .
The greatest weakness of the Sanctum is obvious. The fortress-monastery has no natural supply of air, water, food, or necessary materials to supply its armory.
As a result, the chapter has instituted a stringent recycling program. Water vapor collectors, air scrubbers, and purification ionizers ensure that 98 percent of available air and water can be reused dozens of time. Still, even in the closed environmental system of an asteroid, some precious air and water is invariably lost to the vacuum of space.
A similar regimen exists for food. Hydroponic gardens produce about 50 percent of the asteroid population’s needs, and the recycling of human waste and deceased serfs provides an additional source of nutrition.
What cannot be recycled or grown must be imported. This is done through a network of supply ships that are firmly under the control of the chapter. Such ships are a mystery to the space ports where they pick up their cargo. Although they have Imperial-approved transit papers, no information is provided to the ships’ origin or destination.
In fact, every effort is made to protect the location of the Sanctum. In addition to their lack of identification, the Knights’ ships do not permit any contact with personnel serving the space ports where they dock. The ships are crewed by chapter serfs that never leave the ship. Cargo is loaded by chapter-owned servitors under the careful eye of battle-brothers, and approaching one of the chapter’s ships is punishable by death.
There is always the possibility that the Sanctum’s location could be discovered. For that reason, the chapter maintains a stockpile of supplies that permit the chapter to withstand a siege of several years.
The Apothecarion is housed in the deepest bowels of the asteroid—a fitting location given that, upon its stockpile of gene-seed, rests the very future of the chapter.
The genetic quality of the Knights’ gene-seed is high, blemished only by the degradation of the omophagea organ, which is now unable absorb genetic information related to experience or memory.
The stockpile of gene-seed is, however, far smaller than to the liking of the chapter’s leadership. Three-and-a-half centuries years ago, after the loss of the 4th Chapter in the aftermath of the Mundi Prime rebellion, the Knights made a formal request to Terra for sufficient gene-seed to replace the 100 marines lost. Every 50 years, the chapter makes inquiries about this request, and Terran officials always reply that the matter is still under review.
Still, somehow the Knights have managed to replenish their numbers. That may have something to do with the forge world of Helios, which is renown for devoting considerable resources to the field of genetics and biology. It is said that the world’s genetors played a key role in the 26th Founding of new Space Marine chapters, and it is very possible that the Knights have negotiated for unofficial access to the forge world’s extensive genetic stockpile.
The Knights, with a long and close alliance with Helios, also have benefited from the genetic-engineering skills of the forge world’s tech priests. The Mechanicus maintains a sizable cadre of genetors on the Sanctum, and their Magos-Biologis, Gauss Kubiel, has restored many a severely wounded Knight to battlefield readiness through the use of limb regrown, organ cloning, nerve regeneration, and transplant surgery.
Unlike many chapters, the Knights of Altair do not limit access to the Librarius to its senior ranks. In fact, all Knights are encouraged to study the chapter’s sizable collection of data crystals and ancient tomes.
There are three levels of access: Level One is open to all space marines, and its collection focuses on stellar charts, historical accounts of various battles and wars, and thousands of military-focused tomes that include the Codex Astartes, Imperial Munitorium Manual, and military training material from hundreds of Imperial regiments.
Level Two access is limited to veteran sergeants, the honor guard, librarians, chaplains, and other senior ranks. Here can be found more sensitive information about technology, Imperial politics, biographical assessments of planetary governors and senior Imperial officials, treaties with various political entities, and other topics that a commander of a chapter task force might need.
Level Three access is restricted to the chapter master, chief librarian, and senior chaplain. Here, the greatest secrets of the chapter are kept, such as data on the chapter’s gene-seed, dealings with the Inquisition, and the most politically and militarily sensitive data.
There are rumors that one of these documents is a scroll known as The Fate of Dorn, a title that sparks much speculation. Only the Chapter Master himself is authorized to read it, and the scroll normally is sealed within a stasis field, encased in a chamber guarded by adamantium gates, and can only be reached after passing through a security system that includes ocular scanning, genetic testing, and private codes.
Given the service and sacrifice of a fallen battle-brother, the Crypts are an ostentatious display of the chapter’s reverence for those entombed.
The main entrance to the Crypts is a massive arch of gold-laced marble. It is said the arch once stood on Holy Terra, and that the primarch Rogal Dorn himself carved the inscription above the arch opening:
Discipline. Duty. Unyielding Will. These are the measures by which every warrior is judged.
There is no known documentation to support this claim, but no one in the chapter’s memory has ever been foolish enough to express any doubts to the story.
Within the Crypts, there are numerous small chapels, plaques detailing heroic deeds, monuments of great battles, and ancient relics displayed but safely ensconced within a stasis field. There are even small audience chambers where chaplains bring novices so they can learn the chapter’s secrets within a setting that emphasizes the importance of their service.
Whenever possible, battle-brothers on the battlefield attempt to recover fallen brothers and see their return to the Sanctuary. Their gene-seed already removed and stored by apothecaries, the fallen are carried with all honor to Chamber of Rest, where a small sample of the brother’s DNA is taken, and his service record is downloaded onto a data crystal.
TheseNA samples and data crystals then are stored in a tiny vestibule that lines in the Hall of Heroes, behind a platinum plate etched with the warrior’s name and time of service.
— End —
Click here to read the beginning of this article.
Click here to see more artwork by “Taumich” of Deviantart.com.
TheGM: There is, of course, so much more that could be written about the Sanctuary. But I think this will suffice for now.
As much as possible ,I’ve tried to focus on what makes the Knights’ fortress-monastery unique from those of other chapters. If I think of anything else noteworthy, I will revisit the Sanctuary in the future.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.
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