Sisters of Silence
The Sisters of Silence, also known as the Silent Sisterhood, are an ancient, anti-psychic militant order. They were the militant arm of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica during the Great Crusade, and were internally referred to as the organization's Departmento Investigates. Fragmenting after the Horus Heresy, they were brought back under Imperial control by Roboute Guilliman in M41. Its ranks consist entirely of Blanks.
The Sisters of Silence have a long history, originally operating from the Somnus Citadel on Luna. They were an all female order, in much the same way as the Adepta Sororitas; the major difference is that the Sisters were all Blanks. Recruited from Untouchable stock[3a], the Sisters were anathema to psykers. Their very presence disrupts psychic activity and they are presumed to have been immune to most forms of psychic assault. The main purpose of the Sisters of Silence is therefore to seek out and apprehend psykers. As warrior-investigators they ware involved in all aspects of the capture and transportation of psychic individuals and still are found among the crew of the Black Ships.
The Sisters of Silence's origins are shrouded in mystery. However it is said that they first appeared during the early Great Crusade when the Primaris Psykers of the Astra Telepathica proved unable to properly control captured Psykers. A better solution was needed, and from this conundrum was born the Silent Sisterhood. An incident known as the Cataclysm of Pentacanaes may be tied to their formation. Others say that the origins of the Silent Sisterhood go back further to a lost agency of the Dark Age of Technology.
During the years of the Great Crusade, a cadre of Sisters were dispatched by the Emperor to aid the Death Guard in an attack on a Jorgall cylinder ship. Once there, they managed to wound a Jorgall mutant Psyker and capture it for transport to Terra.
The major base of operations for the Sisterhood was the Somnus Citadel on Luna, which was maintained by the ancient Selenite Cults. The Sisterhood, while nominally under the control of the Astra Telepathica, quickly became a personal force associated with the Emperor himself. Along with the Custodes the Sisters of Silence were the only military force of the Imperium permitted to walk freely within the inner Imperial Palace, the sovereign domain of the Emperor.
The Sisters of Silence participated in some of the major actions of the Horus Heresy, including the defense of the Imperial Palace. They were perhaps most successful during the assault on Prospero, where a force of Sisters were deployed to provide specialised support for the attacking Space Wolves Legion. Due to their Untouchable nature, the Sisters were proof against the psychic attacks of the defending Thousand Sons Legion and provided a stable bulwark for the assault to be anchored upon. The Sisters of Silence were also vital in preventing Terra from being overrun by Daemons during the War Within the Webway.
After the Warmaster’s rebellion was halted at Terra and the Emperor was interred upon his Golden Throne, the Sisters of Silence found themselves without direction. Many were slain or lost forever, scattered and stranded across a war-ravaged galaxy. Undaunted by the sudden lack of guidance, they went abroad into the wider Imperium to continue their work. There amongst the stars they hunted savants and witches with unstinting fervour; some as part of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica, some as lone but loyal agents who eventually settled within the teeming hordes of Humanity. In some rare cases, these hunters learned to suppress their uncanny auras to some degree, and in living alongside others begot their own bloodlines. None of these would-be settlers ever stayed in one place for long, for the Pariah gene is not named idly. Wherever the Sisters of Silence sought out new lives, they were hounded into exile once more by those that hated them for their intrinsic otherness. Still, not all were reviled or burned as witches. The offspring of these few had children of their own, and over the generations, the genetic peculiarity of the Silent Sisterhood found its way further into the vast spread of the human race.
The Sisters of Silence have banded together but rarely since their devolution at the end of the Horus Heresy. By M32, only a single force of fifty Sisters were known by Imperial authorities, dwelling on the on the world of Nadiries. These stated that the Imperium had discarded them out of mistrust following the Heresy. Despite being fiercely loyal to the Emperor and Primarchs, this last bastion of the Sisterhood expressed disdain for the modern Imperium, stating they would rather see it burn than be of aid. Nonetheless, Lord Commander of the Imperium Koorland was able to convince them to help in against the Orks during the War of the Beast.
At the end of the 41st Millennium a surviving group of Sisters of Silence appeared on Luna during the last stage of the Terran Crusade. This group of Sisters, brought in alongside Custodes from Terra, proved vital in the defeat of Magnus in the battle. After the return of Roboute Guilliman, he ordered that the remaining strongholds of the Sisters of Silence be gathered. Since then the Sisters have returned to the frontlines, forming Orders in every Segmentum and often operating in fleet-based forces.
The new Sisters of Silence fleets have used their null abilities in conjunction with the Navis Nobilite to penetrate the new fierce Warp Storms that ravaged the Imperium. They have also taken part in the Indomitus Crusade.
Each Sister swears an oath of silence known as the Oath of Tranquility upon being nominated for Sisterhood; before this, when they are novices, they are allowed to converse normally. Amongst their other duties novices sometimes act as interpreters between senior Sisters and other agents of the Imperium. Full Sisters converse in their own sign-language, but there is at least one example of them being conversant in other forms of sign-communication, such as Astartes battle-signage.
- ThoughtMark - A symbolic sign-language that uses small gestures and conveys complex ideas and subtlety.[3b]
- BattleMark - A symbolic sign-language used in combat. Less flexible than ThoughtMark, it is also less ambiguous and it's larger gestures can be seen from farther away.[3b] This makes it a better choice for a command language on the field of battle.
- Orsköde - A machine readable version of ThoughtMark.[3c]
The Sisterhood was overseen by three general officers: the Sister Commander, the Mistress of the Black Fleet, and the Nemesis Praxia. Below these were two distinct groups. The first was the Chamber of Oblivion which operated battlefield units led by Oblivion Knights and Knights-centura. The second was the Chamber of Judgement which fielded the dreaded silent judges of the Excruciatus.
The organization of the Sisters involved the splitting of its members into numerous cadres such as the Storm Blades each of which contained a different armour schemes. The largest primary operating unit of the Sisterhood was a Vigil, which contained approximately 1,000 sisters. The exact size of the Sisterhood at the end of Great Crusade is not known, though it numbered in the tens of thousands.
- Acolyte - Uninitiated trainees that came in three ranks
- Novice-Sister - An aspirant, that has not taken the Vow of Tranquility.
- Null Maiden - A sister that has taken the Vow of Tranquility. They operated in three types of squads known as Seeker, Prosecutor, and Vigilator
- Sister Superior - Squad Leader.
- Pursuer - Cyber-Mastiff and beast handlers
- Aquilai Astra - pilots and ship crews
- Oblivion Knight - high ranking Sisters who lead the Witchseekers on their missions. These are blanks that have developed their null-abilities to the point of making any use of psychic powers in their presence hazardous to the user. These warriors are not tasked with overseeing the Black Ships, but rather seek out and destroy powerful Psykers.
- Knight-Centura - The most experienced and veteran Oblivion Knights who serve as battlefield commanders for the Silent Sisterhood.[10a]
- Knight Abyssal - Higher rank. commands multiple squads of sisters.
- Excruciatus - The hunters, investigators, and secret police of the Silent Sisterhood. They deal primarily with those who seek to shelter and harbor Psykers. The lower rank of the Excruciatus are known as Questora while the most senior squad commanders are dubbed Silent Judge.[10a] Excruciatus wear red coats and ruby implants on their eyes and are said to require personally burning 100 witches before attaining this position.
- Witchseeker Pursuivant - High ranking sister (above that of Oblivion Knight).[3e]
- Nemesis Praxia - One of the three most senior ranks, overseeing the Sisterhoods acquired lore and training new recruits.
- Mistress of the Black Ships - One of the three most senior ranks.
- Sister-Commander - One of the three most senior ranks. The general commander of the Sisters of Silence.[3e]
Clad in their iconic Vratine Armour, Sisters of Silence operated a variety of weaponry based around their mission of Psyker-hunting. Their primary close ranged weapon was the Executioner Greatblade or Power Axe[1a] while others carried Bolters and Flamers. They also frequently utilized Psyk-out Grenades.
Notable Sisters of Silence
- Jenetia Krole - Commander of the Silent Sisterhood[1d][4a]
- Amendera Kendel
- Celia Harroda
- Kavalanera Brassanas - Knight Abyssal of Purgatory Squad
- Leilani Mollitas
- Melaena Verdath - Silent Judge[4b]
- Varonika Sulath - Mistress of the Black Fleet
- Ebon Naroda - Nemesis Praxia
- Kaeria Casryn - Vigilator
- 1: Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- 2: The Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow [Needs Citation]
- 3: The Voice (Short Story) by James Swallow - Tales of Heresy (Anthology):
- 4: Horus Heresy Collectable Card Game
- 5: The Serpent Beneath by Rob Sanders - The Primarchs (Anthology): Chapter Two, p. 355
- 6: Prospero Burns (Novel) by Dan Abnett: Cover illustration by Neil Roberts
- 7: Watchers in Death (Novel) Chapter 9
- 8: Games Workshop
- 9: Visions of Heresy pp. 66-77
- 10: The Horus Heresy Book Seven pg.123-131
- 10a: pg.253
- 11: Gathering Storm: Rise of the Primarch Part 3
- 12: Codex: Sisters of Silence (7th Edition) pg.1-9