The Steel Archons Space Marines Chapter
The Great Schism:
In the mid 33rd millennium a cult of techmarines developed that sought the Omnissiah through pure innovation. This cult took hold in the chapter’s armory so that by the end of 699M33, the armory had become divided on the issue of innovation. Gradually, this division had spread to the rest of the chapter, with fierce theological debates becoming common in the chapter’s Reclusiam, and as time wore on, became vicious. This divide then carried over to the battle brethren of the chapter and duels between the Strategoi (captain in the Byzant language) became commonplace. By 790M33, the lines had been drawn. Even among the chapter’s ruling Thematic Council divisions had formed. While officially neutral, members of the council had taken sides, with the chapter’s Magister (chief Librarian) siding with the orthodox marines of the chapter, against the Master of the Forge and Master of Sanctity who favored the innovative cult. Exarch Isaak Komnenos , the Chapter Master of the Steel Archons, had chosen to remain neutral, instead focusing his energies towards diplomacy and military matters. Two of the chapter’s companies, the 1st and 12th had also elected to maintain neutrality. As such these two companies and Exarch Komnenos formed a block that would stay out of the coming civil war.
Tensions between the two factions boiled over in 800M33 when a strike cruiser under the command of the 3rd company attacked one of the 5th company. The factions quickly mobilized, bringing the chapter to the brink of civil war. In a desperate attempt to prevent the outbreak of war, Exarch Komnenos proposed a meeting on neutral ground. The leaders of the respective factions assented to this to avoid shedding the blood of their brothers. The world of Floran was chosen for the meeting to take place. Over several weeks of deliberation, the chaplains and techmarines of both sides had reached a compromise. However, they were too late, the next day word reached the planet than fighting had started. In the absence of wiser minds, pure zeal had won out. The two factions withdrew to their fleets and jumped away to their respective forces.
The initial skirmishes were bloody and raged across the sector, even Byzantion itself was not left untouched, with its main continent becoming ravaged by fierce armored battles. However, by 820M33 the war had reached a turning point, with the orthodox faction gaining the upper hand. Over the next decade, the forces of the innovators were gradually decimated. Then in 831M33 the tide turned against the orthodox. A young techmarine of the innovators had discovered a unique tome in the chapter’s archives. Within it described ways of harnessing the primal forces of nature to be used as weapons. This techmarine along with several of his colleagues worked furiously to incorporate these principles into the innovator’s weapons. The results were devastating. The tanks of the orthodox faction were rent easily by these new weapons. However this was not enough the techmarine soon realized. Acting rashly, the techmarine unleashed a scrap code upon the orthodox faction. The results were immediate, more than half of the marines of the orthodox faction turned upon their brethren, their minds slowly being rewritten through the infection that plagued their mechanical implants. However, this scrap code had unforeseen side effects, as it similarly lobotomized the majority of the innovator faction. Strangely though, the techmarines of orthodox faction had been left unaffected along with those battle brothers who had chosen to eschew mechanical augmentation. This disaffection of the orthodox techmarines is now attributed to the intervention of the Emperor. However, this now shifted the war in favor of the innovators, who swiftly overran their opposition. It was only due to the timely intervention of the 1st and 12th companies under Exarch Komnenos that spared the orthodox marines from annihilation.
Realizing that the taint of chaos had become present in the innovators, Exarch Komnenos had chosen to intervene in the conflict on the side of the orthodox marines. As a result, the conflict would reach its culmination in the battle of Thracion. While the exact details of the final battles around Thracion are the stuff of chapter legend, it is known that the chapter lost most of its archives and its fortress monastery. The end result saw the retreat of the innovators into the warp and the triumph of the Komnenian faction.
In the wake of the Great Schism, the Steel Archons emerged bloodied but undaunted. Having lost approximately 700 of the original 1200 battle brothers (discounting elite formations) of the chapter and much of its high command, Exarch Komnenos launched a series of reforms of the chapter.
With the elimination of much of the chapter’s Reclusiam, Exarch Komnenos decreed the formation of the Steel Wardens, a new office akin to that of the Iron Fathers of the Iron Hands. The Steel Wardens were to be an office to oversee the spiritual wellbeing of their brothers, especially their fellow techmarines, now known as the Artificers. To this new office was also given the responsibility to search for and archive technological relics, as the Steel Wardens represented some of the wisest and most knowledgeable techmarines of the chapter. The remaining Librarians were also added to the Steel Wardens, to pass on their knowledge so as to prepare the next generation of Steel Wardens.
Also as a direct consequence of the scrap code that lobotomized many of the chapter, mechanical augmentation would be forevermore shunned to prevent such a great loss from ever occurring again.
The 1st and 12th companies were also credited for their role in the final victory over the innovators. Upon the recommendation of the new Magister of the Steel Wardens and the unanimous decision of the Thematic council, these two companies were declared as tagma and placed solely under the command of the Exarch. This came as both a measure of respect for Exarch Komnenos and as a safeguard to prevent a schism from consuming the chapter again.
The Steel Archons come from the verdant garden world of Byzantion in the Segementum Pacificus.
With a population of 5.5 billion, Byzantion is largely unpopulated and most of its main continent is given over to agriculture, producing more than enough food to make the colony self-sufficient and support the nearby Forgeworld of Nicomede XII. There are also rumors of mineral wealth below the surface, but these are largely unsubstantiated and have been dismissed by the local government.
Byzantion is also orbited by three moons. Two of these, Thessalon and Corinthus are home to the manufactorums that produce the war materiel of the Steel Archons. Thanks to the wealth of knowledge gathered by the Steel Archons, these manufactorums are able to produce nearly anything the Steel Archons need. In fact, it is rumored that the Steel Archons possess a few examples of the pre-Heresy Fellblade Super Heavy Tank. The third moon of Byzantion, Thracion, is a barren wasteland, scoured and abandoned in the wake of the Great Schism. Upon the surface of Thracion lies a monument in the ruins of the chapter's old fortress monastery upon which are engraved the names of the brothers lost to the infection. Never shall the lost be forgotten.
The lands of Byzantion are organized into ten Thema, military political divisions that originate from the planet’s turbulent past. Mirroring the organization of their parent chapter, each of the Steel Archons’ 10 battle companies draw recruits exclusively from one of the Thema. This leads to a form of rivalry among individual companies, however this is alleviated somewhat by the rotation of squads through the 1st and 12th companies. The 1st and 12th companies represent the personal guard of the chapter master, a practice taken from Byzantion's past.
In its distant past, the central continent of Byzantion was ruled by a long line of Emperors. The militaries of these emperors employed both provincial infantry and their own personal professional units. These latter units were known as tagma, and this practice was rapidly adopted by the Steel Archons, who looked for ways to adapt to the traditions of their homeworld. Thus the chapter's Council (also taken from an ancient body that advised the Emperors and commanded the provincial forces) controls the bulk of the chapter's companies and the chapter master (also known as the Exarch, a title used by the more militant emperors) commands the two 'tagma' companies.
"Only use force when you cannot attain your objective through Diplomacy or Subterfuge" Exarch Manuel I, 300M32
Typically the Steel Archons will only resort to force when they cannot obtain their objectives through diplomatic or covert means. However, when they do take to the field of battle the Steel Archons favor blitzkreig style warfare, focusing around mechanized warfare and speartip attacks. To facilitate this, the
Furthermore, the Steel Wardens employ massive orbital bombardments prior to and after their campaigns. This has earned them a reputation for brutality across the Segementum Tempestus.
As a result of the Great Schism, the Steel Archons maintain both the Steel Wardens and the Artificers. While the Artificers maintain and produce the war materiel of the chapter, the Steel Wardens are tasked with the discovery and archiving of technical lore and the spiritual wellbeing of their brothers. While the Steel Wardens are all psykers, their skill-set tends to be more oriented to a support function. The offensive abilities of the Steel Wardens tend to be minimal at best. However, each one is a powerful empath, a trait that complements their role as chaplains quite well. It also allows them to detect the taint of the Empyrean upon relics recovered by the chapter.
The Steel Wardens and Artificers are also divided along the lines of methodology. Whereas the Artificers apply the more logical and accepted approaches to technology, the Steel Wardens are more fluid and intuitive. The reason for this difference is that during training on Mars, the Steel Wardens spend a period of time studying under Rune Priests of the Mechanicum. This specialized training provides them with the mental fluidity necessary for their office. As such, it has given the Steel Archons the capability to experiment with new patterns of equipment.
The chapter operates a total of twelve companies, 10 battle companies, and the two tagma companies. Each of the companies is headed by a Strategos, the rough equivalent of a captain. The 1st and 12th Companies are commanded by the Exarch himself, a marine elected by the Thematic council and who must be above reproach, for the Exarch is given full sanction to intervene if another schism were to occur.
Currently, the chapter does not maintain a fortress monastery, preferring to operate as a largely fleet based chapter. However, its base of operations still remains upon Byzantion, albeit a lessened presence. It is believed that by spreading themselves across the stars, there is less of a chance of such a tragedy occurring again. Even so, the chapter has been known to fight as a whole on occasion, and when it does, it is indeed a terrible day.
The Chapter is governed by the Thematic Council made up of the heads of the chapter, a legacy from their parent chapter. On this council sit the Exarch, the Magister of the Steel Wardens, and the Chief Artificer. The Exarch may deploy the 1st or 12th companies as he wishes, but the rest of the chapter's strength remains firmly in control of the council. However, by tradition, even the Exarch's 'personal' companies are rarely deployed without sanction, for to do so is to undermine the authority of the council.
The Limitanei are the equivalent of the Scout Company of other chapters. However due to the fighting style of the Steel Archons, the normal training process is untenable. To facilitate their specialty, each Thema company maintains an attached Limitanei platoon. Each Limitanei platoon is equipped to fight as a mechanized force, with supporting tanks and mechanized infantry. To facilitate this, the Steel Archons maintain a sizeable motorpool of Leman Russ battle tanks and Chimera APCs. While on the outside similar to their Imperial Guard counterparts, these vehicles have been upgraded internally to facilitate an easier transfer of skills by the neophytes to crewing the standard vehicles of the Space Marines. Consequentially, the when the Limitanei make the transition to full-fledged battle brother, they are able to adapt rapidly to the mechanized warfare of the Steel Archons.
As a result of their heritage, the Steel Archons are obsessed with technological knowledge. Ever since their founding, this obsession has coalesced into something known as the Quest. The Quest is the belief that is the sacred duty of the Steel Archons to gather the scraps of technological knowledge remaining from the Golden Age of Technology and return humanity to its former glory. This is to be accomplished through sanctioned experimentation and archiving of recovered knowledge. It is their goal to one day amass the full sum of human knowledge and lead the Imperium into a new golden age not seen since the days of the Great Crusade.
Unlike the Iron Hands, the Steel Archons shun all forms of mechanical augmentation. This is a direct result of the Great Schism. While questioned by their parent chapter, this has proven successful, as since the Great Schism, only a handful of marines have fallen to Chaos. However, the cloned organic limbs used for replacement may prove problematic in the future.
The Steel Archons tend to be ruthlessly pragmatic with their relics, to them it is an affront to the machine spirit of a relic if it lies in a vault collecting dust. Thus it is common for relics to be seen at the forefront of a battle. However this does not mean they are deployed carelessly, as relics are typically next to impossible to replicate.
This affinity for technology has won them few friends. Most of their brother marines tend to look upon the Steel Archons with outright suspicion at best or hostility at worst. This causes the chapter to typically fight on its own and when it does fight alongside other marines, they are typically of Chapters with close ties to the Mechanicum. However the technological knowledge of the Chapter has strengthened its ties to the Mechanicum, giving it a staunch ally and far superior equipment to most other chapters. This also has led to the larger than normal number of Techmarines in its ranks.
The cult of the Steel Archons bears resemblance to the Mechanicum. The marines of the Chapter venerate the Emperor as the Omnissiah. Naturally this has caused tension with the Ecclesiarchy, whom have come to blows with the Steel Archons on more than one occasion.
The chapter's Gene-seed is stable, there are no known mutations. Through some quirk, the Chapter has a low number of psykers but a well above-average number of technically proficient marines.
"Salus Per Scientia" (Salvation Through Knowledge)
Edited by Exark, 18 September 2012 - 06:32 PM.