Jenit Sulla was a Valhallan Imperial Guard officer who served from late M41 to early M42. A long period of her military career was spent with the Valhallan 296th and its successor regiment, the Valhallan 597th regiment under Colonel Regina Kasteen.
Sulla later became (according to some sources) the only female Guard officer to reach General's rank.
|This page contains spoilers for:||Ciaphas Cain (Novel Series)|
Prior to the creation of the 597th, Sulla was quartermaster sergeant of the Valhallan 296th, one of Valhalla's few all-female regiments[1a]. After the regiment was decimated fighting against Tyranids on Corania, she was hastily promoted to Kasteen's staff as a Lieutenant. She was one of the more vocal protestors against the 296th's merger with the remnant of the all-male 301st, being a firm believer in the regimental traditions. In fact, a fight had broken out in the mess hall of the troopship between the male and female troopers, as a result of Sulla's impolitic decision to serve the meal on the 296th's regimental crockery. When criticized, she hotly retorted that the crockery was always used on the 296th's Founding Day, which the meal happened to fall on[1b].
However, she later adjusted to the merger of the two regiments and served with distinction for years afterwards.
At the time of the 597th's deployment to Gravalax, Sulla was a platoon commander. During the chaotic battle between rival factions of the planet and a visiting Tau battleforce, Sulla led her troops in several dangerous engagements. During an assault on a traitor redoubt, she personally led her Command Squad in a flanking charge against the position that drove the enemy away. Subsequent examiners of this action were divided about whether her actions were courageous or reckless, but they were undeniably effective.[1c]
During the final battle, when the native inhabitants of Gravalax were revealed to be acting under the influence of genestealers, Sulla reluctantly led her troops in alliance with the Tau force to eradicate them.
Approximately one year later, the 597th was deployed to the Ice World of Simia Orichalcae to defend a vital promethium refinery from an invading Ork Waaagh!. Sulla was on the front lines for much of the campaign, and her unit inflicted punishing casualties on the assaulting Orks. Sulla also volunteered for the highly dangerous mission of guarding an expedition from the refinery to to mine the route being used by an approaching Gargant. By good fortune, she was in the right place at the right time, to rescue Commissar Ciaphas Cain after he and a small party emerged from the planet's underground caverns after a dangerous mission.
Sulla's later service is not described in detail, but she was eventually promoted to become the only Lady General of the Imperial Guard. She would later write two memoirs: Like a Phoenix From the Flames: The Founding of the 597th and Like a Phoenix on the Wing: The Early Campaigns and Glorious Victories of the Valhallan 597th.
Personality and Appearance
In his private memoirs, the Cain Archive, Ciaphas Cain, the 597th's regimental commissar and reluctant Hero of the Imperium, Cain described Sulla as by far the most eager, and the most irritating, of the regiment's junior officers. According to Cain, she was blond, and frequently wore her hair in a ponytail, and had a long, narrow face that reminded Cain of a horse's[2a].
As a combat officer she was headstrong, pious to the Emperor, and courageous to the point of recklessness. This last quality may explain part of Cain's personal dislike of her, as she would often commit herself to actions that would get her and her troops (and possibly Cain himself, which concerned him the most) killed[2a]. Whatever Cain's misgivings about her, he acknowledged that she was an efficient commander and a competent tactician, and that the troops under her command were extremely loyal to her.
Ironically, Sulla herself remained largely oblivious to Cain's low opinion of her. In her own memoirs, she always described him in glowing terms, and considered him something of a mentor[2a]. Several times in her career, she claimed that she had decided on some of her most daring (and foolhardy) moves by asking herself what Cain would do in her place[1d][5a] - fortunately, according to Inquisitor Amberley Vail, without having any idea of the true answer.[5b]
Vail used excerpts from Sulla's biographies to augment Vail's editions of the Cain Archive. However, as Vail always assured her reader, she did so with extreme reluctance, as Sulla's prose style apparently left something to be desired (Vail often added disclaimers along the lines of "readers with an appreciation of the Gothic language may wish to skip past this"). Vail explained that since Sulla was so often in the thick of combat actions taking place outside Cain's perception, Sulla's works gave the reader a wider perspective than Cain's typically self-centered narrative (had any other source been available, Vail often hastened to add, she would have used it).
According to Amberley Vail, editing Cain's memoirs as of early M42, Sulla was the only woman to reach general's rank in the Imperial Guard.[Needs Citation] This is contradicted by several other sources:
- The novel Wolf's Honour by Lee Lightner features Lady General Militant Esbet Athelstane as lead commander of the Guard forces on the besieged world of Charys;
- General Reila Vann is the chief subordinate to Lord General Achilus in the Achilus Crusade, according to the Deathwatch (Game) sourcebooks.
- 1: For the Emperor (Novel) - Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium (Omnibus) by Sandy Mitchell
- 2: Caves of Ice (Novel) – Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium (Omnibus) by Sandy Mitchell
- 2a: Chapter One, pg. 304, fn 1
- 3: The Traitor's Hand (Novel) – Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium (Omnibus) by Sandy Mitchell
- 4: Duty Calls (Novel) – Ciaphas Cain: Defender of the Imperium (Omnibus) by Sandy Mitchell
- 5: The Last Ditch (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell