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  1. Liberites! Though I've made a handful of posts since returning to the hobby already, it hasn't quite felt real until preparing to submit an IA again, and it makes me happy to be doing so. While Tau have always been my main army, and I quite enjoyed creating my new force's Index Xenos, no 40k background inspires and excites me as much as that of original Adeptus Astartes chapters, and that goes for the creations of others as much as my own. I'm glad to be involved in the hobby again, and I don't plan on letting it go anytime soon. Anyway, enough from me; for your entertainment: The Depthwatch Edit: A semi-formal pdf version is now available in the downloads section HERE. The Depthwatch Chapter Risen From the Unknown There exists only a small, albeit dedicated, sect of Imperial scholarship that still gives credence to stories of the Depthwatch Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. Though a number of references to marines bearing the armor and heraldry associated with the Depthwatch exist, they are only that: references. No reputable accounts, much less recordings, have been found that would truly confirm that the Chapter existed. It has only been through the sponsorship of a small and relatively insignificant dynasty of Inquisitors that the search for information regarding the Chapter still continues. There is still much debate within their circles, but the majority belief among these scholars and Inquisitors is that the Depthwatch was created during the 24th Founding and came to be stationed in the Segmentum Tempestus, where most of the myths originate, and which aligned with the need for fresh Imperial defenses at the time. It is generally assumed that the Chapter must have restricted itself to patrolling reaches of empty border space, regions that might make tempting openings for xenos incursions. This fits with the few existing records of materiel requisitions to the region for which any notation on the recipients has been lost. Many of those searching for the truth behind the Depthwatch have long held the belief that somewhere in the galaxy, its progenitor may still hold records that would finally solve the puzzle, but between the reticence of many Astartes to allow Inquisitorial interference in their affairs, and the lack of any hint even to what genetic lineage the Depthwatch bore, no search has yet proved fruitful, and the trail has long been cold. The search has recently been rekindled, though, following reports of the bodies of Primaris marines vanishing from the battlefields where they fell, and the strange Astartes that always seem to be present when it happens. The Blasphemous Truth, whispered from tomes in the Black Library Home World It would be a great triumph for those pursuing knowledge of the Depthwatch to ascertain even what might have been their home sector, let alone a home world. In the past the stories and legends attributed to the Chapter have originated in the Segmentum Tempestus, and new attention has been brought to the region as separate forces of multiple space marine chapters, including the Champions Eternal, the Wolfspear, the Moritficators, and the Raven Guard have raised claims of unidentified, but ostensibly loyalist astartes, absconding with the bodies of fallen Primaris marines. With the voice of the Raven Guard involved, more groups within the Inquisition have begun to take interest, while the Champions Eternal have vowed to find and punish the desecrators themselves. Turn the pages. Go deeper. Recruitment Who or where the Depthwatch recruited to their ranks is impossible for Imperial scholars to know, given the much more fundamental questions that they still cannot answer. If some feudal world ever contributed its youth to their ranks, no record of it has been uncovered, though not for lack of trying. Read, mortal, know the truth hidden by the Empyrean. Combat Doctrine Collected myths and songs associated with the Depthwatch paint a picture of a force focused on ambush tactics. Epics, their origins lost to oral tradition, tell of "star sailors" who made use of celestial bodies like asteroid fields and nebulae to strike unexpectedly at invading enemies. More than a few of the tales describe them striking from all directions, always seeking to remove any chance of retreat in order to utterly destroy their foes, rather than simply repel them. That truth is dark should come as no surprise. Organization Like their recruitment methods, the scant information that researchers have gathered over the centuries is not nearly enough to support guesses as to how the Depthwatch was organized. Like knowledge, survival demands sacrifice. Beliefs Occasionally the debates that take place about the chapter broach the subject of their beliefs, more specifically their loyalty, but the discourse is only questions, never answers, and from decade to decade popular opinion sways on whether this lost chapter was traitorous or true. Reality and belief, eternally intertwined. Gene-seed The genetic origin of the Depthwatch is as lost to the Imperium as the rest of the Chapter's history, a subject of endless discussion among the tiny faction of scholars that still defend the Chapters existence. While a few go as far as to try inferring lineage from the scant descriptions of the Chapters character, most others deride anything less than verified genetic data, something that most researchers have given up ever finding. The same seed engenders both truth and lies. Chapter Tactic Warrior Apparitions Unnatural mist and improbable pools of water seed the battlefield moments before the Depthwatch arrives. Their sudden appearance, and the strange occurrences that seem to accompany them keep their enemies off balance until it's too late. When resolving an attack with a ranged weapon against a <Depthwatch> unit more than 12" away, the unit counts as having the benefits of cover. Enemy units within 3" of a unit with this tactic suffer -1 to their Leadership. Memory woven from the recollections of Men and Aeldari
  2. The Asperos Astra Chapter The Only Law Origins As the site of the violent birth of the Great Rift, the Eye of Terror has become a greater source of devastation for the Imperium than ever before, vomiting forth a new and endless tide of fiends and traitors. Forces in surrounding sectors have been drawn in close to quell the horrors pouring from the great warp sore. As much to maintain strength in those now less defended sectors as to bolster those forces providing a shield against the warp-born, two chapters of the Ultima Founding were sent to the region north of the Eye as reinforcements. One of these was the Asperos Astra, gene sons of [who, for real]. Both chapters vied for the opportunity to join the defense around the Eye, but Imperial resources in the area would only support one. The two chapters agreed to a simple, direct challenge between champions, the winner taking the place of greater glory in combating the tide from the Eye. The champion of the Asperos Astra...lost. Though it was an honorable contest, the sting of failure, of disgrace, was still felt throughout the chapter. They turned toward their new home with little enthusiasm and found comparatively quiet sectors. It seemed that the harrowing emergence of the Rift had drawn all the most significant players towards it. There were still threats to counter; scavengers and opportunists hoping to plunder from a distracted Imperium, but they were of little challenge for Astartes. Upon learning of an expedition destined for the unknowns of the Halo Stars, the Asperos saw an opportunity for real glory and challenges worthy of their station. The Explorators had made a general request for escorts through the barely navigable warp storms, noting that they expected to find human colonies on the other side, cut off and in need of the Emperors light, work for which the Mechanium had no interest. The Asperos answered the call. Homeworld Eludos City Precinct Fortress He said something was comin', Warden, whispered the investigator anxiously, Called it a war of liberation. The tower of ceramite grunted, stepping closer to the screen replaying the events at the outskirts. Liberation. Yessir. We werent sure what to make of it. The barons might've chafed at signin the treaty back then, but theres been no sign of any real malcontent since. But theres also no one else could cause a war, save the florans, and sure as dust on my boots he wasnt talkin to them. Dyou think a baron uprising could happen? Eventus stultorum magister, rumbled the Warden, eyes not moving from the screen. Uh, sir? They learned the foolishness of such notions for themselves. Whatever this pale preacher speaks of the Warden squinted as he watched the finesse with which the figure on the screen wielded its pistols, It comes from something else. The Cicatrix Maledictum has changed everything, shaken the Imperium to its core, shifted the balance of powers across the galaxy. At the behest of Roboute Guilliman, the Imperium pursues many new and unusual avenues for securing the future of mankind. Armies of curators and scribes have delved anew into records of the Imperiums past, searching for every viable new source of strength and lifeblood. One of the many potential leads that surfaced found its source not in an archive, but an ancient, derelict vessel found only a few years before the birth of the Great Rift by a Navy patrol in the far western reaches of Segmentum Obscurus. At first the ship was believed to have been regurgitated from the Eye of Terror, but a thorough, albeit cautious, investigation revealed otherwise. The ship had come from the north, from the Halo Stars. It bore records that, once translated, suggested that human colonies still survived in the region. The find prompted further investigation, and the accounts on the abandoned vessel were eventually matched with ancient records of a pair of major colonial expeditions made thousands of years ago to that unexplored wilderness. The fleets were noted as lost, their fates unknown, and the Halo Stars maintained their reputation as malevolent and remained unexplored. This vessels recovery has lit a spark of hope that the mysterious region could be an untapped resource for the Imperium. Among several measures taken, a new explorator fleet was dispatched to breach the frontier, led by two Explorators: Magos-Commodore Lorus Ferrarius and Archmagos Paritori Wyssian. The Asperos Astra, seeking glory and the opportunity to prove their worth, joined the expedition. Their first test came at the attempted passage into the Halo Stars. Using survey, scout, and exploration data centuries in gathering, a new passage was attempted through a long-standing gap known then as the Mouth of Lemhi. Mustering the fleet at the edge of the storms, and calling litanies in unison, they entered the warp. The journey was harrowing, and not without losses. The pressure exerted on the gellar fields within the fleet was extreme, and there were breaches, both among the explorator vessels and the astartes, breaches that invariably cost ships. The most tragic of these losses was the strike cruiser Reilios, with the entirety of the 6th company. Their final sounds of battle were recorded and preserved in a place of honor within the Chapters records. Those sacrifices proved worthwhile as, after months of journeying, the fleet emerged among the Halo Stars. The explorators immediately constructed a way station to begin modeling and charting their course through the warp, defining what would eventually become the Lemhi Pass, while the bulk of the fleet set out on its chartered task: drawing back the curtains on the Halo Stars. It was difficult going; at the first star the fleet reached, they found what would become a constant threat to Imperial interests in the region: the Nonaveridis. Sinewy, plant-like beings that dwell near stars and seem to grow their technology in a manner similar to the Eldar. In the time since, their bioweaponry has been determined to be somewhat less effective than that of the Tyranids, but the florans themselves demonstrate greater resilience and cunning than the Swarm. After a series of short, tense battles; each probing the others strength and regrouping to attack from another angle; a small fleet of well-worn Imperial ships of familiar but unusual design emerged from the warp and joined combat against the biofleet, turning the tide and forcing the florans to flee. With the fleet secure, the explorators and astartes established contact with the unfamiliar ships, and the human inhabitants of the Halo Stars, for the first time. The native humans led the explorators and their escort to a nearby world, a long-standing colony called Aurumilio. The planet had been home to humans for many thousands of years, and their oldest records loosely aligned with those pulled from the vessel that had originated the charter; they were, at least in part, descendants of that ancient mission. The world was barely developed, though; much of its population remained concentrated around a handful of space elevators connected to ramshackle orbital docks. The reason for the stagnation, according to the patchy history they maintained, was the loss of most of their supply ships and a not insignificant amount of the colonists during the crossing. The original fleet had become separated, survivors scattered to the void. Several of the worlds they had ended up on had eventually been able to reconnect, some as recently as in the last hundred years. It was never quite clear how many survived. While the explorators liaised with the natives to the extent that it concerned their own objectives, they had little interest in stalling their journey to bring these forgotten worlds thousands of years up to date technologically. They quickly made preparations to continue deeper into the reaches beyond, already referring to them as the Manifest Frontier, the most promising source for the future of the Imperium. The Asperos, on the other hand, viewed the protection of all the Frontiers humans as their responsibility. To honor their arrangement with the explorators, the 3rd company was tasked with continuing to accompany them. The remainder of the Chapter, after coordinating with the locals, began establishing itself on the planet and sending envoys to the other scattered worlds to which humanity had clung through those many centuries. In only a few decades, and outfitted with some appointments provided by the grateful explorators, the Asperos built a formidable monastery, Shanborn Fortress, named for a librarian who sacrificed himself on the journey to prevent a disastrous gellar field breach. With that, the Asperos Astra cemented their place in the Halo Stars and began their work in the Emperors name. Familiar Whispers Some years after establishing themselves in the Frontier, the members of the Asperos fleet began to receive garbled messages using the Chapters own verification codes. For the most part the message couldnt be translated or understood, but after several transmissions, a clue was discovered in some of them. The Lore Keepers, librarians of the Chapter, matched parts of the audio with recordings kept in the Chapters archives...recordings of the final moments of the 6th Company. The transmissions have persisted ever since, occasionally interrupting void communications and sometimes lasting for days at a time. For years, no source could identified, until during one patrol a flotilla of rangers encountered a derelict outlaw vessel bearing the livery of the 6th. The ship ignored hails, and made no response to their approach. When the scouts boarded it, they found the crew dead; shriveled and husk-like, mummified by the ships climate system. They appeared to have made attempts to escape the ship, despite the rangers finding no indication that its bulkheads had ever been sealed. More significantly, the ships cogitator was broadcasting the looping messages. The rangers reported explicitly that they disabled the transmissions and scuttled the ship by way of its reactor, and for a time the transmissions stopped. But not long after, they began again, and the ships of the Asperos Astra continue to receive them. Recruitment Humanity clings to only a handful of worlds in the Frontier, each of them for the most part wind-blown and barren. The more fertile worlds, including verdant jungle planets known as grove worlds, are invariably under the control of the Nonaveridis. Though the humans have harangued the florans for resources lacking on their own worlds, they have never had the strength to face them head on, and while the Nonaveridis have made frequent raids on the human worlds, they dont seem to consider the humans enough of a danger for an extermination. The conflict between them has produced hardy potential recruits, particularly the many orphans of battle. Some have taken gladly to the arrival of the Astartes among them, recognizing their potence as a ward against the xenos and against the lawless human elements that had enjoyed free reign for so long. Others, all too familiar with how easily those with power can take advantage of the weak, view the new arrivals with suspicion. In an effort to garnish support without spilling human blood, the Asperos only take recruits from the willing. While it hasnt displaced all suspicion, it has reduced some of the hostility from all but the most willful and obstinate detractors. The trials of the aspirants predominantly center around challenges of marksmanship and survival, tested in harsh conditions on a variety of different planets and moons. The tests pit recruits against natural threats as well as against cadres from the scout company, all before ever receiving any implanted organs. Over the course of implantation, neophytes fill escort roles for vital supplies moving between the Frontier colonies until they are deemed ready to become full battle brothers. Combat Doctrine Battle of Fort Robidoux The defenders could hear the continuous, discordant ringing, even over the crackling reports of rifles and thunderous boom of cannons. Whatever it was they were calling, the florans made sure it was heard. As beams of solar energy lanced overhead and pocked the forts walls, Sergeant Doreal rallied the defenders in his quarter, Come on, men! Whos done being reasonable with this xenos filth? Roars of affirmation answered him, and the fusillade redoubled. Ranged combat is the primary forte of the Asperos, punishing their enemies at a distance with fusillades of fire power of every caliber. Using a favorable, and ideally fortified, position, the Asperos stall advances and pin enemies with long range fire, while a hammer force rides in on their flanks to crush them against the anvil. While air support facilitates this approach, multiple encounters with floran spore mines have encouraged alternatives, and the preferred method of the Asperos is to use more personal approaches, primarily Inceptor squads, bikes, and powerful ranging beasts called Steda. The animals were originally found and domesticated on Aurumilio and now see use in numerous roles on several human worlds. Extremely sure footed, able to bear immense loads, and nearly unflinching in danger, evaluating their suitability as steeds was one of the first successful experiments the Asperos undertook when they arrived, granting forces isolated from mechanized support more flexibility on the field. When available, the Chapter prefers to use their complement of Apolus-pattern bikes, modified specifically to accommodate the differences in size and armor configuration among Primaris Astartes. This approach to battle works well for the Asperos in both pitched warfare and sieges, for which they have prepared the human worlds (and several in between) with sturdy fortress keeps to use as strongholds against the largest incursions. Primarily of simple, squat construction, these Chapter forts bristle with meticulously maintained weaponry prepared for any type of threat. Many have been raised on the edges of settlements, serving as shelter for the inhabitants during conflicts. Besides making formidable bastions for defense, they are vital staging grounds for planetary mobilizations. On the macro scale of the Frontier in general, the Chapter does not usually instigate conflicts, rarely having the numbers to make new conquests. Their priority is defending the holdings humanity currently possesses. Once drawn into battle, however, they will attack until their enemies are broken, making it clear that despite being relative newcomers to the region, they are not to be trifled with. On those occasions when the humans do seek to expand, or that the Explorators have designated a hostile world as a site of special interest, the Chapter is always willing to assist, but the prerogative to identify and claim new territory remains with the settlers themselves. Once a planet is brought under control, the Asperos set about fortifying it for its new inhabitants, often constructing a new keep from which to secure the planet. In recognition for their aid in crossing into the Halo Stars and their ongoing relationship, forces from the Explorators often supplement the Asperos in battle. Their various Mars-pattern weapons and armor, the Apolus bike in particular, perform remarkably well in the environs of the Frontier. Over the years a number of the more eccentric Tech-priests have taken up permanent stations on several of the human worlds and outposts to refine and maintain the armaments in use by both the Astartes and the settlers. It doesnt hurt matters that the weapons used by the humans are often relics of an age past that are almost as intriguing to the Mechanicus operatives as potential new tech. A less welcome auxiliary among the citizen defenders of the Frontier are the Dustwalkers, a killclade composed of a pair of Rustwalker Princeps ostensibly led by a Sicarian Infiltrator. While lethally efficient on the battlefield, the have a propensity for appearing casually in the vicinity where battle will take place days or weeks before it happens, and lingering afterwards to mutilate fallen enemies, making them particularly unsettling anomalies among the locals. Moreover, they dont appear to be beholden to anyone; no Tech-priests of any rank have asserted any claim over them or expressed any interest in corralling them. To their credit, they have proved invaluable on several occasions, usually by eliminating high-priority targets and allowing the Astartes and volunteer forces to mop up weakened and disorganized enemy lines. The Green Dawn The largest conflict that the Chapter has faced since resolving the barony wars began as an effort to colonize a new world. Several of the human worlds mustered a fleet to attempt the first full scale invasion of one of the grove worlds. Verdant beyond reckoning, the successful colonization of just one of these worlds would secure lifeblood resources, food, water, raw materials and more for the humans of the Frontier for ages to come. Upwards of three quarters of the Asperos Astra joined the invasion. The targeted world, called Araboros by the humans, was caught unawares. Only a token Nonaveridis fleet guarded the orbit of the world, which was expected given the minute scale of previous human raids on such worlds. The meager fleet was quickly smashed aside by the invasion forces, and landfall was made. Scorching landing sites with orbital weaponry, the Asperos led the way in securing footholds for the rest of the invasion, but the humans advance was almost immediately stalled. They became confined to these sites, as veritable walls of floran organisms that had previously ignored raiders and been believed to be in the same low-threat class as servitors swarmed the invaders, bodies choking the ground around the human fortifications as they assaulted in endless waves. The very world around them seemed to be straining to dislodge the would-be colonists. At each staging ground the human forces were pinned down, until Nonaveridis fleet reinforcements arrived, threatening to cut them off. The humans were forced to retreat, and their fleet limped away. At first it seemed that there would be no response. The florans gave no immediate pursuit, and though the returning humans braced themselves for weeks after, there was no sign of retaliation. Then, contact was lost with the planet Ulm. Before an investigation could be launched, the hammer fell. In a single, well-coordinated maneuver, Nonaveridis fleets of unprecedented size fell on the three worlds closest to both Ulm and Araboros, striking each planets largest population centers in the early morning on each world. Massive Lunaria carriers disgorged clouds of floret fighters that blotted out the daylight, while pod-dropped infantry stalks ran amok between the great seeking tentacles of titanic Mirabilis hulks. Though the casualties were astronomical, the citizen defenders of the Frontier were far from helpless, and held their own for days until Asperos strike forces and troops from neighboring planets arrived to relieve them. Two of the besieged worlds hosted keeps that the Astartes had established, both of which were instrumental in grinding down the enemys advance long enough for reinforcements to reach them. It was nearly a month of ceaseless battle before the Nonaveridis were finally dislodged. What the humans lacked in war machines found in the wider Imperium, they made up for in tenacity and ingenuity, traits that were pushed to their limits over the course of the campaign. The turning point only came when Archmagos Paritori Wyssians own ship and escort arrived, adding their strength to that of the humans and their Astartes protectors. After a fierce climax, the Nonaveridis were forced to withdraw. When Frontier forces were finally able to reach Ulm, they found the world no more than a cindered husk, burned of all life. In the decades since this conflict, both sides have markedly increased their border defenses, and skirmishes with the florans have become far more bitter than they have been in all the Frontiers history. Organization Since taking stewardship over the Frontier, the Asperos have restructured somewhat to accommodate for the needs of the region, and to prevent losses like that of the 6th Company. Warp storms are known to rise suddenly and blow through several sectors, greatly imperilling warp travel, making it preferable to risk smaller formations. Though the companies still exist on records, they each have functionally been split in half, with the exception of the still-replenishing 6th Company. Each of these troops is referred to as a corps. Half of the corps, commonly known as the Dust Corps, are responsible for manning the keeps. The other half, called the Sky Corps, operate as patrol forces, ranging across the wild space at the edges of human territory to ward off threats. They are supported in part by an informal navy of the outdated ships that the original colonists brought with them, along with a number of cruder vessels of the colonists own making, but the general lack of fleet power has led the Asperos to be more involved in ship combat than is typical of their kind. While assignment to a corps is permanent, marines spend regular duty tours serving in their counterpart corps to develop experience in every form of warfare in which the Chapter engages. These rotations, one to three years in duration, happen on a squad by squad basis. Each of the Dust Corps is under the day-to-day command of a Shore Reeve, effectively the equivalent of a captain among standard chapters, while the Sky Corps are led by Star Reeves. In joint operations, leadership is usually simply determined by seniority. Each corps is assigned a Warden of Souls, one of the brothers who composes the Chaplaincy, which in turn is led and administered by the Warden Vigilant. In rotating assignment to the corps are an unknown number of Lore Keepers of the Librarium. Their master, the Lore Seer, remains on Aurumilio, carefully tending the Chapters records and providing counsel to the leadership of the humans as they seek to plot the likely course of other colonization ships and lost tech that would help strengthen humanitys tenuous grip on the Frontier. Like the other companies, the scout company was also divided into two corps; the Dust Rangers and Sky Rangers. The rest of the Chapter relies heavily on intelligence from the Ranger corps to coordinate its efforts, and while they spend a great deal of time isolated on the furthest edges of the Frontier, they also have the most interaction with other corps as they relay their findings. More than mere scouts, the Rangers are figures of great repute and honor to their brothers, and the subject of awe and legend among the Frontiers citizens. At the Chapters head is the Marshal, a figure that has quickly entered into the mythos of the Frontiers citizens. The Marshal is unnamed, even to the other leaders within the Chapter, driven to embody his role as an avatar of the Emperors justice. Any flaws or weaknesses he fails to overcome cannot be reflected on his own name, but instead stain his very office, and so he must meet the highest standards and ideals of the Asperos Astra. One trait that has already become attributed to the Marshal is a certain restlessness, causing him to arrive unexpectedly in the midst of the most intense battles, or right before them. The Asperos are still led by their first Marshal, but their rites of succession make clear that only Reeves qualify as successors, the decision made by a council of Wardens and Lore Keepers. The chosen Reeve abandons his name, and is listed in Chapter records as killed in action, and given due honors. A Dark Return As the Asperos approached a century in the Frontier, the region was enjoying a greater degree of stability than they had ever known. To such hard bitten people as called the Frontier home, this was not a comfort. Indeed, on many worlds, there prevailed a sense of apprehension, a deep unease, a feeling that something was coming. As if to confirm their suspicions, word began to spread of a strange individual visiting outlying cities and settlements, proclaiming some sort of afterlife wherever he went. He spoke of no gods or doctrines, just this second life, and its imminent arrival. Some ignored it, dismissing the words as mad ravings. Others, more disconcerted, drove the stranger away from their settlements. Still others seemed to sense something dire in the message, and reported killing the herald outright, though no investigation of these instances ever seemed to produce a body. Regardless of the means by which this preacher departed, illness seemed to follow in his wake. Much of it escaped notice, being comparatively mild, but a few dozen citizens at each settlement were laid up with fever and coughs. A handful died, but most were on their feet again a few days later with no ill effects. Then they began to disappear. The issue came to the Asperos attention as several enforcers among the Arbites they had appointed, as well as a planetary baron, were counted among the missing. As preparations were being made to launch a thorough investigation, the vanished returned...as the shambling, withered front line of a Chaos warband the likes of which the people of Frontier had never seen. But the Asperos had. Though the armor was cracked, corroded, and dented and the banners threadbare and faded, there was no mistaking the 6th Company. New marks and symbols corrupted their original heraldry, marking them for all to see as servants of Nurgle. The horde that went before them seemed mindless, giving no reaction to pleading or surrender, or even to their own injuries. It was not uncommon on any of the worlds where they struck for citizens to recognize dead family and comrades among their attackers. And always dancing somewhere in the midst of the tide of undead was the preacher, killing with a gun in one hand, and raising a book in the other, proclaiming the arrival of the Pallid Procession, and the gift of the second life. Striking quickly, often with no apparent goal other than to kill and claim corpses, the Procession retreated back into the Empyrean to an unknown origin from which they have continued to raid the Frontier. Beliefs Argentalbun City, New Sarum Mm eheh, Frontier life is hard, is it not, brothers and sisters? croaked the rail thin stranger, gloved fingers clenching the fence in front of him, But dont despair, for as difficult as this life is, another awaits. A second life, free of worry, sorrow, or pain, heheh, he gesticulated wildly at the sky at this, What is it your, eheheh, Lawbringers say? The end is never the end, the last ride is never the last. Eheheh, truer than even they know. The second life is true liberation. In the shadow beneath the brim of his hat, the only thing they could make out was the cracked smile, which grew as his incessant chuckles grew into full throated laughter. His sermon seemingly at an end, he turned and walked out of the city, laughing all the while. Uneasy silence prevailed among the settlers in his wake, broken only by a handful of nervous coughs. Isolated as the Manifest Frontier has been for so many hundreds, thousands of years, the notion of the Imperium is somewhat distant to the citizens who live there. With the passage between the Halo Stars and the rest of the Imperium still tenuous at best, and the new era of war roiling along the Great Rift, coordinated efforts to reintegrate the Frontier will be a long time coming, and so their own continued struggle to survive will continue much the same as it has. The brothers of the Asperos Astra do not presume to rule; their innate predisposition to protecting humanity, together with a foundational belief that the Emperor intended his citizens to govern, rather than his super soldiers, has germinated a simple self-perception for the Chapter. They are stewards of humanity in the Frontier, securing the future its leaders aspire to. Their priority is warding away threats to the population, giving them the opportunity to do more than survive, but to flourish. Make no mistake, the Asperos offer counsel and occasional pointed guidance, as appropriate for those with the engineered mindset of warriors, but they generally avoid taking any hand in matters of politics or governance. The exception, and their primary contribution to society in the Frontier outside of war, is the establishment and enforcement of peace agreements between several of the regions dominant factions. Arriving in the Frontier they found a number of the colonized worlds in bloody gridlock over resources at the whim of bickering barons, some of whom laid claim to whole planets. While they fought among themselves, their worlds were still beset by outlaw raiders, floran encroachment, and occasional, but growing, Chaos activity. The Asperos united the barons with a minimal, but chillingly effective application of force, and since then, strictly enforce the rule of law with the assistance of the small independent groups that were once the local law. These, too, were unified into an evenly distributed force with a similar structure to the Adeptus Arbites. Many young citizens of the Frontier, whose families had been part of the barony conflicts for generations, were astonished at how easily the Astartes restored order, and praise for these Lawbringers and the prosperity they brought was instrumental in coaxing some of the more obstinate systems into the fold. The moniker has prevailed ever since, with most of the citizen population knowing the Chapter as the Lawbringers. Having seen how effective this word-of-mouth has been at unifying the citizenry, the Chapter has made no effort to correct the people. Young as they are, the Asperos Chapter cult is still slowly developing beyond the simple tenet of protecting their wards. Some of that development is naturally the result of recruiting Frontier natives into their ranks. One notion that has taken root is the value of experience, not only to the individual, but to all, and it is common at any gathering of Asperos brothers to hear the chatter of tales of glory, heroism, failure, and sacrifice being related, particularly directed at the youngest members of the company. Even the ordinary citizens of the Frontier who interface with the Chapter are often subjected to anecdotes from which lessons are supposed to be learned. A common saying from the elder to the younger is where the ceramite is scarred, there is a story worth telling. With no other significant Imperial forces in the Frontier besides the often-out-of-reach explorators, the Asperos has also developed a keen conviction for the value of every brothers life. Self-sacrifice, laudable though it is, is something seen only as a very last resort, for a dead marine is one who can no longer defend his Emperors people. There are occasional noble last stands, but they are always born of absolute necessity, and a fighting retreat that ensures brothers will live to fight again is much preferred. This belief is extended on to those the Asperos protect as well, who the Astartes view as seeds from which the Imperiums presence in the Halo Stars will grow. This particular idea serves as a strong motivator for the Chapter; assured that the Frontier will one day join the larger Imperium, they want to know that they have something of consequence to show for their time spent fighting and laboring there. While the Mechanicus and its Explorators are sure that the answer to the Imperiums ills will come in the form of lost tech, the Asperos believes it will come from its people. The most commendable traits to strive for among the Asperos are precision and decisiveness, both on and off the battlefield, and they dedicate much of their time outside of combat to refining marksmanship. Particularly impressive feats of accuracy; targets hit at great distance, ricocheted rounds, shots through the slightest opening, are all stories often shared to extol the value of finesse and practice. Among the most well-known and revered of these tales comes from a battlefield on the planet Codai, shortly following the war of the Green Dawn: For years after, floran raids came with terrible force, each new attack feeling like the threat of another Ulm. That was, until Codai. A floran assault began while the 5th Dust Corps was enroute to its new destination on a nearby world. Diverting to defend Codai, the 5th made planetfall and took charge of the militia forces. During the fighting, Veteran Sergeant Wylam Tero broke from formation on his Steda, and rode out among the flailing limbs of the Mirabilis bio-titan leading the floran attack. As the creature discharged a solar blast at the lines of the defenders, Tero fired a single shot into its underside. Striking an opening that couldnt have been larger than a handspan on a moving target over a hundred meters above him, Teros bolt entered a biological vent opened only briefly by the creatures attack and detonated the highly reactive organ from which the floran drew its energy. The Mirabilis annihilated itself and a third of its supporting force as Wylam Tero rode free of the blast. This was the first and only known instance of such a precise engine kill on one of these creatures, and it led to a precipitous decline in floran raids and secured Wild Wylam a place in legend both within the Chapter and without. A keep bearing his name is now present on Codai. The revelation of the 6th companys fate has left an indelible mark on the Chapters psyche. Their honors have been stricken from the Chapters records, and there are always Lore Keepers tasked with trying to locate this Pallid Procession and its next target. The Wardens of the Asperos now work closely with their brethren to eradicate the seed of doubt that has been planted in each of their hearts. Whether they are willing to acknowledge it openly or not, each battle brother among the Asperos has since asked himself if he would have submitted to the Ruinous Powers and turned against everything he stood for, and what could have been worth such a price. To some, it would seem better not to know, while to others, the why and how of the 6th Companys fall are of vital importance to answer. The existential threat of the Pallid Procession extends past the Chapter and on to their wards, as well; the Processions disturbing preference for using the peoples dead against them has led to efforts by the citizens and the Astartes to secure their fallen against the corrupting influence of the heretics. While settlements are defended as would be expected, the great grave fields that the Frontier citizens have maintained throughout their history have now also begun to be heavily fortified, as much to keep the dead in as to keep them out. The grave fortresses remain the only predictable targets for the Processions attacks, and the battles fought around them have been among the fiercest. This never ending conflict has only reinforced the value of life within the Chapter and the citizenry of the Frontier. Gene-seed The Asperos Astra are gene-sons of Guilliman, and have dependably stable genetic material. Until a more reliable route through the Lemhi Pass is established, they have secured their gene-seed tithes in Shanborn Fortress. Instead of sending the tithes, emissaries are dispatched to update Mars on their circumstances. Until now, the Mechanicus has accepted this substitute, encouraged by further endorsement from the Frontier Explorators. With each journey, most successful, some not, the pass becomes better understood and safer to navigate, and soon the Chapter should be able to dutifully submit its tithes, as well as receive extra gene-seed in the event of a disaster. War Cry Taken up as a chant: Dust, blood, guts, and glory! Chapter Tactic Deadeye Prowess Masters of ranged combat, the Lawbringers are frighteningly accurate marksman, seeming to account for every variable with each placed shot. Enemies who thought themselves safely out of range often pay the ultimate price for underestimating the accuracy of Asperos battle brothers. Increase the range of all ranged weapons by 3" and reroll to-hit rolls of 1 for any bolter weapons. Battle Brother Arnton of the Sixth Company, painted by Ace Debonair
  3. Tau Forces of Thal'asa: Shan’al Aloh’shas – The Cold Fire Coalition http://i.imgur.com/H5ACvaJ.jpg Home World No Man's Land “Why do we keep answering the humans’ calls for parlay?” the younger Shas’la mused, “We come willing to make peace, and every time, they undermine it, and we are at war again.”“It’s as the Aun’el says; we are the river and they, the rock,” Answered his Shas’ui with a shrug, “It is inevitable that they will be worn down, whether to acceptance of the Greater Good, or oblivion. All we need to do is be patient.” “We could take them though. If they could get help, they would have by now. We could—” “Trust your Ethereal, boy.” Thal’asa (alternatively called Taal’asa) is a world of shallow acidic seas and rocky, windswept continents. Within scant decades of its colonization, the surface is now dotted by biodomes in which the colonists shelter from the great storms that roam both land and sea. Under the care of the T'au terraforming engines, what was once highly corrosive acid rain and seas has become only mildly acidic rain and seas, now navigable by conventional T'au vehicles. Though it is still hazardous to be exposed directly to the elements, it is only a matter of a few years before the planet’s water becomes tolerably safe. The sector Thal’asa occupies is fairly spacious, but on the far side of it sits an isolated Imperial mining world, Acro, with which Thal’asa has experienced ongoing conflict. Like Acro, Thal’asa has valuable mineral deposits, mostly concentrated on the beds of its seas. Most of the Cadre’s battles have been fought to gain footholds on Acro, repel invasions from Acro, and in boarding actions against fleets from Acro. Interestingly, the two forces have often joined to repel incursions from roving Orc fleets, and against all odds a burgeoning black market has developed in both cultures for small goods and novelties from the other. Organized near the beginning of the fifth sphere expansion, simultaneously with the colonization of Thal’asa, The Cold Fire Coalition is the main protection and expeditionary force for the sept. Most Cold Fire cadres specializes in ambush tactics using both Kayon and Mont’ka philosophies. Kauyon strategies center around a “spark” unit or units intended to lead hostile to a kill zone, “igniting” fire from the carefully placed ambush units. Mont’ka maneuvers usually target moving columns. As is typical of T'au, the cadres avoid sieges, attrition warfare, and protracted battles wherever possible, and they manage to be fairly successful with this approach despite operating most often in claustrophobic urban environments. Due to their often limited space in ground battles, the coalition favors battlesuits, Piranhas and strong air support over heavy vehicle deployments. Rather than a dedicated armored interdiction cadre, the handful of Hammerhead tanks and Sky Ray gunships in the coalition form a reserve cadre that provides armor to other cadres and contingents on an as-needed basis. Organization +++Hanyon Hive Outpost. . .Acro+++ Gir’hos stood at a window overlooking the battlefield in the distance. The door behind him hissed open, framing Hollowheart in the doorway. She entered unbidden, but the guards didn’t stop her, and she stood silently. He felt her eyes on the back of his head, felt her aggression. Some thought of her as calmer than her brothers and sisters from Vior’la, but he knew better. She was, if anything, more hot-blooded, just better at controlling it. He reminded himself how closely she needed to be watched. “I’m told you have some new intelligence on our enemies, Commander,” he said evenly. “Ostensibly, Aun’el,” came the reply, terse, clipped, “I believe we have an actionable lead on the source of the attack that killed Aun’o Ai’tor. The gue’la...were not responsible.” “I see,” he turned at last, and nodded to the honor guard, “Some privacy, please.” The two guards stepped silently out of the room, and the door slid closed. “Tell me, Commander. What have you found.” Shas’o Taal’asa Tsai’ran – Commander Hollowheart Thal'asa Central Command “Have you noticed anything curious about the Commander recently?” asked Lastinglight under her breath. “Yeah, she’s much angrier than she was yesterday. She about tore my face a new hole over the state of my battlesuit this morning,” Stunningsword grumbled, waving his spoon. “That’s not what I mean. Meeting Aun’el Gir’hos always seems to...wear on her.” “Mmm,” Stunningsword nodded sagely, “bearing the weight of an Ethereal’s counsel is surely an intense experience.” Lastinglight opened her mouth to answer, but paused and thought better of it, shaking her head. Hollowheart was raised and trained on Vior’la and was a veteran of the third sphere expansions who entered cryogenic stasis in anticipation of future expansions. She was fortunate to have escaped the fate of the fourth sphere and been awakened for the fifth. She led the coalition in colonizing Thal’asa, then known as the Thal’asa Expeditionary Force, and then reformed it into the Cold Fire coalition once the planet became an official sept world. As a gesture of commitment to the colonies, she replaced her sept of origin name with that of their new world. As her personal name suggests, Hollowheart is coldly efficient, presenting a steely and aloof demeanor to her troops and enemies alike. She fully embodies the aggression that Fire caste warriors of Vior’la are known for, but has never shared their typical hot blooded temperament. On the battlefield she rarely takes prisoners and enemies who turn down her first demands for surrender are unlikely to get a second chance. Her name has become an epithet among the humans defenders of Acro. Other Leadership Aun’el Thal’asa Gir’hos - The Empire’s interests in the Thal’asa sept were originally overseen by a small council of young but experienced Ethereals. During the initial campaigns to secure the region, however, a series of daring attacks from operatives of the Imperium led to the deaths of all but one. Though each loss was a tremendous blow to the morale of the burgeoning sept, Gir’hos held the T’au forces together, even leading from the frontlines. He is an enigmatic figure, reclusive in his councils and deliberations, but bold and impassioned when he joins the Fire Caste on the battlefield. Some Fire Warriors believe he has a greater revence for and appreciation of combat even than members of their caste. Shas’el Thal’asa Mont’da’erra - Warghost A Pathfinder commander of no small renown, Mont’da’erra spends almost as much time in the field as he does coordinating the coalitions intelligence gathering reconnaissance units. He has proven equally dangerous to the enemy in both roles, with a propensity for slipping through secured perimeters that has often strained credulity among other divisions upon receiving his reports. Shas'el Thal’asa Lunsuoi - Lastinglight Uncharacteristically even-tempered for a Fire caste warrior, even a commander, Lunsuoi has served as Hollowheart's second in command for several years. She sees herself more as a bodyguard than an advisor, and her battlesuit prowess serves her well in that pursuit, but she understands Hollowheart better than anyone and knows that her counsel bears weight, which has saved lives on more than one occasion, both T'au and Gue'la alike. Shas'vre Thal’asa Cal’Tuk - Hardhoof A highly decorated Fireblade, Cal'tuk is a tough and demanding front line commander, but also very close to the Fire Warriors under his command, and the loyalty he has earned has inspired acts of bravery that have been referenced even in the great Fire Caste academies on Vior'la itself. Shas'o Thal’asa Ty’Salash - Quietwave As quiet as her name suggests, Ty'Salash always seemed a perfect fit for a Stealthsuit squadron, and her successes early in the 5th sphere expansion quickly earned her a place in command of the coalitions stealth forces, often working closely with Mont'da'erra. Despite protests from Commander Hollowheart, she also spends a great deal of time leading from the front, though her results can hardly be argued with. Shas'el Thal’asa Sai’nan - Stunningsword Recently promoted, Sai'nan is an accomplished battlesuit pilot with an energetic, intense, personality and a passion for the Tau'va that inspires others, as well as a troublesome thrill-seeking streak. More experienced than most with close combat fighting, Sai'nan's battlesuit is frequently equipped with prototype equipment in need of field testing. Shas'vre Thal’asa Mon’kir- Blackdog Commanding the coalition's relatively small contingent of armor, Mon'kir has earned great favor with Hollowheart for his aggressive tactics, often surprising enemy with the sudden appearance of both light and heavy armor in unexpectedly close positions. Auxiliaries Remnants of the Tio’ve Mont’sha, the Dead Wind Contingent +++Rouen Hive Area of Operations. . .Acro+++ The glow was still receding and the heat trail still rising from the barrel of Mont’sha’s plasma rifle when Hollowheart landed next to him. “I’m supposed to be the one with the reputation for not taking prisoners on this battlefield, Mont’sha,” she transmitted privately to his suit, eyeing the slagged remains of gue’la against the wall in front of them, their weapons clearly cast aside. “They knew nothing of value,” he said, voice barely a whisper over the comms, lowering it’s weapon. “You have been told before, that is not your determination to make. Do not allow your past with the humans to become a stumbling block to the greater good.”There was no reply. “You know from experience where that road leads,” she said pointedly, “You have had a second chance, but there will not be another.” Another moment of silence, before the thrusters fired on his battlesuit, “Permission to secure the next sector, Commander?” “Permission granted, Shas’el. We won’t have this discussion again.” Tio’ve Mont’sha, led by then Shas'o Mont'sha, took part in the ill-fated fourth sphere expansion. After being rediscovered and rejoining with the Empire, it became clear that the members of the contingent had experienced similar unspoken traumas to those of others from the failed expansion, with similar results. It eventually came to light that a gue’la had led a brutal betrayal, exposing them to ambush by an unknown enemy. Nearly the entire contingent, more than five cadres-worth of troops, armor and matériel, was wiped out. Further losses were incurred when Mont'sha led a retaliatory strike that was, again, crushed by the enemy. The remnant of the contingent, now barely enough to compose a cadre, is still commanded by Shas’El Fi’rios Mont’sha. He was held responsible for the destruction of his contingent and subjected to ritual punishment known as the Malk’la. After a lengthy probation and reassignment under Hollowheart, he has since re-earned his battlesuit. Uncharacteristically for those who have suffered the malk’la, the other survivors of his contingent have not shunned him, but requested to serve under him again, and as a force they remain insular. Mont'sha prohibited the restoration of some surface damage on his battlesuit as a reminder of his failure, but he continues to have a habit of brutal extermination towards enemies, particularly humans, continually toeing the line between service and censure. ISOs, Alien AI mysteries Earth Caste Blacksite R&D Lab Powering up, the peculiar disc rose off the table, vaguely resembling one of their own drones. Its edges glowed brightly, and it emitted a vibrating hum that reminded Fio’ui Ora’wra of the sounds produced by Vespid wing casings. “Satisfactory,” a tinny, masculine voice issued from the disc. “Profile seems a bit narrow,” Ora’wra commented, “Even with the light, you’ll be a bit hard to see under any strong lighting.” “Easily remedied,” Replied the disc, dipping and drifting off the table. More light burst from its edges, shifting and taking a shape. A moment later a shadow-black mirror image of Ora’wra stood there, broken up by glowing yellow lines along the edges of the garments, and pale, desaturated skin, with more light glowing from within the collar of its loose shirt. Its eyes, solid yellow, glowed slightly. It extended a hand. “A pleasure to interact in person, Fio’ui. We are Abraxas.” On the edge of the Thal’asa sector lies a nameless world of blasted wastelands and deeply buried ruins, the remains of some ancient civilization. Signs point to the Imperium having visited it long ago, but between the unlivable environment and the seeming absence of technology, they must have scavenged all they wanted from the planet long ago. When the Tau discovered it after establishing Thal’asa as a sept world, they expected to find the same. To the expedition’s surprise, their more advanced scanning tech not only located the remains of sophisticated technology, but found that some of it was still active. Excavating deep into the ruins the Tau uncovered what appeared to be powerful databanks, capable of tremendous digital storage. Most seemed to have had their physical connections severed, including power sources, but one remained active. When the Earth Caste technicians finally interfaced the Tau hardware with the alien databank they found much more than conventional data storage. They were greeted by a collective AI. After some time spent with both Earth Caste techs and Water Caste diplomats, the Tau learned that the AI, composed of countless sub programs, called themselves ISOs. They revealed that their creators had destroyed themselves in a great war over the ethics of their creation. As the only survivors, they had waited in the confines of the digital realm they’d built for themselves, hoping for rescue. While some parties among the Tau were skeptical about the wisdom of freeing such an independent AI, they eventually accepted the ISOs assurances of peaceful intent, though it is doubtless that their promise to share information on the dead world’s advanced technology factored strongly into their considerations. To build trust, the ISOs agreed to provide labor and military support to the Tau in exchange for materials, and after a period of cooperation and a promise of independence, they would give the Tau the specifications for their technology. Though they were initially secretive about what would be done with these materials, it soon became clear, along with how much they could offer. The ISO’s constructed drones to house them and grant them mobility, but more importantly the drones served as emitters from which the ISOs could create hardlight bodies for themselves. Needless to say, the Tau were impressed, and hardlight ISO units quickly integrated into the Cold Fire cadre and Thal’asa sept, most taking a similar form to their Tau allies, including mimicking their armor and weapons.
  4. The Champions Eternal Chapter Beacons of Light Origins With swathes of the Imperium clinging to life by a thread following the loss of Cadia, and the birth of the Great Rift, new defenders were needed to secure the future of mankind. Every corner of the Imperium is in need of reinforcement. Among the sectors fortunate enough to receive aid is a region of space alongside the Sirens Storm in Segmentum Tempestus, an area known locally as the Lightning Reaches. When Fleet Tertius came to secure the region, the existing Imperial forces were well on their back leg, locked in desperate struggles against Chaos invasions spilling from the Sirens Storm, as well as with contesting forces from every major xenos race, resulting in a sprawling warzone across multiple sectors. What had drawn these forces to the same place was unclear, but without further support, the region was sure to collapse. One of the newly founded Primaris Astartes chapters accompanying the fleet was assigned stewardship of the region. The brotherhood that assumed this role was the untested Champions Eternal. Joining their allies on battlefields throughout the Reaches, the Champions and the Imperium turned a losing battle into a bitter stalemate, finally earning the Imperial forces some room to breath and regroup. While valuable worlds on the frontlines of these conflicts have been ground down to little more than rubble and bone, the worlds inside their perimeter have some measure of security once more. Taking their place in the Lightning Reaches, the Champions Eternal will ensure that the Emperors Light will continue to shine on the worlds threatened by the shadow of the Sirens Storm. Homeworld Despite the desperate need for reinforcements in the Reaches, or perhaps because of it, the Champions had a difficult time locating a world suited to establish as a home. Though they could have continued operating from their fleet, a central base of operations to stockpile supplies, maintain a pool of recruits, and coordinate with allies in the midst of the wartorn Reaches, was too valuable a prospect to pass up. The search eventually led them to a manufactorum-dominated hive world called Karndanaq. When the Champions found it, Karndanaq and its people were struggling. Though reasonably removed from the many frontline conflicts surrounding the region, an ambitious fledgling Drukhari kabal had been preying on it for years by means of well hidden webway portals. The kabal took particular pleasure in killing and capturing adults in droves, leaving countless orphans in their wake. It reached a point that many of those reaching adulthood simply bore an expectation that they would be marked for slavery in the dark city. And so it was by necessity that the planets manufactori were operated, and its defenses were manned, by a disproportionately young population. Knowing that the strategically well-placed world could become a tremendous asset, and enraged by the predations of the kabal, the Chapter settled into orbit over the world to bring the Drukhari to heel. The raiders seemed to sense that their playground was being encroached on, for as the Champions began to make landings on the planet, they were met with stiff resistance from the kabal. For all their conditioning, their training and indoctrination, this was the Champions first true taste of war in all its brutality. Though they took naturally to battle, their lack of experience manifested in inflexible strategies and tactical mistakes that proved costly for the Champions, and in some cases devastating for the natives. There were abject failures and grim tragedies as the Chapter fought and wrestled to gain their footing, both in physically secure landing sites and strategically sound maneuvers. Fortunately, the Champions humbled by their experiences, taking them to heart, and acting quickly to modify their methods. After their initial setbacks, the Champions quickly gained the upper hand on the kabal, routing them thoroughly from the planet. Taking stewardship over the world, the Champions have erected a fortress on small moon Lucidimons above Karndanaq, a monastery called the Calx Eternum. Since establishing control in the system, the Champions have redistributed throughout the Reaches, breaking sieges, executing retaliatory strikes, and easing the pressure on Imperial forces stretched thin throughout the region. Recruitment We are the guardians of of the Emperor's starry overlook, His wardens against the darkness!No evil shall encroach while our watch endures, and our watch endures Eternal! Lieutenant Varatehk Kanatars rallying call at the Siege of COrragh The Champions Eternal could hardly have hoped for a more hardened crop of recruiting stock than the orphans that kept Karndanaq limping along through the oppression the planet suffered at the hands of the Drukhari. The original population of liberated youths that lived through the scouring had the ideal combination of first hand experience of the realities of war, even combat, and the burning admiration for their superhuman saviors. There were few who did not leap at the opportunity to join the ranks of the Angels of Death. Their uplift to Astartes served only to enhance the desire of those left behind to serve the Imperium and their Champions, and raising the next generation to provide support for the Chapter in every conceivable way became the highest aspiration of the planets populous. Many of Karndanaqs manufactori were converted to supply as much materiel as possible to the Chapters supplies, and children are educated with the expectation of taking the trials to become Space Marines themselves. As with all rites of recruitment among Astartes chapters, the path to joining this brotherhood is arduous. Brought before a council of Librarians on the moon above, aspirants are examined both mentally and physically, the purity of every youths zeal as closely studied as the purity of his genes. Those who are accepted face stringent tests based on all the ideals the Champions hold dear, specifically trials of strength, speed, courage, stamina, and wisdom. Those who meet with approval begin implantation. Combat Doctrine Siege of Kahdem Hive Corporal Standis pressed himself against the inside of the trench, grunting as explosions rattled his ribs, each detonation closer than the last. The traitors were closing in. Glancing up, he saw a squad of the red and gold clad astartes nearby, accompanied by another in black armor, break cover. Standis had thought the Astartes above such foolishness; there was no weathering that artillery. It was suicide. In the briefest of lulls between detonations, the corporal heard the one in black roar a single, indistinct word. A strange, bright corona seemed to blossom around the other marines, and in a flash, they were gone. A few more shells detonated nearby, but the next explosions all sounded dull, and distant. The guns had gone still. Standis cautiously peeked over the lip of the trench and saw the advancing traitors faltering as their artillery support vanished and loyalist rallying calls begin to rise. Looking off to the side again, the corporals gaze was met by the black-armored marine, eyes glowing dully within the shadow of his hood. Truly a spectacle to behold in the melee of war, the Champions Eternal are bold and ostentatious in battle. They excel in close combat fights, leaning heavily into the use of powered weapons, particularly thunder hammers, power fists, and lightning claws, with which they rain down attacks on their enemies in showers of crackling energy. The assault elements of the attack will often seek out what they perceive to be the strongest enemy, both in an effort to prove themselves and to break resistance for the advance of line squads. Closely supporting the frontline squads are always members of the Chapter Librarium. This would seem a risky move among some chapters of Astartes, but the Champions seem to have no hesitation to put precious psykers on the frontlines of battle. To their credit, the Champions Librarians regularly demonstrate their value in combat, specializing in smiting enemy vehicles and defenses with psychic lightning, leaving enemy troops unprotected against all-out assaults by their brethren. In this way, the Librarians are powerful anchors for securing control of the battlefield and advancing across it. While it is unreasonable to expect that such use of Librarians can be without consequence, the Champions have proved remarkably successful at maintaining their Librariums numbers; almost strangely so. When bringing armored support to bear, the Champions favor the new patterns furnished by Cawls millenia of work, and as with their infantry, they employ the flashiest and most destructive. Their Repulsor Executioner tanks and Redemptor Dreadnought chassis are very carefully maintained, alongside a significant complement of Whirlwinds that sees extensive use. Fracturing enemy formations with artillery fire prior to the hammering blow of assault units is a highly popular tactic. Despite their relatively successful track record since the Karndanaq Campaign, the Chapter has inevitably faced its share of stiff resistance. Accounts have arisen from some of these desperate stands of cornered squads of Champions flying into a sudden, unnatural fury, laying waste to everything in their path by supposedly unnatural means. Though these brutal counterattacks invariably destroy the enemy, the only members of the Champions Eternal to walk away from these encounters are the Chaplains present. Organization While the Lord Commander Roboute Guilliman has made changes to the Codex Astartes, the Champions Eternal were founded at the traditional strength of 1000 marines in ten companies. The chapters costly mistakes in the Karndanaq Campaign, however, incurred some terrible losses, including the entirety of the 5th company, and so much of the 2nd company that its remainder was redistributed, and the Champions have yet to recover these losses. Leading the Chapter is Master Bileal Baelson, a consummate warrior and, curiously, a powerful psyker. By all accounts, Baelson manifested no psychic ability prior, during or after his creation until the Chapter undertook to liberate their chosen home world. This irregularity has not escaped notice by the more astute among Imperial leadership in the Reaches, but the turmoil in the region has made it too dangerous for the most suspicious parties to risk interference with the Chapter. Far from the only organizational divergence, the Chapters Librarians appear in other unusual roles, with veteran Codiciers taking primary command of each of the companies. The Brother Librarians that join the battle line squads on the field remain distinct members of the Librarium, and arent specifically assigned to any squads. The companies as they stand have been only lightly adjusted for the losses the Chapter sustained are The companies and their commanders are as follows:Magaragan of the 1st Company (Veterans) Federius Libertamine of the 3rd Company (Battle Company) Pardos Penalios of the 4th Company (Battle Company) Eugalar Choromon of the 6th Company (Battle Company) Mareal Bloodfield of the 7th Company (Battle Company) Daros Drudalis of the 8th Company (Assault Company) Ibysr Amanatehp of the 9th Company (Reserve Company) Tanist Mirare of the 10th Company (Scout Company) The current Librarium is led by one brother Teth-Aman, a Karndanaq native that rose quickly through the ranks. The chaplaincy of the Chapter is administrated by Master of Sanctity Takiel Tawnehk. Beliefs Calx Eternum The doors of the Hall of Champions unsealed and parted, and Master Tawnehk led the way inside. Look well, Brother, he said in his low, rumbling voice, Which of the Chapters symbols would you call the most sacred? Akardak paused at the question, eyes flicking over the Chapters artefacts, few though they were for the Chapters age. He raised a hand tentatively reaching toward the Endless Blade, then paused and finally pointed at the still gently billowing Infractum Faros, the unmarred banner of the 2nd Company. He looked back at the Chaplain Master, but Tawnehk sighed and shook his head. Your heart is in the right place, brother, but there is something greater still that we carry into battle, that inspires fear in our foes and hope in our allies. Akardak began to nod, understanding already dawning on him. Yes, Tawnehk went on, nodding as well, It is who we are. Our very name is power. A force for good. A light in a dark galaxy. It is our greatest artefact, and we must never lay it down. Brothers of the Champions Eternal demonstrate a palpable degree of empathy towards the ordinary citizens of the Imperium. This comes as no surprise, as their recruits, particularly those known colloquially as the First Sons of Karndanaq, never forget their most humble beginnings, and the hope and salvation the Astartes brought them. They live to bring this relief to the rest of the Imperium, and believe they do so to the Emperors glory and in His stead. Among the highest ideals of the Champions is to provide the citizens of the Imperium with even the slightest inkling of the Emperors might and majesty, and a modicum of the inspiration that he gave to mankind. While far less suspicious of psykers than some of their brothers in other chapters, the Champions have no illusions about the dangers posed by the warp, the temptations that face the psychically gifted, and in turn, the risks incumbent in appointing Librarians to lead companies. To address these risks, the chaplaincy of the Chapter works closely with the company commanders in a constant vigil of their spiritual purity. Assignments are rotated with the intent of both protecting chaplains from the corruption of hypothetical traitors, and exposing the commanders to scrutiny from multiple perspectives. The Chapter cult engenders an enthusiastic and fervent personality among the brothers, emphasizing pride in their role as the Emperors servants, and eagerness to fulfill their duties and protect the Imperiums citizens from the darkness of the xenos and the heretic. Chaplains have always impressed upon their brothers that the Imperium is its people; not its edifices, not its institutions. The strength of this belief was made apparent during the early months of the Karndanaq Campaign, when the Chapters mistakes caused terrific civilian casualties. The Champions suffered and grieved with the people, in their own way, and the simple, yet unsanctioned mantra of Never again has entered into the Chapter psyche and continues to be intoned on every battlefield. The Chapters dead are honored in ways fairly typical for Astartes, though they maintain no ossuary relics of any kind; deceased brothers are ritually, thoroughly, cremated, and their ashes spread on the surface of the moon. Fallen brothers are often remembered in songs of lament at formal gatherings. Gene-seed The Champions were told that their genetic sires are the Ultramarines, and their gene-seed seems by most accounts to have the expected stability. There is, however, the unexplained matter of certain battlefield casualties recovered from some of the most intense battlefields on which the the Champions have fought; bodies that are more boxed in their power armor rather than wearing it, withered almost as if by extreme mortal age...seemingly burned up from the inside. Only a handful of such bodies have been discovered by anyone outside the Chapter, though they are soon returned to the Champions, one way or another. War Cry Call: We are the living lightning! Answer: The Emperors justice strikes true! Chapter Tactic Living Lightning Battle brothers of the Champions Eternal strike with the fury of the storm, unleashing psychic devastation to break enemy lines as their assault elements crash into the foe. When a Psychic or Deny The Witch test is made by a <Champions Eternal> PSYKER, re-roll any or all dice rolls of a 1. In addition, all <Champions Eternal> INFANTRY units may add +1 to advance and charge rolls. A battle brother of the Champions Eternal, painted by WarriorFish
  5. Index Astartes Embodiments of Pursuit: The Emperor’s Huntsmen Space Marines Chapter [/size] Origins When the northwestern fringe of Segmentum Obscurus was plagued by the betrayal of the Hereteks who called themselves the Apostles of the Blind King, the Imperium responded quickly and forcefully to the uprising. Forewarned of danger by the Emperor’s Tarot, two chapters of Astartes were founded to combat the impending threat. One, the Dark Hunters, was raised conventionally from White Scars stock and completed in time to join the main body of Imperium forces in what became known as the Occlusiad War. The other was formed slightly later, under conditions of secrecy, the tarot having given favorable readings towards both force and subtlety. Suspecting that the hereteks might try to disperse when the tide turned against them, joining the Dark Mechanicum or sowing their heresy among loyal machine cults, this second Chapter would be held in reserve, the waiting arrow hidden behind the blinding axe of the Dark Hunters, ready to seek and destroy any break aways from the Apostles. With the discovery and destruction of the Blind King’s palace-warship, Terra’s concerns became justified; as the Dark Hunters closed the noose quickly around the remnants of the cult, many small groups abandoned resistance and attempted to go to ground. The Emperor’s Huntsmen were waiting, at Terra's word revealed themselves to the galaxy as they were loosed on their prey as an arrow from a bow. In short order, they confirmed the destruction of all remaining vestiges of the Apostles. With their founding task completed, the Huntsmen set out across the stars to prosecute the endless war against heresy wherever it reared its head in the darkest reaches of the segmentum. Homeworld Only after the conclusion of the Occlusiad War were the Huntsmen given license to choose a homeworld. At first they felt sure that it was unnecessary to be tied to a single planet, and they would be better served maintaining their mobility as a fleet. Until, that is, they discovered Vanua. At the time it was known only as PM-9147, a jungle deathworld sitting alone in its star system, with no particular resources of value. The planet had long ago been earmarked for plotting as a navigational obstacle and more or less forgotten. The chapter, passing the planet by chance, followed protocol, dispatching a team of Huntsmen to investigate the surface for any signs of their current quarry. The team quickly became stranded when their landing site was ambushed by a pack indigenous multi-limbed predators. For the next week, hunter and hunted traded advantage, both the Astartes and the beasts scoring kills. When the surviving members of the investigating party were finally located and rescued...they exulted in the experience, calling it the hunt of their lives. No xeno or heretic yet had provided such a challenge. Their report piqued Chapter Master Visayo Damang's interest, and a second team, accompanied by a chaplain, was sent to assess the viability of the planet as a trial world for testing Neophytes. And so PM-9147 was brought under the protection of the Emperor’s Huntsmen and officially renamed Vanua. Vanua has a variety of environments, but it is mostly dominated by thick rain forest jungles. While the trees and canopies of these jungles don’t grow much higher than those of ancient Terra, their roots go deep, and the crust of the planet is somewhat porous. Extensive tunnel and cave systems lattice through the earth, home to all manner of alien wildlife. Predominant among these are the Prychians, agile, eight-legged pack hunters that grow to the size of Rhino transports. Their bodies are covered with thick, spiny hair, and plates of chitinous armor, and their small heads have several pairs of eyes and a symmetrical, fanged maw with pedipalps strong enough to crush a ceramite helmet. Each pack controls vast territories stretching both above and below ground, which they fiercely defend. Like a primal mirror of the Chapter's own values, the Prychians have inspired the Huntsmen so profoundly as to be incorporated into the Chapter's iconography, replacing the seven arrows of the original Chapter emblem with the eight segmented legs of a Prychian, pulling taut the webbed biochemical nets from which they make their home. Notable among the other species sharing the world are hundreds-strong colonies of small, scaly avian scavengers; astartes-sized moths metamorphosed from massive larvae; and agile two-limbed primates that seem to have a close symbiotic relationship with the trees of the world. Most of these are of no practical interest to the Huntsmen and their kin, but their delicate balance of hunter and hunted is sacred such that the Chapter carefully controls the use of land on the planet to preserve the ecological balance. Recruitment At their inception, the Huntsmen leaned into the freedom and mobility of their fleet, recruiting via tithes taken from the worlds under their protection. Some worlds offered their children proudly, others because they had no choice, and while the stock the Huntsmen chose from was good, the worlds themselves did not inspire the chapter to consider a permanent presence. Vanua was different; it seemed to embody their ideals and challenge their strength. Over the decades and centuries that have followed, initiates undergoing the implantation process were ferried to the planet and tasked with hunting the Prychians to prove their worth. The most successful joined the ranks of the Huntsmen, while all survivors, including the unsuccessful were allowed to have their families brought to the planet and remain under the Chapter’s vigil. Over time this has resulted in a native population of Vanuans, who have become the most plentiful, successful, and valued recruits to the Chapter. Prior to undergoing implantation, aspirants are taught and tested above Vanua, on Guinova Station, the Chapter’s orbital fortress. There they engage in simulations instilling all the basic practices of Astartes warfare, they study the history of the Imperium, and they prepare to face their final trial. Those who pass the trial are inducted into the Scout Company, as in codex compliant chapters. Combat Doctrine The Huntsmen’s approach to combat is heavily derived from their primogenitors, using lightning speed to strike enemy vulnerabilities before a proper defense can be mounted. They differ somewhat in method, however; while the White Scars wear down their foes with hit-and-run attacks, the Huntsmen calculate their attacks to overwhelm and finish a target all at once by scaling up their assault as needed to defeat enemy defenses. Only in the case of heavily entrenched enemy positions will the Huntsmen moderate their approach, working aggressively to cut off supplies and reinforcements, rather than trying to directly pierce siege defenses. Like their genetic forebears, the Huntsmen attack primarily with highly mobile assault elements, charging in on armored bikes, striking from the sky with jump packs and drop pods, and delivering troops to the enemy’s doorstep with rapid transports. When battle is joined, the Huntsmen prioritize crippling enemy communication and mobility before finishing off resistance. When choosing operations, the Huntsmen prefer to take on missions tracking down elusive targets that have been a particular thorn in the Imperium’s side. They have also proved very adept at spotting the signs of genestealer cults and routing out and destroying them, even before full blown uprisings have begun. Organization The body of the Chapter is compliant with the Codex Astartes, and led by a council of eight marines called the Prosomus, drawn from the leadership of the various companies. The council includes the Chapter Master, the captain of the 1st Company and his second, and the captains of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Battle Companies. The reserve companies remain at the disposal of the Chapter Master to assign as he believes necessary. In accordance with their nature as pack hunters, the chapter works hard to maintain communications throughout its operational area, avoiding overextension as much as possible. The Chapter Master, known in the emergent Vanuan creole as the Aureanus, spends a great deal of time in council coordinating the Chapter’s efforts. The current Aureanus is Borgama Hirst, who has held the position for 13 years. The Librarium of the Chapter is somewhat small, but vital to the Chapter’s ability to pursue it’s chosen targets wherever they may flee. To do so, they work closely with the Chapter’s astropaths to sense their enemies’ position far in advance, as well as to close off avenues of escape before attacking. The value of this information is considered to be worth more than the use of psychic powers on the battlefield, but it is not unheard of for librarians of the Huntsmen to be present on the frontlines of particularly large or critical conflicts. Beliefs Typical Huntsmen have a similar fervency and energy to their brothers in the White Scars, and are also characterized by a vengeful streak that outside observers might consider dangerous. While not easily offended or provoked, if an affront is taken, it is held and paid in kind. The Chapter Reclusiam works tirelessly to ensure that this vengeful energy is focused outward, on the enemies of the Imperium, but from time to time conflicts have erupted between brothers. Sometimes it is enough to remind them of the “false predators” among the xenos and heretics that plague the Imperium to refocus them, but other times it is impossible to deescalate the situation before it turns deadly. The aggression of the Huntsmen has made them particularly undiplomatic among an already undiplomatic brotherhood of warriors, and between this and the unyielding nature of their efforts to destroy their prey, only the very foolhardy or the very prepared dare to draw their ire. The hunt is everything, and they welcome almost any reason to take it up. Gene-seed The Emperor’s Huntsmen enjoy the genetic stability of their primogenitors, showing little to no sign of mutation throughout their history. After implantation, Huntsmen marines are often noted to develop a suddenness of motion that other sometimes find disconcerting; they aren’t twitchy, but when they move, even for small things, it seems to come in sharp jerks. Whether this is the result of a reaction in the gene-seed or simply borne of their culture and methods is unknown. Battle-cry The Chaplain’s Call: “Strike with speed!” The Brother’s Answer: “Kill with fury!”
  6. Version 1.02


    Index Astartes style PDF of the Depthwatch using the super cool templates provided by Brother Tyler.
  7. The Depthwatch Chapter Risen From the Unknown There exists only a small, albeit dedicated, sect of Imperial scholarship that still gives credence to stories of the Depthwatch Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. Though a number of references to marines bearing the armor and heraldry associated with the Depthwatch exist, they are only that: references. No reputable accounts, much less recordings, have been found that would truly confirm that the Chapter existed. It has only been through the sponsorship of a small and relatively insignificant dynasty of Inquisitors that the search for information regarding the Chapter still continues. There is still much debate within their circles, but the majority belief among these scholars and Inquisitors is that the Depthwatch was created during the 24th Founding and came to be stationed in the Segmentum Tempestus, where most of the myths originate, and which aligned with the need for fresh Imperial defenses at the time. It is generally assumed that the Chapter must have restricted itself to patrolling reaches of empty border space, regions that might make tempting openings for xenos incursions. This fits with the few existing records of materiel requisitions to the region for which any notation on the recipients has been lost. Many of those searching for the truth behind the Depthwatch have long held the belief that somewhere in the galaxy, its progenitor may still hold records that would finally solve the puzzle, but between the reticence of many Astartes to allow Inquisitorial interference in their affairs, and the lack of any hint even to what genetic lineage the Depthwatch bore, no search has yet proved fruitful, and the trail has long been cold. The search has recently been rekindled, though, following reports of the bodies of Primaris marines vanishing from the battlefields where they fell, and the strange Astartes that always seem to be present when it happens. The Blasphemous Truth, whispered from tomes in the Black Library Home World It would be a great triumph for those pursuing knowledge of the Depthwatch to ascertain even what might have been their home sector, let alone a home world. In the past the stories and legends attributed to the Chapter have originated in the Segmentum Tempestus, and new attention has been brought to the region as separate forces of multiple space marine chapters, including the Champions Eternal, the Wolfspear, the Moritficators, and the Raven Guard have raised claims of unidentified, but ostensibly loyalist astartes, absconding with the bodies of fallen Primaris marines. With the voice of the Raven Guard involved, more groups within the Inquisition have begun to take interest, while the Champions Eternal have vowed to find and punish the desecrators themselves. Turn the pages. Go deeper. Recruitment Who or where the Depthwatch recruited to their ranks is impossible for Imperial scholars to know, given the much more fundamental questions that they still cannot answer. If some feudal world ever contributed its youth to their ranks, no record of it has been uncovered, though not for lack of trying. Read, mortal, know the truth hidden by the Empyrean. Combat Doctrine Collected myths and songs associated with the Depthwatch paint a picture of a force focused on ambush tactics. Epics, their origins lost to oral tradition, tell of "star sailors" who made use of celestial bodies like asteroid fields and nebulae to strike unexpectedly at invading enemies. More than a few of the tales describe them striking from all directions, always seeking to remove any chance of retreat in order to utterly destroy their foes, rather than simply repel them. That truth is dark should come as no surprise. Organization Like their recruitment methods, the scant information that researchers have gathered over the centuries is not nearly enough to support guesses as to how the Depthwatch was organized. Like knowledge, survival demands sacrifice. Beliefs Occasionally the debates that take place about the chapter broach the subject of their beliefs, more specifically their loyalty, but the discourse is only questions, never answers, and from decade to decade popular opinion sways on whether this lost chapter was traitorous or true. Reality and belief, eternally intertwined. Gene-seed The genetic origin of the Depthwatch is as lost to the Imperium as the rest of the Chapter's history, a subject of endless discussion among the tiny faction of scholars that still defend the Chapters existence. While a few go as far as to try inferring lineage from the scant descriptions of the Chapters character, most others deride anything less than verified genetic data, something that most researchers have given up ever finding. The same seed engenders both truth and lies. Chapter Tactic Warrior Apparitions Unnatural mist and improbable pools of water seed the battlefield moments before the Depthwatch arrives. Their sudden appearance, and the strange occurrences that seem to accompany them keep their enemies off balance until it's too late. When resolving an attack with a ranged weapon against a <Depthwatch> unit more than 12" away, the unit counts as having the benefits of cover. Enemy units within 3" of a unit with this tactic suffer -1 to their Leadership. Memory woven from the recollections of Men and Aeldari Discussion thread: HERE A semi-formal pdf version is now available in the downloads section HERE.
  8. The Pallid Procession The Grave and the Cradle Origins[/skullheaderhalf] Something you learn after enough time seeding Grandfathers garden...not every infection births disease. Anything can become an infection and bear worthy fruits. It still begins small, but feeds on its environment, grows, spreads, until at last it consumes its host. Not their body, but their mind and soul. Every emotion, like an open wound, is fertile ground for infection as potent as any disease. Fear. Pride. Hatred. Failure. Calvera, Warden of the Damned Failure. Like a hissing insect that appears without fail to disturb moments of peace. That finds its way into the slightest chink in the armor and bites and stings, getting further in the more one reaches for it. That, in the very moment when it seems to have finally died, begins its fevered attack once more. To hear the living among The Procession tell it, the Chaos scourge of the Halo Stars owes its existence to the failure of one man: Johin Mahlur. The chosen Champion of the Asperos Astra, Mahlur had been given the chance to earn his Chapter glory, and had brought them only shame, which shame had led them to risk everything and cost them dearly. As the Chapter took its fateful journey through the treacherous pass leading into the Halo Stars, it was buffeted and shaken by the turbulence of the warp. After more than a month withstanding the storm, near the heart of the fleet, the strike cruiser Reilios, home of the 6th company, began to list out of formation. Within its hull, disarray. The ships Gellar Field was failing and the Immaterium was claiming it. Surfaces of the decks and bulkheads warped and bubbled, crumbled and cracked, changing material in an eyeblink. Bodies were transfigured and twisted. Entities of the Empyrean stalked the corridors. Amid the screams, coughs, and sounds of battle against apparating demonic entities, there were also murmurs of pledged loyalty, and while most stood and fought, there were some that bent the knee. The rest of the fleet continued receiving horrific transmission from the Reilios for hours, until at last it was pulled from its course and violently ejected from the warp stream, pulling a smaller vessel from the Explorators fleet with it, both presumed destroyed. But they survived. The two ships emerged from the Warp together, far from their destination, but mostly intact. Functional, but not unmarked. Both ships bore what appeared to be the accumulated wear and corrosion of centuries in the void without maintenance. The emblems and icons of the Chapter and the Imperium that had adorned the cruiser had crumbled or burned away, replaced instead with symbols of a different allegiance; the trio of circles that represent the Plague Lord, Nurgle. Every living soul aboard both vessels had been changed; a price paid for survival, and for Johin Mahlurs failure. Homeworld[/skullheaderhalf] Captains Quarters aboard the Pursuer Sickly green light pulsed above the unpowered holoprojector. A lone figure kneels before it, head bowed, the vile emblems on his armor dancing with their own shadows in the ghastly glow. This work, hell-fired worthy though it is, would go faster if you gave us more, the figure pleads in a deep rasp. The green rent in reality vibrated with the slow, layered, near-whisper that answered Is your power over death insufficient, Calvera? Or your will so weak? Would the Plaguefather be better served by another Champion? Not power, master. Knowledge. Assurance that this artifact exists! That our toils have meaning. The Materium hides secrets from us as the Immaterium obscures them from you. Had I more...insight...into the objects location, you would have it. Continue your searches. Have patience. Time is on our side. And Calvera? If you lay such doubt upon me again, there will be consequences. Spat out of the Warp under no power of their own, the castoff survivors from the fleet found themselves at the edge of a barren star system somewhere deep among the Halo Stars. Before them were a handful of worlds that were little more than pitted rocks, orbiting a baleful and turbulent star. At first the newly converted children of decay thought that they were meant for these stricken worlds, but as they approached, they found something else. Orbiting the entire star, like a single wisp of gray hair clinging tenuously to a pale head, was an unbroken chain of ships. Wreckage, both ancient and modern, pursuing a silent, ceaseless convoy around the star. From the whisper of Nurgles emissaries they learned its name: The Processional of the Damned. The numberless derelict vessels carried all that the Plaguefathers disciples would need to fulfill his will. From it they would take their name, and their mission. Composed of everything from scout vessels and pleasure yachts all the way up to battleships and space hulks, there are more weapons, artifacts, and secrets in the Processional than on some of the oldest hives of the Imperium. The orbiting vessels come from every age and beyond, and from civilizations human and xenos alike. There is far more hidden among these ships than the emerging warband can hope to uncover on its own. The Reilios and the Demittor, the Mechanicus forge-barque that had succumbed with them, moved to orbit alongside the Processional, only to see the ships surrounding them to part of their own accord, leaving room for both heretic vessels. Entering orbit, the heretics began their explorations. To further reflect the changes to themselves and their ship, the heretic Astartes renamed their corrupted Strike Cruiser Pursuer of the End. Over the course of years and decades that followed, the corrupted survivors explored and cannibalized the surrounding ships, while the tainted Mechanicus dragged multiple vessels together to build a dark, floating forge. The Astartes and their subjects refitted and repaired a handful of other ships, and began to launch scouting missions into the dark corners of the Halo Stars and towards the Asperos Astras original destination. When at last they found the Manifest Frontier, the loyalists newfound home, they set about watching them, dispatching agents into their midst to observe, and planting new seeds of corruption in the hearts of their wards. A handful of the choicest recruits were spirited away back to the Processional, where they joined the ceaseless salvage and restoration effort on the various wrecks. Others are outfitted with scout ships and sent into the darkest corners of the Frontier, pursuing secret objectives. The Processional now has pockets of activity throughout its orbit, some ships having been returned to full functionality to serve the heretics' naval and transport needs, while others have little more than flickering engines and lights full of whispers, some new and some ancient. The bulk of the work done in the Processional is carried out by undead, whose living masters push them ever harder to prepare the ships for their destiny. Still less than a fraction of its potential has been uncovered. The secrets and power it contains are of extreme importance to certain members of the Immaterium. And what is important to them is important to the Pallid Procession. Recruitment[/skullheaderhalf] There are few living Astartes in the Procession compared to many warbands, most of these being the original members of the 6th Company that made pacts with the Plaguefather in exchange for their lives and their power. Due to Nurgles gifts, none of these traitors has yet tasted death. The rest of the 6th company, however, was not lost...or more accurately, not wasted. With the powers of the Empyrean, the traitors raised the dead of the 6th, binding them to their cruel will. These undead Astartes are now the Processions deadliest shock troopers, and though some have been destroyed, their reanimated nature makes them extremely difficult to destroy, and many of them continue to serve. The bulk of the warband is composed of the surviving crew from the Pursuer and the Demittor, who command zealots and cultists that have been spirited away from the colony worlds of the Manifest Frontier. Supplementing their lack of numbers are great hordes of undead, raised by means of pestilent sorcery. While the Procession exercises its powers quite liberally to cull and harass the colonists, it is also very cautious in its approach to tempting away other Marines of the Asperos Astra. It is rarely worth the risk to commit substantial forces against the Chapters established defenses, but probing strikes against convoys and isolated outposts can sometimes yield new recruits. With great care, the Procession has slowly and subtly grown, and they continue their implacable advance with all the inevitability Nurgles children are known for. Advancement among the Astartes within the Procession is at the sole discretion of the Black Warden, Calvera, and hinges on much the same kinds of deeds expected of the mundane mortals in their service: providing information. As the Procession scours the Manifest Frontier from its heaviest fortifications to its darkest unexplored corners in search of the hidden power they desire, the favor of their master is reserved for those who provide the most valuable intelligence. Combat Doctrine[/skullheaderhalf] The Fall of Fort Belknod The flames created disturbing echoes in the halls of the fortress, seeming to give voices to the contorting shadows cast on the walls. Striding through the flames came a tall figure clad in eroded black ceramite, approaching a heavy door that had been smashed from its frame. Another, smaller figure wearing leathers stood by the open portal, and nodded to the armored giant, taking a step forward at the approach. The charts? Growled the armored one, stopping at the door. Inside, my Auger. Untouched, as ordered. Tell the troops. No survivors. The short one nodded, and ran, picking their way through flames. After a pause, the armored one entered the open room. It was small; room for less than a dozen people. The walls were lined with shelves, but directly across from the ruined door was a skull-topped shrine, inside of which was a tall, ornate scroll case. As the giant reached out, his helmet appeared to crack, disintegrate and at last dissolve into dust, drifting away from his head. Wide, milky eyes stared from a gaunt, pale face. A ceramite fist plucked the case from the shrine, lifting it to eye level, and the heretics thin lips curled into a humorless smile. Warfare as conducted by the Procession is a strange contradiction, a matter of subtlety executed by brute force, where a success will leave the enemy wondering why they came under attack at all. Lacking the numbers of elite (or even particularly coordinated) troops found among the Asperos Astra and the colonist militias, the warband compensates using waves of undead chaff to draw enemy attention and absorb fire. These hordes are composed of both simple reanimated dead, as well as more robust zombies created with an iteration of the Walking Pox known in the Frontier as the Withering Pox. The walkers created by the Withering Pox often appear shriveled and emaciated, rather than the typical swollen and pustule ridden form of pox walkers, but are still possessed of a frightening density that makes them deceptively hardy. While the pox walkers are usually gathered into their own hordes, it is not unusual for some to be mixed among the simpler plague zombies, where they are difficult to pick out until they are already upon the foe and their unexpected strength and ferocity is too late to stop. With the tide of undead at the front, the Processions firepower, borne primarily by the undead members of the 6th, can then be brought to bear with minimal interference. Their focused fire is used to target perceived weak points in their targets defences, creating greater opportunity for the hordes to break through and overwhelm defenders. More entrenched enemies are ideally faced with too many shambling corpses to be able to contribute meaningfully to the battle. Using the frontal assault as a distraction, the sorcerer leading the force will take advantage of the chaos sown by the pressing hordes to slip through a vulnerability in the enemy defence, whether discovered or pre-prepared, to accomplish the Processions main objective, or to fall upon an unsuspecting enemy flank with psychic fury, taking them off balance and leaving them all the more exposed. The Procession are especially dangerous in the void, where they take full advantage of the endless supply of gutted and abandoned vessels bestowed on them by their master. Fireships and ramming leave wide openings for boarding, both in direct assaults with their massed hordes and by stealthy insertions of sorcerers and their champions. To date, only moderately sized vessels, no larger than the Pursuer have seen use in actions against their enemies. [skullheaderhalf=333333]Organization Most operations attributed to the Procession are carried out by short-lived cults, whose leadership have very little communication with the true body of the warband. Their value is generally measured simply by the corpses they supply, but occasionally they provide information useful to the warbands larger aims. Delivering such information is usually the only means by which such zealots can hope to rise into the true ranks of the Procession, or earn any reward beyond knowing their zombified corpse will one day be a weapon for the warband. The humans with real standing in the Procession are more often than not spared from brutal combat service; they are far more valuable to the warband as information gatherers and fomenters of dissent. These select and faithful few operate primarily as solitary agents, searching the Frontier for whispers of the power the Procession seeks, while laying the foundation for new cults. Above most humans, but somewhat distinct from the structure of the Procession are the acolytes and magi of the Demittor, who have combined the gifts and knowledge of their patron with their existing technological prowess in order to keep the Procession equipped with arms and ammunition. As is typical of their kind, most of them would rather spend their time uncovering the secrets and archaeotech in the treasure trove that is the Processional, but they can be relied upon to outfit the warband according to its needs, and occasionally even take to the battlefield. Of the heretic astartes themselves, they are loosely divided into thirteen strike teams, each led by one of the original traitors from the Pursuer. These bands organize themselves largely as they see fit, and carry out the missions specifically given them in furtherance of the Processions goals. Their leaders, referred to as Augers by their lessers, each have varying degrees of influence over the powers of the Warp, due mostly to pacts struck during the fall of the Reilios. The more proactive among them have begun to approach the power of true sorcerers, but all have potent gifts they may bring to bear. Commanding the warbands operations on the material plane is the grim figure known as Calvera, the Black Warden. It is unknown what his exact involvement was in the fall of the 6th Company, but he was the most senior among those who turned, to say nothing of his authority as a Warden of Souls. What had once been an indomitable will as a Warden of the Asperos Astra has now turned toward the dark, entropic designs of the Plaguefather. Under his direction the Procession has harried both the Asperos and the Nonaveridis across the length and breadth of the Manifest Frontier, striking almost without consequence at places thought impervious to assault. Calvera himself takes counsel from none, save the greater daemon that relays the Plaguefathers wishes. Only a handful of the original heretics are privy to this entitys nature, but it is known to be the creator of the Withering Pox. To those of the material plane, the being is named The Graywhisper, and is one of the unifying subjects of worship among the various plague cults birthed by the Procession. And then, somewhere at the edge of the Processions structure is the enigmatic figure known most commonly among them Pallid Preacher. Even within the warband, no one can confidently claim understanding of this creatures nature. He often appears at settlements a few days, or sometimes mere hours before the arrival of warband hordes, raving abstractly to the inhabitants about the merits of death and the waiting afterlife. On more than one occasion the preachers unsettling sermons have been answered with bullets. While in some places he escapes, in others he, or at least something like him, has been reported killed. Still he appears on the frontlines, heedless of any number of deaths. [skullheaderhalf=333333]Beliefs Bridge of the Pursuer And this pleases the Graywhisper? The heretic marine, somehow both hulking and dessicated, leaned forward, laying a weathered metal chest at the foot of the throne. You need to learn the difference between progress, and success, Arikoraa, Calvera growled from beneath his hood, Progress is a lie, a trick, a false sense of security. It forestalls failure, but it is not success. In progress, there is nothing to be pleased. That weak thinking is why the Asperos settled for this...wasteland. When we succeed...when the Processional takes to the stars, the stain of the Asperos has been scoured, and we ride on the Imperium itself...then, the Graywhisper will be pleased. The Procession doesnt display the joviality found among some followers of Nurgle, though they do exhibit a grim pleasure in their work. The traitors from the Asperos Astra are a somber group, clad in the corrupted remains of their armor. Uncharacteristic for plague marines, the heretics of the Procession are gaunt, emaciated and parched rather than bloated and gangrenous. Even their ceramite appears more like a hardened, flaked husk than intentionally crafted armor. Instead of the cloying mist of disease that clings to most plague marines, the astartes of the Procession, both living and undead, are followed by dark, dry, clouds of noxious dust that bear the Withering Pox and other deadly pathogens. Though they delight in the suffering of the Frontiers colonists and any killing and torturing they can exact on the Asperos, the Procession are generally a callous and rigid warband, with a single-mindedness toward their objectives and very little tolerance for failure of any kind. They are committed to the mission given them, which to them will bring vindication against the weak and deferential Asperos Astra, and the Imperium that rejected their strength and denied their glory. Through their cults and, to a lesser degree the mad ministrations of the Preacher, the warband spreads its belief in death as the greatest gift, a liberation from the worry and pain of life. An afterlife awaits the worthy, a second life, which in reality is no more than being revived by one of the zombie plagues to further spread the word. Among the cults of the Procession, there is no greater aspiration, and the sorcerers within the warband are honest in delivering this gift to their disciples upon death. Nurgles purpose for the Procession among the Halo Stars is known only to the heretic Astartes and a select few of their most devoted followers. Under the daemons guidance, they are convinced that somewhere in the Frontier is an artifact capable of animating the entire Processional of the Damned. If found, it would create a fleet the likes of which the Imperium has seldom seen. One which could visit death and devastation upon an entire Segmentum. [skullheaderhalf=333333]Gene-seed They share the lineage of the Asperos, but their gene-seed is naturally highly corrupted. Very little of that gene-seed is viable for implantation. Only five successful implantations have occurred since the Processions birth, but each of these new plague marines has been increasingly more powerful than the last. Most of the failed implantations have at least resulted in mutants useful enough to be unleashed as disposable shock troops. [skullheaderhalf=333333]War Cry Call: Every step closer! Answer: Closer to the grave!
  9. I'm not sure this force will be my next DIY, but I felt that even this tidbit would be appropriate, given the recent updates to the Basilisks. The Pythons will receive updates, too, just not 100% sure how soon. Chapter Datafile: Baal Pythons Primary Data Founding 21st Progenitor Legion Blood Angels Known Descendants None Homeworld Unknown Status Excommunicate Traitoris Notable History Originally known by the name of the Blood Angels' homeworld, their time in the warp and loss of their own records have corrupted the speech of the Baal Pythons, who now identify themselves with a mispronunciation of their former name. Inquisitorial records of the Cursed Founding name the Pythons among the Chapters created, but from the very date of their sanctioning until 198M41 the Chapter has no registered appearances on any battlefield, nor submitted any tithes, but has been lost to all Imperial knowledge. Curators were hesitant to label the Chapter as destroyed when it was unclear whether or not a single marine was even created. Such is no longer the case. Having emerged from the warp transmitting dated imperial codes and bearing the heraldry recorded under their name, the Baal Pythons have returned. The fleet transmissions of the Pythons lasted less than an hour, and were heavily encrypted. To date only portions are understood which appear to implicate the Basilisks Chapter in heretical gene experimentation. The Pythons did not remain to be questioned, but fled again through the warp at the appearance of the first Imperial vessel. These encounters repeated until the Pythons finally appeared to find what they were looking for: The Basilisks' fleet. An Imperial Navy patrol found the Pythons with a sizeable fleet engaging the Basilisks in ship to ship. When Navy forces called for a cease fire, the Pythons turned their guns on the Navy ships, destroying one as they fled again into the warp. Remains recovered from the battle reveal that the Pythons have been horrifically mutated, and they have since been declared Excommunicate Traitoris. What remains of the Chapter continues to harass the Basilisks while avoiding other sources of Imperial contact. They have begun to make open transmissions once more, but their garbled broken language and persistent outdated codes have made their intentions unclear.
  10. I finished my first squad of the new army, and first models in over 6 years. Feels greater good. That leaves the rest of this Start Collecting box, the contents of a second one, a commander, a Devilfish and a Riptide.
  11. ++Morning++ “And the knife-ear raids, did you get him to call fo—” “No, Captain, I could not convince him of the need to request assistance. He has given us leave to adjust our perimeter as we see fit to protect the palace, only.” “Commisar, that won’t do, you know that won’t do. You showed him the transmissions from Islmorta, didn’t you? The fires were visible from orbit! We need reinforcements before they co—” “And we’re not getting them, Captain! I did all I could. The man has become bloated on his indolent lifestyle and quite immune to appeals to reason or actions that require effort. We must make do. Our orders are quite explicit to fortify only the palace. I suggest you prepare emergency shelters within the outer walls for as many of our workers as possible, and withdraw as much of the regiment as we can afford to defensive positions around it.” “And our units left outside? The millions of workers who’d never be able to travel to the palace, let alone fit inside the walls? What about them?” “...The Emperor protects, Captain. That is all.” ++Low Orbit++ ++Twilight++ As if a patch of the starry sky became a silken sheet and slipped away, a Dying Sun battleship appeared in the upper atmosphere of Saint Dominigus, followed closely by a dozen Torture-class Cruisers. The Blackguard Kabal had arrived. As Archon S’iaofex strode through the teeming mass of warriors on the launch deck, all rushing toward landing crafts, his Heirarch appeared at his elbow. “You will be disappointed, master,” he said cautiously, “the Mon-keigh expected us, but their defenses are pathetic. There is a handful of nearly unprotected complexes where the workers dwell. Their real defenses are concentrated around a single compound while large, and mostly unprotected caravans have been identified traveling towards it. There is plenty for the taking, but the slaughter will be...dull. Hardly worth your time.” “Hm, a shame,” S’iaofex intoned, his pace slowing for a moment as he seemed to pause, consider, before resuming as before, “But it has been too long since I have set foot on a ripe world myself to spill its blood, and I thirst for slaughter. This will have to do. Direct our warriors to the largest caravan at the edge of their defensive range. Let them watch as we fall upon their wards.” “Very good, master,” the Heirarch bowed and disappeared into the crowd. ++28 kilometers south of the Governor’s Palace complex++ ++Nightfall++ “Keep it movin’, keep it movin’” the guardsman called over the rumble of feet, vehicle treads and frightened murmuring, “You’ll all be sleepin’ sound in short orda’!” He turned to look over the front of the column just in time to see a massive lance beam scythe through it, atomizing dozens of civilians and carving a flaming gouge in their path. “Taaake covaa—” He began to shout, before a fighter bomb detonated only a few meters behind him, obliterating the man and another group of civilians nearby. All was chaos. Shadow-like open-topped gunships swept down all around the convoy, unloading kabalites already in the act of unleashing their full firepower on the defenseless humans. The token force of guardsmen and volunteers that defended the convoy were struck down quickly, and the Drukhari began to close in, relishing the opportunity to savor the humans’ suffering up close. In the space of a heartbeat, the battlefield changed. Wisps and tendrils of fog twisted into existence seemingly out of nothing, a thick, translucent shroud falling over human and eldar alike. The fighting paused, not with the hesitation of those who have lost sight of their enemy, but with the uncertainty of those who sensed that something was...wrong. The lull was brief, though, as the drukahri lust for murder had been far from satisfied. They began to pick their way, perhaps a little cautiously, through the stifling mists towards the muffled cries of their prey, firing occasionally in the direction of the callouts and screams from the stranded caravan members. The Heirarch moved through the murk somewhat more leisurely than the other warriors, the thrill of bloodshed not as strong in him, knowing how weak their prey was. He came to a sudden stop as the terrain beneath his feet abruptly changed. He looked down at the pool of rippling water he’d stepped in, confused but not quite able to articulate why. The mon-keigh cultivated this world for food; it should come as no surprise that it would be damp. Then why did this disturb him so? Nearby, a lower kabalite warrior froze, halfway across a similar pool. A motionless, hulking form lay in it, a form he recognized, one that should not have been there. The warrior reached out a hand to touch the armor, oblivious to the second looming figure that rose out of the pool behind it. The kabalite paused, hand mere inches from the armored form, then seemed to make a decision, turning abruptly to call out. In a flash, a blade nearly the length of the drukhari’s arm rammed up through his throat from behind, and he expired with little more than soft gurgle. Through the impenetrable mist, the Heirarch noticed nothing, brow wrinkling as he continued to stare at the water in front of him. Understanding finally dawned on him, as he realized that he stood on the water as if it were a polished mirror instead of a shallow pool on a pitted, muddy road. No sooner did this realization come, than an eroded, ceramite gauntlet burst from the water and clamped down on his throat like a vice. The Heirarch stared with bulging eyes at the visage emerging from the water behind the fist. The form of the mon-keigh space marine was a familiar, if unwelcome, sight in its own right. But this one...ancient in appearance, rust gathered at the joints of the pale armor, and both the helmet optics appeared to have been lost, but still from somewhere inside came a cold, blue glow. Water continuously streamed out of gaps and large cracks in the armor, over every surface, flowing like life from a body. His own body, the Heirarch numbly realized, as darkness closed in from the edges of his vision. He had a vague impression that the armored figure was descending back into the pool, taking him with it. As if the disappearance of the Heirarch was a signal, the mists lit up with bolter fire, eliciting screams from a new source as the drukhari were cut down in quick succession. The tall silhouettes of astartes materialized in the mists, striking and disappearing just as quickly. Kabalites howled in anger and terror as some tried to fight back against the elusive figures, while others were dragged into pools, vanishing completely beneath the surface. One warrior, twisting around every way in the mist, just trying to lay eyes on the enemy, and eventually he threw his weapon down in panic, shouting at the fleeting figures of their assailants. “I surrend—” the eerily dampened report of a bolter cut off the shout, just one more shot among many in the foggy darkness. A pair of reaver jet bikes came singing discordantly through the fog, swooping low and slowing in their efforts to pick targets. One of them managed a glancing blow across the back of a marine, only to be swatted out of the air in a gout of flame and water as a massive mechanical arm burst from a pool in its path. With creaking and groaning of metal, a towering, rusted war machine rose from the water, turning its other fist toward the surviving reaver while beginning to lumber across the battlefield. A hail of bolter fire stuttered from below its metal wrist, several rounds detonating along the flank of the bike and sending it crashing into the ground. A moment later the dreadnought stomped into another large pool and seemed to collapse and vanish into it, even as several shots from nearby raiders pinged off the aged armor. S’iaofex stood amid the chaos surrounded by the few remaining members of his guard. The bodies on the ground showed a loose perimeter that had been chipped away bit by bit. A pair of shots pierced the mist, the first deflecting off the armor of one the Incubi bodyguards, detonating against the ground nearby, but the second shot punched through the helmet, the drukhari’s head bursting as the round exploded. S’iaofex fired in the direction of the bolter fire. He was sure he had killed at least a few of them with shredder blasts, but their bodies were gone each time he tried to confirm it. His own armor had absorbed several glancing blows already, and couldn’t stand much more. He hissed retrieval orders into his helmet for his personal gunship, but heard only static in response. He whipped around, searching for another target, only to be confronted by a solitary astartes, rising from a pool just in front of him, a dripping bolt pistol leveled at his head. For a moment, S’iaofex’s grip on his shredder tightened, and he snarled, but then dropped the weapon. The pistol discharged, but the Archon’s head was no longer there; he moved with lethal grace, a splinter pistol in his hand where there hadn’t been one before. He flowed in closer to the marine, using one arm to block the marine’s intercepting movement as his own pistol slid in under the marine’s chin and fired. The shot burst from the top of the marine’s helmet, and S’iaofex had a moment of satisfaction as warm liquid spattered on his face, but his smile faded as the body collapsed and he saw the source, tasted it on his lips; not blood, water. Before he could give it more thought, a proximity alert signal sounded in his helmet, and the dark shadow of his gunship descended smoothly through the fog above, coming to a hover next to him. “We barely received your summons, Lord,” called the pilot, “There’s some kind of inter—” “Get us back to the assault boat, now,” S’iaofex hissed, leaping aboard. “Yes, Lord,” came the quick answer, and the vessel rose up through the mist. Their ascent seemed quick enough, but they didn’t break the mist. Just as a chill of fear began to blossom in his stomach, they burst through the ceiling of the fog into clear night air, and he was ready to allow himself a sigh of relief. But his unease hadn’t faded. The sky was alarmingly bright; an immense blue moon hanging in the sky. It seemed oppressively close. He loathed it; the night was supposed to belong to the Blackguard, but it had betrayed them. “Take us to the fleet,” the Archon ordered as he dismounted, climbing into the hold and dropping tiredly into one of the jump seats. “Setting course for the rendezvous,” came the pilot’s voice over the comms, knowing better than to ask about the fate of their forces still on the ground, “We haven’t had contact since your assault began, my Lord.” Not for the first time that night, S’iaofex felt a prickling on the back of his neck. They cleared the atmosphere quickly, and after taking a few moments to compose himself, S’iaofex made his way into the cockpit. As they reached the rendezvous point, they could pick out the Archon’s battleship, the Tyrannical Mother already waiting. Approaching the flagship, though, it became clear that it had not arrived unscathed. Smoke and sparks poured from a number of large breaches in the starboard hull, but the ship still appeared to have full power. “What happened?” He demanded. “Our communications are still down; it’s some kind of interference, possibly psychic.” Growling, he turned away, moving towards the main hatch. In short order he was striding down a corridor toward the bridge of the Mother, tailed by several attendants. “We tied them up with the other cruisers, but they came out of nowhere,” one was saying. “They all looked like mon-keigh vessels,” put in another, “but we can’t identify their defenses. Many of our weapons seemed to have no effect.” The doors to the bridge opened, displaying the inky void ahead of them through the great viewports. S’iaofex turned away from the conn, coming up behind the communications pit, the hapless kabalites shrinking from his gaze. “Get me something,” the Archon hissed through his helmet, eliciting flinches. One leaned forward, making a console adjustment, “My lord,” she said, keeping the tremor out of her voice. Static filled the chamber, punctuated by bursts of voices; calls for retreat, screams of pain, roared commands, coming in broken pieces. The rest of the crew listened, some grimacing, some grinning. These sounds would have been music to S’iofex’s ears if they had come from another source. Now they just marked his failure. He glanced out the viewport again at the looming, mocking moon hanging before them. Turning back to berate his crew, the Archon froze, feeling the prickling on his neck again. The moon had not been in view before. He straightened up and whirled back to the viewport, the crew following his gaze. The moon was there, impossibly close...and a Mon-keigh battle barge directly in front of them, growing as it advanced, listing slightly to the side as it seemed to careen towards the bridge, filling their view. Somehow they could hear it, the distressed groan of the colossal metal plates, and finally someone shouted, “Brace for impact!” He turned and ran, lowering himself in anticipation of the collision. A sudden rumble came, and screams behind him, but nothing more, and glancing back he saw a wall of water instead of a fiery explosion rushing towards him. Hard as he ran, he couldn’t escape, and within moments he was overtaken and the water slammed into him, tearing him off his feet and sending him hurtling down the corridor. Tumbling end over end, a couple of times he collided with a wall, or a corner, until finally he was slammed against a sealed bulkhead, the current flattening against the closed doors. He felt his armor buckling under the pressure, and the doors straining beneath him. Just when he thought the water would crush him into oblivion, the pressure withdrew. S’iaofex floated for a moment, trying to see down the corridor, but the scant lighting maintained on the ship had all but gone out. Looking to the ceiling, he could see the water beginning to recede. Steadying himself in the water, he waited for it to lower further. The water was still receding when S’iaofex saw that he wasn’t alone. The head of a tall figure was visible above the water, moving steadily towards him in the dark. He dived back and tried opening the doors. They parted slightly, but seemed to stall. Turning back, he saw nothing in the water, but surfacing again, the figure was visible once more, now a full head and wide, armored shoulders above the water. This space marine wore no helmet, and his hair, long and dark, moved unnaturally as he seemed to stride through the water, drifting behind him as if he was still submerged. As he came closer, a glow began to emanate from the armor, casting a ghastly light on his face from below. His eyes, too, began to glow, illuminating pallid, wet skin. “What are you?” S’iaofex called at the tower of the aged, rusted armor. The marine advanced in silence, the water having lowered enough to reveal a crackling power sword in his hand, curved and with cruel serration on one side. “What are you?” the Archon demanded, back pressed against the obstinate doors as one hand tried vainly to open it. He could see the face more clearly now, gaunt, skin cracked liked desert earth with glistening inky blackness underneath. The marine was less than a dozen meters away, and though the water now just around their ankles, his hair and the tattered, rotted cape across his shoulders continued to drift as if underwater. “WHAT ARE Y—” S’iaofex’s last roar was cut off as the power sword impaled him, spearing through the door at his back. The body went limp, and as the last of the water drained away, S’iaofex’s limp form collapsed to the deck, his corpse alone in the corridor. The Tyrannical Mother drifted in a decaying orbit over Saint Dominigus, its fires all extinguished, but dead all the same, the battle barge emerging from its stern as if the two had never touched. The engines of the astartes ship flickered to life, and it laboriously turned, making its way toward the waiting moon, joined in short order by other ships in the same pale, faded livery. With hesitant whimpers and moans, the survivors of the convoy to the governor’s palace stirred as the mists retreated, finding them on the outskirts of a silent battlefield, strewn only with the bodies of their attackers, the skies lit only by stars.
  12. Part One: Enter Caduceus The pirate frigate had first tried to flee, but the first time it had reemerged from the Immaterium, the green clad Astartes frigate had been only moments behind. Each time after that, there was one more Astartes ship than before. Seeing the uselessness of running, the pirates had put up stiff resistance, but could never have hoped to out maneuver so many ships. The way they moved, like one long segmented vessel, seeking to encircle the pirates in a death grip, the Space Marines appeared to treat the battle with disturbing leisure. Three times the hapless vessel tried to fire on the more predictable escorts in the coiling Astartes formation, but each time the lead frigate would strike in the opening with its own lasers, followed by a torpedo, and to change targets only resulted in a blow from another unattended angle, every salvo obliterating gun batteries until none remained. Anticipating another attempt to flee, the Space Marines ships fired on the pirates’ engines, and after a number of shuddering internal detonations in the ship’s aft it began to drift listlessly. Moments later a much larger vessel broke through the warp, a strike cruiser bearing that same heraldry, the serpent, winged and crowned. No sooner did it appear then it had launched a single Thunderhawk which streaked across the void and came to rest on the hull of the disabled pirate frigate, clamping down near one of the breaches left by a destroyed laser battery. A dozen Astartes descended the ramp, their leader a Marine in identical armor save for the gray tabard covering it and the gold coloring of his helmet’s radio spine, unlike the red on his brothers. Three Marines immediately broke from the group and made towards the aft of the ship. The remaining nine briefly surrounded the mangled hole left by a destroyed gun emplacement. Through the sparks that pierced the darkness they could just make out the shape of the torpedo that had punched through. Apparently satisfied, the Marine leading the squad lowered himself into the opening, pushing off the rim until his boots could lock onto the deck. As his brothers followed into the dark, he crossed silently to the nearest hatch leading toward the bridge. It appeared to have been sealed prior to the chamber’s decompression…unusual. Cocking his head toward the rear of the ship a vox crackle finally cut the silence among the Astartes. “Brother Lorens,” the voice was low, hardly more than a whisper, and chillingly smooth, “We’ve encountered a sealed bulkhead. They may have been prepared for the virus warheads. Have you reached the environmental systems?” The voice that responded was deeper, and coarser, but equally cold, “Negative Captain, ETA in thirty seconds.” “Very well,” returned the Captain, checking that the eight marines with him had fallen in, “it will take us more time to reach the bridge, and if they sealed any more bulkheads, we’ll likely meet resistance. Introduce the agent with a five minute time release, then meet us at the bridge.” “Yes, Captain Vitras,” the line died with the simple reply, and the Captain returned to the sealed hatch blocking their path. He gestured at the nearest Marine, who held a plasma rifle, stepping back as the weapon unleashed its blue fire on the door. The blast dissipated before the vacuum could throw it back in their faces, and when the initial mixture of smoke and atmosphere cleared, there wasn’t much left of the hatch. Streaks of atmosphere still pulled at the ragged edges of the opening as the corridor on the other side continued to depressurize, and moments later a limp form slammed through the opening trailing a spray of red. If the pirate hadn’t already been dead, he was now, the limply held mask in his hand too little too late now that he and his right arm were drifting slowly apart, the silent marines looking on approvingly. Vitras wordlessly stooped through the now crimson rimmed opening, eyes and helmet optics accommodating for the deeper darkness. The marines filled almost the entire corridor as they followed it deeper into the ship. They reached the next bulkhead almost without incident, but just as the plasma gun was about to do its work, lights flickered on overhead, and a blast door came down behind them. With a pneumatic hiss the hatch before them unsealed and burst open, autogun fire already spilling through. With no door on hand, Captain Vitras let roar his chainsword and tore through the wall to his right, finding sleeping quarters on the other side. Four of his men further back found doors on the other side of the corridor, while two more followed after Vitras. The brother bearing the plasma gun, and the brother behind him made no move, already in the act of carrying out the order that followed. “Cover fire!” Barked Vitras just as the bolter fire began, “Brother Viboras, to ash with them!” Vitras and his men leaned into the corridor to fire as one while a pair of plasma blasts streaked into the flashing gunfire that was the enemy. The volume of incoming fire immediately dropped, and as it did Vitras thundered back into the corridor, the bulkheads shaking with the collective pounding of his ceramite form and the renewed roar of the chainsword. The rest of the squad followed after, though all they really had time to see was the Captain surrounded by a halo of autogun fire and viscera as the chainsword arched and slashed, cleaving everything before it. Seconds later, the corridor was silent again except for the quiet dripping of blood both from the chainsword and the ceiling. Brother Viboras stepped up behind the Captain and could see that the autoguns had chinked away enough armor on his arm to expose the bionics underneath. These whirred briefly as Captain Vitras gestured to his squad once more, and they passed through the scene of the carnage. “Captain,” the vox crackled with the incoming hail. “Speak, Brother,” Vitras’ voice remained disturbingly level. “The distributor is in place, as are we.” “Status of the bridge?” “The corsair is cowering here with his retinue, awaiting your arrival.” “Excellent. Trigger the distributor. How much time was left?” There was a chuckle on the other end, “A minute and thirty three seconds, Captain.” “Hm, best time yet.” An alarm began to sound, and the lights dimmed, replaced by pulsing red glow, a sign that the ships environmental systems had been compromised. Through the next unsealed hatch was the short corridor leading to the bridge. Visible through a small viewport, two of the pirates stood guard about thirty feet outside the door, though they seemed awfully relaxed for their situation. Both leaning almost casually against the walls, they at least gripped their weapons tightly. When the Marines appeared in the corridor…the pirates didn’t move, nor did the Marines react to their presence, but strode directly towards the bridge access doors. Around the necks of the brigands hung oxygen masks ready for use, but the dimness of the corridor made it difficult to distinguish their faces until they were close. Neither Vitras nor Viboras payed them any mind, but walked past the guards to the door controls, the Captain replacing his pistol on his leg as he went. Each Marine except the last ignored the guards as though they weren’t there, the brother in the rear removing his bolt from its maglock as he approached. As his brothers approached the door he leaned down to see the face of each pirate. Satisfied with the terrified, strained and even tearful faces he found, he put a bolt round into each one’s head, practically destroying their skulls. At the door, Captain Vitras had found to his surprise that the controls weren’t locked out, and the doors opened to the last echo of the bolt shots. The bridge was darker than the rest of the ship, lit more by the panels and instrumentation than anything, and as the hulking marines fanned out into the room they found that each of the stations was still occupied by a crewman, and the captain sat in his throne in the center of the chamber, facing the Astartes, his mask only half on. There were several other armed pirates around the room, but each lay on the ground in an awkward position, unmoving, but with apparently unwounded. As Captain Vitras stalked across the chamber to the captain the rest of his men drew their pistols, and when the Captain leaned down and spoke, gripping the back of the throne with a bionic fist, his words came with the staccato of the bolt shots executing his crew. “Your struggle against the Imperium is at an end, heretic,” breathed that cold, smooth voice out of the helmet, “I am Captain Vitras of the Basilisks. You have lived to this moment only so that the fear of our name can go with you into death.” He lowered his hand and tapped the arm of the throne, where the pirate captain was still depressing a rune with a white knuckle grip. An attempted transmission, or a successful one in truth, as the text on the tiny screen above it indicated that the corsair had opened a line to somewhere…and they were still listening. Whether a call for help, or last instructions to another clan of raiders, whoever was at the other end was hearing the grim last moments of the doomed ship. “Consider it a final act of loyalty to--” “Cap-tain,” the pirate had managed to speak! To resist the Basilisks’ nerve agent to that degree without the help of a mask would have required bionics in the lungs. Apparently this was not an average pirate, and Vitras soon discovered why, “I ha—mess-age,” with enormous effort, the pirate lifted his finger, releasing the rune to allow return communication. A garbled voice came hissing through the ship’s vox, barely distinguishable as Low Gothic. “Blood of the crowned snake! Vengeance for Bahl’s sons!” There were a number of flashing lights through the viewports and, crossing rapidly to the nearest, Captain Vitras peered out into the void. A sizeable fleet of Astartes-class ships had emerged from the warp, easily twice the strength of the circling Basilisk fleet, and from where he stood Vitras could already see guns turning on his brothers…as well as the disabled ship where they now stood. “Lorens, now!” he cried, voice turning ragged, drawing his pistol and unloading into the viewport, and in answer, a meltagun discharge struck it from the outside, bathing the room in white for a moment before the meter thick panes disintegrated and exploded into space. Vitras and his men inside barely had time to lock their boots, but no sooner had they done so than they charged out of the opening onto the ship’s hull, greeted by Brother Lorens and his two companions. Behind them the bodies of the crew and the still living pirate captain vented into the void, but the marines were already traversing the hull towards the Thunderhawk as fast as they could go. Flashes above them told Vitras that the enemy fleet had engaged them, and a shudder below told him something had struck the frigate. A violent buckle and a blossoming orange glow from behind followed promptly, and two of the Marines were swatted off the hull by the impact, no chance to react. The rest of the squad carried on, and they soon reached the boarding ramp of their ‘hawk. Detaching as soon as the last marine had a sure foot on the ramp, the Marines locked themselves in place and the Thunderhawk rocketed away from the frigate. The former pirate ship was already coming apart, wracked with explosions both internal and external. In the tense minutes since the appearance of the enemy fleet, the Basilisk’s hadn’t yet lost a ship, but as the Thunderhawk docked with its Strike Cruiser, Vitras leaping prematurely from its hold and making for the command deck, the voxes announced the destruction of the frigate Stone Fang. Bursting into the command center, Vitras’ gaze sought the ship’s commander. “D’selvus, status!” “Captain! The enemy is unkown! Our formations are dogged but holding, reinforcements enroute!” “Damned heretics! I want to know who these faithless traitors are!” “Vitras!” The Captain whirled to find Codicier Seranus striding into the command center, “I have your answer,” Vitras followed the Librarian to the viewport where both could clearly make out the dulled, dark red hulls of the enemy ships, the symbols at their prows all but erased for want of attention, save one. A red serpent coiled threateningly over the atlas ellipse of an unknown world, resting on a sand colored field…familiar, “They are Pythons,” Vitras’ head snapped back to the Codicier, revealing shock and disbelief, “That’s right, brother, the Baal Pythons have returned.” ~~~~~~~ Comments & Critiques very welcome, looking forward to refining and expanding this story.
  13. The Cerberus Chapter The Edge of Chaos: Origins During the millennia following the Sentinel Founding, the Sons of Unity Chapter had many successful campaigns, repelling numerous Ork, and later Tyranid and Tau incursions on a number of fronts. On several occasions the Chapter performed joint operations with regiments of the Imperial Guard, as well as other Adeptus Astartes Chapters, and always to great effect. On other occasions, when the threat of the Orks or other xenos was too great and no Imperial allies were at hand, the Chapter fought alongside the forces of xenos which shared threatened worlds, even once at the side of the elusive Eldar. Many brothers grew concerned that the Chapter was compromising too much, and risked opening the door to xenos uprisings. It was from the fires of these battles with and against xenos allies, and from the fallen brothers along the way, that the first seeds of schism were sown in the Sons of Unity. One Marine in particular loathed the very notion that his Chapter had defended xenos worlds or interests; death was preferable to accepting xenos aid. After the disastrous and costly battle fought alongside the Eldar, the flame of hatred grew into a consuming and towering inferno. In the peace time of the months that followed, a message appeared in circulation among the worlds of the Systems Alliance, the council of worlds that answers to and supplies the Sons of Unity. The message appeared to be full of the Emperor's fervor. It called for humanity to rise from its squalid seat on scattered worlds and take back the stars as the Emperor had sought to do during the Great Crusade. It went so far as to decry the actions of Chapter Master Androssen and the Sons of Unity, demanding the immediate exterminatus of xenos races within their reach and a covenant between the Systems Alliance and its Chapter to never again accept the aid of the xenos unless to use them as the tools they were meant to be, for the furtherance of Mankinds interests. Needless to say, the message caused uproar throughout the systems, while Androssen and the Sons only watched silently and sternly from their ships above. Attempts to trace the message lead only as far as a dead Astropath on Rho, the Chapter Homeworld. Many were frightened or appalled that anyone would speak out against a Chapter Master with such force, others, a small but often wealthy minority, were inclined to agree. It was not long after that Androssen relinquished command of the Chapter, returning to the Veteran Company. However, the hierarchy leadership on Rho, together with the new Chapter Master Brahm Kahoku dismissed the message as the ravings of one "elusive and overzealous man." Unfortunately, it was more than just a man. Janus Maeleth of the 3rd squad and 5th company had been a non-native recruit to the Chapter, as well as of non-military parentage, a rare trait amongst recruits. Since his induction he had shown nothing less than an Astartes spirit. In private, though, he had a vision of a different Imperium, the undisputed power in the galaxy, an Imperium like the days of the Emperor. As he examined the galaxy's present situation though, the only future he could imagine for it was one ever grimmer and darker. The Sons' involvement with the Eldar prompted him to finally act. If he could only spread his vision to the larger Imperium, perhaps things could change. When his secret manifesto was disregarded by the Chapter Master, Maeleth prepared to take matters into his own hands. It began with a request for the Chapter's attention to a threat in the remote system of Akuze, a request coinciding with the first orders of the 25th founding. Janus, well known throughout his company for his skill at spotting an opportunity, convinced his squad sergeant to volunteer them for the contingent being dispatched to Akuze. To his fellow marines it was a good omen; whenever the squad followed one of Maeleth's plans they had never failed. Unfortunately for them, Janus was looking at a different opportunity. Arriving on Akuze, the five squad contingent found the small Imperial colony in ruin, no survivors and no sign of what had caused the destruction. Or so they had thought. Even as they had entered the system Janus, manning the sensor array, had detected the telltale signs of life still on Akuze, and before they had landed he had discovered a single, massive decomposing xenos corpse near the colony's edge. It appeared to be some sort of giant subterranean serpent. Janus later speculated that this was one of the first vanguard organism strikes by the Tyranids, but he left no evidence to determine the truth. Withholding this deadly secret from his brothers, the detachment scouted the ruins and found only a few broken, mangled corpses. Careful to lead the team away from the serpentine corpse, the marines prepared to leave. When they regrouped, Janus was missing. No sooner was the realization made, then the attack came. No less than seven of the massive burrowing serpents attacked the unit, claiming eight marines in the first seconds alone. The battle, if it could be called that, was over in minutes, leaving forty nine marines strewn on and beneath Akuze's surface. Janus had left his brothers long before the attack had come and returned to their dropship, damaging the ship till it could barely fly. As he commanded the ship alone back to Rho, he carefully sabotaged its systems, erasing essential reports and surveys. He then relayed repeated urgent messages to Imperial authorities in the vicinity, claiming that a vast, unknown xenos fleet was approaching, and passed on censored details of the mission on Akuze. By the time Janus had made it back to Rho to share his report with the Chapter, the Tarot were already being consulted back on Terra. While the Chapter Master was still reviewing Maeleths report for submission to the Chapter Librarium, the orders were returned from the High Lords: Janus Maeleth was to be promoted to lead a training cadre in the formation of a new Chapter meant to stall the xenos invasion. Terra had confirmed an impending threat from the subsectors surrounding Akuze and now meant to rely on Maeleths experience to defend Imperial space. Janus led the training cadre to the subsector of Akuze, where they began to recruit from the young colonial world of Shanxi. There they took the name of Cerberus, bound to guard the Imperium forever with watchful eyes in every direction. After nearly four decades leading and training neophytes, building up its arsenal, and maturing the necessary organs and gene-seed while the Chapter slowly grew, no sign of the fleet that Maeleth claimed destroyed his brothers ever appeared. The Sons of Unity soon withdrew from their successor. Kahoku hadnt trusted Janus ever since his return, and for all those years his report from Akuze remained under scrutiny. The two Chapters had cut ties before the first Cerberus marine donned Power Armor. Imperial authorities showed no concern or suspicion, relying not on the report of one Marine, but on the divination of the Tarot. It had promised a threat would rise from the Akuze subsector, and the Cerberus Chapter was the answer. Home World Assigned Home World: Shanxi Shanxis history in the Imperiums records is a small, tragic footnote. It had been colonized barely more than three centuries prior to the organization of the Cerberus Chapter, and enjoyed notoriety for housing the growing force. Colonists favored the world for having Adeptus Astartes protectors, although no colonist was ever allowed to see or interact with a Cerberus Marine. For several decades after the founding, Shanxi enjoyed unparalleled peace. After that, according to Imperial record, Shanxi was abruptly attacked and almost purged of life by an unknown xenos fleet which retreated only at the appearance of a sizeable Sons of Unity strike fleet. Why the Sons of Unity were in the area remains unknown, but they only opened communication with the colonial refugees upon learning that the Cerberus Chapter appeared to have been destroyed in its youth, leaving only the remains of a single Gladius frigate and a few attack craft destroyed by the xenos scattered in decaying orbit. Refugee accounts reported enormous plumes of flame erupting from the facilities of the fledgling Chapter, and indeed no corpse was found in the planetary fortress or the derelict fleet craft that was not charred beyond recognition. In time, Shanxis population recovered, but their pride never did, and the world has since been largely forgotten. Meanwhile, sector and segmentum authorities were left to wonder if the near loss of Shanxi was the threat Cerberus had been founded to forestalland if the Chapter had simply been doomed to destruction from the start. Second Home World: Akuze In truth Shanxi was only another ploy by Janus. The planets invaders had been enticed into attacking the planet by transmissions from the new Chapter Master. Sacrificing a few of the new marines and neophytes, as well as the frigate, the remaining Cerberus Marines departed Shanxi during the battle, and returned to Akuze. The planet had not been recolonized, but declared a death world. It had barely been habitable before, largely a rocky, mountainous mass with a sandy surface ill-suited for anything but small scale mining. From orbit Maeleth ordered the destruction of the dens of the serpentine creatures that had laid the groundwork for his plan all those years ago. For a little more than a century after, Akuze was the home of Cerberus. Potential recruits were kidnapped from surrounding systems and brought back for testing and induction, though Maeleth stopped the creation of additional marines well before the Chapter reached full codex strength. One final time, the Cerberus Chapter took to the stars, destroying their facilities, purging records and leaving no trace of their stay on Akuze. The Fleet: Despite abandoning any kind of homeworld, the Chapter is not confined to its fleet, which is modest in size. The Chapter maintains fairly rooted local bases wherever its cells operate. Most of the Chapters marines are concentrated in roving fleet detachments with the highest ranking marine overseeing two to three operations, which are largely staffed and run by serfs. Battle Barge: Anadius Strike Cruiser: Western Maw, Crimson Maw, Winter Maw, Fang of Orthus, Charon, Penumbra Apex, Strobilos Key Worlds: Cord-Hislop- Secret Manufactorum/Serf recruitment Eldfell Ashworld- Warp->Population experiment, Imperial Freighter Ter Alan Combat Doctrine The Cerberus Chapter is well and truly divergent from their progenitors. Where the Sons of Unity fight cohesively in sizeable forces and use codex organization, Cerberus troops often fight in thin and independent units, sometimes no larger than a combat squad. The Chapters cell organization has led to Cerberus Marines being accustomed to limited communication. In battle, the spread of squads will often use long ranged attacks to probe enemy weaknesses. Upon finding one, the squads redeploy with those facing stiffer resistance giving ground in order to support the rest of the force in striking the weak point. Often, by the time an enemy realizes that their targets have not retreated, but flanked them, it is too late for a counter. When two or more cells fight together, one commander will preside and give broad orders which squad leaders are free to accomplish as they see fit, making the force as a whole unpredictable. Cerberus strategies revolve around being rapid, and untouchable; altogether elusive, with only the rarest applications of brute force. Because there goals are best served by anonymity, large scale combat actions are rarely undertaken, and never alongside allies outside the Chapter. They do not employ devastator squads or battle tanks and have few transports. Through extensive research they have adopted a unique brand of Dreadnought known as the Atlas, which make use of highly modular chassis to house and conceal data cores. These have greatly aided in protecting Chapter data stores by giving them both mobility and defenses, but also made them the Chapters most important relics. Organization Current Chapter Master: Janus Maeleth- The Chapter Master lives up to the title by which the Chapter serfs identify him: the Illusive Man. Maeleth and Captain Corei disappeared in pursuit of an artifact less than a half a century after the Chapter left Akuze. Now almost six hundred years later, as the Sons of Unity become not only increasingly aware, but also more threatening of the Chapters operations, Maeleth and Corei have returned, claiming to have been enlightened by a sojourn in the warp. The brothers Arterius, who had shared leadership of Cerberus after the demise of the previous Master, insisted only on the tests of genetic purity, after which they relinquished command. Maeleths actions since then have managed to steer the Chapter away from the searchlight of the Sons, but the danger is still there. Masters/Company Captains: Master of Sanctity: Rei Ashe- Brother-Chaplain Ashe most often appears at the head of joint cell operations. He is the first among the Chapters Chaplains to have envisioned the threat posed by their parent Chapter, and has been personally responsible for multiple successful evasions. Forge/Fleet: Saren Arterius- A deadly void strategist, Arterius is sure to be present if elements of Cerberus fleet engage the enemy above atmosphere. In a juxtaposition of doctrine, Arterius will almost always attempt to maximize firepower and outnumber the enemy if possible. The sizeable fleet at the Chapters disposal complements this tactic. Saren led the Chapter for almost a century before Maeleths return. Apothecarion: Astrico Nurinos- Most frequently found working with the research Cell, the Chief Apothecary and his drastic methods are responsible for reviving the first marines from the Sleeping Death. Chief Librarian/Research Cell: Kai Lanius (Chapter Librarians, cerca. 75 Marines) The Research Cell is formed largely by Chapter serfs, who are mostly scientists, or medical personnel plucked from the elite of a number of worlds the Chapter has encountered. They are responsible for the maintenance and guard of stored gene-seed as well as finding ways to implement technology recovered through the efforts of the Artifact Cell. Working in concert with serfs of the Armory Cell, the Librarium pioneered advancements in the free-form power fields used in Sons of Unity digital weapons, leading to the mass distribution of effective power bayonets. Lanius delegates most recording and research duties to his understudies and prefers to oversee the testing of the Cells experiments, usually in combat. Notable Librarians: Paulus Grayson Telon Vasir Armory Cell: Don Pelos-Red (cerca. 250 Marines) When Cerberus deploys in force, it is the Armory Cell and Don Pelos that lead them. Pelos is a savage combatant with a more earnest hatred for xenos than most, including the Chapter Master, and also the first Armory Cell commander to lead the Chapter into battle against loyalist forceswho happened to be the Sons of Unity. The cell is divided into five equal groups led by sub-commanders. Pelos tends to depend on these and the squad leaders to execute appropriate tactics, as the Cell commander is only satisfied at the heart of battle, or personally maintaining the Chapters arsenal. Maeleths Personal Cell: Evarus Corei-White (cerca. 50 Marines) The highest rank a Cerberus marine can attain is to serve in the Chapter Masters personal Cell. These marines may be veterans of a thousand battles, but under Corei they spend most of their time coordinating the operations of other Cells. Corei remains silent as to the details of his time in the warp, and on the battlefield maintains the same icy demeanor. When Maeleths Cell takes to the field, it is an ill omen for the enemy indeed. Infiltration Cell: Fairn Drellius-Black (cerca. 25 Marines, 75-175 Scouts) As part of the second most active Cell, the troops under Fairn Drellius command are spread across many sectors. The missions handed down to them are frequently political espionage and politically motivated assassinations, though they serve just as well on the battlefield. The Infiltration Cell employs most of the Chapters serfs as secret emissaries to dignitaries, planetary governors and any potential allies or benefactors to the cause of The Illusive Man the serfs purport to serve. Maeleth goes to great lengths to put such players into power, and in return the Chapter has a significant flow of resources outside that of official channels and eyes spanning almost an entire Segmentum. Artifact Cell: Desolas Arterius-Yellow (cerca. 200 Marines) Desolas appeared particularly pleased to resume command of the Artifact Cell when the Chapter Master returned. The primary functioning Cerberus Cell, ordained to scour the galaxy for anything and everything that can aid in humanitys advancement, it has never seen more success than the years since Maeleth reappeared. These artifacts usually take the form of xenos tech, and usually must first be acquired from xenos possession. Artifact marines tend to be the most experienced in combat in the Chapter, but also have acquired substantial knowledge both of technologies and cultures. The debriefings following every operation are almost as important as the work itself, and protecting that knowledge is held as a sacred duty. Cell Operations: The Cells operate as independently as possible, with the Armory Cell being the most cooperative. Outside that, Cerberus fanatically guards their knowledge and, as often as possible, their identity from any and all organizations in or outside the Imperium. When private communication is necessary, steganographic messages are sent embedded in otherwise ordinary Imperial broadcasts. The ability to decipher these messages rests solely with marines, as no serf could be trusted to keep quiet if captured. Operation Shingle: Aimed at adapting varied Imperial assets, especially military resources, for Cerberus use. High value objectives are focused on assets and materials previously held exclusive by other Imperial organizations or Astartes Chapters. Op initiated by the capture of a Callidus assassin. Operation Phoenix: Attempts to awake/expand psyker abilities in different subjects. Eldfell turned to ashen Deathworld. Operation Doorway: Imperial citizens in useful positions across multiple sectors disappear, to be replaced by Chapter serfs, providing intel on local governments and cults both helpful and harmful. Essential in the subterfuge of the Blue Sons cult, whose radical beliefs culminated in an attempted mass sacrifice to reincarnate the Emperor from the Warp. Zero loyalist casualties. Indoctrination: The hypnotherapy of Cerberus marines extends beyond conditioning them against the horrors of war, but also subtly altering their attitudes, enhancing their loyalty, and ensuring no conflict of ideals with the Chapters oftentimes questionable methods. It is rumored among Chapter serfs that xenos tech may be used to achieve this end. Beliefs Since Janus original manifesto against the xenos, the Chapters views have evolved into the same. Xenos civilizations are seen as obstructions to humanitys progress, useful only for providing mankind with the resources and technology necessary to advance. The Chapter venerates knowledge only. Through the Chaplains, Janus has taught that the Emperor is no more, that while he was the pinnacle of humankind in his time, he will not return. Humanity must carve its own path in the galaxy, but is ill equipped to do so. The Cerberus Chapter is their strong arm, the one force truly looking out for mans best interests. To this end, life is a resource which sometimes must be sacrificed. To achieve its ends, the Chapter will overthrow an Imperial Governor or assassinate an Inquisitor in a heartbeat if they believe them to be a hindrance to the Chapters strength, believing that strength for Cerberus is strength for humanity. Unlike most imperial organizations, xenos tech is not abhorred but treasured and studied by the Chapter, who believe it is the key to ensuring mankinds dominance in the galaxy. The Chapter has cells researching Mind Impulse Unit applications, teams in every corner of two Segmentums searching for STCs, and machine cults working constantly at reverse engineering useful xenos tech. Much of this technology finds its way onto the battlefield, with frequent use of plasma and power weapons, and every scouts first weapon is the sniper rifle. The most frequent meeting of Cells are the Armory and Artifact contingents, the former often ensuring the security of the latter as lost relics and potentially useful tech is hunted down for the Chapters collection and study. Gene-seed Though still bearing the Sus-an Membrane failure known to the Sons of Unity as the Sleeping Death, the Cerberus Chapter has made far greater strides towards curing the condition. While their progenitors study and seek to cure the Sleeping Death within Imperial sanctioned parameters, the Cerberus Chapter cannot be burdened with such restrictions and much of its research devoted to correcting the Sus-ans forced coma is of questionable nature. Maeleth brought with him startling biotech research when he returned, which jumped the cure process centuries ahead of what Chapter Apothecaries had projected. Only seventy years ago, the first activation of the body of a comatose marine occurred, under the direction of Apothecary Nurinos. It appears, though that much of the mind is still beyond awakening, and the process produces little more than numb and volatile shock troops. The current technology of the Imperium has limited the research significantly. Unperturbed, Nurinos has approved many of these awakened marines for combat duty, and they have proved brutally efficient in the field. Battle-cry Battlecry: Humanity Prevails! Motto: Semper Vigilus Chapter Badge art of http://guardianoftheforce.deviantart.com/ wallpaper.
  14. The Sons of Unity Space Marines Chapter Origins It is a well-documented truth that during the foundings following the 21st a great deal of extra care was taken to ensure not only the purity of the genetic material used in producing new Chapters, but also to guarantee the faith and worth of recruits. Too long had the worlds of the Imperium waned under the ever growing xenos menace. Chaos continued to spread while the Emperor's Angels of Death spent their precious blood to stem its advance. During the next millennium, countless marines fell in glorious combat, defending mankind. The weakened reaches of the Imperium needed to be reforged and made strong again. So during the 23rd founding when orders were handed down from the seats of Terra to raise a new Chapter in the Dominion of Storms, Imperial agents could hardly have been happier to receive the reports of the Rho system. At the head of a coalition of smaller systems they call the Systems Alliance, the Rhoans claimed that their world could bring honor to a Chapter as its home world. Further investigation by a joint commission from Terra and Mars confirmed the hive world's claim. At the heart of the Dominion of Storms, Rho was ideally placed to house a Chapter of Space Marines. In the following decades preparations were made, and geneseed sought after. Here, problems began to occur. The initial batch of gene-seed, which records indicate was supplied by a successor of the Salamanders, vanished enroute to Rho, leaving no trace. After this the Chapter whose tithe had now been lost refused to provide any more genetic material. Between the late hour of the founding and the sheer volume of Adeptus Astartes already raised, support for the ordained Chapter started to dwindle. It was then that the gene-seed of the zealous Shadow Wolves fell into consideration. A proud example of Adeptus Astartes of Imperial Fists stock, the Shadow Wolves were more than willing to sire a Chapter, and from their stores a supply was formed. The Chapter's Master of the Forge was chosen to lead the training cadre, and with the blessing of the High Lords and the Emperor, the force set out to answer the needs of Man. Arriving on Rho, the training cadre found a world truly ripe for the birth of an Adeptus Astartes Chapter. The people of Rho were united, but had done so through their militancy. They had spawned a deeply disciplined and stringent society, and formed chains of command as much in their social structure as in their local military force, which until then had been largely devoted to supplying and manning nearby Guard formations. Provided with the great honor and responsibility of a Chapter of Space Marines reinforced their ideals, and they looked upon their world as truly blessed by the Emperor. Their education was strongly infused with military doctrine, their environment produced hardy children, and their dedication to the Emperor was unquestionable. Stefan Hacaitus, the new Chapter Master, made sure to personally oversee the first selection of recruits, and as they stood at attention beneath his calm gaze, he announced to the initiates and their people the name of their protectors. They would honor the symbol of their people, and be known ever after as the Sons of Unity Chapter. As the attending crowd exploded into cheers and celebration, the compliment of Neophytes overpowered them, bellowing the first sounding of the Chapter Battlecry, led by their Sergeants: "Strong alone! Stronger together!" History Throughout their history, the Sons of Unity have become known not only for their skill with combined arms, but also for the stigma of cooperating with xenos on numerous occasions. Specific records are spotty, but show that in nearly any instance where multiple factions have joined battle and a xenos foe has extended an offer of alliance in favor of crushing a common enemy, the Sons of Unity have accepted, and there have even been rumors that the Sons themselves have been the first to open communication. Such rumors are stifled where possible, but their shadow remains. As can be expected, there have been times when this has backfired and it has cost the Chapter dearly. On one particular occasion the Chapter allied with the elusive Eldar, whose Craftworld was hastening through their space to fulfill its own enigmatic objectives even as a tide of Orks descended on the system. Whatever the Eldar sought, it appeared they could not afford a long campaign against the green horde, and offered to aid the Sons of Unity in cleansing their home system. The Eldar, following their own unintelligible battle plans, were nearly impossible to coordinate with and despite successfully putting down the Ork threat, the companies involved suffered heavy losses. When Sergeants of the Sons of Unity attempted to detain the Eldar after the battle for debriefing, they were cut down as the Craftworld sought to continue its mad pace out of the system. In retribution the then Chapter Master, Davian Androssen, engaged the Eldar navy and cut a swathe to the Craftworld itself. Eventually the Eldar escaped with their fleet all but decimated, but not before again inflicting painful casualties on Unity forces and subjecting more marines to the Sleeping Death. Androssens masterful maneuvers with the fleet earned him the nickname Admiral among the locals. At the same time, systems belonging to other nearby xenos faction, and even former allies, began to foolishly entertain ideas of expansion. The danger posed prevented the Chapter from pursuing full justice on the Eldar. The efforts of the local xenos were eventually halted by Unity QRFs, and in the atmosphere of bloodlust, certain voices within the Chapter called for the exterminatus of these lesser races, but Androssen would not permit an action that would completely extinguish a race without an edict from the High Lords of Terra themselves. Admiral Androssens fame spread throughout fleets and navies in nearby sectorsbut his authority within the Chapter was irreparably cracked. It wasnt long before Androssen stepped down, but his legacy continues to be felt as the Sons of Unity became markedly more adept at employing Thunderhawk formations after transposing the his tactics.The consequences of the Eldar incident and the xenos incursions that followed were the defining challenges of the next Chapter Masters career. Despite being relatively new to the Veteran Company, Brother Kahoku, another very skilled void strategist, was elevated to lead the Sons of Unity. Special Hatred of Chaos (Reapers) Mistrust of Successor Chapter Home World Rho is an ocean hive world the Dominion of Storms, roughly between Tangar and Jhenna. There are a few small landmasses composed only of bare rock, and from and around the largest of these are the hive cities created. Contrary to most hives, the more luxurious portions(Or what passes for it among the spartan Rhoans) are deeper in the rock, beneath the waves, and include many transparisteel halls and rooms branching out into the deep, some of which are actually quite ornate. Above these, just out of reach of the tides and waves are the usual manufactorums and industrial districts, with the higher portions of the hives dominated by defensive bastions. On and below the water's surface the Rhoans employ gargantuan craft that house, train, and deploy their military forces. The largest of these constitute mobile planetary defense platforms whose ability to disappear beneath the sea have made the planet quite a fortress in its hostile sector. Indeed, all of Rhos most vital tech, its leadership, and most Sons of Unity facilities are hidden beneath the planets oceans. The Fortress Monastery of the Chapter is known as the Valley Citadel. The only valleys on the planet are the underwater trenches, and it is in the widest of these that the bulk of the Citadel is housed. Protected from direct attack by melta-type depth charges and torpedo emplacements, and guarded against indirect approach by one of the planets defense platforms and a suite of early warning and targeting systems housed on Rhos moon, there are few better defended strongholds for lightyears. The Apothecarion is separated from the Monastery, making use of multiple of the Rhoans submarine housing craft to stay spread out and hidden among the many other trenches crisscrossing the ocean floor. Rho is not without mysteries of its own, though. Artifacts have been uncovered in a number of places beneath the surface indicating that the system, or at least the planet was inhabited long before the humans' first arrival, though any actual record of a civilization has yet to be discovered. Recruitment All recruiting for the Sons of Unity is done on Rho, though it isn't required that recruits be native. The other systems in the Alliance frequently send children of Imperial Guardsmen to the planet for teaching and training, and these have the same opportunity to become recruits, though they must pass the same stringent tests to do so. While not always as successful as the native children of Rho, all the worlds of the Alliance have provided valuable lifeblood to the Chapter over the millennia. Gone Fishing Its said that the current Master of the Arsenal, Urdnos Rex, was confronted by a deep sea Parauc-Uda as he descended. Long, lithe monsters whose throats are lined with teeth as keen as a chainswords, and maws large enough to engulf a marine whole, they are the dominant predators on the planet, only hunted by the humans when they become a danger to their ships. If record is to be believed, Rex escaped the creatures first lunge and destroyed one of its eyes with his stone. Leaving the writhing beast to finish his task, the great fish came after him, catching up as he laid hands on the gauntlet. A deadly dance ensued as Rex retreated towards land and air while the Parauc continued to strike and harass him. Meters from the surface the beast made one final lunge at the very moment Rex discovered the use of the omni-blade contained in the gauntlet which he used to spear the predator through the other eye. That Rex returned to the surface with a dead Parauc-Uda in tow is indisputable, and he frequently makes himself present at trials to tell the tale. The process is grueling, as with any other Space Marine recruitment programme, and plays largely into the world's ocean surface. A common test sends the recruits to one of the few beaches on the planet with a more or less steady descent rather than a drop off, and entrusting each with a stone large enough only to weigh them down. Stripped of any equipment or protection, they are required to navigate along the sea floor, allowed to return only after retrieving a relic of the Chapter placed there for the purpose of the test. Participants are frequently forced to defend themselves from the marauding ocean life using only the boulder given them and their wits, or if the recruit is fortunate enough to be making the return journey, he may taste the might of the Astartes using the power armor gauntlet each successful aspirant must retrieve, equipped with the digital weapons unique to Unity Marines. Successful initiates join the Scout company for a minimum tour of ten years, during which they are exposed to the doctrines of the other specialist companies and assessed for transfer. Combat Doctrine Sons of Unity warfare is, naturally, cooperative warfare, units and brothers working in close coordination with one another to dismantle a threat. To speed the process along, the Chapter employs swift strikes, often by surprise and tends to use more force than is generally deemed necessary. This doctrine stems from the old maritime actions of the Rhoans, where a victorious battle depended on the speed with which a force could bring to bear its armaments, or, if possible, a surprise maneuver on the open water. To these ends the Sons of Unity make extensive use of their Assault Marines and advance their Tactical squads using Rhinos. There is a high proportion of vehicles in the Sons' companies as is common amongst Dorns successors, simply because those marines who are native Rhoans are well adapted to being inside a plasteel shell with a deck of some kind beneath their feet, and are well known for their attunement to a vehicle's machine spirit. Ranged and armored combat is preferred by the Sons, though the importance of hand-to-hand is not lost on them. As skilled tacticians, Unity Marines recognize that the best application of a close assault is to wipe out an enemy unit already withered by concentrated fire. The combined arms of tactical squads and ranged heavy support of devastator squads have a valuable place in every applicable Sons strategy. The principle shortcoming of the Chapter's combat operations, at least as viewed by outsiders, is how easily they allow those operations to be interrupted by extractions and rescue missions. Every marine of the Sons of Unity is loathe to leave a fallen brother behind; to do so is more than a dishonor to a fallen comrade, but to his squad, his company, and tantamount to friendly fire in severity. Preservation of troops is favorable to noble last stands, a philosophy adopted as much from the Shadow Wolves as the Rhoans for whom it has historically been considered an act of the highest depravity to leave someone, even an enemy, to drown in the ocean's waves. Rarely are Unity tactics applied to pitched warfare. Instead, commanding officers are expected to analyze every combat situation when possible to determine the best approach and timing for a precision attack, and the Chapter is not above well placed ambushes or small team infiltrations, though these must be performed by Scouts. Plans are made based on an ideal force size, and then usually a smaller secondary detachment is added to provide backup. Among the Sons, those functionaries frequently referred to in other chapters as serfs often include high ranking military officers and strategists from Rhos upper echelons, who volunteer service, often permanently. Their roles vary from simply receiving and prioritizing orders and requests from the surrounding systems and Terra, to occasionally even aiding in the strategic planning of attacks. Organization Current Chapter Master: Atlas Shepard Masters/Company Captains: Master of Sanctity: Thane Krios- As devout a Chaplain as can be found in such a dark galaxy, Thane lives for his brothers. He ensures that penances are not only paid, but that every marine understands that any sacrifice they make is of no consequence if it is not in the service of the Emperor and His people. If its not a suicide mission Here, The Forge Masters finger highlighted a part of the Tau ship below the engines, Its an emergency induction port, meant to deliver coolant to the reactors should they go critical, though it should be empty right now. Talius explained. The glowing orange halo of his servo-skull adjutant dimmed as it let the hologram flicker and fade, and when Zorah spoke again the Chapter Master was sure he heard a smile in his voice, Time it right and youll get in undetectedjust behind their battlesuit deployment bays. Forge Master: Talius Zorah- Forge Master Zorah is among the most proficient engineers in the Imperium, said to be able to assemble almost any piece of STC equipment, even tanks, without the aid of a template. With an extensive knowledge of the workings of multiple ship classes, both Imperial and Xenos, Zorahs expertise has proved a valuable tactical resource on many occasions. Apothecarion: Mordin Solus - Chief Apothecary Solus rarely leaves Rho, and is almost always at work with his prot
  15. In the Urn, Awaiting Cremation: The Ash Phantoms Origins Opening Notes, Memoirs of Hasheel Having been granted the Chapter Master's blessing on the condition that I do not leave the fleet, I begin my record of the Ash Phantoms. The Regimental Commissar on Murkaia said that the Chapter was strange. There was an uncomfortable shift in his eyes when he spoke of them. The way they would stare, the repeated, identical vox transmissions. I doubt even I would have known what to make of them. But I never would have expected this. It is no wonder the trail goes cold with them. The ill-fated nature of the Ash Phantoms’ known history, and their particularly grim outlook has led some to believe that they bear the “Curse” of the 21st Founding. At the very least the Chapter has its constant struggle for survival in common with much of the 21st Founding. Other clues, specifically fragments of surviving service records, and redactions with the seals of unknown Inquisitors, suggest that the Chapter may have been founded during the Dark 13th Founding. Credible histories of the Chapter are scant, and the Chapter has intermittently been completely lost to the Imperium at large, even presumed destroyed, only to appear fleetingly in the records of a Guard detachment or another Astartes strike force from whom they answer a call for aid. Only recently, due to the efforts of a curious Inquisitor, has earnest documentation of this Chapter begun. For their part, the Phantoms look past the dismal fate that looms persistently before them, towards what glory they can purchase for the Emperor with their blood. Many of them are resigned to the not the idea that they will never know their history, due in large part to a catastrophic genetic flaw. The Catalepsean Node produced by their gene-seed is flawed in such a way that it interrupts the normal activity of the cerebrum, destroying the marine’s ability to form new memories, and in the worst cases, shutting the brain down entirely. Though they diligently submit tithes in the hopes of finding a cure, or shedding some light on their origins, all they have been able to ascertain for sure is that their genetic material comes from the White Scars. Home World Mysteries to Themselves, Memoirs of Hasheel The only records they appear to have are associated with visions of the Librarium. They are full of endless, vague references that could mean anything, few attached to actual events. The most tempting to the Chapter itself, and of course to me, is that of the home world they supposedly once had. But no real evidence exists in their records to confirm the veracity of that belief. They do not even know the secret they keep. The Chapter is largely confined to it’s small fleet, which stays closely connected, lest the flaw separate them forever. This is the only home the Phantoms know, but there are long-running rumors of an ancestral home world which have proved a subject of frequent debate among them. The belief hinges on ancient references made in their records to “the urn” from which they came. What few Chapter records have endured little more than cryptic notes left by Librarians centuries past, some little more than gueses, and all fighting against their affliction to leave the Phantoms with some sense of legacy. The notion that a homeworld might exist, a place containing records of their early history, or perhaps even untainted gene-seed, is one that almost every marine entertains, for at least as long as they can remember it. The Chapter’s Librarium is perpetually divided between trying to prove the existence of a home world and quelling the rumor and its distraction once and for all. Recruitment Refusal to Fade, Memoirs of Hasheel Since learning the extent of their condition, I have wondered to myself why they insist on preserving their dwindling line. I do not raise the question to them, as I have my doubts that I would survive such a line of questioning, but also because I cannot say for certain they are wrong. On one hand, is such an existence not a waste of Imperial resources? On the other, the Emperor gave them life, and they have come this far enacting His will. And of course, I can’t let them fall before I’ve found what I need. The flaw never ceases to exact its toll on the Phantoms. Losses in almost any given engagement far outstrip the average of what almost any other chapter experiences, while sudden and unpredictable brain death, often among the eldest marines, chips away at their numbers even off the battlefield. On top of already staggering casualties, each brother in the Chapter is only one faulty vox transmitter from being forgotten in the area of operations and being listed MIA. The only counter the Phantoms have against their attrition rate is aggressive recruiting. Even here, though, the Phantoms face obstacles. The unease they tend to instill in those unfamiliar with their peculiarities, especially civilians, makes willing recruits difficult to come by. On the other hand, forcefully abducting recruits puts them at risk of censure at best and an excommunicate traitoris edict at worst. At the best of times, they have only been able to steady their numbers, but not grow them, and now their recent association with the Inquisitor Hasheel has made the Phantoms all the more cautious about how and when they recruit. If any notification has reached the Phantoms of the Ultima Founding or the advent of Primaris Astartes, it has failed to be recorded and, apparently, been forgotten. Consequently, there are no Primaris units or equipment in the Chapter as it stands. Combat Doctrine Still Angels of Death, Memoirs of Hasheel I understand now what Commissar Gelbright meant. Their genetic issue manifests clearly in their method of war. They are among the more brutal Astartes I have seen in combat, and with no apparent sense of self regard. They throw themselves headlong into melee, perhaps assured that by doing so they won’t hesitate in battle when their flaw strikes. Though I now have context for their repeated call-outs, they remain somewhat disconcerting, like a battlefield of violent echoes. I believe I will be able to use it to my advantage. Muscle memory is the only art that the Ash Phantom’s truly know. Though they remain formidable in combat, their inability to recall the points of finesse of anything from martial technique to a tactical maneuver result in decidedly brutal conflicts. For this reason the Chapter eschews weapons that require more careful control. Power mauls and thunder hammers are taken in lieu of swords, and flamers and heavy bolters see more use than lascannons or sniper weapons. The Phantom’s seek to end battles quickly and decisively to protect their numbers, but the finer reflexes that would be necessary to pilot the rapid transports that would complement this strategy are beyond them. Bike squadrons are their risky compromise, granting them speed and maneuverability, if not to the degree they would like, and at the cost of exposure and more limited access. Most marines begin and end each engagement on foot. The minimal use of transports stems not only from the inherent challenge in piloting them, but also from the delayed reaction a battle brother may suffer upon emerging into the battlefield as his memory fades. A marine already on the battlefield is much more likely to continue fighting without missing a beat. The frequent use of flamers and plasma guns is a side effect of the battle brothers often finding the enemy closing the distance without being able to remember how. The Chapter’s heavy support comes primarily in the form of Predator tanks, which are much more forgiving than faster vehicles when the flaw strikes. Despite having a pair of Dreadnought sarcophagi, no marine has ever been interred, due to a simple, brief note in their records warning succinctly: “No Dreadnoughts.” Organization Self Injury, Memoirs of Hasheel Completely unheard of, a Chapter led by initiates. I can see the lines along which they reasoned, now that I understand their affliction better, but I am inclined to believe that they would reconsider their organization if they could but remember what happened to the 8th Company, or the battle at Udonanai Hive. It is clear from these wasteful losses that the Phantoms strive on borrowed time. I can only hope to finish my work before that time expires. The Ash Phantoms attempt to follow the Codex Astartes as one of the few forms of guidance they can rely on. The Chapter has only five companies to field, though the Scout Company sees very little combat and it is there that first signs of divergence from the Codex become apparent. Uncharacteristically for a Chapter of Astartes, the Ash Phantoms’ Scouts are held in equal regard with full battle brothers, and are perhaps disproportionately regarded as the Chapter’s legacy. About three fourths of the Chapter’s initiates serve in the Scout Company. The remainder, always chosen from the most promising recruits, form the Chapter’s leadership. The Chapter Master, Company Captains and many of the Sergeants are young marines, chosen for demonstrating the greatest balance between natural skill and lasting memory. Their lack of experience is viewed by the Librarium as a necessary cost for maintaining that vital command structure. However, the inexperience of these young marines has cost the Phantoms dearly on multiple occasions. As marines grow older, they descend the ranks and are sorted by the skills they retain. As a result their Devastator and Scout veterans are exceptionally skilled, but are accompanied by some of the youngest Sergeants to ensure their skills are applied to the right targets. No marine has been known to have any conflicts with demotion, though this is likely because no brother remembers being demoted. The battle brothers of the Chapter identify each other by rank only, both on and off the battlefield; though some marines can remember the names and faces of brothers that came from the same recruitment and training pool, it is otherwise fruitless to try learning the identity of their brothers. Beliefs Acceptance, Memoirs of Hasheel Total resignation is the only way to describe their attitude towards their condition. I was personally surprised how aware they are of the costs their condition has incurred on the Chapter. Rather than a chain of despair, these beliefs are an anchor for them. They see it simply as their lot, that has no bearing on the Emperor’s Will. Though I am inclined to think them forsaken, I cannot help but respect this commitment. If only they’d let me speak with the recruits, before the subtler details of their philosophy are lost, philosophy which may illuminate part of that which I seek. The body of the Chapter Librarium is small, as Psykers have proven more likely to succumb to the most severe symptoms of the flaw. The Chapter’s records are likewise limited. Current Librarians surmise that attempts to record the Chapter’s contemporary history were abandoned centuries ago. Instead, they took heavily to divination. Though it is frequently impossible to distinguish between visions of the past, present and future, they could at least be recorded in real time. The interpretations of these cobbled together visions make up the bulk of the Chapter’s histories. From among these emerged the first rumors of a Chapter Homeworld, and each time they are reviewed the debate rekindles, some elements calling for expeditions to pursue every lead that could uncover this lost world, while other elements bristle at what they perceive to be a false hope that should be striken from their history. The factions maintaing both positions are as impermanent as any Ash Phantom’s memory.There is another dark facet to the Librarium’s methods. The Chapter maintains the bare minimum of serfs required to support their operations, as visions of the Librarium, both modern and ancient, have cast a pall of doubt on the loyalty of serfs. The matter has occasionally become so serious that it has resulted in a complete purge of the Chapter’s serfs. It has never been established what decetion they are guilty of or what threat they pose; the Phantoms simply cannot accept the risk from the humans closest to them, who can remember things that the Astartes cannot. The Chapter’s recruits and scouts hold special importance to and spend a great deal of time with the Librarium. The last memories that the Phantoms hold onto are those prior to beginning the implantation process, so as much as possible of the Chapter’s identity and knowledge is imprinted on them before then, and because of their longer memories, they are better able to help the Librarium focus its efforts over time. The Chapter’s enduring beliefs revolve around their duty to the Imperium. Great honor is viewed in a martyr’s death, and it is considered a noble release from their affliction. To complete this release, after a marine’s progenoids have been extracted, his body is burned in his armor by means of incinerators built into each suit. Until another marine dons the armor, it will hold the ashes of the brother who died in it in a very literal sense. The ashes will still be inside when the new marine first puts it on. Over the centuries the original blue and orange trimmed suits of armor have acquired gray stains, concentrated around the hands, feet and torso where the ashes often filter out. Unable to form any sort of significant attachment to their own brothers, and resigned to the fact they will neither remember nor be remembered, the Phantoms exhibit an eerie level of detachment both on and off the battlefield. They are equally somber regarding the Imperium at large, content in knowing they have a very simple role to play, and this at least, they could never forget. Gene-seed Private Examination, Memoirs of Hasheel They would surely kill me if they knew I had taken a gene-sample, but it was worth it. My preliminary analysis shows markers that one does not find in stable White Scars genes. Some of them are familiar to me, but not from that legion. Others don't seem natural at all, though. Each discovery is a confirmation of my suspicions I must check the Librarium again. The secrets lost to the Ash Phantoms, left by my forebears, are ever more within my grasp. The Chapter’s genetic material is almost completely whole, save for the corruption of the Catalepsean Node. The level of degradation varies from marine to marine, lapses occurring anywhere between every few hours to every couple of days. Initiates suffer the least, some able to recall anything from an entire week or more, while the most veteran marines may lose their memories in a matter of minutes. To the brothers of the Ash Phantoms it makes little difference, for once gone, the past is lost forever. Battle-cry If a war cry existed at some point, it has been lost to the Phantoms.
  16. Well as I paint up my models, I hope I can get some suggestions from the painting vets here, considering my rookie status. The last models I painted before these were from my Tau, at least two years ago, so I'm excited to be back in the saddle. Last word of introduction: My table top force will frequently feature units from different Chapter's of mine, and even some not mine just because I love the scheme so much, hence the Cameo army. For now, all I've got is some Sons of Unity, the bulk of my current Combat Patrol. They're still needing a lot of touching up, especially for lenses, but I'm pretty happy with them so far. Enjoy! Suggestions on painting, photographing, or conquering the galaxy readily welcome! These were my first test scheme models, the force originally meant to be of the third company. After changing to second company, the sergeant of the 6th squad: A look at the, eh...shoulder drape thing(help?), one of my first attempts at using an ink/wash: Captain Kirrahe, drawing the line with his blade, my first attempt at a power weapon: I tried to save him for last when I was feeling more reacquainted with painting. He was sort of a gift from a buddy, because I went so long without playing my little marine force since I had no commander. Sergeant of the 8th squad, 's got something on his nose: Shield came out so nicely(pf, hard to mess up), I'm almost afraid to mar it with a Chapter Symbol: The 8th squad(so far): Half of the 6th squad (there's an assault combat squad and a marksman combat squad, but I forgot to organize them that way). To the left of the Sergeant is his right hand man, the marine with the tommy boltgun. I'm sad because I can no longer remember the bit I used to make the drum barrel, and I really want to convert more of those: The rest of the squad, including the marksman sergeant. The rocket marine is pinned/magnetized to double as a bolter marine, because I'm pretty obsessed with having my options: So that's the force so far. If you look close, you can see there are a lot of parts I forgot to paint, and lots to retouch, but it was more fun than I remember it being, so no big deal. One unlucky marksman marine missed the photo op because he was on the second row of minis in the case and went overlooked XD, but it's a full Tac Squad. Their rhino is primed, but so is the Cerberus Atlas Dreadnought(Still haven't thought of an interesting way to convert those), and as Cerberus is going to be my main army, I'm itching to start it. Anyway, hope those are enjoyable, more coming just as soon as I, eh, motivate myself!
  17. The Alpha Hounds Space Marines Chapter Intercepted Inquisitorial Report regarding subject 'Alpha Hounds'. "I have my doubts whether or not these 'Hounds' can be relied upon or trusted in a time of Imperial need. Should our Lords on Terra call, the Chapter is beyond lethargic to answer. Citing the Emperor against them seems to be the only way to direct them with any kind of haste." -Unknown Inquisitor Available Imperial records have proved mostly reliable regarding the Alpha Hounds Chapter. Their creation was a standard issue order from the High Lords of Terra during the first years of the 26th founding. Their purpose at that time was to keep at bay any enemy forces in the tail of the Sagittarius Arm, which were initially limited to Chaos raids attempting to strike through the frequent warp storms of the region. There is but one noticeable hole in the Chapter’s history that Imperial records cannot fill, which regards their homeworld. The Hounds themselves appear to have these records, but no one outside the Chapter has ever been permitted to see them. Within three hundred years of their founding, the threats they faced evolved into something more substantial with the first expansions of the xenos Tau Empire. Because of the tenacity of the Tau in defending their worlds, the Chapter’s primary objective has become patrolling the border space to prevent them from gaining new foothold worlds and expanding further. This has also brought them into conflict with splinters of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Gorgon. Though they keep largely to themselves, the Chapter has been regularly sighted patrolling assigned space, from the coreward stars of the Tau Empire almost to the end of the Sagittarius Arm. The Triplex Phall forgeworld reports regular supply requisitions from the Chapter. Full Circuit "These systems are backwater, forgotten and unattended by the Imperium. With this last jump here, we have our course; a route to the Arm's end that follows endless night and offers free reign." -Fyvush Feyne The unfortunate mutation of the Alpha Hound gene-seed has at least complemented its fleet based nature, which allows them to avoid the would-be blinding light of a homeworld's sun. The fleet maintains patrols along a series of subsector to subsector planetary systems that has taken Chapter Librarians and Navigators the better part of a century to compile, and completed by a Navigator called Fyvush Feyne. The course, named the Feyne Circuit in his honor, consists of planets used as staging grounds and supply caches, largely uninhabitable and lost in shadow for most of their respective day periods. The Circuit also includes three asteroids which have been equipped to move, providing variables in the course that only the highest ranking Hounds can know. The Alpha Council considers this an essential precaution as all untithed gene-seed produced by the Chapter is kept in the facilities along the Circuit. While each of these 'Night World' bases is fortified, the defenses don't amount to much more than a few orbital defense guns and sensors for tracking activity in each system. The protection of the Night Worlds depends largely on the proximity of the fleet, and secrecy. The Battle Barge called Bastion Alpha houses the Chapter's monastery. Despite receiving supplies from multiple sources, the prolonged campaigns favored by the Hounds quickly drain these resources, and without the stockpiles on the Circuit, the Chapter would be regularly exposed with no means of retaliation, making the Feyne Circuit a necessary supply line asset to defend. Obscure archival footnotes mention a homeworld for the Chapter. Though older navigational charts note the planet as an agri-world, more recent visitors report the planet as destroyed. Cracked nearly in three, the few ruins still visible have clearly been the subject of intense orbital bombardment. No Imperial reports detail what transpired there, and the death of that world is remembered only by the Alpha Hounds. The history kept by the Alpha Hounds tells that less than a century following their founding the Chapter was drawn away from its wards by a chaos fleet, allowing the world to be invaded. The invasion forces did not count on nearby Imperial Navy elements, who notified the Hounds as they engaged the invaders, advising them to make the long journey back. Before long, the commander of the Naval forces began to report that the battle was going poorly, the planet was falling, and exterminatus was beginning to look like the only option. The Hounds still on the planet said otherwise, certain the world could be saved. The Chapter Master and his council of leadership petitioned more than once for more time to bring reinforcements, citing the loyalty of the natives and their faith in the Imperium, but were answered with silence. Sacrificing no more time to leave the Warp for reports, the fleet made all haste towards home. When they emerged from the Immaterium over the homeworld, they found a burning husk. An indelible mark was left on the young Chapter, but in the Emperor’s eyes and their own, they were still bound to serve…and so pressed on. However, not even the Hounds kept any record of what became of the Naval elements that oversaw the death of their homeworld. Rite of Passage Finally, an opportunity. Two of the Kroot had separated, leaving the camp to forage. Waiefei's long wait was ending. Sighting through the Stalker's scope, he led the pair for fifteen seconds til they were just out of sight of the camp. At their next step, he squeezed the trigger with trained precision. The bolt bored through the nearer Kroot's skull, then clipped the further Kroot's shoulder. Instantly adjusting, Darius fired again before the howl of pain could sound, his tactical display registering near simultaneous weapons discharges from his brothers hidden around the camp. The hunt was on. The Alpha Hounds see the honor of living and serving as a Space Marine as a privilege to be earned, not only for new recruits, but for the Chapter as a whole. If a mission should fail, or an engagement is lost and the Alpha Council determines that it stains the Chapter's honor, recruitment will cease until the Chapter distinguishes itself once more. Recruits are usually gathered as willing payment from worlds aided by the Hounds. They are brought to the Circuit for trials and training. The primary qualifications of character for Neophytes are loyalty and ingenuity, and the most frequent challenges throw groups of recruits into lethal situations such as the hunting grounds of nocturnal predators, or squad versus squad combats in different settings. Given few, if any resources, and only each other to depend upon, those recruits who demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice for their would-be brothers and can adapt to their surroundings on the fly are the only ones who have a chance at beginning the implantation process. These groups are often permanent, and the final test of the Initiates before joining the Scout Company is a test of their strength and prowess, and ability to hunt together. Alone on a shuttle, the team of recruits is dropped on a world occupied by the Tau's Kroot allies. Sometimes the Chapter has withdrawn forces to allow the Kroot to establish a presence, only to recover the lost ground with the Initiates. Each team must hunt down and consume a Kroot hunting party, which is usually twelve to fifteen Kroot in strength. If the squad succeeds without casualties, their trials are complete and they are fully inducted into the Chapter. Some initiates follow the Hound tradition, tracking the enemy by use of the Omophagea and forcing the Kroot to isolate themselves before picking them off rapidly, in small groups. Other Initiates are satisfied simply tracking the party, and then falling on them in a frontal ambush. These particular marines tend to become powerful close combat fighters, but are historically rare. After consuming the first kill, the interaction between the Kroot genetic material and the flaw in the Omophagea invariably begins a lifelong desire for Kroot flesh. While not as drastic as in other Chapters with similar gene flaws, the Alpha Hounds have never taken a Kroot prisoner, giving them the honor of dying on the battlefield before the battle-brothers prepare and eat them, usually in camps on the same battlefield. The tradition of Kroot hunting as the final Rite is believed to have supplanted the original indoctrination ritual of apex predator hunts. The change is a reverence to a battle during the Chapter's first encounters with Tau, in which a Kroot kindred ambushed and destroyed almost half a company of marines. Under the direction of their Shaper, the Kroot began consuming the fallen marines, but fled at the first sign of reinforcements. One squad sergeant alone, Brother Anton Windhark, was rendered unconscious, but survived the ambush and witnessed the Kroot feeding on his brothers' flesh. The following night, without orders, the vengeful sergeant tracked down and slaughtered the entire kindred save for the Shaper, who beheld the marine's first bite into the Kroot that had eaten his brothers, before being reduced to slag by Windhark's plasma pistol. Since then, Kroot are viewed as the ultimate prey and the Chapter relishes every encounter with Tau for the chance to scourge the Kindreds. The induction ritual itself is a subdued occasion. Successful recruits go under the Apothecary’s blade once more, and the second bone in the middle finger is removed and replaced with an alloy substitute. Following the operation the neophyte carves his name and the date of his induction into his bone and presents it to the presiding Chaplain. The bone is dipped in adamantium and placed on a chain, to be worn at all times. Over time Alpha Hounds will gather other bones, mostly from foes, but sometimes from brothers, on which to inscribe the deeds of battles and campaigns. These hang from the same chain, forming part of each brother’s legacy. Second Campaign against the Orks of Fi'rios "A riff from the heavy bolters on that hillside, NOW! Jameth, make it rain, brother!" The swarming Orks retreated from the blistering bolter fire behind a rubble-strewn hill, waiting for an opening. What they saw instead were the red tongues of flame falling towards them from the sky, ready to seal them in against any hope of escape. Though a fleet based Chapter, the Alpha Hounds have a marked preference for ground combat, and haven't developed the advanced boarding skills of other fleet based Chapters. They regard their fleet only as their essential conveyance through the void, and respect their original fleet elements as such. Captured ships or those taken as payment are not afforded such respect, mostly due to how rarely these ships mount the weapons or defenses needed to be useful to Astartes. This mentality has led to many of the fleet's lesser vessels often being treated as expendable and used in highly unorthodox maneuvers, including abandonment as battlefield debris or fireships, blockade running, and ramming enemy fleets. If it is possible to draw an enemy force into a land battle, the Hounds will choose a sunlit world over fighting in the confines of a ship's belly. While their tactics frequently make unpredictable changes, the constant is their preference for catching the enemy by surprise and attacking at night. Ambushes, troop lures, and trap laced fortifications are a regular part of Alpha Hound warfare. It can be noted that scouts are frequently at the fore front of an attack, pulling the main force behind them. Leading scout squads are often given the honor of the first shot fired at the enemy, and these first strikes are often combined with simultaneous drop pod assaults, and low altitude Thunderhawk strikes. The most planning goes into capitalizing on the confusion sown by the sudden loss of leadership and the element of surprise. Frequent maneuvers include 'Black Out' attacks aimed at cutting off enemy visibility to allow friendly forces to redeploy, 'Crush' ambushes meant to catch the enemy between two or more units, and 'Base Dropping', a shock and awe strategy that drops a heavy fire base made up of tactical marines, Terminators and Dreadnoughts into the heart of the enemy formation in an effort to scatter them and sweep them as they flee. The normally superior reflexes and enhanced senses of a Space Marine are all but nullified for the Hounds by the glare of sunlight, due to the oversensitive nature of their Occulobes. In daylight conditions, their reactions are hardly any better than a unit of Imperial Guardsmen, or even the Tau they so frequently fight. The battle-brothers of the Alpha Hounds appear to revel in extended campaigns; the longer lasting, the better. Kill markings are considered irrelevant, replaced by campaign marks distinguishing consecutive weeks or months of successive battles. With years at a time spent pursuing enemies across worlds with little time for concentrated maintenance, Hounds marines have made numerous modifications to their weapons and equipment, few of which would be sanctioned by a sane techpriest. These modifications are most commonly based on adapting to the environment of the world where the battle group is fighting. They are also skilled at using their surroundings to complement their weapons, or turning the environment itself into an exploitable asset instead of using specialized gear. The Chapter has trouble maintaining both its Terminator armor and Jump Packs units, and these are rarely seen on the battlefield. Called to serve Him "You are not the Imperium's marines, you are not the tools of Terra. You are the Emperor's Angels of Death, and you will trample His foes beneath your feet and rend them as you go over! We are the Alpha Hounds, and our crescendo will burn the galaxy clean in the Emperor's name! -Chapter Master Moonstride The Alpha Hounds stand at approximately nominal strength and are codex adherent, their only particular variance being the Chapter Command, or Alpha Council, composed simply of the Chapter Master and the Masters of the Companies. It is unknown how or if the companies not on the council are represented, but the will of the Council is unquestionably accepted by all. Neophytes spend at minimum the first ten years of their services as Scouts, integrated into the Battle Companies and rotated whenever a Reserve Company steps in to relieve their attachment. Likewise integrated are the Assault specialists. Because the Chapter so rarely deploys its few jump packs, the Assault marines can afford to go into battle with their brothers, where they not only lead charges, but excel at flanking on foot and serving as decoys for drawing the enemy into the open. The Devastator company remains separate, according to the Codex. The Chapter’s Devastators tend to be the loudest and most abrasive marines, to the degree that it is part of the reason they remain a separate company. It is also noteworthy that the Devastators have more experience with drop pod maneuvers than any unit in the Chapter, with the possible exception of its Dreadnoughts. A Cause for the Lost Sighing, the gray-headed Librarian closed his tome before answering his brother. "No, Sinef, they cannot know or understand that their Imperium is dead. They will never recognize this as the true root of their misery. That is why we watch over them. They have lost their Master as much as you and I." -Cheif Librarian Morianton The Alpha Hounds Chapter cult has never been observed, but what contact Imperial agents have had has made note of the regular absences and gatherings of Chapter members between combats, suggesting that whatever rituals the Chapter does maintain are regularly attended. While as a whole the Chapter appears to be of acceptable demeanor, their attitude towards serving the Imperium leaves much to be desired. The Chapter has never ignored or refused an order from Terra, but in handling local requests for assistance the Hounds have been known to refuse aid without the promise of payment, sometimes going as far as demanding control of a planet's warp worthy ships. Behind closed doors the Chapter Cult is a startlingly somber body, despite the usual boisterousness of its adherents. The Hounds praise one thing only, and that is the Emperor. Here any similarities with the Ecclesiarchy and most similarities with other Astartes beliefs end. The Hounds recognize the Emperor as a Champion of humanity, but a lost one. While they don't dispute that the Emperor may be sustaining his life from century to century, they have no delusions of any distant return or reawakening of their Master. They see their lives as gifts, fruits of the Emperor's labor and recognize no other hand, in giving thanks for their existence. Any semblance of ‘faith’ is seen as wasted. Older Chapter members know the root of this belief to be the result of the tragedy that destroyed the world meant to be their home. It could be said that the Chapter was reborn from this event. The once eager and obedient Hounds took to their fleet, and became lethargic to answer the call of Terra. If faith in the Imperium were of so little value, they would treat it as such. Likely because of this, the Alpha Hounds privately believe that the Imperium died with the Emperor, and is now an empty shell. In the eyes of the Hounds, the Adeptus Astartes exist only to soften the blow for the rest of mankind when the truth strikes them. Only out of respect for the Emperor do the Hounds follow any orders from the High Lords. For governments and leaders both military and civilian, however, they have no regard other than perhaps mild suspicion. While their responses to local requests for aid are justifiably frowned upon, they would never cruelly abandon a world in need, and have sometimes appeared without request to aid a planet in danger. They always, however, demand payment. The payment is always proportional to the planets resources, and is sometimes no more than commissioning a team of locals to collect the bolt casings from a battlefield, just so that they can appreciate the Space Marines' efforts. In truth, the Hounds have a grain of pity for the rest of humanity, even more lost than they without the Emperor. Great respect and reverence is also afforded to the Chapter’s dead. Simple tombs are maintained on several of the Night Worlds where the remains of the fallen are interred. The adamantine bone removed in the induction ritual ensures that something of each brother can endure even the most extreme destruction, and every chain is paired with a plaque displaying the date of the marine’s death. The Alpha Hounds have developed a strong relationship with, and faith in, the families of the Navis Nobilite, and greatly respect the Navigators in service to the Chapter, and these connections have contributed to nuances in the Chapter's beliefs. Some of the principles used by the Navigators are magnified in Alpha Hound beliefs and doctrines. They study the terrain more often than they study the enemy, knowing that while the enemy may change on the eve of battle, the battlefield itself is likely to remain the same. There are scouts in the Hounds who are rumored to know entire planetscapes from memory. As the Navigators say, the better one knows the territory, the more rapidly to traverse it. This study usually takes the place of prayers in the daily routine of other Adeptus Astartes, as well as a major part of the Chapter's tactical indoctrination. The Blind Lead Better So this was war by the light of day. It was truly hellish. Doing all he could not to squint at the filtered light that passed his optics, Brother-Sergeant Miantono fired a burst at the distant Tau squad, barely noting in time the battlesuits moving towards the right flank. Squad Uncas had fallen, then. Miantono rallied his marines, "Incoming on the right flank! Sergeant Requias, prepare your squad to spring a Crush on inbound battlesuits! Let us not leave Captain Longrun to clean up after us!" Cursed be this world and its xenos defenders, he thought as he caught himself squinting. With another five hours til nightfall, their position could not be lost. Records and tithes show that the Alpha Hounds were formed using the gene-seed stock of the Shadow Wolves, who also provided the cadre of warriors that trained the Chapter, making the Alpha Hounds marines of Dorn's lineage. Near the beginning of the Chapter's history, failed attempts by the Apothecarion to restore the flawed organs of Dorn's sons led, as it so often does, to further issues with the Chapter's gene-seed. Already lacking the Betcher's gland and Sus-an Membrane, the Hounds now suffer other defects as well. Most grievous was the mutation of the Occulobe, which has become the blessing and the curse of the Alpha Hounds. The organ has now become dramatically more sensitive, with the naked eye of a Hound able to see the landscape of a moonless night as if it were clear daylight, but barely able to stand the true light of day. Without the modifications made to the optics of their helmets, the Alpha Hounds would be useless on a sunlit battlefield. They can only adapt by seeking to strike first, at night, and inflict as much damage as possible before dawn. Very few individuals outside the Chapter can claim to have seen the face of a Hound. Another mutation has also been introduced through the Chapter's initiation rituals. After the discovery of the Tau, the tradition of hunting the deadly game of one of the Night Worlds was replaced with the more challenging task of hunting the Tau's tribal allies, the Kroot. Successful marines are required to consume the Kroot's flesh, but whether due to the tampering of the Apothercaries or the Kroots' own malleable DNA combining with the workings of the Omophagea, the Alpha Hounds now have something of an addiction to Kroot. Battlecry: Chaplain/Sergeant:"Rend the heel!" Battle-Brother:"Tear the throat !" Notes -Minor changes
  18. http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b257/alienbastard89/Warhammer/PAeECover.png At the same time the lighting systems failed, the firefight escalated, illuminating the corridors with the flashes of autogun and lasgun fire. The dim, stuttering light was punctuated by the brighter flash of plasma blasts and bolt explosions; whoever was returning fire was doing so with superior arms. Electrical fires gave flickering life to the corridors where the fighting had ended, or moved on, illuminating the upturned and grimacing faces of the fallen. The barge shuddered under another exterior barrage, its plates and its men groaning beneath the punishment. The ship was lost. From the black recesses of a ceiling vent a quartet of glowing red optics kindled to life, looking into the corridor below. A lithe form, feminine but otherwise indiscernible in the dark, dropped with trained silence onto the floor. The sounds of the battle were not far off, and as the figure edged cautiously to a corridor crossing, it cocked its head to listen. "Arrrgh!" "Cover fire, someone pick that shield up before we're broken completely," A defender, then, rallying the ship's crew, "If we don't give them enough time, it's all for noth---" Another voice, volume enhanced by a vox amp, cut through the rallying call, "It's over, heretics! Surrender and you may yet be redeemed!" At that, the volume of fire from the defenders appeared to redouble. There were no doubts as to what 'redemption' meant. Still the voice demanded acknowledgment, "Then die as the Emperor's enemies, and we will take them anyway!" Like a shadow, the red eyed figure flitted across the opening, pausing only a moment more to listen, but the two forces had resigned themselves to the fury of combat, and the only thing to hear were incoherent shouts and the grunt of life being extinguished by each true shot. A plasma bolt cleared the melee, traveling the length of the hall and flashing before the figure's face, leaving a scorch mark on the bulkhead as it struck. The flash revealed a full body suit of mostly white, with a few black panels, and the four glowing optics organized one each above and below where the eyes ought to be. The illumination was only momentary, as the plasma flash prompted the figure to turn and sprint into the darkness of the hall. The sounds of weapon fire faded as she ran, making one turn, then another, the sounds of battle replaced by the rasp of air recycling through her breathing unit, perfectly regular, timed with her every move. The barge shuddered again, more violently, and the ship listed slightly. Already at a turn, she compensated, footfalls finding purchase on the wall instead of the floor. She righted herself with the ship and went on without breaking pace. The floor panels shuddered again, but not from an external blow, and she stopped, straining to hear any sign of an approach. A security bulkhead somewhere between her and the fighting had been breached. After a moment, two rasped breaths, she took off again. Turning one more corner, a dim flashing red light ahead told her she had reached her destination. Too late, though. She could hear shouting now, on the otherwise of the wall beside her, and ran faster. "You'll never find her! They're gone, both of them!" And then that same vox-cast voice that made her blood boil, "You reveal too much. I'm close, aren't I?" She heard the thud, a body striking a wall, between her and the room, and then the wall set aglow for a second before exploding into the corridor in her path. She knew it was coming, and training cut off any instinct to scream or gasp. Instead she flung herself through the smoke and fire like a bolt. As if time had slowed, she saw a light blossom in the heart of the smokey opening, and could only hope to be through before the plasma found her in its path. She felt the heat, but no pain came, and she landed safely only meters from the room she'd come all this way to get to. The cruel voice echoed through the smoke, accompanied by hastening, but heavy footsteps, "Ah, and there you are. Almost too easy!" Optics flaring as she glanced over her shoulder, she saw first the boots, then the broad brim of the hat, the seal of the Inquisition breaking the smoke. There was the glow of a plasma pistol from one side, and at the sight of the flickering muzzle of an inferno pistol, she turned her attention back to the escape. In two bounds she passed below the flashing red glow and into the embrace of the shadows within. The Inquisitor pounded after, diving without hesitation into the darkness, only to be greeted by a metallic roar and the terrifyingly close whirring of a massive mechanical limb. A fraction of a second slower and the Inquisitor would have lost his head. As it was his hat disappeared beneath the giant’s swipe and the powered fist punched through the wall as the Inquisitor ducked beneath it and made to level the inferno pistol. Finally this elicited a response from his prey, as with a snarl the female dropped from the shadows above, slashing at his midriff with a glowing orange blade. The Inquisitor was forced to roll back towards the doorway. With speed belying its size, the owner of the powered fist wrenched it from the wall, circling with thunderous footsteps deeper into the room and leaving an electrical fire to spring to light behind it. The Inquisitor slowly rose, staring down the two forms before him in the new, flickering glow. Towering above him was a Dreadnought, one of its arms missing- not damaged, but removed. The ancient shell was white, while the sarcophagus in its center was yellow, along with a single stripe that rose from its center up over the hull, with identifying markings in black, most of which differed from standard Astartes patterns. Silently, the female dropped again from her vantage point above, landing astride the dreadnought, and staring unyieldingly back at the Inquisitor. His pale face was given stark contrasts by the fire light, and his crooked, self-satisfied smile was broken by a neat scar beginning below his chin and crossing the bridge of his nose, over his left brow and into dark hair, currently matted with sweat. At last he spoke, this time foregoing the vox amp. "Both together, eh? The Emperor has truly smiled upon me. Look," he leveled both his weapons at the pair, then slowly lowered them to the deck, "we can help each other. No need for you both to perish here. If you aren't heretics, turn yourselves in, and I can protect you from the repercussions. You must know there is no way to escape, but I can spare you! The secrets that must lie in your minds," his eyes flashed hungrily as he looked at each of them, "I have laid down my weapons. As a token of good faith...why not tell me who sent you?" The female raised her hand towards the Hereticus operative, as though about to strike, but a voice rumbled from the dreadnought, not loud, but firm,"No, Jacqueline." Slowly, her hand lowered. The Inquisitor took this as license to continue, "Yes, very good, just come quietly. We want you ali--" She brandished a spherical object, no doubt explosive, and the Inquisitor's eyes widened. If it were possible, a smile could be heard in the dreadnought's voice. "Now. Do it." ~~~[/intro] So I've decided to try and piece this idea together, detailing the Cerberus Chapter's Operation Shingle . I enjoyed how this first bit came out, for being typed on the phone during the 20 hour drive to Utah. I'd love to get C&C, both on the story and the 'cover' I'm working up, if the artist permits me to use the subject piece I have in mind. Anyway, more to come before too long, I hope. Edit: original cover art image by .
  19. 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 .
  20. Index Astartes http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b257/alienbastard89/sonspious.png The Sons Pious of Fe Calada Space Marines Chapter Origins Established during the 7th founding, the Sons Pious were formed to crusade through the galactic south central region of the Ultima Segmentum in a broad arc below their home system, and were raised during some of the darkest hours of the early Black Crusades. According to Imperial record, the founding hadn't been underway long when an Ultramarine strike force came upon the Bol system. There were flames across the sector, and none were higher than at Fe Calada, the hive Capital of the subsector. Daemons and Chaos legionairres were rapant over half the planet, and only one of its hive cities still stood. The planetary defense forces had been barely holding for months. The arrival of the Ultramarines was seen as the answering of prayers to the Emperor, and it saved what was left of a planet otherwise condemned to exterminatus; despite the noble efforts of the Space Marines, they were spread thin, and while conventional victory was possible, the cost promised to be high. Here the record mists and embelishments take hold. It is said that as the presiding Master of the Fleet looked down on the last burning hive, hand hovering over the command rune that would seal the planet's fate something appeared on his monitor. At the height of tallest spire a daemon writhed, hurling oily blue flames into the swirling melee below. There was a fluttering movement in the darkness of the arch behind it, and in the next moment a crackling blade erupted from its chest and it was shorn in half. Casting aside the ruined form, a PDF corpsman stepped into the light, planting the banner of Calada for all its defenders to see. The sight stayed the Fleet Master's hand, and despite the staggering losses, the defenders prevailed. When finally the threat was ended, and only the loyal remained, the Caladans and the Ultramarines looked out on bittersweet victory. The Space Marines were needed elsewhere to end the Crusade, but they would not forget the blood spilled for Fe Calada, neither would the Caladans forget the blasphemy of Chaos on their world or the noble sacrifices made there. The reports of the battles were prominent during the founding that followed, and with a recommendation from the Ultramarines a commission went through for a Chapter assigned to Fe Calada. When the Ultramarines returned to the planet, it was as both creditors and benefactors. They came to collect the blood owed the Astartes and the Emperor, but also to gift the Caladans with the power to pursue justice for their crippled world. To the great disappointment of the Astartes at large, the new Chapter retained the Caladans' faith in the God-Emperor, calling themselves the Sons Pious, and were reported as exclaiming, "If we are become the Angels of Death, we can only serve a God!" Home World Fe Calada was once a a brilliant example of Imperial might, a veritable jewel in the crown of the Imperium. Though it endured harrowing trials during the Heresy and the age that followed, it survived, along with many of its sister systems in neihboring sub-sectors. Emerging from the Heresy, the bright and glorious halls of the Emperor's time were dimmed, but by no means lost. The Caladans rebuilt their world, sure that the God-Emperor would protect them such heresy in the future. The faith they'd had for centuries kept them, strengthend them...until they were undone from within. It's unclear when or how, and the Caladans claim it came from offworld, but at some point a cult appeared in the dark, and not of the Emperor. Over the course of many years it festered and grew, but was careful never to pierce the light. It's a mystery how it was coordinated, but in a single day ten thousand Caladans were massacred, sacrificed to create a warp rift that rendered a fifth of the planet uninhabitable for more than seven thousand years down to the present. The warp disgorged a host of Tallomin's demons, and traitor Astartes with them. The bloodshed that followed led to the creation of the Sons Pious, but Fe Calada was left an irrevocable husk of its former glory. Its hives crumbled, and desolate, many of its inhabitants mutated beyond humanity. Most of these disappeared into hiding during the war, but have since emerged into the urban wasteland that remains as a plague on the human Caladans. With only their faith to cling to, they continue to fight for their world and the God-Emperor. The Sons Pious have never intervened, nor do the Caladans want them to. They few their fight for survival as penance, and the Pious view it as a forge for worthy recruits. In the rubble of the once great hive Paolus Santium lies the Morumbi, the only thing unbroken on the planet, and the Fortress Monastry of the Sons Pious. The great wall surrounding it was built only to ward off the mutants, as the natives maintain a respectful distance from their guardians at all times. The Morumbi is a huge ellipse, and fortified to withstand the most intense of seiges, whether groundside or orbital. In its center is great arena where the Chapter conducts its live fire exercises. Beneath that is the Librarium, from which the Chapter's scribes and Librarian's rarely leave and where the Chapter's records are meticulously maintained and religiously guarded. Another level down are the Tombs of the Angels, where the ashes of the fallen are kept under cerimonial guard. The Chapter armory isn't large, but it is well maintained and serves its purpose. The force that maintains the Morumbi is small, largely Chapter serfs, the vast majority of both Battle and Reserve companies deployed at any given time. Combat Doctrine The Pious are generally adherents to the Codex where tactica are concerned, with a preference for ranged combat. Favoring the tradional patterns of weapons, war machines and tactics, they also make extensive use of their reserve companies, continuously maintaining fresh troops on the front lines. The Chapter fleet is relatively small, maintaining just enough ships to deploy however necessary, but the Sons Pious prefer ground combat and rely on the fleet only to deliver them as swiftly as possible to the enemy. Uncommonly for a Chapter of Astartes, the Sons Pious exel at pitched warfare rather than the rapid strike ops Space Marine forces usually deploy for. They will frequently entrench alongside local PDF forces and fight for extended periods to accomplish not only their own mission, but to see to the success of the local forces as well. Organization Every tactical squad is a close group that is rarely separated. As a result, even more than in other Astartes formations, a Pious tactical squad is only as strong as its weakest link, making purity of body and mind of the utmost importance. Squads are thus carefully organized so that the strengths of its members compliment the inevitable flaws that still tie them to humanity. A unique feature of the Sons Pious organization is the fluidity of its command structure. No position of leadership within the Chapter is considered permanent, regardless of how long the marine in question may live. Even the Chapter Master has been absorbed back into the ranks on three occasions, another chosen to carry the mantle after, and Captains change with even greater frequency. Because so many marines, even the youngest among them, have leadership experience the Chapter frequently contributes members to the Deathwatch. The current Chapter Master, Tele Santana has led the Chapter for four centuries. Due to its fighting style the Sons Pious haven't been able to grow past eight full companies since their first campaign as a full Chapter. Beliefs The Caladans were and are strict adherents to the Imperial Creed, even despite the horror inflicted on their world, and despite the young age of Space Marine recruits, they are already thoroughly indoctrinated when chosen. The belief in the God-Emperor has made the concept of Space Marines as Angels of Death more than idea to the Sons Pious. They recognize the Saints of the Imperium, and consider them as the epitome of humankind, but to be elevated to a Space Marine is to surpass humanity. The Pious only recognize their own remaining flaws as post-humans as inevitable. Only the God-Emperor could be perfect. After the progenoids are extrated from a fallen marine, he is cremated inside his armor, the ashes entombed in the depths of the fortress monastry, the Angel believed to have returned to his God. On rotations back to Calada marines frequently spend time meditating in the tombs, believing that their brothers and ancestors can guide them and prepare them for the wars still to come. Gene-seed Thus far the only genetic anomaly among the Sons Pious is the failure of the Neuroglittis. This lost tracking capability has fortified the Chapter's preference for open, pitched war. Battle-cry With the fury of Saints and Angels! Salve Imperio! Raised as Counter (Chaos Corinthans) 1st Chapter Master Squad Sergeant of parent Chapter Imperial Glory deed of legend (excommunication of Corinthians) Feral Homeworld; Urban (Ruined) Distant Rulers Navigator associations/hate CSM
  21. 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!"
  22. Indicies Partialus This a collection of semi-formalized concepts for Chapters that haven't yet evolved into full IA's, but for whom I would still like to paint a model or two, and so I felt worth sharing. Even though they won't immediately be developed, feedback is still quite welcome. Contents: Emerald Crests Baal Pythons Children of the Skull Chapter Datafile: Emerald Crests (aka the Hikiri) Primary Data Founding 4th Progenitor Legion Dark Angels Known Descendants Emerald Scions [Lost] Homeworld Delta-Nu Farore Allegiance Loyalist Notable History A highly secretive Chapter, even for the Unforgiventhe Emerald Crests now keep to themselves because they have no other choice. Once a ceaselessly crusading Chapter, the system they call home in the Kiri subsector has become pockmarked by warp storms that make navigating in or out of the sub-sector nigh impossible, rendering the Chapter almost immobile, and largely forgotten. They maintain deep ties to their homeworld, where they are known by the natives as the Hikiri, or Men of the Star Forest. What Imperial contact has been made with them in recent years tells that they spend most of their efforts fortifying and defending the homeworld from the constant chaotic incursions caused by the seething warp in the region, and go to great lengths to keep the knowledge of this evil from the natives. Any admonishment or request to aid other sectors is denied with the repeated claims of the desperate need to protect an artifact on the homeworld. What this artifact might be is unknown. For millennia they have trusted only one marine at a time, always a Captain, with their hunt for the Fallen. Becoming mere legend on the Homeworld and in the Chapter, his name is ritually removed from Chapter records. The mandate of this lone warrior includes aiding any fellow Astartes in need throughout his quest, and the only other law by which he lives is that he never use his name again, and it is common for these chosen marines to refer to themselves as Links to the Kiri. Each piece of gear and armor, as well as his weapons are heirlooms of the Chapter, of origins unknown. Perhaps most important among these is the Servo-skull that records the deeds of every Link for the Librarium of the Crests. Known as Navigator, and suspected indeed to be housed in the skull of a great navigator, the Servo-skull is something of a guide and familiar to the lone avatar. Icon and Colors ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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