"Renegades and Traitors! A ring of steel surrounds your foul fastness! We will crush all those who dare to continue to resist the will of the God-Emperor. Abandon your posts!Abandon your guns! Abandon all hope! For the Emperor!"
Chaplain Markhov of the Twilight's Hands, Siege of Dryussina, 456th Day
Brother Volokhonsky, 6 Company, Squad Patria, "The Spear of Noxxara" Honoured Brother Veridan, 1 Company, Squad Thorius, "The Argeads"
'What is it to be a Twilight's Hand?'
'It is to be a Weapon of Righteousness'
'What is it to be a Twilight's Hand?'
'It is to be a Weapon of the Emperor'
'What is it to be a Twilight's Hand?'
'It is to fight with wisdom, and strength'
'What is it to be a Twilight's Hand?'
'It is to be a Deliverer'
'What is it to be a Twilight's Hand?'
'It is to be a defender to those who cannot defend themselves'
'What is it to be a Twilight's Hand?'
'It is to be a master of the four suites of war:'
'Skill, Strength, Wisdom and Fear'
A recital of the Twilight's Hands pledge of service, as uttered by every recruit on their ascension to Battle Brother.
"Abandon all hope!"
(Ura means Emperor in the tongue of the Twilight's Hands Homeworld)
"Great God-Machine. What have we done?" Magos Ferranus, Adeptus Mechanicus
The Thirteenth Founding was known as the Dark Founding by the Adeptus Terra, and it is a name well chosen. None amongst the Administratum possess the original geneseed, and no records exist of the chapters created then. The names of the chapter's founded then are unknown. Process of elimination is no help, becuase hundreds of Chapters have lost their records in the monolithic bureacracy of Terra. In piles of dusty scrolls and cogitator banks higher than hive cities, this data likely lies, yet none amongst the Administratum have the time, nor the inclination, to seek it out.
The space marines of the Twilight's Hands believe that they are one of those missing chapters. Having found no record of their creation in the annals of other chapters. Most think them to be of Raven Guard stock, for they possess the pale skin and black hair and eyes of that Chapter, yet they still are able to spit acid and survive hard vacuum, two things that the Raven Guard cannot do. This has led some to question the origin of Twillight's Hands gene seed, for it has no direct match amongst that of other chapters. Some claim that it is a result of secret Adeptus Mechanicus tampering, others that it comes from one of the lost legions (though this is vehemently denied). Whatever the case, the fact remains that on 99867 M36, a force of Twilight's Hands fought alongside the entire Crimson Fists chapter and wiped out an Ork Waaaagh under the command of the Mad Dok of Loki V, and adding their first entry into Imperial Annals.
Despite their manifest loyalty, their mysterious origin leads many chapters to be suspicious of them. Notably, the Dark Angels, Gorgonites and White Consuls refusing to fight alongside them, claiming that they are 'cursed.' They have even come to blows with these chapters on occasion. However, they have close links with the Raven Guard, Mentor Legion and Crimson Fists, having fought alongside these chapters on many occasions.
"In the beauty of the jungle, the artist finds inspiration, the philosopher finds knowledge, but the warrior finds death."
Old Twilight's Hands proverb.
The Chapter has its homeworld in the Noxxara system, in the Segmentum Obscurus. Of the five worlds in the sytem, three are gas giants. These are home to several small Adeptus Mechanicus mining facilities, that the chapter protects (and trains the Skitarii forces garrisoned there) in exchange for weapons and refuelling rights. The other two, Noxxara Primus and Noxxara Tertius, are where the chapter has its home. On Noxxara Primus, the chapters main fortress monastery, Telum, stands in the centre of the jungles like a vast obsidian obelisk. Noxxara Primus is a death world, its equatorial jungles some of the most beautiful in the Imperium, yet filled with deadly and dangerous creatures. It is here that the chapter conducts its training regime. Sometimes, the lords of the chapter declare a contest of companies. Each company selects five warriors, usually the Captain's command squad, and they set off into the wilderness. Whilst there, they must stay alive, for many of the creatures are a match for any Astartes, and hunt the other teams. The team that is the last one standing is the victor. When a team captures the other, they mark their position with an orbital beacon, and a shuttle will collect the losers. Though the marines are only supposed to capture one another, the losers are carried back to Telum, trussed and bound, where they are forced to endure a series of ritual humilliations. After this has taken place, the winners then have to fight the losers in a training battle, in which they suffer a humilliating defeat (only once has a team beaten both challenges) so that none can call themselves victor, and thus fall victim to the greatest sin of all: pride.
Whilst Noxxara Primus has many tribes who live within the jungle, and who make perfect astartes recruits, they are hard to find, and often hostile to those who try to take their young. Nevertheless, some find their way into the chapter, where they are almost invariably highly sucessful. Noxxara Tertius is the primary recruiting world. The massive hives of the planet hold those labourers who toil to extract the precious promethiate gases on the moons. The hives are home to a series of clan gangs, which require a large Arbites presence to keep under a semblence of control. This gives the chapter two sources of recruits. The clan gangs, whose internecine wars and heists often turn a plentiful harvest of recruits, and the Arbites, whose attempts to keep the gangs under control usually end in a shoot-out. The effect is a rivalry within the chapter, with those who were once enforcers and those who were once gangers often competing against each other to win plaudits and fame. Though this can sometimes turn nasty, it is not prohibited, indeed, it is actively encouraged by the Lords of the Chapter, who see it as all for the good of strengthening both sides.
"You are not in Kansas any more..."
Pre-Unification Fragment, Source Unknown
The aspirants are returned to Noxxara, where they are delivered to the chapter's training facility at Vindolanda, a small tribal village in the frozen northern ice caps. The aspirants are kept in cramped, difficult conditions, with only a pair of leggings for protection. This tends to weed out the weakest early on. After a series of brutal training exercises, the recruits begin the first of the four main trials, the Trial of Skill: The aspirants must journey into the polar ice sheets, where the fierce high winds will freeze a man within hours, armed only with a knife. The aspirants are told by an Apothecae adept that they have perhaps nine hours to live out on the ice. The only way to survive is to hunt down and kill and skin a polar wrym, a ferocious predator with skin that can protect them from the fierce winds. After this, they must then endure a further five days without food. This is intended to give them time to reflect on their duty to the Emperor.
When the trial ends, and the men are picked up, they leave Vindolanda, and move Southward to Novalya. This is the second of the three training camps that they must journey through. At this camp, they recieve their first implants, as well as guidelines on how to use them, followed by more months of training. The training is followed by the Trial of Strength. First, the aspirant must run a three-day marathon across the grassy tundra. Then, they must do a variety of strenous physical excercise (a drill sergeant's favourite is forcing the aspirants to do press ups with many multiples of their body weight stacked upon their back) followed by a series of contests of strength against a 1st Company veteran. Obviously, in this stage, the aspirant is judged not on whether or not they win, but on how much they lose by.
After this, the remaining aspirants, (usually numbering half of their original number), hike Southwards to Zemyla, the third camp. Here they perform the Trial of Wisdom. This trial has three stages: Trial by Fire, Trial by Rock, and the gruelling Trial by Ice. In the Trial by Fire, the aspirant must negotiate a treacherous hot lake of mud, seeded with volcanic activity, and, for good measure, landmines. The aspirant's wisdom lies in whether or not he can navigate the mud, and avoid the mines. the Trial by Rock forces the aspirant, to arrange a series of rocks in a pile, and it is as much a test of strength as a test of skill. The Trial by Ice is the most gruelling. Given a knife, the aspirant must swin under a sheet of ice, as far as he can, then cut his way back out. It is a test of the aspirant's wit as well as stamina. He may leave it too early, and disgrace himself, or leave it too late...
Finally, the aspirants embark on the Trial of Fear. The aspirants trek from Zemyla to Telum, through five hundred miles of predator infested jungle. Beforehand, each aspirant is given whatever personal weapons they had when recruited, and told to set off. They must arrive at Telum within fifty days of setting out, and must collect the skull of a great beast on the way. When they arrive at Telum, they are given their geneseed implant, they welcomed by their battle brother's of the Scout Company with a feast, and a curt smile from their Scout Sergeant.
"You are a battle brother of the glorious twelfth. Your name is now part of the glorious roster that has woven a long and proud path through our history. Take up your weapon, son of Noxxara, and go forth. Let them fear you name, but let them taste your shadow."
Black Captain Galea, 12 Company, Twilight's Hands
The current chapter strength stands at twelve companies, plus a scout company. One company always remains at Noxxara to guard their fortress monastery and environs, whilst the other twelve make war across the galaxy. They set great store by martial honour and battle, and every three hundred years they embark on a Diaspora. All their companies set off across the galaxy, and are expected to return on Uternicht, their holy day. Their quest must take one year from beginning to end, and they tell tales of their valour when they return to Noxxara.
The Chapter is ruled by the Senatus Nox. The Captains of the Twelve Brotherhoods, the Twilight's Hands companies, sit on the Senatus, as does the Chapter Master, the Master of the Forge, and the three most senior dreadnoughts. The Master of Chirurgeons (chief apothecary), and the Lord Epistolary sit on the Senatus, as does the Master of Sanctity. The Twilight's Hands may never go to war without the vote of the Senatus Nox. The Chapter Master's vote counts as three, the Master of the Forge, Master of Sanctity, Lord Epistolary and First Captain's for two, and the Dreadnought's for one. However, the Dreadnoughts have the power to veto any action taken by the council, if all three are of the same mind. The council meets either aboard the Talonlord, their flagship, which has been upgraded many times, so that its firepower matches that of the most powerful Imperial battleships, or on Noxxara Primus, atop Mount Unas, which is inacessable to those without flight. The Senatus was formed so that the Chapter Master would never become victim to the sin of arrogance, nor would he become a dictator, for both these sins open the door for Chaos to creep in. The dreadnoughts have the power of veto because of their ancient and experienced nature. They provide valuable counsel to the less experienced Captains, and speak for the ancients of the Chapter, and as the voice of the chapter's fallen, the battle-brethren viewing them as a kind of link between living and dead.
The 1st Company is comprised of Veterans. Few marines make this prestigious cut, and fewer still survive more than a handful of bloody battles. The 1st most commonly seen in its Vanguard Armour, and the Twilight's Hand's jump pack assaults are legendary in their effectiveness. The most common method is for the chapter's air power to fly overhead at high altitude, the Vanguard Squads leaping from the rear of their gunships and activating their jet packs as low as possible, so as to maximise the crushing impact of their landing. Unlike most chapters, the Twilight's Hands insist that their Veterans train in both Sternguard and Vanguard disciplines, and the 1st is a highly flexible formation that can adapt to any tactical eventuality, be it storming an Iron Warrior's fortress, holding the line against a Tyranid hive fleet, or a search and destroy mission against a Tau ethereal. The obvious drawback is that the 1st cannot excercise the same degree of aptitude in each discipline that other chapters can, but the Twilight's Hands see this as a worthy price to pay.
Whilst the Twilight's Hands maintain some suits of Terminator Armour, they do not have the same resources as other chapters, and so only maintain around 30 suits. These are reserved for high ranking members of the Librarium, Chapter Command Staff and Chaplaincy, they still maintain two Terminator Squads within the 1st, Squad Thorius, known as the Argeads, after the hive gang most of them were recruited from, and Squad Rezhnov, the Sarrisae, who specialise in boarding space hulks. Sergeant Rezhnov wears a fearsome battle helm, fashioned from the skull of the first genestealer he killed. These squads are rarely seen on the field of combat, however, and normally fight in power armour, though their suits of Terminator armour, go with them always.
The 2nd to Seventh Companies are the tactical companies of the chapter, each retaining the standard Codex organisation of six tactical squads, two assault squads and two devastator squads. The eighth and ninth are the assault companies. Captain Nguyen of the ninth and Captain Vos of the eigth are like brothers and the two have fought side by side many times, such as at the siege of Kasr Vasan, where they slaughtered a horde of mutants five times their number. The tenth and eleventh are devastator companies, and they spend almost every waking hour training in fire discipline and on the target range. The twelfth company is almost as highly regarded as the first. It is known in the chapter as the Black Company, for it is a second scout company. Whilst the scouts of the thirteenth company are raw recruits, swords yet to be tempered in holy battle, the twelfth are an elite cadre. They number barely 50 Astartes, yet their surgical strikes and stealth missions have achieved what a full division of Imperial Guard could not. During the Third War for Armageddon, they managed to sneak past Ork sentries, and mine several Gargants. Their actions bought time for the defenders of Hive Acheron to muster enough armour to halt the assault. The Thirteenth are the recruits. It is they who guard Noxxara during the Diaspora, and they who look in awe at the rest of their brethren.
The commanders of the First, Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Twelfth and Thirteeth companies hold special positions within the chapter, and it is they who represent the Chapter on official business. The dreadnoughts are rarely activated, save for the trio that sit upon the Senatus Nox.
"Spill their blood, certainly. Gut their leaders, by all means. But never forget: They must fear you as you do it."
Scout Sergeant Zakaev of 13 Company
What the Twilight's Hands are most famous for is their use of psychological warfare. Different companies manifest this technique in different ways. The seventh company favour a noisy and intimidating armoured assault. The third company make extensive use of morale-destroying flame weaponry and napalm strikes, the fifth are masters of drop pod attacks and the ninth have fitted amplifiers to their armour that project their war cries at a destructive level. May foes have simply surrendered out of fear before a single shot is fired. A notable incidence was during the Rua'Yan Planetstrike, where a scout squad attached to the Black Company assasinated a Tau Ethereal and Shas'O with a roadside bomb, flipping their Devilfish and killing the entire Tau command section just as a Twilight's Hands drop assault screamed from above. The Tau surrendered as the first pod touched down. None were spared as a consequence.
The Chapter's use of psychological warfare was used to its fullest extent during the Battle of the Black Sword Pass. The renegade and power hungry men of the Erymanthian 12th Armoured were advancing down the pass with the intention of laying waste to the planetary capital. They were accompanied by a squad of Alpha Legion veterans who had formented the rebellion. The Alpha Legion were unaware, however, that their strike cruiser was at that time crippled and subject to punishing bombardment from the Talonlord, which had destroyed its Vox array and astropathic cadre with its first lance strikes. When the Twilight's Hands gunships screamed out of high orbit, they fired hundreds of wailing missiles, destroying hundreds of traitor armour pieces, including those at the front and rear of the column. This demoralised the traitors to such an extent that when the Twilight's Hands attacked, only the battle hardened Alpha Legion were left to resist. Unable to escape, the Alpha Legion were all slaughtered, save for one, whom the Twilight's Hands managed to capture alive, though his interrogation was fruitless. Trapped, the remaining traitors were wiped out to a man, and the pass burned with incendiary missiles. This act earned them an Imperial Laurel from the High Lords themselves.
Another notable facet of the Twilight's Hands is their humanitarianism. They have come into conflict with the Inquisition, at one point even refusing to perform Exterminatus on a Chaos-infested planet becuase there were Imperial Guardsmen fighting on the surface. On another occasion, they murdered an Inquisition Cleansing Unit, who were executing Imperial citizens who had come into contact with Chaos, and rescued the refugees, putting them to work in Telum. Whilst this has led to an emnity with the Inquisition, their cordial relations with the Adeptus Mechanicus, as well as the remote location of their fortress, has and will continue to shield them from direct harm.
However, this relationship has had its repercussions. The Inquisitions forces are increasingly unwilling to aid the Twilight's Hands, even when it would be beneficial to them. Whilst the Inquisition has had no chance to destroy the chapter as it did with the Celestial Lions, the Twilight's Hands are ever alert for a similar attempt, having guessed the nature of the Celestial Lions's downfall. However, the Inquisition have not been entirely unsucessful in their underhand attempts to defeat the chapter. Twelve companies were trapped in the Garro system when a freak warp storm prevented them from making warp back to Noxxara, which was under attack by Eldar pirates. It was no coincidence that an Inquisition Black Ship was nearby at the time. A second incidence was when a massive force of Tarellian and Galg mercenaries attacked Noxxara, again when the chapter were out-system. The mercenary chieftain was found to have massive amounts of Imperial Credits on his body, and other mercenaries had gold decoration that appeared to be made from Imperial Credits. This further reinforced the chapter's suspicions that the Inquisition have a vested interest in their destruction. Interstellar communication has become harder for the chapter's astropaths, and the chapter often find themselves bogged down in needless bureacracy when associating with other Imperial organizations. Whilst they have a few allies in the Inquisition, most Inquisitors hate them, and often refuse their aid, even in situations that would tactically warrant it. The Twilight's Hands view the Inquisition as needlessely cruel at best, heretics at worst. The Inquisition view the Twilight's Hands as dangerous mavericks, not to mention a powerful enemy, both on the stage of politics, and in the crucible of bloody combat.
During the Doranna campaign, the Twilight's Hands fought alongside the five companies of the Blades of Tyrian chapter, a Blood Angels sucessor chapter. During the final battles against the Khornate cultists waging war on the system, the cultists committed mass suicides, in addition to sacrificing any prisoners taken from the Imperial Guard pacification forces. Before long, they had called to their side a warband of Khorne berzerkers, led by a mighty Bloodthirster. The Blades of Tyrian took this especially badly, their repressed geno-memories driving them to greater acts of carnage and slaughter. Chainswords whirring, they took several traitor fortresses. It was during one such assault, that the Blades of Tyrian's commander in chief, Elial, dissappeared without trace, vanishing into the bowels of a shattered hive. The Blades were sorely aggrieved, for Elial had been a competent and liked commander. Soon however, their loss was forgotten, as with each battle the Blades became more and more vicious. In the assault on the second last bastion of traitor power, the Blades finally went too far. Slaughtering the World Eaters, they then turned on the Imperial Guard sent to join them, killing hundreds, before the Twilight's Hands, who had thus far kept away from the Blades's affairs, beliving, rightly, that honour should run its course, intervened, forcing a truce, but not before five Blades were dead, along with over seven hundred guardsmen. The Lord Commander refused to continue to prosecute the campaign, digging in and awaiting Inquisitorial intervention. The new commander of the Blades, Manix, told the Twilight's Hands that they would assault the final stronghold regardless. The Twilight's Hands had little choice but to go with them.
The final battle was a clash of epic proportions. Defilers clanked forward on stalk-like legs. Devastator Squads fired blistering salvos. Terminators mowed down men like wheat. Through it all, the Blades hacked and slashed, with no thought to their own safety. In the enemy's throne room, they came face to face with the mighty avatar of the Blood God, a monstrous horned beast with eyes of fire and wings as black as coal. The Bloodthirster accounted for fifteen of the Blades's finest warriors before it was hacked down by the frenzied Sons of Sanguinius. When the Twilight's Hands commander entered the room, the Bloodthirster was lain upon the floor, in the centre of a lake of daemon-ichor. As its essence dissipated, the Blades's missing Captain emerged from the shadow. He was clad in garish half-armour, and his visage was more beautiful and yet more terrible than it had been when he had dissappeared. He was surrounded by a coterie of Slaaneshi daemonettes, as well as the corrupted brethren of his command squad. He offered the Blades a place in his new warband. They accepted at once. The Twilight's Hands fought, but were thrown back, suffering stinging defeat after stinging defeat. Eventually, they sent for aid, and the call was answered by the Dark Angel's, Gorgonites and White Consuls chapters.
But apart from aiding the Twilight's Hands, the Dark Angels, and their companions rebuked them for failure, their haughty commander telling the chapter master to go on a penitent crusade. The Twilight's Hands commander flatly refused, denying any wrongdoing. This further incensed the newly arrived chapters, but they had little choice but to band together and repulse the Blades of Tyrian, who had changed their name to Blades of Ecstasy. The Blades escaped with close to three hundred warriors. When the Twilight's Hands told the remainder of the Blades chapter, they painted their armour black, and set off to destroy their wayward brothers. They were never seen again. This led to a belief that the Hand's were unlucky, somehow cursed. For their part, this sorry tale is told to every Hand on his ascension to battle-brother, and they see it as their duty to hunt down and destroy the Blades of Ecstasy, whose failure they see as their own. This gives the Twilight's Hands an almost fatalistic demeanour, but they continue to hunt, and, most importantly, continue to hate.
Edited by Brother-Captain Alecto, 22 January 2010 - 04:17 PM.