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IA: Red Shoulders

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Race Bannon

Race Bannon


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Index Astartes



t the end of the Age of Redemption the Imperium’s war machine was worn down from constant warfare at every corner of the galaxy. Born from the fever of faith, Astartes crusades lasted longer and longer. By the turn of the 38th millennium, several areas of the Imperium needed the attention of the mighty Adeptus Astartes and the High Lords of Terra declared a new Founding of Space Marines.

In the southern sectors of the Ultima Segmentum, Imperial worlds started reporting increased Ork raids. A Waaagh! was beginning to grip the sector as supply convoys were harassed and whole planets the target of brutal attacks. The Raptors Chapter stepped forward to deal with the Ork problem. At the same time they were assigned to mentor a new Chapter in the ways of Imperial dogma and combat. Captain Voton Karlial and several veterans were selected as leaders until a new identity was established, thus completing the arduous process of creating a new Chapter of Space Marines. With a new fleet, and the entire Raptors Chapter with him, Karlial led his contingent against the Orks of Waaagh! Krugurk as training began in earnest on board the Space Marine vessels.

The sector became washed in battle and blood. Overboss Krugurk seemed to attack everywhere simultaneously in an attempt to plunder as much as he could in the shortest time to maintain the momentum of the Waaagh! But this strategy thinned out the greenskins across the sector. Exploiting this potential weakness, Captain Karlial lead the new Space Marines to begin a system-to-system counter-attack. Within the first weeks the Space Marines under Karlial's command were being pushed to excellence learning the art of war and the traditions of the Codex Astartes. Planetary regiments were bravely fighting the Orks and Karlial's efforts prompted victorious counter-attacks. Months later, Karlial successfully corralled the Orks to Chardock.

Since the start of the Ork invasion of Chardock, the citizens of the planet were waging their own war against the aliens. Months of system-wide plunder had ruined the Planetary Defense Forces and reduced the population to using guerrilla tactics to a stalemate, even in the face of superior Ork numbers. Still, the tide was slowly turning against the human settlers. Through dark and overcast skies streaked drop pods of the Adeptus Astartes and over the following weeks the mailed fist of the Imperium would crush the Ork Waaagh! Karlial's forces were ruthlessly precise, determined fighters and death followed in their wake. Ultimately, the Space Marines closed the campaign with the pacification of the sector.

During the Imperium's assault on Chardock, one warrior stood out among the others, Arcadus Rexach. Since his indoctrination he possessed uncanny leadership abilities. During the opening weeks of combat against the Ork menace these qualities developed, and Rexach garnered the respect of the Space Marines at his side, eventually earning a command position. Although he single-handedly slew Overboss Krugurk, it was Rexach's valor to regroup his battered unit against a vengeful Ork counter-assault which vaulted his status among his brethren. Through the months of the campaign, the leadership of the Raptors tracked the exploits of the new Chapter and Rexach's name appeared most often. After little deliberation, it was decided he would be the first Master of the new Chapter. On War Talon, battle barge of the Raptors, Arcadus Rexach, and the remaining Space Marines of the trained cadre, created a new Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes: the Red Shoulders.


ocated in the Ultima Segmentum, Arixo is a dark world. Tectonic plates move extremely slowly and over hundreds of millennia have created extensive mountain ranges ringing the surface. Spread all over the planet, volcanoes cyclically spew debris, thus Arixo experiences a shroud of darkness for most of its days and starless nights. Small varieties of flora have adapted to the low levels of light and cover the lands between mountains.

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The largest of four planets in the system, its surface is devoid of oceans. But the miracle that allows life to exist on Arixo is helped by the sponge-like upper crust and water is actually not rare on the planet. Less than a tenth of the surface is water spread out over the thousands of lakes that dot the planet. Ancient seas that once covered Arixo have drained into an extensive cave system running throughout the crust. Water is transported around the globe via currents and tides and, although the cave system provides for an ample amount of liquid, most of it is unattainable by the people of Arixo.

Human dwellings are remotely scattered across the planet and Arixoans face difficult challenges daily as they toil hard to cultivate foods that can be obtained from the minimal sunlight. The soil itself is rich from millennia of volcanism above and the water below. The people of Arixo found inventive ways to survive the magma spreads from the surrounding volcanoes: cities are made from the hardened landscape and leftover materials from the exploration days of the Dark Age of Technology. Each enormous center of humanity is its own city-state with walls erected and shaped from volcanic rock. The glass-like black colored earthworks are naturally resistant to the extreme heat that once formed them. Thus, the huge onyx walls become shields from occasional lava streams that burn around the cities.

Steeped in martial tradition, the people of Arixo are immersed in lives governed by the laws of competition. Every day is a struggle to overcome the harsh reality of minimal resources from the planet itself. Arixo is where men are powerful warriors and only successful births come from robust women. From early childhood, Arixoans are taught a spartan philosophy which they hold responsible for their survival. The chores and duties needed to endure is a ritual striving for perfection. Such discipline is necessary as every man, woman and child are assigned a role commensurate with his or her natural abilities. Those who fail to live up to the expectations of that role are ostracized, and become outcasts regulated to the basement of society that has little compassion or tolerance for misfortune.

Those who eschew a life of constant, yet peaceful, struggle have one gamble against tragic odds to live an utterly different existence where they walk among the stars and fight in an eternal war. These individuals can only ever be men as the city-states of Arixo are ruled by matriarchal dynasties, thus woman have a very prominent role in Arixoan culture. The coincidence is beneficial for the intrepid men seeking a different destiny as they are attempting to prove their worth to the Eternals of Karnor, otherwise known as the Red Shoulders Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. Their sole adventure is to survive the trek from their home to Karnor Mountain. Karnor is a massive mesa unlike any geologic structure on Arixo and is surrounded by a vast desert that stretches to the horizon. The desert itself, known simply as The Dreadlands, are enclosed in an enormous ring of mountains formed from a colossal asteroid impact several millennia prior to Imperial colonization. The Dreadlands are a vast and treacherous landscape: city-sized dust storms and packs of Vexsar Hounds are just a couple of dangers for the ardent travelers who themselves form groups to increase their chance of survival. Those who arrive to the base of Karnor have unknowingly passed the first of six Trials.


ach Space Marine is trained with the idea that they are the guardians between the light of the Imperium and the darkness of the void from which aliens invade and heresy spawn. The Adeptus Astartes are the bulwark the Emperor uses to keep the oceans of blackness at bay. It is a tireless task, but one Space Marines across the galaxy willingly accept. To the Red Shoulders, service to the Emperor and the Imperium is glorious in and of itself, but only in combat are they fulfilling their sole purpose of existence. The Emperor died to save humanity and it was His example of a majestic death that ended the Horus Heresy and began the Age of the Imperium as the inspiration for the Chapter. The Emperor's powerful Will still affects mankind, thus physical death must not be a final end to life; that death is a transition of the warrior-soul whose reward is immortal honor or eternal damnation.

Arcadus Rexach was very influential during the birth of the Red Shoulders. His erudite examination of the Codex Astartes, coupled with his tactical innovations, shaped the Chapter into the loyal instrument of war it is today. To honor his devotion and achievements for the Chapter, every Lord Captain of the Red Shoulders accepts Arcadus’ surname as their own. This ensures the First Captain’s name, Rexach, always leads the Chapter before every conflict

Over its history, the Red Shoulders have fought diligently against the enemies of the Imperium across the galaxy. Several years were devoted against the elusive Ulthwe Eldar during the Haltor Incursion. The small contribution of the highly-respected Red Scouts at the Third Battle of Armageddon, with their practiced anti-tank tactics, brought much acclaim from fellow Space Marine Chapters and their success is a great honor for the Red Shoulders. Once elements of the 2nd Company made their way to the Eye of Terror to combat Abaddon’s 13th Black Crusade did the Inquisition recognize the Chapter for their valiant efforts against the demonic infestation of Agripinaa. These are a few examples from a vast success record but the Red Shoulders are not without trials and failures. After the Corruption of Narfox in 107.M39, the whole of the Chapter went on a self-imposed crusade, known as the Omega Docimacy, and lasted hundreds of years. The decision to judge themselves excessively is a testament to the Red Shoulders' collective need to perfect the art of war, bolstered by the traditions to self-improve from within.

The Chaplains have an additional role: to spiritually prepare each Space Marine for the greater eminence of service to the Imperium ... death in battle. The charge of the Chaplain is to inspire the martial pride of the Emperor's consummate sacrifice, and the duty of each Space Marine is to become the paragon of warfare. Only through vigilant training and faultless practice of skills can each Space Marine begin to consider themselves 'heroic' enough to be worthy of glory. This follows from the childhood lessons where survival depended on cunning and perseverance. Adept skills in combat will serve a circular purpose: honed skills will prolong the life of each Space Marine, thus introducing him to more conflict. The more conflict the Space Marine survives, the more practiced his skills become. Yet, a maxim in the Chapter is, ‘Even heroes must die’. Thus, the perfected warrior, through countless battles, eventually faces the perfect death. The fallen soldier will then fight alongside the Emperor in His eternal war in the Immaterium.


s followers of the Codex Astartes, the Red Shoulders Chapter have accepted the strategic doctrines of warfare known to all Space Marines. But every Red Shoulder is also taught to consider and accept adaptations to the teaching of the Codex; being able to modify dogma allows creative ways to use every resource to its full potential. At Chardock, it was Arcadus Rexach who envisioned combining agricultural machinery with reserve weaponry as makeshift autonomous weapon systems. The numerous machines helped defeat the Ork forces who regarded the agri-tech worthless. During the Raezora Displacement of 845.M40 the Red Shoulders were stretched across the planet in a protracted stalemate against Tau forces. Although the Astartes controlled the skies, the Tau had a distinct numerical advantage on the ground and was pushing the Chapter to its limits in manpower and material. Captain Talvar loaded the bulk of his forces onto the maglev railways and travelled around the planet, constantly repairing and refitting. Once the army arrived to a stress point in the planetary defenses, the Space Marines were able to crush the opposition before boarding the maglev and moving to another area to bolster the lines. By this method, Talvar was able to quickly react to Tau movement and sometimes seized the initiative. Within weeks the Tau were eradicated from Raezora. Examples of strategic innovation as these have typified the combat doctrines of the Red Shoulders.

The Morituri
On rare occasions, at the eve of war, a Brother-Marine is afflicted with a precognition of his death. Secluding himself from the rest of the Chapter, the Morituri meditates on his own mortality and trains thrice as hard as his Brothers. Driven by the waking-dream of his impending doom, he ardently prepares himself for his destiny: to die in battle, surrounded by the enemy crushed with his own hands, and join the Emperor's eternal crusade. No other Space Marine can join his pilgrimage, and once on the battlefield, the Morituri fights with blood-lust unrestrained as he becomes death incarnate until his visions become reality.
Arcadus Rexach's experience against the Orks made him rethink the Scout role as described in the Codex Astartes. Through trial and error he developed methodologies that used the Scouts in an anti-tank capacity. It is in this role the Red Scouts have excelled. Their stealth training includes extensive regimen learning about the various vehicles used by the enemies of the Imperium. Proficient at anti-tank warfare, the Red Scouts attack weak spots with Melta-Bomb and Krak Grenade, using the explosive aftermath to retreat and find another armored victim. Their place among the ranks of the Red Shoulders carries much influence for the Red Scouts are the true eyes and ears of the Chapter.

Yet every Chapter has its own style of waging war that typifies its existence. For the Red Shoulders Chapter, Imperial warfare is an extension of the brutal and ferocious conflicts from Arixo. Combined with their intrinsic motivation for perfection, the Space Marines of the Red Shoulders are malevolently zealous in their prosecution of combat. Reports have illustrated the Red Shoulders remorselessly executing whole populations and annihilating entire cities for transactions against the Imperium. The Raptors excellence at surgical strike and jungle warfare contributed to the Red Shoulders own fighting style.


he Red Shoulders' organization follows the structure described by the holy Codex Astartes. The experience against the Orks at Chardock taught Rexach that battlefield attrition requires consolidation of man-power and resources. Per the Codex, each Space Marine is designated to a specific unit and his armor reflects his battlefield role. As such, units follow their assigned duties according to their training and rank. Some Astartes commanders are known to keep the rigid structure of squad deployment until either members are replaced or the unit is destroyed. Rexach wanted to make adjustments more fluidly, thus Red Shoulder Company and Squad numbers are not noted on the armor of infantry and vehicle alike. Two consequences of battlefield squad consolidation are that the enemy is consistently presented against full squad numbers and prevents the enemy to accurately assess the fighting strength of the Red Shoulders contingent.

A third more important reason to be able consolidate units readily is for each Space Marine to maintain their training lineage. Tactical Squad members may find themselves wearing the jump pack in an Assault squad in one campaign, while hefting the tank-busting barrels of a heavy weapon in a Devastator Squad for another. Such rotational deployment allows each Battle Company Captain a greater flexibility on the battlefield. An example of this process was noted in 639.M36. Captain Bannon of the 4th Company used the 7th and 8th squads as Devastator Squads. After these units made planet-fall and secured the beleaguered Imperial outpost, the Assault Squads put down their chainswords to use the heavy weapons dropped with them. The resulting static offense crippled the renegade tank siege and allowed for a more secure drop zone for the Imperial Guard.
Red Shoulder Tactical Marine
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Dictated by the Codex Astartes, there are ten Companies each led by a Captain. These are powerful soldiers within the Chapter and are chosen from the ranks of the Veterans within the Company. These Marines are answerable only to the Lord Captain, who leads the Chapter. The Lord Captain presides over the Deliberative, which consists of the ten Company Captains, the Chief Lirarian, Forge Master and the Reclusiarch. This council oversees the administration of the Chapter.


he Chapter does not have a battle cry. If ever there was a motto given to the Red Shoulders, it was attributed to the Planetary Governor of Kelliad II after the Chapter's single-handed, and near miraculous, defense against an Eldar assault: "Cede Nullis" or “Yields to none".


t is the Chapter heraldry where the divergence is greatest from the Codex Astartes, which itself is a blank red palette. The Chapter still uses some of the more ubiquitous tactical icons as they are still a loyal Chapter to the Imperium and recognize the need for cohesion and familiarity outside itself.

For the Chapter, the whole of the armor is dark gray. The entire left shoulder pauldron is bright red as the Chapter badge. The right pauldron uses Codex adherent tactical markings. Company and Squad numbers are removed to maintain secrecy from any observations. As the Chapter icon does not incorporate an image, vehicles are decorated and named by the Techmarines upon their activation. From an armor plate to weapon cowling, each vehicle is marked differently from another.

Edited by Race Bannon, 20 December 2010 - 02:13 PM.

"Fully dressed in the ancestral Terminator Armour of their Chapter they rise to a new level of battlefield supremacy, a level where monstrous tanks are but playthings of a child, and where Terminators, Daemons and gods stalk as equals." -Thunder and Lightning, White Dwarf 116 (UK)
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