Class: Warrior > Destroyer > Assaulter
Tier: 1S (Primary Racial Hero)
Faction: Defenders of the Word
Age at Rebirth: 11
Blackdread’s Mark V Frame (Warrior; Enhanced) is different from even those issued to elite warriors of the Empire. It is highly modified, appearing bulkier than standard, and was intentionally made taller. Its design is highly Gothic in look.
The Frame is colored in deep midnight black throughout, without any piping. The only way Accretians notice Blackdread in visible light unaided if they encounter him in some dimly-lit corridor is his “running lights” from his exposed circuitry and from the joints of his Frame, which are a deep crimson red.
Of course, the most prominent feature of Blackdread, his distinguishing mark, is his head. With its fully functional and highly expandable maw filled with razor-sharp fangs. Prior to the Fourth Battle of Niven, Blackdread had a telescoping tongue that has a smaller mouth at its tip installed.
Blackdread’s hands are claws, although they remain highly articulate and nimble. His legs end in wicked taloned feet.
Warlord of the Accretian Empire: Blackdread is the overall commander of the Imperial Army and Navy. He exercises imperium over all Accretian military forces, even the Archons, particularly in their conduct during operations and other matters regarding the Imperial Army as a body, except for matters of grand strategy, which is the province of the Imperial Strategos.
No Accretian of Legate rank or lower should be able to say no to Blackdread’s commands.
Except those on Novus.
Executor of Fear: Prior to his ascension to Praetor of the Defenders and Warlord of the Empire, Blackdread was styled by Kesar as “Fear Incarnate,” as much an instrument of terror against the enemies of the Empire as he was a keen axe edge in Kesar’s hands. As such, his Mark V Frame (Warrior; Enhanced) is taller, more “muscular” and ornate, all to project an element of fear to those who face him. He has claws (although they are fully articulate and nimble) instead of hands. His feet are talons instead of the normal foot unit.
And then, there’s that maw. With its tongue.
Blackdread retains this title since it was Kesar himself who elevated the members of the Executors to their exalted positions.
And, really, what other Accretian comes close to being Fear Incarnate?
Teh Kitteh: During his stay at Verne, Blackdread found a toy that once belonged to the daughter of a Bellato officer who died during the Battle for Lebiscuri. It is a large, white, fluffy, stuffed-toy kitten with a pink ribbon on one ear and wearing a pink jumper. The toy still retains its recording and display functions, and looks a little worse for wear. Parts of it show burn marks., particularly at the edges.
When he is not in combat, the toy hangs on one side of Blackdread’s waist by a reinforced Haloment chain, and is encased in a special transparent Halostone Crystal carrycase (and therefore impervious from any harm short of Vanderion Ladenus going all out on that case with Winter’s Sharp Kiss).
Because it is a rudimentary cyberdeck (it has an I/O port, and a simple computer), it projects a representation of itself in any network when plugged in. When Council meetings are held in Command.Net, Blackdread’s online avatar also has with it the large, white, fluffy article.
When sitting in Council, Blackdread is known to hold and absentmindedly toy with the thing. He is also observed to have developed an unconscious reflex with the toy: when getting agitated or annoyed, Blackdread proceeds to play around with one of the toy’s big, fluffy ears. Even when online.
No one, not even Trinary Helix or Messenger of Oblivion, has said a word about the toy, at least in Blackdread’s hearing. No one has also told him what to do with the battered artifact, much less suggest its being in his possession as inappropriate.
Some of the Magistrates swear that, on the occasions the toy’s head peeks out from the long table over which the High Council discusses matters concerning the Empire, or when they are with Blackdread inside Command.Net, the toy makes one feel that it is looking at you with intent, especially if one is even thinking of bad thoughts about Blackdread.
Devouring Fury: considered as the pinnacle of Accretian technology and weaponsmithing, Blackdread’s signature two-handed, double-headed axe is one of the most dangerous weapons in the Sector. Beautiful as well as functional, its inlaid, Gothic design does nothing to dull its diamond-sharp edge and hides a myriad of Imperial weapons technology that is comparable to none.
Standing almost as tall as its master, Devouring Fury’s blade can cut a War Walker in two. And that is when the weapon is simply dropped onto said machine. In Blackdreard’s hands – or if thrown by them – the battleaxe can cut a mountain in two. This is on record, after all, when Blackdread threw the weapon to a nearby hillock in Verne’s Lebiscuri continent. It is said to be able to destroy a Tier-3 Caitlin with a single blow.
Devouring Fury has several pieces of technology that help make it such a dangerous weapon. The first is that it has a miniature suspensor and guidance field. This means that the axe, although said to weigh as much as its master, is extremely light and well-balanced in Blackdread’s hands. This also means Blackdread can throw the axe, and it will return to him, even if it has to smash and cut its way back to the outstretched claw. Blackdread has used this feature more than once in combat, especially in conjunction with another ability of the axe.
Devouring Fury is actually two weapons in one: the axes Devourer and Furioso, each of which Blackdread can wield with either hand, or (in rare occasions, since he wasn’t really trained extensively for it) both at the same time. Each has its own particular characteristic: Devourer is said to contain the death-dealing aspects of the weapon, while Furioso is speed and balance personified. A special “mimetic” alloy allows the two weapons to become one when the back of their heads are brought together.
Its special repulsor systems also helps the Devouring Fury withstand the powers of weapons of equal caliber by creating a protective field around the weapon. For instance, it is one of the few weapons that can indefinitely engage Winter’s Sharp Kiss, the Cora’s legendary Kingspear, and its signature cryogenic film that renders any substance it comes into contact with as brittle as rusted iron.
Warships: Blackdread can use two warships. The first is his personal battlecruiser, The Black Death. It is a highly-modified Standard Chassis Accretian warship designed for melee-range fighting with other warships and can carry a full Legion. Blackdread uses its especially thick armor and powerful shields to close in with an enemy warship so his troops (and he himself) can board it, making the 14th Legion one of the most adept units in ship boarding combat among the Accretians. It is currently part of Blackdread’s escort squadron.
The other warship Blackdread can use is no less than the Majestic Courage, the Imperial Flagship. It is one of the few ships of its class and size in the Empire, as it was made to be the Emperor’s personal conveyance. When Kesar left on his “vision quest”, he used a specially made fast frigate instead and left the flagship. As Warlord, the ship was detailed for Blackdread’s use. It currently sits in orbit around Verne, with its escort squadron.
“You will be the fear that gnaws at the back of the minds of our enemies. You will be the fear that goes before every rumor of our Legions’ arrivals. You will be the fear that strikes deep into the hearts and counsels of those who dare stand before the might of Humanity’s defenders. Thus it shall be, so that even with the mere hint of your coming, they will bow down on their knees and beg for their lives to be spared. Or they shall lose their necks by the edge of your axe.”
— Emperor Kesar, speaking before a Blackdread coming right out of the Rebirth Chambers.
The Accretian who would eventually become Blackdread was part of the first generation to be born from the Steel Wombs. Blackdread grew up with the first “batch” of Accretian children who would know nothing except the need, even the desire, to become Steel.
Blackdread first achieved notoriety when he killed one of his Creche-mates in gory fashion with a fork. The much bigger and larger kid had been terrorizing his Creche-mates to get extra food, or to make them do his work for him, or even just out of plain cruelty. During one such bullying episode, this one while they were having lunch, Blackdread – a runt of a child at the time – simply came up to his Creche-mate and laid on him with the aforesaid utensil.
This incident actually merited Kesar’s attention, since everything at the time was still an “experiment” of sorts, and this boded ill for the “reculturization” of the Accretians. It was said that, in the throne room, White Knight refused to let the child come close to Kesar and never sheathed his sword, and that Infinite Depths openly admitted his fear of the still-flesh child. At that particular moment, Blackdread was born, and Kesar himself took him under his wing. At his “graduation”, Kesar was there when the new Worker emerged from the Chambers of Rebirth and christened him with the name with which the whole Sector would remember him by.
Blackdread, being one of Kesar’s wards, quickly rose in the ranks, although some said that if it weren’t for the “special favor” attached to him by his “privileged training” under the Emperor himself, the young warrior would never have gotten so far, if not so fast. Too vicious, some Legates and Centurions said, which was saying much from a Race that glorified viciousness in combat. Still, by the time the First Novus War came around, Blackdread was already a Legate, commanding the 14th Legion. He was also made one of Praetor Zero’s Lictors, and it is said that whatever Blackdread had in the way of strategy was learned under his “uncle” Zero.
Sometime after the fated battle that reunited Harvey Lunus with Phaera Ladenus, Blackdread suffered heavy damage at the hands of Erdanios Ladenus and Vanderion, in that more fated battle where the latter became Bearer of the Kingspear. Blackdread remembered wishing, as he lay there on the blood-and-coolant-soaked soil of Theilanvoss with two limbs broken and an arm sheared off (that last the work of Vanderion), how, if he only had teeth, he would have bitten off Vanderion’s head. Hearing this, Trinary Helix (who was then a Lictor to Infinite Depths and Scientist Magister for the 14th Legion) said it would be a simple matter to modify Blackdread’s head unit to incorporate jaws. Blackdread thought this was, indeed, a good idea and ordered the modifications to be done during his repair and refit phase after the First Battle of Theilanvoss.
His ability to “feed” on his opponents – where Blackdread virtually swallows what he bites off from his Bellato and Cora enemies as his matter supplement for his Haloment powercore – came from a battle prior to the Razing of Zelazny where he was almost killed because he kept wasting time spitting out what he bit off. After that incident, Blackdread ordered his systems modified so he can swallow what he bit, and that it would go straight to the matter-processing chamber of his powercore.
Blackdread used his new “ability” in gruesome fashion during the Mir Massacre, where his 14th Legion hit a Corite strikeforce on the planet Mir that was going to attack the flank of Messenger’s main assault force that was leapfrogging its way to Zelazny. Immediately after this, Kesar recalled him to his presence, where Blackdread was formally inducted into the Executors, a new, more powerful and frightening Frame given to him. It was during the subsequent operation, the Razing of Zelazny, where Blackdread gained his reputation as Fear Incarnate in truth. He was so vicious and bloodthirsty during the Razing that many of the senior Death Heralds present seriously considered offering him a high position within their faction
It was a notion that also caught Merciful Dirge’s attention, who was said to have openly wondered if “Forks” – her pet name for Blackdread, stemming from his childhood killing of his own Creche-mate – would make a fine addition to the Heralds. Messenger, who was then Lictor Primus to Dirge, was said to have privately objected to his Praetor, but it was ultimately Kesar who overruled Dirge.
“I want Fear, Dirge, so our enemies will realize it is better to bend the knee than to be broken at the neck. Or bitten off, as is the case here,” Kesar was said to have told the Praetor of the Death Heralds. “In your employ, Fear will become a Nightmare, and that does little to serve Our purpose.”
Blackdread continued to gain both honors and notoriety for the remainder of the First Novus War. During the Battle of Peregrine’s Rock, Blackdread was on rest and refit cycle (forced, it was said) in Theilanvoss, and thus was not part of that battle or the subsequent landing actions led by Merciful Dirge on Novus once the valiant space station had been reduced.
Blackdread was about to come out of his R&R cycle with the rest of the 14th Legion when the joint Bellato-Cora strikefore attacked Theilanvoss a second time. His Legion was the one present when the Third and Ninth Holy Guards almost broke into the facility where the Nova Bomb was kept, and thus were some of the first Accretians outside of the Genekeepers to encounter the Hands of Hybroer (although they were unaware of who they were at this point).
The hatred Harvey Lunus personally felt for the Accretian began that day on doomed Theilanvoss when Blackdread himself intercepted Harvey as he tried to come to Phaera’s aid. All Blackdread remembered thinking at the time was that he had to keep Harvey Lunus from getting to where the Princess was, at the exclusion of everything else, so even as Theilanvoss began to fall apart and Trinary Helix screamed at him to break off and help secure the facility so the Genekeepers can shut the bomb off, Blackdread kept attacking Harvey until it was too late.
Questioned after by an Imperial Commission due to a complaint filed by Trinary Helix and Messenger of Oblivion against him, Blackdread could only say that it was as if an overriding protocol took over him and kept him fighting Harvey regardless of what happened around him. But scans of his bioware and hardware showed little, if any, evidence of outside tampering, except for a slight “kink” in both his EEG and the operating systems that linked his cyborg body to his still-organic brain. Kesar once more stepped in and exonerated his Executor, but Blackdread was temporarily stripped of command of his Legion, and the 14th passed to his executive officer and Creche-mate, Thor.
Blackdread would fade from Imperial politics at this time, surfacing once to “do a favor” for Trinary Helix in the attempted capture of Vanderion Ladenus and Catherine Luminus during the former’s Hunt for the latter. Blackdread was given command once again of the 14th Legion, which promptly lost a fourth of its number in battle with the Hands of Hybroer. Blackdread also began to exhibit a strange melancholia about him at this time, offset only by his new Adjutant, Violetdawn.
His “botching’ of what Trinary said was a simple “snatch and grab” further heightened the rift between the Legate and his former Scientist Magister (who was now a Praetor, having but recently wrested the position from his own mentor, Depths). Blackdread shot back that Trinary and Celestial (who provided the intelligence to Trinary for the operation) never mentioned anything about some half-mad Corite and his cohort that could each pack the power of a Supercharged Bellato Recluse and blamed the two Genekeepers for the loss of more than a fourth of the warriors of the 14th Legion. Since then, Blackdread and Trinary have been “unfriends.”
Blackdread once again faded from the limelight, doing missions instead as Executor – this time with the more overt rank of Overseer – for Kesar, taking only a small guard unit with him led by Violetdawn and once again leaving command of the 14th with Thor. Blackdread would resurface on Novus itself during the Archonate of Mechjaden, ostensibly to do an inspection of Imperial forces there. He left very satisfied, and, in one of the few instances of his vicious life, actually became a close friend of Mechjaden (Blackdread was even said to loudly praise the fighting prowess and strategic acumen of the Novusian Archon. When “MJ” stepped down as Archon of the Imperial Army of Novus and returned to Accretia Prime, he was nominated by his Praetor to the High Council and became a Magistrate. Blackdread’s “endorsement” was said to have been crucial in this, as anyone who garnered the admiration of someone like Fear Incarnate must be good)
It was between his inspection of Novus as Overseer and his return to it as Warlord that Blackdread suffered what he said was one of the worst ever betrayals he ever experienced. Although Thor was now officially the Legate of the 14th Legion, Blackdread still thought of the elite unit as “his”, and never failed to advance or protect the interests of his former command within Imperial High Command and the Council. He also considered Thor as a personal friend; both had come from the same Creche, after all.
Then, the 14th Legion disappeared.
Blackdread was worried and used all the power and influence of his position as Executor to find his former unit. He reacted with alarm when the 14th Legion reappeared on Novus but as a rogue unit, attacking Imperial Army units as much as they did the Bellato and Cora. Blackdread felt relieved when he was told they were acting that way due to a variant of the Arcane Virus and pressured the Genekeepers to find a cure. But even after the cure was administered, the whole Legion decided to join their commander, Thor, in separating from the Empire. Blackdread has sworn to personally bring Thor to justice, and he was getting ready to do so until a more monumental development came around.
At the start of the so-called “Crimson Dawn” – so named both for the bloody beginning of that stage in the Second Novus War and the color of the weapons authorized by the leaders of the Three Races for use on Novus – Kesar and Zero decided to up and leave, with the former simply saying that he went to find the salvation of the human race and the latter simply telling his Defenders that where Kesar went, he cannot be far behind. Among the “Final Orders” left by the two had a direct impact to Blackdread: Zero, apparently, named him as the new Praetor of the Defenders of the Word, and Kesar appointed him Warlord of the Empire.
Far from being thrilled at becoming one of the most powerful citizens of the Empire, Blackdread almost rebelled at the responsibility suddenly thrust on him by his “father” and “uncle,” all the more because there actually was little power to back him up; he wasn’t Emperor, so his two fellow Praetors were still his equals, and Trinary Helix was also Strategos for quite some time now so Blackdread could do little in dictating where the Imperial Army went. And because the Imperial High Council never liked the brash, vicious, young Executor, Blackdread was almost always stymied by the Magistrates, even those from his own faction who were smarting from being bypassed by a mere youngster for the position of Praetor.
Even worse, when Blackdread set foot on Novus for the first time as Praetor and Warlord, the reigning Archon proved almost as insubordinate as Adjutant 001-B was. Although still holding the warriors of the Imperial Army of Novus as the true exemplar of the Empire’s military might, Blackdread found he could not stomach the politics and clash of egos caused by the rivalries of the Accretian leaders on the planet of the Halostone. Trusting in Command.Net’s ability to allow him to coordinate the Empire’s war machine remotely, Blackdread retired to the war-torn planet of Verne, sight of the infamous Burning of Lebiscuri, where the retreating Bellato decided to turn the whole continent into a nuclear wasteland rather than let the Accretians have it whole. It was here that Blackdread found his now-ubiquitous stuffed toy.
Blackdread’s sojourn in the deserts of Lebiscuri were interrupted twice. The first was by Violetdawn, who personally came to convince Blackdread to return to Novus and deal with the Serial Killers. The second time was when White Knight fetched his Praetor for the fated High Council meeting prior to the Fourth Battle of Niven.
Blackdread, as Imperial Warlord, was placed in charge of Task Force Niven. Seething at what he perceived to be a figurehead role in the conflict – the whole Task Force was ordered to follow the strategy laid out by Trinary Helix to the letter – and chafing at the pronouncement that, under no conditions, was he to initiate combat with the Federal Army North Group or the Bellato’s Third Fleet (he could fight back if attacked, though), Blackdread made the fatal mistake of storming Shilaris Stronghold directly. Although badly wounded in the first meeting of Corite and Accretian forces short of the fortress, Kaladar Akadva managed to make Blackdread and three legions pay dearly for gaining access to the main Akdava base, earning the Warlord much censure from the High Council (and a not-so-subtle dig from Celestial, who was personally charged with overseeing the raiding of the datafiles of the Library of the Shastra).
Tensions increased upon the return of the Task Force to Accretia Prime. Although successful, much of the credit went to Trinary Helix (for mapping out the strategy used in the raid), Advent (who was tasked with tying up Corite forces along their common border with the Accretians), and even Samael (for having nearly killed Vanderion in single combat). Blackdread openly accused Trinary of setting him up, which the Genekeeper Praetor merely shrugged off. Seeing how little support he was getting from the High Council, Blackdread stormed off and went back to Verne, refusing to talk even with his fellow Executors, particularly Advent.
Blackdread remains on Verne to this day. He rarely leaves the planet, and prefers to coordinate the Imperial Army remotely via Command.Net. His melancholy is becoming pronounced and he has skipped all High Council meetings following the conclusion of the Fourth Battle of Niven, sending instead one of his Lictors to represent the Praetor of the Defenders.
Blackdread has also shown extreme disinterest in managing the affairs of the Defenders, preferring to let its High Command deal with what he calls the “tedium of bureaucracy.” As such, the Defenders of the Word are bereft of clear direction as to what to do, causing no small amount of anger among its senior leadership.
Since no one has the gall to challenge Blackdread in Ritual Combat – one of the few ways the Praetorship can be taken from him – and no one equally desires to go against the wishes of Zero, many Defenders have begun to look for leadership elsewhere. Some, like Shadow Walker, have turned to Advent, while many have looked towards White Knight, who is said to have departed from Verne and is en route to Novus.
Also, despite caring immensely for his lord, Violetdawn has asked leave for redeployment to Novus. Blackdread was thankful enough for all that his adjutant has done that he ordered the raising of an elite Century of warriors for Violetdawn, the commissioning of an experimental frigate for his Adjutant’s personal use, and promotion to Legate. Blackdread also did not strip Violetdawn of his rank of Lictor Primus, telling his Adjutant that his lord was merely giving him temporary liberty and will most definitely call him back to service.
Blackdread today remains on Verne, brooding. What truths will Blackdread find amidst the desolation of Lebiscuri? What insights will he bring back from its irradiated wilderness? What realizations will he make amidst those tangled and mangled remains of total, unremitting and unforgiving war?
None cannot say. But many wonder – and are afraid – of what will happen once Fear Incarnate remembers itself, and rises once again.