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This is an entry for the 2021 edition of the Liber Astartes Swap Challenge. Find more info here: http://www.bolterandchainsword.com/topic/368832-liber-astartes-swap-challenge-2021-phase-1/ THE DREAD LORDS The Dread Lords were the sole surviving loyalist Space Marine Chapter claiming the Sarment Sector as their home at the dawn of the 42nd Millenium. Their battle honours are great, yet they maintain their hereditary disgrace is a stain greater than may be effaced by the long list of heroic deeds. Summary Founding Chapter = ...Ultramarines (trained by Novamarines) Genesire = ................Roboute Guilliman Founding = ................Unknown Chapter Master = .......Livio Aita Homeworld = .............The Starfort Port-Cullis Main Colours = ..........Burgundy, silver and black Chapter Specialities = Void Warfare and Drop Pod Assault Strength = ................(currently) 763 marines of the line, 92 officers and specialists (287 Primaris) Organisation = ..........Slight Codex Variance History Origins The Dread Lords were once known as the Void Sentinels, Defenders of the Sarment Sector, Guardians of the scholar planet Ephus, and Castellans of the Starfort Port-Cullis. Burning of Ephus The surface of Ephus Prime received too little stellar radiation from the brown dwarf it orbited for life to develop independently there, leading to its primary designation as a dead world: in actuality it was far from being truly dead at the time of the Void Sentinels' implantation, as its peculiar environment made it an ideal location for fragile objects, such as books and scrolls. Given the rare secondary classification of scholar world, Ephus became a bustling centre of academic business - professors, students and sellers of bibelots of doubtful provenance congregating together to learn and record obscure and arcane knowledge. This however all came to an end during a worldwide violent student's uprising. A company of the Void Sentinels descended upon the rioters to reestablish the Emperor's peace; but in the midst of combat, a stray shot from an unknown fighter caused an explosion deep in the underbelly of a series of labyrinthine vaults. Within, were more artefacts which had been hidden away from the weak stellar radiation: caches of ancient munitions dating back to the dark days of the Horus Heresy, preserved for millenia thanks to the particular conditions upon Ephus Prime in full working condition. Among them, thousands of cannisters of one of the most dreaded substances known to Man: Phosphex. The combattants killed outright by the detonation were the lucky ones. The crawling horror ravaged the hab-complexes, incinerating every single being upon the planet; devouring still-screaming corpses as their last breaths were sucked from their melting lungs. To this day, the last dessicated husks piloting the eldest of the Chapter's dreadnoughts are kept far away from bare flames, for the sight brings back terrible memories best forgotten, even by Space Marines. These dire events shook the Chapter to its core, as they took upon themselves the guilt for this atrocity. In penance, the Astartes vowed to undertake a new crusade to wash away their dishonour, staining their armour with the silver flames of Phosphex that burnt Ephus and its population. Then, they took off on their quest through the stars under a new name: Dread Lords. Battles of Shame Following the Burning of Ephus, the Dread Lords pursued a crusade to salvage what remained of their honour. After granting Battlefleet Sarment their ancient fortress-monastery Port-Cullis - a Ramilies-Class starfort immobilised in orbit around Ephus - Chapter Master Bogomir launched their entire armada into the stars for the first time in centuries, in search of their fate and doom. Requesting orders from the Adeptus Administratum in order to take on the most dangerous missions, their penitent crusade lasted for several centuries around the turn of M36. The Dread Lords participated in many a campaign by the side of the Imperial Guard, the Imperial Navy, the Frateris Templars, and even a few other Space Marine chapters, putting down a widespread series of heretical rebellions against the authority of Terra. Only when envoys from their progenitors, the Novamarines, met them did the truth of these wars transpire: they had in fact been fighting for the despot Goge Vandire as he usurped the true will of the Emperor and Humanity to consolidate his Reign of Blood. The horror they felt at the realisation they had in fact been slaughtering faithful subjects of the Imperium over a period of decades was further enhanced when the Novamarines taught them of the fate of their home sector during the Age of Apostasy: a large chaos incursion had emerged from the Psyphon to overturn all Imperial power there, reducing its population to slavery and slaying any Imperial Guard and PDF regiment that dared stand up to them. Making all haste to return to Sarment, the Dread Lords coordinated a unified strategy for the crusade of reconquest over the forces of the archenemy. Leading a force of seven Imperial Guard regiments, a detachment of the Adeptus Mechanicus, three Imperial Knights and a newly formed chapter which would soon gain its name of War Wolves, their opening play would be at Ephus Prime. Siege of Port-Cullis Master Bogomir's plan was to capture and fortify their ancient seat, calculating this would cut off the Heretics' potential reinforcements from the Warp Storm known as the Psyphon and provide a morale boosting easy victory. They had not anticipated that their oponent at Port-Cullis was in fact the heir to the fleet officer to whom they had handed control of the Starfort all those centuries ago, High-Captain Welton Blackwood. At the invasion of Chaos forces, the high-captain had led a general mutiny of Battlefleet Sarment and established a personal dominion, a piratical tributary loyal to the new Heretic overlords of the Sector even after his daughter Mara succeeded him. Now nicknamed the "Butcher", Blackwood was a canny officer who had grown up on the starfort and knew the battlefield like the back of her augmetic hand, perhaps moreso even than the Dread Lords themselves. And yet, this was a battle the Dread Lords could not - must not - lose. They engaged. While a gargantuan void battle was joined between two Space Marine Chapter fleets and the defenders of Port-Cullis, the Dread Lords launched boarding torpedoes against their own ancestral home. Many were shot out of the void, their wreckage tumbling out and down to crash upon the ruins of Ephus; yet, enough managed to get through the barrage, unleashing their deadly cargo of enraged Astartes upon the crew of the Starfort. As they tore their way through the traitors, more Dread Lords teleported on board - their Chapter Master at their head - bearing hulking suits of Tactical Dreadnought Armour, thereby condemning the paultry defences. And yet, Master Bogomir's instincts told him something was wrong... As the Terminators melted down the Bulkhead doors to the bridge, they discovered the reason that they had felt little resistance: their foe, Blackwood, had not been in command, the pirates' retaliation barely more than an eratic flailing. Seemingly at the same moment, a flotilla burst out of the warp in close proximity to the planet, and greeted a shoal of lighters rising to meet them. Too late, Master Bogomir realised what these represented, and ordered his own fleet to intercept the new arrivals. Unfortunately, the rest of the Heretics' fleet held their line, holding back the Imperial forces just long enough for the flotilla to escape back into the warp. Filled with rage at the escape of their quary, the Dread Lords and their allies reduced the remaining pirates to ash and wreckage, but the cost of the battle would be devastating to the sons of Guilliman. As Master Bogomir inspected the state of his remaining forces, he was forced to contend with the sad evidence: though the Dread Lords were by now an old and established Chapter, the casualties suffered during the Siege of Port-Cullis on top of the accumulated losses during their Penitent Crusade meant that they would need to scale back their participation in the Sarment Crusade, taking a back seat to the Guard and the junior Chapter's involvement. While they would hold Ephus for the remainder of the campaign, and even helped in a few minor void battles, the bulk of the Dread Lords' involvement was done. The Phryx War Following the end of the reconquest of Sarment, a period of relative stability allowed the Imperium to build up their grasp over the worlds there, constructing defences and other infrastructure, fostering re-population programs, and most importantly, conducting a vast campaign to purify any planet The Heretic had set foot upon. In the background, though, the next crisis for the Sector was brewing. Upon the world of Ephus Prime, there remained swathes of documents scattered upon the surface. In a sick twist of fate, the majority of the documents upon the world were left unscathed by the deflagration, as they were stored outside the air-sealed hab-complexes. They were to become a grave town for the memories and teachings In the half-millennium of the Dread Lords' absence from the Sarment Sector, diverse groups of explorers and archaeotechnologists had congregated in the ruins of Ephus, mostly in search of fame and fortune. Some believed the scattered scraps of documents might hold the keys to unknown treasures, others calculated that some of the hidden arsenals may still be intact, concealing deadly weapons to further their own goals. Generally, they would be disappointed, though some perished from the unyielding environment or from clashes with rivals. Mara Blackwood, upon taking control of Port-Cullis, started to systematise the research amongst the rubble. Where few had gleaned any useful information, the Butcher retrieved swathes of knowledge of the Sarment Sector, records that had been mostly overlooked by the treasure hunters. She understood the value of this knowledge, and used it as her primary tribute to her Iron Warrior overlords. When she heard of the fall of the Apostate Vandire though, she knew the days of her dominion were numbered - she descended to Ephus to conduct a last-ditch effort to retrieve any and all documents that could fit in all the lighters she could muster, ready to make her getaway at the moment Imperial Forces appeared in system. As she escaped by the skin of her teeth, she made her way to the small area of space controlled by a fledgling race of Xenos, the Phryx. The Phryx had been largely ignored by the Imperium up until then, as the worlds they controlled were judged too worthless in comparison to the cost of their extermination. The acquisition of the Butcher's treasure trove of extensive records and maps describing the sector in minute detail would change the course of their history and development. In a matter of decades, they were propelled to prominence on the stage of the Sarment Sector, absorbing strategically significant worlds and countering the greatest minds of the imperial defences. In desperation, the governors of the Sector called for help from the Adeptus Astartes, and the Space Marines responded. The Dread Lords had pressed into service hundreds of aspirants from throughout the Sector - with a distinct preference for planets and stations used as recruitment grounds for Battlefleet Sarment - and used this Xenos war as a baptism of fire, unleashing a withering series of attacks against the Phryx homeworlds. There is no doubt in the minds of imperial historians that the Dread Lords' actions were pivotal in turning the tide of the First Phryx War, probably in part thanks to the evolution of their tactics during the Battles of Shame, thus entirely misleading Phryx strategists who believed they had correctly analysed the Void Sentinels' battleplans; what the historians fail to mention is how many of their aspirants the Dread Lords lost during this campaign, as the reckless abandon of their assaults brought down their numbers to barely above 200, further delaying the chapter's restoration to full strength by dozens of years. [?] Borromeanite Conflict Millenia after the First Phryx War, in the waning years of M41, the Dread Lords found themselves in alliance with the Borromeanite Conclave of the Inquisition when these were declared Excommunicate Traitoris. Fighting a defensive battle, the Borromeanite forces were eventually captured or annihilated, with only the Dread Lords allowed to go once more on a Penitent Crusade. Having learnt from past mistakes, Chapter Master Livio Aita requests aid from the Adeptus Mechanicus in refurbishing Port-Cullis, allowing the chapter to take their Fortress Monastery to war for the first time since the Horus Heresy. Homeworld and Fortress Monastery Ephus Prime Ephus Prime is a blasted and desolate world. Once, it was a great centre of learning for the whole Sarment Sector despite its inhospitable surface conditions, its hab-complexes teeming with teachers and students. Since its Burning conducted by the Dread Lords, it has been a dead world in fact as well as in name. Still, it lies at a strategic position for the Imperium, lying at the junction between the Sector and the Warp Storm known as the Psyphon. And who knows: other secrets may still lie burried beneath its surface. Port-Cullis Port-Cullis is the massive Ramilies-pattern starfort the Dread Lords use as a fortress-monastery and the homeport of their fleet. Immobilised and tethered in orbit over Ephus, it has in recent decades been refurbished and taken to war by the Dread Lords in their Penitent Crusade following the Borromeanite Conflict. Combat Doctrine It would seem that since their inception, the Dread Lords have relied heavily on their extensive Chapter Fleet in all aspects of their warfare, whether it be for their propensity for void battles or for Drop Pod Assaults. Their habit of fighting in starships and Space Hulks has also given them a good knowledge of fighting in close confines, making them experts of the skirmish fields classified as Zones-Mortalis. The weapon of choice of most Dread Lords is the holy bolter, which is versatile enough to take on most threats before they can become dangerous in close combat. They distrust plasma weaponry, for this can become deadly for the wielder and his squad mates in tunnels and corridors, though they do not shun it. They utilise flame and graviton weaponry more often because of its extreme efficiency in these scenarios, yet it seems it is more by obligation than choice. Finally, the best marksmen of the Dread Lords are entrusted with meltaguns: range is not an issue generally while fighting in a starship, yet decompression is a danger that Dread Lords feel far more concerned about than the explosions of enemy fire. Though the Dread Lords employ a limited arsenal of battle tanks, they do make greater use of their fallen brothers in Dreadnought form than most chapters: such walkers are often necessary to bring heavy weapons to bear where conventional vehicles would struggle. Appearance Chapter colours The Dread Lords bear armour the colour of the burnt earth of Ephus, variously described as burgundy or murrey, with certain tactical markings in black. This is enhanced with silver-white flames, yet these are unusual among Astartes markings as they are marks of shame as opposed to marks of honour. Upon a neophyte's elevation to the rank of Battle Brother, their armour will bear no flames, and only when they do not perform up to the exacting - even unattainable - standards of the Chapter's Chaplains must they paint these symbols of disgrace. Chapter Badge and markings The Chapter's emblem is a broken twelve-pointed star, encircling a skull. This symbol is repeated on both pauldrons, where possible. Tactical markings are inscribed upon an Astartes' kneepads, company device on the left knee, codex squad marking and number on the right. Chapter Fleet of the Dread Lords The Dread Lords have always had a considerable fleet for a Space Marine Chapter, even compared to some Second Founding chapters. As the Void Sentinels, they were initially meant to be a rapid response force, able to send out flotillas in a matter of weeks to besieged worlds or to intercept enemy movements and reinforcements. Since becoming the Dread Lords though, they have increasingly resorted to seizing enemy ships and converting them to suit an Adeptus Astartes Chapter's needs, the only way for them to maintain a Fleet worthy of respect as their tactics have become ever more aggressive after their many shamings. While Imperial Navy Admirals have voiced its discontent at these confiscations - claiming that the rights to these ships should revert to them - they are secretly content with this so-called Dread Tithe as it means continued aid from the Astartes in question, whether from their fleet directly, or as an honour guard of Dread Lords stationed upon their flagships in the fiercest of engagements. Shattered Star - Chapter Master's personal Battle-Barge Tarist's Vengeance - Garoth Tarist's famous Strike Cruiser. It was renamed in his honour after his sacrifice in the battle of Diamell