“Three thousand souls went down in Drop Shuttle Three. One returned to orbit.”

–Redacted report on Mara Drop-site Massacre

Mara is a wretched place, an ice world once home to a penal colony now long silent. No one goes to Mara; the space around it is quarantined, the Imperial Navy and Battlefleet Calixis mounting infrequent patrols to keep any from straying too close. However, such accursed places seem to draw in the unwary and the unfortunate. On Mara, the barriers between the Materium and Empyrean are weak; it buzzes and scratches, sending men mad.

The Mara Landing MassacreEdit

The Mara landing massacre was, apparently, one of the greatest tragedies of mis-navigation ever to occur within the Calixis Sector. The ice world of Mara is a cursed place where no man is permitted to set foot. A frozen world devoid of life, Mara was once home of a number of Imperial installations, including a mining facility. Through a series of incidents so dark and terrible that their details are held under seal by the Holy Ordos, Mara was stripped of all living souls and left alone in the cold void to be a place of secret legends and tales of madness. It remains quarantined to this day, patrolled by ships from Battlefleet Calixis.

The tragedy of the Mara landing massacre began when the troop transport Vervilix, bound for the war on Tranch, suffered a critical navigational error and dropped out of the warp close to the ice world of Mara and within the cursed world’s quarantine zone. Disaster might have been averted had the ship’s engines and communications not failed and left it drifting alone and lost above one of the most dangerous places in the Calixis Sector. Not knowing where they were but detecting structures on the surface, the officers commanding the 100,000 troops on board decided to mount a landing onto the surface in an attempt to gather information on their position and press aid from any that might live on the ice world. This decision was to cost the lives of over 50,000 men.

Soon after the landing, all communication with the surface was lost. First-person reports from breathless dropship pilots told how the troops deployed to the surface had begun to slaughter each other, and discordant sounds began to rip through the communications networks---alongside cries imploring someone to “make the buzzing stop.” Not knowing how to respond, the officers poured more troops onto the surface of Mara until most of the soldiers had been deployed. When the Imperial Navy patrol ships reached the Vervilix five days later, only a few hundred gaunt and haunted individuals survived and could be recovered from the thousands who had set foot on Mara, and of those, many were later were executed for heresy or simply disappeared---unable to live with what they had experienced. For those few who survived, they will never admit that they were onboard the Vervilix unless under duress. Only the sealed reports of the Ordos contain the accounts of comrades turning on one another, of walking nightmares, vile scratching and halfheard whispers at reality’s fabric, and the incessant buzzing of insectile wings on the edge of the mind. Most of the survivors were executed, and quarantine patrols around the ice world were doubled.

An investigation by the Holy Ordos determined that it was a tragedy of misadventure. Since the massacre, rumors have persisted in the Calixian Conclave that the cascade of accidents and coincidences that lead to the disastrous planetfall were not the product of chance, but carefully planned and orchestrated by the renegade Istvaanian Inquisitor Amaros and her close servants. It is said that Amaros was keen to see whether any useful survivors could be created and harvested from exposing untried guardsmen to such a great, unknown threat. The involvement of Istvaanians in engineering the circumstances of the massacre has never been proven, although a number of the survivors who were not executed for potential taint were quietly drawn into the service of several Inquisitors with suspected links to Amaros, a fact which may itself have sparked the theory. This harvest of survivors was bought in the blood and madness of thousands, but if the stories are true, its creator likely considered it a small price to pay.

Background PackagesEdit

Guardsman: The Mara Landing Massacre

Cost: 300 XP

Survivors of incidents on Mara are likely to be of most interest to Radical Inquisitors who see the experience as having armed them against the worst. Moreover, they are proven survivors if nothing else, and if some shadow of Mara’s terrible mystery lingers on in them, that too is worthy of attention.

Effects: Apply all of the following changes to your character:

Characteristics: Increase starting Willpower by +5.

Talents: You start the game with Resistance (Psychic Powers).

Corruption: Your experiences at the massacre means that you begin the game with 1d5 Corruption Points.

Fate Points: You gain one additional Fate Point.

Insanity Points: Unhinged, you start the game with 1d10 Insanity Points.

Native CreaturesEdit

Psychneuein, The Mara Strain

Thankfully rare, Psychneuein are vile warp entities drawn to the mental emanations of unprotected, badly injured or nascent psykers whose minds they attack for the obscene purpose of gestating their progeny. Psychneuein have been known to evidence various distinct genus, of which the Mara Strain is deemed among the most dangerous. The Mara Strain was first identified by Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Ark-Ashtyn during a heavy infestation at the mining penitentiary on the ice-world of Mara in the Calixis Sector, three centuries ago. Although the Mara facility was subsequently decommissioned, the tale of the “ice station massacre” remains a favorite dark fable among the sector’s spacefarers. Since then, confirmed incidents of Mara infection have occurred on the sector worlds of Dusk, Lachrymae and Pellucida V as well as several vessels transiting near Mara, although these incidences remain thankfully very few.