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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!”