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The Necromongers are an interstellar nomadic religious extremist society centered around death cult in the fictional universe of the film The Chronicles of Riddick. The Necromongers are a militaristic theocratic imperialistic dictatorship, led by a supposedly divine military religious ruler known as the "Lord Marshal." They are biologically human, but each member's ability to reproduce has been surgically removed. They expand their ranks solely by conversion.
The Necromongers practice a religion known as Necroism. The primary belief of this religion is that life in this universe is a mistake which must be corrected. This revelation was brought about by the discovery of the Underverse, which is described as another universe in which life is cherished and even the dead are brought back to life. The Underverse is both the afterlife of the Necromongers and the ultimate destination of their interstellar journey. Entrance to the Underverse is restricted to those who follow the Necromonger religion. There also seems to be a concept of each person having an appointed time of death in their cosmology ("due time"), and if a person is killed before his due time (the criteria for this is never explicitly given) he will not pass on to the Underverse. The Lord Marshal has seen the Underverse, and his extraordinary abilities are derived from this. Seeing the Underverse is not a requirement to being Lord Marshal, however, as most of the Lord Marshals never saw it before ascending to the throne. Instead, Lord Marshals tend to be appointed either through succession or assassination (as in the case of Riddick) as per the Necromonger law that dictates "you keep what you kill." The first act of a Lord Marshal is to make a pilgrimage to the gates of the Underverse.
Necromonger Society Edit
The Necromongers expand their ranks by conversion alone. We know that they have an institution of marriage, but this may be simply a vestigial custom from an earlier stage of their evolution. As mentioned in the DVD extras, the process of conversion renders them incapable of reproducing in the normal manner because the concept of procreation is in direct conflict with their set of beliefs. The Necromonger faith dictates that "life is antagonistic to the natural state" and therefore the creation of Life must be forbidden. One can say that if they truly did not procreate they would probably not be able to sustain large planetary populations, but since we never see their planet of origin and they are completely uninterested in human-inhabited worlds save as sources of converts this is not particularly persuasive either way.
It is fair to say that the Necromonger society is very patriarchal, as we haven't seen any Necromonger females in their military ranks. Then again, most of the Necromongers that we do see are in heavy battle armor that would make gender differentiation difficult. Generally, the Necromonger society appears to be a meritocratic dictatorship.
It is unknown whether the Necromongers are originally of human or alien origin. They are biologically human, but since they do not procreate this may simply be a reflection of their long journey through the human-inhabited portion of the galaxy.
Their armada seems to be a self-contained society, which would be consistent with a lack of faster than light technology (without which a prolonged interstellar voyage would take at least decades). However, the speed with which a Necromonger frigate tracked Riddick to Crematoria (an entirely different star system) suggests that they do in fact possess faster than light travel. Perhaps only their small tender vessels are so equipped, or perhaps the Necromonger planet of origin is so far away that even with faster than light travel it would require centuries to reach.
Necroism began within the ranks of a group known as the Brotherhood of Austeres, another religious group composed of a few-thousand people. This group, whose exact beliefs are never made clear (they are said to be monotheistic, at least), felt that other religions were too restrictive with histories soaked in far too much blood. To that end, they made a pilgrimage across the depths of space to escape those religions, eventually colonizing a world they named Asylum.
Once they arrived there, dissention arose in the form of a man named Covu. It was his belief that monotheism was an unnecessary vestige of Jesusism (referring to Christianity in general), and that it should be done away with along with the other aspects of Christianity that the Austeres had already left behind. This belief was not accepted by the Austeres, and they demanded that Covu renounce his beliefs. When he refused, they tortured him to the point that he could not feel pain. They then turned on his family, torturing and killing them. Covu was saved from this fate by a few loyal followers, called Covulytes.
After escaping death, Covu and his followers wandered through space. After a long journey (how long is unclear), Covu and his followers found a rift into another universe. While his followers were afraid to approach, Covu pushed ahead with the remains of his family, having apparently managed to take them with him, and crossed through the rift, which later became known as the Threshold.
After returning from the rift, Covu had been changed. He seemed to have aged several years, and appeared stronger and more resolute in his beliefs. He explained to his followers that his family had been resurrected on the other side of the Threshold, and that the universe on the other side was a glorious place known as UnderVerse.
Given new strength from visiting UnderVerse, Covu returned to Asylum and slaughtered every one of the Austeres, decapitating them as he did so. After doing so, he would look into their eyes and whisper, "You keep what you kill." This is the origin of the Necromonger belief centered around that phrase.
With the Austeres mostly dead, Covu gave himself the title of Lord Marshall and reorganized those that remained into a new, militaristic faith known as Necroism. As a testament to this faith, Covu had a grand hall known as Necropolis erected on the tallest hill of the planet.
There have been total of six regimes (seven if you count Riddick). Each regime began and ended with a specific Lord Marshal. The accuracy of these histories is said to be in question, since the current technique of pyro-encoding has made some translations difficult and some of the early records were lost in the fourth regime.
Covu the Transcended Edit
Covu, being the first to see and visit the UnderVerse, became the first Lord Marshal. It was he who inspired most the beliefs of Necroism, most notably their belief that all life was an unguided mistake that needed to be corrected. While they, too, were part of this mistake, knowing the truth made it their duty to correct it.
Covu eventually chose a successor, a man known as Oltovm the Builder. Oltovm had laid the first, last, and presumably many more of the stones that made Necropolis. These two then set out to find the Threshold once more, so that Covu could remain while Oltovum continued. The two eventually found it, but it was now surrounded by dangerous tidal forces. After several days of waiting, the tidal forces subsided, and all but Covu and Oltovm were ordered to turn their backs on it. This established the tradition of Necromonger ships heading into the Threshold aftward first. Covu then walked into the UnderVerse while Oltovm remained.
Oltovm the Builder Edit
After becoming the new Lord Marshal, Oltovm made sure that the Necromongers would never lose their way to the Threshold. To that end, he put hidden navigational markers in place so they could find their way back when necessary. Oltovm also had a portal constructed around the Threshold that could force it open at a whim, eliminating the tedious wait for the tidal forces to subside. A Necromonger legion was left to guard this place. Their leader, whose name is unknown, is simply referred to as the Guardian of the UnderVerse. He is said to be over three meters tall. He and his legion are tasked with repelling any non-Necromonger who approaches.
With their afterlife now firmly secured, Oltovm turned to the tenets of Necroism. Since life itself was considered to be a mistake, they couldn't go about adding to it. To that end, breeding was banned, though the act behind it was not.
Of course, banning breeding led to the problem that their faith would die out within a generation, so converts were needed. As such, the construction of an armada capable of carrying them across the stars was begun. Labor was needed to build this armada, and acquiring that labor fell to a commander named Baylock. He accomplished this by enslaving the inhabitants of a nearby world called Boroneau V.
Oltovm never saw the day the fleet took off, an event known as First Ascension. Before it occurred, he chose a successor and committed ritual suicide at the Threshold. He claimed that it was his "due time," establishing the belief that every Necromonger has a proper time to die, and dying before then prohibits them from entering the UnderVerse.
Naphemil was a young cartographer that had risen fast in the ranks. He was responsible for mapping out the Necromongers' plan to wipe out all human life in the universe: the Campaign. Before First Ascension, Naphemil ordered that Necropolis be unearthed and entombed within a giant vessel known as the Basilica. The first Necromonger church would travel with the armada.
In the short years of his regime, Naphemil converted many thousands of humans to Necroism. He also established the current methods of conversion. Before, converts would simply swear loyalty to the Lord Marshall. From this point on, they would undergo a pain-deadening act similar to the torture that Covu experienced. In the film, receiving the mark of the Necromonger is the current execution of this practice. The office of Purifier Principal was created to oversee the conversions.
Even though Naphemil did well to convert others, more were being lost than being converted, either through in-fighting or simple attrition. During a dispute with commander Baylock, Naphemil was killed. This marked the first Lord Marshal to ascend to the throne through murder. It was debated whether this method was actually allowed at first, but the belief that "you keep what you kill" eventually prevailed.
Baylock the Brutal Edit
Baylock was the last Lord Marshal born to the Necromonger faith. During his regime, conquering worlds for converts became standard practice, and the technique he had applied to the population of Boroneau V was applied to every world they conquered. On top of conquering and converting the populations of these worlds, Baylock had the remaining people killed. He defended this with the words that Covu spoke to the last of the Austeres, "Convert, or fall forever."
It was during Baylock's regime that the Necromongers met another militaristic faith: the Carthodox. Like the Necromongers, the Carthodox were seeking converts for their cause. The two had fundamentally opposing viewpoints, however, and war quickly ensued when the two groups met in a planetary system known as Neibaum.
A small oral history suggested that the Elementals were advising the Carthodox throughout the course of the war. This claim is doubted by many, since the Elementals are supposed to be neutral; however, the actions of Aereon suggest that there might be more truth behind this than is believed.
At first, the Carthodox had the Necromongers outgunned, and Necromonger losses soon followed. Officers complained that their communications weren't secure, and that the Carthodox were intercepting them. As a response, an order known as the Quasi-Dead was begun.
The "Quasies" (as they are currently known) began as monk-like ascetics that deprived themselves of virtually all nourishment in order to suspend themselves between life and death. Existing in this state allowed their minds to wander away from their physical bodies. The one in charge of this order, a technical officer named Kryll, made an offer to Baylock to use the Quasi-Dead as telepathic conduits. The offer was quickly accepted, and the Quasi-Deads soon became the primary means of communication between ships.
With this new communication system in place, the Carthodox lost the ability to intercept their communications. Carthodox losses soon followed, and the tide of the war began to turn. During this, Baylock died in a landing accident. Since no one had directly killed him and he had not named a successor, the question as to who would become Lord Marshal remained. When Baylock was delivered to the Threshold, this question was answered. The Guardian of the UnderVerse, who delivered Baylock to it, swore that Baylock rose upon entering the UnderVerse and named a successor.
Kryll the Quasi-DeadEdit
The successor named by Baylock was Kryll, the man responsible for turning the tide in the war against the Carthodox. During his regime, the Carthodox were defeated and absorbed into the Necromonger ranks. After their defeat, Kryll overruled the Necromonger prohibition on the raising of personal icons and had a giant statue of Baylock built to remind people of the battle that had taken place. This would be followed by many monuments on many other worlds, though they were meant as warnings, not reminders. Kryll also had the hall of Necropolis adorned with similar statuary of all the Lord Marshals.
Expanding on the success of his Quasi-Dead order, Kryll made a new order, known as the Greater Quasi-Deads. Only five in number, these Quasi-Deads were (and still are) even closer to death than their predecessors. Their minds have the unique ability to read the mind of a subject before them, and can actually hemorrhage the brain of a resistant subject. Kryll also had the Carthodox technology converted and installed on Necromonger ships, making their armada stronger than ever.
Without warning, Kryll committed ritualistic suicide. A pyro-document was found near his corpse naming a trusted officer, Zhylaw, as his successor.
Zhylaw the Last Edit
Zhylaw's ascension to the throne was somewhat controversial, since some believed that he had somehow engineered Kryll's death and the placement of the note naming him as the successor. These rumors were promptly quelled and those responsible killed. To protect his reputation, Zhylaw had the document stored in a secure vault for posterity.
Before becoming Lord Marshal, Zhylaw was in command of a fleet of frigates. It was his task to map out worlds for purification. Zhylaw, however, took this one step further, actually purifying some worlds before they could become a threat. His initiative won him the praise of his superiors, including Kryll.
Many had believed that Zhylaw might be the last Lord Marshal (thus the nickname, Zhylaw the Last); however, he was killed during the purification of the Helion system by none other than Richard B. Riddick.
The 10th Necromonger Crusade Edit
At the time of The Chronicles of Riddick in the 26th century, the Necromongers are engaged in a bloody crusade, the aims of which are somewhat obscure. In the introductory narration of film it is stated that they are blazing a trail to the Underverse, a constellation of dark, new worlds, the promised afterlife of Necromonger myth. The passage seems to imply a physical journey with an actual destination, which seems odd in light of the nature of the Underverse. The most likely resolution is that the Necromongers think of the Underverse as both the destination of deceased souls and a real planet (or group of planets). The novelization of the movie expands on this, explaining that the Underverse is an actual place. Some Medieval Europeans held similar beliefs about Purgatory, which they believed to be an island in the southern hemisphere. Judging by the fact that the Necromongers visit (and destroy) several inhabited planets along the way it may be presumed that the human-inhabited regions of the galaxy lie between the supposed location of the Underverse and the Necromonger planet of origin.
The Necromongers travel between planets in large spacecraft which apparently expel huge amounts of (presumably) superheated gas as a consequence of their operation, giving them the appearance of a comet when viewed from a planet unfortunate enough to receive a visit from them. This would be consistent with either a fusion-torch or antimatter-fusion hybrid based drive system, possibly suggesting that they do not possess faster than light travel. After the Necromongers have landed and subdued the local defenses they assimilate (convert) much of the local population. The conversion appears to be accomplished through a ritual where a blade inserted into nerves is said to cancel all the other pain received by the brain (it is called a "mark of the Necromongers"). The process seems to be essentially a form of behavior modification.
The Necromongers do not seem to be interested in ruling planets. Once they have converted a certain percentage of the native population they leave. However, they follow a scorched earth policy and destroy all human life before exiting the system.