Church of Helios
The United Church of Helios a Polytheistic Faith based on the personification of life and death through celestial bodies. It is based on Helios and is the state religion of The Helios Nation. Its roots lies in the Cathedral of Mechos and the Temple of Abysai which are in fact the ruins of respectively the Engineering Decks and Military Spheres of the original Seed Ship Helios. The tribes that emerged from those ruins and formed in the early years were at an advantage compared to the others. The tribe that would become the Abysai had the wealth of weaponry of the military sphere to defend themselves with or to take what they wanted from nearby neighbours. Respectively the tribe that would become the Mechos had access to sophisticated machinery to generate secure shelters, transport, and life support all of which ensured a greater survival rate for its people.
The ruins of each of these parts of the ship became the reasons for their prosperity and ultimately they attributed their success to the divinity of the locations, they became holy places, the Cathedral of Mechos and the Temple of Abysai. The gods themselves that these two faiths took to worship, Mecha and Abys, have more mortal origins. They were nothing more then prominent leaders of these tribes in the early years … ones that lead the tribes to particular success. Varion Mecha was the first chief to augment his body by replacing a crippled limb with bionics, by defying an injury that would of almost certainly be fatal in the early times he was for a time seen as immortal. Lorum Abys was the first to survive falling into the toxic lake under the Temple of Abysai and subsequently fire one of the Seed Ships ancient plasma cannons using only his own body for power. The days they died both tribes independent of one another (a coincidence treated even today with great suspicion) honoured their chiefs by naming the moon highest in the sky on that day after their chiefs, treating the moons themselves as the ascended spirits of their divine leaders. The knowledge of the mortal origins of the gods has long since passed from memory but the worship of their name and moon, the great power they demonstrated either for creation or destruction, and the reverence of their holy places remains.
Both churches prospered subsuming and conquering many of the nearby tribes, eventually they came to meet one another and came to blows. When it became apparent that neither side could win the Mechos High Priest of the time Oleg Ballic organised a truce and a meeting of the two sides leaders. There over a great feast the two sides resolved to unite themselves and in doing so start a crusade to unite all of Helios; the two tribes would remain their own sub faiths but ultimately a part of the same religion and respect the beliefs of the other, thus the united Chruch of Helios was formed, this moment is still celebrated as The Feast of Balic today.
This event ushered in Balics Crusade where the unstoppable force of both the Mechos and the Abysai swept across the land conquering all until the remianing tribes united to form The Aethon Council and stop them, uniting the Aethon Families and the church, ushering in Festoths War, and ultimately leading to the formation of the Helios Nation as it is.
The Mechos worship the Great Creator, Mecha, a spirit that they attribute to both the creation of life and the spirit within living things to both create great things and perpetuate and defend life. Their worship is centred at The Great Cathedral of Mechos; the ruins of the ships old engineering decks. The Mechos are famous for being engineering and robotic experts without compare, creating great machines, vehicles, and weapons and infusing their own bodies with technology.
The Mechos have often been a cult of the people, giving hope to helpless Phelgon slaves and scared soldiers that the spirit of the great creator would watch over them and should they die they would be reborn in his grace. The Mechos were the first when The Sleep was introduced to insist that it not be applied to the Phelgon of their church, in an attempt to protect their own kind. And although only the Aethon may ascend to become Paladins (due to the origins of the helios knightly orders) the Mechos make no just discrimination with regards to priest and both exceptional Aethon and Phelgon arise to ordination.
The most significant part of the chuch is perhaps ‘The Oath’. Paladins on coming of age, and Priest on ordination, take an Oath to serve Mecha for 200 years. During this service they are not permitted to leave, or even to die. Should a Priest or Paladin die, either of natural or violent causes, they are recovered by the church and the body parts that have failed are replaced with bionics and robotics (often functionally to assist their role) and they are effectively resurrected. This continues for the entirety of their existence and those towards the end of their service often have very little flesh remaining.
Mechos life surrounds the notion of creation and below the cathedral great foundries and laboratories work to produce robotics and develop new technologies. It is the Phelgon Adepts of the church that man these facilities and recover the dead for regeneration. These facilities are often dangerous and Adepts can have a questionable life span. But as a place of learning and innovation the Cathedral is a shining example to the entire system.
Aethon who join the Mechos become Paladins. The paladins are the churches main fighting force and are famed shock troopers. Their train in combat and complex war technologies their entire childhood and then on coming of age are fitted into a Paladin Mecha Suit … a mechanised power armour that will double their size and strength and provide them with substantial protection. The suits are largely bionic and extensive surgery is needed to fit one, further more once connected the paladin may never take the suit off. The suit allows for the Paladin to wield the cumbersome weapons of the Mechos and also protects him from all but the most powerful blows.
When Oleg Ballic was killed in Festoths War he was replaced by his right hand man Rendar Barrok, who ascended as High Priest. It was he who formalised The Oath of Mechos and enforced it. While it was optionally pursued in the past now it applied to every priest and paladin. Additionally he took an a special Oath himself to never cease service to Mechos, to be almighty leader of the Church for eternity. As such High Priest Rendar Barrok has been rebuilt many times and lived for centuries.
The Abysai worship the Great Destroyer, Abys, an entropic spirit representing the end of all things, both violent and natural, and the spirit within all things tending towards destruction that leads them to pull other things closer to oblivion as well. The centre of worship for them is The Great Temple of Abysai; the ruins of the ships old military spheres. The Abysai are famous for their remarkable power to utilise ancient technological artefacts that no other can due to the remarkable properties of their blood.
Where as the Mechos are a cult of the people the Abysai are secretive and exclusive. Those a part of the church are often forbidden to associate with non believers and temple doors are closely guarded by templar. The religion arose out of the early rise to Aethon power and as such the Aethon and Phelgon divide is very prominent within the religion with the two castes have seperate living quarters, separate places of worship, and differing rights and duties. Only Aethon rise to positions as templar or leadership as lord or lady. Phelgon remain Acolytes in the vast majority though a few are blessed with the rank of ‘Agent’ who are permitted in the Aethon regions of temples and are released of clerical duties to pursue tasks of intelligence gathering for the church.
Perhaps the most infamous of Abysai practices is Ascension, most know that it is the key to the unlocking of their abilities but only those who have experienced it know its true effect and what it entails. On coming of age Abysai Acolyte initiates and Templar squires take place in a ritual in the lowest dome of the Temple of Abysai where a great underground sea lies. This sea is roughly elliptical in shape with a vague short diameter of 100 miles but not exact measurements have been made. When the military spheres that comprise the temple crashed into Helios they broke through to this cave and came to rest in its waters. Decades of damaged military hard ware, chemical weapons, and exposed reactors sat in the waters irradiating and toxifying the entire sea. During the ascension ritual participants are given stabilising drugs, read to from scripture, and then baptised in the waters of the abyss. This baptism kills a little under 2/3 of participants, the virulent waters often triggering an unstable mutation that further acts as a reactive catalyst for some of the waters other compounds ultimately resulting in death and disintegration. This death rate often puts the Abysai at a population disadvantage, though they heavily mitigate this through engineered breeding they still represent the smallest of the three groups in The Helios Nation. In the minority where a stable mutation is triggered the blood of the participants is forever altered so that they carry a third type of blood cell that their body continues to produce. This cell when correctly stimulated can discharge enormous amounts of energy allowing surviving abysai to use their body as a large chemical battery. Discharging kills the cell and causes it to release harmful toxins that are manageable in small doses but in larger doses can cause serious conditions and even death. The power of the blood allows the abysai to use the plasma weapons that were carried in the dome that were being designed for large emplacement defences (normally being far too power consuming to allow for personal use). These devices have been modified to be powered by the Abysai’s body and are often fitted with other body augmentations.
Abysai life is one of obsession with death. Acolytes spend their days reading about and honouring those who have past, recording and analysing all causes and identified reasons for death, and building and maintaining the many instruments of death in the temples. Spending so much time in great libraries makes Abysai acolytes some of the The Helios Nations greatest learners … though with a somewhat specific specialisation. The few agents spend their time in deep cover on missions, often acting as spies, a secret police force for the church, and saboteurs … when not on mission they spend their time supporting those who are at central control.
Aethon Abysai join the templars. They spend years practising combat and perfecting their strength before ascension as initiates before practising the use of specific weapons and meditation as fully grown templars. The templar order represents the churches key fighting force and thanks to their unique abilities and equipment are largely held to be one of the most dangerous groups, given particular situations, in the system. Templars hold lives of training and meditation … mastering their weapons and perfecting the entry into “the black trance” where they allegedly control the flow of their own blood to a fine degree. The Templars are given a much greater authority and autonomy then the Paladins of the Mechos, and the order acts as priests and local leadership in most areas of the church.
The Abysai are ruled by a group of five lords/ladies. The first lord/lady (sometimes called the principle) is generally speaking held to be the head of the church though each of the lords/ladies hold significant independent power.