-Except from Administratum database: Index Astartes-
-Clearance Level: Inquisition-
-Access: Granted; Limited-
The Praetorians (Chapter)
The Praetorians are a Chapter believed by the Imperium to have been created in the Thirteenth Founding. They are noted for daring strikes at the heart of the enemy and precise disruptions of enemy infrastructure. They have been declared Lost twice and have been brought to the brink of annihilation on innumerable occasions, but have endured due to the resourcefulness and pragmatism of the Astartes.
Colours and Chapter Symbol
Byzantium is a Feudal World that is located in the centre of a major cluster of systems that form the Byzas Subsector. Aside from the period which trapped the Praetorians in the Sector it is one of the few relatively safe routes for Warp travel in the Northern Segmentum Obscuris. It is a planet where fortified city-states and republics constantly rise and fall across the habitable regions of the planets equator. The planets population is focussed on the main continent, with a large inland sea where the most powerful city-states and republics reside along the coast. This inland sea is dotted with large volcanic islands, the home of port-cities and pirates. This sea is almost divided by a peninsular into two seas. Historically, the city-state or republic who controlled the city built on the peninsular was the most influential (and wealthy) on the planet.
The Byzantines have a classical warrior culture, with the greatest ambition for every boy being to be granted command of their city-state or republics military. However soldiers are almost useless against the sophisticated fortifications of the major towns and cities on the major continent. The generals must rely on subterfuge, sabotage and assassination to allow their armies any chance of occupying these fortresses. As such, each State and Republic have extensive spy networks, as well as highly trained assassins that are recruited from orphans as soon as they can stand to be brilliant, but silent killers. These methods are the only way to have any chance of taking these fortresses without destroying the military, as losing excessive numbers of troops will result in the generals own rapid replacement and disappearance.
The population is renowned throughout the Sector as ruthless and cut-throat, happy to murder anyone if it would help to improve their social status. The population is therefore constantly fighting each other, either for the honour of their city-states and republics or for social promotion. As such a strict code of honour has been necessary in the prevention of assassinations, with no-one allowed to go within an arm's length of each other. This has resulted in forging a scheming, deceptive and politically-minded population, very happy to get their hands dirty but also very good at not being caught doing so. To rule in the City-States or Republics is to live a hard and fast existence, with the entire nobility constantly looking for ways to gain greater privileges, usually via a well-placed knife in the dark.
The Byzantines view the Praetorians the same way they view each other; with great suspicion, but with a general acknowledgment that their presence provides long term protection against a Galaxy of horrors. Finding a population with similar ideals that the Chapter upholds, the Praetorians established their Fortress-monastery; Castra Praetoria. The Fortress and city that surrounds it is situated on the peninsular which forms a bottleneck of the major inland sea, allowing the occupant of the city to control all trade between the major city-states and republics. The location was formerly controlled by the rebels of the planet when the Praetorians arrived, and thus received their highest level of attention. Castra Praetoria is now viewed by the Byzantines as a reminder of who holds supreme power over the population, but also of the glories and majesty of the Imperium.
The Praetorians built a reputation as a ruthless fleet-based Chapter, famed for their flexibility and on destroying their opponent's leadership structures rapidly. The first know Imperial record of the Chapter in action being the cleansing of Nerus, a rebel Forge World in the Segmentum Obscurus. In this they won great renowned for their rapid assault on the Ad Mechs headquarters early into the campaign, disrupting the rebel Skitarii legions, resulting in a fast conclusion and surrender of the rebels. Prior to this, there are Imperial reports that suggest they took part in the conflicts revolving around the Age of Apostasy and Plague of Unbelief.
Another notable campaign in their early history was a crusade into the Halo Stars region. They wished to bring the Halo Stars region into the Imperium, and hopefully re-discover lost human colonies. Here they lost contact with the Imperium for two centuries, only to resurface below half-strength to declare only the dead reside in those stars, giving no other explanation for their absence or heavy losses.
The reason for abandoning their fleet-based past was due to the events now remembered as the Pacification. The Praetorians were requested by Lord Solar Theodosius to spear-head the assault on the Byzas Sector; only infamous for being a hotbed for Xenos, rebels and pirates on the Northern edge of the Galaxy. The campaign was a drawn out affair due to the sheer number of different rebel factions, but ended with great success for the Imperial forces. However during the campaign, the Chapters Librarians and Astropaths felt great turbulence in the Warp, which was confirmed by a Warp storm erupting into existence, engulfing the entire sector, cutting them off from the rest of the Galaxy. Undaunted, they continued their mission until completion.
This period of isolation from the Imperium was to last for over a Millennia. What exactly transpired during this period of isolation, just like the Halo Stars incident remains a complete mystery to the Imperium, and is never openly discussed by this reserved Chapter.
Upon the Warp storm abating, the Inquisition moved into the Sector and assessed the Chapter. Finding the Chapter to still be completely loyal despite their isolation from the Imperium, the Inquisitors recommended that the Praetorians be gifted the Byzantine System formally and charged with garrisoning the Sector. This the Chapter were granted and to this day the Praetorians now garrison one of the few reliable routes through the Northern reaches of the Segmentum Obscuris.
Since the end of their isolation, to continue their tradition as a fleet-based Chapter the Prefect Heraclius started a two-Company crusade to last for a century a time. This has resulted in their involvement in conflicts all across Imperial space, but in particular the conflicts surrounding the Eye of Terror, including the Gothic War. Details of the conflicts these Crusades fight in are fragmentary at best, at worst result in the disappearance of two whole Companies for a whole century before returning to Byzantium.
In the final years of the M41, the Praetorians have been charged by the Ordo Hereticus and Xenos with the pacification of the neighbouring Pergamus Sector, since it has largely fallen into rebellion. Upon hearing that this rebellion is fronted by a Chapter located in the Sector, Prefect Apollyon has issued the mobilisation of six of the Chapters Companies with the intention of destroying the rebel Astartes in this Sector, supported by the regiments of Guard raised on the planet Thassalos, the other inhabited planet in the Byzantine system.
At the same time, as is tradition within the Chapter two Companies are on a century long Crusade. This is a tradition to remind the Praetorians of their past as a fleet-based Chapter. Currently the IV and V Companies are en-route to the Eye of Terror to help the desperate defence of the Cadian Gate from the 13th Black Crusade.
Early M36 - War of Brothers: The Praetorians records state involvement in the renegade Void Stalker Chapters destruction. All Imperial records remain classified regarding the conflict.
Early M36 - Age of Apostasy & Plague of Unbelief: Conflicting reports suggest Praetorians took part in these conflicts.
516.M36 - Nerus Rebellion: Forge World Nerus revolts, Praetorians commit the II Company. Rebel leaders killed in there first assault. First known engagement of Praetorians to the Imperium.
209-513.M37 - Halo Crusade: Entire Chapter deployed to search the Halo Stars for human occupation. Contact is lost with the Imperium for two centuries; Chapter declared lost 342.M37. Praetorians re-emerge from the Halo Stars with only four Companies remaining. Contact re-established with Imperium. Praetorians report that the Halo Stars are only inhabited by the dead. Despite the losses, they immediately offer aid to the Iron Knights Chapter, with their howeworld under siege by an unknown Xenos threat.
550-560.M37 - Occlusiad Wars: Chapter played some part in the war against the Apostles of the Blind King. Exactly what role remains a mystery.
101.M38 - The Watch: Chapter spends several centuries patrolling the Eye of Terror, aids in the defence during 9th Black Crusade.
877.M38 - The Pacification: Lord Solar Theodosius requests Praetorians aid in purging the Byzas Sector. When the campaign is near completion, a Warp storm erupts, trapping Imperial forces in the Sector for over a Millennia. Declared Lost to the Imperium.
M39 - Insolation: The Chapter is not seen or heard from for the entire M39 due to the Warp storm. What transpires in the Sector remains a mystery to the Imperium.
131.M40 - Isolations End: Warp storm abates, and reveals the Praetorians in control of the Byzas System. Formally gifted Byzantium as a Homeworld for remaining loyal.
139.M40 - Crusaders Legacy: Prefect Heraclius declares century long fleet action on the boarder of the Eye of Terror. The V & VIII Companies are the first dispatched.
619.M40 - Wraagh! Gorgotha: Ork invasion sweeps the Byzas Subsector. It is halted and crushed on Byzantines moon, Constance II, but not before the II & IX Companies were wiped out.
139.M41 - Gothic War: Companies III & IV take part in the Gothic War against the Despoiler. Heavy losses suffered during the battles in the Schindlegeist system.
979-981.M41 - Insurrection: Revolts break out all across the Byzas Subsector, two years after the start of the Justinian Plague. Heavy initial losses. Captain Apollyon declared Prefect. Tide turns against the rebels. Finally beaten above the planet Megara, but Alpha Legion cell responsible escapes.
997-present day.M41 - Pergamus Purging: Beginning of a crusade against the Pergamus Sector, after it fell to revolt and xenos invasion. Conflict on-going.
999-present day.M41 - 13th Black Crusade: IV & VI Companies dispatched to aid in the defence of the Cadian Gate.
The Gene-Seed is stable and exceptionally pure, with the only mutation being to the Occulobe, causing the iris of all Marines to turn orange or red. The Neophytes produced by this Chapter are renowned for their relatively rapid development into Astarte form, and the quality of the Marines that are produced. This is at complete odds with the Praetorians claimed descent from Corax, the Primarch of the Raven Guard, with a Gene-Seed that is known to be deteriorating.
As such, there Gene-Seed has been analysed on numerous occasions by the Adeptus Mechanicus. Their findings have publicly concluded that the Gene-Seed is indeed descended from the Raven Guards, but the actual reports have never been made available. The Raven Guard themselves have never acknowledged the genetic link to the Praetorians. Whether this is because they just do not want any link to be known, or because they do not believe there is a link remains a mystery.
Like most Astartes, they do not view the Emperor as a God, but as the greatest example of Humanity, a pinnacle whose example all should strive towards. As with most Chapters who share this view, this puts them at odds with the Ecclesiarchy, but there is little ill-will between the two organisations.
They maintain strong contacts with the Mechanicum, despite finding the worship and hoarding of technology distasteful. Reports suggest that the Praetorians secured a working STC in their reclamation of the Byzas Sector and gifted it to the Mechanicum upon the end of their isolation. These reports remain unsubstantiated, but it would explain there armoury being particularly well-stocked even after extensive periods of isolation.
The Praetorians have always been renowned throughout the Imperium as being ruthless and efficient, even before their isolation. Recruiting from the Byzantine population has only heightened this sense of identity and their secretive nature. They were greatly influenced by the Chapter Master Scapula, who adopted Byzantium as there Homeworld, and with it adopted many of the Byzantines cultural practices, such as the Byzantine code of honour and the local language.
The Praetorians broadly follow the tactics presented in the Codex Astartes, though like the Raven Guard they do not see the Codex as infallible and emphasise more flexibility in interpretation to suit their own fighting preferences. The Chapter deviates from the Codex in the structure of its Companies; most notably that there Battle Companies have there own Veterans. The I Company are specialised in boarding actions, so still maintain the Tactical Dreadnaught Armour and most of the Centurion War suits, though its members are not considered "Veterans." The X Company is a standard Scout Company, however when the Neophytes are close to completing their training and development they are selected by a Company to finish training alongside there future Battle Brothers depending on their mentality and skill set. This is a legacy of their isolation, with all Companies being required to fight on multiple planets and systems with no hope of outside support.
To honour their past as a fleet-based Chapter, two Companies are launched into a Century-long crusade which has seen the Chapter fight all over the Galaxy. The two Companies selected also take the Scout Companies entire collection of Neophytes with them to maintain there numbers during the Crusade, meaning that once every Century the X Company has to be completely replaced with fresh recruits.
Titles also differ from Codex Chapters, the Chapter Master being referred to as the Prefect though their function is usually identical, other titles for Codex units are referred to by the Byzantine languages interpretation, such as the Honour Guard being the famed Varangian Guard. The Kataphraktos make up the land vehicles of the Chapter, including Bikers, tanks and Land Speeders.
Each Company is responsible for completing the training of Neophytes. This is done to allow the Companies to focus on there specialty, and recruit appropriately.
As the population of Byzantium is in a state of constant war among themselves, they make for brilliant recruits for the Astartes. Those that reside among the city-states where most recruits originate from, are trained as soon as they are able to fight. The only time the Byzantines will trust another being when they are marching to war together. Hypnotherapy is only utilised to ingrain trust for their fellow Battle Brothers to temper the populations cutthroat nature.
The most notable quirk of there recruits is the speed with which they mature into their Astartes form, and the individual quality of the neophytes. The reason for these quirks are unknown to all outside of the highest ranking members of the Adeptus Mechanicus considering the Chapters claimed descent from the XIX Legion.
The Codex Astartes is viewed with high regard by the Praetorians, even if they do not follow it to the letter. They see the Codex as a great guide, but not infallible and thus open to interpretation and change if the situation demands it. Many speculate this unpredictability originates from there conflicts with renegade Chapters and Traitor Legions, who are either ingrained with the teachings or have experience fighting against its teachings.
The Praetorians put greatest emphasis on eliminating command and supply structures, resulting in the rapid collapse of the opposing military. More emphasis was put on this maxim during their periods of isolation, where they had no hope of reinforcements or resupplies and therefore had to plan every use of resource with meticulous detail.
Thus their attacks initially involve stealth and reconnaissance, followed by rapid insertion of forces to key positions. When on the back-foot, they utilise sorties, hit-and run tactics, though this is usually intended to be a precursor to getting back on the offensive. They are known to have the uncanny ability to hit an opponent where they are most vulnerable, which is achieved through the diligent work of their Scouts. The Praetorians take the lessons they learn while Neophytes very seriously, allowing them to approach an enemy without alerting them. Usually the first moment the enemy notices the Praetorians is the flash of their Bolters at close range.
Due to their periods of isolation from the Imperium, the Praetorians do not count on being resupplied for long periods of time. This has resulted in the recycling of armour, weapons and vehicles, and with the loss of most of their Land Raiders. Only a single Land Raider Redeemer, Byzantines Flame is still in service. The Prefect himself must sanction its use; such is its importance to the Chapter.
Notable Members of the Praetorians
Prefect Apollyon - Current Chapter Master, formerly Captain of the III Company. Ended the Cultist insurrection in the Byzas Sector, currently leading the Pergamus campaign. Known for being calculating, patient and resilient; he was seen as the best option for leadership during the insurrections.
Prefect Heraclius - Former Chapter Master. Began Century long crusading tradition after Isolation period.
Chapter Master Scapula - Former Chapter Master. Reorganized the Chapter after the Pacification events.
Codicier Garro - Librarian, earning distinction in the 13th Black Crusade.
Notable Elements of the Praetorians
Megara - Flagship and former Fortress-monastery. Details as to when the Praetorians acquired this Battle-Barge is unclear, it was first sighted in the Nerus Rebellion.
Byzantines Flame - Land Raider Redeemer, earned distinction during the period of Isolation in the Byzas Sector.
Blade of Valens - Polearm that dates back to the Chapters campaign in the Halo Stars, this has been the Prefects symbol of office since there return to Imperial space.
Edited by Prefect Apollyon, 08 May 2016 - 04:31 PM.