Dark Heresy: Second Chance
The Askellon Sector is a mass of systems located in the benighted depths of space of the Segmentum Obscurus, between the infernal Eye of Terror and the cold, xenos-haunted Halo Stars. Situated towards the end of a ragged stellar cluster that includes the Calixis, Ixaniad, and Scarus Sectors, it is long past its glorious apex, and few but the mad, the desperate, or the outcast dare travel there. The reasons for this isolation are many, and made all the worse by a curse that has its origins in a time before even the Emperor of Mankind rose to power and reunited the scattered remnants of humanity. As the 41st Millennium draws to a close, Askellon exists as a guttering flame burning alone in the darkness of the void. Once, it was mighty. Its worlds were prosperous and its armies strong, its fleets were far-ranging and ever victorious. From the ranks of its ruling classes rose all manner of heroes, from saints to scholars, mighty lords all. Yet, these great men invariably fell too early, or at the moment of their triumph veered away from the path of the righteous. Some fell to madness, others to hubris, sometimes damning entire worlds to share their sins in the process. Others were lost to ignominy and failure, their names struck from the annals of the Imperium’s great histories for all time.
As if to compound its woes, the sector is afflicted with a seemingly unending Warp storm—known as the Pandaemonium—that waxes and wanes across the millennia, but is growing ever more intense and dangerous with each passing generation. Such discharges from the Immaterium touch every region of the galaxy, but most abate in time, and Askellon itself has seen its share of minor storms throughout its history. The Pandaemonium’s multifaceted eruptions, however, seem to exist independently of other storms, more akin to a living creature seeking to devour the entire sector. Already, several of the major Navigator Clans have withdrawn their holdings from the region, allowing lesser houses to grow in dominance. Many Chartist Captains plying the lonely Warp routes in this area of the galaxy prefer to avoid Askellon when possible, and some have marked the area as anathema or refuse to even admit its existence in times when the Pandaemonium waxes in virulent intensity.
Yet, Askellon has stood since before the Age of Imperium, and its foundations are sunk far deeper than even its most senior rulers are aware. The oldest worlds in the sector are steeped in power, their cities and infrastructure built layer upon layer over generations beyond counting. The ruling classes have held sway since long before the rise of the Adeptus Terra or even the ascension of the Emperor to the Golden Throne, and they wear their authority like a mantle of invulnerability. From gilded throne rooms atop towering spires, the nobles of Askellon look down upon their realms, certain in the knowledge that they have stood for so long that nothing can possibly cast them down. They nibble upon delicate morsels while pronouncing declarations that needlessly crush millions of lives with futile wars or vainglorious constructions. The situation grows ever more desperate as the raw stuff of the Warp itself boils the void away. While the masses yet adore the Emperor, the preachers grow ever more strident in their declarations that He has abandoned Askellon, turning His beatific face away from them, so unbearable are they to look upon.
There are many who would agree with this assessment. The astropathic choir-masters of the sector’s lynchpin worlds report that the screaming insanity of the rising Pandaemonium often drowns out the mind-songs from other sectors. Navigator Clans dismay that the light of the Astronomican gutters as the foul storm dilates. Many Rogue Traders still journey through the sector to pillage the untamed reaches surrounding it, or explore the still-hidden mysteries within its own borders, but even the bravest shudder when facing even a tendril of the baleful energies. Ancient legends, long suppressed and burned, hint of terrible events that awakened the Infernal Storm and its role in the damnation of Askellon, but none dare even contemplate such unbearable myths as truth. Perhaps the preachers are correct and the Emperor has abandoned Askellon to its ruinous destiny after all, unless heroes once again come forth to stay this most terrible of fates.