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  1. +++ Void Slayers +++ ‘Weak minds beget weak deeds.’ + Lore + Index Astartes: Void Slayers + Art + Chapter Heraldry --- Index Astartes Version History Original Post Initial Outline ---
  2. So I'm thinking of painting these guys up as the Executioners Chapter. Yes I know they are officially an Imperial Fist successor but I just love the Iron Hands strategems, traits and general vibe. I thought combining that with the more melee focussed Successor options would be kind of cool. I'm a sucker for small elite forces and Primaris models. I'm just wondering what everyone here thinks. Any advice welcome on wether it's remotely playable or feasible as a working list. ++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Imperium - Adeptus Astartes - Iron Hands) [56 PL, 5CP, 1,000pts] ++ **Chapter Selector**: Custom Chapter, Hungry for Battle, Iron Hands Successor, Whirlwind of Rage Battle Size [6CP]: + HQ + Primaris Chaplain on Bike [7 PL, -1CP, 125pts]: 4. Mantra of Strength, All Flesh is Weakness, Benediction of Fury, Litany of Hate, Stratagem: Paragon of Iron, The Imperium's Sword, Warlord + Troops + Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 100pts]: Auto Bolt Rifle . 4x Intercessor: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Frag & Krak grenades . Intercessor Sergeant Intercessor Squad [5 PL, 100pts]: Auto Bolt Rifle . 4x Intercessor: 4x Bolt pistol, 4x Frag & Krak grenades . Intercessor Sergeant + Elites + Bladeguard Veteran Squad [10 PL, 175pts] . 4x Bladeguard Veteran: 4x Frag & Krak grenades, 4x Heavy Bolt Pistol, 4x Master-crafted power sword, 4x Storm Shield . Bladeguard Veteran Sergeant: Heavy Bolt Pistol Terminator Assault Squad [9 PL, 195pts] . Assault Terminator Sergeant . . Thunder Hammer & Storm Shield: . 2x Assault Terminator w/THSS: 2x Storm shield, 2x Thunder hammer . 2x Assault Terminator w/x2LC: 2x Lightning Claw (Pair) + Heavy Support + Eradicator Squad [14 PL, 180pts]: Melta rifle . 3x Eradicator: 3x Bolt pistol . Eradicator Sgt + Dedicated Transport + Impulsor [6 PL, 125pts]: 2x Storm Bolters, Shield Dome ++ Total: [56 PL, 5CP, 1,000pts] + General Ideas - Super rough and tough Chaplain to represent the amazing Thulsa Kane himself. Just drive around throwing hands and maybe buff the Bladeguard while driving by. Intercessors for objective holding and looking nice at the back. Bladeguard in an Impulsor and Assault termies to hit stuff hard when they show up/get there. Eradicators for a little bit of anti-tank.
  3. From the album: Rusted Hearts

    A member of Clan Argent. Paints that I apparently want are Chaos Black, Scorpion Green for the eyes, Brazen Brass + Blood Red for the chestpiece, and Mithril Silver for the arm and pauldrons.
  4. Index Astartes: Marines Adamant Brutal, insular, superstitious and paranoid. Most would describe the Marines Adamant with words such as these. Those few who enjoy better relations with the Chapter could not argue with such an assessment, but might also speak of other, nobler qualities such as bravery and unbreakable determination. Origins 'Astartes we, Iron born, Hate wielders, World breakers, Victors still.' - Chapter glory chant During the thirty-second millenium, the Orks rampaged across the galaxy, at great cost to the warriors of the Adeptus Astartes. Countless human worlds were swallowed up by the green-skins’ barbaric empires, and by the time of the 4th Founding few had been reclaimed, primarily due to the colossal drain of holding back the horrors of Abaddon the Despoiler’s second Black Crusade. The Marines Adamant were therefore assigned to the eastern border of the Segmentum Obscurus with a dual purpose: reclaiming the nearby worlds lost to Orks while supporting the defences of the Eye of Terror when needed. The fledgling Chapter’s gene-seed was that of the Primarch Ferrus Manus, and at the head of their training cadre was Clan Commander Elvrit of the Iron Hands, a hero of the many battles of the second Black Crusade. He led his brethren to war and they quickly formed a close bond with the Gharant III Forgeworld in the Havilar Sector, whose vast manufactoriums, Skitarii regiments and Titan Legion were already forming the lynchpin of the Imperium’s beleaguered defence against the Orks. Since then, the Chapter has mainly fought against the vile Ork: defending against encroaching Waaghs, raiding into Ork territory to destabilize growing threats, or spearheading massive Imperial Crusades to reclaim worlds lost to Mankind hundreds or even thousands of years earlier. On occasion they have sent forces west to support their brother Marines against the renegades of the Eye of Terror. Throughout the millenia, across countless battlefields, the Marines Adamant have remained resolute, loyal servants of the Imperium. Homeworld 'My world? It's cold, it's damp. What business is it of yours?' – Brother Hani, 4th Household. Halsstarrig IV is a Feudal world, located in the same subsector as the Gharant system. It was discovered more than four centuries prior to the arrival of Elvrit and his men by Adeptus Mechanicus Explorators and immediately marked as an ideal Astartes recruiting ground. Halsstarrig has a single primary continent, with several smaller landmasses and surrounding island chains; all are cold and bleak due to the planet’s far orbit from the local sun. Its atmosphere is damp and thick mists often cover its mountains, forests and seas. The people of Halsstarrig are strong and fierce, yet primitive in their technology and outlook. Clans vie for land and key resources such as the iron ore that provides all their tools and weaponry. The people are by nature aggressive and suspicious, and therefore trading or alliances between the clans are very rare. Raiding is a regular occurrence and outright warfare only slightly less so. Strength and survival are the primary factors that determine right and wrong, but the resulting potential for brutality is balanced by a firmly held code of honour, the core elements of which are shared by all the clans. This code demands a clansman’s loyalty to his chief, and the chief’s protection to his followers. While any proven warrior may challenge his chief for the leadership of a clan, such contests are strictly proscribed by custom and ritual. Anyone who would attempt to gain power by any other means would be quickly shunned by all the people. The clans are also very superstitious; fearful of the influence of the myriad sprites, imps and wights of Halsstarrig folklore. Many offerings are made by the clans to appease these spirits and natives often wear protective tokens and charms. Almost all learning beyond the basics of farming, fishing or fighting is the province of the Wyrds, or wise men. Common to all the clans are the Wyrds of the Flesh, local physicians and herbalists; and Wyrds of Iron, smiths and artisans. Highly respected, these often act as counsellors to their clan chiefs. Outside the clans, shunned but still respected, are the Wyrds of the Spirit, shamans who live in seclusion deep in the mountains or tiny ocean islets of Halsstarrig. They are feared for their uncanny abilities and closeness to the spirit realm, but sometimes a clan Chief or young warrior will travel to seek the Wyrds’ blessing or learn their future. The Fortress Monastery of the Marines Adamant stands on Halsstarrig’s first moon, a vast and imposing structure protected by countless weapon batteries, powerful void shields and the cold blackness of space itself. The Astartes are almost never seen on the planet’s surface, making no deliberate contact with its people. Legends exist of monstrous giants, and such legends are tied to those of young warriors ‘taken by the mists’ and never seen again. These ones are mourned by their families; the people have no idea of what lives await beyond their moors and skies. New initiates into the Chapter invariably rail against their captors, seeking escape, until they learn of the true nature of humanity and the debt of honour their whole world owes the Marines Adamant for their protection from the horrors of a cruel galaxy. Organization ‘Aye, I don’t much like those dumskalle of the 5th… but I trust them far better than I do svekling like you.’ – Warleader Jormgrun Stonebrow of the 7th Household to Colonel Bardel of the 143rd Ardravine Rangers. Much like their Iron Hands forebears, the Marines Adamant are divided into ten Clan Households, united by a Clan Council. Officially, this assembly maintains control over the actions of the Chapter as a whole. In truth it is little more than a forum for the commanders of the various Households to air their grievances, brag to one another of their victories, or attempt to ensure their own pre-eminence within the Council. Each Household fights as an autonomous battle group led by its Warleader, a mighty warrior who has risen to command through a mixture of politicking and battle skill. His forces include his own advisors, veterans, line squads and new recruits. This means that each Household is somewhat larger than a Codex-compliant Company, and that it is harder to accurately calculate the numbers of the Chapter as a whole. The Households each maintain their own well-equipped armoury of weapons and vehicles, many including a sizable Dreadnought contingent. The Hearthguard The veterans of each Household are named after Halsstarrig tradition. When a native Clan leader sleeps, as all men must, he is protected by a ring formed of his most loyal warriors. Given the people’s naturally suspicious nature, it is a great honour to be considered faithful enough to guard the fire of one’s Lord. Within a Marines Adamant Household, the Hearthguard are the iron core of its fighting strength, an immovable and implacable force around which the Warleader can build his strategy. Many fight as squad leaders, inspiring and exhorting their brethren, but the few who are most trusted form the personal retinue of the Warleader. When the Hearthguard go to war as one, there are few who can stand against them. The Chapter’s Techmarines and Apothecaries are also a permanent part of their respective Households. These masters of arcane technology, known by the Marines Adamant as Wyrds of Iron and Flesh, work together to care for the Astartes and vehicles of their Household and are just as esteemed as their home world counterparts. The Iron Wyrds are especially numerous and influential within the Chapter given its ties to the Adeptus Mechanicus and each will travel to Gharant III as part of their instruction. The brethren known as Spirit Wyrds are powerful psykers, feared and yet respected by the rest of the Chapter. Cast out and denied any hope of personal advancement or glory, these mystics are oddly viewed as more reliable since they can have no agenda of their own. As such, the Spirit Wyrds often act as arbitrators when the Clan Council meets and as observers for it when a Household goes to war. They live in voluntary separation from the Households in a small stronghold on Halsstarrig’s second moon, called the Spirit Hearth. While much of a Household’s past is remembered in oral form, the Spirit Hearth is also a repository of the written records of the Chapter’s most important history, including their greatest victories and most ignominious defeats. The Chapter maintains close links to the Gharant III Forge world and has a permanent Keep on its closest neighbour, Gharant V. The vast seas of this oceanic Hive world provide much of the local Adeptus Mechanicus’ nutritional requirements and its people receive many technological benefits in return. The Marines Adamant do not recruit initiates from Gharant V, but they do select the majority of their Chapter serfs and Fleet crews from its Planetary Defence Force and Navy. These are vetted with almost as much care and suspicion as potential Astartes. Generally, one Household is assigned by the Clan Council every century to watch over the system in return for keeping the Chapter well supplied. This is often seen as a lesser assignment by the Astartes as the system is already well-defended by the capable PDF, as well as Skitarii regiments and the mighty Titan Legion of the Gharant forges, the Silver Hammers. However, the Warleaders accept the necessity of maintaining this millennia-old bond and often the Council assigns the duty to whichever Household has been most weakened by battle in recent years, giving them an opportunity to rebuild and rearm. Also, there are still some opportunities for glory to be won as elements of the Household will often provide elite support for Explorator teams or Titan battle groups, or act as bodyguard squads for important members of the Gharant forges. [rightsidebar-The Ka-sil Annihilation]236.M35 – In an event unprecedented in the sagas of the Chapter, Warlord Fingil Bloodfist of the 4th unites all ten Households of the Marines Adamant under his banner when the Ka-sil Craftworld of the Eldar enters the Havilar Sector. Less than three years later, Ka-sil is a ruined, empty husk inhabited only by the ghosts of the fallen. Fingil is also dead, assassinated by five of his fellow Warleaders after declaring himself Chapter Master at the conclusion of the campaign against the Eldar.[/rightsidebar]When larger campaigns require that several Households fight together, they can be led by a Warlord, elected from among the Warleaders present. In such situations there is inevitably a certain amount of wrangling for power and the potential for personal glory it brings. Any candidate for the position must be nominated and backed by at least two other Warleaders, meaning that there must be at least three Households fighting together to appoint a Warlord and there can be at most three candidates even if the whole Chapter fights together. The Warleaders will vote at first, each attempting to gather support and undermine their rivals, but if no democratic decision can be reached the candidates fight in imitation of Halsstarrig custom. Generally this is to first blood but on rare occasion, when two candidates are so opposed that service to the other is an impossible request, it is to the death. Understandably, the appointment of a Warlord is a very rare thing, and he may only lead for as long as the specific campaign lasts. Beliefs ‘All flesh is weak. It must ever be constrained, guided. Thus the Code.' – Brother Nisses, Spirit Wyrd. Like any of the scions of the Iron Hands, the Marines Adamant are ferocious warriors, fuelled by their hatred of all weakness. However, unlike many other Successors, their contempt for the foibles and faults of the flesh tends to find its focus externally rather than internally. This means that for many among the Chapter, the self –loathing and obsession for mutilation so common among the gene sons of Ferrus Manus seems to be lessened, although never entirely removed. Instead, the brethren’s fixation is on the inevitable failings of those around them and all are quietly watchful for any sign that they are about to be betrayed. This paranoia makes it extremely hard for them to truly trust anyone, even their closest squad mates. It also means that competition for advancement through the ranks is fierce, as most Marines instinctively believe that any other candidate for promotion will undoubtedly be proved a poor choice. Disagreements between brethren occur all too frequently and are commonly settled at the point of a knife, though thanks to the Astartes’ superior physiology, fatalities are mercifully rare. Backbiting and brawling are part of everyday life, as are ‘accidental’ injuries caused during training exercises. ’An ally is just another enemy who hasn’t betrayed you yet.’ Chapter proverb It might seem that a Chapter cursed with such an outlook would quickly tear itself apart. However, the Marines Adamant are constrained by a simple Code of honour and duty much like that of the Halsstarrig clans that insists upon the absolute loyalty of the brethren to one another and to their Commanders. Remarkably, it is the Chapter’s own obsessive tendencies that allow this arrangement to function and makes it possible for its members to work together, binding them to one another within the Code’s strict confines. This holds the brethren together and has thus far prevented the power struggles among the Households from becoming a battle of more than words and wills. This does not mean that all causes for conflict are removed, but in around eight millennia since the inclusion of the Code in the Chapter’s hypno-indoctrination procedures, there have been only three occasions where violence has erupted between the Households. A fierce spirit of competition still exists between the Warleaders, who view one another with a great deal of suspicion, but they are united by their honour, their duty to the Chapter and their greater hatred of the enemies of the Imperium. [leftsidebar-The Cal Ferena Uprising]873.M37 – The 4th Household, battered but unbowed, returns home after sharing in the defence against Abaddon the Despoiler’s 7th Black Crusade. On route, they receive a distress call from the Adeptus Arbites Precinct House on the Hive World Cal Ferena, where a rebellion among the working classes of the primary Hive is attempting to take advantage of the tumult caused by the followers of Chaos. The Marines Adamant immediately deploy via Drop Pod, targeting the Hive Spire with its multitude of spaceports. Understrength, the Household cannot hope to defeat the millions of insurrectionists in open combat, but thankfully this is not their goal. The thirty-eight Marines Adamant take and fortify the entrances into the Spire and resolutely defend them against dozens of attacks. No supplies enter the Hive and within four weeks the starving rebels capitulate, surrendering unconditionally and presenting the heads of the revolt’s ringleaders as a peace offering at the Astartes’ barricades.[/leftsidebar]It is perhaps not surprising that the Chapter's view of the Emperor himself is similarly cold. The master of Humanity is not seen as a beloved father, provider or saviour. Rather, the Marines Adamant know him as a demanding and brutal overlord whose expectations must constantly be met. A Marine of the Chapter can expect no aid or special favour from his Lord in this, but must put his faith in his own strengths and abilities in order to fulfil the heavy load of responsibility placed upon the Astartes' broad shoulders. As such, it is somewhat understandable that the Marines Adamant do not maintain in their Households any position or rank relating to that of Chaplain in a more Codex-compliant Chapter. For most Marines, their focus is totally on war, be it actual combat techniques, weapons training or strategy and tactics. With no interest in knowledge or learning of anything more, they share nothing with the artists and artificers of Chapters such as the Blood Angels or Salamanders. These things are the province of the Wyrds, and are irrelevant to a warrior. While the Households are equally as capable as the brethren of any Chapter to care for their weapons and armour to a basic standard, this understanding, indoctrinated during process of becoming Astartes, is viewed as entirely mystical. Relatively few care or wish to learn more, to understand why things are what they are or how they work; these are quickly apprenticed as Skalds to the Wyrds of their Household. Skalds are often used as a liaisons with other forces, or chosen when a warrior is requested by the Deathwatch, as they seem to be better able to control the deep suspicion that is the foundation of the Chapter's mindset. The Chapter is strongly affected by the superstitious nature of Halsstarrig’s people, and many among their ranks adorn their armour with tokens and lucky charms. Much as clansmen wear trophies from their world’s predators, Marines often wear the teeth or pelts from particularly vicious alien species they have fought and killed. Depending on which of the clans of Halsstarrig they are recruited from, some brethren choose to daub crude patterns on their faces before going into battle. Such primitive behaviour, along with the majority of the Chapter’s attitude towards technology, has been known to make other Imperials, especially other Iron Hands Successors and Tech Adepts from further afield than the Gharant forges, look upon the Chapter with a certain amount of derision. Combat Doctrine ‘As always, it has been a pleasure to serve alongside the Marines Adamant. My crews’ only complaint has been that too few of the enemy survived to face our fury.’ – Lord Maxwell, Princeps Senioris of the Legio Mallei Argentum. [rightsidebar-The Gutrippa Retaliation]417.M39 – Waagh Gutrippa surges forth from the depths of the Abyss to attack the Gharant system. Through clever words and cunning manipulation, Warleader Dypnir the Sly is elected Warlord and leads no less than five Households to turn back the greenskin threat. Dypnir’s forces gradually retreat before the horde, their myriad counterattacks slowly bleeding it of strength, and when the depleted Waagh finally reaches the Hives of Gharant V, it is easily destroyed by the mighty battle Titans of the Legio Mallei Argentum.[/rightsidebar]When the Chapter goes to war they are cold, brutal and uncompromising. Their focus is on implacable advance in attack and they are even more unbending in defence. Overall, the Marines Adamant have a preference for firepower and resilience over speed. So often do they choose to take up defensive positions, most Households are able to equip three or four squads with multiple heavy weapons. The Chapter rarely uses ground transports; the plentiful supply of war material from Gharant III means that most Rhino chassis are quickly refitted as Predators or other support tanks. Much like the Iron Hands, they have deep respect for power of Tactical Dreadnought Armour, which will often be spread across a Household to its squad leaders rather than used by a single unit. When attacking, the Households favour drop pod insertion supported by Dreadnoughts. The Chapter has very few assault focussed units, though line squads expected to be ready – and are very capable – to fight at close quarters when necessary. Bikes and jump packs are rarely used, though each of the Households still maintain some fast vehicles and transports such as Land Speeders, Stormtalons, Stormravens and Thunderhawks. Due to the Chapter’s focus on self-reliant, adaptable infantry units, the Households excel in urban combats and boarding actions. Though the Marines Adamant are uncompromising in their devotion to the Emperor, their disdainful and suspicious nature frequently makes for difficult relations with other Imperial organizations. It is notable that Households fighting alongside other Imperial forces will often refuse to share intelligence or co-ordinate their battle plans. However, their Code makes them utterly loyal to any oaths they or their forebears may have sworn, especially to those who have proved themselves time and again, such as the worlds of the Gharant system. Geneseed ‘You think yourselves worthy of the seed of Manus? None of us are! But you shall have your chance. ’ – Brother Tonnrud, Flesh Wyrd. The Households’ Flesh Wyrds are responsible for recruiting and implantation, and often lead small squads to Halsstarrig to ‘recruit’ new initiates. Each Household has preferred clans and areas of the planet from which to recruit, but it is a source of some pride and amusement to ‘poach’ a promising recruit from the lands claimed by another Household. 4th Household Badge As successors of the Iron Hands, the Marines Adamant are blessed with gene-seed that is largely free of physical flaws, although in approximately one third of the Chapter’s brethren the Omophagea has become inactive. Detractors suggest that the Chapter’s instinctive mistrust of others is also plainly a result of their genetic legacy, a twisting of the Iron Hands hatred of the weaknesses of the flesh. It is less clear if the Marines Adamant also share their forebears predilection for bionic modification, but they are certainly well supplied with them by means of their link with the Adeptus Mechanicus. Battle-Cry ‘Emperor, gene-father! See the might of your sons!’ – Warleader Isorn Firewalker. The Households have no single war cry, as such are often selected depending on the current mission and personality of the commanding Warleader. However, these calls to battle do embrace common themes, including vows of loyalty to the Imperium or its worlds, as well as tirades against hated foes. Most notably, Imperial observers have heard challenging cries directed towards the Emperor and the Primarch Ferrus Manus, for them to see and remember the bravery, skill and determination of the warriors of the Marines Adamant. ******* Discussion Link
  5. I've been toying with a couple of different custom chapter ideas for a while, maybe to collect, maybe to just have in my head. This is the most detailed one I have. I have a couple ideas for color scheme, but unfortunately paints are slow to arrive these days, so I don't have a test model to show off yet. If you want a rough notion, look up the Knight Atropos on FW's site - the slightly dirty, white-and-dark-gunmetal Xana scheme. It would look extremely boring in a color painter, but could look cool in person. So, anyway: "What is known, is conquered." - Cipher Legion Chapter Motto The Cipher Legion Chapter Name … … … … … Cipher Legion Founding … … … … … … … … 19th Chapter Homeworld … … … Agartha Fortress-Monastery … … … The Hidden City Gene-Seed … … … … … … … Iron Hands Specialty … … … … … … … … Information Warfare, Precision Strikes Battle Cry … … … … … … … … "His eyes are upon us!" History of Agartha The planet known as Agartha is only recorded as the Homeworld of the Cipher Legion in classified records, accessible to Inquisitors or particularly nosy generals. Throughout most of the Imperium's bureaucracy, Agartha is listed as a quarantined world - one of many deemed unsuitable for settlement due to some corruption or contamination that need not be explained. Its appearance from orbit is no less foreboding - wracked with near-constant electrical storms, attempting to land on the planet is suicidal. During the ancient days of the Great Crusade, a handful of attempts were made to land on the planet's surface, but all were met with failure. Mechanicum and Astartes transports were struck from the sky, and those few that may have landed safely were cut off and unable to return. The Crusade, unable to waste any more time or resources on such a place, moved on. Over the Millennia, various attempts to penetrate the world were made, but none saw any real success until M35 when a convocation of Electro-priests came to investigate the planet. Many came to regard the place as holy, and after making extensive modifications to their landing craft they were able to enter the atmosphere - though the transit killed the servitor pilots. They landed on an expanse of grey cliffs, locked into perpetual dusk by the dull blue illumination of the highly-charged clouds above. They found Agartha to be inhabited by dozens of clans of techno-tribesmen, each tattooed with what seemed to be artistic interpretations of blueprints or circuit diagrams. Though they had limited infrastructure or manufacturing capacity, each clan had a remarkable mastery of what little technology was left to them. Vast siphon-towers pulled energy from the atmosphere, feeding each clan's devices. Enormous solar lamps replaced the planet's nearly-absent sun for agriculture. Skirmishes were fought with storm-spears and simple arc weaponry. Stranger still were the clans' shamans, who claimed that by communing with the storm, they could cast their spirits across the planet, communicating the shamans of distant tribes. This they claimed, despite showing no signs of psychic ability. Most notable of all, when the Priests arrived, the clansmen bowed. Millennia ago, the Mechanicum and Astartes forces stranded on the planet's surface had not abandoned their mission. Even without any apparent possibility of rescue or contact, they had brought the planet into compliance. The clans had been primitive then, barely surviving on fungi scraped from caverns beneath the surface - the Mechanicum had uplifted them, and the Astartes had taught them strength, all in anticipation that they may one day have the opportunity to serve the Imperium. Though those original forces had long since passed, the clans still remembered. Though their languages were largely incomprehensible to the priests, the words "Emperor" and "Omnissiah" always carried weight. Over the subsequent century, the electro-priests formed a temple on the planet's surface. Integrating their practices with those of the local shamans, they believed the storm itself was alive, a sentient manifestation of the Motive Force. They identified smaller entities - storm spirits, voltageists, mag-sprites - which had spun off of the larger one. They developed techniques for creating corridors through the storms. Safe travel to and from the surface became possible, at least for anyone in the priests' good graces. Some years later, the idea of founding an Astartes Chapter on the world was put forth. Its location placed it in striking distance of several threats, and its inhabitants had been noted as both strong and exceedingly clever. History of the Chapter The Cipher Legion's first Chapter Master was the Iron Hands veteran Marr Golan, a highly respected member of Clan Kaargul and heir-apparent to that clan's captaincy. It was at the insistence of the Chapter Master that the illusion of quarantine was maintained - he had grand plans for his new chapter, and wished to ensure that none would meddle in them. Even as the Chapter's fortress-monastery was still under construction, Golan founded a city around its base. He siphoned ten percent of each clan's population - their best and brightest - to populate the new city, where every clan's disparate technological knowledge was synthesized and combined with that of the various tech-priests invited the world. Remarkably, they were even able to recover some ancient equipment from the original landings, though an enormous amount of work was needed to restore any of it to working order. Finally, Golan approached the Electro-priests. They yielded the secret of the corridors, so that the chapter would be able to control transit to and from Agartha's surface. Beyond that, however, they convinced him to stand before the Motive Force to seek its approval and validation. This, more than anything, would earn the reverence and acceptance of Agartha's people. With some reluctance, he allowed a network of electoos to be implanted beneath his skin, that he might better channel the storm's power. And then he climbed the tallest siphon-tower on Agartha, immersing himself in the storm. On that tower, Marr Golan experienced what he later described as a single moment of "total understanding." His senses became unbound from his body and enveloped the entire planet - he could see every Agarthan, hear their heartbeats, and understood how each was connected to the others. He saw the chapter's future - not by peering through time, but simply by having enough information and intellect to project the likely course. The whole world was his for these few seconds before his body and mind could no longer bear the stress and he fell unconscious. This single experience changed him, and would define the chapter forever after. In the aftermath, the Chapter Master became more intense, more analytical. Desperate to recapture the expanded cognition granted by the storm, he requested and received numerous neural augments from his Mechanicus allies. The chapter's early engagements were characterized by extremely complex plans formed after long periods of scouting and analysis. While these often led to success, they frustrated many of the new chapter's appointed observers, who consistently pushed for bolder action. When asked to explain himself after a battle, Marr Golan would begin by outlining a vast mathematical matrix reflecting the forces involved as well as any number of other relevant factors. While some in the Adeptus Mechanicus regarded him as a genius, most other observers simply found him incomprehensible and irritating. He adopted the practice of having translators explain his plans to these outsiders, which only widened the rift. Marr Golan's techniques for tactical analysis, while extremely complex, were not impossible to teach to others. The chapter's first captains were selected largely on the basis of their ability to grasp, employ and expand upon them. They spread downwards throughout the chapter, to the point where initiates were expected to spend at least as much time on mental exercises as physical training. Warfare The chapter's way of war is based on the acquisition and exploitation of information - every target is exhaustively scouted, analyzed and tested. Extensive simulations are run to calculate every conceivable outcome, and the history of similar engagements is reviewed and applied. No battle is fought in reality without having first been fought a dozen times in theory, and only then if those theories suggested victory. This deliberate approach has, at times, attracted the ire of the chapter's peers: those Astartes born to more boisterous chapters will often come to regard the Cipher Legion as slow, overly cautious, or even cowardly. Indeed, while their approach has produced some shocking victories from scenarios that appeared unwinnable to less careful observers, it is undeniably true that it has occasionally cost them battles that might have been won had they acted more immediately. They have worked to adapt over time, to cover this weakness with new methods and tactics, but at the core they remain staunch defenders of their process. Organization To outsiders, the Cipher Legion may not appear to have any organization at all. Their internal structure is largely obscured to outsiders due to their apparent contempt for consistent, serialized iconography. Though they do indeed have ten companies with relatively consistent roles, individual marines are not at all clearly marked, and members of the same squad may not appear to have much heraldry in common at all. The one consistent piece of Heraldry is the chapter's symbol, the veiled skull. It represents several things: the consequences of blindness, the transcendent sight of martyrs, and the sacrifice of the electro-priests who are the chapter's spiritual guides. The first company is the chapter's most keenly honed blade, its veterans and elites. Their performance on the battlefield is proven and reliable, resulting in a kind of mathematical certainty that the chapter regards as almost holy. The subsequent chapters are arranged in much the usual fashion, concluding in the tenth, composed of recruits and vanguard forces. Like many chapters in the wake the Indomitus Crusade, the Cipher Legion has adopted a permanent standing force of Vanguard marines, which it rapidly deploys to new battlefields to gather information and account for scenarios where inaction may cost the chapter dearly. Somewhat unique is the role of the Company Champion. While in most chapters a Captain is expected to be a perfect balance of tactical acumen, leadership ability and combat prowess, the Cipher Legion heavily favors the first of these. The Company Champion therefore acts as a sort of counterweight, compensating for the captain's shortfalls wherever they may be. The chain of command recognizes this relationship, and champions occupy an official position equivalent to a senior lieutenant. Beliefs and Culture The Chapter Cult of the Cipher Legion recognizes the Emperor-as-Omnissiah, and frames him as a kind of panopticon: his power comes from his universal sight, seeing and knowing everything throughout the galaxy. This is reflected in their most common battle cry, "His eyes are upon you!" The first chapter master, Marr Golan, is revered as a kind of demi-primarch for his role in establishing the chapter's ethos. The chapter's actual primarch, Ferrus Manus, is a subject of study and respect, but little reverence. Agartha's living storm is also a subject of intense reverence, as a source of power and revelation. Many of the chapter's chaplains hold a dual role as a kind of storm-priest, communing with Agartha's patron spirit alongside the world's resident Electro-priests and experiencing lesser versions of Marr Golan's transcendent vision. While the Ciphers rarely leave the Hidden City, they do mingle freely with its human inhabitants, always interested in whatever projects they might be working towards. Marr Golan's vision of the Hidden City was that it would become a place from which all of humanity could potentially start to rebuild if all else were lost, and to that end the accumulation of knowledge and technology is an ongoing mission. The chapter's analytical approach to war is reflected into their general culture on every level - puzzles, riddles and mysteries are celebrated art forms, as are competitive games of strategy.
  6. The Verdant Phoenix Of Flame and Steel The Phoenix Verdant are stoic guardians of humanity who safeguard Imperial worlds through fast and precise counter-offensives. Charged with the security of the Irea system and its surrounding sectors, a cautious gaze hides their fierce and exacting methods for crippling and then destroying their foes. Much like their progenitors the Iron Hands marines of the Verdant Phoenix chapter hold a deep seeded obsession for logic and advancement. Driven towards specialization, these precise warriors readily adapt to unseen challenges to make safe their sector of space. Markings and Heraldry Origins "Our task is not a simple one. This chapter in its entirety hangs in the balance, and we must uncover the truth of their existence. While the loss of such an asset would be a tragedy and leave the Imperium lesser for it, the vile machinations of their founding must be ripped out root and stem. Start with these, Victoria. We will be here for some time." - Inquisitor Yusuph Trevar Planting Seeds – The Founding Into the Fire – The Blight of Irea Rising from the Ashes – The birth of the Phoenix Homeworld "Ah, the great bread-basket of Tempestus! I know it well, and I'll tell you now there's nothing you can offer that will make me smuggle through that port no sir. The place is crawling with sisters and arbiters, and the Verdant sometimes meander the docks. I'd be a poor and foolish bastard to put myself on the cross side of that I'll tell you." - Unknown Lowlife Irea System A hub of trade and economic activity, Irea has come a long way since its reconstruction during the blight. For hundreds of years it has sat as an asset too valuable to lose, and many imperial factions have supported its growth to ensure its security. Primarily an agricultural juggernaut, Irea boasts three agri-worlds that supply much of the food needed throughout its sector of the Segmentum Tempestus. Thanks to its existence and position, many worlds enjoy expansion unhindered by sustenance concerns and thanks to that expansion, Irea has enjoyed access to any and all resources it’s ever needed to support its own growth. Included in its sphere of exports is the Ophelia system, and many of the supporting worlds that maintain the Ecclesiarchy’s position there. Irea Primary The specific homeworld of the Verdant Phoenix chapter is Irea Primary, which is also the most populated and the economic hub for the entire system. Primarily a Hive world, it houses the logistical backbone of the whole system while also containing much of the system’s industrial infrastructure. Most Imperial factions maintain a notable presence on world, including three lesser orders of the Adepta Sororitas, an inquisitorial headquarters, Irea’s two Militarum regiments, a Naval academy, numerous arms of the Adeptes Arbites, and relatively large detachment the Adeptes Mechanicus. Oddly, Irea Primary is one of the less suitable candidates for life and it’s position of importance within the system came about purely as a coincidence. When the system was originally settled it acted as a staging ground for the research of the unique atmospheres present in the system; and that head start solidified its position as a hub. Geography Populace Governing Bodies Industry and Economy Other Orbital Bodies Gene-Seed "Welcome back brother, I look forward to watching you grow again. Tell me, what do you remember?" - Brother Rasgir, Apothecary of the Second Company The Verdant are host to a stable but flawed gene-seed that has warped their self-image and challenged their faith for millennia. A subtle mutation in the Progenoid glands causes them to retrieve more than simple genetic data but also neurological data from the brain of the marine that seeded them. Contained in the Proto-Omophagea as it develops, this data is stored chemically and can be transferred to its new host upon re-implantation in the form of impulses and hallucinations, even memories at times. While these symptoms do not always develop, they can be startling if and when they do. Fortunately, on a biological level the mutation is very difficult to spot, and even then seems like it would have little effect on the system. Only by successfully re-implanting a progenoid that has been used over a full lifetime are the effects apparent. It's unclear when the mutation itself began to appear, over centuries of service its easy for such things to go unnoticed as marines refuse to disclose something that may classify them unfit for duty. It's believed it came about in M39 when the chapter’s implant success rates began to decline from ten to six percent. Since then Apothecaries have sought to understand and document it in secret, and it has become central to the chapter’s culture-even more so since their transition. Where once it was a coveted secret only discussed by the closest of battle brothers unfortunate enough to be afflicted by it, the sparks (as they're called) are now a welcomed occurrence. Marines within the chapter now trace their lineages back through time, trying to trigger episodes where they can pull from the experiences of their ancestors. Better yet, Marines in combat now allow themselves to be taken by these episodes rather than fighting them. Acting as their ancestors and pulling from skills they may not have mastered yet, these marines are beginning to conquer the drawbacks of their mutation that can incapacitate those who fight to keep control of themselves. Initiates have, since adopting these practices, taken less and less time to train; and the chapter phased out its scout company long before crossing the rubicon. Combat simulations seem to spark these experiences, especially in those of particularly old lineages. This has helped to offset the lower success rates in surgery, but even still the Chapter has to take in more recruits than normal to maintain fighting strength. Also, many marines object to having their implants removed before death, coveting the opportunity to impart their experiences on the next generation. This has put pressure on the chapter's medics, as each soldier who is not harvested on the battlefield is a severe disappointment to their comrades, and can even draw rage on the fallen's behalf. Chapter Recruitment “You have to be forward thinking. Men can always be made available to you as recruits, but it will be easier if they want to. Send your marines out now, when Irea is at its weakest. Lend their formidable labor and intellect to the reconstruction of our system. The men they aid will be too old for your purposes, but the boys... They won’t soon forget it. And when they come of age they’ll line the streets to fight for you.” - Director Aelia Corrilan The Verdant recruit exclusively from the Irea system. Its governing bodies have long fulfilled their commitment to the chapter's recruiting quotas, providing a mixture of volunteers and conscripts as needed. Since Irea recruits for its many military operations together, veteran marines and even officers stationed on world will regularly visit recruiting centers to encourage and oversee. Once recruits have finished their preliminary testing, those who meet the chapter’s serious requirements are separated and organized into aspirant groups. These teams of aspirants often find the proud and exceptionally educated volunteers tested alongside gangsters of Irea Primary’s hives, encouraging them to rely on one another's strengths to advance. Focused on finding strong warriors but also capable tacticians, those in charge of screening tend to favor aspirants who work together to solve problems with efficiency and forethought. Perhaps the most sought traits of all are analytical thinking and humility, as the chapter's tactics often find small groups tackling large problems there is rarely room for error or pride. Through their tests, aspirants have results demanded of them first, followed by efficiency, and finally speed. Most notably, unlike many chapters that put individual recruits through their trials, the Verdant Phoenix chapter organizes almost entirely group tests that require teamwork to succeed. Most groups succeed or fail together, but in some outlying cases individuals prove themselves so worthy even among a failing group that they are given another chance with another group; or sometimes those in successful groups contribute so little that they are failed outright. The final test and trial for aspirant marines is the only one they take alone, and it involves surviving one hour on the scorched surface of Issai. Most go into this trial assuming it to be a test of physical endurance, withstanding the scorching heat and toxic fumes; but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Those who fall prey to this misconception find their lungs full of soot and ash while their clothes and then skin and tissue burn and boil away. The trial instead is about resourcefulness. Aspirants must first locate a cave and quickly, as their flesh begins to burn and peel away within minutes. Once underground and away from the ignited atmosphere they must then navigate to a safe spot in the pitch black and count the hour out. Too deep and their scorched limbs may not be able to carry them out, too shallow and they'll pass out and suffocate slowly. They must then demonstrate the calm and focus necessary to count the remaining minutes with exceptional precision. Emerge too soon, and they will likely die before making it back to their hiding spot. Emerge too late, and the serfs who brought them there will have left. The aspirants who pass their trials are brought to the fortress monastery to begin their surgeries, and surviving that: their new life. Chapter Cult and Culture “It is the Emperor’s flame that lights the way. That flame that keeps back the gnashing cold of the void and it is that flame by which the spirit is cleansed of weakness. For you today, Brother, it relieves you of your hubris. For your enemies tomorrow, it will relieve them of their flesh.” - Chaplain Romu of the 2nd company, to a disciplined marine. While the Verdant Phoenix chapter has long since embraced a pragmatic approach to most affairs, they still maintain their own form of zealotry. Most prominently fire is seen as its own form of holy symbol, and in the eyes of the chapter it is the preferred tool by which to devastate the Emperor’s enemies as well as burn weakness out of themselves. Chaplains of the chapter carry pyres ignited by Issai’s still burning skies, and similarly sourced flames adorn the halls of their fortress monastery. Prayer and penance are both taken before the flame, and burn scars are common among older marines. Because of this mild obsession, Battle brothers carry nothing flammable into battle. No tabards or books, not even purity seals which can draw the ire of other chapters. Instead their armour is anointed with holy oils, entire texts written out invoking the emperor’s protection and strength that is then burned away to cement its sanctity. These rites of purity are written out by the marines themselves, and normally cemented through ignition by the chapter’s chaplains upon inspection. Additionally, each of the chapter’s ten battle barges carries a massive pyre lit and then carried aloft from Issai’s surface which is used in such rituals while its company is abroad. Perhaps the most pervasive tenant in their lives is towards reformation and improvement. While this takes many forms, from technological innovation to behavioral conditioning, it has proved itself the driving force behind most of the major changes the chapter has undergone since its rebirth. Their gene-seed too has reinforced ideologies of constant advancement and nothing is beyond reproach within the chapter’s organization. While they do not suffer from the body dysmorphia of their progenitors, it has led to some unfortunate issues when taken to the extreme; neophytes exercising or training themselves to death for example. It has however made the chapter stronger and a more effective war machine in the Emperor’s name. Modified equipment to better suit their specific charge and tactics, as well as the chance to discuss and second guess leadership decisions have both led to unlikely victories over the centuries. It does lead to at times difficult situations with other arms of the Imperial military, namely other chapters, where the input of those lowest on the chain of command is not as welcome. Still, the constant pressure to become better and leave a stronger legacy is at the heart of the chapter, and they have long since outgrown denying it. Cooperation is also held very close to the heart of most battle brothers, who have held good and close relationships with several of the Imperium's military and civilian organizations. Used to commanding elements of the Militarum on the field and assisting citizens on the streets, the chapter’s marines are better socialized than most and look upon humanity’s plebs as guardians and teachers would. This often can conflict with their loathing for weakness and can snap to rage in the face of exceptional incompetence or impudence; but these instances are relatively rare. Brothers of the Verdant Phoenix have a very specific relationship with their Sisters of Battle, close enough that many of their orders are welcome within the halls of the chapter’s fortress monastery from time to time. Their actions during the Blight of Irea inspired centuries of cooperation and trust, and a bond that has only grown stronger over time. While would-be marines start their lives among the chapter young and ignorant but eager to learn, the sisters who they come into contact with are always experienced and vigilant; and neophytes are encouraged to learn from them. Apothecaries especially get a good portion of their training from the orders hospitallier and meet their medical colleagues as kin. Chaplains as well commune with members of the faithful and hold the unrivaled devotion of the Sororitas in very high esteem even through disagreement on semantics. The Mechanicus as well, from their active forge on Moira, are responsible for most Verdant Phoenix equipment and war machines. Not just for their production, but the innovation of the chapter’s tools of war is owed primarily to the techpriests they work with. While they don’t interact as much as other elements of the Imperium, and rarely on the battlefield; the chapter still regards them as worthy allies and of common objectives. The Rubicon With the return of Guilliman and the start of the Indomitus Crusade, a new rhetoric has entered the halls of the fortress monastery. Their practices of advancement vindicated with Cawls new inventions, a swirl of vigour has taken hold of the chapter and few are positioned to stop their now rampant pursuit of new practices and equipment. Entire companies were rotated out of active duty to cross the Rubicon together, seeking newfound power in a newfound form. Performing the surgery with Apothecaries rather than servitors, the chapter has managed to reduce failed implantations to just under twenty seven percent. But the losses have still been considerable, and ever vigilant recruiting methods have been needed to keep up. Thankfully, few marines see death as a deterrent; especially knowing their seed would be harvested immediately for future use. Battlefield Doctrine Where their strength and resolve was tested for millennia as the Agriguard, the Verdant Phoenix chapter has entered an era of refinement and reorganization that has endured for centuries. Historically their tactics were influenced heavily by the Red Talons, relying on bombardment and warmachines to face the brunt of the enemy, but since the blight and reformation these tactics have been built upon and specialized to suit a specific role. Simple and blind adherence to old wisdom is behind them, and the chapter has long been reevaluating each and every battlefield practice they once held dear. At its core, Verdant Phoenix battlefield doctrine surrounds Irea and its defense. As the chapter’s influence and resources have grown, other important worlds such as Ophelia have found themselves within its watchful guardianship and in turn shaped their methods of war. Due to Irea’s unique atmospheric asset, it is absolutely imperative that certain types of threats never make planetfall onto its agri worlds. Orks stand the most to gain from the local stimulant, but Tyranids also are considered potentially system ending threats. Of course the blight seared into the system’s history has left a mighty scar, but as the worlds have grown and become even more important and a similarly destructive event would have an even more devastating impact on the segmentum. As such, the system’s director has taken all efforts to obfuscate the system’s importance while the local armed forces have taken up a proactive method of eliminating threats that even arrive in nearby systems. At their center, the space marines of the Verdant Phoenix stand ready and waiting to strike at anything unfamiliar within thousands of lightyears. Deploying as full companies, often to threats not fully known until arrival, the chapter has slowly shifted to an organization of self sufficiency where each company can operate wholly autonomously. Traveling to, engaging in, and returning from conflicts must also be done quickly so as not to leave any threat unattended, and the chapter employs considerable support staff to maintain efficiency and speed. Traditionally, brief recon periods are followed by precise and relentless bombardment to make way for meticulously planned troop deployments, shattering any hope for cohesion and overpowering whatever resistance remains. These simple steps have been put to great effect over centuries, and the captains that coordinate them have learned to adapt them to any threat they are called to face. In all cases, the Verdant will always keep their marines as close to support assets as possible and heavily depend on vehicle transports and firepower to move in force. In newfound Primaris form and with the equipment and tactics that come with them, the chapter has embraced grav-tanks for rapid deployment from orbit post-bombardment. Additionally, each company fields one dedicated vanguard squad made up of the company's most veteran soldiers. These squads are often deployed pre-bombardment to gather intelligence and identify key targets as recon and early strike units. Often smaller conflicts can be resolved with their careful application alone, but they will often harass enemies into more favorable positions for precise orbital strike. While this recent change to their combat practices has taken some time to be fully realized, Verdant Phoenix companies have noted an increase of combat efficiency since employing widespread vanguard deployment. These tactics have proven consistently successful and easily adapted to suit new threats the chapter faces, but commanders are always wary of enemies ready for their common tactics and look for opportunities to experiment with new methods and strategies. Chapter Organization High Command Battle Companies Armoury Apothecarion Reclusiam Librarius Fortress Monastery Chapter Fleet “What do you think? Director Corrilan had intended for it to be a gift, bartered it away from some trader, Alano Duran I think was his name. Rough condition or course, but if I recall you Astartes like a challenge.” - Vao Golha, Irean Sector Steward [REDACTED] "You have my word, director, the system will never be without its protectors. Never." - Chapter Master Taigon Notable Members WIP History WIP
  7. Index Astartes: Iron Gorgons Although they were once a Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes as noble as any other, the desire of the Iron Gorgons to replace weakness with strength led them into dark places from which they could not return. Origins Iron Gorgon of the Kajomn Clan At the time of the Twelfth Founding in the latter days of the Thirty-Fourth Millennium the High Lords of Terra decreed that one of the new Chapters would be drawn from the geneseed of the Iron Hands, a First Founding Chapter and the scions of the primarch Ferrus Manus. Representatives were dispatched to Medusa, the Chapter’s homeworld, to speak with the Great Chapter Council (the Iron Hands are peculiar in that they do not have a Chapter Master, preferring to divide power between multiple individuals). Tainted From Conception? Some Imperial scholars have concluded that the founding process doomed the Gorgons from the start. They argue that including individuals in the initial training core who would have preferred to remain with the Iron Hands bred bitterness against their superiors into the Chapter, resulting in the frosty relationships between the Gorgons and other Imperial bodies. Some even maintain that, although all of the members of the Sorrgol Clan had been tested and proven to be pure following their return from the Eye of Terror, the taint of Chaos lay hidden in the training cadre and over the millennia infected the entire Chapter. At that time the Sorrgol Clan (roughly equivalent in size, if not composition, to a company in a Codex Chapter) had just returned from a crusade into the Eye of Terror and were below half strength. It was decided that half the survivors would remain with the Iron Hands to rebuild and the other half would form the core of the new Chapter. The Council decided to randomly pair each Astartes warrior with another and have them fight a duel. The winner of each duel had the honour of choosing whether to remain an Iron Hand or become part of a new Chapter; the loser was assigned a role by his superiors regardless of his wishes. In this way the strong would go where they could serve to the best of their ability and the weak would learn the harsh lesson of defeat. Such is the way with the scions of Ferrus Manus. In total the training cadre was made up of two dozen members of the Sorrgol Clan and an additional dozen specialists drawn from several other clans of the Iron Hands. The new Great Chapter Council met for the first time to decide upon a name for the new Chapter whilst on route to the planet they had been granted as their homeworld. They decided to honour their Primarch by naming themselves the Iron Gorgons – Ferrus Manus is referred to as the ‘Gorgon’ in some historical accounts. When they arrived at their new homeworld they were mightily impressed by the character and determination of the indigenous tribesmen. This in itself is very uncommon for the descendents of Ferrus Manus, who often look down on any who are not of their own geneseed, holding unaugmented humans in particular contempt. Over the next millennia-and-a-half the Iron Gorgons fought countless battles against every enemy of the Imperium. Their largely autonomous clans spread far and wide over Segmentums Obscurus, Pacificus and Ultima, replying to calls for aid as and when they occurred. Over time they developed a reputation as stubborn siege-breakers, who could keep on pushing when all other Imperial forces had withdrawn and still claim victory. The cost of this was that the Gorgons had a very high casualty rate. Combined with their refusal to even consider excepting recruits from anywhere other than Sarkosh this meant that the Gorgons were very rarely at full strength. The Gorgons also developed a sense of superiority over other members of the Imperium. Imperial Guard regiments who fought alongside the Iron Gorgons suffered from extremely high levels of friendly fire incidents and members of the Gorgons frequently came to blows with allied Space Marines over the slightest real or perceived slight. The Gorgons only had good relations with other descendents of the Iron Hands and the Mechanicum, the latter of which regularly granted tributes of vehicles, power armour and other rarer equipment to the Gorgons far in excess of most Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. The Fall The Iron Gorgons emerged from the dark and chaotic days of the Occlusiad relatively unscathed. As a result of this the entire Chapter was able to respond to the general call to arms at the beginning of the Taninim Crusade to regain territory lost to the Imperium’s enemies. Following a series of stunning victories over the mutant empire of the Dual King the Chapter gathered en masse to strike at the worlds of the Gnorghaan, despite a millennia old decree forbidding any Imperial personnel from straying within ten light years of Gnorghaani territory. The Gnorghaan There is very little mention of the Gnorghaan in Imperium records. Undoubtedly much was destroyed along with many other documents pertaining to the Taninim Crusade, but the shortage of information is still puzzling. Apparently the Gnorghaan were humanoid in appearance, although only around the height of a human child aged seven standard years. They were physically very weak but possessed an innate ability to understand the workings of their heretical technology and could innovate to a degree deemed impossible by members of the Cult Mechanicus. Their armour, laser technology and sonic weapons were far superior to Imperial equivalents. In the Forty-First Millennium the only remaining Gnorghaani technology is in the hands of the Iron Gorgons and the occasional well-equipped Rogue Trader. The initial strikes on the outlying colony worlds of the Gnorghaan were extremely successful. The xenos were unused to such brutal war, having lived at peace with their neighbours for hundreds of years. However they quickly adapted, evacuating outlying settlements to fortified cities and preparing for a lengthy siege. If the Gorgons had developed any feelings of complacency they were swiftly abolished when their forces were met with battalions of heavily armoured tanks armed with multiple laser and sonic weapons easily capable of penetrating power armour. Every victory won by the Gorgons was paid for in Astartes blood. Nevertheless, this was the combat the Gorgons excelled at and they eventually forced the Gnorghaan back to their capital world. By the time the Gorgon fleet arrived in orbit above the world designated as Gnorghaan Alpha the Chapter was barely above half strength. Lesser Chapters would have called for reinforcements or left a blockade fleet in the system whilst they returned to their homeworld to recruit and rearm, but not the Gorgons. They deployed every available warrior and vehicle to the surface of Gnorghaan Alpha to wipe out the xenos once and for all. Several hours after the last Thunderhawk Transporter had landed on the planet the Gorgons lost all contact with their fleet in orbit. At first they dismissed this as atmospherics interfering with the vox signals, or perhaps a Gnorghaani vox-jammer. But as the hours turned into days the Gorgons grew more concerned that something terrible had happened to their fleet. After two weeks with no contact of any kind with their orbiting forces the Gorgons accepted that the fleet had gone and they would have to defeat the Gnorghaans without reinforcement or resupply. By this stage five of the xenos fortified cities had been destroyed, but four more remained and they appeared to be better defended than any previously encountered. The Gorgons had also suffered heavy casualties. Four clans had been completely wiped out and the remainder were all below half strength. The sixth city fell at great cost and by this stage the situation was becoming increasingly desperate. Most of the Gorgons had run out of ammunition and had resorted to slaying their enemies with their bare hands. The remaining vehicles were all badly damaged and also running out of ammunition. At the daily Grand Council Meeting to determine the next stage of the war several of the Techmarines and Iron Fathers of the Chapter ventured the idea of using captured Gnorghaani weaponry against its creators. After all, the code of the Gorgons was that the strong would dominate over the weak. In this case, wasn’t it logical that the strong Gnorghaani technology should triumph over the weak Imperial technology? The Gorgons always strove to purge weakness from their ranks. Why should this not apply to their machines as well as their flesh? After lengthy discussion it was decided to test this principle in the coming assault on the seventh Gnorghaani city. The Deepest Mystery To this day the disappearance of the Iron Gorgons’ fleet is a complete mystery. One theory among Inquisitors who have investigated the Gorgons is that the Gnorghaani possessed some kind of surface-to-space weaponry on their capital planet that they used to destroy the Iron Gorgons fleet, although this raises the question of why they did do so earlier. Another common theory is that one of the many xenos or heretic fleets displaced by the ferocity of the Imperial crusade entered the system and attacked the Gorgons’ fleet whilst it was stuck in low orbit supporting the ground assault. Another theory is that one of the Iron Gorgon librarians, stuck in orbit whilst he recuperated from injuries sustained in a previous battle, suffered a terrible vision of the heresy his brothers were about to commit and somehow persuaded the fleet to abandon them on Gnorghaan Alpha. The only evidence for this theory is a pirate captured by Inquisitorial forces two decades later who claimed to have once been a serf of the Iron Gorgons. The pirate was suffering from a multitude of warp-travel related mental illnesses, and cannot be considered a reliable witness. Although designed for the small and agile hands of the Gnorghaan, the process of adapting it for use by power armoured Space Marines was relatively straight forward for the remaining Techmarines and Iron Fathers. The few vehicles that had been captured intact were more difficult but after stripping away most of the secondary power generators and life support systems it was possible for a single Astartes to operate one without too much trouble. The defenders of the seventh city were taken completely by surprise by the new tactic. The Gnorghaan had obviously never expected their own weapons to be used against them, the armour of their infantry soldiers proving as fallible as Imperial power armour had. Lacking both the superhuman physiologies and grim determination of the Emperor’s finest, the Gnorghaan were completely massacred. The captured vehicles likewise proved very successful, their only failing being a lack of numbers. The Taninim Crusade Lasting from 678.M37 to 714.M37, the ill-fated Taninim Crusade was an attempt by the High Lords of Terra to galvanise the Segmentum Obscurus, reeling from the Occlusiad War, by expanding its borders and removing age-old xenos threats. No less than eleven Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes were dispatched into the Taninim Expanse to cleanse it of xenos and filth. Much of what happened there has been purged from Imperial history, but it is clear that only a few of Chapters returned from the Expanse with their loyalty to the Imperium fully intact. Following such a decisive proof of the superiority of their new strategy, every Gorgon replaced his Imperial-sanctioned weaponry with those of the xenos. As final evidence that their chosen course was correct the last two Gnorghaani cities swiftly capitulated, although again the loss of Astartes life was severe. By this stage only three clans existed in a recognisable state, with two others only made up of half a dozen brothers each. The other five clans had been completely annihilated. Their duty complete, the Gorgons modified a Gnorghaani vox mast to broadcast an extraction request to all Imperial personnel in that area of space. Two months later one of the main crusade fleets, made up of ships from Battlefleet XXX and the YYY and ZZZ Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, broke warp over Gnorghaan Alpha. The Gorgons had expected to be greeted as conquering heroes who had fought a powerful xenos empire single-handedly and triumphed at great cost. Instead they were treated with suspicion for their use of xenos technology and disregard for the decrees of the Mechanicum. Events came to a head when Inquisitor Sophia Vorgrazzi and Magos Hertz called for them to be put on trial for crimes against the Emperor as Omnissiah. Condemned both by their supposed superiors and by one they considered an ally cut the remaining Gorgons to the core. The Grand Council violently resisted arrest by brothers of the ZZZ and then captured a Strike Cruiser, fleeing the system with the last survivors of the Iron Gorgons. Vorgrazzi promptly declared the Chapter renegade and Excommunitus Traitoris. The Forty-First Millennium Following what they saw as their betrayal by the Imperium, the Gorgons became raiders. They roamed the northern edges of the Segmentums Obscurus and Ultima; capturing ships, equipment, raw materials and, most importantly, recruits. Over time the three surviving clans grew large enough to once again operate autonomously, although the Chapter will still gather as one to attack a large target of opportunity. The Gorgons still consider themselves loyal to the Emperor and maintain a deep hatred of Chaos, regularly attacking Chaos Space Marine warbands when they come across them. However, they despise most of the Imperium as too weak and foolish to accept that it is not the source of technology that is important but its usage. They hope that if they can gather enough strength they can launch an attack on the Sol System to prove the superiority of their augmented Gnorghaani weaponry over that of Mars and persuade the Mechanicum to allow true innovation and adaptation of xenos technologies Organisation Like their Iron Hand progenitors, the Iron Gorgons were originally made up of ten autonomous clans. Each recruited from a specific group of Sarkoshi tribes and had their own unique traditions and history. Representatives from each clan made up the Great Chapter Council to coordinate campaigns including more than one clan and to arbitrate in inter-clan disputes. After the Taninim Crusade only three clans were left in a recognisable state and the survivors of the conflict reorganised accordingly. At first the clans did not possess the numbers to operate autonomously as they once had, but as the Gorgons rebuilt and recruited they once again separated to roam the Imperium independently. The Great Clan Council now only meets occasionally (and usually through a psychic intermediary rather than face-to-face) to coordinate large attacks consisting of two or three clans. Originally each of the ten clans consisted of around one hundred battle-brothers, in keeping with the proscribed Chapter size of one thousand line-troops. Since their betrayal the Gorgons no longer saw the need to be bound in such a way. As such there is no longer an upper limit to size a clan may reach, although levels of recruitment and casualties conspire to ensure that a clan will very rarely number more than two hundred, meaning that the Chapter as a whole is made up of approximately six hundred line-troops at any given time. Combat Doctrine The Iron Gorgons always had a reputation for being siege breakers, and that tradition has carried on since the Taninim Crusade. Many of the finest fortresses in the northern Imperium have fallen prey to the implacable might of the Gorgons and their powerful xenos-augmented weaponry. The Techmarines and Iron Fathers of the Gorgons have continued to innovate and reverse engineer alien technology to render the Chapter’s weapons utterly devastating and their armour nigh indestructible. Beliefs The Gorgons believe that for humanity to survive in this cruel universe they must continually strengthen and better themselves. Where flesh is weak, it must be replaced with machinery. When machinery is weak, it must be replaced with stronger machinery. They do not see xenos technology as heretical, they see xenos as heretical. If they can slay a xenos then they have earned the right to use that xenos’ technology in order to improve themselves. The only alternative is stagnation and death. The Gorgons hope that eventually they will be strong and numerous enough to strike deep into the Sol System, overcoming the formidable defences of Terra itself and proving to the High Lords and the Mechanicum that the way of the Gorgons is the only way that will raise mankind out of the dark ages and into the light of progress and true galactic supremacy under the watchful gaze of the Emperor Himself. On Sarkosh there existed a legend brought from ancient Terra itself. This legend was of the Gorgon, a mythical monster that could kill a man with a single glance. Over time this belief spread throughout the Chapter, and many Astartes started to believe that the Gorgon was the pinnacle of the Emperor’s ambition for his Space Marines. When they could slay their enemies just by looking at them, then they would know that they had achieved perfection. It became tradition that when a neophyte became a full Astartes he would have his weak eyes replaced with infallible augmetics. As he progressed through the ranks the augmetics would be upgraded to incorporate lasers to strike at his opponents. However, the Techmarines of the Chapter struggled to produce power generators small and powerful enough to actually kill an opponent. The best they could manage was to cause enough pain to distract an enemy and leave him vulnerable to the fatal blow of a chainsword or combat knife. However, when the Chapter began incorporating Gnorghaani laser technology into their weapons they realised that their quest was at an end. One of the many superior qualities of Gnorghaani laser technology is its compact efficiency. Finally the Gorgons could achieve what they saw as perfection, the replacement of their frail flesh eyes with an augmetic that functioned much better as an optical device and could also kill a man just by looking at him. Their eye lasers are much shorter range than hand-held equivalents, but they ensure that when the Gorgons reach close combat they are almost unbeatable. Homeworld Sarkosh was a planet of craggy mountains and deep, jungle-filled valleys. The native tribes made their living hunting the various creatures that lived on Sarkosh, such as the huge bird-like batrosz that rode the thermals above the mountains and only descended to lay their eggs, and the cunning chameleowolves that could change their skin colour to blend into any surrounding. The tribes also delved into the deep caverns under the mountains to gather valuable gemstones for the tribute barques that landed on the few grassy plains every eight years. Life on Sarkosh was tough and bred strong, determined and uncomplaining young men as recruits for the Gorgons. With Sarkosh now an airless rock, the mountains fused into radioactive glass, the Gorgons are forced to recruit from the Imperial worlds they attack. When the Gorgons win a victory they put all the human opponents they capture to work as slaves aboard their forge-ships. Only the strongest slaves survive more than a few months, and those that do are forced to fight one another in single combat. The victors become the equivalent of Chapter serfs, serving a single Astartes and attending to his every need. Those few that are still young enough for geneseed implantation are given the opportunity to become Astartes themselves. The Gorgons also defend Imperial worlds from the forces of Chaos, whom the Chapter still despises despite its betrayal by the Imperium, or xenos. Normally, however, the Gorgons will only defend worlds it sees as strong and uncorrupted – usually backwards planets of the death world, feral world or feudal world categories. After the enemy is defeated the Gorgons will organise tournaments for the young men of the planet and the victors become neophytes. Geneseed The descendents of Ferrus Manus despise the weakness of flesh and praise the strength of the machine. Some see this as a fundamental flaw of the geneseed, although the Inquisition and the Mechanicus both regard it as pure. The same cannot be said for the geneseed of the Iron Gorgons. Although tithes before the Taninim Crusade are free of mutation, on the rare occasions since then that the Mechanicus has been able to retrieve samples of Gorgon geneseed they have been alarmed by the level of deviancy from what is deemed acceptable in loyalist Chapters. Most Magos who study the geneseed have reached the conclusion that the Gorgons have carried out experimentation on their own lifeblood to ‘improve’ it. Whilst the Mechanicum cannot examine what effect the experimentation has had without carry out live geneseed implantation – something it is unwilling to countenance – the implications for the Imperium cannot be good. Battle-cry Each clan has several unique battle cries linked to its history, but a common battle-cry across the entire Chapter is “Vengeance for Sarkosh!”
  8. Index Astartes The Basilisks Chapter “To know that our eyes are upon them must cause our enemies to be paralyzed with fear, to acknowledge the immediacy of their mortal lives. To look upon our silent gaze, they must know death, swift and sure!”-Asmodeus, 1st Serpent Lord Origins Meeting of Inquisitor Moisei and Master Kalis “Many eyes have pried into the cloying shadows of that founding, Inquisitor. Few have found what they sought. Fewer still have emerged unscathed.” The Inquisitor scoffed, but had no reply. The power armored giant chuckled again. “Don’t let my words deter you. We have the utmost interest in your…findings” Of the many Chapters birthed from the darkness of the 21st founding, few proved successful, and many were even driven swiftly to extinction. Among the enduring 'Cursed' Chapters are the Basilisks. If they were created with a specific purpose, it remains unknown. Official observers have concluded that the Basilisks are of Iron Hands descent, attested to by their doctrine, and a timely submission of gene-seed tithes. Since the time they emerged from the void no records have followed to confirm this, or give any other clues regarding their origins…which isn’t to say that no one is looking. Multiple factions within the Imperium have, in the past, questioned both the legitimacy of the Chapter’s genetic material, and its loyalty to the Emperor. Some still do. The Basilisks have, with great effort, evaded most unwanted attention, though they are still dogged from sector to sector by one Inquisitor Moisei, who has long doubted how such ‘purity’ could have emerged from the 21st Founding. The Chapter avoids as much contact with these and other Imperial Forces as possible, remaining tight-lipped under whatever scrutiny the Inquisition attempts to pursue…which has done nothing to dissuade their detractors. The Fleet Final audiolog from the pirate frigate Sorento “Is that a cruiser!? An Astartes cruiser!? You said the frigate was a Trader! Get us back to the fleet, now! Damn it all, is that another? Brace for im----” To the knowledge of the Imperium and even the Basilisks themselves, they had no world of origin. Since they were first sighted plowing through the void, no marine has set foot planetside except to do battle. The fleet is extensive, and continually grows with the addition of captured ships. These include a startlingly high concentration of Battle Barges, which despite being of a younger and smaller caliber than the venerable vessels of the Heresy, are able to give significant body to the otherwise thinly spread Basilisk fleet. The Monastery Battle Barge Serpent's Tongue and its escort are found at the heart of the fleet, where they are best able to support any engagement, while the rest of the fleet is spread in a loose, coiling line across a vast stretch of space on either side and there is no consistent course or predictability to the fleet’s movements. Constant communication is maintained from one end of the fleet to the other with as much accuracy as possible in an effort to allow fleet elements to redeploy for support as quickly as possible. The Chapter’s more frequent enemies, traitor fleets and pirates both human and xenos, have learned to attack or flee at the first sign of a Basilisk ship, as reinforcements are never far behind. In turn, the Basilisks have developed an expertise in rapid boarding actions as well as improved methods of defending smaller patrol fleets. Recruitment Survivors The Apothecary’s expression was impassive as he dressed the recruit’s wounds, stemming the open flow of blood issuing from his arm and side, while the man lay still on the table. His eyes stared straight up, unmoving. He would survive his wounds, but whether or not hypnotherapy and conditioning could get him past the mental trauma remained to be seen. The Chaplain stood looking silently on for a long time, but finally revealed his purpose. “Can you describe what you saw?” The recruit flinched; the Chaplain had undone all his effort thus far to bury the last eight hours, but he did not change his gaze. Eventually, he slowly shook his head. The Chaplain appeared to be satisfied, and turned and began walking from the room. “One final test awaits you,” The Chaplain stopped at the doorway, “Steel yourself. You will return to that ship again before your trial is over. If you are not ready, you will become what you now fear. To become one of us, you must know no fear.” The neophyte sat bolt upright, heading snapping to the doorway, but the Chaplain had gone. Falling slowly back to the table as the Apothecary grumbled at replacing the newly torn wrappings. The recruit’s gaze returned to the ceiling. Back to the ship. One more time. Like most Chapters of the Cursed Founding, the greatest challenge of the Basilisks is not victory in battle, but propagation. In order to maintain a flow of successful initiates, the Chapter takes suitable candidates en masse from liberated worlds. For the inhabitants of such worlds, it is the price paid for freedom, as the green clad Astartes move among them, claiming the choicest of their youth. No word of explanation is ever given and often the Basilisks leave a liberated world without the planet's inhabitants even knowing who they are. Few worlds visited by the Basilisks understand anything more about their visitation other than that they are purged of whatever heresy plagues them in return for however many children the marines choose to spirit away. The trials faced by recruits are among the most lethal of tests employed by Space Marines, and despite taking large numbers of prospective initiates there are very few survivors. While the exact nature of the trials is unknown, the bodies of most failed neophytes are unceremoniously jettisoned into the void, and their occasional recovery by Inquisitor Moisei has long fueled his obsessive investigation. Some of these corpses appear to have been pierced by the fangs of some great maw, others torn by man made weapons, and still others show signs of both. These aren’t unusual fates among Astartes recruits, but they do indicate that the Basilisks house some sort of creature for these trials, though no one has ever observed the Basilisks collecting any such specimens. The Chapter keeps a fairly large body of serfs, but they are maintained at a distant arms length, usually assigned to the support of ships in the fleet rather than working with battle brothers. This is the most fortunate fate to befall unfit recruits, while the dregs are augmented or turned into servitors to assist the Techmarines in their considerable work. Combat Doctrine Day 16 of the Wailing Portent Campaign For two days the rangers of Iybraesil had lain in wait, assured by the Farseer that the humans would pass this way with minimal support. While Ynarana’s banshees were too important to set aside for days at a time, they would arrive in time to mop up. Mendor and his squad were beginning to shift into ready positions as the appointed time came close, sliding the barrels of their long rifles over ledges amid the debris of the ruins, sighting down the only clear path through the area. Minutes passed, then hours. Mendor began to stretch, and sniffed as a strange scent reached his nose. He had turned part way toward the source when he felt his muscles seize up, his eyes catching sight of a small canister on the ground nearby. He couldn’t move. The ground crunched heavily beside him, but he couldn’t turn to look. What came into view first was Ynarana’s head, jaw slack, eyes sightlessly staring, hair caught in the gauntleted fist of a Space Marine. The green armored figure crouched down. “Expecting someone, witch-kin?” Issued the voice from the helmet, then the figure straightened up and Mendor saw the free hand reach for him and felt the grip on the back of his neck, pulling him easily off his feet, “Worry not. We will keep you company. We can discuss the location of your webway gates.” AAll of the Basilisks most significant actions have either been ship to ship boarding maneuvers, or targeted at planetside orbital defenses, usually aimed at creating a beachhead for other Imperial forces. The Basilisks don’t wait for support, and the forces these beacheads are intended for are usually days or even weeks behind. The Chapter has become adept at creating large, defensible groundside footholds, and loyalist forces descending on a world visited by the Basilisks will often find well stocked defenses waiting for them, though the Chapter itself is frequently gone by then. The Basilisks are extremely well suited to fighting in the cold confines of dying capital ships, as well as the shadow-pocked, rubble strewn, urban battlefields of hive worlds. Indeed, they seem to prefer such restrictive environments. On a larger scale, the fleet of the Basilisks feels like an omnipresent threat to enemies of the Chapter or the Imperium, for wherever there is one ship there are not only several more close at hand, but virtually half the fleet can redeploy to an engagement before within short order of the commencement of hostilities. In fleet engagements, their ships seek to close quickly to boarding distance, from multiple angles if possible, in order to disable and capture enemy vessels before they can react, after which said ships are usually used against the very planet or fleet they had defended. One favored tactic involves covertly introducing a paralytic nerve agent into an enemy vessel’s environmental systems, leaving entire crews helplessly at the Basilisk's mercy, which is, at best a quick shot to the head and at worst a one-way trip to the airlock. Basilisk attacks can be quick, or prolonged, according to the adaptability of the Codex and tactics inspired by the creature for which the Chapter is named. The initial strike of any Basilisk force is aimed at forcing the enemy to dig in, whether by pinning them with hails of ranged fire or holding them in place with bloody assaults. If this fails the strike force will fall back, regroup, and repeat the attempt until successful. As soon as the Basilisk force has ‘caught hold’ of the enemy, they move to surround them. Usually this is done by drop pod assault into the enemy’s rear rather than redeployment of ground forces, but fast moving tactical units have effectively fenced in target forces on many occasions. Once surrounded, the Basilisks either grind the foe into oblivion with steady and unrelenting fire, supported by assault units that flush out entrenched targets, or the Chapter may employ an orbital bombardment, destroying everything within their grip. If said grip should be broken, or the enemy can’t be held down long enough to surround, the Basilisk force will withdraw, usually to make an attempt from another angle. The Chapter does not move or fight with such fluidity on an open battleground, and their tactics are far less effective in pitched battle situations. At these times the Basilisks are more likely to break off the attack and seek to engage the enemy in an area more of their choosing, or to bleed them with endless hit-and-run attacks that drain the enemy of vitality each time. What few Scouts they employ are adepts of sabotage, especially using poisons. Where this proves ineffective, such as against the multi-filtered nervous and digestive system of other marines, more direct means are used, such as explosives. Sabotage like that is usually aimed at enemy ammunition supplies and armor. In more urgent situations, or especially if striking at a port or manufactorum, the enemy may be shelled using the same gaseous nerve agent employed in their boarding actions in an effort to minimize damage to salvageable assets. The tactic is often looked down on as cowardice by other Astartes, but the Basilisks are either oblivious to the stigma or simply don't care. Individually, most Basilisk marines favor close combat, and most of their extensive bionics are optimized for it. While the majority of these enhancements and prosthetics are still covered by armor, some Basilisks make frequent use of digital weapons and so sacrifice armor to better facilitate cooling. Veterans invariably possess the most bionic replacements. Organization Despite the size of its recruitment pool, it appears the Chapter has never grown far beyond six hundred marines in strength. Even so they have proved on multiple occasions to be willing to commit up to three hundred marines to an engagement without hesitation, and within a reasonably short space of time. These marines usually come from the three nearly full strength only Battle Companies, spaced roughly evenly throughout the fleet. Their remaining marines are distributed across six half sized Reserve Companies, usually lingering near the Monastery Barge. The Basilisks are, despite their numbers, fairly Codex adherent, with only a few variations in their naming conventions. The Chapter Master is known as the Serpent Lord, and no other power in the Chapter, individual or group, is equal to his. As in any other Astartes Chapter, he is indisputably the strongest marine among them, physically and mentally, perhaps even more so considering how long the Serpent Lords tend to live. At the turn of each generation thus far, caused each time by the death of the Master in battle, the Chapter disappears and is lost even to the unclosing eye of the Inquisition. When it next appears, usually not for decades, the Chapter is markedly weaker for a time. Twice they have fallen to less than two hundred marines. This too usually lasts a few decades. The cause for this decline is also a mystery. The current Chapter Master is Serpent Lord Sicariss, who has been the head of the Basilisks for well over three and a half centuries. The Basilisks have not looked favorably on the Ultima Founding. When they were called upon to augment their ranks with Primaris marines, they responded with silence, and seem to avoid joining with Primaris chapters on the battlefield. The Head Transfusion The doors to the Serpent Lord’s chambers sealed with a hiss, leaving the black and gilded casket sitting in the center of the darkened room. After several moments of silenced, a whirring and hum of power announced the activation of a pair of servitors recessed into a wall. One, some sort of surgical servitor, approached the casket, while the other, which appeared to be a Historitor, moved toward the bank of screens and monitors that dominated the wall across from the casket. Deft mechanical appendages keyed several panels, deactivating and reactivating several screens, and moving subtly hidden levers and switches. A few seconds later the wall split and opened, revealing an alcove, softly lit by the glow of the translucent screens still suspended in front of it. The light fell on a whispering, shifting form, a humanoid bound and connected to the wall behind it by cables and chains, all sallow skin and exposed circuitry. The historitor reached out to a plinth over which this hidden servitor was held, metal digits skittering across it. The sound of sparks and buzzing current came from the mess of cables and cords, and the figure twitched and jerked briefly, before its unintelligible burbles and whispers were replaced with a single, low hum, almost musical to hear. At this, the historitor settle back on mechanical haunches and quieted, waiting. Behind it, the surgical servitor had unsealed and opened the casket, and with drills, saws and scalpels was peeling back layers of skin, muscle and bone on the figure within. It worked methodically, ceaselessly, slowly extricating wires and circuitry from the now faceless cranium. Eventually, whether hours or days later, the continuous monotone of the hidden servitor pitched up for a moment and then went silent, at which the historitor stirred and straightened, eyes abnormally attentive. A rasping, modulated voice issued from the hanging form. “Report.” The response came from the historitor, but the voice and cadence was not that of a lobotomized servant. “Scitalis has expired on the battlefield of Pharsalia, my lord. The Basilisks are entering dormancy.” “The Chain Node?” The supposed historitor turned to look at the surgical servitor, which stood in active over the casket, a mesh of fine wires and organic components held in one claw. Turning back, the strange servant answered. “Intact.” “Well done, Li-Char. We will begin preparing potential successors,” the voice answered, “Rendezvous coordinates forthcoming. To the coming of the True Omnissiah.” “To the coming of the True Omnissiah.” Beliefs Volcanic Deathworld Cerregra The feed from the servo-skull was spotty, marred by static bursts and light flares from the lava below. A group of Astartes stood beside the molten river, several of them gesturing upstream, while one was kneeling by a device on the bank. Presently, they stood and trotted off further downstream. Moisei did not send the skull to follow immediately, but as the visual began to shudder, he realized he should have. The drone turned to see some sort of detonation erupt on the side of the ashmount, and the lava flow immediately swelled, doubling, and then tripling in size, until a veritable wave of lava was rolling down the mountainside. There was a heatbloom in the feed as the skull tried to escape, and then the connection was lost. Moisei sighed, pushing away from the monitor in frustration. What were they after on this hellscape, these supposed sons of the Gorgon? And how many servo-skulls was it going to take to find out. There appear to be two tiers to the belief system of the Basilisks. The first echoes the Iron Hands mantra of Purge the Weak, with a slightly more progressive approach: a doctrine known as Shed the Weak. According to the Basilisks, the transformation familiar to Iron Hands and their successors for millennia is a natural order of evolution prompted by the very first advent of technology. They believe that humanity may ‘grow into’ this changed and improved form over time, which progression is based on merit. The first thing shed by every Basilisk upon initiation is his given name, and after induction, the traditional right hand of Manus’ sons. From then on, augmentations and bionic replacements are earned. Should a marine suffer a wound or lose a limb on the battlefield without having proven his worth, he will not be saved except for his invaluable geneseed, and is considered as shed weakness. This much is known because the Basilisks have, in the past, allowed Imperial agents unrestricted access to their regular rites in an attempt to dissuade Inquisitorial attention, and these rites clearly suggest another level of doctrine among the Basilisks. This other ‘tier’ of beliefs is repeatedly mentioned during regular rites, in the oratories of their Chaplains. What this second tier is exactly is unknown to any but the brothers of the Chapter, and is referred to simply as The Quest. Every marine seems to be aware of its meaning since both Initiates and Veterans are present when the Chaplains are relaying its urgency and significance, and all those who are present respond with equal fervor. This suggests that the knowledge is planted along with the 19 organs, during hypnotherapy, and this process has always been strictly prohibited from outside view. The truth of The Quest is surprisingly simple, something of an evolution of a belief common among the Gorgon’s sons, that one day the Primarch may return. The Basilisks don’t espouse this exact belief, but rather they believe that the bearers of the Iron Hands legacy must become as their Primarch, believing that to do so requires not only mastery of the mechanical, but the literal hands of Ferrus Manus. The Quest, in essence, is a search for the spawn of Asirnoth, which the Basilisks are convinced exists somewhere in the galaxy, and can grant them the power of the Primarch, or in other words, return His power to the Imperium. Where this belief originated is unclear, but it accounts for the haste with which they answer any call from a world with remotely volcanic activity, which has been the only pattern ever detected in their fleet movements. Though he has little to no support among other Inquisitors, Moisei has long investigated the Basilisks because of these strange beliefs coupled with rumors of the Basilisks attacking and destroying young Chapters under the banner of perceived Chaos influence, only to claim the remaining fleet assets for their Quest. The most substantiated occasion involved a newly gathered Ork invasion which sprung up in the Heltoez system, only a subsector from the volcanic homeworld of the young Ash Eagles Chapter. Though the Greenskin invasion saw to it that surviving records were scarce, sources suggested that when the Basilisks ‘answered’ the call for help, their ships orbited the planet, guns and launch bays still, for two and a half weeks while the Ash Eagles scoured wave after wave of Greenskin hordes, and were ultimately ground down to less than half a company. After the Basilisks joined battle, the conflict was decisively ended, but the Eagles were lost while the Basilisks left with all the fledgling Chapter’s fleet elements. For Moisei, the mere possibility that this transpired is more than enough evidence that the Chapter has turned from the Emperor’s light, while others, who he derides as ‘charmed by the snake’ question how or why the Eagles wouldn’t have conveyed such damning evidence of treachery to anyone. The appearance of the Cicatrix Maledictum seems to have fueled the urgency of the Basilisk’s quest, and they now traverse the Dark Imperium erratically, smashing aside resistance of any form as they scour sector after sector for clues to the location of Asirnoth’s kin. New rumors have risen about the Imperial costs of the Basilisk’s campaign; supplies and materiel that has been more raided than commandeered, PDFs abandoned in the middle of battle with chaos forces, and worse. Gene-seed The genetic material of the Basilisks is severely mutated, the cause of their thin numbers and low rate of implantation success. Extensive genetic manipulation during the gene-seed’s growth would have been required to arrive at the functionality of an average Basilisk marine, and the fact that they display any genetic stability at all is a testament to Mechanicus handiwork and not the simple passage of time. For any other founding of marines, this would be great cause for alarm, but among the marines of the Cursed Founding, signs of deliberate mutation among essential Space Marine organs is more the rule than the exception. The first significant change is in the Occulobe. Basilisks do not have the hypersensitive eye-sight of other Adeptus Astartes, nor can they see as clearly at range. However, Basilisk marines can make use of frighteningly accurate vision on the thermal spectrum without the use of a filter of any kind, making them especially lethal urban hunters. Their second mutation is of the Neuroglittis which has been so overcharged that a marine need only open his mouth to taste what is before him. With chemical injector augmentations, usually one of the first received by most Basilisks, the Neuroglittis can be used to track scents at an alarming distance, when eyes might fail. The final mutation is of the Mucranoid, which produces a thicker, tougher than usual covering, allowing marines to last longer than usual in the vacuum, as well as decreasing the effects of harsh elements. Basilisk marines customarily force the Mucranoid covering to form after each augmentation, only removing it to replace a broken layer, or at the time of the next shedding. The layer formed is almost completely covering, and requires the placing of a rebreather as well as spacers and seals over the eyes and ears, though these are fairly simple to integrate. Such advanced mutation would attract Mechanicus attention were it not for the campaign of carefully spread rumors by Chapter serfs, exaggerating the staggeringly low success rate of implantation, the weakened Occulobe and insinuating a completely absent Neuroglittis. Once perpetuated, these rumors left the Adeptus Mechanicus with little interest in digging deeper, content to simply receive the Chapter’s tithe. The misinformation has not, however, dissuaded the Basilisk’s “resident” Inquisitor. There is no official knowledge of any further mutation among the Basilisks, despite the ample opportunities to study them, as their fallen marines are so frequently left on the battlefield. Even those suitable for dreadnought interment are rarely saved. The damning truth is that the Basilisks are far more genetically unstable, only very skilled at hiding it. The Chapter’s progenoids mature normally enough, and so tithes of it have not betrayed them yet. Pinning down the source of the mutation has proved impossible, but in most cases the full complement of organs together causes aspirants to grow well beyond standard Astartes size, turning them into voracious and cannibalistic predators. The engineered enhancements appearing in normal Basilisk marines are greatly intensified in these monsters, giving them hides which have been seen stopping bolter rounds, and supernal hunting senses. If the Chapter were ever forced to subject to true Inquisitorial investigation, discovery would be likely be immediate. In an effort to cull these aberrations, one ship out of the fleet is designated for the implantation process. Fortifying the medbay into a bunker, and equipped with a trap door, each aspirant that succumbs to the mutation is dropped into a lower chamber and released into the ship. It is this same vessel where recruits face their trials: to outhunt and destroy these nameless beasts. Survivors learn what it really is that they defeated after successfully receiving the last organ, and from then on are sworn to silence. Battle-cry The Basilisks offer no call or outwardly audible sound at all when in battle .
  9. Index Traitoris The Thornbacks Origins Barren "There is no deeper meaning, Iron Brother." Semesius interjected coldly as he examined the inner workings of his right hand. A slow smile spread on his face as he caught a glimpse of an ironical tear glistening on the inquiring marine's face, "Hm, the weak lean on meaning. Inancas showed us that. In time you will overcome it," he clenched his bionic fist, testing servos and gears, "or become just another weakness for us to remove." Among the later Chapters created during the 25th founding of the Adeptus Astartes was a successor Chapter of the Red Talons known as the White Hawks, created to crusade the fringes of Segmentum Pacificus. Though the Chapter's centuries of service were honorable, the White Hawks did not endure a millennium. Their downfall, caused from within, was rooted in the Chapter's founding. The same reading of the Emperor's tarot that called for the new Chapter made an unusual specification: the founding Chapter Master was to be the Red Talons' youngest first company veteran. A handful within the training cadre, led by one Captain Iacomas Inancas, was vehemently opposed to the tarot's appointment of Chapter Master. The marine indicated by the tarot was known as Agreus Nomios. If records are to be believed, Nomios was the youngest inductee to the Red Talons' first company. The subject largely of awe and respect turned to one of disbelief, and suspicion when the training cadre was informed, but as soldiers, and brothers, the remaining marines fell in. As the Chapter grew through the decades, there was no outward sign of disquiet, but as the decades stretched into centuries, with each passing act by the Chapter Master, the malcontent grew in certain hearts. What Nomios and his faithful brothers called adaptation and welcome change, Inancas claimed to be the trampling of their gene-fathers' traditions beneath their boots. What Inancas called the preservation of their gene-legacy, Nomios regarded as undermining authority. Even so, Inancas swayed many marines, both veteran and neophyte, with a silver tongue. What had started as little more than collective mistrust of the Chapter Master grew into a vitriolic hate shared by an ever growing following. The situation came to a head during an oratory by Nomios broadcast to the entire fleet as it made its way to a new battlezone as the fleet passed a temperate deathworld known as Direita II. Few remember what words were actually said. Some believe Nomios suggested that the traditions of their primogenitors contradicted the true wishes of the Primarch. Others justify what happened next by claiming that Nomios decried the Talons and the Iron Hands as fools with heretical beliefs. Whatever the words, the result was almost immediate, and some still say it was the plan all along. Ships loyal to Captain Inancas broke formation, and cut off communication with the rest of the fleet. Those marines loyal to Nomios that found themselves on traitor vessels were taken by surprise and quickly subdued, while on the other ships, marines under Inancas were inciting chaos with sabotage and ambushes, ensuring that their deaths would cost the loyalists dearly. Civil war erupted. Many of those that remained at the Chapter Master's side were the skilled pilots for which the White Hawks were reputed, while those that followed Inancas were more from the assault elements, favoring bloody boarding actions and personal combat. Within minutes, fleet guns had been turned on former brothers. The element of surprise gave Captain Inancas' smaller fleet time to concentrate fire on the Monastery Barge, the Black Castle, crippling its weapons and engines and setting it adrift. The battle raged for little more than a day and night above the planet. The Black Castle was soon caught in the planet's gravity, and pulled from the sky even as repairs to its engines were being completed. In the rest of the fleet, Nomios' pilots had not been able to hold back Inancas' assaults, and several loyalist ships were captured with the help of those traitors still on board, while a number of others were scuttled by the loyalists to keep them out of enemy hands. Their staggering losses notwithstanding, a strike team of Nomios' most trusted brothers, along with the Chapter Master himself, infiltrated Inancas' ship, the Void Rogue and attacked him on its bridge. Captain Inancas challenged Nomios to a duel, discarding all his weapons except a combat knife. Nomios accepted, but as the duel went on, it began to turn in the traitor Captain's favor. Raging as his own blade was knocked away, Nomios landed a punch on the soft armor beneath Inancas' raised arm and triggered hidden digital weapons, a burst lazer that all but removed Inancas' right arm. The Captain had enough time to claim Nomios an unworthy coward before his throat was slit by his own knife. Nomios and his marines abandoned the ship after locking into a crash course with the planet. Their attack, however, did not go unnoticed. Inancas had dispatched his own team before being cornered, and the bomb on Nomios' Thunderhawk detonated spectacularly as it made its escape from the Void Rogue. At that point, the scales tipped in favor of the traitors. Though they died fighting to a man, every loyalist ship was blasted into fiery rain over the plains of the planet below. The victory of the traitors, though complete, had come at a bitter cost, and marooned them with much of the Chapter's wargear and remaining gene-seed trapped on the planet's surface. At first, Direita II was hostile, as it had evolved to be, dangerous even to Space Marines. In time, though, the remaining traitors came to master it and call it home. Now under the command of Inancas' right hand, a former Captain known as Semesius the Disinherited, traitor remnants of the White Hawks have begun to grow once more. Casting aside their old identity, they now call themselves the Thornbacks, a name adopted from the planet's deadliest predators. Homeworld "This world, untainted, it is the perfect challenge of our might. It has bred strength. It will do the same for us." ~Sergeant of Recruits, Omester Direita II is a world roughly similar to ancient Terra, with geographic diversity and a multitude of accompanying climes. The White Hawks' War not only showered vast areas with debris, but several of the Chapter's ships are still buried in its surface. The Thornbacks have concentrated themselves around the remains of the Black Castle and the Void Rogue which both fell in a marshy region between a large river and the planet's single great ocean. The Thornbacks have since discovered small pockets of native humans, tribals that manage to survive on the knife's edge of life on Direita II. The planet earned its classification as a deathworld for two primary reasons. A toxic mineral laced throughout the planet's crust has rendered it undesirable for colonization. The mineral, known to natives as 'skull rock' for its coloration and recognizable deep pock markings, often releases lethal hallucinogenic dust residue into the air, making it unbreathable by any but the Space Marines until it is subdued by the rains. Due in part to this, the natives usually settle in the forests or swamps in elevated or treetop communities, where the dust is both less likely to penetrate, and too heavy to rise. The only real guarantee of safety is to avoid the surface deposits, and these areas have been avoided by the tribes for generations. The raised dwellings are also necessary to escape from the planet's dominant life, the Aoulef, a native term combining the words for pebble and man. Named for their scaly, ridged backs, the pebble men are four legged reptiles of immense size and brutal strength. With jaws up to half as long as their considerable bodies, and keen senses, Semesius' scouts have encountered these predators hunting in every environment on the planet except the barren mountains. They hunt in large family groups led by a single elder. These particularly ancient beasts are believed by the tribes to be immortal, and their distinctly more weathered hides give them their name: thorned men. These are the beasts that now serve as the traitors' name and symbol. Apparently immune to the toxic dust, and with bottomless appetites, these predators have been attributed to the disappearance of more than one careless recruit. Worse still, as the most fertile part of the planet, the swamps are host to the yearly mating migration of the pebble men. As a result, both the tribes and the traitors must also endure the yearly influx of predators. This is the greatest trial of the natives, for when the hunger of the reptiles reaches its zenith, as many as fifty of the beasts may converge on potential prey. This has taught the natives a degree of patience to rival that of the creatures themselves, as a wrong movement can endanger an entire settlement. Recruitment Induction The recruit roared in pain and defiance at the stump of his right hand, twisting away from the chained form of the snapping predator as the echoes his cry filled the chamber. The Apothecary quickly lifted the blood spattered neophyte, kicking away the still-seeking maw with a ceramite boot as he led away his charge. In the hundred years since the war with the White Hawks, the Thornbacks have cultivated a healthy gene-seed supply, largely as a result of paranoid self preservation. A portion of the surviving gene-seed was immediately given over to implantation, both to replenish the supply and to reinforce the remaining traitors. Those native tribals deemed pure enough made excellent recruits. Their knowledge of the planet's dangers was invaluable, and evolutionary mutations that had strengthened them against the lethal mineral dust resulted in marines with powerful lungs who have even influenced the Thornbacks' strategies and tactics. Unfortunately, the hazardous environment has also caused countless minor mutations among many of the natives, and for the most part the Thornbacks find them unfit for dedicated recruiting. Their preferred source is for recruits is Trinovantum, previously the hiveworld from which the White Hawks recruited. With a simple lie, the citizens of Trinovantum have never questioned the abrupt change in livery of their supposed custodians. The recruitment process includes many common Astartes tests of skill and strength, but when it comes times for recruits to receive the traditional bionic right hand replacement, the brutal nature of Semesius and his men becomes much more apparent. A number of pebblebacks, as the marines call them, are captured and blinded. Even blind pebblebacks can survive in the wild, and they hunt by simply opening their mouths while partially or fully hidden underwater, and waiting. Their mouths and tongues are highly sensitive, and at the slightest touch from a foreign object, be it a fish or a log, the powerful jaws snap shut, easily cleaving through its prey. The specimens kept by the Thornbacks are used in a ritual 'amputation' in which recruits are made to sit beside the chained beasts, and hold their hand between its open jaws. At the first drop of sweat that falls, the deed is done. Combat Doctrine Lurkers Vile The fishing village's sturdy docks had been largely destroyed in battle, the remaining one tightly held by the planet's PDF. It was their one reliable method of getting troops across the lake after the attack on the airfield. The tiny fishing port had to be held. In the still dimness of dawn, a single guardsman stood watch at the pier's end, while his compatriots huddled around a fire a hundred meters away on land. Slowly, silently, a bald head studded with metal rose from the water just outside the guardsman's field of vision, followed by broad shoulders. The Scout's hands rose just as slowly stopping about a foot above the surface. A twitch of a finger on his mechanical right sent the signal. The shot came from across the lake, taking the guardsman in the chest without a sound. He careened backwards into the Scout's waiting hands and disappeared beneath the surface. Below the water, dozens of yellow helmet optics blinked into life, moving towards the surface. Still comparatively small and with limited supplies, the Thornbacks do not involve themselves in major engagements with their enemies, but like the pebblebacks, will lie in wait and ambush vulnerable targets. Direita II neighbors one subsector with an Imperial colony, which has more than once been raided, and within a radius of only a few sectors are another colony, and an Astartes recruiting world. While all are appealing targets, the latter is the preferred victim of Thornback raids. The small size of their fleet enables a certain degree of stealth, which they use to surgically pick apart defenses and extract materiel and prisoners from their victims. This is of utmost importance to the renegades. While the obscurity of their homeworld has afforded them a good deal of security, they are all too conscious that drawing the full attention of the Imperium would be their undoing. With a combination of small numbers, and attacking isolated targets, they have been able to prosecute their grudge against the Imperium without bringing ruin on themselves. Though the Imperium has thorough documentation of the piracy plaguing the region, some of it even suggesting that rogue astartes are responsible, they still haven’t been able to pinpoint a source. More often than not, the Thornbacks will take only the few resources valuable to them, as they consider the true prize the opportunity to attack recruitment pools for loyalist forces. Under Semesius' direction more than one settlement has been razed to the ground leaving many a grieving parent, and not a single child, the precious youth whisked away to Direita II and an uncertain fate. Their preferred strategy for attacking ground targets is to make use camouflaging elements, particularly grasslands and local bodies of water. To maintain the element of surprise, landings may be made miles from targets so as to approach submerged. Scouts, especially those native to Direita II, are highly skilled at killing unseen from the water, and softening or marking targets for a Thornback assault. To further conceal their activity and movements, the renegades will often adopt the tactics and livery of loyal Astartes chapters, including the extinct White Hawks; some Thornback revel particularly in this deception, sowing dishonor and doubt among loyalists and their wards. Planetary attacks are relatively few and far between, considering the greater risk entailed, and far more often the Thornbacks simply wait for trade fleets plying the same lanes past Direita II that they once followed, and destroy or capture these. The Thornbacks maintain a marked preference for boarding actions, as the War cost them most of their armored assets, and still cripples their efforts to replenish standard supplies and even make simple power armor repairs. One venerable manufactorum ship, scuttled during the final battle of the Hawks, remains partially operational on the planet's surface. Though they haven't had any luck restoring additional systems, the Thornback carefully maintains those that do work, providing them with a steady supply of arms and ammunition. One of their most recent battle was also one of their greatest. It began as a carefully planned raid on a freshly completed orbital dock above the mining planet Magnabulum. Hoping to secure a more powerful and reliable setting to repair their ships and stage their attacks, the Thornbacks planned to seize the station before its full defenses and fleet escorts could arrive. The renegades employed every trick and tactic they had, disguising themselves as a combined force of White Hawks and Tauridae Astra, the chapter whose world the renegades sometimes raid for recruits. With the Tauridae impersonators playing the part of assigned escorts, they gained access to the station, and then subtly sabotaged control of docking bay defenses, opening the way for the larger “White Hawks” force to move in and gain a foothold. Staging a battle between the two teams, the Tauridae Thornbacks fell back deeper into the station with its other defenders, only to turn on them once inside, gaining near complete control of the station. Things were going well, until the actual defense fleet of the Imperial Navy arrived, earlier than scheduled, and with elements of the real Tauridae alongside them. Briefly the two forces clashed, but the loyalist force overwhelmingly outnumbered the renegades. Though they could hold the dogs of the Imperium at bay with the station’s defenses, they would never get away with the station, and the longer they remained, the more likely that their true identities could be exposed. Redirecting their efforts to preventing the loyalists from flanking them, a small detachment of Thornbacks penetrated deep into the station and began overloading the reactor. With a fighting retreat, the Thornbacks abandoned the orbital dock, their final escape covered by the detonation of the reactor. The field of debris remains down to the present, while the Tauridae have endured close observation from the Inquisition ever since. Though capturing the station was a failure, the results proved an unexpected boon when, scant years later, the Cicatrix Maledictum tore across the galaxy, cutting off the local loyalist forces from reliable naval repair and resupply, and leaving them exposed to more daring raids by the Thornbacks. Organization The Thornbacks very loosely maintain a loyalist Chapter organization for ground combat, with a little more than three and a half companies worth of marines to command, though the number dwindles as the years go on. Usually leadership on the battlefield is simply a continuation of leadership from a respective unit's fleet assignment. Ship 'crews' and contingents are far more strongly defined, and there is great pride among marines for their respective vessels, often with attached rivalries. Many of these associations were, and remain with, ships of the original Chapter fleet, most of which were destroyed. The most feared and respected Thornbacks were originally assigned to the Void Rogue, and though the ship will never leave the planet, those marines that truly distinguish themselves are still ceremonially inducted into its contingent. These marines now often take the lead on the Thornbacks' single working Strike Cruiser, the Cloud Gallows. Beliefs "Concern yourselves with only one thing, brothers. We must not only take and give nothing in return. We must take that which is of dearest cost to replace. Honor. Strength. Power." ~Semesius the Disinherited Semesius maintains a warped value for the purity that so concerns marines of Manus' line, believing that the truest purity is not only absent of weakness, but that which enables power. The Imperium and Adeptus Astartes appear unable to accept this 'natural truth', even the majority of the mighty Space Marines submitting to restrictive laws and imposed limits. While it is unclear if this was ever Inancas' real intent, it is preached as such. Much of the Thornbacks' beliefs revolve around the aggrandizement of Captain Inancas, and the rejection of the White Hawks, to whom is attached all the blame for the Thornbacks' situation. The Iron Brethren, similar in function to the Iron Fathers of their parent legion, teach that the Hawks were the epitome of weakness. A Chapter given power, but unable to keep it. These views are projected on the Imperium as a whole, an empire feigning unity, and losing strength because of it, a sinking ship which the Thornbacks have abandoned. Though Semisius would restrict their beliefs to simple philosophies, recruits from Direita II have such deeply embedded tribal superstitions that they almost can't function without them. As a result, most recruits, who now make use of and perpetuate the damaged gene-seed of the White Hawks, associate the gene flaw with the spirit of the dead Chapter. Gene-seed Last Drop in the Well The Iron Brother did not move, and Semesius' smile became a snarl of disgust. "If they will not be satisfied, tell them what they want to hear," It was clear he hadn't had anything particular in mind, but as he finished a sudden pensive look fell over him, and after a moment's silence he added, "Say they are the tears of the White Hawks, despairing at their failings. Their vessels are ours now, their legacy dead and ours begun. All they can do is mourn for the children of the Imperium that fall by our hand." Though the White Hawks had no flaws in their genetic material, severe damage to the gene-seed stores was sustained when the Black Castle crash landed. Much of the gene-seed was rendered useless, the loss of which was intensified by the loss of over half the Chapter. What remained has proven surprisingly resilient, though an Occulobe flaw has perpetuated to the Thornbacks as a whole, causing a yellow discoloration to the eye as well as a facial nerve degeneration that causes marines to shed tears, most frequently during combat where it is attributed to heightened adrenaline levels and the usual contorting of the face that tends to accompany battle. Some Thornbacks train themselves to be completely impassive in combat to reduce the effect. Others embrace it, intrigued by the way it can disturb and confuse outsiders who see it. Battle-cry "Our blades hunger! Give us the taste!"
  10. Primaris IH successor "Naxos Guard" Based in the Naxos nebula which has a above average number of beta class forgeworlds and agri-worlds supplying the sector at large with food and all manner of tech from shells to ships. Naxos prime is a alpha-1 class forgeworld pledged to provide arms to the Naxos Guard Chapter monastery is battle station in orbit above Naxos prime each clan has a battle barge or 2 strike cruisers that act in similar way to go the clan crawlers of the IH Local enemies include a semi dormant necron dynasty and periodic predation by the DE.
  11. Index Astartes: Void Slayers With strength of will valued above all else, the Void Slayers have become machines in all but flesh and constantly seek to steel their minds. Their hatred for the weak willed and distaste for personal glory makes the Void Slayers a highly unforgiving Chapter, executing their duties as elite Imperial warriors with ruthless efficiency. For millennia, they have tirelessly protected the Desolus Stars from all manner of foes and continue to do so even in the Dark Imperium. Origins ‘Forget their names - remember their weakness.’ - First Chapter Master Bash Tchelik. In the aftermath of the Horus Heresy and the death of their Primarch, Ferrus Manus, the Iron Hands were a fractured Legion. Heated arguments over their future raged for years and continued long after the second founding. While the Iron Council had decreed that the Iron Hands would forever strive to purge themselves of all weakness, philosophical disagreements on exactly how to achieve this goal endured, both between and within the Clan Companies. Iron Captain Bash Tchelik was an outspoken veteran who fought against the Chapter’s growing hatred of flesh and obsession with bionics. He argued that in their pursuit of strength, the Iron Hands had fallen to the weakness of the mind. He was always opposed, and over time, pressures from other Clan Companies and within his own made it clear to Bash that his views would never win through. When the historical third founding was initiated, the Iron Hands were requested to oversee the formation of an entirely new Chapter created from their geneseed, in honor of Ferrus Manus. Bash Tchelik quickly nominated himself, seeing an opportunity to bring his vision of true strength to life. The Iron Council did not object, as the exodus of Bash and his followers’ beliefs would help unify the Iron Hands in theirs. Wasting little time, Bash left Medusa with his most trusted brothers and set out to forge a new generation of warriors with minds of pure steel. The new Chapter took the name Void Slayers and made the Desolus Stars their home, ordered to protect its systems, patrol its trading lanes and to seek out all its enemies. For millennia, the Void Slayers have fought with machine-like discipline against countless xenos and heretics, in the Desolus Stars and beyond. Early on, they spearheaded the White Fire Crusade to cleanse the entire sector of Orks. During the Age of Apostasy, the Slayers kept order with an iron fist and constantly pursued Drukhari pirates taking advantage of the galactic turmoil. Through great victories or major losses, their single-minded focus has never wavered. Whether celebrated or feared by the ones they protect, their ruthless methods only change when forced to by other Imperial authorities. To the inhabitants of Desolus, the Chapter may not be their guardians of choice, but in the dark days of Imperium Nihilus, the Void Slayers might just be who they need. Homeworld ‘Your mind shall be diamond. Hard. Clear. Flawless.’ – Teachings of Bash Tchelik. The Void Slayers homeworld is within the Desolus Stars, not too far north of the Great Rift in the Ultima Segmentum. These systems are home to a variety of worlds and institutions key to the Imperial machine, all in need of the extra security that comes with the presence of an Astartes Chapter. Bash Tchelik spent many of his early years as Chapter Master securing alliances with Imperial commanders in the systems. Forming connections with a more pragmatic wing of the Adeptus Mechanicus, he was able to come to a mutually beneficial agreement with the local Forge World. In addition, he claimed recruitment rights from several planets as payment for their protection. The strength of these alliances have waxed and waned dramatically over the years, but in the times of the Dark Imperium, several worlds in the Desolus Stars have ceded their authority to the Void Slayers. The Slayers built their home on the small, dead terrestrial world of Naraka, the only planet in its system. Aside from long depleted deposits of metals, Naraka has no inherent value beyond its strategic position in the sub-sector, its landmasses empty but for the vast training grounds and defenses of the Chapter’s Fortress-Monastery. Named Steeldome after the largest visible structure above ground, the Fortress-Monastery is an immense and formidable structure if unremarkable in its design, housing all the vital facilities of the Chapter deep below the surface. The only facility not within the defenses of the Steeldome is in a small base built on Naraka’s moon, Yama. While the base also works as an additional layer in their orbital defense systems, Yama serves a different and far more important purpose to the Slayers. In fact, many of the closest defense systems are by default pointed at this base. It is here the many recruits come to prove their worth to the Chapter, in the ritual known as ‘The Clearing’. During 'The Clearing', a Neophyte is escorted by the Master of Sanctity into a chamber devoid of light and sound save for the soft glow of a candle and the rasping chants of focus, carried and recited by the Chaplain. As they move to the middle of the chamber, the Chief Librarian stands waiting in the darkness. The Neophyte kneels before the psyker, who lays his hand on the young warrior’s head and pierces deep into his mind. Any lingering longings or fears are exposed and exploited. Memories of days long gone come rushing back to the neophyte, but twisted and terrible, as the smell of brimstone assails his nostrils. Friends or family he knew and lost come back, only to die again in gruesome ways. For what seems an eternity, the Neophyte’s mind is tortured. He must do what he can to retain his sanity, focusing on the increasingly louder words of the Chaplain, until only the chant remains. Many fail the ritual, either by simply dying or by developing severe brain damage, the latter of which are repurposed into servitors, if possible. Those who harbor psychic potential are even more at risk, as their version of the ritual is even more demanding and dangerous, which is why the base itself is kept under watch. Those who survive are allowed to start their training, though the ritual may happen several times over a Slayer’s career as they climb through the ranks or as penance. Whether or not the ritual has any positive effect on the Chapter's capabilities is hard to quantify, but the Slayers have sworn by their methods for millennia. Beliefs ‘Weak minds beget weak deeds.’ – Teachings of Bash Tchelik. The Void Slayers hate weakness, but believe the source of all weakness is the mind. They have made it their unending quest to steel their minds and to rid themselves of fear, emotion or any corrupting thought that might interfere with their effectiveness as Astartes. While no doubt similar in their beliefs to other gene-cousins, they view the Iron Hands’ hatred of the flesh as a heretical distraction, an obsession born out of mental weakness. Replacing lost limbs with bionics is tolerated by the Chapter, but any sign of mechanical fixation is not. On the other hand, if a battle-brother openly shames another for using bionics, a Chaplain will in turn reprimand the brother for manifesting weakness through shaming. To ensure that all Void Slayers follow the same mental doctrine, a strict code of conduct was created by Bash Tchelik and his cohort in the early days of the Chapter. This code is enforced and upheld by both Chaplains and Librarians who constantly screen the minds of their fellow Slayers. All emotion except for hate is to be suppressed, but even hate is tightly controlled, only to be used within certain parameters. This code is embedded into the litanies of hate that the Chaplains chant and every Slayer knows by heart, constantly repeated both on and off the battlefield. The Slayers’ disdain for weakness also extends to their allies. While they don’t expect them to adhere to their code to the same degree, they have no problem expressing their displeasure and have on occasion gone to extreme lengths to punish what they see as treasonous weakness. To the Void Slayers, there is no such thing as personal glory or honor, as only the glory of the Emperor matters, who they view as nothing more or less than the greatest man who ever lived. They wear few ornamentations, except for those that are justified with battlefield utility, like rank markings and fear inducing imagery. They care little for history and less for revering it, focusing more on the cold facts of campaign reports, battle analysis and weapon telemetries. They acknowledge Ferrus Manus as their gene-father and a great warrior, but no more. Instead, Ferrus serves as another example of how even the strongest and most capable of the Emperor's sons can fall victim to the weakness of the mind. Organisation ‘Trust the Consensus and act without question.’ – Teachings of Bash Tchelik. The Void Slayers are mostly organised along the lines set out by the Codex Astartes, with a few key exceptions. Partly due to their distaste for personal glory, the Void Slayers have no dedicated Veteran Company. Instead, they employ five highly independent Battle Companies that are constantly on the move. As in most Chapters, a Slayer will join the Scout Company then progress through the Reserve Companies as they receive their training, but once they join one of the Battle Companies they usually stay there for life, imparting their wisdom and expertise to every new generation. Similar to the Iron Council of their progenitors, the Chapter’s ruling body is called the Consensus, consisting mainly of ten mighty warriors, usually former Captains. There is no Chapter Master, instead one member of the Consensus holds the position Voice of the Chapter, which rotates every ten years. The Voice acts as the Chapter’s face outwards and has the deciding vote in Consensus stalemates, but for the most part the Consensus act as one. Librarians and Chaplains share a heightened importance in the Chapter, due to their roles in the Clearing and ensuring the mental strength of all Void Slayers. The Chief Librarian and Master of Sanctity, alongside the Chief Apothecary, are part of the Consensus, keeping their fellow members in line should old company loyalties linger or any other sign of weakness manifest. Like Chaplains and Apothecaries, a Librarian is permanently attached to each company, serving alongside the Captain as one of his most important advisors. Only the Master of the Forge does not have a vote in the Consensus. Bash Tchelik did not continue the tradition of Iron Fathers when he left Medusa and the Slayers have harbored a heightened sense of distrust towards their Tech Priests ever since. Immediately upon returning to the Chapter from training, a Tech Adept is again subjected to the Clearing - to ensure both his loyalty and resolve remains. The Chapter also has no Dreadnoughts. While the Slayers now believe that death is the final rest and holding on to the past is for the weak-minded, this was no doubt originally an attempt to further distance themselves from their progenitor’s obsession with the mechanical. To support the Chapter’s modus operandi, the Void Slayers maintain a strong fleet of twelve Strike Cruisers and numerous support vessels. Preferring the speed of the Strike Cruisers, their single ancient Battle Barge, the Warrior Eternal, has rarely left the Narakan system since their arrival, acting as an additional layer in their orbital defense systems. However, in the days of the Dark Imperium, the Warrior Eternal is more active than ever, operating as a mighty forward base. In lieu of better alternatives, scores of refugees fleeing the ravages of war regularly plead the Void Slayers for sanctuary aboard the Battle Barge. If there is room, the Void Slayers in turn put all but the frailest to work, so that they may serve the war effort. The refugees have few options other than accept and can only look on in horror when the Void Slayers occasionally execute those whose mental states are deemed detrimental to the cause. Combat Doctrine ‘Know no fear, but for your enemy’s.’ – Teachings of Bash Tchelik. Since establishing themselves in the Desolus Stars, duties have required the Void Slayers to frequently participate in ship-to-ship engagements to protect the many trade routes in the systems. They often fight alongside the Imperial Navy and have earned a fearsome reputation among Battlefleet commanders. While certainly more reliable as allies than most of their gene-brethren, they can still be unpredictable once they have committed their forces. They have in principle no problem submitting to the leadership of other Imperial Commanders. However, they will go against the overall plan if they deem their own approach superior - or doubt the mental fortitude of their allies. In conventional warfare, the Slayers maintain a slight preference for ranged combat, exploiting the psychological effects of overwhelming suppressive fire and orbital bombardments. This is further enhanced by their fearsome Librarians, who are experts at piercing the minds of their enemies and destroying them from within. Still, the Slayers strive to not overspecialise in one area of combat, and their disregard for glory and honor means the Slayers have few notions of shameful tactics on the battlefield. A common manoeuvre is a tactical withdrawal to lure the enemy into a charge, followed by exploding traps, volleys of fire and a cold-blooded counter assault. Unyielding and uncaring in battle, the Void Slayers’ methods have come under scrutiny several times over their long history, often due to their general disregard for history and collateral damage. Their only real punishment came in the early years of M.34, when the Slayers embarked on a penitent crusade following the successful eradication of Orks from a Cardinal World, which also resulted in the destruction of sacred structures and many human lives. Since that time, complaints have continued to be raised against the Slayers, but their loyalty has become near undeniable, and Imperial High Command prefer to find ways to harness their unyielding nature against the enemies of the Imperium. Geneseed ‘From iron to steel!’ – Chapter mantra. Through the ever diligent and disciplined work of the Apothecarion, the Void Slayers’ geneseed has remained pure and stable throughout the millennia. Now, with the integration of Primaris technology, their genetic integrity has become stronger still. When the Torchbearer taskforce first reached the Void Slayers, the Consensus quickly assembled to determine what the Chapter’s official stance was on the new technology and influx of Primaris battle-brothers. The reinforcements were accepted, but it was determined that all Primaris warriors must pass the Clearing or be deemed unworthy of the Chapter. Most survived as the Primaris themselves embraced the challenge, though they never had a real choice. Even if most Void Slayers display none of their progenitors’ obsession with the mechanical, they do share a deep hatred for weakness and it is still unknown if this is genetic. Perhaps the Slayers’ absolute focus on mental strength has led to them merely suppressing an underlying body dysphoria present in all Iron Hands successors. Whatever the case, the Void Slayers do not care. To them, such speculations are nothing but a distraction for the weak willed and has no impact on their effectiveness as Imperial warriors. --- Original Discussion Topic
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