Index Astartes: Hounds of the Hunt
For the Emperor…
We hunt our foes.
For the Chapter…
We honor the hunt.
We sacrifice our lives.
narratives of the era report a fledgling chapter of their description, and rumors of the chapter’s behavior would seem to confirm the genetic and temperamental instabilities so common to Astartes of that unfortunate Founding. Elements of the chapter’s oral history could refer to the Hound’s creation at some secret Adeptus Mechanicus facility, though they may also simply be examples of the semi-mythical creation stories not uncommon among the Adeptus Astartes. The chapter displays acute olfactory and auditory senses that are coupled with hunting instincts rare even amid their Astarte cousins, suggesting that they may be products of unusual genetic experimentation.
Imperial records do report that the Hounds were given the planet Eametanene on the rim-ward edge of the Segmentum Obscurus on the border of Segmentum Ultima. On their naming day, the Hounds were commissioned to hunt renegades, traitors, and corrupted Adeptus Astartes near both the Maelstrom and the Eye of Terror.
The Hounds refuse to name their first Chapter Master, but his reprehensible actions still influence the chapter to this day. This omission is speculated to be linked to a massacre of the Chapter’s First and Tenth companies early in its history. The result is that no Hounds leave their home world until they can don the power armor of a Hound.
Despite this excess caution, the Hounds are now a depleted Chapter, probably as a result of the genetic instability common to their Founding. The chapter is reported to have begun trying to increase the size of their recruiting population by transplanting war orphans from their campaigns to their home world, though it remains to be seen if this will be effective. Still, the chapter continues to pursue its mission of hunting down the enemies of the Emperor.
Indeed, narratives from various battlefields suggest that the Hounds after being bloodied frequently fly into a rage where they will tear apart anything in their path. Of note, to date, there is no record of Imperial troops being caught in one of these frenzies. The secondment of individuals to the Deathwatch and other such organizations is uncommon, and some observers have suggested the Hounds are trying to ensure that no brother is ever left in a position where he will become enraged without anyone to restrain him.
The oral histories of the Hounds describe their gene-seed as coming from the “Three Brothers,” implying that their stock may be a chimeric amalgamation of several sources. They apparently lack a Betcher’s gland zygote and at minimum possess a mutated Occulobe zygote as exhibited by their glowing green eyes. If any other mutations or deficiencies exist they have not been observed nor are the Hounds forthcoming on the subject.
To this date the Bone Seers, Hound Apothecaries; have been unsuccessful in finding a cure for the curse. The Hounds have repeatedly
petitioned the Adeptus Mechanicus for samples of their early gene-stock, but have met with refusal. This denial has frustrated the Hounds and lends to their less than cordial relationship with the Mechanicus.
The natives of Eametanene are hunter-gatherers which are formed into several loose familial tribes. The natives hunt the herds of Hexabison, a six-legged herbivore, following the creature’s migratory patterns through the seasons. The indigenous people constantly have to defend their temporary settlements from the Terror birds and feline pack scavengers, constant threats make the young hunters of Eametanene prime candidates for recruitment into the Hounds.
The Eametaneneans worship the Emperor in the guise of the local sun, a religion which appears to stem from an ancient abandoned Ecclesiarchy mission on the planet which predates the Hounds’ Founding. The Hounds’ Cult Seers use the chapel to masquerade as priests and guide the tribes without revealing their presence.
The Hounds’ Fortress-Monastery, Hunt’s End, is located in an enormous dead volcano on northeastern edge of the super continent. Most of the Chapters facilities are underground in a series of catacombs called the Underworld. Since the Hounds honor their brothers in funeral pyres the Underworld houses the individual war trophies of the Chapter’s fallen battle brothers. The ancients of the Hounds, the venerable dreadnoughts, also dwell in the lowest levels of the Underworld where they slumber until called back to the Hunt.
The Cult of the Hounds, established prior to their official founding, is a perverted form of the Promethean Cult. The cult teaches self-sacrifice for the good of the Hunt and for the protection of humanity. Another tenet of the cult is fire as a purifying force and the bodies of fallen Hounds are always burned to facilitate their journey to dwell with the Emperor and the honored dead.
All of the rites of the Hounds are performed under the open sky whenever possible and fire is a common element. The Hounds celebrate successful hunts, the conquest of foes, and significant deeds of bravery with artistic images burned into their flesh with a red hot knife. These brandings are usually performed by the Chapter Apothecaries.
As a new brother joins his first squad, he is forced by his fellow Hounds and his aggressive nature to challenge the senior members of the squad. These fights of dominance are the core of the Chapter’s pack mentality. This practice permeates the Hounds at all levels of command with the exception of the specialized Seers. The need for instituting pack dominance is so overwhelming that detachment commanders challenge their cousin Astartes for the right to lead planetary campaigns and expect non-Astarte leaders to capitulate in their presence.
Every brother in the Chapter is encouraged to develop skill in some form of artifice. The carving and engraving of armor and weapons is thought to help focus the mind and spirit as an aid to calm their aggressive natures. The Hounds also accumulate trophies of war. They take scalps, skulls, helmets and other ornamentation to establish their personal combat legacies, known as Life Markers. Upon the demise of the bearer their Life Marker is recovered and enshrined on the Hound home world whenever possible.
The Hounds do not maintain written accounts of their histories. The Librarians of the Chapter sustain their oral histories through a type of chanting dance. These histories are shared with the Chapter during their centennial gatherings at Hunt’s End. Life Markers are entombed and new brandings are displayed during these recitations of past honors.
The average Hound displays a fierce pride and brutal honesty. The Hounds are starkly pragmatic, respect martial skill and value artistic talent. The Hounds see the protection of humanity as one of their most unbreakable tenets. Despite the sanction of harming humans, the Hounds still consider their youngest members superior to any individual non-Astarte. The Hounds are considered backward savages by Astartes of other Chapters and most Imperial organizations feel that they should be leashed for the protection of all.
The Hounds and the Salamanders maintain a respectful tolerance. This is due to the curse, the aggressive dominance instinct of the Hounds and the bastardized Promethean Cult they practice. The Salamanders have made issue with the implantation rites of the Hounds, calling them barbaric and savage in their execution. When the two Chapters fight together their fondness for humanity brings an uneasy truce for the duration of the conflict.
Path of the Aspirant
The aspirants that agree to the trial are hung from two iron pegs driven through the flesh of their chests. These aspirants must remain conscious chanting the history of their mentor from sunrise to sunset. Those that fail or refuse are sent to the orbiting ships of the Hounds’ fleet to become serfs of the Chapter. Those that succeed become initiates and begin the implantation process.
During the years of Astarte organ implantation the initiates continue their apprenticeship. Before the initiates receive the Progenoid organs and the Black Carapace they are sent on a hunt. The initiate must retrieve a venom sac from one of the reptilian birds which dwell on the plains of Eametanene. The initiate must then return to Hunt’s End where three Librarians of the Chapter known as Spirit Seers will order the initiate to ingest the venom and will probe his mind through a variety of visions. If the fledgling Hound is deemed worthy he will receive the final implants.
At this point the initiate has become a full battle brother and is joined to a squad where he will fight to prove his place. These novice Hounds will not join a Clan until they have completed their apprenticeship by producing a work of artifice to gift to their master and have allowed at least one of their progenoids to mature. The first mature Progenoid is removed to ensure that the Chapter can maintain its precious gene-seed stock.
The Hounds do not muster a scout company. All new Hounds join the assault squads where their jump pack charges can cause the most damage. Due to the aggressiveness of the Hounds and the need to establish pack hierarchy the younger brothers are segregated from other Imperial forces. Young Hounds instinctively start fights and become protective of their territory in the presence of other Astartes. This pack hunter mentality manifests as chase games with human troops as the prey. These games inevitably leave the Guardsman terrified beyond combat effectiveness, but seldom result in bloodshed.
The Hounds distain the practice of camouflage armor schemes, instead they create hides from local materials and conceal the ambush portion of their forces. They hide their true numbers whenever possible, preferring to surprise their enemy. When forced to defend the Hounds will maintain half their numbers in reserve for a front-wide counter-attack.
Whenever possible the Hounds hide their troop strength due to the dwindling numbers of brothers in the Chapter. This has brought about the quarter-centennial crusades each Clan embarks on toward either the Maelstrom or the Eye of Terror. The Clan structure hides their numbers and allows the Hounds to field at least one full strength company per Clan for each hunt.
The Hounds have been noticed to engage in a high percentage of night fights. It seems that whenever possible they delay their attack until night has fallen. Few of the older Hounds have been witnessed without their helmets in sunlight; this has given rise to suspicion that the Hounds have developed vision impairment.
Order of Battle
the Chapter Master and each of the Clans is led by a senior Hound bearing the title of First Hound, which equates to the old legionary rank of Lieutenant Commander.
They maintain ten companies and the Chapter Master’s household, but they lack a veteran or scout company. The Chapter’s leaders felt that their dwindling number of initiates were too vital to be placed in carapace armor. This sentiment combined with the increased aggressiveness of the Hound younglings invoked the practice of new brothers joining assault squads. With more veterans falling victim to the curse the veteran company was dispersed into each of the five battle clans.
Each Battle company is roughly Codex adherent, if understrength. These companies maintain a reduced number of devastator squads and have an organic veteran squad. The Reserve Companies are composed of a 50/50 mix of tactical and assault squads. The Company officers each belong to an understrength tactical squad.
The Hounds only possess sixteen sets of tactical dreadnought armor which are some of the most revered artifacts of the Chapter with each suit a lavish masterpiece of the craft of artifice. The Chapter also has a decreasing number of techmarines, known as Iron Seers. It is believed that as attrition has taken most of their vehicles beyond repair and the Adeptus Mechanicus has not replaced them in equal numbers due to the Hounds’ unrelenting requests for earlier samples of their gene-seed.
Comments & Critique welcome (version 13.2)
Edited by Madwolf Shadowmane, 09 February 2014 - 03:07 AM.