'26: We came with thunder to his world, with thunder, aye, and lightning too. In the far north, where the cold winds gather and plot, and those few white stones reared from the endless black sea, we came.
'27: We walked: my Lord, his sons, and I. And there, on those white stones of his world, we met there my father.'
[// extr. The Unreliable Narration and Abject Falsehoods of Prophettes Ancient and Modern, unattr.+]
Central to the myth of the Silver Stars was the Vox Volnoscere; a figure of uncertain role within the Pseudolegion, though given the company he kept, clearly of some status. Appearing to Partisan forces more frequently than his supposed master, the Vox Volnoscere's appearances were limited to a peculiar combination of formal announcements and war-orders with off-hand intimacies and surprising breaches of expected protocol. Where much about the Pseudolegion was later shrouded by outsiders, the fact of the existence of a figure known as Vox Volnoscere is largely credited – though his identity is by no means certain, and many of the claims made about him as apocryphal or laughable as those made of the False Primarch itself. As with much of the War of the False Primarch, critical thinking is key in sifting truth from lies – and adjudging the nature of truth itself in the Imperium.
Mercurial and unassuming, the figure remained cryptic to the Orthodox forces for a substantial portion of the war. This was partially owing to the expected levels of secrecy and clearance afforded to his dealings with high-ranking Partisans and outsiders, but there was undoubtedly a number of additional factors that contributed to his ambiguity, not least his seeming association with the Shrouded Esdras, a Silver Stars formation otherwise only ever associated with the False Primarch itself.
|[//Vox Volnoscere, pict-capture uncited – proposed locale Strabo's Star. +]|
The facts are few, the hearsay broad. Indeed, when behelmed, the Vox Volnoscere was all-but-indistinguishable from his comrades. In stature, the Vox Volnoscere was unremarkable amongst the pseudolegion, perhaps a fraction shorter and less massively-built than his comrades, but still clearly Astartes in physique. His armour was likewise unremarkable, lacking the trappings that came to be associated with officers of the Pseudolegion, such as Riverhead and Canticle; and also bereft of anything that might link him to groups like the Marines Mendicant or the Kapihe – though it is likely that he was extremely influential within the latter at least.
Beyond this, little is known. He was believed to have been sighted fighting in numerous campaigns of the early–mid war, and – despite rumours of his death at the hands of the Death Eagles I – he was also tentatively placed in a number of struggles during the early Myrean League campaign. This final sighting saw him alongside the Tho ben Baruch, casting further doubt on his identity as the Silver Stars' champion.
'Some men know him as Amnysiac; others as the One True Son. He has many titles and many legends; many and more. Hailed as a leader of men and reviled as a false prophet, the Vox Volnoscere was a harbinger of naught but pain for our world. And yet, I begrudge him and our Primarch not one jot. He served through duty, and filial love, and acted as midwife through the pain and sorrow of war – for the dream of a new Imperium was ever-fated to be accompanied by the harrowing pangs of birth.'
[//The Later Sistotle, Orphan of Neris+]
|[//Bearing symbology common to the Silver Stars – but unremarkable in form or context – the Vox Volnoscere was not remarked upon for favouring a particular method or style of warfare.+]|
Now regarded – where he is mentioned at all – as an Equerry to the False Primarch, or Ambassador of sorts, the Vox Volnoscere's role was as obscure and ill-defined as his appearance. A single footnote in Partisan Naval records recovered after the war mention 'VoxV' as 'Address-Commander' of the Nostoi – a non-standard craft that served as the Silver Stars flagship during the Assembly on Null – though he was notably absent during the Machinedeath itself. Some have therefore argued that his role was primarily that of a Master of the Fleet, but this seems unlikely given the decentralised nature of the Pseudolegion.
Prior to Null, the Vox Volnoscere is noted to have been present at several key locations during the war, frequently either alongside the False Primarch, or acting in his stead. These included the first Invasion of Ishim, the Battle of Hong-Qi, where he met with the Inheritors – as recorded in that Chapter's final missive to Terra – and alongside the Abomination in his audience with the Star Wardens.
The famously loose tongue of Brother Dodrji Baskoro of the Void Barons also places him as Volnoscere's sole compatriot during the final events of the Quadrargenta.
After the early war, even potential sightings drop away. This was initially attributed to reports of his death, but some time later, Orthodox Analyticae reluctantly concluded that reports had dried up simply owing to his being stationed on or in the vicinity of Ishim during the Mid War, perhaps serving as advisor to the Red Fish's Savaghelyer and Senate during the retrenchment of the devastated Delphurnean League.
|[//Pictured alongside an unidentified Princeps – bearing the markings of an unknown Legio. Timestamp is prior to the events on Null. +|
|[//Agitprop distributed by Partisan symapthisers in Morqub+]|
Almost as many myths, miracles and atrocities have been attributed to this nameless figure as the False Primarch himself. These myths were collected by the Ordo Redactus and the Sisters of Silence during their sweep of the Sectors following the war, and recorded in the Codex Anull, a forbidden vault held on Terra. They are thus as destroyed as it is possible to be, for the nature of the Silent Sisterhood's arts render the writings incapable of being comprehended or recovered. In such a way, the Vox Volnoscere's true name was also likely consigned to retroactive chronoblivion, never to be recovered.
Inquisitorial agents specialising in restoration of lost knowledge nevertheless occasionally stumble upon debased remnants that can tentatively be drawn back to the events of the 34th Millennium. These fragments principally survive in the form of folklore or rhyme. Where detected or identified, they have been repeatedly suppressed through history – and in so doing, the Imperium further erodes the chance of meaningful understanding of the events of the War of the False Primarch coming to light.
Of the remnants under consideration, most are little more that nonsense phrases or poems that have been flagged owing to cadences that suggest or imply the adjustment of lyrics after composition and popularisation. Some, however, are more explicit in their mention of particular figures, notably the following 'Lay of John Noddy', a peculiarly resilient and widely-spread fable that is sometimes interpreted as referencing an intimate of the False Primarch. The fragment – for all scholars agree that even the most complete version is a partial recovery – reads as follows:
'Let me tell you a tale – teehee – of a boy that was found on a raft in the centre of an ocean. When his father came to greet him, he brought two of the boy's brothers. Oh the joy! To be part of a family, to know the secrets he had so longed to discover.''Let me tell you another tale, this of a man and a king: he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.''Let me tell you a third. The man, after long years in the wilderness, and with his mind lost and forgotten, fell unknowingly to prey upon his own sons. He pursued them in the place of ashes and darkness, and feasted on each he caught 'til none-but-one remained. And then the scales fell from his eyes, and he realised then what he had done, in his despair and in his madness.'
The Lay of John Noddy is important for a number of reasons, not least that it is the most explicit of the recovered myths that connect the Vox Volnoscere with the figure of the Abomination. Others obliquely hint at some sort of link between the two – variously filial, brotherly or esoteric. Two go so far as to claim that the Vox Volnoscere is the true identity of the False Primarch, throwing further doubt on whether the figure of a returned Primarch was real in any sense, or merely an elaborate ploy by a remarkable – but mortal – leader of men.
Other interpretations suggest the Lay is a M37 fabrication seeded by the ill-fated and short-lived Cult of The Last True Son, or that the Lay refers to the False Primarch, and not Vox Volnoscere. Indeed, with the latter interpretation, The Lay of John Noddy becomes the strongest evidence against the Vox Volnoscere being anything more than a simple trusted underling, for if the 'boy' named is the False Primarch, then the identity and behaviour of the father in the song has very different implications.
Despite these notes, care should be exercised in reading too far into these fanciful extracts, and drawing unwarranted conclusions from them. That they exist at all is owing to their poetic and allusive nature – for all formal records in which either the False Primarch or his Equerry were mentioned were instantly incinerated, redacted or otherwise destroyed. The scant surviving material, therefore, is by its nature unreliable; intended to amuse or distract rather than inform. The few scholars with permission to investigate the thin remnants of the war – generally on special dispensation from the offices of a High Lord specifically – agree that the Vox Volnoscere and the False Primarch were separate figures, and that any supernatural connection has been exaggerated from a simple military position of trust.
In conclusion, while these fragments can tell us little directly about Vox Volnoscere, they build to suggest circumstantial evidence for a number of interpretations; a fossilised and incomplete layer of dust that preserves the form of long-lost events.
Suum incertum fatum
The most complete myth of all, an untitled screed found in a routine datasweep in M33, was unconnected with the War of the False Primarch until much later. Eventually connected to the War, this recollection by a now-forgotten member of the Crusade-era Order of Remembrancers, was marked for redaction by the Inquisition – but saved by the personal fiat of High Lord Braxon Leionidon Mercutial, Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes, on the grounds that it bore some of the last detail of pre-Heresy Terra. A compromise was reached, in which the record was sequestered and removed from catalogue, rendering it safe, but all but unlocatable.
Largely dismissed as fanciful by scholars, the document is notable for having been dated to pre-Imperial Terra, and has compelling implications. Some interpret it as evidence that the Vox Volnoscere was a Legionary during the Unification Wars – and in so saying, hint that the claims of the False Primarch to be the Last True Son might be true, after all...
The record is transcribed in full below:
The Astartes' face buckled like leather as he smiled; a far-away look in his eye. It was a peculiar expression for a Legionary. My only previous experience with the Legionaries had left me with the impression of rigid, unfeeling automata. The expression seemed oddly human; uncomfortably so, somehow. I pushed the thought to the back of my mind, and motioned to the officer to continue.
'It was told later, that the Emperor's warriors struck like lightning; that their victory was as inevitable as the storm. It was told later that their name was mere metaphor. I was told this by one such as you; a hundred years after the last of their kind met their unkind end. That moemoae-caipan – my apologies; your word,' he coughed, and I realised as he continued that he was slightly embarrassed. Another expression that I had not – and would not – see on the other Legionaries I met. 'Apologies again; our word, of course, would be 'bard'. I have been on the frontiers too long, perhaps. I have not yet adjusted to Imperial Gothic.'
That much was clear. Even the words themselves seemed awkward for him to phrase; his tongue tripping heavily over the syllables.
To put him at his ease – reading that back, I find the concept oddly comic – I interrupted. He listened to my clarification, head tipped, then he continued, with an eyebrow raised quizzically and a smile on his voice. 'Is that right? I hadn't heard that term. 'Remembrancers', is it? Well, well. So no more poets or bards to sing our stories? Just Remembrancers to report.' I said nothing, unsure of what I could say. It didn't seem like a question to me. I was reminded, strangely, of my grandfather. His mind had wandered. His pauses had become attenuated. His gaze had grown misty.
As the silence stretched, I wondered just how old the Legionary was. That I was talking with him attested to his having lived through Unity. Had he been born before the rise of the Emperor? Could any Legionary be so old?
'I was there, Remembrancer. I saw the Thunder Warriors, and I tell you that their name was nothing so abstract as simile. They rolled over my father's forces without breaking stride.'
'I found later that our ten thousand-strong caravan was not even a target. We were merely in the path of the Lamassu.' He smiled again. I detected no sadness, no regret. Perhaps his Ascendance had scoured or altered his emotions. Perhaps it was simply because he could not connect with the child he had been.
'I was not yet of the Legion, so my memories are patchy. You might excuse a frightened child of omitting certain details. Nevertheless, I see you wish to know all you can of the... first forces.'
I dutifully jotted down his notes on his impressions – huge ogres that emerged from the blackness; fire-lit and bloody-toothed. Great roars that shook his thin chest, and the booming weaponry that burst his eardrums and left him screaming noiselessly. He talked spottily of the stench of sweat and salt-dirt; outlining his primitive memories in the enlightened frame of our more modern ideas, pausing to answer my prompts on how his humours were balanced or the relevance of the astromantic signs.
After the report was made, he paused again. His face grew dark. 'We never knew them as Thunder Warriors. That is a later label, added to put something strange and terrifying in a box. Just as you were once a recordist, or a journaller – and now you and your kin are all Remembrancers. It is the same'. He brought his hands up, the fingers together, then opened them in a motion like a blooming flower. 'The Great Crusade will do this, too. All the myriad languages that have flowered over Old Night will be recorded and put aside; replaced with Imperial Gothic. We will establish a single culture, a great Imperium across the stars. The Emperor, beloved-by-all, will rule over a humanity united.'
He seemed to sit straighter, the cot beneath him creaking at his animation.
'I bear witness to the Imperial Truth. I am an ambassador of what is to come. My kind will journey to the galaxy's edge to bring all humanity together. Perhaps beyond.' His smile returned and he continued. 'We will learn everything. We will encompass the whole of human knowledge. Think of it! Every song, every story, every scientific or mathemagickal principle from a million worlds – at the hands of everyone. It will be a golden age.'
He paused, his eyes glittering.
'But I will not be part of it. The scythe does not share the bread.' Did I detect a note of frustration beneath the conviction? Before I could ask, he began to speak again.
'But part of this is the past. We must not forget what has happened. The Thunder Warriors were a brutal necessity. Let me tell you more of them...'
'28: On that white coast, under that rose sky, we met there my father. Lost he had been, rudderless on the unending ocean, and to us he turned. When, at length, he could talk, he told my Lord and his brothers and I that he feared he had been forgotten. I thought then, my Lord's warm smile faltered for an instant, and I feared for my father. None besides me were witness, and my father never spoke of it, and I could not ask his brothers.
'29: I determined then that I would be as a father to my father. We walked together, we warred together. I taught and learned at once. I wept at his actions and his fate, and later I raged. I crawled beside him in our mindless time, and I stand beside him still, last of my kind.'
[// extr. The Unreliable Narration and Abject Falsehoods of Prophettes Ancient and Modern, unattr.+]