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The VIth Legion: the Iron Bears of Daer'dd Niimkiikaa
Posted 16 July 2017 - 03:29 AM
Posted 17 July 2017 - 07:33 AM
Edited by Chief Captain Redd, 17 July 2017 - 06:05 PM.
Posted 18 July 2017 - 03:42 AM
This leads to 20 year war in the equatorial states, till Daer'dd shows up and conquers all.
Posted 18 July 2017 - 08:38 PM
The Clash at Hahmpin
The collapse of human civilization at the hands of Old Night had led to slaughter that defies any attempts at estimation. Although some civilisations would manage to survive the initial fall and even retain some stellar travel, many human societies found themselves exposed to the predations of opportunistic xenos. Only scattered records exist of humanity's dealings with the other inhabitants of the galaxy during the Dark Age of Technology. Of great debate are the interactions between humanity and the Eldar, who are known to have possessed a powerful empire of their own during this same time.
Far less occluded were the encounters between Man and Ork. While the nature and details of the first incident in which these two races met remains unknown, every piece of history affirms that there has been nothing but war and antagonism. Any human spared by the greenskins were destined for a brutally short life as a slave. It was this fate that awaited the people of the Hahmpin system. Situated at the edge of the Three Fires, it has been posited that it was settled by the civilisation which had previously occupied the subsector. During the Dark Age of Technology, mining colonies had been established on four of the six worlds to feed rare minerals towards the rest of humanity. When Old Night struck, the people of Hahmpin found themselves alone. Worse, their defenses were crippled by a localized rebellion of their Men of Iron that led to the destruction of Hampin Four, which had functioned as the system's defenseive linchpin. Roughly a century before the Iron Bears set their sights upon it, Orks invaded the system and claimed the mines for their own. Having no desire to do the hard - and more pertinently, non-violent - work of mining, the human population was kept alive solely to continue the operations. It was a miserable existence as the people were regularly brutalised and starved, less to keep them submissive than a consequence of the Ork’s thuggish nature.
This state of affairs lasted for centuries, until a VIth Legion scout ship arrived at the edge of the system. Despite approaching cautiously from the very edge of the system, it was soon forced to flee the approach of the Orks, now ruled by a Warboss named Spine-Rippa. So, used to the weakness of his human slaves, Spine-Rippa thought nothing of this distraction save for the welcome promise of fresh violence. The Ork's former assumption would be swiftly corrected by the arrival of the 4th Fleet. At its head was the Dragon of Autumn, flagship of the Primarch Daerr'd.
This was to be the first campaign by the newly renamed Iron Bears under the command of Daer'dd, who was the most recently discovered of the four Primarchs leading the Crusade at the time. Unlike some other Legions, which were radically altered by reunion with their primogenitors, the VIth Legion's character changed little with Daer'dd's arrival. This is not to say there was no substantial change. As with his “elder” brothers, Daer'dd brought distinctive changes to his Legion’s aesthetic. Gone was the traditional grey that the Legion wore since the Unification Wars. In its place, black and copper dominated as the Iron Bears were steeped in the culture of the Three Fires, signified by the bear claw that they wear to this very day.
Although the Astartes would in time acquire a new lexicon of ranks and formations, at this stage the changes to their organisation were largely cosmetic. In their Primarch, the Legion found their existing traits only amplified. From the prodigious size to the affinity with technology, Daer'dd was a mirror to his sons, and his humours matched theirs. The one change that affected the VIth's spirit under his command was an intensified vigor that pushed them farther and further in war as they attempted to live up to their gene-sire's expectations. Nonetheless there were tensions which went with this transition, and Daer'dd resolved to defuse them, welding together the old and new in the furnace of battle.
This new vitality was on display throughout the campaign, beginning with the void war. It is well documented that Ork ships are designed primarily for short-range combat, often less than three thousand kilometres from their targets. This is less about utilizing destructive close-range fire as opposed to entering ideal ramming and boarding range. Every Ork ship, despite their wildly varying shapes, was outfitted with a prow in the shape of a leering Ork head that served as their primary weapon, geared toward berserk engagements fought at close range. Despite their total lack of subtlety, they were not to be disregarded. Many Imperial warships were lost to such charges. Standard Imperial Navy doctrine continued the eons-old practice of engaging Ork warships at a distance, where superior discipline and technology could do its work. Such tactics would see the Ork ships whittled down with minimal losses in the void, but risk giving them time to rally their surface defences.
In what might have been a pleasant surprise to the Orks, Daer'dd completely eschewed this strategy. Declaring that too long had the people of Hahmpin suffered at the hands of these foul xenos, he intended to eliminate the Ork armada and begin planetfall operates within a mere few hours of translation. Some of his commanders, notably the Terran veterans, were uneasy at the prospect, but Daer'dd won them around as he elaborated on his plan.
In the weeks between Hahmpin's rediscovery and the arrival of the 4th Fleet, Daer’dd ordered a series of modifications to his vanguard, some finished only as the fleet readied for its final Warp entry. On his instructions their shield generators had been modified, projecting voids with an amplified resilience about their prows. Despite their point of translation, they made sure to advertise their presence. Upon sighting the Imperial warships, the Ork scrap-fleet quickly gathered its forces and moved to intercept them. Some records suggest that the Iron Bears already outmatched their foes at this stage, but such matters could hardly deter an Ork. Offering only cursory fire as the distance between the two fleets rapidly shrunk, the Iron Bears waited until the opportune moment. Right as the Orks brought their engines to maximum burst, the Iron Bears countered with their own maneuver. As the Orks reached the Mandeville point Daer’dd ordered his remaining ships to translate, bringing the bulk of the fleet into realspace behind the Orks.
From there, the 4th Fleet split into two. Battle barges and troop carriers sped towards the planet as the rest of the fleet turned to strike the Orks' rear. Ork captains desperately attempted to turn their vessels to face their enemies, but greenskin shipcraft and piloting does not favour manoeuvrability or defensiveness. As per their orders, the Imperial ships targeted the weapons of their enemies before carving apart those ships that survived the initial attack. The Orks’ cramped formation ensured that many ships took comrades with them as they exploded, and their fleet was reduced to molten slag with remarkable speed. Their bloodlust left the world’s orbit all but uncontested.
Spine-Rippa was not aboard the fleet. Caught off-guard, he had been in the midst of gathering his horde when the first stormbirds entered the atmosphere, including Daer'dd's personal transport. However, instead of launching an immediate assault against the surprised Ork defences, the Iron Bears cleared a landing zone six kilometres from the largest city. There Daer'dd deployed half of his Legion, making no advance on any of the Ork positions. Instead, the only offensive Imperial action were a series of orbital bombardments targeting the Ork airfields. This forced Spine-Rippa into sending everything he had into the air to avoid their utter destruction. The urge to fight drew them into the skies above the plains. Here they found interceptor wings descending upon them, along with bombers dropping timed-explosive bombs into the mass of Ork craft. Their numbers already crippled by the earlier bombardments, the Ork air forces were shredded.
Despite these swift successes, the Iron Bears' land forces made no move other than to organize arriving elements into a growing, cohesive whole. It was from here that Daer'dd issued a challenge to Spine-Rippa. The Primarch would allow the Warboss to gather every greenskin on the planet into a single mob to do battle with. To make good on his promise, Daer'dd sent his orbital support away, leaving his forces alone to face the green tide. Spine-Rippa likely suspected a trap, but his Orkish instincts prevailed - as always - in favour of the biggest possible fight. In truth, the Iron Bears who were not planet-side with their gene-sire were making way to the other planets in the Hahmpin system. There, they began operations to root out Ork infestations as the last of the Orks' scrap-armada was destroyed by the fleet.
It would take Spine-Rippa three days to gather every bit of his might on the outskirts of his city, never knowing his stellar empire was being dismantled due to the data-djinn and jamming apparatus employed by the Iron Bears in orbit. All the while, Daer'dd and his sons - drawn from his closest companions from Huron and the toughest of the old Terran companies - dug in and waited. At their side were the most powerful Knights at Daer'dd's command, although other mortals were absent. Even for the Daughters, the brunt of an entire Waaagh! threatened to be ruinous. This was a trial that the Bears must endure alone, save for the mighty walkers.
As the last of the Orks on Hahmpin Prime assembled, the gestalt Waaagh! energy of the greenskins ran riot among them. Fears of a cunning ploy faded as the Ork numbers swiftly outpaced the Iron Bears. The invaders had deployed just 30,000 warriors against over a hundred times that number of Orks. The fact that these Orks had never faced Space Marines before only increased their battle-hunger as they wanted to test themselves against these "Nob-sized 'umies". This frenzy reached fever pitch as the last greenskins ran into the Ork camp. From the lowliest grot to Spine-rippa himself, the Waaagh! suffused them. The Warboss formally declared a WAAAGH! but in truth, it was beyond his power to steer his horde, as all rational thought was driven out by the desire for violence.
The Iron Bears and Knights held their ground, patient in the shadow of their cannons, as the fourth day dawned. The xenos hollered, revved tank engines and gleefully fired their guns despite being out of range. The Bears waited in silence. When the foremost Orks closed to two kilometres, Daer'dd responded with his own guttural roar, a challenge taken up by the rest of his sons. The Legion let loose with artillery, displaying its own eagerness to end the xenos threat, no matter the odds against them.
When the two forces closed within range of small arms' fire, too close for the artillery to target them, Daer'dd sprung the trap that Spine-Rippa had once feared. Abruptly, the guns began to rise, revealing themselves not as static emplacements but Predators and Whirlwinds modified with anti-gravitic plates. Now their fire was loosed directly into the greenskin ranks, and whole packs of the aliens became chunks of meat and scrap metal. Clustered mines detonated in rippling explosions, disabling ramshackle tanks.
The Orks' rear elements were vaporized by orbital fire as the 4th Fleet, which had returned to orbit after the horde assembled, abruptly shifted the odds in favor of the Iron Bears. Ork casualties soared into the tens of thousands under the continual orbital bombardment. Yet, at this critical moment, Spine-Rippa had lost any inclination to fall back. If the Ork horde now retreated, it would have expose itself to a bombardment they could not counter, and all the while the Iron Bears would be tearing into their lines. The Orks quickly reasoned that the safest place was in hand-to-hand with the Iron Bears and charged forward. The Iron Bears charged as well, with Daer'dd leading from the front and their tanks lowering toward the fray, the better to avoid heavy weapons fire. The armies met, with the Iron Bears taking an early advantage as they smashed through the Ork forward lines.
Here the quality of Huronian arms and armour, coupled with VIth Legion strength, was unveiled. Yet the true revelation was Daer’dd’s might. No opponent endured the weight of his blows, and his claws parted tank armour as if it were paper. He was a magnet to the mightiest Orks, and thus he was their doom. Tanks he overturned, walkers he simply dismembered.
The Iron Bears pressed the assault as they reaped through the greenskin menace. All the while, fleet support carved through more of the Ork army. Despite seeing his horde halved in the span of twenty minutes, Spine-Rippa would not concede the fight; carnage only emboldened him. The Warboss sent orders to spread out his horde and to maneuver around its smaller Imperial adversary, predicting that the bombardments would not risk hitting their own allies. Spine-Rippa's tactics were sound, remarkably so for an Ork. Any forward momentum would be arrested as Orks attacked first from the flanks and then the rear. The bombardments ended, true to his judgement. In a matter of minutes, the Orks would envelop their foe. Victory seemed to be slipping away from the VIth Legion.
But Daer’dd had anticipated the Warboss’ scheme, and his countermeasures were already in motion. The bombardment ceased, only for a shadow to fall across the battlefield as thousands of objects - drop-pods and bombers - broke through from orbit. In an instant, the Orks' envelopment was reversed as the depleted horde was now surrounded by a thin black line of Astartes, with gunships quickly reinforcing the initial drop forces and bringing scores of tanks with them, before rising again to rake the foe with gunfire. Further reinforcements marched from landers; Army divisions and the newly consecrated Daughters of Daer’dd.
But the mightiest landers touched down close to the Warboss' stronghold, carrying Titans of the Legio Auris and the Knights of Houses August and Blintrubas. While ten of the thirty Titans immediately began to target the Orks, the rest turned their guns on the distant fortifications instead. Vastly undermanned, breaches a hundred metres wide each were opened in the walls under the guns of Auris. Their formiddable taghmata, accompanied by three companies of Iron Bears and 10,000 Tricendian Auxilia, raced ahead to confront the meagre garisson that lingered.
Daer’dd’s force dealt with the threat of encirclement with perfect simplicity - they simply kept going, bulldozing a path through the bewildered enemy to reach their brothers and using grav-predators to cover their rear and evacuate those warriors too wounded to walk. Once this was done, the Bears turned about, and a fist of black metal closed around the Orks. The ten god-machines of Auris not committed to the city came on, the Knights racing ahead in four spearheads, each five strong. Two of these flanked Daer'dd and his elite warriors as they plunged back into the fray. At the climactic moment, Daer'dd reached Spine-Rippa, both warlords grappling with adamantine gauntlets. In a grimly poetic reversal, the Primarch disarmed his foe with two savage blows before ripping the Warboss' own spine from his body.
The Orks were promptly routed, most turning on one another. The encircling force was such that not a single greenskin escaped. Attacks on the many settlements were carried out even as the main battle raged, small forces of Bears and Daughters breaking open the prisons and arming those slaves able to fight. In four days, Daer'dd had successfully exterminated the entire Ork presence where more traditional strategies would have taken weeks and caused severe collateral damage. The battle firmly established Daer'dd's reputation as a high capable and bombastic chief of war, worthy of standing beside his brothers, while the Iron Bears were proven as a far more powerful fighting force than they had been before. The people of Hahmpin celebrated their freedom and welcomed the Iron Bears as their liberators.
Daer'dd, seeing people deprived for centuries of self-governance, did not hesitate to enfold Hahmpin into the Three Fires. Administrators, materiel and other resources were shipped in, and within a few years the system was almost unrecognisable. Defensive outposts were built and factories rose quickly; the people knew comfort such as their ancestors had never dreamed of, in exchange for the fruits of the mines. A second tithe was greeted as a signal honour - regiments would be raised from Hahmpin, and the finest recruits would take their place among the Bears and Daughters.
The campaign served to cement the bonds between the two halves of the VIth Legion, as well as between the old guard and the auxiliary forces which the reunion had brought. Daer'dd went so far as to amalgamate those squads and companies which had been severely depleted, mingling Terrans with Tricendians. Hahmpin was the first of five campaigns fought by the "new Sixth" to complete the Three Fires realm, forging a Legion ready to take its place at the heart of the Crusade.
Edited by bluntblade, 21 July 2017 - 10:05 PM.
Posted 18 July 2017 - 09:55 PM
Side note: Daer'dd being raised partially within a Knight House helps explain how his family could arm and armour him before the Emperor provided.
Posted 18 July 2017 - 11:18 PM
Mayhaps we should add in some relationship with Exodite Aeldari to help explain Daer'dd's knowledge of more esoteric technology.
Posted 21 July 2017 - 01:24 PM
The violence of Old Night obscures much of its history. Decades of painstaking study have yielded only in fragments the origins of the Three Fires, or Tricendia to give its High Gothic name. What is known is that the region was once home to a powerful interstellar polity, as evidenced by the archeotech retained across several worlds. It would seem that this is partly due to a large population of Demiurge, Squats in common parlance. They also enjoyed access to ample mineral wealth for industry, which allowed them to endure for millennia. The Huron system was densely populated, and sublight travel to neighbouring systems was quite feasible. Just as importantly, they possessed a formidable army, the heart of which was a confederation of Knight Houses.
However, these Houses were to prove a catalyst for ruinous conflict when a Mechanicum Explorator fleet came across the subsector. What archives have been uncovered on Mars indicate that the Explorators had founded a functioning Forge World along with smaller colonies and traded with the inhabitants of the now Three Fires for a time. Despite this promising start, relations deteriorated rapidly. Both material greed on the part of the Magos and affront at the Knights’ refusal to accept their natural allegiance to the Cult Mechanicus are blamed for this. Undoubtedly there are subtler factors, now lost like tracks obliterated by a sandstorm.
What is known is that war raged for decades, devastating planets on both sides. Other factions - Orks, abhumans, unidentified xenos - saw weakness, and attacked opportunistically. Over centuries, the two enemies were ground down to the point where they fragmented, the old Tricendians beyond even planetary unity. The Mechanicum domain crumbled, with only the domains of Oamura and Kotossa remaining, sundered by distance. To their old foes, they ultimately became little more than myth and allegory, though traces of them remained in the technology of more advanced planets. Indeed, the raiment in which Daer’dd clad his armies had as much in common with Skitarii and automata as it did the designs used by the Emperor for His armies.
Knight Houses scattered across the subsector, claiming what territory they could. Some were consumed by internecine conflict, while others fell to outside threats or burned themselves out trying to sustain their strength with meagre resources. Across the core systems of Huron, Xephyr and Accer Ferrus, no one House managed to dominate a planet, and tribal systems maintained a significant share of governance on those worlds. Conflict was restrained; wars were fought for advantage, but no House gained sufficient power to be confident of anything better than a pyrrhic victory. Traditions relaxed slightly as Houses and tribes mixed; the scion of a House might instead choose to learn the disciplines of infantry, armoured or aerial combat instead of bonding with a walker.
Thus the prosperity of the past faded almost entirely from memory, and over centuries, many came to believe that their existence had ever been fractured and perilous. Yet when the outriders of the Great Crusade went in search of the Explorators, they ran up against the borders of a small but powerful empire, quite willing to embrace the Emperor’s rule. When they reported their findings they knew there could only be one reason for such a power to have risen in a matter of mere decades. They had found a prize whose value outshone any industry or army - a Primarch.
Edited by bluntblade, 05 August 2017 - 03:17 PM.
Posted 22 July 2017 - 01:28 AM
Posted 26 July 2017 - 01:05 AM
Posted 01 August 2017 - 05:56 PM
While every Legion was capable of a great many strategies and approaches to the Galaxy's myriad battlefields, most are synonymous with a particular mode of warfare. With the Iron Bears, this was a tide of metal, crushing enemy forces beneath the treads of their mighty tanks or armoured boots. Giants even among the Astartes, the VIth were known for a high incidence of bionic modification, and among their veterans, many were as much metal as flesh, granting them fiendish strength. Yet this did not come at the cost of their humanity, for a quirk of the Legion’s gene-seed extended their implantation process. Thus, Iron Bears left less of their humanity behind than many of their cousins, and were bound into Wartribes along with their auxiliary forces. This forged a great sympathy for those they fought for, and the Legion earned renown for their willingness to fight and bleed in defence of the weak.
Advent of the Giants
One of the first Legions to be founded after the Lightning Bearers, the VIth Legion Astartes were created at a time when the Emperor’s armies had largely lost the advantage of shock. The likes of the Maulhand Sen Confederacy had fallen under the blades of the Thunder Warriors and inroads made into the Panpacific Empire, but the remainder of their foes had dug in and resisted tenaciously. Nathan Dume, furious at the loss of Nord Merica to this upstart faction, brought the true strength of his awful war machine to bear. In need of more Astartes to break the resulting deadlock, the Emperor created the VIth taking youths from the warlike Laker tribes of Nord Merica as its first warriors. Willingly the tribes offered up their sons, eager to see their old oppressor defeated. Here the peculiar dichotomy emerged in the VIthLegion's gene-seed. It was miraculously stable, with unheard-of numbers of aspirants surviving their implantation processes. However, the process itself was slower than that with any other Legion, as the effects of the various organs took much longer to assert themselves. As a consequence, although the VIth were not hindered by the setbacks that ailed so many of their cousins, their growth was much slower than had been hoped for.
It was soon discovered that these Astartes were more "human" than their kindred in other legions. The prolonged process of Ascension ensured that freshly recruited warriors of the VIth experienced a less abrupt "shift" than the neophytes of other Legions. While this only constituted a couple of years, the mental effects lingered and so the Legionaries of the VIthwere typically found to be more relatable by unaugmented humans than those of any other Legion, save perhaps the Vth. However, those Iron Bears who developed at a standard rate were soon found to be excellent support troops and were rapidly deployed to serve such a role in campaigns being fought by their brother legions. The reason for this excellence in a supporting role was that the VIthnatural strength and fortitude saw them carry heavy weapons with ease. Early on, onlookers observed an inclination to tinker and modify their equipment to suit whichever role the Legionary in question was called on to perform.
Their physical strength was deployed in a more measured way than many of their cousins, likely encouraged by their Ist Legion mentors. While the early Vth Legion fought as a storm, the VIth were more unrelenting than ferocious, weathering an assault before answering with their own crushing blows. This was epitomised by the Battle of Magellos, where they endured and threw back Dume’s 80,000 Gigabrut Ravagers. Cast into disarray, the Ravagers were taken apart by the Emperor’s army and the Greel Hive Cluster exposed to the Imperial advance.
By the end of the Unification Wars, the VIth stood among the first rank of Legions, easily dwarfing many despite the fluctuations in strength caused by their slow implant-process. Thus they were able to serve independently of other Legions once the Sol System was conquered. Indeed the less IIIrdLegion was attached to the VIth for a time in order to preserve the former after the losses they took in the Battle of Oberon. While the decision made sense, relations between the two Legions rapidly deteriorated after a few campaigns beyond the Sol System. Eagerly pursuing in the wake of victories by the Ist and Vth, the Blood Wolves fought recklessly, throwing themselves at the Imperium's enemies with abandon. Although showing a certain rambunctiousness of their own, the Iron Sixth carried themselves professionally as they enacted compliances. This may have been a matter of self-preservation, the Legion's command keenly aware that severe losses would leave them vulnerable for a prolonged period of time.
As the Blood Wolves grew progressively more obsessed with the audacious charge, the Sixth's stronger connection to humanity led them to disdaining their cousins' tactics. This was exacerbated by the Blood Wolves' unwillingness to coordinate strategy and tactics, insisting on a level of secrecy that further drove the two Legions apart. They yielded to the veterans of the Pan-Pacific, but not without some resentment. It would not be until a century later that amends were made at the insistence of more powerful beings.
It is with a lingering trace of irony then that the Blood Wolves would end up foreshadowing the VIth's future name. Because of their method of absorbing and countering blows rather than preempting them, the VIth were given the additional cognomen “Juggernauts” by their fellow Legions and those Imperial Army units that served alongside them. The only exception to this were the IIIrd Legion, who instead called them Bjonir or Bears in the language of Jurfik, in a thinly veiled insult. Daer’dd is said to have found this amusing when he learned of it, noting that on many worlds bears sit above wolves in the food chain.
The Bear’s Cradle
Daer’dd’s incubation pod split a late winter’s sky on the planet Huron, coming to rest on the shore of the Ouenda sea. As the infant Primarch clambered from the wreck of his pod, he heard voices raised first in alarm, then confusion. These belonged to Noodin, heir to the Chief of the Niimkiikaa Tribe and his wife Eskisia, a scion of the Knight House Blintrubas. Having taken the noise for an attack of some kind, now they found a lost child, and unhesitatingly took him in. While a Primarch’s adoptive family would often hail them as a blessing, Daer’dd’s did so with a particular fervour. Noodin and Esikisia had wed out of love on a world where such things were typically decided by political considerations, and breaking from this custom invited dire consequences.
The true measure of this blessing became apparent within a few short years, in which the child became an imposing young warrior of astonishing might and razor-keen intelligence. He was fascinated by machines, especially the sacred armours of his mother’s House. It seemed only natural to groom him as a scion, yet Blintrubas’ engineers had barely begun to adapt a throne and suit to Daer’dd’s bulk when he outgrew them entirely. Even before he was fully grown it had become apparent that no Knight the household had possessed would bear his weight. Moreover, the notion of putting him at the controls of a war machine had become redundant as the Primarch came into his full power. His strength allowed him to wear armour and bear weapons that seemed more suited to a war machine than a man. With these he displayed a preternatural skill, whether he wielded a gun, sword or throwing axe. Many of these he forged himself, and he created masterful weapons for his kin and allies. Even bereft of weapons and raiment, he was beyond any mortal or beast in sheer lethality.
Certainly, there was no shortage of foes ready to test Daer’dd’s abilities. Niimkiikaa and Blintrubas had powerful foes, and the marriage of Noodin and Eskisia offended other Houses who had offered matches for her. With whispers of their strange child circulating, it took only a few years for icy politicking to turn into outright violence. Retributive attacks were made, aiming to deprive the Niimkiikaa and Blintrubas of their power and standing, only to falter when Daer’dd joined his tribe’s armies and unleashed his might against their foes. Once it became clear to the rival lords that the tales of a giant who felled Knights were true, the fighting took on a new intensity.
Yet it was not to the ruin of Niimkiikaa, but their foes. Daer’dd’s genius for the making of weapons was applied to the armies that served his tribe. Perhaps most importantly, he refined the primitive power armour used on Huron, and while it did not approach the warplate which adorned the Emperor’s Legions, it gave his people a crucial edge. Meanwhile his understanding of war only grew, and away from the battlefield, a dream began to take form in the young warrior’s mind.
(Iron and Embers Red Box)
Studying whatever history he could find, he was enthralled by the image they painted of a prosperous, united society. Mere dominance did little to stir his blood; the vision he conceived, in contrast, was electrifying. He began to extol it, winning allies for his ideals as much as the his tribe’s strength drew them to his side. Messengers in sublight spacecraft were dispatched to Accer Ferrus and Xephyr, carrying his message to any willing to hear it. Many scorned it, but some accepted eagerly. First, a scattering of idealistic warriors took leave of their families, risking or even embracing banishment as the price of serving Daer’dd. Soon, as the last swathes of Huron fell under the sway of Niimkiikaa, entire Houses and tribes added their strength to his. Foremost among them were House August of Accer Ferrus, who had committed early on, as well as the Xephyrite Songblade Clan.
Others resisted, however, cobbling together alliances in a vain effort to hold back the tide. Their hatred curdled into obsession, and drove them to deeds which frightened off many who might have stood with them. Some delved into sorceries prohibited among the shaman orders of Huron. Others took to the void and hunted for spoil among the wreckage of old battles. The most bitterly determined slunk away from the system entirely, seeking even more extreme ways to oppose Daer’dd’s advance. They alone would survive the unification of Huron, Xephyr and Accer Ferrus.
Melded and Alloyed
Twenty-four years of war and diplomacy saw Daer’dd firmly in control of what he dubbed the Three Fires, or Tricendia to use its High Gothic name. By the time his father located him, that name served for an empire of eighteen worlds, though raiding and skirmishes continued along their borders. Moreover, Daer’dd rejoiced to meet the Emperor and his brothers, and the meeting with his Legion went much the same way. Daer’dd mandated that his sons would become protectors of his realm as well as crusaders but also invited them to join him in shaping the next generation of their Legion. Juggernauts travelled the length of the Three Fires, watching the trials of aspirants as they themselves learned the ways of their Primarch’s culture and the armies he would have them fight beside.
The ease of this transition was fortunate, as politically Daer’dd’s realm threatened to cause serious discord between Terra and Mars. Not only had Forge colonies been conquered, but now their Mechanicum doctrines were diluted, their inhabitants bound by oaths they were unwilling to sever. The Demiurge only made for another complication, caught on the blurred line between abhuman and xeno. It was only with difficulty and the Emperor’s own influence that compromises were reached, and neither Oamura nor Kotossa were regarded warmly by the Fabricator General, denied the status of Forge Worlds despite their size and output.
Daer'dd found himself master of a Legion which, although it had been one of the largest after Unity on Terra, had long since found itself eclipsed by faster-growing Legions. That he integrated it so seamlessly into the fabric of Tricendia was a testament to the extended implantation period. Upon the first intake of Tricendian recruits achieving the status of full Astartes, Daer’dd renamed the VIth as the Iron Bears. Extensive reforms to its structure would follow over the next ten years, but for now the Legion threw itself back into the Great Crusade, adding another eight systems to Tricendia. In these wars Daer’dd found the last of those who had opposed his earlier conquests, allied with xenos or corrupted by forbidden technologies and sorceries. Perhaps the most loathsome were the Morraigha, who harnessed the sciences of genetic manipulation and cloning to create abhumans of monstrous strength and savagery, which they then fashioned into automata and servitors of a power to test even the Astartes. Across three systems Daer’dd led his forces against them, until the last fortress tumbled under the guns of the Legio Auris and the cloners were put to the sword.
With Tricendia completed, Daer’dd took his place in the wider Crusade, and finally the Iron Bears began to grow into one of the mightiest Legions, fed by the pocket empire. As with so much of the early Imperium's campaigns, the historiography is often maddeningly limited; while some remembrancers established close bonds with their hosts, there was a limit to the things an Astartes will speak of. In several campaigns all we can tell is that Daer’dd was mentored by a brother, and the Iron Bears gave an excellent account of themselves. Others are better documented, and we see the kinship shared by the Juggernauts and Halcyon Wardens continued in their new incarnation, as well as Daer’dd’s role as unlikely mentor to Pionus Santor. The timeline is punctuated as much by Daer’dd’s technological achievements as military victories, including the Mauler-pattern Land Raider and the king-ship Dragon of Autumn. Even with their newfound strength, it took a further 23 years until the Iron Bears could campaign independently of any other Legion, and a further decade until Daer'dd could form expeditionary multiple fleets. Their auxiliary forces were to prove vital in enabling the Iron Bears to fight effectively despite their limited numbers.
The rare quality of their wargear set both the Legion and their auxiliaries apart, and terrestrial war machines featured heavily in their line of battle. Conversely, the Iron Bears took particular pleasure in close combat, and often used their armour to deploy and quickly engage their enemies. There was logic to this as well as a love for the melee; nowhere else did a Space Marine’s enhancements count for more, and Daer’dd led these attacks wherever possible. Frequent injuries were the price paid for this tendency, however, leading to a high rate of bionic augmentation among the Legion. Nonetheless, the Iron Bears proved extremely hard to kill, and this as much as anything enabled them to grow steadily as a Legion over the course of the Great Crusade.
In the eyes of the mortal soldier and citizen, the Iron Bears became heroes to stand beside the Halcyon Wardens and Lightning Bearers. Against human cultures, their ferocity was measured, deployed to overwhelm the defenders and stave off the devastation of longer conflicts. Against xenos they were the bringers of oblivion, levelling empires across the breadth of the Galaxy. Daer’dd’s ideals and conduct earned him close friendships with several of his brothers, though others had little regard for the VIth. This was perhaps one of the reasons why Daer’dd was not considered by many as a potential candidate for the post of Warmaster. At the same time, he was not a political animal to the degree of Alexandros and Kozja; he preferred to delegate such matters to trusted subordinates within his realm and Legion and dedicate himself to campaigning.
As Icarion plotted his rebellion, he recognised that Daer’dd’s allegiance to the Emperor would never waver, and there was no division among his sons that could be exploited. Indeed, with Icarion’s belief that Alexandros would take his side, the Iron Bears were perceived as the greatest threat to the Insurrection. Thus their destruction was plotted most carefully of all, and they would pay the steepest price for their loyalty.
Unit and Formation Structure
Daer’dd reworked the VIth Legion into the same structure he had built for Tricendia’s armies, to the extent that officially and functionally, his sons were simply another component of these. Six Grand Wartribes formed the broadest formations, and these later became the basis of the Legion's Expeditionary Fleets. In addition, each was charged with the defence of a domain within the Three Fires, from which they would draw their recruits. Over time these different domains came to exert their own distinctive influences on the Wartribes they fed.
A Wartribe comprised a number of Great Companies, roughly equivalent to Battalions in size. At the company level, composition varied extensively according to the preferences of the captain and the officers he served under. However, there were clear trends across the Legion, especially a relatively small proportion of tactical squads. This is attributed largely to the Legion’s fondness for hand-to-hand combat, with many of those squads frequently deploying in the “despoiler” configuration. Assault squads and breacher squads were commonplace, and one of these would form the vanguard in almost any infantry action. Conversely, heavy support squads were also well-represented as they had been among the Juggernauts, the Bears’ busy forges providing them with a varied and fearsome arsenal.
Such industry also ensured that the Bears retained several thousand suits of Tactical Dreadnought Armour and possibly the largest number of Dreadnoughts fielded by any Legion. Their vehicular arsenal skewed towards heavy tanks and transports, although it is noted that they also adapted the fast terrestrial vehicles used by Daer’dd in his early conquests. These frequently deployed with skyhunter squadrons, the Bears utilising jetbikes which, while less nimble than more common patterns, boasted greater armour and were capable of carrying their riders through close-range assaults.
Save for the Grand Wartribes, within the Legion all units had a tendency to be known by honorific names as opposed to numerals. These often stemmed from old battles or fallen leaders, although some delved into Tricendian myth for their moniker. Recently raised companies often lacked anything but a numeral, and their members were spurred on by a desire to “earn a name” for their band of warriors.
As warriors advanced, they gravitated towards one of three “Totem Marks” according to their skills and temperament. These were the Marks of the Warrior, Slayer and Hunter. Tactical and breacher marines typically gravitated toward the Warrior Mark and assault marines to the Slayer, but Hunters were much rarer; solitary killers often disdaining company beyond their squads, in extreme cases pursuing their grim goals to the point of becoming moritats. Over time, Daer’dd would make further reforms, shaping the Legion to fight more easily in its preferred way. Squads became clans, and breacher and tactical units were consolidated into the emergent Warborn clans, effectively entrenching the Warrior Mark as a signifier of role as well as prowess. Each Mark commanded respect, even in the informal setting of the warrior lodges.
Each Grand Wartribe was commanded by a Lord Chief, who was supported by a Tribe council comprising both senior Astartes and mortal officers. Typically it would include the commanders of each Auxilia regiment, Titan maniple and Knight detachment oathed to the tribe, as well as the Marshal of the Tribe’s Daughters and high-ranking magos. Below the council, the chain of command retained much of the Terran system, proceeding from tribune - Battalion commander within the VIth - to captain, centurion, senior sergeant and then sergeant.
Tribunes held a rank roughly equivalent to praetors, and functioned in much the same way, commanding the Legion’s Great Companies. While most operated closely with the Lord Chief they served, others campaigned more independently, leading their Great Companies as autonomous forces. It was typically the duty of a single Tribune for each Aspirant cycle to return to Tricendia and monitor the Ascension of his Wartribe’s new recruits. During this time he would be responsible for the defence of his Tribe’s domain and play a role in its governance, until another arrived to take his place. Then the Tribune would bring the neophytes to take their place on the battlefields of the Crusade.
Rank was typically earned through battlefield achievement. It was not unknown for a Chaplain, Shaman or other officer to mentor a promising warrior and advocate for his ascent through the ranks, but words had to be proven with iron. The unusual integration of mortal elements meant that an Astartes might be proposed for higher command by an Auxilia officer. Moreover, informal honours displayed in personal heraldry were well-established among the Bears; a warrior’s ascendancy might be invisible to outsiders, but obvious to one who knew their customs.
The Legion’s Chaplain order overlapped to a considerable degree with their Shamans and techmarines. The latter were immersed in the permutation of the Machine Cult which lingered in Tricendia, and they devoted much of their time to caring for the Legion’s many Dreadnoughts. The revenants were indeed held in high esteem by their brothers, and it was not unusual for one or more to attend the Tribe council when able.
The Iron Bears stood at 180,000 Astartes on the Day of Revelation, one of the largest Legions and closely tied to powerful auxiliary forces. Knights were oathed in various numbers to each Wartribe along with Auxilia regiments, and Choirs of Daughters which more than matched Daer’dd’s sons in number. An impressive number of Titans also stood with the VIth, being the Legions that had joined his forces with the Forge colonies Oamura and Kotossi, and the Legion’s armoury contained a vast array of tanks. The relentless drive of both Daer’dd and his techmarines to refine and improve ensured that many prototype variants were housed aboard the fleet, often to be lost forever in the violence over Kataii.
The same fate awaited the vast bulk of House Blintrubas and the Legio Auris, as well as many Knights from lesser Houses and an estimated thirty Titans of the Legio Fatalis. The loss of these engines was a grievous blow to the Legion on an emotional level, quite apart from the power they represented. Among them were machines which had fought in the unification of the Three Fires, reminders of their glorious past more potent than any relic or trophy. With them went pilots, crew and technicians who had been an integral part of the Legion for decades.
The Legion fleet, whilst not rivalling those of the Steel Legion or Void Eagles, was nonetheless one of the larger fleets, and contained some monstrously powerful vessels extensively modified over decades of service. The Dragon of Autumn was considered by many to be the most powerful vessel of the Legiones Astartes. The array of Tricendian fighters and interceptors may have also afforded the Bears a small but crucial advantage, the enemy being less familiar with their capabilities than Terran or Martian designs.
With the Fourth Grand Wartribe entirely absent and elements of the other five stationed in Tricendia, approximately 130,000 Astartes sailed for Kataii. Considering the terrible losses they sustained and their scattered state following the battle, they were saved largely by the strong base Daer’dd had built for his Legion. It was from Tricendia that the Bears would rebuild themselves physically and spiritually - as far as they were able. The long implantation process became a tortuous drawback, hindering their capacity to rebuild and strike back at the enemy. Some had no such recourse, driven into the hinterlands from which to find a way home, or turn their purpose again to the ruin of those who had betrayed them.
Edited by bluntblade, 05 August 2017 - 01:56 PM.
Posted 02 August 2017 - 07:56 AM
Posted 04 August 2017 - 04:19 PM
On the plus side, I love the new editions detailing the sector, Daer'dd's rise, and the Legion itself. Though, I feel like there needs to be some mention of the Iron Bears' weakness in growing since the implantation phase takes longer or their trouble with reaction times.
Project Leader of the Brotherhood of the Lost (http://www.bolterand...od-of-the-lost/)
Posted 05 August 2017 - 01:35 PM
"... created the VIth, taking..."
"...unstable IIIrd Legion..."
"...the VIth’s future..."
"Many of these [he] forged himself, and he..."
"The [D]emiurge only made..."
"...within the VIth - to..."
That's it for errors in the revised chapter. You have seamlessly weaved in the Iron Bears' weakness, and I would still love a proper story of Daer'dd's rise to power. Next, I'll take a look at the Iron and Embers redbox since that seems to have escaped my notice until now.
Project Leader of the Brotherhood of the Lost (http://www.bolterand...od-of-the-lost/)
Posted 05 August 2017 - 03:05 PM
Iron and Embers
,] and traded with..."
That's the sole error I found. Kudos on fleshing out this significant sector of the Imperium.
Project Leader of the Brotherhood of the Lost (http://www.bolterand...od-of-the-lost/)
Posted 05 August 2017 - 06:30 PM
One tiny little edit I did notice this read through is it's Demiurg not Demiurge. Demiurge is the actual word, Demiurg is the race.
Posted 08 August 2017 - 12:20 AM
I'm knackered from Dunkirk, so I'll fix it tomorrow
I fixed it and submitted it to Grifft, along with the revised exemplary battle. The Iron Bears are ready for publishing.
Project Leader of the Brotherhood of the Lost (http://www.bolterand...od-of-the-lost/)
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