“No, she: Sister. Me: Doctor. You: Mr. Bergenshaw.”
—Monty Python’s Flying Circus
So… I’ve seen the occasional Sister of Battle cosplay while cruising about the nets and social sites. My general impression was that they seemed a more pious sect of all-female Space Marines. That and they tended to look pretty cool. They usually had purity seals all down their fronts; or they had them trailing out like some kind of frayed cloak on one side or behind them. Given that I learned about those from another article, I now have the impression that these warriors of the Ecclesiarchy are quite free of the taint of Chaos indeed. And finally, I know they’re also a kind of inquisitorial guard… And honestly, that’s about it. Okay. Since the Games Workshop people have just come out with their first Sisters of Battle miniatures for nearly TWENTY years, I think it’s probably time for me to introduce myself to this order and see what it’s all about. (With the obligatory Python references along the way.)
“NO ONE EXPECTS THE ADEPTA SORORITAS! Our chief weapons are surprise, hideously large weapons, unmatched purity… and an almost fanatical devotion to the Emperor of Mankind- Look, I’ll start again.”
—Monty Python’s Flying Circus (very paraphrased)
Yeah… it’s not like that at all. I’m thinking that’s a bit more like the Officio Assassinorum. (Because honestly, would could be more surprising than waking up dead?) This would seem to be THE only military force that the Adepta Sororitas gets to field. Looks like the Ecclesiarch Sebastian Thor said the Ecclesiarchy doesn’t get to maintain men under arms. Boy did THEY find a loophole!
Now… that said, the fanatical devotion to the Emperor? Yeah, THAT’S totally a thing. Raised to worship and adore the Emperor from birth. (Ummmm, nothing disturbing about that… I guess? Ew.) What I’m getting here is essentially the elite-est leets that ever leet-ed equivalent of Imperial War Nuns. Except they’re not married to the concept of any deity except the Emperor of Mankind. Yow. Okay. This is the same mostly dead fella that needs 1000 souls pumped into him every day? I’m starting to form opinions about Emprah Pyrrhus. (Still calling him that.) But perhaps I should hold off on that til I’m more well read on the subject. (Update: I’ve read more on the subject. Still calling him that.)
I’m getting the Amazonian vibe here. How could I not? Although, I get a bit of a different vibe from the idea that the source of their indomitable will and power is their penitence and devout-ness. I don’t know how many of you remember the X-Man, ‘Longshot‘ from Marvel’s mutant books, but this was a character whose power (aside from agility and healing) was extreme lucky-ness. But it only worked if his motives were pure. By what yardstick were his motives proven pure? Eventually he found that he defined who he was and what was good for him and the world around him, (Like ya do.) and therefore his luck was only answerable to his own moral compass. (NOW THERE’S A SLIPPERY SLOPE, INNIT??)
The same would seem to apply to the Sisters of Battle. Their faith is at times literally their armor. It dispels fear, weakness and sometimes wounds. The morality of their Emperor isn’t so much the issue here, as the purity of their faith in Him. The singleminded strength of their faith is the point. Of course it occurs to me to perhaps read up on the idea and maybe do a story or sketch about a Sister who loses her faith. Except I get the idea that this doesn’t happen. And that the only way one of the Emperor’s Battle Nuns leave the Ecclesiarchy’s ranks is feet first with a bunch of extra holes in em. Remind me to look into what happens to ones that escape or go on the run. That probably brings us back to the Assassinorum again. But it’s worth pursuing.
Oddly… the Sisters of Battle didn’t so much have this imposed upon them. It looks like during the waning times of a huge and violently turbulent Ecclesiarchy ruling period referred to as the ‘Reign of Blood‘, the fellow that took control of said Ecclesiarchy found this sect of warrior-women on a world called San Leor. I suppose that’s a little less Handmaid-ey given that they sort of chose this for themselves. Even if in the process of weaponizing the Sisters, this religious demagogue Vandire kinda conned em into his service.
As Vandire’s cheese started to fall entirely off its cracker, the Space Marines and the Adeptus Mechanicus went against him and came in on the side of another Ecclesiarch, one Sebastian Thor. And hey, apparently one of their chief weapons WAS actually surprise. I think the one thing the Marines and Adepts were NOT expecting was an order of fanatically elite Battle Sisters generally kicking their asses in their own (Dishonest as hell) leader’s name. (NO ONE EXPECTS THE- What? We already did that bit? Okay…) I suppose it wasn’t entirely their fault. They were still under the impression that Vandire spoke for the emperor. Despite the whole FIGHTING the Emperor’s forces thing… (High Will, Low Int?) At least til the head of the Emperor’s Praetorian Guard met with the Sisters’ Leader and was all, “Hey look. I’ll TAKE you to the Emperor himself and he can set you straight on this. Okay?“
So they went and had a nice chat with the Emperor and his guards… Then the head Battle Sister goes straight back to Vandire and whacks his lunatic head off his shoulders for his betrayal. And there was much rejoicing. **yaaaaayyyy** (See? I wasn’t going to leave Python for long.) And even though Thor decreed the Ecclesiarchy doesn’t get to have men as an army anymore, the Minostorum snapped up the sisters, who became the Orders Militant of the Adeptus Sororitas, and later the Ordo Hereticus.
And then they lived, about has happy as they ever get, personally serving their Emperor the way they always wanted to anyway. And got to prosecute many, many battles and wars in his name against xenos and heretics. So they’ve got that going for them.