The Helios Guard
Our foes outnumber us. They outgun us, and they outpace us. They hold all advantages. All save one. Endurance. No foe is our equal in this. They can strike, strike, strike again. But their blows we will weather. They will tire, they will fall, and we will cast their broken bodies down from the heights of this world.
Battle-brother Elioth of the Second Company
A Chapter whose early records are spotty at best, the Helios Guard have never been fully trusted by the wider Imperium. Their genetic origin remains a mystery, and the earlier years of their existence are the subject of myth and legend. Several Inquisitors have, over the years, taken it upon themselves to delve into the origins of the Chapter. All have come away with nothing. Aside from a few sparse mentions in the records of other Chapters and in the vaults of the Adeptus Terra, there is no proof at all that the Helios Guard existed before the 36th Millennium.
The Helios Guard:
Chapter Master: Acanthus Valorum.
Fortress-Monastery: Battle barge Fortis Praefectum.
Founding: Unknown (possibly the Dark 13th Founding).
Colors: Bone, with dark red right arm and black trim.
Specialty: Resilience, alpha strikes, relentless assaults.
Strength: Under strength following losses in the Traxis Campaign (approx. 750).
Battle cry: "We endure!"
The records kept by the Adeptus Terra state that the Helios Guard were founded in the middle of the 36th Millenium. However, the records of several other Chapters and a few minor worlds on the outskirts of Segmentum Obscurus mention Marines matching the modern description of the Guard well before this date. This can be interpreted several ways; however, the prevailing (and, likely, correct) theory amongst the informed is that the Adeptus Terra were not informed of the Helios Guard’s creation until well after the fact. If this is true, it could, perhaps, be used to explain the total lack of any Administratum records pertaining to the Chapter before M36.
What records remain from the earliest days of the Helios Guard show that, for the early centuries of their existence, the Helios Guard were a Chapter on permanent Crusade. In those days, Chapter-level campaigns were often launched seemingly without cause; neither the battle-brothers of the Companies nor even the Captains commanding them knew why they were called to the battles they were. Feling distrusted by their own leaders, some brothers grew frustrated. Hopelessness took hold, and a few, including the Fourth Captain of the time, Theren (now known as the Blighted King) turned, in their despair, to Chaos (particularly to Nurgle, the god of plague, hopelessness, and immortality).
The leaders of the Chapter attempted to cover up the insurgency within their ranks. Despite their best efforts, however, fifty battle-brothers (their names inscribed in the Hall of the Lost aboard the Fortis Praefectum) escaped the purge, wreaking havoc throughout the Imperium before escaping into the Maelstrom. In the wake of this, the Inquisition issued an ultimatum to the Chapter; embark upon a penitent crusade into the Maelstrom in pursuit of Theren and his ilk, or be destroyed. With no other choice, Chapter Master Eliouth acceded to the demands of the Inquisition. So began the Rebirth, as the Crusade is called within the Helios Guard.
The Chapter fleet entered the Maelstrom in the thirteenth year of the 38th Millennium. Driven by their hatred and desire to make amends to the people their brothers had wronged, the Chapter pushed through any and all foes they encountered. On the outskirts, it was Ork enclaves and pirate kingdoms. Once inside, however, the foe became great deal more dangerous. Renegades, heretics, and worse prowled the worlds encountered by the fleet. More and more brothers were lost with each encounter. Some spoke of turning back, but the Chapter Master, Eliouth, knew that they had no choice but to continue. His Captains attempted to reason with him, but the Chapter Master would accept nothing less than total victory, or total destruction.
So the fleet pushed on, until, at last, it came to the Nurgle-corrupted world of Almoravid. There, they found that Theren and his forty-nine had made common cause with the daemon legions of the plague god. The Helios Guard, numbering only five hundred, faced an army of daemons in addition own corrupted brethren. Once more, the Captains begged their lord to abandon his the Crusade, or conduct an Exterminatus upon the planet, lest the Chapter be destroyed in its entirety. But driven by his hatred and sheer stubbornness, Eliouth gave the order to make planetfall.
When the battle began, the Helios Guard fought with all their usual grim resolution. Bolters punched and shattered warp-spawn at close range, while mighty Dreadnoughts and trundling vehicles cut swathes through the horde. But it was not enough. Lesser daemons swarmed and butchered Astartes, while their more powerful kin strode amongst the Space Marines, shattering armor, flesh, and bone with ease. The Chapter fought bravely, but they faced daemons in their own realm, and most were overwhelmed. Chapter Master Eliouth, knowing that it was his brethren's only hope, sought out Theren in single combat. The Blighted King and the Chapter Master dueled for an hour, matching blow for blow. But, in the end, Theren’s warp-enhanced power proved too much for Eliouth, and he was cast down and slain.
At the loss of their leader, the remaining two hundred Space Marines began to lose hope. They refused to surrender , as ever, but they knew their chances of survival were slim. This was a crisis they could not endure. But then the tide was turned.
Valodis Llero, Captain of the First Company, cast aside his doubts and strode out amongst his brothers. Through his charisma and inspiring example, Llero rallied the remanants of his Chapter. Their warrior spirits were stoked, and their growing despair gave way to a cold, implacable hate. With his warriors behind him, Llero led a final charge against the forces of Nurgle, and, in desperate single combat, struck down the traitor lord. In this, the Guard were thwarted, however, for There's soul had been taken by the warp and, now a daemon prince of Nurgle, he could not truly be slain. Still, it was enough for the Chapter to claim victory that day.
With Theren’s death (temporary though it was) the daemons lost their hold on reality, discorporating where they stood. The Helios Guard fell back to their ships in good order, and Llero declared the crusade to be at an end. In his final act of command as Captain before his promotion to Chapter Master, Llero raised each of the brothers who had survived the battle to the First Company, creating a two-hundred-man Veteran Company, a tradition that persists to this day.
Following the Rebirth and Llero's subsequent promotion to Chapter Master, the Chapter fleet exited the Maelstrom. But the Helios Guard that left were not those who had entered that hell on crusade. The warriors that emerged were hardened, cold, and harsh, made callous by the war against their brothers. Though they had been known for their resolve before, now the Guard refused to take a single backwards step, no matter the odds. The warriors of the Helios Guard, long noted for their resilience, now took pride only in the pain they could endure. Much of their tenacity was a result of their gene-seed; even before their crusade, they had been noted for their resilience, but the end of the long and spiteful war against foes who were their equal in this regard only exacerbated this trait. Llero stripped away the things which, he believed, had made the Chapter weak, decadent even. Gone were the personal banners of Sergeants, the elaborate and ancient weapons that, while beautiful, served no purpose. Instead, battle-brothers would display only awards earned in battle (marksman's honors, Deathwatch markings, and the like) and markings of rank. The only exception to this rule were relics honoring the Emperor, for Llero believed that "now, more than ever, we must strive to prove ourselves worthy of His light."
Another major change which swept the Chapter was the cessation of the campaigns which had kept the lower-ranked brothers of the Chapter in the dark. Officially, Llero did away with these campaigns in order to rebuild the trust between the Chapter Master and his warriors. However, there are those both within the Chapter and without who speak of the fabled "Tome of the Thirteenth" and its alleged discovery by Llero. These skeptics draw connections between the Tome and the murky origins of the Helios Guard, but whether Llero found the Tome or not (if it does, indeed, exist) he brought and end to what all agree was a foolish and irresponsible practice unbecoming of a Space Marine Chapter.
The Helios Guard have recently emerged from a conflict with the shadowy Reclamation Dominion, an alliance of xenos, traitors, and worse. Though they suffered the brunt of the heavy fighting, losing almost a third of their manpower in the Traxis sector, the Chapter eventually prevailed at the world of Dracoon Primus, where the invasion of a Tyranid splinter fleet distracted the Dominion long enough for Acanthus Valorum to lead a successful attack on the Dominion High Command. Four years after this victory, Abandon the Despoiler began his Thirteenth Black Crusade. Though still weakened by their struggles against the Dominion, the Helios Guard have committed the Fourth and Seventh Companies, under the overall command of Fourth Captain Tuizus Erioth, to the campaign against the forces of Chaos. The rest of the Chapter remains engaged in Segmentum Solar, combating Eldar, Ork, and Necron forces.
"I've seen Chapter Masters come and go. I knew Thracian well, I did. That one was pure iron; he broke, but he never bent. Hond I knew as well. That one was steel, he was. He could bend, and he could hold, but strong enough, he simply wasn't. But Valorum? Maybe it was the Deathwatch; maybe it was the Chapter; maybe it was Tibur itself. But he's adamantium through and through. Too strong to bow, too strong to break. An immovable object. And I? I'm an unstoppable force. What happens when the two meet?"
-Renegade Space Marine Captain Ilis Morn, on Acanthus Valorum.
The current Chapter Master of the Helios Guard, Acanthus Valorum, is a man whose tally of victories outnumbers that of any of his brothers, past or present, surpassing even the lauded Valodis Llero. He embodies the relentless, implacable fury for which the Helios Guard are known. He goes into battle clad in a suit of ancient artificer armor (said by some to have been a gift to the Chapter from an unknown source) and wields the relic hammer Rilgard and a great storm shield inscribed with praises to the Emperor. Valorum is a master warrior and ruthless tactician, having personally defeated hundreds of enemy champions and orchestrated campaigns across five hundred worlds. His tally of victories stretches for five hundred years, and includes such momentous conflicts as the Rethor’s World Campaign, the siege of Hive Tor, and the Thayan Crusade (in which he planned and executed the destruction of a force of Dark Eldar numbering over ten thousand with a single Battle Company and the Strike Cruiser Ironside). As a Sergeant of the Second Company, he was seconded to the Deathwatch of the Ordo Xenos, and worked his way through the ranks to the position of Watch Captain, a post that he held for ninety years. Returning to his Chapter as First Captain, he ascended to the rank of Chapter Master in the year 843 of the 41st Millennium, and has earned the respect and adulation of his battle-brothers many times over. However, in spite of all his virtues, the enemies of man slain by his hand, and his lengthy roll of honor, there is one ingrained flaw which he has never outgrown: his near-insane stubbornness. His intractable nature has often caused him to remain on the battlefield far longer than his tacticians deem wise, fighting long after all around him have fallen. His implacability was the sole cause of his first and only defeat at the hands of the Eldar of Craftworld Biel-Tan. Valorum swore vengeance, and eventually achieved it, but only at the cost of one hundred and twelve battle-brothers. Some amongst his warriors worry that their lords' bull-headedness will bring about a great disaster in the coming years, but Valorum has, so far, defied any such fears, leading the Helios Guard to great victories time and again.
Symbol of the Helios Guard
The Helios Guard lay claim to no homeworld. Instead, they remain fleet based, and maintain a number of recruiting worlds. This variety of recruiting ground allows the Chapter to replenish losses more quickly than most other Chapters, as they have more neophytes from whom to draw.
The primary recruiting world of the Helios Guard is Tibur. A bitter, mountainous world, Tibur lies in Segmentum Obscurus, and is classified as an early stage feudal world. Tibur is home to numerous craters and caves, within which roils all manner of poisonous gas. The Helios Guard often use these caves in their trials, sending recruits to spend a night in the caves, or recover something left in one of them. The lowlands of the planet are hot, arid, and covered in pockets of poisonous gas. In contrast to these, the highlands are high in oxygen and other chemical elements essential to the human body. The cold here is so bitter, however, and the predators so vicious, that any settlers who come to this desolate region are forced to live together in castles or keeps, both for warmth and protection.
The people of Tibur are hardy, martial folk. From birth until death, life is a constant struggle, and only the strong or the useful survive. Many castles and keeps are built above massive mine complexes, where hundreds of peasants work away their lives while their lords duel, compete for the favor of ladies, and hold tournaments. In times of war, the lord of a castle raises his peasants into an army, making use of the hardy bodies and stoic temperaments of the Tiburians to create a disciplined, resolute army in a short amount of time.
Despite the importance of their recruiting worlds, the true heart of the Helios Guard is their fortress-monastery. The battle-barge Fortis Praefectum serves as the Chapter’s home. An ancient craft, dating back to the Horus Heresy or before, the Fortis Praefectum houses the Reclusiam, the Librarius, the Forge, the reliquary, as well as all the other aspects of a standard fortress-monastery. Larger than other battle-barges to accommodate the facilities of a Chapter, the Fortis Praefectum possesses a belligerent and stubborn machine spirit. This “sentience’ refuses to communicate with any but a Techmarine, the Chapter Master, or the Master of the Fleet. Nonetheless, many Chapter legends have sprung up about the spirit of the vessel, and some believe that the Fortis Praefectum may, in fact, recall the ancient, forgotten days of the foundation of the Helios Guard.
Though a Codex Chapter in most respects, the Helios Guard place a particular emphasis upon the resilience of a warrior. While marksmanship and skill with weapons are as highly valued amongst the Helios Guard as within the ranks of other Chapters, a warrior’s true mettle is found in the pain he can endure. For the Helios Guard, whose mysterious gene-seed coupled with intense conditioning makes them even more tenacious than the “average” Astartes, no pain is too great, no hardship is too much, and no obstacle cannot be surmounted through sheer willpower.
Throughout the history of the Helios Guard, this superhuman tenacity has been the deciding factor in innumerable battles. For instance, in the war against the Necron legions of the Tomb World of Isolos, the Helios Guard 2nd Company, despite taking heavy casualties, managed to repulse an attacking force of more than a thousand Necron warrior constructs, first utilizing bolter rounds, and, when ammunition ran dry, closing with the unliving foe and fighting with chainswords, combat knifes, and power-armored fists. Though they were surrounded, outnumbered, and outgunned, not one amongst them gave in to pain or fear. At the end of the battle, not a single one of the remaining Marines remained unwounded, and only thirty of the original one hundred remained, but, through tenacity and unyielding will, the Helios Guard prevailed, with the Second Company adding the Necron skull to their Company Banner to commemorate the momentous victory. Similar victories have occurred on a thousand battlefields, from the Ork contested Rethor’s World, to Nurgle-blighted Toramn. No foe is beyond the tenacity and determination of the Helios Guard, and, even in defeat, the Chapter is known to both inflict and accept horrific casualties, fighting on long after all others would have pulled out. Such a stoicism has led to victories thought impossible, but only at a great loss of life.
Organized according to the Codex Astartes in nearly all respects, the Helios Guard nonetheless possess their own unique traditions and formations. The most notable of these deviations is the two hundred man strength of the Veteran 1st Company. The reason for this dates back to a time when, during a campaign against Chaos forces on the world of Rellan, the Chapter was reduced to a mere two hundred Marines, under the command of the then First Captain, Valodis Llero. In a gesture of brotherhood, Captain Llero elevated each of those Marines not already of the First into the Veteran Company, a tradition which has persisted since those days. This unique formation has allowed the Helios Guard far more tactical flexibility than the "average" Chapter, as more experienced forces can be devoted to a war zone without fear of losing the entire cadre of Veterans. Additionally, rather than a Chief Librarian, the Helios Guard make use of an Epistolary Council, a group formed from one senior Epistolary from each of the psychic disciplines utilized by the Chapter. Aside from these deviations, the Helios Guard follow the Codex almost to the letter, though the emphasis placed upon perseverance is another notable difference from the strictures laid down in Guilliman’s mighty tome.
"Uphold the teachings of Llero, he who is Leader, Savior, and Father to us all. Purge the weakness from yourself. Root out corruption wherever it is found. Do these things, and you can do no wrong."
-High Chaplain Iliscon
Due to the lack of knowledge as to the identity of their Primarch, the Helios Guard choose to center their devotion upon the Emperor, rather than his sons. To them, the Emperor is the pinnacle of human accomplishment, a shining paragon of all that it is to be human. Every Marine of the Helios Guard strives to bring humanity as a whole closer to achieving the ideal laid down by the Emperor. In spite of this reverence for the Master of Mankind, however, the Chapter does pay homage to another ancient figure: Valodis Llero, the man responsible for turning the Helios Guard into the Chapter they are today.
Legend has it that, as a Scout, Llero slew an Ork warlord with only his fallen Sergeant’s chainsword, and that, as a Sergeant himself, he led an attack which broke the back of the Dark Eldar forces of the Kabal of the Poisoned Thorn at the Garron moon. However, his most notable achievements came at the Battle of Almoravid, in the year 13 of the 38th Millennium. Always noted for his tenacity, Llero truly showcased the potential of his fighting style during the terrible campaign in the Maelstrom. Following that great victory, Llero became the Chapter Master and implemented the training methods and doctrines which are followed to this day by the Helios Guard. In some circles, Llero is seen as the pseudo-primarch of the Helios Guard, and is held in the utmost respect by the members of the Chapter. His unique way of waging war is still the standard to which the Marines of the Helios Guard are held.
The Chapter retains some flaws, however. Deeply suspicious of outsiders (partly due to their treatment by the Inquisition) the Helios Guard often reject new ideas and innovations. Those they do adopt are regarded with wariness at best and resentment at worst. The sins of the past weigh heavily upon them; they retain their bitter hatred for their traitor brethren, and hunt them wherever and whenever possible. They are also disconnected from the common man; their own bitterness and unwillingness to express emotions leads humans they meet to fear them as irrevocably disconnected from their own experience. The brothers are often downright morbid, and several times in the Chapter's history, this unhealthy aspect of their culture has led to criticism from other Astartes. By and large, however, the Helios Guard know and accept their flaws. They know they can never be Ultramarines, champions of the people, examples of the Astartes. Instead, they strive to be a necessary evil; the warriors the Imperium and its people need, feared by those they defend but haunting the nightmares of the Emperor's foes.
“Yes, it is true that my father remains unknown to me. Never have I denied that fact, and, in my weaker moments, I have pondered the question of my identity late into the night. But to you, I say this: your proud, ancient legacy is known to you, and can be traced to he who penned the Codex, the holy writ by which we live. My line knows no such certainty, and yet, still I serve the Emperor, with every fiber of my being. In its own way, is that not as noble as your own genetic line? For, while you, faithful though you may be, have certainty, I have nothing but my faith, which I hold to, despite the mistrust levied against me. Where you act out of certainty, I act out of faith, and faith alone. Can you not see the nobility in that?”
-Chapter Master Acanthus Valorum.
Though the Helios Guard do not know the truth as to the origins of their gene-seed, their genetic legacy is as important to them as any Chapter. Their gene-seed, like that of all Space marines, serves as a reminder of their link to the Emperor, whom they revere as the greatest of men. Despite lack of any consistent genetic traits pointing towards a particular First Founding Chapter, certain traits have emerged in the gene-seed of the Helios Guard. Most of the Marines develop chiseled, almost gaunt, facial features once their gene-seed is implanted. Their eyes generally darken and seem to be hidden in shadow, and the Marines become much more resilient than Astartes from other Chapters. Though both the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Inquisition, two factions which remain suspicious of the Helios Guard, conduct regular tests upon the gene-seed of the Chapter, their gene-seed has held its purity in the face of the most stringent of trials. Mutations, though rare, are not entirely unheard of, and the Chapter is eternally vigilant for anything that might taint them further in the eyes of the Imperium.
There are many theories as to which Chapter the Helios Guard can trace their descent from. Some argue Imperia Fists or Iron Hands, arguments based primarily upon combat tactics and the Chapter Cult. But, though similar to these illustrious brotherhoods in many respects, the Helios Guard are distinct from both in their physical traits and outlook on their duty. The Ultramarines have been suggested, but this is an argument based solely upon the prevalence of Ultramarines gene-seed throughout the Imperium. Even the Raven Guard have been put forward as a possible progenitor, but the sons of Corax have never acknowledged the Helios Guard as one of their own. Both Chapters in question have completely opposing combat doctrines, and even the gene-seed of the Helios Guard points away from the warriors of Deliverance, for they do not suffer from the same mutations as the Raven Guard. There are even whispers of dark truths held within the fabled Tome of the Thirteenth, but for all intents and purposes, the Helios Guard are classified as having no known progenitor Chapter, falling into the class of Astartes most distrusted by the wider Imperium.
Chapter Master Acanthus Valorum
Dreadnought-Reclusiarch Thawn Gerodus
First Captain Varth Arren, Lord of the Two Hundred
Second Captain Vos Cvriac, The Avenger
Third Captain Huel Daros, Master of Endurance
Fourth Captain Tuizus Erioth, Master of Vigilance
Fifth Captain Merek Andrel, Master of Crusades
Sixth Captain Yaren Devitan, Master of Penance
Seventh Captain Horic Olias, Master of Relics
Eight Captain Gregor Seric, Master of Strength
Ninth Captain Toras Korvydon, Master of Annihilation
Tenth Captain Nero Fredal, Master of Silence
Chief Apothecary Samos Arth
Forged Master Anak Krayt
Keep in mind, this is still a work in progress, and I would appreciate any suggestions or criticisms you guys have. Thanks!
Edited by Brother-Sergeant Valorum, 20 September 2016 - 01:30 PM.