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Screaming Vortex

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Screaming Vortex Map

The Screaming Vortex is one of two massive Warp Storms which separate the Calixis Sector of the Imperium from the Koronus Expanse [1]. Within the storm, several worlds are known to the Chaos renegades who reside in the region.

Overview

The history of the Screaming Vortex is lost to legend and myth, but a popular legend has been propagated by the denizens of the Vortex throughout its history: before it was formed, the sector now dominated by the Screaming Vortex was thought to be a nest of Eldar worlds until the Fall of the Eldar. As the Eye of Terror erupted, the Screaming Vortex was formed as one of several secondary warp storms. Uniquely, the Vortex resonates with the tormented voices of the slain original residents, audible to any psykers outside the Vortex, and to all within, hence its name; when the storm wanes, the voices grow louder and more desperate.

The Screaming Vortex encompasses an area much larger than the original grouping of worlds it formed around, swallowing many additional systems and even pulling additional systems into itself via realspace disruption. It also has varied in size throughout its past, the world of Saint Annard's Penance was thought to be held within the Vortex for a time, though it currently sits in Imperial hands at the edge of the Malfian Sub-Sector. As with many Warpstorms, relative time and space within the Screaming Vortex are highly mutable as the laws of physics are constantly warped by the influence of the Immaterium. The Imperium remains largely ignorant of the interior of the Vortex, and the various powers within are largely preoccupied trying to dominate one another or otherwise surviv; but if they were to unite even for a short time, they would make a powerful force against the Imperium. Because of the difficulty of traversing the Vortex, and the tides of the storm constantly shift the relative positions of planetary systems therein, conquest is a difficult proposition, and a given warlord will have considerable difficulty conquering more than a handful of worlds at a time or for a meaningful length of time. Aside from small-scale wars and developing war materiel, slavery and piracy are major enterprises within the Vortex.[2]

Layout

While the astrography of the Screaming Vortex makes it very difficult to map and explore, it has many well known worlds that are in a relatively stable position within portions of the Vortex, that it can be broadly divided into three zones: the Gloaming Worlds, the Inner Ring, and the Lower Vortex, with several other small, yet important locations aside.

The 13th Station of Passage

A hidden splinter route from the Maw formed by the Maw and the Screaming Vortex disrupting each other, the 13th Station of Passage is the safest and most stable, and thus the most frequented pathway into the Calixis Sector and Koronus Expanse, and back into the Screaming Vortex. Though it requires an acts of obeisance and sacrifice, testified by the debris field of frozen corpses orbiting the passage. Reputedly discovered by the Haarlock or Winterscale Rogue Trader lines, though there's no corroborating evidence for either.[2]

The Gloaming Worlds

The worlds on the outer section of the vortex are known as the Gloaming Worlds. The most daring Navigators who would look into the Vortex would glimpse only a few of these worlds.[2] They include:

  • Arbuthno: A minor world, with little details available
  • Dwimmer: Minor world.
  • Guleph: A grim, Nurgle-worshiping world with a bitter rivalry with Ghibelline.
  • Ghibelline: A decadent, Slaanesh-worshiping world with a bitter rivalry with Guleph.
  • Hindrance: A minor world
  • Sturm and Drang: Minor twin worlds.
  • Xurunt: A Feral world of primitive savages and massive beasts.
  • Q'Sal: An arcane world ruled by Sorceror Technocrats.
  • Berin and Asphodel: Twin worlds populated by Ork and Kroot tribes, respectively.
  • The Hollows: A forge world trapped in perpetual civil war and mined nearly to total exhaustion.
  • The Writhing World: A world covered with enormous, maggot-like lifeforms.
  • Kurse: A ruined, radioactive world, famed for its orbiting gladiator pits.
  • Malignia: A jungle world filled with bizarre and deadly life.
  • Sacgrave: A small, ruined world saturated with the Warp, and formerly the seat of the pirate lord Margrave until the Eldar drove the world to ruin and Margrave into hiding.
    • The Kasserkratch: Margrave's flagship, until he fled Sacgrave and the ship was lost in the Vortex; its final resting place is a subject of interest in many legends and to treasure hunters.
  • The Anathema: A tiny, mysterious anomaly that keeps the influence of the Vortex at bay.
  • Messia: A deadly desert world where the inhabitants mine promethium and try to survive the mutant-infested wastelands.
  • The Cat's Cradle: An archipelago of asteroids ruled over by daemons and psykers, who can shape this section of space to their will, often to amazing effects.
  • Pillars of Eternity: A frozen world populated by primitive tribes of mutants that worship Tzeentch. Also a Necron Tomb World of questionable dormancy.
  • Exile: Minor world at the fringes of the Screaming Vortex, little details available.
  • Scoured Lands: Minor world, little details available.
  • The Wailing Eternity: Minor world, little details available.
  • Kymerus: Minor world, little details available.
  • Redemption: Minor world at the extreme edge of the Screaming Vortex, little details available.

Harrowed Space

Also called the Giant's Stride, the region known as Harrowed Space is one of several dangerous warp currents that exist within the Vortex. Many try to use it to navigate the throughout the different tiers of the Vortex, possibly even out of it, most journeys are ill-fated from the start.

The Tyrant Star

The Tyrant Star is an enigmatic object, or possibly an entity, that appears as a perfectly eclipsed sun, often overtaking a planet's parent star, and is an omen, or rather a bringer of impending evil. It occasionally plagues the worlds of the Screaming Vortex and the Calixis sector. Strange and deadly happenings occur when it appears in the sky, often leading to the deaths of millions as it appears. The Inquisitors of the Calixis Sector believe it to be linked to Chaos, though the most learned seers and scholars of the damned of the Screaming Vortex struggle to understand the nature of the Tyrant Star.[2]

The Ragged Helix

The region known as the Ragged Helix is the line of demarcation into the Inner Ring, where the relative stability of the Gloaming Worlds gives way to the heavy influence of the warp within the Inner Ring. The Ragged Helix is a chain of asteroids that hold their own atmospheres, and impossibly connected by bridges. It's not determined whether this occurs due to forgotten xenos technology within the area, or due to the influence of the Warp. It's home to numerous workshops and shipyards of many techpriests of the Dark Mechanicus. More infamously, the Ragged Helix is home to the Pirate Princes that plague the Screaming Vortex.[2]

The Inner Ring

Within the inner ring, hybrid worlds of daemonic and physical nature are the norm. Many are believed to be former Eldar Maiden Worlds. They include:

  • Aphexis: a half-dead world of eternal twilight.
  • Melancholia: a world where building is impossible due to some unnatural law.
  • Mire: a world of swamps.
  • Mammon: a world entirely populated by warlike cultists devoted to their belief in the Imperial Creed.
  • Furia: an ocean world where the debris of wars across the galaxy regularly washes up.

The Lower Vortex

All the worlds at the deepest point of the screaming vortex are Daemon Worlds:

  • Crucible: a world which re-shapes according to the Chaos God whose forces currently hold sway.
  • Contrition: a world of daemonic cities.
  • The Frozen Heart: The eye of the storm, and reputed to be where the dynamo which fuels the warp storm is located.

Inhabitants

Plague Marines

  • Germinatoris: One of the most vital positions within the Adeptus Astartes is that of the Apothecary, a warrior medic tasked with harvesting the precious gene-seed from the fallen in order that the chapter may endure. Yet within the Screaming Vortex there exists a coterie of Plague Marines who grotesquely mirror their noble counterparts. Like carrion feeders, they prowl the battlefield, plundering the gene-seed from any fallen Traitor Space Marines they can find and infecting them with the viscous fluids that ooze from their rotting innards in order to ensure the propagation of Nurgle’s putrefying influence.[3a]
  • Forsaken Host: Among the many tales of terror and death found within the Screaming Vortex is that of the Forsaken Host, the solitary survivor of a battle which scoured an unknown planet of life during a forgotten age. Legend says a host of fat, buzzing flies accompanies him—one for each of the fallen during that fateful battle—and that their collective buzzing tears at the sanity of those who hear it, for it is filled with the suffering of billions. Now he is a walking avatar of the devastation of war whose followers relentlessly seek new souls to add to the teeming hordes that swirl about him with ghoulish intensity.[3a]
  • Emissaries of the Wasting Death: The Plague Marines of the Wasting Death are particularly feared among the many denizens of the Screaming Vortex, for their very presence brings with it untold suffering and privation. Wherever they tread the ground shrivels and cracks beneath their feet, and even the heartiest and most resilient creatures shrivel and perish as they draw near. Contact with the malefic air of deprivation that surrounds these desiccated warriors irreparably scars those who survive, often manifesting in incessant pangs of unquenchable thirst and indescribable hunger that lasts for years after the dreadful encounter is a distant memory.[3a]

Other Veteran Chaos Space Marines

  • Reflections of Torment: Throughout the Imperium’s war-torn histories are countless legends of vanished ships and hosts of warriors lost to the hazards of Warp travel. However, not all thus lost had the good fortune to die. Some instead wander the Empyrean for time out of mind, their physical forms and ancient wargear utterly transformed and entirely corrupted by direct exposure to the malefic influence of the aether. Beneath these warriors’ gibbering madness lies a single decipherable motivation: a desperate and inescapable desire to wreak vengeance upon the Emperor that abandoned them and kept them so ignorant of the true power of the Warp.[3b]
  • The Chosen of Heiros[3b]
  • Shards of Enmity[3b]

Warpsmiths

  • Scrap Reclamatrix: The Scrap Reclamatrix is an unholy abomination of Warpcraft and machine constructed from a nightmarish amalgamation of salvage, Daemon, and vat-grown flesh. Its skeletal form resembles a half-decayed corpse of some prehistoric leviathan whose demoniac bellows of scrapcode shake the very foundations of its blasphemous birthing chambers. Its throng of Warpsmith attendants feed this revolting construct the remnants of captured vehicles, fallen comrades, and other salvaged scrap in order to fabricate disturbing new engines of destruction.[3c]
  • Tabernacle of Decay: Within the Vortex lurks an insidious faction of Warpsmiths that takes immense joy in unleashing terrifying combinations of plague riddled flesh and steel upon those yet to experience the wonders of decay. They are dreadful apparitions of oxidization and filth, their bodies concealed beneath moth-eaten robes and their every slime covered orifice dribbling bile, maggots, and other foul vermin. Deep within the rusted and corroded bowels of their citadel of putrefaction, this necrotic order carries out its malefic intent: baptising its creations in swirling pools of noxious bile and rotten flesh.[3c]
  • Heterodact Syni-Thralls: Of the many avenues of study deemed heretical within the rigid doctrines of the Mechanicum, the most reviled is research pertaining to the blasphemous creation of artificial intelligences. However, rumours of such studies are rife within the Screaming Vortex, particularly among those who seek to eradicate all non-mechanical life in the galaxy via the enigmatic Heterodact Array. The mechanoid devotees of this heretical order are little more than soulless puppets to their ruthlessly inhuman masters, relentlessly marching forward with unnatural spasms of involuntarily animation as their manic cackling and occasional pleas for deliverance ring out across the battlefield.[3c]

Writhing World Sorcerer-Kings

  • Grubenth, Lord of the Skies: The seemingly endless throngs of bottle flies that cover the skies of the Writhing World with intriguing patterns and swirling manifestations of disturbing logic hold a peculiar fascination to Nurgle’s annointed. Within the Vortex, no one is more knowledgeable about such displays than Grubenth, whose insane, incessant mumblings seem eerily reminiscent of the low droning of those massive swarms. His bloated body and multi-winged stronghold host thousands of the squirming maggots that mirror in these enthralling formations, supposedly allowing him to tap into the otherworldly consciousness drifting idly overhead.[3d]
  • The Gurgeon Mite: The terrifying Gurgeon Mite is the creation of an ancient and esoteric Sorcerer-King who long-ago sought the secrets that lie buried at the Writhing World’s core. This myriapod citadel ceaselessly tunnels beneath the planet’s segmented exterior, instigating deadly convulsions and emerging at random to feed before quickly scrabbling beneath the slimy, quivering surface. The actual depth achieved by this monstrous creature, as well as the secrets it has uncovered, are sources of endless speculation.[3d]
  • Leach King Hespherash: Hespherash is a cantankerous necromancer whose vicious, fleshy parasites consume the bodies of his victims and absorb their knowledge for his own nefarious gains. His writhing citadel resembles a hydra of ancient legend with numerous palisades each ending in a massive undulating maw. These ferocious orifices have unique methods of digesting their victims; from necrotic bile, to great clamping mandibles, to endless rows of tiny reciprocating dendrites. Once his prey is devoured and every ounce of nutrient extracted, its memories are encapsulated into tiny larvae that slowly burrow deep inside the Sorcerer-King’s rotting cortex.[3d]

Death Priests of Mire

  • The Brood Kine: Long ago, a pack of Death Priests discovered a swarm of Nurglings frolicking inside a disease-infested mud pit while wandering the squalid wastes of Mire. Upon beholding these creatures, they immediately turned on each other, hacking their companions apart in order to entice the Daemons with offerings of rancid meat. The survivors are now hosts for this repugnant clutch of spiteful imps, housing them within their filth-lined bowels in order to ensure their continued sustenance.[3e]
  • Calorracts: Few of the Death Priests that brave the sunken, mouldering swamps of Mire’s crumbling cave system ever return, most falling victim to ancient toxins and other foul hazards within that accursed darkness. Those who do emerge are greatly feared among the cannibal lords of Mire, for each is bursting with maladies so potent that only the most blessed of the Plague Lord’s servants can survive in their presence. They are nearly impossible to kill, often bearing scores of seemingly debilitating wounds which neither hinder nor heal as they relentlessly stalk their prey with sunken, yellow eyes.[3e]
  • The Slavering Synpestulent: The Corpse Reapers are a terrifying warband within the Screaming Vortex known for their brutal raids and the mounds of dead and mutilated left in their wake. The original members were harvested from Mire by a particularly ruthless pirate warlord who now allows his captive Death Priests free reign over any survivors of their raids in exchange for the skulls of the slain. Meanwhile, the unfortunate captives are compelled to join in a revolting feast that lasts for seven days and nights wherein they are force-fed the putrid remains of their dead and dying comrades. Those who survive this horrific ordeal often elect to join their captors in order to satisfy the peculiar, gnawing hunger that now festers inside them.[3e]

Plaguemeisters

  • Plague Mother Septhrix: Sepharia Tourande was once a figure of great renown within the various medical circles that cater to the lavish decadence of the Imperial Aristocracy. Yet as her influence grew, so too did the numbers of emaciated sycophants who spread her ghastly treatments and heretical rejuvenant techniques. The fallout from her inevitable persecution was devastating, and now she roams the outer reaches of the Screaming Vortex, her corpulent bulk sprawling on a palanquin of soiled finery set upon the shoulders of her seven favourite ghouls.[3f]
  • Rheumalicae Surpetiss: Rheumalicae is a particularly wicked chymist whose fascination with the bonds of addiction has allowed him to reap a horrendous tally of souls in Nurgle’s name. His diseases are incredibly subtle in nature, often taking decades to slowly dissolve their victims from within, while the various stimulants and narcotics which flow through the victims’ bloodstream inure them to the pain of their chronic condition. Eventually, as the necrotic toxins take their toll, Rheumalicae begins their indoctrination in the ways of his vile patron with promises of eternal freedom from the torments of their rotting frames.[3f]
  • The Forlorn Hope: Medicae Cruisers are common within the Departmento Munitorum, often seeing extensive service during the many brutal offensives perpetrated in the Emperor’s name. The Forlorn Hope was one such vessel; however, its massive surgery theatres and pristine apothecariums were swiftly overwhelmed with contagion following a cataclysmic brush with Chaos renegades. The valiant crew fought desperately against this nightmarish pathogen that crammed the ship’s holds with the dead and dying, but they could not stem the implacable tide of corruption, and so Nurgle’s champions won a terrible victory for their dread patron.[3f]

Sources