Index Astartes: Star Wardens
The chapter was formally generated as part of the 23rd founding to not only replenish the ranks of the Adeputs Astartes following those fallen during the Abyssal Crusade, but also to safeguard the newly re-integrated area from encroaching xenos threats. With this task in mind, Theron Hawklight, newly-established chapter master, declared themselves to be the Star Wardens, forever charged with their sector's defense. Over millennia the chapter has further broadened to participate in expansionist efforts by allying with Explorator fleets and Rogue Traders to shepherd them through the dark unknown. Their favoring of mobile warfare while charging headlong into battle has led to a reputation of sometimes reckless action in the face of imminent death.
"First rule of combat? Last man standing is the one that shot first."
- Sergeant Lothaire; 1st Squad, 4th Company
Following this catastrophe, Delamar became a barren desert world, its verdant plains reduced to ash and dust. What few pockets of humanity that had managed to cling to life now found themselves beset by ravaging packs of mutants, born from the radioactive fallout. Those untainted by this corruption were forced to gather together and form communities in order to fend against these savage abominations. Having already a proud history of equestrian tradition from hunting large game and maintaining their fields, the vast majority of the populace became militarized with a focus on mounted combat.
Settlements are rather varied in origin and size, as well as being widely spread out from one another. With resources scarce, it is not uncommon for their to be violent disputes between territories. The scant few fertile lands that miraculously survived the planetary desolation had attracted many out on the frontier and were transformed into sources of major civilization. These fortified city-states see frequent trade of food and other commodities with those living outside in the barrens. A certain level of prestige is allotted to those fortunate or successful enough to buy access into these metropolises, and thus earns them a life of relative luxury as well as the enmity of many. Tales of such occurrences only serve to further encourage the desire for supplies and capital, resulting in a number of prospecting towns to develop.
Most common among them have been those looking to exploit water reserves buried deep below the surface while others focus their energies towards the discovery of new sources of adamantium. But perhaps the most unique are those settlements looking to profit from the remnants of Delamar's disaster. The wreckage of the Space Hulk lies scattered across the desert wastes, and when a fragment is discovered, it attracts numerous speculators eager to unearth it and strip it down for whatever scrap of value they can. The presence of these pieces has even gained the attention of adepts of the Mechanicum from neighboring Forgeworlds who travel to participate in these digs.
Hanging high above the planet is its moon of Augusta, where beneath its rocky terrain lies the fortress-monastery of the Star Wardens, the Watchtower. While on the surface there is only a large spire that pierces into the starlight, deep below is the chapter's most holy sanctum, wherein their companies train, take refuge, and honor the memory of those that have fallen in their chapel, the 'House of the Risen Sun'. It is here that the chaplains of the Reclusiam record and re-tell the history of the chapter, and oversee care of their venerable ancestors interred within dreadnoughts alongside their brother techmarines. The Watchtower is always prepared for when the chapter is to go to war – strewn across the upper most layer lie hidden artillery batteries and hangar bays, with interceptors and gunships ready to be deployed for void combat. It is from here that the Wardens maintain the watch over their adopted homeworld, forever maintaining a heavy guard against any invaders.
Delamar persists as a world rife with struggle, where competition over ever-dwindling resources is encouraged and a people, beset by light and dark, death and corruption, that have adapted accordingly by being slow to forgive though quick on the draw.
Recognizing this view the citizenry have towards them, the Star Wardens have only helped to further it along to foster potential aspirants. Fort towns and hunting parties are all observed by the Warden Chaplains, and though it is very rare occurrence, they will purposely approach their quarries. The keepers of their chapter's history, they will endeavor to regale the people with tales of their greatest champions, daring exploits and grueling campaigns, fanning the flames of the faithful and inspiring them to fight and die in the name of the Emperor. All the while, any youths among the populace will be carefully appraised for their suitability to join the Astartes. The Chaplains will provide the people with weaponry and basic equipment that can be traded or used to make their lives that bit more manageable. In exchange, those children that meet the Chaplains' stringent standards will be taken.
After this encounter, the potential aspirant's journey in becoming an astartes begins, as the Chaplain will instruct their young charge to take to the desert wastes with nothing but the most primitive of armament. Their course will be given thus – clear the harsh winds and scorching heat, and make for the Great Divide, a massively long steep-sided canyon, carved by a great river that ran through the plains when Delamar was still in its prime. The path laid before them is a perilous one, many an aspirant before them having been laid low on this trek from fatigue, predatory fauna or even lone mutants skulking from the shadows. Those few dozen or so that manage to brave will find the canyon open into a massive gorge, and upon the other side their new home for their induction into the Wardens- the Defiance.
The Defiance is a garrison base constructed into the very rock-face of the gorge. The area is heavily fortified, with a number of weapon batteries built into ducts of the cliffside as well submerged runways for rapid transport deployment to the surface. It is here where the surviving aspirants will receive the first of their implantations to begin the process of becoming a space marine and undergo the first phase of their training under experienced sergeants as scouts. Many more grueling trials await them in their future, but over time those with the resilience and drive to proceed will be inducted as full astartes, given a place among their battle-brothers within the monastery hanging high above them.
On the ground the Wardens have taken to be a highly mobile force, specializing in lightning warfare and making use of attack bikes, Land Speeders, and other fast vehicles. The bike-mounted riders often make use of bolt pistols and other close-combat weapons to finish their enemies off after softening them up with ranged fire. Heavily-armored forces such as predator tanks and dreadnoughts will attack from afar while their fast-attacuk units outmaneuver their targets to strike at their weakest point.
A unique aspect of the Wardens are its 'Gunslingers', specialist formations of the chapter's Vanguard Veterans. While all of the vanguard are highly skilled in close-quarters combat with a variety of specialized melee weapons, the marines of these squads take to battle dual-wielding bolt or plasma pistols. Every Gunslinger has trained extensively with their firearms, each one a crack shot, charging into the fray and slaying their foes with wild abandon amid the sounds of rapid bolter fire. The first company typically disperses to fight alongside the battle-companies, allowing the more experienced warriors to impart their wisdom to their brethren.
The second, third, fourth and fifth are the battle-companies, each with a mixture of tactical, devastator and assault squads, though all those have become extremely proficient in bolter drills by the time of their induction. With such a variety the battle-companies are highly flexible and tactically adaptable. Indeed, a typical force deployed by the Wardens will be centered around a single battle-company, supported by attached elements from the others.
The sixth and seventh companies consist mainly of reserve tactical squads, while the eighty and ninth are of reserve assault and devastators, respectively. The Reserve Companies often provide support of their brethren in the Battle-Companies, reinforcing battle lines, launching diversionary attacks or countering enemy assaults. In addition, the Marines of the Reserve Company can be transferred into the Battle-Companies to replace casualties sustained. The Wardens' tenth company, the scout company, is small when compared to other chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, mainly due to the chapter's extremely thorough recruitment processes. Much like the first company, the scouts almost never fight as one force. Instead they are assigned to the battle companies where they can gain experience alongside their elders.
One notable deviation from codex-standard is a practice that has developed as a means of maintaining new colonies established within the expanding territory of their sector. As it can take some time for an Imperial world to fully establish an institution such as the Adeptus Arbites, the marines of the reserve companies, often scouts still undergoing training, can be called upon by a planetary governor to help keep the peace on site or in response to some immediate crisis while critical developments are proceeding. It's seen as something of a very odd duty to be carried out by an Astartes, but through their interactions with the pioneers they help to instill faith and security that even at the furthest corners of known space that they are never far from the Emperor's light.
Like the majority of Space Marine chapters, the Wardens honor ancient pacts with the Adeptus Mechanicus that stretch back millennia to their very founding. Those among the Wardens with an affinity for technology are dispatched to Mars, where they are initiated into the Martian tech-cults. This is acknowledged as a necessary process - without the techmarines, the Adeptus Astartes would be left unable to tend to the machine spirits, to observe the rites that ensure continued operation of their wargear, or to repair damage taken on the field of battle. But the process comes at a lamentable price - the loss of battle-brothers to the worship of the Omnissiah.
The techmarines are mysterious and capricious, aloof and distant. Their inscrutable ways are not easily understood by most of the battle-brethren. However, the Star Wardens are perhaps better predisposed than most other chapters to this arrangement. From their numerous partnerships with explorator fleets, as well as neighboring Forgeworlds, they have maintained an amicable rapport with that of the sometimes alienating adepts. While they may not fully appreciate or understand the dictates of the Liber Mechanicus or those that follow them so rigidly, the techmarines are regarded with respect by the majority of their battle-brothers, especially for the tools that they provide them. Still they would rather keep their distance to better maintain their sacred tasks, seeking solace as artisan crafters working alongside the lobotomized servitors and the machine-spirits that inhabit the chapter's equipment.
Another major deviation from the codex, perhaps the most significant, lies in these solemn individuals. Even the most experienced squads will sometimes suffer such a great loss that only one survivor remains. Unlike other chapters where this survivor would be folded into another under strength squad, the Warden may instead choose to take up an oath of vengeance that will see them embark upon a life of autonomy and exile.
Out on the frontier, Delamaran natives tell tale of 'the Lone Ranger', an enigmatic figure that roams the desert wastes dispensing the Emperor's justice against the mutant and the heretic. Those squad survivors have taken to adopting the name of this legendary character not only as a sign of their heritage, but to emulate the same infamy. Once a Lone Ranger has taken the oath, he then prepares himself, both mentally and physically, for the personal journey that lies before them outside of the chapter sanctum. These pledges can vary in how they are carried out, many taking to carry out their personal crusades as lone agents, while others find their paths leading to take up a position within the ranks of the Deathwatch.
On the eve of battle, it is often a sight of great awe as Lone Rangers advance on the enemy, pistols in hand, their gazed fixed upon a single target that they will stop at nothing to put down. Many Lone Rangers do not fulfill their own self-prophecy and are inevitably slain in the process. Rarely though, a Lone Ranger will return victorious, carrying the head of the fallen enemy back to his captain. These unique individuals are almost certainly inducted into the first company, for such a feat to succeed is no small accomplishment indeed.
- Waaagh! Hellwakkah (ca. 099.M38) – Early into the chapter's history, an Ork Waaagh! invaded an Imperial Mining World known as Huron III. Accompanied by their parent chapter, the Eagle Warriors, as well with support of the Tiger Claws, Theron Hawklight led three companies of the Star Wardens in a campaign against the greenskins. It proved a very taxing conflict, the orks having dug into the planet's mining facilities as bunkers and proliferation of Imperial heavy vehicles made for a surprisingly effective makeshift defense. Soon however it became clear what the true nature of this attack was as armored columns of xenos war machines soon began to march onto the battlefields. Warboss Hellwakkah was organizing his teams of Mekaniaks to convert Huron III into a massive manufactorum from which to stage an even greater Waaagh! Determined to put an end to the mad tyrant's plans of conquest, Theron formulated a plan of attack with his fellow commanders. With their mounted infantry dogging their encampments and operational centers, the Wardens drew the orks from out of hiding and into the waiting forces of their brother Astartes. Meanwhile, Theron and his honor guard took to infiltrating the head manufacturing facility to cripple its operations from within. It was then that they discovered Hellwakkah not out on the battlefield, but awaiting their arrival.
The Ork warboss was a true menace, overpowering even the chapter's best with seeming ease. With precious little time left to them, Theron ordered his remaining brothers to finish their assigned task while he kept their daunting foe busy. In truth the battle was more a chase, as the Warden Chapter Master led the enraged Hellwakkah deeper and deeper into the complex's inner-workings, while his men within the honor guard prepared the explosives that would detonate the plant's promethium refineries. Their labor done, the guard vacated the compound and grimly, as they were ordered, activated the charges. Upon hearing the explosions, Hellwakkah paused realizing too late he'd been misled, while the battered and bloodied body of Theron Hawklight charged at the beast in a grapple, teetering the ork along a rusted gantry and sending both plummeting into the boiling pool below them. In the end, the loss of both the facility and their overlord was enough to render the ork forces into chaotic shambles, leaving them easily routed and vanquished under the combined might of all three chapters. Though it was a major victory for the Star Wardens, it was marked by a most heavy cost.
- The Damaras Rebellion (ca. 887.M41) – In late M41, numerous uprisings began to erupt on Imperial worlds of the Damaras system. Beginning what first was thought to be a few rogue outcasts revolting upon Damaras Secundus quickly gave way as the traitors' ranks swelled with renegade guard regiments turning upon their allied detachments, pledging themselves to the favor of dark, thirsting gods. The taint of Chaos had come upon the stars of Damaras.
Beset on all sides by heretics, Imperial command saw fit to reinforce the remaining loyalist forces keeping the horde at bay. Marines of the Aurora Chapter and Star Wardens were deployed to bring the system to compliance, but were met by ill fates when warp storms suddenly flared up within the Immaterium while en-route. A fraction of the chapters' combined detachments managed to make their destination from across the other side of the Warp, some months later and the insurgents having spread much further than what had been previous reported. While the support of the Astartes was enough to keep rebels from further breaking Imperial lines, they became more than aware of that it'd only be a matter of time that they'd be worn down by sheer weight of numbers, not while they were cut off from the remainder of their ships still lost in-transit.
The turning point would come later when 3rd Company Captain Gaetan Archambault made a proposal to the present commanding sergeants and officers to shatter the enemy warbands before they could do the same – a tactical plan that was met with varying descriptions of “absolutely suicidal”. On the desert fields of Damaras Primus, gathered Astartes and Militarum, overseen by Epistolary Domaneke, stood their ground before the amassing warbands upon the horizon intent on raiding the primary Hive city. Just as the two forces began to clash, Gaetan enacted his gambit. From their strike cruiser's hanging above the planet, drop pods screamed downwards through the skies, most of which managed to survive the fire of anti-air batteries and strike deep into the rear guard of the enemy. Led by Gaetan himself, assault squads tore through the renegades in a bloody swath of righteous fury, ever pushing forward to meet with the defending squads at the front. Seeing the captain's first phase of his strategy a nominal success, Domaneke gave the signal for the Aurora Chapter's gathered mechanized divisions to move into position and prepare their volleys. Even as they fired upon massive groups of traitor guard and cultists that they were occupied with, even becoming caught up in the exploding ordnance of their cousins, the Wardens kept on their warpath. And it was their dogged determination in the face of their voluntary death-march that would see their Captain's efforts pay off, as those of the enemy that were not shot up, beaten down or pulped into explosive gore eventually broke rank and scattered. Gaetan, whom many were rather surprised to see still in one piece (or exasperated among the lead officers), strode through corpses in triumph.
- The Crossroads Massacre (ca. 978.M41) – On the Frontier World of Crossroads, elements of the Star Wardens' 7th and scout companies deployed to oversee its development found themselves soon staring down an invasion of Tau forces looking to claim the planet as part of their empire. Word was quickly sent to Chapter Command, and in response a compliment of squads from the 3rd and 7th companies were deployed to support their brethren. The ensuing conflict carried on with neither Astartes or Tau gaining significant ground – though Fire Warrior teams certainly were capable of out-gunning them from a far distance, the Wardens' mounted infantry and use of hit-and-run tactics proved effective in tearing open pockets within the defensive buffer made up by the Tau auxiliaries. Though equally matched, both sides began to suffer from gradual damage and losses, which left none prepared for when they awoke.
From beneath the arid plains, a horde of Necron warriors broke to the surface and began to wade heavily into the already weakened units of the assembled Marine companies and Tau Cadre. The survivors of both factions from the initial attack were forced into retreat among now abandoned building settlements, communications with their respective forces cut-off by sudden atmospheric interference engineered by the Necrons. With the encroaching army of mechanical revenants slowly drawing near, the remaining squads of Astartes and Fire Warrior teams approached one another with a mutual desire for cooperation. In their final moments, the members of the Star Wardens re-armed and bolstered themselves to fight alongside the Tau in a last, defiant charge against the deathless horrors that would claim them all. By the time that ships of the chapter fleet arrived to investigate the sudden silence from their battle-brothers, they found only death waiting for them. An ensuing campaign followed to exterminate the remaining Necron presence on Crossroads before their tomb network could fully reactivate itself, and in the aftermath of which those battle companies that had touched down were left accept the cold reality that none of their brothers had seemed to survive. After collecting what little gene-seed could be salvaged from the fallen, the Star Wardens returned to the Watchtower on Augusta to commemorate and record the names of each brother lost in the House of the Risen Sun.
- Peacemaker - This master-crafted Ingram-pattern bolt pistol, manufactured by Charron the Widowmaker himself, was given to Gaetan Archambault prior to the Wardens' deployment in response to the insurrection taking place within the Damaras System. The weapon served admirably in the hands of the 3rd Company Captain, particularly when he and his comrades confronted the puppet-masters responsible for the system's fall in the form of a Word Bearers council. While the Dark Apostles and warband lords made their escape, Gaetan and his team did battle with their elite guard, even felling a Chaos Terminator with a shot fired from his Ingram. Upon the conclusion of their many hard fought battles, Gaetan came to regard his sidearm as a symbol of the campaign, of the effort made and lives lost to reclaim Damaras for the Imperium. In recognition of that, he saw fit to give his weapon a name, "the Peacemaker".
"Such bravado, even when reduced to your last armament! Do you truly think you'll walk away from this sacred site alive? Do you really think that one such as I can be brought down with only six rounds?"
"No, I don't. Not when all I need is one."
- 3rd Company Captain Gaetan Archambault to Word Bearers Terminator Razzaq
Heroes of the Chapter:
- Charron the Widowmaker - Master of the Forge
The overseer of the Chapter Armory, Charron is known as the most senior of all Warden Techmarines. His arcane-scientific knowledge and accumulated experience on the battlefield placed him in the most ideal position to become the current Master of the Forge. A taciturn and morose bearing has put him at odds with many of his battle-brothers, but still maintains a level of authority and respect due to his position within chapter command. It is said that the weapons he has crafted and modified are of a particularly fatal persuasion, earning him the title of "the Widowmaker", though sources remain vague as whether that is the sole reason.
Edited by InAction, 30 December 2017 - 03:38 AM.