"You stand before me now as men. As you undergo the rites of the Order this day, as men you will die.
A lucky few will find favor in the eyes of the Emperor and your journey will be done. The rest he will return to me as marines.
Those will spend the rest of their days fighting for the honor to return unto him. Praise be the Emperor."
- High Grand Master Christobar Tobun, Chapter Master of the White Hand Chapter
Born of harsh and humble beginnings, the marines of the White Hand Chapter are devout worshipers of the god-Emperor. They fight for their god with the hopes to find redemption and favor in his eyes. They do not fear death, instead they seek it out. They throw themselves into battle with no regard for their safety and they never retreat from a foe.
Crimes on these penal worlds flourished. Inmates would fall upon each other over food, clothes or sometimes just for fun. Life, if it could be called that, was often harsh and very short. It was hoped that, left to their own demise, they would rid the Imperium of the very threat they had once been by killing each other.
On one such penal world, the Great Teachers arose. They were huge, towering, brutes of immense strength and speed. It is said they brought civilization back to the uncivilized. Crimes around them came to an end, whether it was due to respect or fear is not known. These Great Teachers saw the Emperor as a god among men and as time passed they began to share that belief with the other inmates. They taught them how to free their minds from a world where their bodies were forever locked away.
The status of Zel Primus eventually changed and inmates stopped coming, but the Monks of the Order chose to remain in the only place where they'd truly felt at peace. They built a grand monastery above the caverns they'd once been imprisoned, their refuge from a galaxy gone mad. Word of the Order spread slowly and in time pilgrims and settlers began to arrive, seeking the peace they'd heard these monks had found. In time small amounts of adamantium and precious gem stones were discovered on Zel Primus followed quickly by settlements, mines and trading outposts. In this way the Order survived and slowly grew.
The fact that the Great Teachers were in fact imprisoned Space Marines is an understood reality. But the reason for their imprisonment is never questioned. Whatever their crimes, they redeemed themselves and in so doing, saved numerous others on Zel Primus.
The Hidden Truth
The events of the Horus Heresy, and in particular Lorgar's tale of treachery and betrayal, are well known. The less known story is of the small contingent of Word Bearers who remained loyal to the Emperor. Unwilling to tip his hand too early, or reveal his radically shifted alliance, Lorgar sent these loyal marines to Terra, under the guise of studying the Imperial Truth.
It was these marines who inadvertently did the most to cover the treachery of their brothers. These loyalist Word Bearers did many good works, generating much good will for their Legion, good will that Lorgar would twist and abuse in the coming days of the Crusade. When the Horus Heresy exploded, these loyal marines stood with their Emperor, eventually battling their own brothers at the final battle of the Siege of Terra.
After the battle ended and the Heresy was put down, only 18 loyal Word Bearers remained. They surrendered to the Imperial Guard to accept punishment for their brethren. The question now was what was to be their fate. Some said that they were just as bad as their fallen brothers and should be immediately put to death. Others, including the Imperial Guard that the loyal Word Bears fought along side, said that they were innocent of the taint of Chaos and moreover were honorable warriors and should be freed. As no Legion had ever fallen before, let alone ten at once, there was no guiding law on the matter. In the end, it was the survivors own words that damned them.
Many was the call for their heads, but just as vehemently was the call for leniency based on their actions at the final Siege of Terra. The wrong verdict could cause as much dissension as the Heresy itself. It was therefore decided that they be locked away, far from Terra, where they could do no harm. It was those 18 loyal Word Bearers that were the Great Teachers, founders of the Order on Zel Primus.
The 36th Millennium of Man was a tumultuous time for the Imperium. In response to the ever growing threat of Chaos and the great losses suffered by Imperial forces, the High Lords of Terra ordered several foundings to replenish the dwindling numbers of the Adeptus Astartes. Under these orders, the Adeptus Mechanicus set about to organize and institute these foundings.
Under direct orders of the High Lords, the Adeptus Mechanicus called upon the venerated Ultramarines of the Adeptus Astartes to train a new chapter of Space Marines as part of the 19th Founding. The Ultramarine training cadre of aged veterans, along with an Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus, were provided geneseed from an unspecified source and ordered to travel to Zel Primus. Once there, they were to coordinate with the Order housed there and recruit for a chapter to be known as the White Hand.
Upon completion of their duties, the Ultramarines returned to their chapter, but the Inquisitor remained. Since its inception, Inquisitorial presence has been a permanent fixture within the White Hand Chapter. The purpose of the Inquisitor within the chapter is unknown to all but the highest in power.
The former Penal World of Zel Primus has little to offer the Imperium. Due to its orbital rotation, the north is always covered in in ice while the south is a scorching desert. Only a narrow band of temperate land circles the equator. Most of the settlements, drawn by the Order along with the planet's meager mining prospects, are in the equatorial temperate zone. Only a few have sprung up in the large desert and tundra regions.
In the frozen tundra of the north, the Imperium originally constructed the penal facility. The facility was only a few building, including a small spaceport, on the surface. Most of the facility was carved out of the frozen ground, miles of tunnels housed the inmates far below the surface. It is here, in the old penal facility, that the White Hand constructed their Monastery Fortress sharing it with the members of the Order.
The one point of unity shared by all on Zel Primus is the religion of the Order. They see the Emperor as the supreme god. They follow the teaching of the Great Teachers as passed down to the Order. The religion grew separate yet parallel to the Imperial Cult.
To say life for the settlers on Zel Primus is hard would be an understatement. Families often send their young to the Monastery to study in the hopes they find a life more fulfilled then their own. It is from these youths that the Chapter draws its recruits.
An example of this can be seen in the recently loss of the entire 4th Company in a battle against Chaos Marines. Rather then retreat when it was clear they were loosing, their company's Master ordered their Strike Cruiser Achilles to ram the much heavier cruiser of the Chaos Marines. The battle was won with the destruction of both cruisers.
As a devoutly religious order, the White Hand is rich in rituals, rites and relics. The god-Emperor is the most revered being in existence and honored as such. After the Emperor, the Great Teachers and their teachings are the leading force in the brother's lives.
Due to the martial training first instituted by the Great Teachers, the White Hand Chapter prefers close quarter combat. And unlike most other chapters, assault squads are reserved for the most experienced and proficient members of the chapter.
Marines of the White Hand Chapter throw themselves at the enemy in waves and its said that they have never retreated from battle. Though they often suffer great losses, it is not seen as a drawback. Their belief that to die in battle serving the Emperor is the path to redemption drives them forward.
In battle, they fight like zealots for the divine Emperor. They eagerly throw themselves into combat with any enemy of the Imperium, and stand where others falter and fail. Their reputation as fearless warriors continues to grow over the centuries and shows now sign of falling.
In most respects, the White Hand Chapter are a codex adherent chapter. The few variations they have spring from their combat doctrine and beliefs. Unlike many other Space Marine chapters, Tactical Squads are not the base from which the army is formed. The White Hand Chapter prefers close combat and for this reason the Assault Squads are the pinnacle of their force. They also have no Devastator Squads, instead they use armored vehicles to fill that role. Brothers start as Scouts, then move up either to Tactical or Assault Squads then finally to Vanguard or Sternguard Squads.
For reasons known only to the High Lords of Terra, the White Hand Chapter is always accompanied by a representative from the Ordo Malleus. The Inquisitor seems to simply be observing the chapter, and has only pressed them into Inquisitorial service twice since the chapters founding.
The source of the geneseed used to create the Space Marines of the White Hand Chapter is unknown to all but the High Lords and a few within the Adeptus Mechanicus. Even the Inquisitors, whose duty it is to observe the chapter, have no knowledge in this matter.
To the Disciples, the source is the geneseed is unimportant. They see the teachings of the Great Teachers as their guiding light. They neither question nor seek its source. The geneseed is not who they are, only their faith is.
Some within the Imperium speculate that is the geneseed of the great Primarch Roboute Guilliman, because of its purity and lack of any defined flaws. While others insist its the geneseed of the Great Teachers themselves. But the truth is that those who know are unwilling to say.
Edited by Ecritter, 10 November 2010 - 01:37 PM.