The Celestial Dragons
The Celestial Dragons stand proudly among the champions of the Imperium. Hailing from bright Tian, they are the heirs to a culture and a philosophy that predates the Imperium itself. Like their estranged forebears, the Ultramarines, their domain is an orderly, thriving realm where humanity flourishes, albeit under strict control. Proud to the point of arrogance of their homeworld and heritage, they remain resolute that by the force of their arms and the virtue of their wisdom, they can bring the Imperium and humanity into a new golden age.
The Celestial Dragons Chapter was created as part of the Fifth Founding early in M33. Still striving to restore the numbers of marines who had helped establish the Imperium prior to the Great Heresy, the High Lords of Terra had wanted to reinforce the Candidus sector in Segmentum Ultima, which was suffering increasing intrusions by xenos greenskin and piratical elder. Tian, as one of the 500 worlds added to the pre-Heresy Ultramar, was chosen at the request of the Ultramarines who had been selected to stand up and train the new chapter.
Imperial contact with Tian first occurred in the later stages of the Great Crusade, when a detachment of Ultramarines found a well-ordered, densely populated planet. Its government claimed a glorious history stretching back beyond the Age of Strife. Though the planet had significant industry, it was not a wasteland - dense factory-cities were surrounded by expanses of well-organized fields and forests, and while the rivers of the larger industrial cities were hardly pure, Tian was still a jewel compared with many of the industrialised wastelands found elsewhere in the Imperium.
Unlike many lost branches of humanity, the rulers of Tian were glad to be reunited with Terra and to learn of the Emperor, and were thus spared the devastation of an enforced compliance. These rulers were a meritocratic bureaucracy that had endured since before the Age of Strife. The planet’s time-honoured system of global examinations, in which individuals proved their suitability for their desired office through exhaustive written testing of their knowledge of Tianese philosophy and the relevant practicalities, enabled Imperial iterators to efficiently spread the tenets of the Imperium across the world. Imperial historians have since suggested that the pervasive and efficient bureaucracy made it possible for the rulers of Tian to promptly identify psykers in the population and cull these mutants as threats to the orderly system of rule – in the process unwittingly protecting Tian from the worst horrors of Old Night.
Tian was adopted into the burgeoning Ultramar, becoming part of the larger Imperium in the reforms that followed the Horus Heresy. Noting it connection to the Ultramarine legion, the Ultramarines suggested it as the base for one of the new Fifth Founding chapters.
In the 41st millennium, Tian remains a bright jewel within the Imperium. It boasts efficient, profitable industry, but also remains self-sufficient for foodstuffs. Its people live with a degree of dignity and common purpose rarely found in the Imperium, and if the paternalistic guidance of the Dragons and their civilian appointees is somewhat stifling, it remains a better place to live than much of the Imperium.
The beliefs and traditions of the Celestial Dragons are closely derived from the ancient culture of Tian. Moreover, the presence of the Dragons has altered the beliefs of the planet, instilling a new focus on martial activities and preparations suitable for a world that supports a chapter of the Adeptus Astartes.
The rulers of Tian ascribed their regime’s extraordinary durability, and their world’s prosperity their ancient philosophy of Kar-Sheng, which has as its guiding principles the concept of filial piety and the belief that humanity can be improved through study and instruction. This philosophy suggests government by those who have shown themselves most competent, a strong respect by those in government for the needs and welfare of the people, and strong unity in the populace. The Tianese readily accepted the Emperor as the ultimate father of humanity to whom they owed their loyalty, by virtue of his demonstrated genius and accomplishment. The Celestial Dragons retain this philosophy and have become its greatest exemplars.
The Dragons' belief in a mutual obligation between themselves and the citizens of the Imperium guides their execution of their duty, injecting a concern for the welfare of the common citizen. Unlike some chapters, they are strongly interested in how those they protect live their lifes, and strive to inculcate what they consider to be positive values into those populations. This includes at times correcting those acting against what they see as the common good of mankind. Under Kar-Sheng, those failing to meet their their obligations require firm but patient correction and instruction. Those who persist in failing must be excised for the overall good of the community.
The marines of the Celestial Dragons are warriors first and foremost and they practice their art with a focused zeal. However, they are also expected to be scholars, understanding why they fight and how the interacting demands of honour, duty, and obligation inform how and when they fight. The warriors of the Dragons tend to display a philosophical, reflective nature, taking their duty with the utmost seriousness, but tempered with a desire to be fighting for the right reasons as well.
This preparedness to judge others, and their conviction in the superiority of their philosophy and knowledge has led to accusations of a profound arrogance by their critics, who charge that they consider themselves superior to anyone not from Tian, that they view the rest of the Imperium as barbarians. There may be some basis to these charges – for their part the Dragons do belief that only the Emperor has been able to provide any real improvement to the wisdom of their ancestors. It is notable that although most Dragons have a basic understanding of Low Gothic, they refuse to speak it wherever possible, seeing it as a crude, barbaric tongue. Translators are used where possible, and all serious study, discussion and debate occurs in Tianese.
The Celestial Dragons strictly follow the doctrines of combat laid out in the mighty tome they claim was written by their founding Chapter Master, Honlung, the Kar Lung Hian, which roughly translates as “The Art of the Blade”. Under this tome, the first company acts as a Veteran elite known as the Tian Lung. The Chapter Master is known by the title of Dragon-Lord or the Golden Dragon.
Since the coming of the Imperium, the routine purging of all psykers has halted, with psykers now being treated in the manner adopted in Ultramar, however the generations that this occurred has left the Tianese population with fewer psykers per capita than other planets. As such, the Dragons do have Librarians, but they are particularly rare.
Although the Celestial Dragons jealously guard the Kar Lung Hien, and indeed it is unknown whether there are any surviving translations from Tianese to Gothic, more than a few critics over the millennia have pointed out the striking resemblance between this tome and the mighty Codex Astartes authored by the great primarch Roboute Guilliman. Foremost among these critics have been the Ultramarines themselves. Despite this issue, the Dragons' organisation and battle tactics remains consistent with those that are described in the Codex Astartes, and the Dragons are as diligent in studying and following their text as any Ultramarine successor is with the Codex itself.
Schism with Ultramar
The Dragons are steadfast in their loyalty to the Emperor himself, but otherwise continued to view much of the Imperium as rather uncultured and crude. This cultural arrogance first manifested itself in Tianese recruits under the initial supervision of the Ultramarines detachment sent to set up the chapter. Reservations regarding this trait led to an initial delay in the certification of the Dragons as ready to stand on their own. Eventually convinced that the Dragons would properly follow the tenets of the Codex Astartes, even though it had been authored by a non-Tianese, the Ultramarines departed, leaving the newly designated Chapter Master Honlung in charge.
It was nearly a 1000 years before the two chapters met again. At this meeting the Ultramarines were unimpressed to discover the Dragons now apparently had no knowledge of the Codex, but instead followed an amazingly similar book allegedly authored by the now long dead Honlung. The Ultramarines charged the Dragons with disrespect of their common primarch, false pride, and dishonesty. The Dragons, with only the version of events indoctrinated into them by their chapter cult were incensed at these allegations and rejected them utterly..
Since then the Dragons have been ostracised from cousinly relations with many Ultramarine successors.
The Reign of Blood
During the period known as the Reign of Blood, the always tense relationship between the Celestial Dragons and the Ecclesiarchy was irretrievably broken. The Dragons had long refused permission for the Ecclesiarchy to practice on Tian, and while members of the faith existed on the planet, they remained fearfully in shadows lest they be declared pernicious 'undesirables' to be re-educated. One of Ecclesiarch Vandire's favoured Cardinals was a man known as Leng, a rare Tianese who had abandoned his planet and instead joined the Adeptus Ministorium. Leng had long harboured ambitions to return to Tian and spread the word of the Lectitio Divinitatus. Leng's zeal to spread the faith of the God-Emperor was matched only by his conviction that Vandire was the agent of the Emperor, sent to lead the Imperium to new glories.
As the conflict between Vandire and Imperial loyalists spilled into open conflict, Vandire placed Leng in charge of a sizeable Missionary fleet led by a Naval Grand Cruiser, and instructed him to spread the word in the Segmentum Ultima of Vandire as the sole interpreter of the Emperor's will. Leng, acting with predictable zealotry drove the fleet straight at Tian. The Celestial Dragons had stayed aloof from the conflict until this time, but when they refused to allow Leng's fleet to anchor over Tian, or his missionary zealots to land and start preaching, the Cardinal opened fire. Taken by surprise, the Dragons lost a Strike Cruiser and several smaller craft in the exchange. When a second Strike Cruiser was able to launch its payload of boarding torpedos off into the flagship, the tide of the battle quickly turned and the Dragons then swiftly destroyed or captured the remainder of the fleet. The Dragon Lord led the flotilla of captured zealot ships to a planet in the nearby green-skin empire in the Grishnak cluster. Addressing the prisoners over the fleet intercom, he informed them that the Emperor valued actions over words, and that he would give them the chance to achieve something useful by visiting the Emperor's wrath on the xenos below. He then had their ships landed on the planet and mined to explode soon afterwards, abandoning the missionaries to battle against countless millions of orks on the planet.
Having been dragged into the war, the Dragons became one of the first Astartes chapters to become active in the conflict, striking against pro-Vandire forces across the neighbouring sectors.
Since this incident the Dragon's previous attitude of barely veiled contempt for the Ministorium changed into one of open hostility. To this day, representatives of the Ecclesiarchy are forbidden on pain of death from landing on Tian. Members of the Adeptus Sororitas refuse to fight alongside the Celestial Dragons. Meanwhile, the plight of the few followers of the Lectitio Divinitatus on Tian has grown steadily more difficult as they are labelled a disruptive foreign influence spreading a poisonous cult. Members of the faith are routinely taken for re-education through indoctrination or hard labour. Despite this, a small element of the Faith has consistently survived on Tian.
The Enforced Isolation of Tian
The Celestial Dragons have continued to exercise their strong direction over the culture and activities of the people of Tian, displaying what some have called a paranoid determination to protect the planet from from "disruptive" external influences. This has included the Ecclesiarchy, the Inquisition as as much as possible, as well as the Administratum, traders and other agents of cultural 'impurity'. Some trade in necessary, but most off-worlders are confined to the trading port of Guang-Shan, considered by the the planet's rulers to be a wretched hive of scum and villiany.
Nevertheless, human nature being what it is, there is a lucrative black market in "undesirable" imports like ranging from narcotics such as lho sticks, Obscura, off-world luxury items such as amasec, and foreign texts. Generally the Dragons entrust their civilian appointees to police their strictures. On rare occasions when it has emerged the bureaucracy has majorly failed in this duty, the Dragons have taken a direct hand in enforcing the embargo. On the most notable of these occasions, it was discovered that a neighbouring planet had subverted the Chief Mandarin along with several other members of the bureaucracy to turn a blind eye to the selling of their narcotic to the Tianese. The Dragons, painstaking in deciding when and how to act, but implacable once decided, responded emphatically. They conducted a significant purge of the bureaucracy, executing those suspected of failing in their duty. The Dragons then went a step further and took action to punish the narcotic peddlers, striking at their planet, destroying its PDF, annihilating its ruling Council of Traders and destroying its entire crop of its so called "chocolate" plants. This had the side effect of destroying the planet's economy and angering the sector's governor, who was fond of the planet's confectionary, however all protests were ignored. Relationships have remained strained, although none in the surrounding sectors have been left in any doubt with regard to how seriously the Dragons view breaches of the embargo they have established over their world.
The Celestial Dragons have fought against most of the enemies of mankind. Tian is close to the Grishnak Empire, a small grouping of systems under the control of a greenskin horde, and the Dragons will regularly campaign against these vermin. Efficiency in the extermination of the ork has become a point of pride for the chapter.
In keeping with their philosophy of seeking to improve humanity, including by excising harmful elements from it, Dragon Lords have been particularly keen to contribute to crusades against heretics and rebels, being willing to send companies far and wide to participate in such sacred duties.
Owing to their location in the Ultima sector, the Dragons have been involved in the defence against elements of the successive waves of Tyranid hive fleets that have entered the galaxy from that direction. As is typical of the Dragons, they have made a diligent study of strategies and tactics that will let them effectively defeat this new menace.
The Celestial Dragon geneseed was drawn from that tithed by the Ultramarines themselves, and with the careful attention of the chapter’s apothecaries, remains as pure as their fore-fathers.
Unlike many worlds used as recruitment bases by Astartes, Tian is not a harsh environment that naturally breeds superior warrior stock. In typical Tianese style, the solution has been found in a combination of thorough, efficient organisation, and plenty of hard work.
The planetary government has extended its concept of global examinations down to the pre-scholams attended by all children aged 4 across the planet. All these infants are tested for their physical and intellectual prowess. Those found to be potentially exceptional are streamed into specialist gymnasia where they are rigourously worked over the next 7 years. Subsequent examinations are held in the scholams of the planet, and any ‘late-bloomers’ are also brought across, although the experts have refined their testing to such a level that these constitute a very small number. The bureaucracy prides itself that not a single potential recruit for the Celestial Dragon goes unrecognised or without every assistance to reach that potential.
By the time these children reach the age of 11, they have been placed on an accelerated program of study, physical training, endless testing and enhanced nutrition such as they are superior prospects. Even so, only a small fraction of those who graduate from the gymnasia are taken by the Dragons. Those who are not taken typically go on to have a role in the planetary defence force for a term, before joining the administration themselves.
This program of intensive study, and formalised exams – both theoretical and practical, continues to be a prominent feature of an initiate’s life.
“For Tian and the Emperor!”
Edited by Aegnor, 19 March 2013 - 01:33 PM.