Chapter Name: Null Blades
Founding: Possibly 10th mid M33
Gene-seed: Ultramarines (Genesis chapter)
Descendants: None known
Battlecry: None, instead battle brothers live by the motto:
“Munus et Mortis”
“A Quote? What nonsense is this, get out of the way I’ve got a job to do.”
Brother Captain Roke, commander of 2nd Company, Null Blades strike force ‘Talon’ on the eve of the cleansing of Praxes, late 976M41
reated from the Geneseed of the Genesis Chaptor, the exact date of the Null Blade’s founding is lost, possibly going back as far as the middle of the 33rd Millennium, if the chapter’s patchy records are to be believed.
Though the records of their founding member’s identities have long since been lost, it is apparent that the Null Blades, originally chapter 466, embraced the independent nature and tactical flexibility from their Eccentric First Master, bending the teachings of the Codex Astartes to new extremes in their quest for tactical superiority.
The original chapter master, whose name is omitted from the few records that remain of the time, is quoted by sergeant Acturion as being
“As strange and unorthodox an Ultramarine descendant I could ever imagine.” upon Taking command of the newly formed chapter.
Being mysterious, aloof and utterly paranoid, he skilled chapter 466 in extreme stealth techniques, impressing on them the importance of learning the codex teachings but being prepared to discard them on a whim in order to dumbfound any enemy.
The chapter master went on to train the chapter extensively in unorthodox tactics, some Battle-brothers claiming that he made things up as he went along, formed around his ‘Null blade’ philosophy.
This exact nature of this philosophy no longer exists, but it is known that at some point in time the entire chapter took on the name Null Blades, maybe suggesting a point where the chapter’s eccentric behaviour and unpredictable nature met the standards of their original master. The Master was originally an outspoken and charismatic Captain in the Genesis Chapter and some believe that his unorthodox views shed him in a poor light among the Genesis Chapter Hierarchy.
It is believed that his tasking to take command of a new chapter may have been a result of political manoeuvring, a successful effort to get rid of a troublesome force while appearing to be an honourable promotion.
Whatever the reasons for appointing such an oddity as commander of the Null Blades, they took the ethos of adaptability so far they made a near fatal mistake shortly after their first successful campaign, nearly damning the whole chapter before it could be properly formed.
Though the nature of this mistake is still shrouded in mystery, it left the chapter with no evidence of its own existence in these times except a dark longsword, its skull laden form being handed from Master to Master as a badge of office.
It is said that the blade belonged to one of the founding members, and was responsible for the death of the first Master himself.
The Null Blades keep this single relic of their past, the blade serving as a symbol of their strength and a reminder of what becomes of those who stray from the proper path.
In more modern times the Null Blades fight true to the tenets of their forebears, putting trust in the wisdom of the codex to bring about victory with minimum fuss, though their application of the Codex teachings remains one of flexibility.
The Null Blades share the views of many older chapters in the belief that the Emperor is the greatest man to ever live, and therefore worthy of great respect and admiration as a literal creator figure, with their individual Primarchs close behind. They differ to other chapters however, in that they refuse to acknowledge the existence of sentient warp powers, seeing the patrons of the archenemy as raw power, manipulated into being by the undisciplined egos of men.
This gives them a sombre approach to war fighting, teaching their ranks that the quest for glory always leads to failure and an untimely death.
An informal saying among the Battle Brothers remarks
“Duty is done better alive and unseen, rather than glorious and dead.”
The Null Blades differ in their approach to worship also, believing that overt displays of religious admiration are for the weak of spirit, preferring to leave prayer to individual battle brothers to practice as they see fit, leaving more time for training. Chaplains still provide a vital role in the spiritual upkeep of the chapter, keeping an eye on brothers for signs of laxity and educating them in the history of their creators, however displays of fiery rhetoric are nonexistent among the ‘Blades.
This methodology is practised openly by brothers of the chapter and has caused them to come to blows with other Imperial agencies on several occasions, most notably the chamber militant of the Ecclesiarchy, with one instance only avoiding all out war thanks to the mediating presence of Brother-Chaplian Arbitreus.
Off the battlefield the ‘Blades share an easy camaraderie between the ranks, their calm attitude to warfare translating to an air of relaxed professionalism in the fortress, away from prying eyes. Squads openly engage in banter and their sense of humour has been described as “jocular” to those few outside the chapter who have witnessed it.
Believing that duty is above all else, the hierarchy of the Null Blades seem prepared to allow these minor lapses of traditional sensibilities to continue as long as the brothers consistently fight hard and win, and few could say the Null Blades do not fight hard.
Unusually for an Astartes chapter used to being flexible in its war making, the Null Blades Abhor Psykers and have no Librarians among their ranks. They also stay away from allied Psykers on the field of battle and upon being confronted by an enemy who is touched by the warp, they will single them out for extermination above all other threats.
First noticed by Epistolary Hastur of the Flaming Scythes, this phenomenon was witnessed when the noble Librarian decided to keep a close eye on the ‘Blades after Captain Roke was openly hostile towards him at the outset of the Praxes campaign.
Upon clearing one of the many towns that satellite Praxes’ capital city of Prakota, A null Blade tactical sergeant suddenly and without explanation dragged a young girl from her father’s arms in a busy public market.
Sensing the threat of an untapped psychic talent, her soul fire burning bright with panic, Hastur made to send warning to the squad when they simultaneously opened fire on the girl and her father, obliterating them in a hail of point blank bolter rounds.
Somehow, it seemed that the squad had detected her psychic potential with no psychics of their own or specialised equipment.
This strange quirk completely contradicts The Null Blades’ normally calm and composed outlook, some that have worked alongside the Null blades whisper that it hints at an ugly underlying bigotry, usually masked by a veneer of professional detachment.
What little records of their early existence remain tell of the Null Blade’s first Chapter Master submitting to summary execution by his own hand shortly after all the Chapter’s librarians disappeared.
Though the details are unknown, it is likely that this is the cause for their hatred towards those touched by the warp.
After their founding, the Null Blades were permitted to build a fortress monastery on the hive world of Lastrati, in one of a cluster of troubled systems to the South of the Maelstrom.
Being in such close proximity to the Maelstrom, the Population of Lastrati were heavily militarised, used to regular small raids by the ruinous powers and possessing a formidable PDF.
Being incredibly surveillance aware (some would say paranoid) by nature, The Null Blades built the Fortress far away from any of the planet’s overcrowded hives, choosing to settle in the ash wastes, surrounded by desolate wasteland for hundreds of kilometres on every side.
Not caring for ostentation, admiration or obedience from humans, the Null Blades decided to keep their presence a secret, digging their fortress deep into the bedrock of the planet and disguising the entrances. The vast underground base was based around an immense tunnel network with thousands of rat runs, emergency exits, dead ends and pitfalls deliberately placed to confound any potential intruders.
In this way, the fortress needed no large static defences, instead a defence would be a long, drawn out series of ambushes and false fallback positions, luring any would be attackers into a hell of attrition in kilometres of claustrophobic corridors, never knowing what would await them around the next corridor.
From this location the Null Blades went about their business of recruitment, opting against the usual ritual trials and combat to select promising aspirants, choosing instead to spy on and screen selected demographic groups within the hives, abducting anyone they deemed to have potential.
This practice went on for a number of years until the chapter records suddenly draw a blank sometime after the Chapter’s first successful campaign, the purging of the Ork stronghold on Calmundus, a sparsely populated settlement on the fringes of the Maelstrom.
After this point the records resume some hundred years later, with the name and location of the Null Blade’s home world omitted from any writings thereafter.
Attempting to fill this void of information leaves us with the Lastrati planetary records themselves, one night in particular shedding possible light on the mysterious events that caused the Null Blades to make their location a permanent secret, even from the Imperium itself.
Fragmentary records of the time speak of a night of blood, millions of citizens across every hive on the planet report terrible nightmares, their minds being filled with images of warp terrors and acts of violence to heinous to repeat out loud. Each civilian woke up bleeding from their eyes and ears, seconds before high born citizens in Hive Primus Witnessed a bright glow from the Eastern horizon, something akin to an immense explosion followed by hundreds of tiny lights flying into space.
Whatever happened that night on Lastrati, it removed any trace of the Null Blades presence
in the area and resulted in the officially documented execution of the chapter master by his own hand, though strangely his name is omitted.
Even though the current location of the Null Blade’s Homeworld is a closely guarded secret, Imperial planets in the Null Blade’s patrol arcs have much higher statistics of missing young males, strongly suggesting this practice of abduction is still the way the chapter increases its numbers.
Due to intense observation periods and medical screening, a process conducted to decrease wastage, a high level of genetically compatible aspirants are obtained, which would initially seem a very positive side effect of the selection process.
However, the reality of cutting out ritualistic trials of strength and combat leave many potential Marines without the mental fortitude required to complete the neophyte stage, which ironically results in a high attrition rate among recruits and a slower turnaround of fully fledged Astartes.
This unusual recruitment method is unlikely to change as the high number of surviving failures gives the chapter a cadre of well trained humans to seed recruitment worlds with observation teams, creating a self perpetuating cycle of high recruitment/attrition.
The slow recruitment chain of the ‘Blades would damage many a more traditionalist chapter’s numbers, though it seems that their cautious and methodical nature in battle offsets this somewhat as casualties among the fighting companies is comparatively low.
Due to being recruited from a variety of different worlds and cultures, null Blade aspirants often have nothing in common apart from the fact that they have been selected for service in the Emperor’s elite.
This means that the often disparate groups form bonds based purely on shared experience, sharing no history to speak of, and become all the more tight units because of it.
The practice of recruiting youths from wildly varying backgrounds gives rise to the almost constant spate of racial and cultural abuse the battle brothers hurl at each other outside of battle, the differences in their characters serving as both ammunition for bonding and healthy competition alike.
Through good natured insults and brutally honest appraisals of each other, the Battle Brothers of the Null Blades form next to no ego, having each shared humility and success in full view of their kin.
This habit of living in the now and paying lip service to cultural tradition is ingrained in the chapter, each Master fully recognising that men fighting to protect their friends fight harder than those who are marched stiffly into battle alongside formal acquaintances.
The Null Blades are from Ultramarines stock and therefore show next to no trace of genetic impurity. The only noticeable mutation would be a slight malfunction of the melanchromatic organ, believed to be a result of the Null Blades spending most of their time with their helmets on, on ship or underground.
This manifests itself as a slightly grey hue to the skin, and is slower to respond to differences in weather than a fully functioning melanchrome.
Being From Ultramarines stock, the Null Blades view the Codex Astartes as the result of the greatest tactical thinkers of their time, and base all their own tactics on it, using it as a solid foundation to base their own plans and strategies.
Fluid command and independent thought at all levels are vital to the Null Blades modus operandi, as many of their operations are carried out with minimal preparation time and adapting to the situation on the ground is key to their success.
The Null Blades’ mentality in battle is to keep moving, reacting to real time intel provided by roving scout squads, relocating forces fast and often to strike at the enemies weak points, keeping them on the back foot.
This forms a typically hard hitting strategy, a combined arms approach that hits hard, again and again before enemy commanders have time to think.
At a tactical level, the chapter relies heavily on effective employment of basic weapons, favouring efficiency with the bolter above all else, with many examples of bayonets and chain blades being used to supplement their economical style of close range fire fights.
In regards to power weapons among the officer ranks, veteran sergeants and Captains favour short, thick bladed swords, the shape often more akin to a machete to compliment their simple fighting style.
Operational security or OPSEC is a very important part of the Null Blade’s overall strategy, as they value deception as a tool to misguide the enemy and do not consider it an act of cowardice as some other chapters might.
In fact, this concept is so important to the ‘Blades that in the field they will not refer to each other by rank, or show any formal greetings of any kind, lest it mark their commanders out to enemy observers. This trend often confuses allied forces working in concert with the Null Blades and a friendly commander has often found himself addressing a battle brother when wishing to address the company Captain, and vice versa.
Null Blades openly engage with and work alongside other Imperial agencies, though their interactions have been noted as “cold and intense” and they have no qualms about expending other units for their own gains.
Their own weapons and equipment reflect the greater nature of the chapter.
Originally painted black at the order of the paranoid and stealth obsessed first chapter master, these days their armour is painted in theatre specific Codex approved camouflage, with no official markings other than squad numbers on shoulders and knees.
Battle brothers will routinely wear camouflage paint on their heads and necks under their helmets just in case the helmet must be removed for any reason, though more often than not it remains on throughout a campaign.
The Null Blades Chapter symbol is a Black line painted vertically down the left shoulder and arm, the reason for this is unknown though some say it is kept as a reminder of what they once were.
Purity seals are not used, as they are seen as unnecessary and not tactically sound, instead battle brothers may paint their litanies directly onto their armour, in a suitably mute colour.
Weapon and armour modification at an individual level is rife within the chapter, with Battle Brothers customising every aspect of their wargear to suit their tastes, in order to achieve maximum effectiveness in the field.
On paper, The Null Blade’s organisation is Codex standard, with the exception of lacking any librarium.
The origins for this are unclear, though official reports of the only campaign in which Librarians were witnessed in use comes from another chapter, their own genetic parents, The Genesis Chapter.
A Dogmatically loyal chapter, the commander of the Genesis Chapter strike force on Clamundus, a Brother Captain Anteros retrieved this report from his liaison sgt regarding the Null Blade’s unusual deployment of Librarians.
“It is bizarre, bordering on the heretical. They [Null Blades] deploy them [librarians] as squad sergeants, such is their numbers. Instead of bolstering their own prowess in combat, they project their arcane powers at their battle brothers, augmenting the entire squad, amplifying their weapons and abilities to unnatural levels.”
The unnamed Sergeant was later killed by an Ork Sniper in the final stages of the campaign, unfortunately leaving no evidence of his claims.
The Null Blades have never had any psychic presence on the battlefield since.
In practice, the nature of the Null Blade’s organisation is one of flexibility, with the order of battle changing regularly to pool resources or focus assets more efficiently via the use of scratch units and ad-hoc formations.
To this end the chapter stresses anticipation at all levels and trains every battle brother regularly, from the newest recruit to the chapter master himself on all weapon systems and all roles within the chapter.
This means units can effectively re-arm and re-deploy in any role at short notice, dependant on the threat.
The organic nature of organisation, coupled with fluidity of command and efficient use of scout intelligence means the Null Blades operate as their namesake suggests, as weapons few realise even exist.
PURGING OF VERDUN
Late 885M41, 2nd company commander Brother-Captain Bellatus and strike force ‘Nightstalker’ responded to an 18 month old distress call from a freighter en route to the hiveworld of Verdun, unusual as it was transmitted over vox comms opposed to astropathic means.
Upon reaching high orbit, Bellatus discovered a grey, cloudy wasteland wracked by civil war, with the last remnants of Imperial forces about to be routed in Verdun’s primary hive itself.
Pausing only to request reinforcements, Bellatus deployed en masse via drop pod, still in the Olive green livery of the previous campaign directly onto the hive spire in an uncharacteristically reckless move, scattering his forces into an urban nightmare of street fighting.
After linking up with loyal forces and establishing contact with the Governor, a Staunchly traditional Imperialist who was genuinely caught unawares with the uprising of a prominent workers union the ‘People’s liberation force’, the Null Blades purged the hive of enemy in a week of unrelenting bloodshed, only pausing to regroup at ground level once they reached the vast arterial roads that connected the hive to its surrounding cities.
The barren ash wastes in between hives had been turned into endless maze of trench works and siege lines, and 2nd company immediately set to the task of clearing a perimeter around the immense, monolithic city.
This took 3 months.
When Chapter Master Commodus arrived with all 4 reserve companies at his command he found a depleted 2nd company commanding a ragtag army of loyalist PDF, fighting fiercely to expand the 50km safe zone they had cleared around the hive.
With the Grey armoured reserve companies bolstering the defences Commodus pulled 2nd company, now under command of Sergeant Roke following the death of Bellatus 3 weeks earlier in a suicide bombing, from the line.
Rather than give them rest, 2nd company were immediately tasked to conscript the millions of citizens cowering in the hive to form an army capable of holding the vast distances between hive complexes, recognising that 400 marines could not cover an entire planet.
Within 6 months Commodus’ plan started to bear fruit, with the 56 remaining men of 2nd company each training a regiment of Verdun’s able bodied civilians to take the fight to the enemy.
Within 18 months there were over a million individuals in these self titled “Talon Brigades”, each led by a single member of 2nd company, these single warriors in their battered green armour becoming iconic among the embattled civilian populace.
Over a 3 year period the Reserve companies led by Master Commodus fought a vicious ground taking campaign bolstered by the Talon brigades and Sgt Roke’s company, his handpicked teams fighting a guerrilla war and savaging the enemies command structure and supply lines.
The last secessionists were executed on the 4th Anniversary of 2nd company’s initial planetfall, and the planetary Governor offered his own resignation, swearing fealty to Master Commodus.
Commodus obviously refused, but accepted the gift of the title “hero of Verdun” in honour of his chapter’s actions, retained by his successor Master Igneus after his death in 946M41.
Sergeant Roke was promoted to 2nd company Captain in recognition of his efficient command throughout the campaign.
None. The Null Blades live by the motto "Munus et Mortis" Duty and Death, symbolising the most important aspects of their existence, duty to the Emperor and the death of his enemies.
Edited by Darkchild130, 11 October 2011 - 10:17 AM.