"Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment, faith the second.
You shall take neither if you wish to survive."
Commander Telyon addressing novices
"My men may have stopped breathing yesterday, but they were dead the day the High Lords sanctioned accursed Chapter!" - Colonel Marron, 243rd Illorian Rifle Regiment
The chapter's willingness to accept sacrifice and collateral damage has been with them since the second century of their history, when their home world of Mercurial III fell victim to the power of the WAAAGH!. Mercurial III was a civilized world that boasted some four billion inhabitants. Initially, the marines and the PDF tried their best to safeguard the planet's population from the Ork onslaught, but as the defenders' numbers dwindled it became an impossible task. The decision that some would be sacrificed so more could be saved was made with greater and greater frequency. It took a full decade to muster an Imperial force large enough to evict the Orks from Mercurial, and by then fully half of the planet's population had been killed, left to the Orks so that the other half might live.
The faith of the Golden Defenders was greatly shaken in the sixth year of the Ork invasion. The evacuation of the city of Veretius was complete save for the complex of temples dedicated to the aspects of the God- Emperor and his saints, where priests still preached deliverance to crowds of terrified refugees. The priests and their flocks remained firm in their determination that the Emperor would save them, despite the pleas of PDF Commanders and the orders of the Marines. The last of the defenders departed, and the Orks arrived, with predictable results. Following the incident at Verentius, holy places were always the first to be evacuated. Less obvious was the doubt which had taken hold of the Golden Defenders.
The Age of Apostasy
"This infighting is madness! We will not partake in it, least we land a hand in the destruction of the Imperium!" - Commander Teritius of the Golden Defender
In an age of religious turmoil and tests of faith, the Golden Defenders abandoned theirs. Wherever the Golden Defenders looked all they saw was faith perverted with many claiming divinity or sanctity in the Emperor's name to further their own ends. As the incessant holy wars raged and planets burned on mere whims, the chapter became convinced that humanity was failing due to its own misguided faith. Of these wars none had such an effect of the Golden Defenders as the Cleansing of Verrilia where the inhabitants claimed the manifestation of the Emperor Himself was leading them. The people of Verrilia set out to conquer the Amercius sector for their so called Emperor. The chapter had no choice but to wage war on the verrilians, a war that eventually lead the to the destruction of the planet and the unmasking of the would be Emperor as a daemon prince that had usurped the faith of the world.
The Cleaning of Verrilia was the first conflict to open the Golden Defenders' eyes to how easily faith, even that in the Emperor, could be perverted and used by the enemies of the Imperium. Other wars, such as Cardinal Gerention's Pacification or the Most Holy Gallarian Crusade, only strengthened that belief within the chapter. The claim of divinity by the daemon prince of Verrilia would have no small effect either, as it lead the Golden Defenders initially question and refuse to acknowledge the divinity of any being within or without the Imperium.
By the time they reestablished communications with Terra after Sebastian Thor's death the chapter had abandoned many of their rituals and all their prayers. It is only due to the good works of Thor's Confederation of Light that the Golden Defenders became more moderate in their views of the Ecclesiarchy, but by the end of the 41 Millennium almost all of the chapter's rituals had been abolished.
Disagreements with the Mechanicus
"They have forsaken the greatness of the Omnissiah!? Then let us see how they fare when he forsakes them." - Magos Verrilius Ardot
678.M36 The Great Raid - Chaos raiders attack several planets in the Amercius sector, the Golden Defenders are unable to contain them due to the very limited equpment available to the chapter at the time. The arrival of a Black Templar Crusade finally turns the tide and the Amercius sector is safe once more.
745.M37 The Overlian Crusade - Elements from the Praetors of Orpheus and Golden Defenders bring much of Sector Overlia back under Imperial control. The Golden Defenders deference to the methods of the Praetors results in a more prolonged campaign than usual, but also lessens the destruction so typical of the chapter's efforts.
345.M38 The Purge of Brillisos - Second, Third and Eighth companies of the Golden Defenders, under the command of Inquisitor Lord Arnod Vridian depopulate the world of Brillisos due to rampant Chaos influence. The planet's infrastructure survives largely intact and the planet is resettled in a decade.
10.M41 Macharian Heresy - Four Golden Defender companies are deployed to help end the Macharian Heresy. During their stay in the region they bring eight planets back under imperial control, and aid in the reconquest of another one hundred.
The withdrawal lead to a bleak period in the history of the Golden Defenders and of their homerwold. With the recall of the adepts of the Machine God, the infrastructure of Mercurial began to fail, manufactoria ground to a halt, famine set in as crops withered and died due to the lack of irrigation and in some cities even clean water became an issue. The tech-marines of the Golden Defenders were hard pressed to divide their attention between maintaining the infrastructure of their homeworld, the upkeep of their chapter's equipment and the training of new tech-marines. So hopeless became the situation that the Golden Defenders had to set aside their pride and request the assistance from their fellow Astartes.
Of the chapters that answered the Golden Defenders' plea for aid, the Praetors of Orpheus had the greatest impact. Their tech-marines did much to dispel the superstition still plaguing the Golden Defenders in regards to machines. Armed with such knowledge and with the aid of their fellow marines the Golden Defenders were eventually able to restore their homeworld to it's former glory, but only after five centuries of labor. To this day the Praetors of Orpheus and the other chapters that lent their aid are honored in the halls of the Golden Defenders.
When Adepts of Mars finally discovered the error that lead to the near destruction of Mercurial, they dispatched a delegation bearing and apology to Chapter. But when the delegation arrived in orbit of the Golden Defender homeworld, they did not find technological impaired backwater they were expecting, instead they found a self sufficient and prosperous world. Not only that, but their apology was meet with nothing but scorn by the Astartes masters of Mercurial, who could not forget nor forgive the near destruction of their homeworld.
This turn of events angered the Adeptus Mechanicus to no end and they resolved to bring the Chapter to its knees. Firstly, in from of an Inquisitorial conclave, they accused the Golden Defenders of breaching Adepts' rights as guardians of technology within the Imperium. As a counter, the Space Marines accused the Mechanicus of not fulfilling their duty as keepers of technology when they abandoned Mercurial and thus forfeiting any claim over the machined found on the planet as well as threatening their autonomy as Astartes, more over the Golden Defenders presented several missives form various chapters supporting their point of view. Caught between risking to anger the Adeptus Mechanicus on one hand and a possible Astartes rebellion on the other, the conclave found itself bogged down in endless debate.
With their first attempt stalled at discrediting the Chapter stalled, they tried other means, such as claiming that the Golden Defenders' gene-seed was corrupted and that they were missing their tithes. The former accusation was laid to rest when the Chapter allowed its gene-seed to be tested by Apothecaries attached to the Deathwatch while the latter as resolved when the ships bearing the tithes were diverted though a known inquisitorial system where they picked up acolytes as witnesses to the timely delivery of their precious cargo.
The Mechanicus have continued to try to discredit the Golden Defenders by various means. However despite their efforts, the Mechanicus have only manage to bring the Golden Defenders closer to Inquisition. Many of the inquisitors that investigated the chapter found the Golden Defenders to have ideals very similar to their own as well as being easier to lease with then other chapters. Thus the Golden Defenders have become a valuable resource for the Inquisition, both in the Amercius sector and beyond. In return for their loyal services, the Inquisition abates the wrath of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
"Though one cannot fault their service to the Imperium, I find their lack of faith...disturbing." - Inquisitor Allarat of the Ordo Hereticus
Despite their general opposition to worship and religion, the Golden Defenders acknowledge that the manipulation wrought by the Ministorum is necessary for the survival of humanity. But though they tolerate the cult of the Emperor, they are not so forgiving when it comes to cults of the Ruinous Powers. They see the worship of the Chaos Gods for what it is - faith used to drive mankind willingly toward its own destruction. The Golden Defenders spare no effort in their attempts to root out and destroy the touch of Chaos, wherever it is found.
Though the chapter neither revere the Emperor nor offer any prayers in His name, he is still respected as the embodiment of many of the Chapter's ideals. One of the few holy days still acknowledged by the Golden Defenders is the Feast of the Emperor's Ascension, where the Emperor's many sacrifices for humanity are remembered.
"Mercurial III, the jewel of the Amercius Sector! The day I fail to return there is the day that I die." - Rogue Trader Bellirian Reck
The Golden Defenders administer their home world directly, through the leadership of chapter serfs. The population is fiercely loyal to its masters, this is due in no small part to the constant contact between the two as well as the chapter's efforts to defend the people during the Ork invasion, so much so that they see the marines as their saviors and a true gift from the Emperor. The Imperial Cult has continued to flourish on Mercurial III, the chapter preferring to avoid the questions that would come from its elimination. Instead, the chapter has opted to exercise control over the Ecclesiarchal priests assigned to its world, maintaining the right to exile any priest they see fit. Unsurprisingly, the chapter favors those who preach obedience to the Imperium, while those of a more fiery bent soon find themselves escorted off-planet.
"You will have to learn and unlearn many things! But the most important gift you shall receive is the knowledge of how you may best serve Humanity!" - Captain Gerinion
The candidates are subjected to a series of intense trials, which are used to eliminate all but the most suitable candidates with minimal risk of injury or death. For the few who make it through these initial trials, a battery of genetic compatibility tests are to follow, while those tests will be followed with true challenges. The aspirants are deprived of food and sleep while their minds and their bodies are pushed to their limits. They are forced to compete with one another in tests of skill, wit, speed and strength, of which the bloody spectacle of the last are the most favored by the planet's population. Death and disfigurement are not uncommon, but few aspirants choose to leave the trials. Those who pass these grueling tests are finally named neophytes and introduced in the chapter's Scout Company, while others serve the chapter as serfs or administrators.
"Rare is the beauty of the union between strength and purity."- Apothecary Apolonius of the Deathwatch
With the passage of time, the Golden Defenders have also made some headway into improving their genetic screening techniques. These techniques, coupled with the improved implantation procedures, have resulted in a higher rate of successful recruitment then normal, which in turn has allowed the chapter to maintain it's numbers despite it's highly active nature.
"Those who fight beside the Golden Defenders may find themselves bought and sold, my Lords. But they will not, I think, find themselves needlessly spent." - Lord Patron Havelock DeNistry
What does set them apart from most other chapters is their view that casualties and collateral damage are not only inevitable but sometimes even necessary. The Golden Defenders have taken to heart the old saying "Anything worth doing is worth dying for." They view a death dedicated to Humanity's survival as the greatest honor one can aspire to and as such they have no qualms to request, demand and sometimes even impose such deaths on others. But while the Golden Defenders view death with a purpose as necessary, they consider the wasting of lives as both a danger and as an affront to the survival of Humanity and as such they will go to great lengths to ensure that wherever the lives of men are to be sacrificed they will not be in vain.
Many have accused the Golden Defenders of being arrogant, cruel and even inhuman because of their willingness to sacrifice the lives of others to achieve their own ends. But the marines ignore such accusations, knowing that every sacrifice they demand of another has been equalled many times over by countless fallen Chapter brothers. In nearly every battle they fight, sacrifices must be made - because only those battles where sacrifice is needed are formidable enough to need them.
"The refusal is most distressing indeed! Yet I cannot fault them, they are thinly spread as it is." - Inquisitor Belin of the Ordo Maellus
Their somewhat divergent organization is due to their perceived dual mission. The Golden Defenders see themselves as guardians of humanity, and as such will answer any request for aid they possibly can, which has taken companies to almost every corner of the Imperium. Added to this is their stated mission of guarding the Amercius sector, which requires a constant presence. Since the battle companies are generally sent to face threats beyond the sector borders, the reserve companies operate independently within the sector on a regular basis, and require an appropriate formation. Only in the most dire circumstances do the Chapter Reserves leave the Amercius Sector.
The Chapter has proportionally high number of tech-marines among its members, which along with the librarians and apothecaries have mostly forsaken their role specific heraldry in favor of the black and gold of the Chapter in an effort to bolster the sense of brotherhood among the Space Marines. Which has lead to the rest of the Chapter to offer the proper respect to these valiant members rather then holding them in fear or awe.
"Arrogant dogs they are! Who are they anyway to claim we seek Humanity's destruction? We seek its freedom!" - Unknown heretic
Major thanks to Octavulg for major editing, re-wording and re-writing! I feel spoiled right here! All the parts that sound good are his, all those parts that sound bad are my fault.
Edited by Telveryon, 04 January 2011 - 08:11 AM.