Thanks for any help, and good to be back!
Based on the wonderful idea that I stole from Eetion in this thread.
"There is no sin so appalling as betrayal."
Founding: 26th, founded 738.M41
Homeworld: Tochilogorsk (fiefdom granted 739.M41, fiefdom revoked 750.M41), Suizao Tertius (763.M41 to present day)
Symbol: A black sickle on a white sunburst
Battlecry: A call and response: “By His will!” “In His name!”
TO: Inquisitor-Lord Cavanaugh
IN RE: Summary of Long-term Investigation of Adeptus Astartes Chapter “Steel Ghosts”
-Having studied the data compiled in the century since our discovery of Constantijn's treachery, in 902.M41 I took the risk of approaching the Steel Ghosts directly, requesting help in suppressing blood-cults arising with the outbreak the Badab War. After observing subject Chapter on the field of battle for nine years, I consider further sub-rosa investigation of this Chapter to be a waste of Inquisitorial resources and hereby declare this investigation Closed, entering a Verdict of Nullum Hereticum.
To this I do set my Hand and Sigil, in this year 40,917, day 127.
I remain His servant, Inquisitor Cyril von Strauss
Forgot to add that I have a line on some of the Anathematic Constantijn’s personal journals. Will let you know what I find.
In fact, within the first few years the Steel Ghosts made significant progress in revitalizing the planet. The old kleptocracy was summarily liquidated by the Chapter, and a series of purges throughout the major hives stimulated production while actually leading to a slight increase in the quality of life for the surviving citizens. But before long, unusually well-organized and persistent groups of agitators sprang up throughout the hive cities. Minor riots and production shortfalls became widespread; but the first, and indeed only, show of outright aggression by these revolutionaries was the sabotage of the Chapter Keep’s plasma generators in 748.M41. The resulting explosion killed several marines - including the majority of the founding cadre sent from the Ultramarines, and all but one of the chapter’s Librarians, a young Codicer named Severstal. His miraculous survival (and his later role in the rebirth of the chapter) were the only bright moments in the grim times to follow.
For as devastating as the attack was, the consequences of this rebellious act were even more dramatic. The surviving leaders of the Steel Ghosts pinpointed the source of the rebellion in Tochilogorsk’s largest hive city complex, and without consulting any other Imperial authorities, lanced several hives from orbit. Even within the Imperium, the deaths of one hundred and twenty billion citizens were not to be taken lightly, and the Steel Ghosts were immediately stripped of their demesne and placed under heavy Inquisitorial scrutiny. For over a decade they operated as a fleet based chapter, and were not allowed to continue recruitment despite their sadly diminished numbers.
The Chapter’s survival looked unlikely, and Inquisitor Leonore Constantijn of the Ordo Hereticus led the call for the Steel Ghosts to be declared Excommunicate Traitoris. Outwardly appearing to be a staunch Amalathian, her intent to destroy the Steel Ghosts was cloaked in the language of preserving the Imperium. But after eleven years, her dogged persecution of the Steel Ghosts was finally shown to be a web of lies, set up by Constantijn to hide her own secret Radicalism. When evidence surfaced proving her use of Daemonhosts and other warp-tainted methods, she was herself declared Hereticus Abomini. Although Constantijn fled the sector rather than face the Inquisition’s righteous justice, this revelation gave new hope for the Steel Ghosts' future.
With this discovery, the Chapter was partially exonerated. In fact, a full Inquisitorial Conclave formally honored the Chapter for its ‘steadfast resolution and faith in the Emperor’s vision.’ But caution is the watchword of the Administratum, so the redeemed young chapter was granted the primitive world of Suizao Tertius as its new home. The local Bronze Age technology prevents the natives from posing any threat to the regrowing Chapter, and its feuding city-states and vicious wildlife provide a population that breeds excellent candidates for recruitment (and perhaps most important to the Lords of Terra, if the Steel Ghosts were to suppress this world as well, the sector’s tithing quotas would not be affected). Now secure in their new Keep thousands of feet below the planet’s major ocean, the Steel Ghosts work ceaselessly to rebuild their Chapter, although their recruitment efforts can barely gain any ground against the constant grind of combat losses.
The veterans of the First Company, initially composed of the surviving initiates from the Chapter’s original homeworld, were given the honour of wearing the chapter’s small allotment of Terminator armour. The newer generations of Suizaonese battle-brothers look up to these men, and each time one is slain, his younger replacement takes the elder’s name as his own. This reverence for their elders is also shown in the respect paid to the Chapter’s Dreadnoughts, who are frequently fielded as seconds-in-command or advisors to a company commander. One is assigned to each of the three battle companies, and the eldest of all, Brother Nakoval of the Dreadnought "Anvil," goes to war alongside the young Scouts of the Tenth Company and the less-experienced brothers of the single Reserve company so that they might benefit from his hard-earned wisdom.
The first of the Steel Ghosts to be interred in a sacred Dreadnought, Brother Nakoval perished when his Devastator squad was overrun in the final moments of the Battle of Astentio VI. While Chief Librarian Severstal fought a terrible duel against the Dark Apostle who led the Chaotic incursion, Nakoval's squad deployed to hold back an onrushing horde of daemonkin rushing to the aid of their master. Although they bought Severstal the time needed to dispatch the Apostle, all but Nakoval were slain, and he was on death's door. Lifting up Nakoval's shattered body, Severstal immediately called for him to be reborn as the Chapter’s first Old One.
Even by Space Marine standards, Nakoval had been grievously wounded, and both the Apothecaries and Techmarines of the Steel Ghosts frankly doubted that he would survive the process of implantation into a Dreadnought. But for forty days and forty nights Severstal stood a sleepless watch over his sarcophagus, using every iota of his psyker abilities to pull Nakoval back from the brink of death. On the forty-first day, an exhausted Severstal staggered out of the Chapter's Mausoleum, and before collapsing himself, announced that Nakoval had finally reawakened.
Now Brother Nakoval teaches the newest members of the Steel Ghosts the true meaning of Duty: that to be broken on its Anvil is no shame, but rather a chance to be forged anew. Those recruits who seem most troubled in spirit often seek the counsel of "Brother Anvil", whose cold fury in battle seems only matched by his wisdom when at rest. Nakoval is also seen as the unofficial leader of the chapter's small Dreadnought corps. Although only three other Steel Ghosts have become Old Ones so far, they all defer to his judgement and spend the weary hours of maintenance and downtime in close discussion with him.
Additionally, the Steel Ghosts have forged a solid friendship with the White Scars chapter, whose homeworld of Mundus Planus is relatively close to Suizao Tertius. The Third Company of the Ghosts, in conjunction with Altan Khan’s Shamshir Brotherhood, scoured the cities of an agri-world that was allegedly being used as a Word Bearers forward base (although both Chapters and the Inquisition deny that there was any large Word Bearers presence in the Maelstrom region). The Battle of Astentio VI garnered honors for both Chapters, and established the Ghosts as the premier urban-combat chapter of the subsector. Over the last century this has led to multiple requests from other Imperial organizations for Steel Ghost support in urban operations.
...lies of the Anathematic traitor, Constantijn. Yet, examining this web of betrayal and conspiracy I feel that there is some underlying thread trying these falsehoods together. Sacrilege? Heresy? Perhaps. But is there a deeper truth to be had here? Ignorance is the strength of the Emperor's servants; but ignorance is a luxury I cannot afford. My search for our traitorous colleague must continue - I will find the truth of this if I must dig it out of her living brain.
...my lexmechanic assures me that the number of cults exterminated by Steel Ghost military actions while in the terminal phases of Arbites or even Inquisitorial investigation is statistically significant, even for a Chapter that seems to thrive on such conflicts. While the Ghosts usually extirpate these groups to the last misguided soul, there is some concern that the very vehemence of their destruction leaves little, if any, chance of penetrating the higher organizational ties that we are beginning to glimpse behind these...
...maddeningly unsure where Constantijn would have learned the rites for summoning and binding such a creature. Pre- and post-mortem interrogation of her closest associates have thus far been unsuccessful in shedding any light on this situation. I undertook the distasteful task of speaking with the Xanthite Petros Houghton, and he averred that the style of bindings used were 'unusual,' assuming such a word has any application to such thaumaturgy, and further assuming that a Xanthite can ever be trusted. Houghton offered to consult more closely on this case, but as I suspect him of desiring to learn this fell working himself, I refused. At the next Conclave, I will bring up his unseemly display of curiosity as reason for...
...losses of materiel are also above sector baseline, once corrected for the admittedly large amount of commerce rading and warp disturbances in the Badab subsector. The gene-seed courier vessel that went missing in year 847 is just one example of many; an entire Dreadnought chassis, hand-tooled on Mars itself, was lost when...
Battlefield casualties in this conflict seem light, especially given the well-known ferocity of the Alpha Legion. Those few losses that the Ghosts did suffer were atypical as well, as less than half of those Marines slain were recovered. While Chief Librarian Severstal was unavailable (or unwilling?) to speak with me, the Chapter's eldest Dreadnought informed me that the nature of the chlorine swamps in the Merzhou Delta made casualty recovery especially problematic. On a personal level, let me add that while speaking to an Astartes so entombed was initially quite offputting even for one as jaded as myself, Astarte Navokal went out of his way to accomodate my questions. Frankly I found him much easier to talk to than Severstal; further interviews informed me that he has become something of a paterfamilias for many of the Steel Ghosts. The new recruits of the Scout company seem to hold him in particularly high esteem, and I honestly feel I understand their fondness for him...
...cult in particular seemed to be almost tailor-made for the Steel Ghosts to ferret out. The Imperium is large enough for coincidence to become commonplace, yet the fortuitous nature of Severstal's capture of the cult's main demagogue...
Rather, they showed a degree of hatred for the Red Corsairs that took even me aback. It was as if the Ghosts felt personally affronted by this act of betrayal, even moreso than other loyal Chapters deployed in this conflict. While constrained by their own Chapter Master to act mostly in a supporting role in the Badab War, their ferocity was unnerving. Once again, their Chief Librarian distinguished himself in the conflict, killing...
...successes against the Word Bearers in the Astentio Campaign. Severstal made representations to Canoness T. (who reports to me on condition of anonymity) that his masterful deployments were a joint consequence of his precognitive abilities and the native tactical brilliance of his White Scars counterpart. Canoness T. however admitted to certain doubts based on...
...Guard regiments were virtually annihilated. The Alpha Legion seemed to have advanced knowledge of their intended landing zones, and the resulting carnage was sufficient to break the back of this rear-guard action. All personnel with access to this information were of general/flag officer rank or higher. While Brigadier General Cowley and Commodore Stacio both perished in this campaign (Stacio when his flag bridge decompressed due to an apparent mechanical fault), Chief Librarian Severstal informed me that both of these officers, as well the then-current Steel Ghosts Chapter Master (since deceased) were scrupulous in following operational security. He feels the only explanation is some perfidious Chaotic sorcery, a theory which I am beginning to subscribe to as well.
...cost the lives of a battalion of Inquisitorial troops to capture him, but I finally managed to wring a confession from the wretch. He claimed to be a servant of a sorcerer of great power, one who could leap from mind to mind. This archfiend spent a century as puppet-master on Tochilogorsk, stepping from one planetary official to another, driving the planet to the brink of ruin. When the insurgency began, he was its orchestrating force, disappearing just before the climactic sabotage of the Steel Ghosts' Chapter Keep. In the process of excruciating his lackey, I uncovered a series of runes scrimshawed onto the left femur, which my lexmechanic believes to be of Alpha Legion origin. This seems like the appropriate moment to mention that normal methods of excruciation were ultimately fruitless; Emperor forgive me, I was forced to use some of the techniques recovered from Constantijn's casebook, including a variety of deaths and multiple re-summonings of the informant's spirit from the Warp. I fear that in my pursuit of this goal I am becoming that which I once hunted. But this sacrifice might yet be worth it. There is a cancer lurking in the heart of this Chapter, possibly more dangerous than simple treason could ever be. And behind it all I see the shadow of the Hydra.
Finally, the most worrying bit of information to come my way: Astropath-Primus Lyra Kovalvy provided me with the following fragment, reported as a waking nightmare by one of her most powerful (but also most easily-disturbed) choristers: There is a young Librarian, and he is screaming. His body was trapped in fallen stones, but now his mind is trapped in his fallen body. His voice is calm and wise, but it is not his voice. His counsel is true, save that one time in one hundred it is rank blasphemy. And he is screaming. I am about to board a vessel incognito, bound for the beacon where this chorister is stationed; I feel that this, finally, is the lead that will cause this haze of lies and half-truths to resolve into something useful. Perhaps this will be the very thing that Constantijn (sweet Emperor, why did we drive her away?) was trying to unearth. What is Severstal? What has he become - or what has become him? How can we have been so blind?
No further information was salvagable from the folio. A small section of data-crystal was retrieved, but was too deeply encoded to admit of much study. However, the techpriest who first attempted to interface with it is quite adamant that presenting it to the Grand Logic Engines on forgeworld Maxentius will certainly provide a solution; presumably he will deliver it there himself once he is fully recovered from the bizarre and debilitating series of psychomechanical malfunctions he suffered when first analyzing the crystal. In summation, it seems quite probable that von Strauss fell into the same daemon-tainted ways as his quarry did before him, and as such Lord Inquisitor Cavanaugh has ordered this addendum be security-graded Obiter Damnatuum as it is likely to be Alpha Legion counterpropaganda, intended to sow strife and discord throughout the subsector. If you have read this addendum and are not of sufficient clearance, please report for penitential mindscrubbing posthaste. For the Emperor!
Edited by flintlocklaser, 06 April 2011 - 07:11 PM.