quaternary weaponry: Among heavy infantry, who use the M-70 Havoc combat exoskeleton, there are three official categories of weaponry:
primary weaponry: the heavy tribarrel, flamer, and target designator built into the exoskeleton;
secondary weaponry: additional hardpoint-mounted weapons provided by a modular weapons back, such as the BP-400 Conflagration;
tertiary weaponry: weapons carried by, rather than attached to, the exoskeleton.
Quaternary weaponry, therefore, is a term that shows up principally in aftermath reports, meaning “punched to death”. Insofar as the M-70 Havoc provides a twenty-four-fold physical strength multiplier to its wearer, the use of quaternary weaponry against armored troops, vehicles, buildings, and occasional field fortifications is far from unknown.
In 7262 and 7263, the Imperial Security Executive suffered a number of leaks of documentation referring to the establishment of a “Sixth Directorate”, including location information on forward operating bases attributed to this Sixth Directorate, and a number of sightings of Intelligence prowlers whose pennant numbers indicated association with this Directorate, and backed up by traffic analysis indicating the existence of this new intelligence organization.
The Sixth Directorate, of course, did not exist. Not, it is to be noted, in the sense that the Fifth Directorate does not exist, but in the sense that it literally did not exist save for the shadow cast by leaked documentation, dressed-up empty prefabs, and altered transponder data.
Its nonexistence, however, and the panic reactions of most of the Worlds’ intelligence agencies, did a marvelous job of distracting everyone from Second Directorate and Admiralty Intelligence operations during the 7265-7269 period of the Republican central government’s final collapse.
(A brief resurgence in Sixth Directorate sightings occurred in 7489 and 7490, which were largely dismissed as an attempt by the Executive to resurrect their old masquerade. In this case, however, ExSec had designated their Primary Working Group for dealing with the Exceedingly Hostile Takeovers the “Sixth Directorate PWG”, allowing them to operate with impunity in the former Magenite sphere of influence while attention was directed conspicuously elsewhere.)
By dreaming dragons – the world was carved To dreaming dragons – the world yet bends Those dreaming dragons – all lie dead Yet dreaming dragons – carve it still.
“Lay of the Dead Dragons”, fragment, circa -3,500
the light breathes the shadows move and the objects don’t are you real? am I?
I am not.
unknown survivor of passage through the periphery of the Tortelsvard grimward, immediately before dissolving without trace
Drones can’t bleed.
Dallen Osiríän, engineer on OPERATION ABYSS DREDGE, upon being confronted with a post-dive drone that was, in fact, bleeding
You can try a reality engine against it the moment that no-one else is living on this planet, and not before.
Prefect Aldysis Paluna, Fifth Directorate
History records that the trakelpanis trakóras amán are all dead, wiped out at the beginning of the Gloaming, three hundred thousand years ago. In this, history is correct.
The common assumption that death carries with it finality, on the other hand, is incorrect. During the Chaos that marked the end of trakelpanis trakóras amán civilization, five fell upon Eliéra: for three, those who we believe dwelt here before the Chaos, we have names. The Shaper died at her home, in the Dragon’s Nest, and in so doing created the largest of Eliéra’s grimwards, nearly twenty miles across. Of those who dwelled at the Gate of Dragons, both died elsewhere: the Architect fell in Saralainn, and the Farseer was slain abroad in far Marukamui. Of the nameless amán legendaria presume to be their attackers, one formed the first and most famous grimward in central Kaládav, brushing the valley of the Falthrang, and the other died far to the south, amid the monazite sands of Tortelsvard.
And there part of them remains.
What is a grimward? It is the mad dream of a dead dragon, no more and no less. The trakelpanis trakóras amán possessed a peerless ontotechnology, capable of commanding the forces of reality and warping it in accordance with their desires and ambitions, making, twisting, and unmaking with a thought. The amán knew few strictures or boundaries, and acknowledged fewer, the fatal flaw that led to their self-destruction as a race: how much less restrained, then, the passions flickering in their hollow bones, unconstrained by conscious will?
The land, sea, and sky for miles around where they lie, then, are regions where reality grows fuzzy: even the most mundane things found within or passing their boundary may find themselves warped into prodigies or horrors unique in the universe. Space and time themselves quail there: one may cross miles in a footstep only to find that step taking centuries, or a mile may stretch into a journey of decades which leads one out before one entered. There can be no certainty there, no prediction, and no safety. Only the whim of the grimward’s master defines the structure of being within its bounds.
Thus, these regions have been surrounded by long and high walls, posted warnings, and the strongest wardings ancient thaumaturgy or modern technology could devise since early in the Gloaming, long before there was an Empire, layers built on layers and warnings inscribed over earlier warnings, with reality engines humming where once beacon-fires burned.
They may be the greatest dangers we have found in this universe.
WARNING EXTREME ONTOLOGICAL DANGER
DO NOT TRANSGRESS THE BOUNDARY OF THE GRIMWARD UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. DEATH IS PREFERABLE TO THAT WHICH LIES WITHIN.
DO NOT APPROACH THE GRIMWARD. DO NOT CONTEMPLATE THE GRIMWARD. DO NOT PROVOKE THE GRIMWARD.