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  1. HALLS OF THE BLIND: The Bronze Prophets They can see what you see not...vision milky then eyes rot...when you turn, they will be gone...whispering their hidden song... - Excerpt from the heretical ramblings of the 'prophet' Melchior Keb Long and strange is the saga of the Bronze Prophets of the Adeptus Astartes. Though once among the finest of marines, the calamities which afflict them have caused many to question their purity. There can be little doubt that their origins lie in that most benighted of times - the Cursed Founding. Origins Our wars are fought on the edge of Limbo, as its winds roar around us. The scars of our battles lie on the inside, not on our skin. The destruction those wounds wreak may leave nothing. We are the veterans of the wars of the mind, and we know no fear, for the Emperor is with us. - Inscription above the entrance to the Bronze Prophets' Fortress Monastery Bronze Prophet Like many Cursed Founding chapters, little or nothing is confirmed about the creation of the Bronze Prophets. Despite this, many horrific legends surround them, whispered in darkness by the fearful.. Whether these tales are created by the Prophets themselves or are whispers of truth that have slowly spread across the Imperium is impossible to say. These legends say that the Bronze Prophets, in the early years of their founding, were a mighty force. They were keen of eye, strong of limb, and sharp of intellect, even by the standards of Space Marines. The enemies of mankind fell before them, and each victory was cause for great rejoicing in the Auguria, their monastery on their home world of Pawrath. Many are the stories of their victories
  2. FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN: THE STONE HEARTS "Throughout humanity's history, stone has served. Stone has been a weapon. Stone has been a fortress. Mankind has built with stone, and stone has built mankind. Let us remember this, and take it to our hearts. Let our hearts be like stone - ready to serve humanity, and the Imperium of Man. For when all else has failed, stone will still serve." - Chapter Master Cambrius Vulk, The Book of the First" Origins ”Men of Cathe, oh stand ye steady It cannot be ever said ye For the battle were not ready Stand and never yield.” -Cathian hymn The Stone Hearts are products of the Sixth Founding. Upon their formal activation as a Chapter they journeyed to the home world which had been assigned to them, the tiny planet of Cathe in the galactic north-west, on the border between Segmentum Obscurus and Segmentum Pacificus. Cathe was a grey, rocky world, whose hereditary Duke had recently died, leaving no legitimate heir. The planet was relatively underdeveloped, and it's only city of any size was the capital, which housed the planet's only space port (which consisted only of a well-packed dirt field and a Naval fuel depot). The Chapter took the ducal castle as their fortress monastery, expanding and refitting until it (and the dungeons beneath it) were a fortress worthy of the Space Marines. Most of Cathe's population were hardy clansmen, accustomed to fighting for goods, honor, and land, and these doughty warriors made excellent recruits for the Chapter. There was one small problem with Cathe. Much of Cathe's populace resented the transition to Space Marine rule, and a number of the local nobles had nursed this resentment in hopes of somehow rebelling and taking control of the planet for themselves. This resistance had coalesced behind the person of young Tyrion Cathek, the Duke's bastard son, despite his personal apathy toward the rebellion. His support among the population was significant enough to make planet-wide revolt a distinct possibility, and rebellion would mean that the Stone Hearts must either leave or suppress this challenge to their authority, greatly damaging the planet's capacity as a base. Neither option was acceptable to Chapter Master Cambrius Vulk, who chose a third course of action. Stone Hearts Marine in Standard Heraldry Vulk offered to use his influence within the Imperium to help Tyrion obtain a Rogue Trader license. The brash and foppish young Tyrion was more than willing to trade his claims at ducal office for the chance to explore new worlds and stars - especially when Vulk offered to provide a company of troops as a perpetual escort for Cathek and his heirs. Tyrion left Cathe for the stars, and the Third Company went with him as his bodyguards – and to watch him closely. Ever since, one of the Stone Heart Battle Companies has escorted whichever scion of the Cathek family currently holds the commission to trade in the region, each mustering out upon the death of their charge. The Catheks have only rarely returned to Cathe, though the population still holds the memory of the Dukes closely in their hearts. With Cathek gone and the Stone Hearts demonstrating their martial prowess through combat exercises across the planet, the murmurs of rebellion faded away. The Stone Hearts and the people of Cathe each settled into the routines of their lives, slowly becoming accustomed to the new order. Precious Stones ”Vulk, I think this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” – Tyrion Cathek Of course, a new order only ever lasts long enough for its collapse to be surprising. A few brief decades later, the Chapter was on the brink of disintegration. Relations with the Adeptus Mechanicus had become strained when an irate Vulk explained to a senior Magos that the Techmarines of the Stone Hearts would be Stone Hearts first, and Adepts of Mars second. While most members of the Chapter Armoury personally agreed, the Tech-Priests took the alarming step of refusing to train further Techmarines. In itself, this was only a minor problem as the Chapter’s own Techmarines were willing and able to train others in the technical arts. However, at the same time, shipments of supplies to the Chapter dwindled to nearly nothing, with bureaucratic entanglements, piratical activity and production defects being only a few of the myriad excuses provided by the Adeptus Mechanicus. The Stone Hearts were being slowly starved of needed materials, their limited manufactory facilities simply unable to keep up with the demands of a full chapter. Vulk concluded that the Stone Hearts would have to turn outside the traditional methods of the Adeptus Astartes in order to survive. He consulted with Tyrion Cathek, whose foppishness and brash nature had grown into an appreciation for the arts of trading and commerce and an equal willingness to enforce the dictates of the Emperor. Vulk had expected that Tyrion would recommend some alternate sources for materiel and equipment which would sustain the Chapter until Vulk could determine some method of restoring the Mechanicus' favor. What Vulk got was a prolonged dissertation on the commercial possibilities of the surrounding sectors, and an equally long list of potential sources for starship parts, weapons, munitions, cogitators, and the sort of goods that would be wanted in trade. The stunned Chapter Master could only watch as Cathek sketched out a comprehensive plan by which the existing resources and assets of the Stone Hearts could be parlayed into formidable wealth – wealth sufficient to ensure that the Stone Hearts could be ever-ready to enforce the Emperor's will. Cathek's advice well-reflected the character of a Rogue Trader, but Vulk felt that whatever it might lack in orthodoxy, it compensated for with sheer practicality. It also allowed him a chance to keep the Chapter free from the influence of Mars, which appealed both to Vulk's pride and to his sense of caution – any pretense of reconciliation the Tech-Priests might concede in the future could hardly be trusted when it came. Better for the Stone Hearts to seek their own way, even if it might be an unfamiliar one. With Tyrion by his side, Vulk set out to seize the Chapter's future. Reiving Master Vulk was not the only one to find methods of dealing with the Chapter's logistical difficulties. Fiach Welf, then Captain of the Third Company, found himself far from Cathe, low on supplies, and equally low on prospects. He settled these difficulties by finding the nearest Space Marine Chapter and asking politely for aid. When his request was declined, Welf challenged his opposite number to a duel for the equipment he had requested. He triumphed, and the Company finished their patrol and returned to Cathe. Though the practice was not institutionalized (both Vulk and Welf agreeing that adopting such practices on a large scale seemed a good way to bring down the ire of other Chapters upon the Stone Hearts), various other Captains through the Chapter's history have indulged in the practice when necessary (or when so inclined), though modern duels rely less on insulting the opponent until they consent to fight and more on the wagering of trade concessions, resources, or debts of honor. Few are the Space Marine Captains who would decline such a challenge, and even some Imperial Guard commanders have been more than willing to test a dozen of their finest Guardsmen against a Space Marine. Most duels are non-lethal, and even when the Chapter loses they gain in knowledge. Though only a few duels are fought every decade, each one is seen as a mark of the warrior spirit of the Stone Hearts. Over the next few months, Vulk and Cathek moved from system to system in the region – and on each world, Cathek whispered golden promises to all who would hear. On Drak-Dum, they made contact with a Brotherhood of the Demiurg – and in exchange for cleansing several nests of Orks as well as the concession of mineral rights on Cathe's barren antarctic continent, they secured a steady stream of processed ores, munitions, and technical advice from the Brotherhood's wisest craftsmen. Through the gilded, pirate-wracked worlds of the Faroe Nebula they spread word of the safety of the vaults of a Space Marine Chapter, and the reasonable price of that safety. At Este, they offered the Grand Duke shares in future properties seized from heretics and traitors in exchange for favorable trade status and export rights for the famous Estian smokewood. The High Archon of Blackmere gave a half-share of the stellar mines around the dying red dwarf Micturic in exchange for the promise of Space Marine protection for the delicate mining platforms. The wealth of dozens of worlds twisted around the words of Cathek and the imposing presence of Vulk, and soon a web of contracts, trade routes and commercial interests stretched across several sectors – with the Stone Hearts at its center. Home World ”Call them to account, you say? The Stone Hearts own this sector. Their men guard half the palaces, their merchants buy the output of nearly all the worlds, and their fleets keep the pirates in check. Their failure is no longer an option.” – Inquisitor Tesseract D’Apothete The domain of the Stone Hearts stretches widely now. Commercial routes, trading enclaves, mining concerns, exotic manufactoria, and Chapter bases dot the systems and sectors surrounding Cathe. Nonetheless, the core of their realm remains Cathe and its people. Cathe is a rocky world, peopled mostly by hardy feudal tribespeople. The hereditary Duke and his attendant nobles each controlled vast tracts of the planet, and most of the population were members of various clans and tribes – with many nobles being clansmen and many tribesmen being nobility. Cathian society was usually embroiled in some form of low-intensity warfare, with clan obligations and feudal duties conflicting and interweaving in such ways that only the individual Cathian knew where his loyalties could truly be said to lie. Vicious skirmishes over land, cattle, honor, women, gold, and weapons were all common, and the allies of one battle were the enemies of the next. ”Tancred and Tyria” Though the bond between the Cathek family and the Stone Hearts remained strong for many millenia, the most recent scion of the family strained the relationship nearly to its breaking point. In his later years, Tyrel Cathek was best described as a madman, even by the standards of the Imperium. While the targets of his wrath had always suffered consequences disproportionate to offenses, his growing tendency to indiscriminately slaughter those who opposed him offended the Stone Hearts' sense of restraint, as did his lamentable personal habits and tendency to jump at shadows. The Fourth Company was his bodyguard, and sworn to his service, but even the relatively hot-blooded Captain Tancred Kintyre had often felt his hackles rise at the measures used by Cathek. But the Stone Hearts were nothing if not patient, and were content to bide their time until Cathek died and was replaced by his far more reasonable daughter. Tyria had obviously been unaffected by her father's insanity, and was a shrewd and dangerous young woman, dedicated to the Imperium. Tancred, one of her childhoold friends, had discussed her father's obvious flaws with her, and they had both agreed that waiting was the only prudent thing to do – if only to avoid explaining what had happened to Tyrel to the Inquisition. Tyria, as her father's favorite retainer, would handle much of her father's business, so that his madness might affect the Imperium as little as possible, and Tancred would do his best to ensure that when Cathek did force his soldiers into action, their targets would be deserving. However, Tyrel's twisted mind had other ideas. In 993.M41 the world of Tyrhennius failed to provide an agreed upon cargo of Mandrovian dates. Tyrel declared this to be a sign of heresy and rebellion against the Imperium, and ordered the Stone Hearts to destroy planet. Tancred stepped forward, and declared in ringing tones that "The Emperor's subjects are the charges of the Adeptus Astartes and the High Lords of Terra. To strike them undeserving is to strike at the heart of the Imperium itself." Tyrel was even more surprised when Tyria announced her agreement with the Captain, and invoked her authority as commander of her father's ship to have him confined to his quarters, "for his own protection". It was seen as a great tragedy when Tyrel hung himself later that day (or so said the notification to the High Lords). Tyria Cathek contacted the recalcitrant world and explained the tragedy, and the catastrophe which had narrowly been averted. The shipment was delivered on time. It was an unusual break with tradition when Tyria requested the continued services of the Fourth Company, but Chapter Master Adhemar was happy to acquiesce. Ever since, relations between the Catheks and the Stone Hearts have continued in their old vein of friendship and respect. The Duke and his capital at Longford were the only truly civilized parts of the world, and even there Imperial influence was relatively weak. The arrival of the Stone Hearts did little to change that initially, but with the Chapter's ventures into commerce Cathe has been transformed. The spaceport now hums with activity, the goods of dozens of worlds flowing in and out in the holds of ships from any number of ports. To facilitate mining and other undertakings in more remote regions of the planet, a system of roads now stretches across the glens and mountains, bringing all of Cathe into reach of the capital. Most clans, instead of spending their energies fighting each other, hire their men out as mercenaries offplanet, preferring a steady income and less risk to the cut and thrust of Cathian politics. Close to the capital clans have fallen away altogether, replaced by the far more important considerations of wealth and debt. Where once Cathe was barren, harsh and quiet, now it rumbles with the noise of commerce and trade. The Fortress-Monastery of the Stone Hearts, now known as the Golden Hall, serves as the center of the Chapter's extensive commercial empire in addition to its military duties. The original ducal castle has been much expanded to accommodate this, both above and below ground, and its counting houses, vaults, warehouses and offices now rival the fortress proper in size and scope. At any hour of the day or night, the clink of coins and the murmur of negotiations echo through the Chapter's halls. The people of Cathe, even as they revel in their new prosperity, long for the old ways. The loss of opportunity for raiding and skirmishing has been something of a disappointment to many, and it is common for young bravos to exhort each other with tales of the glorious golden age of warfare and honor which the crudities of trade and money have taken from the people. Though many on Cathe have come to rely more than they know on the peace and prosperity brought by the Stone Heart's commercial interests, this longing for conflict and honor still drives many Cathians to seek their fortunes off-planet as mercenaries, or even as pirates. The Stone Hearts view these tendencies as necessary to maintaining the population's viability as recruits, and so allow such excursions – though those foolish enough to turn to piracy are dealt with appropriately when they are encountered. The population’s military tendencies are also maintained by the various Chapter Keeps which dot the highlands of Cathe. There, grizzled veteran mercenaries and Battle-Brothers long past their prime teach those youths of Cathe who wish to learn skills at arms and the discipline needed to turn a warrior into a soldier. The cities of Cathe may smelt, mine and sell, but the people of Cathe’s uplands still know the ways of sword and axe. The fire of the Cathians may be less bright now, but it has not gone out, and it burns within the Stone Hearts as it always has. Beliefs "Cowardice is holding back when you could win. Practicality is holding back so they will lose." - Chaplain Duriel Hawker Above all, the Stone Hearts are practical. Their brush with starvation and dissolution early in their history has made them cautious in ways that most Space Marines are not – they are keenly aware that even Space Marines can be defeated, albeit not necessarily on the battlefield. They seldom take rash courses of action, and adopt well-balanced strategies which use the minimum force and equipment necessary to accomplish their objectives. This has on occasion resulted in disaster when an enemy or situation was underestimated, but it has generally served the Chapter well. Even the Chaplains of the Stone Hearts are relatively sedate compared to those of other chapters, and have somehow contrived to preach a more temperate zealotry. Of course, the headstrong character of the Cathian population still rears its head in the Chapter. Every Stone Heart, despite his practicality, dreams of glory and ferocious hand-to-hand battles like those of old. Every so often the Stone Hearts will give in to their natural ferocity and charge headlong into a frontal engagement with the foe. It is a testament to the abilities of Space Marines how rarely this results in disaster. ”We get up in the black, down the warrior's road And we hike along the track, as the dropships load And we'll kiss our wives and sons, though we never will look back For we'll not see them again, down the warrior's road We hear the Chapter call, down the warrior's road And we take our swords and all, as the dropships load In the pods we then will drop, 'til there's nowhere else to fall And we'll leave the stars behind us, down the warrior's road Around another sun, down the warrior's road We'll fight with sword and gun, as the dropships load When extraction finally comes, we're so thankful to be gone That we'll fight again tomorrow, down the warrior's road.” Cathian Ballad The Stone Hearts recognize that their embracement of trade and their dealings with the Demiurg might bring scrutiny upon them from some other, more orthodox, Imperial organizations. They are sure that any doubt that might be raised will be easily quashed by their record of service, and failing that, by pointed words and equally pointed blades. Combat Doctrine ”Conserve your resources. Hold back your forces. No one has ever won a war by spending his strength in the first battle.” – Captain Archimedes Frasier of the Third Company In the millennia since their arrival on Cathe, the Stone Hearts have continued to battle against the enemies of Mankind. On worlds across the Imperium they have faced down the ever-present threats of Orks, Eldar raiders, and heretical uprisings. The Chapter has also on occasion sent Battle Companies south to fight alongside their brother Astartes in the Chaos-wracked sectors around the Eye of Terror, and dispatched expeditions to the galactic north, along the rim of Imperial territory, where the light of the Astronomican can barely be felt. The Stone Hearts favor using the minimum force required in a situation – a legacy both of their lean early years and of their increasingly mercantile nature. They have even been known to attempt to find diplomatic solutions (though often only as a cover for military preparations), or to buy off enemy armies and turn them to the service of the Imperium. Often the Chapter will settle for a somewhat prolonged engagement which takes less casualties, using fortifications and terrain to limit their casualties and ensure the destruction of the enemy. This minimal approach has sometimes resulted in temporary defeat, but the Stone Hearts always simply reevaluate the situation and react accordingly. Like many Chapters, the Stone Hearts use equipment suited to the conditions on their home world – they favor rugged vehicles which can deal with a variety of terrain and the use of heavy firepower. They shy away from aerospace assets – in the mountains of Cathe, the only support you can trust is that on the ground with you. The Chapter's co-operation with the Drak-Dum Brotherhood has also brought them expertise in tunnel fighting and a penchant for some of the obscure artillery pieces often deployed by these aliens. This firepower is often emplaced in a strongpoint close to enemy positions, from which it rains down death until the enemy is either destroyed or moves to react – at which point more mobile Chapter forces move in. While the Chapter's commercial network has brought them impressive wealth, many of their purchased armaments are simply not equal in quality to those of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and their domestically produced weapons are generally simpler in nature – the Chapter Techmarines did not possess the skills to allow reverse-engineering and production of items such as plasma weaponry or assault cannons. The Stone Hearts thus favor easy-to-procure and easy-to-repair weaponry, and their stores of arcane items like plasma weapons and Terminator armor are quite limited compared to other Chapters of similar age and experience. Rogue Trader Tyria Cathek and Captain Tancred Kintyre of the Fourth Company Organisation "They made one mistake. They put their fortress where we could reach it." – Captain Tancred Kintyre The Stone Hearts adhere to the Codex Astartes, though each company is permitted to retain any unusual equipment they come across in their travels (after any necessary purification rituals have been undertaken). When combined with the Chapter's occasional practice of duelling for equipment with other forces, this has lead to some companies being rather eclectic in their armaments. However, the Chapter's formations remain entirely Codex, if only because (in keeping with their practical nature), there has not yet been any need to do otherwise. While the Chapter remains able to produce many minor items, and supplement their production with a variety of other sources, many Astartes products are simply unavailable to them. While this has somewhat restricted their equipment, their difficulties do not seem as pronounced as one might initially expect. It is suspected by several Inquisitors that the Stone Hearts maintain surreptitious trade links with several other Chapters, which are kept concealed through layers of middlemen and staged accidents or honor duels. Many Inquisitors have speculated that the Chapter’s occasional reivings are really artfully staged trade deals, and several Chapters which have ‘suffered’ a loss to the Stone Hearts have been noted to have been more than recompensed through fortunate discoveries of ‘lost cargo’ or ‘forgotten land grants’. Gene-seed "Those who say we have lost our way and compromised our security by allowing merchants to roam our halls have evidently never tried to reach our gene-seed vault." - Apothecary Taran Koga The Stone Hearts are scions of Guilleman's genetic line. Their geneseed remains pure and undegraded. The Chapter's seed is stored beneath even the banking vaults in their monastery, behind triple-secured passages which no visitor ever sees. The Stone Hearts take great care to ensure the purity of their tithes to the Adeptus Mechanicus – they will offer the Priests of Mars no excuse to cause them trouble. The Priesthood of Mars, conversely, simply cannot be bothered to return the Chapter's enmity - though they remain obdurate on the subject of Techmarines, the Stone Hearts stopped remitting their supply requests millenia ago, and it is very possible that the incident has faded from the Mechanicus' collective memory. This apathy has resulted in the Stone Hearts' tithes being accepted without complaint on every occasion. Battlecry Melior quam media. - Chapter Motto "Stone in heart! Stone in will!" * * * Opinions and criticism welcome. I think I've been moderately successful in updating in response to the last round of thoughts, but I'm not sure. smile.png Suggestions for quote subjects would be very welcome. Updated again to include revisions prompted by Shinzaren, Hrvat, Lysimachus, Ecritter and Cambrius. Edited one more time to add in Greyall's beautiful illustrations.
  3. FIRE IN THE SNOW: The Ice Lords A Space Marine's duty is to defend the Imperium. Though we are no longer men as they are, the people of the Imperium are our sacred trust, the people of our home world especially so. To forsake them is to forsake our honor and our right to serve the Emperor. Never forget this, or you forget yourselves. - from Chapter Master Taramant's Ascension Day address on the third year following the Ice Lords' mobilization The Ice Lords, though an obscure chapter of recent founding, have a proud history of service to the Imperium. Their just governance of Franklin's World is widely admired, and their reputation in combat is sterling. Tenacious, honorable, and dangerous, the Ice Lords are a credit to the Adeptus Astartes and to mankind. An Ice Lords Tactical Marine, Red Squad Origins Black were the first days of our history. But so are all days, until mankind is triumphant. - The Chronicle of the Ice Lords, III Canticle Formed as part of the 26th Founding, the Ice Lords have had a history spotted with misfortune. The chapter suffered a blow early in its lifetime when their training cadre, forced out of warp due to a drive malfunction, was ambushed by iniquitous traitors even as the cadre traveled to join their new charges. Though the enemy marines were repelled, the ferocity of the battle meant only three marines of the Angels of Absolution training cadre survived - Taramant, the senior Sergeant, Belicarius, a junior Chaplain, and Lahdemor, a Codicier. Undaunted, they continued on to join the Ice Lords, and pledged to do everything possible to ensure that the Chapter would be worthy of service to the Emperor. Their vessel, the Heart of Caliban, was ceremonially rededicated to the service of the Ice Lords, and remains a proud part of the chapter fleet today. Despite the loss of so many of their mentors, the Ice Lords performed admirably. It was remarked by observers how the remaining cadre made new use of seemingly archaic tactics, and on how they seemed to possess experience and capability far beyond their junior ranks. Soon the battle-brothers of the chapter were ready for active duty, and they proudly marched aboard their ships for transfer to their new home world. Chapter Master Taramant remained secluded throughout the journey, in consultation with the Emperor's Tarot, finally emerging just as the flagship left warp space. While the Chapter's new home world loomed, cold and white, in the viewport, he declared that they would henceforth be known as the Ice Lords. "For duty and honor are cold as ice. And when all else is gone, duty and honor will remain." Franklin's World is a cold and desolate planet on the northernmost rim of the Segmentum Obscurus. The harsh conditions do not matter, for settlement of the planet is confined to the large cities which float high above the surface. Arcane technology keeps the cities aloft, technology which has resisted the Adeptus Mechanicus' attempts to decipher it. Closer and simpler mysteries now command their attention, though the occasional enterprising team still returns for an exercise in frustration and disappointment. Geographical surveys of the planet below had been frequently thwarted by the raging winds and snows of the surface, making the workings of the world below as much of a mystery as those above. 798.M41 - Aboard the Angels of Absolution Rapid Strike Vessel Heart of Caliban The twisting currents of the Empyrean were whirling around the Heart of Caliban. Taramant could not see them, but he could feel them nonetheless, as he had been able to ever since the moment on Caliban when the planet fell to pieces around him and he and his opponents were ripped through time and space with it. Belicarius and Lahdemor - the three of them had spat curses at each other as their feet slipped across the nearly-molten surface of Caliban, but when the twisting currents of the Warp released them all they could do was collapse, sobbing with horror and pain. He remembered that day. In front of Taramant, at the Navigator's podium, Lahdemor's brow was knit with the effort of a duty that a Librarian never expected to perform. Belicarius was watching Lahdemor, drumming fingers on the pauldron of armor freshly painted with the white of the 'Angels of Absolution'. It was difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the blessing the Emperor had bestowed on them in the form of Prilbu Gossk and his training cadre, who had thought capturing three 'Fallen' a good start to their time with a new chapter. Taramant had briefly considered salvaging the armor of the training cadre, but holes of that size required the attention of proper artificers, not mere Marines. So Prilbu Gossk and his marines were drifting ever-closer to some half-forgotten moon, some day to reassure the inhabitants of the Emperor's favor as bright streaks in the sky, and Taramant and two men damned by the Lion as traitors were taking their place. Not that Taramant would have escaped such damnation - as he had watched Caliban burn, he had quickly realized that to the Lion, there could only be one treachery - betraying the Lion, surpassing the Lion, doing anything other than the Lion's will. While for Taramant the flames were burning honor, duty and home, all they burned for the Lion were those so bold as to cross their lord. The oaths they all had sworn to protect Caliban were meaningless, sacrificed to the Lion's pride, just like the people below. The honor of the Dark Angels had died with the people of Caliban. Taramant, Belicarius and Lahdemor would restore it, or die in the attempt. Death, Taramant admitted, seemed more likely. Three loyal Dark Angels were mighty, but they were not mighty enough. But then, soon there would be more than just three. The Heart of Caliban shuddered as it slipped into reality. Lahdemor opened his eyes, leaning against the podium in exhaustion. Belicarius weighed his Crozius in his hand. And Taramant smiled, cold as ice. The Ice Lords took Falconscott (the smallest and least populated of the cities) for their own, fortifying it and adding weapons emplacements across its hull and spires. They began inducting recruits from the population, whose adventurous pilot-knights and vicious tunnel-gangers proved excellent Space Marines. After the celebrations surrounding the Chapter's arrival on the world, Taramant promoted close association with the populace, exhorting the Space Marines to remember that these were the people of the Imperium, and their duty incarnate. The young marines took these lessons to heart, and the bonds between the Marines and their people grew. Small chapterhouses were established in the other cities, both to aid in recruitment and to promote the marines' association with the populace. The Fall of the Fortress Although I am not certain as to the cause, Sergeant, I think what may be far more important are the effects. - Techmarine Janos The Ascendant Festival on Falconscott marks the longest day of the year. The ice which typically covers the tips of city spires melts, and the cities are suffused with warmth and laughter. All Space Marines present on the planet are dispatched throughout the cities, to mingle with the population and observe those who might make good candidates for the Chapter. Games of strength and skill are common, and bloodless aerial battles between young pilots an entertaining diversion for the crowds. Although ordinarily a happy time, the hundred-and-twenty-eighth Festival after the Chapter's arrival on their home world was marked by calamity. As the revelers celebrated across the planet, the streets of Falconscott began to shudder. The strength of the spasms threw grown men from their feet, and even the Space Marines were hard pressed to keep their balance. Clouds whisked by, and the wind grew to a howling shriek as the mighty city began to plunge toward the surface of the planet below. Techmarines and officers raced into the bowels of the city, while the other marines attempted to contain the panic among the citizens. However, the arcane machinery which had confounded the best Techno-Magi of the Imperium was still loathe to give up its secrets, and the Marines remained ignorant of what might have caused the precipitous descent. They could only do their best to ensure that the city was not destroyed upon impact. Fortunately for the Chapter, ancient backup systems were functional. As the city approached the surface, its rate of descent began to slow. But impact was inevitable, and the population was thrown into confusion and panic as millions of tons of metal struck the ancient ice of the planetary surface. The buildings and lower tunnels of Falconscott were breached in dozens of locations, driven deep into the ice. Some were crushed, along with their inhabitants. Some were cut off from the rest of the city, the people within left to slowly starve with no chance of rescue. The regular, coherent levels of the lower city were gone, replaced with a crazed metal-and-ice warren of tunnels, chasms and precipices, while the upper city was a twisted wreck, shattered ice and building intermingled to form a strange and confusing new world. Master Taramant and many other marines were gone from Franklin's World, fighting the last of the Genestealers from the hulk Vociferous Abomination. The young Captain Telemachus of the Sixth was the senior officer in the city. He notified Taramant of what had happened and began to search for survivors in the undercity, leaving a few of his sergeants to organize the citizens above. Despite the many lives Telemachus saved, the Marines and their people were trapped, out of reach of the other garrisons on-planet, who possessed no ships capable of penetrating the howling winds on the surface. The Knights and the Wolves Your thoughts do not show us a new way, Telemachus. All they show are my failings as a teacher. - Taramant of the Ice Lords By the time Master Taramant returned, with powerful landers that could penetrate the winds below, conflict had arisen. In the months Telemachus and his men had spent trapped within Falconscott, they had lost all respect for the people of the city and grown to despise them for their weakness, coming to believe that the fall of Falconscott had been punishment from the Emperor himself. When a mighty wolf had leapt from the driving snow into the city, slaying a dozens of the citizens before being brought down itself, Telemachus had taken this as the final proof of the Emperor's displeasure with Taramant's beliefs. Further attacks by the beasts only reinforced this conclusion. These wolves had been unknown before, overlooked by unambitious Mechanicus genetors who feared the planet's harsh environment, but they soon became a common sight in the snow outside the city. They were great, hulking beasts, long of fang and powerful of limb, solitary and dangerous, and Telemachus admired their power. Telemachus and his supporters insisted that the way of the wolves was the way to true greatness for the Ice Lords. The Ice Lords should concern themselves with the Ice Lords, first and foremost. Consorting with the people of Falconscott hurt the people, for they could not become strong enough to stand on their own, and it hurt the Ice Lords, who were weakened by the need to defend the people, instead of using all their might to strike against the enemies of man. Using less than their full strength was a betrayal of the Emperor, as was weakening his subjects by not allowing them to achieve strength on their own. Thus, said Telemachus, the best course of action for the Ice Lords was to leave Franklin's World and its people behind. Though the people would find it hard at first, it could only strengthen them in the long run. His supporters, who had christened themselves the Wolves, agreed. Taramant did not, and his wrath was terrible to behold. He rebuked Telemachus in a public Conclave of the Chapter, calling the Captain dishonorable and little better than a traitor. Telemachus had confused personal glory with honor, Taramant said, and deserved neither. Belicarius and Lahdemor supported Taramant wholeheartedly, as did the majority of the Chapter brethren, who were christened 'Knights' by the jeering Wolves. Further incensed by this behavior, Taramant stripped Telemachus and his supporters of their rank in the Chapter and of their place in the Chapter's Roll of Honor, declaring that they had abandoned their duty, and must earn their honor back or be forgotten. Humiliated, beset by the Knights, and with their influence within the chapter greatly eroded, the Wolves subsided, at least for a time. Home World I understand what it represents, Taramant. I just wonder if there were not warmer worlds which symbolized our duty to humanity. - Chaplain Belicarius of the Ice Lords Franklin's World is nearly as cold as the empty space which surrounds it. Howling winds lash the snow and ice into strange and twisted forms, and life is rare and dangerous. The people of Franklin's World, however, are isolated from this in their expansive floating cities. Constructed in the Dark Age of Technology, their presence on this desolate world on the edge of the galaxy has been a question of great debate among Imperial scholars. Whether it was once a military base, a research station, or something far stranger, Franklin's World is now an isolated planet which has little contact with other systems. Its people are relatively happy, and the floating cities are ruled by powerful noble families, each of which maintain their own fortified towers within the cities. These nobles pride themselves on the mastery of their ritualized forms of war, and duels upon gliders which soar on the shrieking winds between the towers are a popular form of entertainment and an equally popular method of settling dispute. The tunnels beneath the cities, meanwhile, are home to few other than criminals and those forced down from the surface due to mutation or heresy. The vicious tunnel gangs which breed in this dark environment are the source of some of the Ice Lords' fiercest recruits, but that practice has come into question due to the marked tendency of former gangers to become Wolf adherents. Falconscott, of course, is now much different than the other cities. Always the smallest city, its population is now even smaller than it was. The old social order has remained much the same, but the introduction of the former residents of the undercity has sapped the power of the nobles, who now face organized, dangerous groups unfamiliar with obedience. Some few of the city's areas still have fully functioning environment systems, and these have become havens for commerce and community. The remainder of the city is increasingly moving into newly excavated ice tunnels, preferring to build anew rather than attempt to salvage the chaotic wreckage that most of the city has become. The surface of Franklin's World itself has lately been discovered to be far different than previously thought. The mighty wolves discovered after the Fall of the Fortress are just one of the dozens of newly discovered creatures which seem to make their homes in the freezing wastes. Mechanicus Genetor teams have expressed a pronounced interest in the makeup of the monsters, and have taken several corpses for study. They remain loathe to actually explore the surface themselves. Excerpt from Anecdotes of the 41st Millennium, Volume MCXVI by Stanforth McGramman, junior archivist to the Library of Sycorax The Medea Incident has been all but forgotten in the massive campaigns and vast slaughter of the 41st Millennium When systems are laid waste in swift and terrible campaigns by equally terrible forces, it is easy to lose sight of the slow bleeding of a world by the lesser enemies of Man. Nonetheless, the Medea Incident deserves to be remembered. The world of Medea is an unimportant planet in the far north of the Imperium, and its plaintive calls for aid against raiders had been overlooked in a galaxy where the forces of Man are needed everywhere. Hope had been forsaken by the Medeans when a single rapid strike vessel slipped from the Warp above their world, containing Chaplain Belicarius and a tactical squad of the Ice Lords. The vulnerable planet had become a frequent target of Orkin, Human and Dark Eldar raiders, all eager to steal what they could from the planet, all delighting in bloodshed and destruction. Such delight was quickly stemmed by the Ice Lords, who undertook training and equipping of the Medean population for war. Where raiders had once been met with flight and frantic pleas for mercy, they were now met with a hail of bullets and cries of havoc and war. The raiders began to make larger and larger forays, seeking security and strength in numbers, only to be met with greater concentrations of Medeans, supported by marines. As the raiders were forced into larger and larger groups for their own protection, the Ice Lords were better able to bring their strength to bear, along with the new-found strength of the Medeans. Soon enough, the raiders who had once wreaked havoc across Medea were simply a nuisance - and soon after that, they were gone completely, and Medea prospered, stronger than it had been before. Where other chapters would have sent a front-line company, thus being forced to allow some other world to fall, the Ice Lords sent a minimal group from a Reserve Company. Where some chapters might have leapt to confront one enemy, and thus left the planet open to others, the Ice Lords remembered their duty, and instead prepared the planet so that even together its enemies could not prevail. It was not glorious, exciting, or a grandiose display of power and the Emperor's might. But it saved the planet just as well, and that was enough for the Ice Lords. Beliefs You are no longer men. You are to be Space Marines. You now serve mankind, in a way that you could not before, because you were of mankind. You must defend them, help them, and die for them. That is as it should be. - Chaplain Belicarius, addressing a group of new initiates The Ice Lords subscribe to the typical Astartes belief that the Emperor is the savior of humanity, but not a god, and they hold to it with a vehemence equaled only by that of First and Second Founding chapters. However, they maintain no veneration for their Primarch, Lion El'Jonson, a quirk which has astonished Imperial observers. Unsurprisingly, they are reticent about this facet of their beliefs, and also demonstrate a marked aversion to associating with those chapters that refer to themselves as the Unforgiven. The beliefs of the faction known as the Knights were for many years the beliefs of the chapter as a whole. Taramant and the Knights believe that the role of the Space Marines in the Imperium is to defend the people of the Chapter home world and the people of the Imperium. Concerns of the chapter and of individual marines are subordinate to the demands of that duty. To reinforce these beliefs, Taramant encourages communication with the people of Franklin's World, often making use of civilian artisans or laborers. There are relatively few chapter serfs - most of the chapter's servants are drawn from the general population and return there after a period of service. The few serfs are generally drawn from the pool of failed aspirants, and are encouraged to maintain bonds with their families outside the fortress monastery. Most serfs direct ordinary laborers or serve in relatively honorable positions in the fleet or monastery. Space Marine participation in public rituals and in the administration of the world is common. The Captain of whichever company is serving to garrison the planet at any particular time also serves as the Lord Commander of Falconscott. The Lord Commander is the final court of appeal on the world (though it would be a fool who requested his judgment in a trivial matter), and a Space Marine also serves as executioner to the courts. On holy days, Space Marines often judge tests of skill and strength, and occasionally participate in bloodless melees where one marine confronts several challengers from the people. In addition to this, the marines are expected to wander the streets of whatever city they may be in, visiting family or friends from their old lives. All this had produced a remarkably close bond between the marines and the people, but the advent of the Wolves has soured it. Although Taramant's efforts to force the Wolves into submission have been mostly successful, their silent defiance and all-too-public initial protestations have greatly hurt the chapter's relationship with the people. Although no overt conflict has arisen yet, the people of Falconscott are noticeably less welcoming toward the marines. This appears to greatly trouble Master Taramant, and what course of action he will take to try and mend this breach with the populace is unknown. Wolf-based iconography is growing common among some of the more vicious members of the Chapter, while those who hold to Taramant's ways have begun to adopt the sign of a broken sword to show their allegiance to his ideas (and, the more cynical adherents note, the probability that they will come to naught). Taramant, meanwhile, seems to hope that a schism within the chapter can somehow be avoided, and appears to be trying to contain the schismatic beliefs to their current holders, while ensuring that new recruits of the Scout Company are firmly indoctrinated in the thinking of the Knights. There is growing worry among high-ranking officers that the Wolves may resent the attempts at suppression of their views even more than they already seem to. Although combat operations have in no way suffered as yet, it is a sign of the depth of the problem that several officers are beginning to express concern about the possible loyalty of their troops. Civil war may be unavoidable. Combat Doctrine Your enemy's realization that he watched every direction but above is the most gratifying sight you can see in this life. - Captain Darius of the First Company The Vociferous Abomination Campaign The Space Hulk Vociferous Abomination had drifted through dozens of systems before the Ice Lords discovered it. Cleansing it cost the lives of dozens of marines, but that was necessary to determine just where the vile construct had been. No one could tell in how many of those systems it had released foul Genestealers to pollute the purity of Man. Nonetheless, the Ice Lords did not leave the matter to the Imperial Guard, and they did not annihilate the populations of those planets as a quick and simple solution. Working with the Inquisition, three companies undertook the monumental task of ensuring that every planet that might have been corrupted by the Hulk was pure. The forces of the Inquisition would labor tirelessly to determine whether a planetary population had been corrupted, while the forces of Ice Lords waited in orbit. When the darkest concerns of the Imperium were confirmed, as they were all too often, the Ice Lords would land and carefully ferret out and destroy the Cult, even when whole populations turned against them. Twenty-three years of tireless work and near-constant fighting still resulted in a death toll of millions dead, including many Ice Lords, but billions were saved who might otherwise have been slain in an attempt to save the lives of Space Marines and Inquisitors. And why should men die to save those who should die to defend them? Most Space Marine Chapters rely heavily on a crushing orbital or aerial assault in order to secure their victories. While the Ice Lords are not unwilling to make use of such tactics, they seem far more comfortable on the ground, using more conventional tactics of maneuvering armor and infantry to secure victory. The superlative skills of Ice Lords pilots will be put to use in providing close air support where conditions permit, whether that be with lighter bombers and fighters or with the powerful Thunderhawks. This likely stems from the Chapter's early difficulties with their training cadre - rather than cultivate the broader skillset of other Chapters, Taramant and his compatriots appear to have decided that it was best for them to focus their limited resources on the cultivation of a mastery of the most basic methods of Space Marine warfare. Though time has obviously allowed the Ice Lords to broaden their capabilities and acquire a familiarity with what are seen as standard Space Marine tactics, the Chapter seems to retain a marked preference for the methods of their initial instruction. The combat doctrine of the Ice Lords relies on the use of fast elements to support a heavily armed, but less flexible, force. Speeders and aerospace craft are the favored means of providing this support, likely due to the influence of recruits who possess remarkable facility with both. Their experiences with clearing Space Hulks and with the monsters beneath Falconscott have also begun to shape the chapter into formidable close-quarters specialists. The Ice Lords have often displayed the Dark Angels' legendary tenacity, especially when defending civilian populations. However, they display none of the Dark Angel intolerance towards abhumans and non-humans, and equally none of the standoffishness or inscrutable tendencies to desertion of a combat zone the Dark Angels are infamous for. These traits have combined to make the Ice Lords popular with Imperial commanders, who appreciate tenacious and capable allies, but appreciate them even more when they do not suddenly depart the field of battle without explanation. Organization Slavish adherence to formal ritual is a sign that one knows the wrong rituals - Lahdemor, Master of the Librarium The Ice Lords are generally a traditional codex chapter, with all that entails. In exception to the norm, the Ice Lords Scout Company is hardly ever assembled as a formation, and usually operates as individual squads attached to companies fighting offworld. Captains are given relative leeway in the structure of their companies, and the reserve companies are generally not the monolithic organizations of specialists that they are in many other chapters, though they are expected to maintain facility with particular areas of expertise. The Reserve Companies often engage in pirate-hunting and other such exercises, to keep their skills fully honed. The First Company is regarded similarly to a normal Battle Company, and often undertakes similar engagements and serves a normal rotation in garrison on Franklin's World. The First Company is almost always under the personal command of the Chapter Master, and the post of First Company Captain is thus usually held by the least experienced of the Captains. Geneseed It will be hard to defend the Imperium if we succumb to corruption from within, young initiate. Harder still if that corruption involves tentacles. - Tull, Master of the Apothecarion The Ice Lords recruit from every city on Franklin's World. The nobles of the upper cities are trained in warfare from early ages, as are many of their adherents, and these youths make fine Space Marines. The glider duels common among city spires have made piloting almost second-nature to a warrior of Franklin's World, and many Space Marines retain this aptitude. The vicious gangers of the undercities are excellent hunters and close-fighters, but their overwhelming tendency to follow the beliefs of the Wolves has lead to a noted decline in their recruitment. Among the gangers, recruitment by the Space Marines was seen as recognition of one's prowess as a fighter, while recruitment in the upper city is looked upon as one of the highest honors a family can receive. Many commoners have found their other children sought after as husbands or wives for nobles after a son is taken as a Space Marine, while a failing noble house can find its popularity restored with such a coup. Thanks and Acknowledgements Thanks go to Sigismund Himself, Strike Captain Lysimachus, Telveryon, and the many, many, many others who have provided insights, told me when I was wrong, and helped me turn this from a bad idea into a good one. The Ice Lords bear the geneseed of Lion'El Jonson. It appears pure and uncorrupted, which is of little surprise considering their relatively short history and the notable purity of the Dark Angel seed. Quite why the Ice Lords do not maintain many Dark Angel practices has not been determined, but it clearly cannot derive from the geneseed. No record has ever been found of the Ice Lords referring to themselves as Unforgiven, and the Chapter actually seems to actively shun the company of such Chapters. Much speculation has arisen among some Imperial scholastic communities as to why this might be so. Battlecry Roar your defiance to the enemy. Let them feel the chill of fear, and let them know that they face the true defenders of Humanity - Chaplain Belicarius Honor and duty remain!
  4. Octavulg's Guide to Creating an Excellent DIY Chapter That Will Make Even Beautiful Women Go, "Hey, That's Pretty Cool!" Updated: March 10th, 2013 For a long time, I have had a view on what IAs should and should not be. Over time, that view has been reinforced in many areas and changed in many others. It has changed as I wrote my own IAs, read more and more of others, and was forced kicking and screaming into the role of Lexicanium. And in all that time, some things have not changed. I have noticed that I will repeat the same piece of advice or criticism over, and over, and over, and over. Sometimes it will be a universally applicable anecdote. Sometimes it will be a specific criticism of an aspect of an IA that I end up making a hundred different times to different people. Sometimes it will be a simple observation about spelling. Nonetheless, I say these things a lot, and sometimes I explain them well, but sometimes I just don't have the energy to say the same thing for the hundredth time. That isn't fair to that particular author (who deserves a good explanation for why I'm telling him this), and it isn't fair to me (for when I try and do things without full explanation, people often get snippy). So now, there is the Octaguide, a simple hundred-and-thirty-nine part program that can help you (yes, you!) know what I would say about your IA were I to read it! You don't even have to necessarily write the IA! You will also find advice on writing IAs: advice on concepts, advice on colors, advice on spelling, grammar, and editing. It's all here. At least when I remember to put it in. I even included a guide to not using this guide, which I recommend to anyone who isn't really sure if they want to write an IA in the first place, or who hasn't done this whole "write about a DIY chapter" thing before. Enjoy the guide, feel free to ask any questions, violently disagree, or send me gushing praise offering to bear my children. However, note three things: Firstly, this guide assumes you care what I think. If you do not, this cannot be helped. Letters and replies to the effect that I am not the boss of you so you don't have to listen to any of this will be dissected for logical inconsistencies and replied to with corrected grammar and spelling. Secondly, I am sarcastic, occasionally cruel, and a little conceited. However, I strive to compensate for this last by directing the first two at everyone impartially, including myself. I assure you, any success I have attained I have attained because of a combination of hard work and repeated stupidity. I think everyone on this forum has the ability to produce excellent IAs - the only real difference is the amount of work and time it will take in each case. I am not offering this material in an attempt to make you feel stupid. Third, this guide provides advice that is focused on writing IAs, and assumes that that is what you want to do. IAs are not the only viable format for producing a DIY article, though they are one of only two demonstrated official ones and are by far the most popular in the Liber Astartes. The advice contained within should be generally applicable to other DIY articles, however. There is also a brief guide to writing the little blurbs from Codex: Space Marines, which I recommend to any new DIYers or anyone who's become bored with IAs. A Note on Guides No guide can be absolute (though most try their very best). Consider what any guide has to say carefully before ignoring it - anything in a guide was something someone felt was worth including. However, they are general tools, and can often miss specific flaws. A guide is no substitute for caution, good planning, and a willingness to improve – but an obvious component of caution would be reading all the guides you could get your hands on. With that out of the way, the guide proper will now commence. List of Sections in Order of Appearance On criticism -Everyone is the boss of you -Nobody is the boss of you -The two kinds of criticism -Reacting to criticism -Acting on criticism -What to do when you get no responses On IAs and the philosophy behind them -What is an IA? -You never actually told us what an Index Astartes is -What is an IA not? -Thou shalt be all that you can be On the the planning of an IA -Answer Mr. Morden -Conception -Think it through -Planning -Do not piggyback on the official -The Black Library does not really exist -Reasonable innovation is key -Do not destroy the shared universe -Do not overgild the lily -The Index Traitoris problem -Begin at your goal On the outlining of an IA -Outlining -Tearing down that which you have built -Follow the format -The Chapter Name -There's nothing wrong with adjective-noun -Origins -You don't need ten thousand years of history -Devastate your Chapter uniquely -Jesus was derivative -Later History -Home World -Beliefs -Gene-seed -Geneseed sources and their effects -You are not the [blank] Templars -Ensure your Curse makes sense -Combat Doctrine -Organization -Understand what the Codex is and isn't -Battle-cry -Your color scheme is important -Resources for writing and construction -When in doubt, turn to GW -Recognize the limits of GW -Developing your outline On the construction and writing of an IA -Only if you need to -Focus on the differences, not the similarities -Present things in order, and explain yourself well -Battles are boring -The Title -Introductory Paragraph -Sidebars -Quotes -You don't need that many color schemes -Use the right amount of mystery -Subtlety, not sledgehammers On writing -Read it aloud -Learn to spell and to gramm -Don't write in your browser -However, be self-aware -Stick to the established length -Shorter is almost always better On painting and colors -Applying your paint scheme with a shotgun will make people's eyes bleed -Do not paint your marines' feet in brighter colors unless you want people to stare at their feet -Black and red are not cool and unique On offering criticism -And sometimes I like to sing little songs -The Fine Grit Approach -The Rough Grit Approach -My Own Recommendations Supplementary resources -Recommended Reading (Official) -Recommended Reading (DIY) -A brief history of my own work -Links to other resources A (very) short and eclectic course in grammar and spelling On Codex divergence and changes to a Chapter's character -What is the Codex Astartes? -What this means about your own Chapter's views on the Codex -How to diverge naturally -What about other changes? Octavulg's Guide to Not Using the Rest of the Octaguide Right Now
  5. WAR 'TIL DEATH: THE STEEL DOGS CHAPTER NAME: .............. THE STEEL DOGS FOUNDING: .................. 8TH [M.34] CHAPTER WORLD: ............. KELL FORTRESS MONASTERY: ........ CAVES OF CANEM GENE-SEED (PREDECESSOR): ... IMPERIAL FISTS KNOWN DESCENDANTS: ......... NONE We are the Emperor’s hounds, to lie at the Emperor’s feet – Commander Simeon Ward, On Fealty The Steel Dogs were created in the Eighth Founding to serve as part of the Astartes Praeses on the northern border of the Eye of Terror. Greatly honored by such an important responsibility being granted to them, the fledgling chapter took their duties as a sacred charge from the Emperor. They saw their mission and even their home world as sanctified by Him on Earth - the Emperor had shown them the way and given them the tools to carry out His word, and they worked ceaselessly to be worthy of such an honour. Over the centuries and millennia following the chapter's founding, reports returned to Terra of pirate bands hunted down, heretical covens rooted out, and Chaos raids driven off in ferocious space battles. On dozens of worlds, the Steel Dogs died so that the people of the Imperium might live in safety, each of them thanking the Emperor for the opportunity to fall in His service and that of humanity. They dedicated themselves to serving the Imperium and its people, and their dedication was rewarded with victories and accolades. The chapter's home world of Kell was their particular pride. Though many chapters would have remade the world in their own image, the Steel Dogs recognized that the planet had endured the corrupting forces of Chaos for millennia without ill effect. Any world which could do so when the Eye of Terror loomed in its sky could hardly be anything other than pure. Indeed, being entrusted with such a prize was an honour to the chapter as much as to the planet. The Steel Dogs thus trusted that the Emperor's benevolence would guide Kell, as in the centuries before they arrived. They founded their Fortress-Monastery in tunnels on Kell's moon, Avren, and interacted with the planet only in emergencies or when recruiting. The Astartes Praeses are the watchmen on the walls of the Imperium, and the the Steel Dogs were ever-conscious of the responsibilities of their position. Other chapters have the freedom to pursue glory, to seek out enemies, and to embrace the challenge of the fight, but the Astartes Praeses have no such luxury - at least, not in the minds of the Steel Dogs. The proper place of a Steel Dog was to die defending the Imperium from those who would do it harm, not to win glory and honor and a place in history. This belief was reflected in the chapter's recruitment, and where other chapters took the greatest warriors from their home worlds, the Steel Dogs took those whose strength lay in their humility and dedication to duty. While these policies served the chapter well for many centuries, the Steel Dogs eventually noticed that their recruitment intake was declining. Where once they might have taken a hundred aspirants, they would now take fifty - and those numbers were sinking ever lower. It soon became clear that while the recruits were as physically strong and capable as before, their spiritual strength was lacking. The tests of character and morality which ensured that only the worthy and the pure became Space Marines of the Emperor were as effective as ever - it was the people who had changed. These weaknesses did not stem from the tendrils of Chaos - the people of Kell had not abandoned the Emperor. The population had simply turned away from the self-sacrifice, humility, and strength of spirit the chapter demanded. Boys longed to be Space Marines so that they could earn glory and be mighty warriors, not so they could serve the Emperor and protect Mankind. They wished to be masters, not servants. Steel Dogs by slaine69 The chapter was disturbed by this. The people of Kell had seemingly abandoned the Emperor-sanctified ideals by which the chapter lived. Debate raged over what to do. To intervene in the lives of the population was unthinkable - morality imposed would be no morality at all. It was impossible to abandon their home world for another - it would be a stain on their honor, a violation of the duty with which the Emperor had charged them. To reward weakness by taking those not worthy of being Space Marines would be an even greater stain. But something had to be done. With heavy hearts, the Steel Dogs resolved that if the weakness of the people was all there was, then that was what they would use. In the chapter's next recruitment cycle things were different. The tests of morality and purity were gone. All those who were strong enough, quick enough and deadly enough were welcomed into the Scout Company. The chapter took more recruits in one cycle than they had in the previous three. The successful aspirants were rewarded with feasts and celebration lasting almost a month, before beginning the process of becoming a Space Marine. A full five years later, the Tenth Company’s Strike Cruiser slipped into orbit above a small, feudal world whose name has since been lost to time. Battle-hardened, the Scouts aboard were now stronger, faster, and more deadly than any normal man. The Captain of the Tenth assembled them in the hold of their Strike Cruiser, where he exhorted them with tales of their victories and of the triumphs they had won. He told them that as a sign of the Emperor’s trust in his new Space Marines, the planet below would belong to them for the next month, for it had been lax in its service to the Imperium. It was up to the new Steel Dogs to instruct the population in the proper duties of an Imperial subject. They would receive the final surgeries to activate their Black Carapaces over the next three days, and on the fourth day they would descend to the world below to show the people what it meant to be a Space Marine. That night, as each Marine lay on the cold tables of the Apothecarion, Librarians of the chapter probed their minds, showing them visions of the world below, and whispering questions in their minds of being a Space Marine of the Steel Dogs truly meant. Primed by their Captain's two-edged exhortations, the recruits' answers varied - some dreamed of meditation and training, some of debauchery and vice, and all too many of violence, dominion and murder. Only a few dreamed of service and the stalwart defense of those who cannot defend themselves. When the new Space Marines woke from their surgeries, they were irrevocably divided into two groups. Those few who chose to defend the people rose as normal Space Marines, the Angels of Death who are humanity's most capable guardians. Many were not so blessed. They found that their will was no longer their own - arcane devices buried within their skulls and the strictest of chemical conditioning now kept them firmly under the control of their officers. For their sins, they were to be condemned to an eternity trapped within their own minds, released only to fight the enemies of the Imperium. They would never ascend the ranks, only serve and die for the chapter and Mankind, faceless giants in power armor bound to the will of their commanders. Such was the punishment for those who sought power for themselves, and not for the service of the Emperor and his people. Such is the punishment today. Organisation A true son of the Emperor does not need to be told to do what is right – he knows. And those who do not must be punished for their ignorance. –Captain Thaddeus Fetladral Though the Steel Dogs' new recruitment methods granted them an influx of new soldiers, it required adjustments in the methods of the chapter. Originally, the Steel Dogs favored relatively subtle battle plans, relying on deception, surprise, ingenuity and any manner of other dishonorable tactics to counter the often superior numbers of Chaotic forces. The chapter was less concerned with immediate glory than with their greater duty to defend the Imperium and contain the forces of Chaos within the Eye of Terror. The damnati, as those who fail the final test are known, are mistrusted and viewed with contempt. Since they are not promoted (or even seen as competent by some commanders), the chapter thus has a correspondingly smaller pool from which to draw its specialists and officers, and the Steel Dogs have modified their tactics to compensate both for this and for the perceived unreliability of the majority of their troops. The chapter's battle plans still use their original tactics where possible, but they are often forced to rely on the massed infantry of the damnati and use their subtler stratagems as complements to that hammer blow. Methods of utilising the damnati on the battlefield often bear a marked resemblance to the older combat styles of the Space Marine Legions, the methods of which are still contained within the Codex Astartes. Where modern Marines rely on extremes of skill and precision, the ancient Legions relied as much on weight of numbers and excessive firepower. It is these tactics the Steel Dogs have been forced to embrace. Supplementing direct confrontation with their traditional subtler strategies has allowed the Steel Dogs to continue to engage larger Traitor formations, but the Battle Companies are almost constantly reinforced by elements from the Reserve Companies in order to provide the necessary numbers to support such directness. This has spread the Chapter thin across their areas of responsibility, and they now endure a frenetic pace attempting to deal with the increasing number of threats with correspondingly reduced resources. The command staff of the Steel Dogs have become relatively inexperienced due to the smaller cadre from which they can be drawn. The chapter does its best to ensure that all receive superlative instruction to compensate for this, and much of that education involves the specialized art of commanding the damnati. One of the first things Steel Dog officers learn is how to phrase orders so the damnati do what the officer intends – and, perhaps more importantly, so they do not do what the officer does not intend. There have been several occasions in the chapter’s history where poorly phrased orders have granted the damnati license to turn their weapons on their officers - and the damnati have done so. The presence of the damnati has also provoked several formal organisational changes from the chapter's prior methods. First, the damnati are not granted the formal rank of Brother - instead, they are simply Marines, and are only addressed as such. Captain Esca Blackblood, Lord of the Second, Seneschal of Devlin Captain Esca Blackblood is unique among the Steel Dogs. As leader of the Second Company, his service has been exemplary. But it is his origin that makes him singular – Esca is the only officer in the Chapter who failed the test of morals at the end of his tenure as a Scout. For seven years, Esca served as a damnati in Josen’s Squad of the Second Company. When holding an isolated village outpost during the campaign on Garibaldi’s World Sergeant Josen and his deputy, Brother Shepherd, were both killed by Eldar raiders. Conventional wisdom in the Chapter would have it that a squad of damnati left leaderless should be forced to follow their last orders until finally relieved – Josen’s Squad should have been annihilated. Instead, Esca took command. Seizing his dead Sergeant’s comm array, Blackblood coordinated the defense of the village and its people, then lead a counterstrike against the raider base in the nearby wastelands. Though many of the Eldar escaped into the Webway, the destruction of the Webway gate left Garibaldi’s World safe from the Eldar, and concluded the campaign successfully. Victory was sweet, but the dilemma of the victorious Esca Blackblood was a difficult one for the Chapter. Though skill at arms is no sign of the moral capacity to be a true servant of the Emperor, Blackblood had gone out of his way to ensure that the village under his squad’s protection was exposed to as little danger as possible. Furthermore, it became evident upon inspection that his various control implants had all become almost completely non-functional. Esca had done what his duty to the Emperor demanded without compulsion. In light of these circumstances, Esca was reluctantly confirmed as a sergeant. Despite the nervous view taken of him by the Chapter command staff, casualties among his superiors and skill at command saw the young sergeant rise to captain soon enough. Blackblood’s skill and frequently demonstrated dedication to the good of the Imperium have caused some in the Chapter to whisper concerns that the Chapter’s methods of selection may be prone to error. However, none have yet dared to air these concerns publicly. In the mean time, the Second Company and its captain serve the Emperor with strength and purity equal to that of any other company of the Steel Dogs. Second, the chapter's First Company now serves as Field Police, with a squad seconded to each Captain of the chapter at all times. They serve to watch over the damnati and provide each Company with a contingent of reliable and capable soldiers to execute difficult missions and serve as bodyguards and support if necessary. This has resulted in the First Company no longer fighting as a cohesive formation - its banner has hung furled in the Fortress-Monastery for centuries, and its various ceremonial posts are rarely filled. Third, the chapter's Scout Company remains quite separate from the Battle Companies. Scouts do not speak to full Marines other than their officers, and the company rarely deploys alongside other chapter forces. This is intended to keep the Scouts from becoming aware of the moral test which lies ahead of them, and so far has proved successful. Instead of supporting other companies, the Scouts serve to deal with situations that are not worth the commitment of full Marines, deploying in a fashion and circumstances similar to that of the regular companies. Finally, the chapter's rank structure now includes several deputies and redundancies, such as the resurrection of the position of Lieutenant, which attempt to alleviate some of the difficulties inherent in the chapter's officers' relative lack of experience. The chapter's Cult has evolved greatly over time. Initially dedicated to the Emperor as creator of the Imperium and of the Space Marines, the ever-present threat of Chaos has clarified in the chapter's mind the perfection of what the Emperor wrought. Equally, the tendrils of the Great Enemy have warned the chapter of the dangers of even seemingly-innocent changes to doctrine. Within a few centuries of their founding, the chapter had become firmly convinced of two things - the perfection of the Emperor and that which He had sanctified with His approval, and the danger of change, which all too often serves as first innocuous entrance of Chaos. Many Dornian successors are conservative by nature, and many fervent in their devotion to the Emperor, but the Steel Dogs have become unusually so, especially as the lights of the Imperium grow ever dimmer and more twisted dark forces spill forth from the Eye of Terror. The damnati have, if anything, driven the chapter further in this direction, as the changes they force triggers an instinctive defense of the chapter's other doctrines. Some Imperial observers have expressed surprise that the chapter chose to create the damnati rather than die with honor, but this overlooks the third principle which drives the Steel Dogs - their dedication to their duty as part of the Astartes Praeses. The chapter sees that duty as a personal charge from the Emperor, and as time has gone by and their fervency grown, so has their willingness to do anything, sacrifice anything, destroy anything, so long as their duty is fulfilled and the Imperium kept safe. The damnati do not represent an abandonment of the chapter's beliefs - only demonstrate the extent to which the chapter will compromise those things they hold dear to protect that which is even more important. SELECTED BATTLES "My strength is as the strength of ten, for my heart is pure. My strength is as the strength of a hundred, because they did not see me coming. It is better to sacrifice personal honor and win, than sacrifice the honor of the chapter by losing." – Captain Esca Blackblood Esca Blackblood by slaine69 The Etherway Engagement [274.M37] The Dark Eldar are one of the most vicious enemies humanity has ever faced. Though others match them for capability, few match them for sadism. When their presence was reported in the Arc-Royal system but no raiding took place upon the system's planets, the Steel Dogs' Fourth Company was sent to investigate. Though it took several weeks, eventually a chapter scout ship discovered what had drawn the Dark Eldar forces to the area. The system's cometary cloud held a Dark Age of Technology colony ship, the Etherway, almost impenetrably armored and still inhabited. Even barely functional, these ships are still valued prizes for the Adeptus Mechanicus, and their inhabitants often make excellent recruits for the Imperial Guard, Marine chapters, or, if nothing else, the ranks of a local Forge World's servitors. The Dark Eldar were still searching for a way in when the Steel Dogs came upon them. Though the chapter managed to drive off the raider's ships, many Dark Eldar remained on the hull of the massive station. The chapter was not yet experienced in the use of the damnati, and so the operation's commander ordered his Marines into a prolonged hunt across the surface of the structure. Its baroque design and the lack of gravity made the prenaturally quick and subtle Dark Eldar even more dangerous than usual. Though the damnati served the chapter well in the battle across the Etherway's surface, standing firm where even other Space Marines might have hesitated, their tenacity was tempered by inflexibility. The damnati could beat the Dark Eldar - until their officers fell, when they would be surrounded, outmaneuvered, and destroyed. Eventually, they were ordered to open areas on the Etherway's hull. The Strike Cruisers then raked remainder of the colony ship's surface with their point defense systems. Though not dangerous to full warships, these weapons were more than sufficient to eliminate the remaining Dark Eldar raiders. Though the Dark Eldar were annihilated, many of the damnati and their officers lay dead. The Chapter's high command took stock of this, and the Steel Dogs' tactical principles were revised, trying to balance the need to face dangerous and subtle enemies with the inflexibility of the damnati. In many ways, each battle the chapter has faced since has reflected this - where the commander finds this balance, the Steel Dogs triumph. Where he fails, so do they. The Battle of Thrycross [698.M38] Triumphs are rare in the histories of the Astartes Praeses. Far more common are pyrrhic victories, desperate last stands, and the crushing of rebellions which flare up again as soon as the Space Marines have departed. Though it is the Black Crusades which draw the attention of Imperial historians and responses from across the Imperium, the raids and isolated attempts at conquest of various Chaos warbands are a constant thorn in the side of the Imperial forces that defend the Eye of Terror. One of these conquest attempts involved the warband of Khulloth Von Strang, a Slaaneshi prince who had marauded, debauched and depopulated his way through half the outer worlds of the Thrycross system before the Steel Dogs' Fifth Company arrived. The two forces met in battle on Thrycross itself, a maze of chasms and caverns, and a running battle raged through them. The Fifth Company had begun the battle understrength and without their usual supporting elements, and the deceptive wiles of the Slaaneshi adherents proved capable of overcoming even the powerful conditioning of the damnati. A handful even attempted to turn their weapons on their officers, though most simply collapsed into catatonia or robotically followed their last orders. Still, the confusion this engendered in the ranks proved fatal to the coordination of the various elements of the Steel Dogs’ assault. Though they dealt fearsome casualties to the Chaotic warband, they were driven back toward Thycross' capital. Finally, Lieutenant Takeshi St. Veir, the surviving senior officer, ordered the remainder of the company to retreat to the capital, remaining behind to challenge the members of the warband to single combat in a large canyon outside the capital. The Lieutenant was slightly surprised when six of the Chaotic Champions accepted his challenge. Though he defeated the first three, the poison of their weapons and the foul emanations of Chaos slowly broke his strength, and the blade of the fourth separated his head from his shoulders. However, even before his lifeless body had slumped into the dust, the walls of the canyon erupted in fire and smoke, and avalanches buried all but a few members of the warband. The remainder of the PDF had planted charges throughout the canyon while the Steel Dogs fought the warband, and the death of St. Veir triggered them, annihilating Von Strang's forces - including Von Strang himself. The surviving handful of Chaotic warriors were easy pickings for the PDF and the remainder of the Fifth Company. Though it cost them greatly, the Steel Dogs had discharged their duty as Astartes Praeses. The Battle of Port David [143.M40] The world of Port David lies near the edge of the Eye of Terror, and assaults upon it were frequent. When the Steel Dogs' Third Company responded to a distress call from Port David, they were expecting something unusual, as Chaos so often provides, and they were not disappointed. Most assaults on Port David came from offworld, but the most recent assault had been coupled with several of the planet's nation-states siding with Chaos. While some strife between the various constituent nations of the planet was not uncommon, this was unprecedented. Equally odd were the tactics and methods of their opponent - Grand Captain Inquis Longtooth, who led a force of surprisingly well-trained and equipped Beastmen reinforced by elite Chaos Space Marines. The battles at Port David were studied by the chapter for a thousand years afterward. Captain Phelan Aeacid of the Third was perhaps the brightest tactical mind the chapter had seen, and Longtooth a canny opponent. Longtooth’s forces outnumbered the Marines by hundreds to one, and massed ground attacks should have been suicidal. But Aeacid moved his forces as though they were ghosts, using his air superiority to move his troops from deployment to deployment, always striking where the enemy was weakest. Enemy maneuvering encountered minefields and booby-traps. Small squads mimicked conventional Space Marine tactics while larger forces massed elsewhere. If the enemy was foolish enough to respond, the massed force struck the remaining enemy troops and broke them. Though not as flexible as other marines, the superior forces the Steel Dogs could bring to bear meant that wherever they struck they were victorious. Longtooth’s forces bled, but so did Aeacid’s. Each battle cost soldiers that could not be replaced, and the Port David PDF was virtually useless, fractured with suspicion and mistrust in the wake of the initial uprisings. Indeed, Imperial analysts have since questioned whether Chaos corruption was not responsible for much of this intransigence. Regardless of its cause, the result was that the Steel Dogs were poorly supported against a much larger force, whose numbers seemed to be eternally swelled by traitorous locals, eager to win plunder in the service of the Dark Gods. Though they managed to drive Longtooth's forces back into their friendly cities, Aeacid decided that the only solution to their dilemma was to strike those enemy cities that lacked effective garrisons, in hopes of sparking rebellion and discord within the enemy's ranks, and (if nothing else could be done) depriving the enemy of their base of support by destroying city infrastructure and forcing Longtooth to either lose support or dedicate resources to maintaining them. In the confusion that would result, the Steel Dogs might be able to get the upper hand. Likewise, a strike against their former allies would revitalize the PDF. Unfortunately, things proceeded badly. Aeacid was killed by a sniper almost immediately upon entering the city. Most of the PDF was slaughtered, and those who were not either surrendered or switched sides. The remaining Steel Dogs quickly realized that the situation was untenable, and withdrew, but several squads of damnati were left behind in the city. Local intelligence sources later reported seeing some of those same damnati serving as lieutenants in Longtooth's forces. Though the Third Company did its best to salvage the situation, all but one of the cities surrendered to Longtooth, most without even a token fight. The Third oversaw the evacuation of the last city's population offplanet, then withdrew themselves, leaving Port David in the hands of Longtooth and Chaos. Steel Dogs by Greyall * * * Hauled out of the Legio Imprint, both for my own convenience and because the files are down for a little while. Feedback welcome. Greyall's image was unfortunately omitted because the article's not really long enough to fit it.
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