Wardhaven was once a lush jungle planet before it was struck by a massive asteroid (some believe one meant for Westinghouse, which had resisted the Warmaster's forces during the Heresy). The world cracked, with the massive crater spawning thousands of miles of canyons and valleys which exposed the molten mantle to the surface. The atmosphere darkened, and the world, already at the edge of the habitable zone of the system, froze over. The hardy jungles which had covered the globe died off, except those near the new volcanic rifts, which provided nutrients and vital warmth. Since then, the Mechanicus had taken advantage of the easy access to the molten core of Wardhaven and mined it for minerals essential to running the forges. Small settlements sprung up in leftover mining tunnels. It was there that the Foehammers initially called home, beneath the surface of the frozen wastes. As the warp storms continued to cut the system off from the outside galaxy, the short term stay turned into a a more permanent one. Fifty years since they first landed on the surface, the Chapter began work on a Keep, built into the rim of the Grand Crater. The human members of the relief force integrated into the mining settlements, which soon began to resemble proper cities, miniature hives built into the rock. Since then, the population has grown, living beneath the surface,
During the Age of Apostasy that began shortly after the Foehammers settled on Wardhaven, warp storms again isolated the system, a few of the many Vandire tracked, waiting for systems to be revealed so he could recruit them or destroy them. Unfortunately, he was preempted by the Storm of the Emperor's Wrath, which destroyed his major fleet and cleared the warp for Sebastion Thor to make his Crusade. Finally able to leave the system, an expedition was sent back to Mars with copies of the data and a gene-seed tithe. Learning of what had happened, the company of Foehammers that had returned to Mars to escort the convoy offered their services to the Confederation of Light and Fabricator General Gastaph Hedriatix. He tasked the company and their strike cruiser Adamant with guarding the Sol system from Frateris ships attempting to return and fight for Vandire. The Adamant preformed well, destroying a troop convoy of Vandire's troops and engaging a Frateris cruiser and several destroyers. Meanwhile on Terra, Vandire was killed and the civil war over. Having made their delivery to Mars, the Foehammers returned to Wardhaven with the Chapter's first battle honors.
Over the next several millennium, the Foehammers fortified the Groombridge system, riding out the various warp storms which isolated them, and sending out expeditions to seek resources. The First Battalion became the public face of the chapter, based on the Battlebarge Doombringer. The location of the Groombridge system and chapter keep was guarded carefully, to limit the possibility of outsiders travelling to Wardhaven and Westinghouse. Many came to believe that the Foehammers were a fleet based chapter, a rumor that was not denied. The chapter participated in a number of crusades and campaigns, but were often distrusted by other chapters for their tendency to "pick over the battlefields like Kroot" after combat and salvage what they could. Members of the chapter fought in both the Macharian Crusade and the Heresy that followed, as well as a number of operations in the Helican subsector.
888 M41 saw the beginning of several direct threats to Groombridge, resulting in a recall the First Battalion and as many other expeditions as possible. The Black Templars and their Crusade of Wrath pushed uncomfortable close to the system, and drove warbands of the Word Bearers into the Maelstrom where they joined up with the renegades who long hoped to claim the valuable prize. Led by the Dark Apostle Goras, who pushed into the system and even landed a small strike force on Wardhaven's surface. Fierce resistance drove him off, and the return of the First Battalion broke the warband and cleared the system for the time being.
A mere 13 years later, in 901 M41, saw the Foehammer's home again threatened. Huron Blackheart, who had long attempted to make an ally of the Chapter, led his Astral Claws in revolt against the Imperium. Within two years, three more chapters joined Blackheart in rebellion and preyed on Imperial shipping in the region. No ships bound for Groombridge were captured, but a vessel of the Fire Hawks chapter is, drawing them into the conflict. A number of other chapters became involved in the conflict, including the Salamanders. While fighting against another push by Goras, the Foehammers provided charts of the Maelstrom to the Salamanders, allowing the Loyalists to push into the region, trapping and eventually defeating the rebels. Blackheart led a band of survivors which he renamed the Red Corsairs, who would merge the various warbands in the Maelstrom into one force. He recruited Goras who attempted to make another push into the system, but a strike group of Grey Knights (making their usual inspection of the system for taint) help repulse the assault after Goras is killed by Grand Master Marticar in single combat.
Most recently, the siege of Groombridge was mostly lifted as the Red Corsairs pulled back a majority of the renegades in the region and left the Maelstrom in force to raid the Chogoris, Kaelas, and Sessec systems. The Foehammers have responded by dispatching task forces to assist those worlds.
Constant warfare and a relatively low casualty rate resulted in large numbers of marines who could be considered veterans, and supplies from nearby Westinghouse meant they could be supplied as such. Seeing no need to limit the number or quality of veteran troops, Chapter Master Brody began a reorganization. He kept the concept of ten companies, but adopted a number of ideas from the Guard forces they fought alongside. The scouts and new inductees were stripped out of the formation and made into an auxiliary group. Reserve companies were integrated into standard combat forces, resulting in nine complete battle companies. Three of these batle companies were upgrades to veteran unit, while the existing First Company was given sole access to the Chapters stockpile of Terminator armor (barring officers and a handful of others).
Rather than ten captains and a chapter master, the chapter was sorted into more distinct units, with a wider range of officers and a clear chain of command. The nine battle companies (three of which were considered veterans) with their captains were grouped into three battalions led by a commander. Each company was sub-divided into three platoons led by a lieutenant. Each platoon was made up of about thirty men, organized into three squads (barring a handful of specialist squads which had either less or more men and were grouped into platoons accordingly). The leftover squad of troops was assigned directly to the company captain and his command squad.
The new force organization reflected that the chapter frequently attached troops to Guard units for long periods of time. While officially independent from the Guard and PDF within the system, the various forces formed a joint command within the system to coordinate efforts. The additional ranks and units Brody created allowed the Foehammers to be slotted into the defense much more easily. Planners simply treated the Foehammers as a superheavy tank unit of similar size. The Foehammers have grown used to operating as part of a combined arms force, a fact which makes some in the Imperium nervous. On the handful of occasions when confronted about the issue, the Foehammers simply point to the Ultramar PDF and how they operate alongside the Ultramarines. It is also pointed out that the joint command is a shared force, with the Astartes, Guard, PDF and other participating units senior officers forming a ruling council. Officially, single officer has direct control of the entire combined forces.
Over time, the battalions have differentiated between one another. It has fallen to the First to undertake a majority of the missions outside the system, leading them to adopt different practices from the other two battalions. The First prefers a more aggressive approach, with close combat emphasized more than in the rest of the chapter, as well as a more individualistic take on wargear. On occasion, their ways of battle resemble those of the fearsome Space Wolves rather than warriors of Gullimans Codex. Several traits also mark the First as distinct within the chapter. While the first company of the battalion is made up of veterans, the other two include a fairly large proportion of newly inducted warriors, just graduated into Power Armor. Sending them on expeditions is seen as an effective method to season the neophytes before they are entrusted with the vital defense of the home system. Lacking the combined arms support of the Groombridge Defense Force and the Mechanicus Legions, the First Battalion also includes a massive complement of Devastators.
Second and Third Battalions are more codex in structure. Each has one company of Veterans, and two standard companies. Among the veterans of these companies, Sternguard doctrine is highly favored, as defense is more important than the assault focus of Vanguard. The standard Companies are broken down into platoons just like the those of the First Battalion. Second Battalion (made up of fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Companies) follows the Codex precisely, with one veteran and two battle companies. Third Battalion is home to various specialists, however, with one veteran company (Seventh), one company made up entirely of assault marines (Eighth), and the third including the chapters relative handful of bikes (Ninth).
Recent inductees into the Chapter who are still limited to carapace armor are not officially assigned to any company. Overseen by a handful of veterans, they make up roughly an eleventh company, and are assigned by squad as needed. Some inductees become focused on the scouting role and specialize in it, becoming either trainers for future generations or scout veterans assigned to First Battalion.
Each company also has a dedicated technical branch, made up of around a dozen tech-marines and scores of tech adepts and servitors. Adepts are drawn from those battle brothers who show an aptitude for technology, and are marked out by tan robes or tabards when fighting with their units. Other adepts are responsable for crewing the chapters vehicles and maintaining the chapter armory. The creation of new equipment and reconsecration of salvaged materiel is overseen by the Chapter Forge, lead by the Forgemaster and staffed with over a hundred more tech-marines and adepts, as well as countless servitors.
The First Battalion is far more aggressive, spending most their time on expeditions in the galaxy at large. Their role is to strike hard and fast, and move on to the next battle. Besides maintaining the oaths and alliances the Chapter has made with other groups, the First has the role of recovering resources and salvaging equipment damaged or lost in combat. Fighting like a typical Astartes force, after the First Battalion has smashed the enemy, it will scour the warzone and collect as many resources as it can, transferring them to the numerous bulk haulers that accompany their task forces. Once full, these haulers return to Groombridge, adding the spoils to the system's armories and forges. Even equipment from other Chapters is claimed from the battlefield to be repaired and reconsecrated and added to the Foehammer armory. Efforts are made to return relics and materiel to a few organizations, primarily the Inquisition and Astartes chapters belonging to Salamanders and Iron Hands gene-stock. Most other chapters are simply out of luck, unless they are actually present during the salvage operation. The discovery of reconsecrated armor in the hands of the Foehammers has led to a number of grudges with other chapters, but the Foehammers rarely care. They will fight alone if needed, as they do to defend their home.
The other lesson learned from Tu'Scart was respect for humanity. The Foehammers see themselves as defenders of the Imperium in general, and the Groombridge system in specific. On occasions, sacrifices will be necessary, but where possible, the Foehammers take measures to save as many lives as they can.
This assumed duty to protect the system however has combined with the siege mentality to make the Chapter and even the other inhabitants within the system deeply suspicious of outsiders. There is little tolerance for interferance in their affairs, believing that as long as they pay their tithes (including backlogs when the system is cut off) that they should just be left alone. This belief is particularly frustrating to the Ecclesiarchy, especially since they see the Mechanicus Cult of Omnissiah within the system to be a rival. Even the Inquisition tends to tread lightly, as the system is home to both a Mechanicus Forgeworld and a Chapter Keep, which combined complicate the division of power enough to discourage anyone from prying too close for fear of angering either the Mechanicus or the Astartes elsewhere.
The one major concession the Chapter made was to the Grey Knights. In return for allowing them to do regular inspections of the system for Chaotic taint or corruption. In return, the Foehammers were allowed to study a set of the Grey Knights precious Aegis armor. The Forgemasters took the lessons they learned from the examination and began to integrate anti-chaotic wards into the most precious sets of artificer armor. Pale imitations of proper Aegis suits, the wards nonetheless provide a measure
I finally decided to post this. Stupid formatting keeps changing on me though. It looks fine to me now, but if it looks odd to anyone, let me know.
Edited by MajorWesJanson, 10 October 2009 - 10:25 AM.