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A C'tan shard

The C'tan (Eldar Yngir) are beings of pure energy that form a fundamental constant of the universe.[32] Said to be the first beings in existence, they led the Necrons in their war against against the Old Ones before their followers turned on them and shattered most of them into shards to be used as weapons of war.[25a]



It is said that the C'tan were born during the creation of the universe itself, formed of the insensate energies unleashed in the churning mass of unimaginable force. It was long before the planets first formed and cooled that the first self-aware entities emerged from the seas of plasma and solar flares. While these creatures would later be known as the C'tan, during the early stages they bore little resemblance to the terrifying entities they would later become. At these early stages they were merely monstrous parasites suckling upon the stars that bore them, shortening their lives by uncounted millennia. In time, these star vampires learned to fly on diaphanous wings of magnetic flux, leaving their birthplaces drifting to new feeding grounds. They paid no head to solid matter for the internal fires and electromagnetism of the new-born planets were insufficient to register their on their monstrous hunger.[1]

C'tan Incarnate

These beings continued their benign existence with little conception of the universe until the intervention of the Necrontyr. Since the earliest times the Necrontyr had studied the stars to understand their baleful energies, seeking some power to unleash upon their bitter enemies, the Old Ones, during the War in Heaven.[1] The Necrontyr, having been defeated by the Old Ones and scattered to the halo stars[1] had fallen into civil war, the second such War of Secession.[25a] It was during this period that the Necrontyr under their Silent King Szarekh[25a] had perceived anomalies in the oldest dying stars. They had discovered a sentience more ancient than any corporeal lifeform in creation; beings of pure energy in the complex skeins of etheric energy. These beings found feeding upon the solar flares and magnetic storms of bloated red giants were perceived as the progeny of the Necrontyr death-god, who would act as weapons of retribution to cast down the Old Ones. These beings would come to be known as the C'tan, Star Gods in the Necrontyr language.[1]

There are various conflicting accounts about the circumstances of the discovery of the C'tan. The archives of Solemnace claim their discovery was accidental, a chance discovery made by a stellar probe during the investigation of a dying star. The Aeldari account within the Book of Mournful Night claims that the raw hatred the Necrontyr felt for the Old Ones sang out across space and served as a beacon for the C'tan.[25a] Regardless of the circumstances prior to the first contact, contact was first established with a C'tan known the Aza'gorod the Nightbringer, which was born upon the very star which the Necrontyr first lived their brief, morbid lives. Upon manifesting across the incorperial starlight bridge, the Nightbringer was incarnated within a body of living metal (necrodermis) and brought with it the curse of death. Having fed upon the flavourless power of a star, the Nightbringer found delight in the Necrontyr's awe and fear, and had begun slaughtering those which had brought it into being, feeding upon their terror and suffering.[1]

Only by the desperate pledges of servitude were the Necrontyr able to convince the Nightbringer that there other species beyond number for it to destroy. Soon after, the Necrontyr awakened many other star-gods, the Necrontyr becoming their willing servants in their war against the Old Ones. Soon after, the Necrontyr awoke numerous other C'tan, which like the Nightbringer craved worshippers and slaves, although such servants soon descended into murderous insanity brought on by the presence of the Star Gods. One C'tan in particular outstripped all others in accumulating followers and devotees: Mephet'ran the Messenger. Being one of the weaker C'tan, it instead gained power through guile and persuasion to secure its future, even sending its slaves to serve other C'tan to curry favour.[1]

Fall of the Necrontyr

While to the Necrontyr, Mephet'ran was known as the Messenger, amongst its own kind it was known as the Deceiver.[1][25a] With honeyed words, the Deceiver spoke of an ancient war between the Old Ones and the C'tan long before the birth of Necrontyr, a war the C'tan lost. The Deceiver and its brethren hid themselves away from the vengeance of the Old Ones and the C'tan bided their time until they could find allies against the Old Ones. To that end, the Deceiver offered the Triarch council two things the Necrontyr desperately sought: unity and immortality, which would be implemented in the form of biotransference. For one year since the Deceiver's proposition the Triarch and the nobles of the Royal Court debated the matter with Orikan, the court astrologer, being the only dissenting voice. Regardless of the dissent, the Triarch ultimately agreed to the Deceiver's offer.[25a]

The Necrontyr nobility would be first to enter soul forges of biotransference[26] and those who resisted would have their limbs broken and be carried to the soul forges by Ghost Arks.[25b] A notable organized resistance was formed by Nephreth the Untouched, the last natural phaeron of the Ammunos Dynasty, who took war to the C'tan themselves. Nephreth had given hope the Necrontyr as he alone was free of the cancers that blighted the entire species. However, this was yet another deception of Mephet'ran. The supposedly disease-free Nephreth was in fact a cast-off C'tan Shard of the Deceiver, who plotted to rally opponents of biotransference under a single flag in order to totally crush resistance. The real Nephreth was switched out in his infancy by the Deceiver.[27].

As the furnaces of cyclopean machines of biotransference clamoured, the C'tan swarmed about the sites drinking in the torrents of cast-off life energy and gaining strength.[25a] This life energy was spirit-matter, a metaphysical energy savoured by the C'tan.[28] Only as the Silent King Szarekh watched the C'tan feast upon the life essence of his people did he realize his terrible mistake.[25a]

War in Heaven

The Necrontyr, now become the soulless Necrons, and the C'tan now fought as one, thus dooming the Old Ones to eventual defeat. Planets were razed, suns were extinguished, and whole systems were devoured by black holes summoned by the reality-bending powers of the star gods.[25a] However, as the C'tan feasted upon the lives of countless species, the Deceiver convinced the C'tan that they themselves were the greatest feast to be had, and the C'tan fell into civil strife as the greatest amongst them consumed the weaker ones. With this reprieve, the Old Ones nurturing of younger races: the Eldar, Rashan, K'nib and many other, had finally bore fruit and were unleashed upon the forces of the C'tan and Necrons.[1] During this time of great infighting amongst the Star Gods, the sentient warp weapons that would become the Eldar gods likewise fell into infighting. Pacts were made and broken and the line between the Aethyr Gods and Star Gods blurred.[29]

As the hot-blooded young races nurtured by the Old Ones spread across the galaxy, their warp-spawned magicks battling the arcane science of the Necrons. The empire of the C'tan was driven back, as the warp was anathema to them, and the C'tan found themselves driven back by the relentless advance. The C'tan unified for the first time in millions of years[1] with a C'tan known as Mag'ladroth, the Void Dragon developing a plan to seal the warp from the material universe, using a network of blackstone warp-suppression pylons such as the ones upon Cadia and within the Cerberus Shroud.[30] Likewise, the C'tan had sown a terrible crop within the genes of the small tree-beasts that would one day become humans.[1a] These terrible genes would one day manifest within humanity in the form of Pariahs, which could be utilized in the form of Necron Pariahs.[40] The C'tan were also finally able to breach the Old Ones' intergalactic warp tunnel network thanks to a C'tan known as Nyadra'zatha the Burning One using a series of living stone portals known as Dolmen Gates.[25a]

With the Webway breached and beset by the warp-spawned perils, the Old Ones had finally perished. With the C'tan have spent much of their energy to achieve this victory, the Silent King Szarekh had chosen this short-lived moment of victory to finally turn upon the C'tan.[25a] In the case of Llandu'gor the Flayer it was destroyed, whereafter it cast the Flayer Virus upon the Necrons.[25c] In most cases however, the C'tan were fragmented into shards and held within multi-dimensional prisons known as Tesseract Labyrinths to later be used as unwilling weapons by the Necrons[25a] Other C'tan may have simply entered stasis due to the psyker swarm unleashed by the Old Ones depriving the C'tan of their much-needed substenance, awaiting for the day that life flourishes throughout the galaxy.[1] However, according to the Book of Mournful Night, a C'tan known as Tsara'noga the Outsider may in fact remain the sole intact C'tan, having become to terrible in its madness to be defeated. Others claim that it may have also rent itself asunder.[23]

Recent History

Since the Great Awakening, the C'tan have appeared as bound shards used as unwilling weapons of war.[25d] However, there are isolated reports of C’tan shards across the galaxy that have broken their chains, intent on revenge.[33] Various free shards of the Deceiver are noted have become actively working to various ends. One shard of the Deceiver manipulated members of the Alpha Legion to construct a series of anti-warp pylons within the galactic core before it was trapped in a Tesseract Labyrinth.[34] Another shard instigated the Gothic War, which saw the destruction of four Talismans of Vaul,[1][35] ancient weapons of the Old Ones[37] notably used to battle the Void Dragon.[36] Other independent shards of the Deceiver have appeared upon Naogeddon[38] and Gladius[39] leading Necrons and even gathering new slaves in the form of Pariahs and followers amongst the ranks of the Adeptus Mechanicus.[1b]

The armies of the Imperium are known to guard the Gates of Varl from the quiescent perils of the C'tan.[4]

Some members of the Thokt Dynasty know that feral infant C'tan still dwell within stars.[42]

Transcendent C'tan

Transcendent C'tan[8]

Transcendent C'tan's are C'tans bursting with pure elemental energy. Each Transcendent C'tan is a collection of anywhere between a dozen and a hundred lesser shards, and its power far surpasses the sum of its parts.[9]

Shards of these mighty creatures are used by the Necrons as weapons by entombing them in Tesseract Vaults and controlling them with a Canoptek Sentinel and energy shackles designed by Svarokh.[9] Should the situation become dangerous enough, the Necrons may release the Transcendent C'tan from its prison to rampage across the battlefield. This however is often as dangerous to the Necrons as is it to their foes.[8]

Known C'tan

  • Aza'gorod, the Nightbringer: The first C'tan to encounter the Necrons. Powerful enough to impress its image as that of death itself on the psyche of the younger races.
  • Emberresh, the Suneater: Held captive by the Xonthar Dynasty, who use it as a weapon against their enemies.[13]
  • Hsiagn'la[18]
  • Iash'uddra, the Endless Swarm: The most reviled of the C'tan.
  • Kalugura, the Silent Cry: Entombed at the word of the Silent King
  • Llandu'gor, the Flayer: The only C'tan fully obliterated by the Necrons, in his death he cursed the Necrons with the flayer curse.
  • Mag'ladroth, the Void Dragon: A figure of oblivion, wanton destruction and devastation. Speculated to be the Dragon of Mars.[3]
  • Mephet'ran, the Deceiver: The C'tan who made the bargain to turn the Necrontyr into the Necrons.
  • N'phoran, the Spiral Flame[15]
  • Nyadra'zatha, the Burning One: A C'tan that gave the Necrons the ability to access the Webway.
  • Og'driada, the Arisen
  • Thyssak'lha, the Walking Blight[23]
  • Tsara'noga, the Outsider: A C'tan that went insane due to its consumption of other C'tan or possibly an Eldar deity.
  • Yggra'nya, the World Shaper: A C'tan whose very thoughts could break apart a planet and reshape it in a form more pleasing to him.[10]
  • Zarhulash, the Potentate: Used by the Necrons to power the Pharos.[17]
  • Zul'channec: A C'tan nearly awakened by a cabal of Crypteks[24]

C'tan Powers

  • Antimatter Meteor - The C’tan Shard gathers an orb of roiling antimatter, before hurling the crackling projectile into the midst of the foe.[12]
  • Cosmic Fire - At the C’tan Shard’s gestured command, a pillar of black fire streaks down from the heavens.[12]
  • Entropic Touch - Metal decays on contact with the C'tan Shard's rotten grasp.[19]
  • Gaze of Death - Eyes blazing with dark energy, the C'tan Shard drains life from all in the vicinity.[19]
  • Grand Illusion - The C'tan Shard weaves a glamour of deception, preventing the foe from seeing the disposition of the Necron forces.[19]
  • Immune to Natural Law - The C’tan Shard’s very existence is anathema to natural law and it is not bound by petty rules such as gravity or the solidity of matter.[20]
  • Lord of Fire - This C'tan Shard is a creature of living flame, able to command the fires wielded by the enemy.[19]
  • Moulder of Worlds - Tortured rocks buckles and heaves, showering the C'tan Shard's foes with boulders.[19]
  • Seismic Assault - Stone fractures and ores flash burn into silvered steam as the C’tan Shard drags up tides of magma from deep below.[12]
  • Seismic Shockwave[21]
  • Sentient Necrodermis - The C’tan Shard is bound by a living metal Necrodermis that both protects and contains its essence.[15][20]
  • Sentient Singularity - A C'tan Shard's presence destabilises gravitational forces, disrupting engines, teleport beams and warp jumps.[19]
  • Sky of Falling Stars - Savagely beautiful orbs of coruscating light plummet from the cold depths of space, growing to roaring bale-stars as they approach.[12]
  • Storm of Heavenly Fire[21]
  • Time's Arrow - Mutating the flow of causality and remoulding the temporal stream, the C’tan erases its foe’s very existence from space and time.[12]
  • Transdimensional Maelstrom[21]
  • Transdimensional Thunderbolt - The C’tan Shard projects a crackling bolt of energy from its outstretched palm, blasting its foe into oblivion.[12]
  • Transliminal Stride[21]
  • Swarm of Spirit Dust - A cloud of swirling darkness conceals the C'tan shard from the gaze of his foes.[19]
  • Wave of Withering[21]
  • Writhing Worldscape - The natural world revolts at the C'tan Shard's presence, the very ground writhing and shaking as the physical laws holding reality together are undone.[19]

Relationship with the Warp

The C'tan Nightbringer[1]

The major weakness of the C'tan is their inability to comprehend the warp. It is speculated that they find it impossible to survive in it and are particularly susceptible to warp-spawned magicks and psykers. They had a plan to block off the warp forever in an attempt to remove their single greatest threat.[1] It is also speculated that they have set up a series of pylons on Cadia, possibly for this purpose.[Needs Citation] Whether these pylons have anything to do with the Eye of Terror is unknown, but it is unlikely, as the Eye was not opened until after the C'tan were in their stasis tombs.

There is also a Necron object on Armageddon in the central region of the planet.[2]

Other instances of the C'tan

During the Great Crusade, it is known that the Imperium encountered a suspected C'tan device known as the Vortex field generator which would later be relocated to Jericho fort and making that site invulnerable to orbital bomardment.[6] The armies of the Imperium are known to guard the Gates of Varl from the quiescent perils of the Ctan.[4]

Members of the Imperial Assassin Callidus Temple use a weapon called the C'tan Phase Sword.[1] It is unknown what specific relation the weapon has with the C'tan themselves, but when it comes into contact with a C'tan's body it is absorbed as if it is a piece of its body returning home.

The Imperium launched two expeditions to discover the mythical C'tan device known as the breath of the Gods. The device was capable of syphoning the energy of stars throughout time, giving the C'tan essentially an unlimited source of power. The first under Vettius Telok was thought lost, but in truth Telok was driven mad and attempted to use the time-manipulating device to destroy the Imperium.[31] The second, the Kotov Crusade, discovered Telok with the device and managed to stop the mad Magos and destroy it.[31a]