" " - Chapter Master Dhorin Ironshield.
"What glorious day was ever brighter? In His name, let all days be so, from now until evermore." - Chapter Master Bhasar Khan
In the latter half of M33, pressure to initiate another founding of Space Marine Chapters was high. With rising xeno activity on an almost galaxy-wide scale, and the memory of Abbadon's Black Crusades still burning brightly in their minds, the High Lords of Terra granted their approval for the Sixth Founding to take place. Bhasar Khan of the White Scars was chosen to lead one such Chapter, born of Jaghatai Khan's noble lineage. The Chapter would come to be known as the Stonebound, and their name would in time become synonomous with controversy.
The Chapter's mission was simple - Orks activity in Segmentum Pacificus was rising exponentially, and the Chapter was tasked with taking a stand and destroying any greenskin presence. Bhasar Khan's first step was to secure a world for recruitment of future generations of marines. He chose Ka-zil, a world dominated by vast, open landscapes much reminiscent of Chogoris, homeworld of the White Scars. The denizens of Ka-zil were hardy, courageous and toughened by constant skirmishing, making nearly ideal recruits. From this world, Bhasar decreed, the Stonebound would forge their legacy and honour The Emperor's Dream of a united humanity.
Ka-Zil was situated in Segmentum Pacificus, close to the borders between Segmenta Tempestus and Solar. From here The Stonebound launched several lightning raids against nearby Ork territories, striking with a combination of relentless agression and blinding quickness.
As the Stonebound liberated world after world in the Emperor's name, reclaiming them for humanity, they discovered other worlds that could supply recruits. The Stonebound struck covenants with planetary governors, allowing the Chapter to establish keeps and take a small number of viable recruits every two decades or in times of great need.
In time, the Stonebound had recruitment rights on over a dozen planets, and the Chapter seemed to go from strength to strength. Ork attacks diminished in number and eventually all traces of the greenskin horde were said to have been eradicated from this corner of the Segmentum. The Stonebound were lauded as heroes and exemplars across the Segmentum, and word even reached Holy Terra of their great successes.
However, all things fade, and the might of the Stonebound would prove to be no exception.
Five hundred years since the death of Bhasar Khan, in the early days of M34, a gathering of Inquisitors arrived from Terra and accosted the Chapter. They brought claims that the Stonebound were guilty of Empire-building, and accused the Stonebound of planning a seccession from the greater Imperium. Evidence of the Stonebound's numerous recruitment worlds was brought forth, and the covenants once agreed with Planetary governors were used in impromptu courts to make the Chapter seem scheming and treacherous. Accusations of vast, underground complexes built to ward off Imperial citizens and rumours of vast subterraenean armouries containing ancient or heretical technology were levelled at the Chapter.
Inquisitors who had worked with the Stonebound in the past rallied together also, and countered these accusations vehemently. The Stonebound, for their part, ridiculed the accusations and decried the Inquisitors who fostered them as foolish. This, however, only served to make the accusers more stubborn and paranoid.
And so, as the days wore on, more Inquisitors were swayed to the side of the accusers. Those that could not be swayed - with an almost disturbing frequency - seemed to perish or disappear in unusual circumstances. The debate between Inquisitors raged for almost a month. The Stonebound found their every action noted, evaluated and used as evidence either for or against the claim of empire-building. Eventually, the accusing inquisitors levelled their ultimatum at the Chapter; complete a Penitent Crusade to the far galactic west, or be found disloyal and subject to purging.
Chapter Master Dhorin Ironshield was unfazed by the Inquisitors' demands, although he requested leave to spare three companies to protect Ka-zil and the surrounding systems. Under the supervision of a trio of inquisitors, the other seven Companies of the Stonebound traveled west. Ork strongholds and Chaos incursions alike would suffer at the hands of the Stonebound, who struck like a vengeful hammer at every enemy of humanity until, after almost two hundred years, the Chapter was unanimously decreed to be 'true, loyal servants of the Emperor' and allowed to return home.
Things at Ka-zil, however, were not what they once were.
"At times I wonder what cruel twists of fate cause men to spite their own salvation." - Brother Khalek Stormfist
With the majority of Stonebound forces away from Ka-zil and it's surrounding worlds, defence of these same planets proved problematic for the remaining three Companies. Another burgeoning Ork empire had made the Stonebound's territory it's target, and conflict with the brutish greenskins was a near-constant taks for the defending Chapter. On top of that, rebels, pirates and insurgents against the Imperium seemed almost to sense the Stonebound's grip on the sector was weakened, and took the opportunity to strike, attacking worlds that were under the Chapter's protection. The Chapter was left to defend these worlds alone - pleas for help seemed to fall on deaf ears. Eventually, word reached the Chapter that the gathering of Inquisitors who had initially tried the Stonebound had decreed that any force assisting the Chapter in defence of these planets would be held complicit in the crime of Empire-building, and tried accordingly. The Stonebound struggled valiantly to protect all they could, but they were too few and too thinly spread. World after world slipped from the Imperium, either trampled by Orks or enslaved by rebellious, would-be overlords.
When these worlds fell, the Inquisitors would marshall great hosts of Imperial Guard to reclaim the lost worlds. Each time a world was recaptured thusly, the Inquisitors would make a great display of banning the Stonebound from recruiting from these worlds on pain of excommunication and destruction. The three Companies, their numbers diminished by constant warfare, could only watch helplessly as their recruitment worlds were taken from them one by one.
The greatest tragedy for the Chapter, however, was the sacking and ruin of Ka-zil. It was overrun in mid M34 by a vast Ork host, burnt, destroyed and trampled beyond recognition, and it's people slaughtered. With Ka-zil died the Chapter's Fortress-Monastery and the remnants of the Fifth and Ninth companies. All that remained afterwards was the Eighth company and a small pool of scouts, who retreated to the world of Kagara, a mountainous, inhospitable world and now the last bastion of the Stonebound.
The returning Stonebound forces under Chapter Master Ironshield were seething with rage at the treachery that had played out in their absence. Ironshield, however, was no fool, and hastily appealed for calm. He knew that to strike out in anger would only see the Chapter destroyed or exiled forever, spiting not only their previous good work, but the memory of all those who had lived and died trying to achieve The Emperor's Dream of a united galaxy.
To this day, the Chapter continues to serve from their new home on Kagara, fighting for the Emperor's Dream. The Chapter is once again close to full strength, but takes recruits solely from Kagara now; the edicts passed long ago by the long-dead inquisitors who tried the Chapter are yet to be overruled, and those few who have tried to do so have spent their lives buried under bureaucracy, their pleas all but unheard by relevant authority.
Pictured to the left is the heraldry of a typical Stonebound battle-brother. Pictured to the right is the heraldry of the 'Redshields', or First Company.
"Ka-zil was the jewel of the sector. But Kagara, it seems, has become the foundation stone." - Sage Varkand Flamebeard
Kagara, the last world of the Stonebound, is a mountainous and harsh world, almost on the border between three Segmenta. Subject to an elliptical orbit around the local sun, the summer months are pleasant and temperate, but the winter is dominated by freezing storms and blizzards. There are many deep caves and tunnels dotted about the landscape however, making living underground during the bitter winters a viable, even desirable alternative to the hostile surface.
Clans often relocate entirely to underground dwellings in the winter months, moving in great armoured convoys to keep the wildlife or raiders from neighbouring clans away. Both underground and on the surface, Kagaran life is conducive to producing hardy Space Marine recruits, with warfare against neighbouring clans and hunts against the myriad dangerous predatory beasts both commonplace. Kagaran clans are ver tight-knit and protective of their kinsmen. They are instinctively isolationist, with the general exceptions of merchants or travelling bards. When a male clan member reaches the age of fifteen, he must forge his own axe as a rite of passage, to be used in defence of the clan against anything that might threaten it.
The Stonebound have constructed their new Fortress Monastery under the surface of Kagara, in one of the deepest caverns. The clans have little contact with the Chapter as a matter of course, save for when the Chaplains go forth and organize recruitment trials.
"It is better to be scorned for loyalty than to be slain for treachery." - Captain Tagarn Strongarm, Third Company.
The Stonebound have, over the course of time, deviated more and more from the typical views of White Scars successors. Much of this is attributed both to their homeworld and the trials they have faced in days past. The Stonebound's modern, insular nature, for example, stems from both native Kagaran influence and their own historic brushes with betrayal. The Chapter is infamously slow to trust outsiders, although those who have earned the Chapter's trust will still find them the most unflinching of allies.
One holdover from their White Scars heritage is the treatment of scouts; new recruits are integrated randomly into squads composed of recruits from several clans to break down clan loyalty, and form a new bond as 'true Stonebound'.
One striking similarity between Chapter and Kagaran culture is that marines must forge their own axe as their first task upon becoming a battle-brother. This axe is then used in the defence of the Imperium in much the same way Kagaran clansmen use their axes to defend their clans. Prayers are often ritually blended with acts of forging, groups of marines led in prayer by their Chaplains as they forge their weapons and armour.
Librarians within the Chpater are referred to primarily as Sages, and they are tasked with the maintenance of Grudge Stones. Defeats or similar dishonours are carved onto Grudge-Stones by a company's Sages, and are carried by the dishonoured company until the Sages deem the grudge paid back in full. At this point the stone is broken in an elaborate ceremony. The breaking of a Grudge-Stone is considered a cause for celebration, and usually a feast to honour the dead and the brave.
The Stonebound view the Emperor as the true father of the Space Marines, and his loyal sons the Primarchs as great heroes and warriors. They are also immensely proud of their lineage and history, although pride in the latter is also often buried under a layer of resentment.
"Diligence is a greater virtue than haste." - Brother Zelek Stonehewer
Historically, the Stonebound have favoured lightning-fast attacks, hitting enemies with the sudden force of a storm, and leaving only destruction in their wake. Thunderhawks, drop-pods, Land Speeders and of course fleets of bikes were most often employed for this purpose, striking the enemy suddenly and viciously so that the less mobile elements of the force could deploy safely and mop up the remnants.
Since the loss of Ka-zil, however, and the dark days after the Penitent Crusade, the Stonebound have become notably more reserved in their approach. Moving their forces slowly but implacably, the Stonebound are slower but infinitely more thorough in their advance, using heavier units such as Land Raiders and Terminators as cornerstones in their force, using fast attack elements only as support rather than as the defining focus of their tactics.
Perhaps the most notable deviation from usual Khan successor doctrines is the Stonebound's use of dreadnoughts. While not embraced by the entirety of the Chapter, The Stonebound have come into possession of a few Dreadnoughts, which are reserved only for those Marines willing to use them. The initial reason behind this decision was to allow the Chapter to better connect to the 'glory days' of the Chapter that have otherwise long since sunk into the past. These honoured machines are used largely the same way as other Chapters use them in both peace and war, and viewed by those that would willingly use them as a neccesary evil. They are still treated with reverance by the Chapter, but more because there's a Stonebound within the machine than from honour of the machine itself.
"The glories of our past may fade, but our axes remain sharp." - Captain Dain Stonereaver, First Company
The Stonebound follow the Codex Astartes guidelines for organisation, although during their penitent crusade they altered their formation to allow a variety of Tactical, Devastator and Assault squads in each of their Reserve Companies. Much like the White Scars, companies are made up of recruits drawn from multiple clans, their former clan loyality replaced with loyalty to the Chapter.
In spite of their fate, the Stonebound remain loyal to the Imperium at large. Although They are slow to trust outsiders,the Chapter has a generally good working relationship with the Adeptus Mechanicus, and frequently co-operates with other Chapters of Adeptus Astartes.
First Company veterans, called the 'Redshields' by the Chapter, adopt a slightly different colouring from the rest of the Stonebound, colouring their shoulder armour in red and bone to denote their status. Upon admittance to the First Company, marines are issued a finely-crafted red shield, which is decorated over time by the marine with their personal heraldry. Each shield tells a story, as each victory, defeat or other notable event is engraved into the shield in one form or another. When a member of the Redshields dies, his shield in hung on the walls of the Fortress monastery.
"This is the gift of the Khan. Through it, we will realize the Emperor's Dream, come what may." - Apothecary Xaven Brightaxe
The Stonebound's geneseed is stable, and barring the noteworthy tendency to aggression that seems prevalent in the White Scars and their kin, there are no distinctive mutations or failings therein.
In the wake of the Penitent Crusade, rumours began to surface in the Imperium at large that one or more previously Stonebound-held worlds contain a hidden keep, replete with stocks of Stonebound geneseed amongst various other treasures. These rumours persist despite a lack of any evidence, but those few brave or foolish enough to ask the Chapter about them have recieved only the reply of cold silence.
"Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken!"
Hey, I fixed the sidebar again.
I wonder how I managed that?
Edited by Ace Debonair, 12 March 2013 - 08:29 PM.