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The Wardens of Hades [Updated 07.24.2020]


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The_Bloody

The_Bloody

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Index Apocripha

The Wardens of Hades

 

 

New Blood mends old wounds.

By the future Is the past redeemed"

 

 

 

received-2323191021227488.jpg

 

 

 

Cognomen: The Wardens of Hades/Archontopouloi

 Founding : Ultima

Primogenitor: Rogal Dorn [Disputed]

Homeworld: Aides – Imperium Nihilus

Fortress Monastery: The Nekromanteion

Combat Doctrine: Void war, close-ranged combat

 

 

 

I write in the hour of our demise.

The Cicatrix splinters the galaxy, and half of the Imperium is swallowed by darkness. The enemies of mankind feast upon its rotting Empire like carrior birds. As always, the first casualty of an age like this... is the truth.

At the end of hope and civilization, even the last century can become legend.

The beginnings of the Wardens of Hades, our most valiant protectors, are already suffering such fate.

As the Eusinian sector prepares for its impending doom, the only act of gratitude I can offer is to record what I learned of their story.

I am Kallimakos Kyrenaios, Archivist of the Adeptus Administratum.

They shall not be forgotten.

 

 

 

Origins: Humanity's Darkest Hour

 

 

A
fter the terrible events of the Thirtheenth Black Crusade and the opening of the Cicatrix Maledictum, the Imperium was shattered and thrown into a new Age of Strife. The galaxy was ripped apart, and more than a million worlds were severed from the light of the Astronomican. Every one of them was alone, a grain of sand against a storm of madness. Long range communication became impossibile, and the price of Warp travel simply too steep to pay. The hungry tides of the Immaterium were always ready to drag the travelers away from their course, scattering them through space and time, shattering their sanity or feeding on their souls like carrion birds.

The impossible simply happened. The Imperium had ceased to exist.

Thus came the hour of triumph for the xeno, the heretic and the traitor. The enemies of mankind, bloodily kept at bay for a hundred centuries, could finally rage unpunished.

It was in this situation that the reborn Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines, assumed command of the Imperium and put into action a contingency plan ten thousand years in the making.

 

The Ultima Founding saw the creation of many new Astartes Chapters, whose geneseed had been refined and improved by Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl. These new transhuman warriors -the Primaris- were bigger, stronger and possessed faster reaction times than their original counteparts. The order of the Primarch had been given in the dark days of the Horus Heresy, and the warriors he commissioned had been perfected by the adepts of Mars for the ten thousand years that followed. Finally, with the Imperium on the brink of failure, these new soldiers abandoned their stasis cells to overthrow the impending fate of the galaxy.

The holy events of the Defence of Terra, the Indomitus Crusade and the many battles fought to repel the tainted hordes tirelessly vomited by the Great Rift are narrated elsewhere, although in this age of crisis even the last century of history is already falling to legend.

The Wardens of Hades were one of those Chapters.

Alas, much of their beginnings has already been lost, and they are never mentioned in the accounts of the Indomitus Crusade. Some malignant voices whisper of purges conducted in the Imperial archives by unidentified agents: the meaning of such rumors will become clearer during this account.

For the moment, it will suffice to mention another relevant detail: albeit never officially deployed, the Wardens were part of Fleet Primus, acting as a reserve force for a Mechanicus detachment affiliated with Archmagos Cawl.

 

Before the Gates of Hell

 

As the Crusade progressed, it became praxis to assign homeworlds on the edge of the Rift to the newborn Primaris Chapters. These planets, now on the frontline against Chaos, would become their strongholds and recruitment pools; bastions guarding the gates of Hell. This became especially true as Fleet Primus reached Imperium Nihilus, severed from the Astronomican and wrecked by ferocious warp storms.

The Salvation of Hades, undertook by a Mechanicum-Wardens combined detachment soon after the Liberation of Baal, was the Chapter's first confirmed deployment, and baptized it in name and blood.

 

Aides, or Hades in low gothic, welcomed its new warriors as angels of deliverance. The Cicatrix had turned it in a frontier on the abyss, tormented by unending daemonic incursions and traitor Astartes raids.

That this planet, whose technological level was akin to the pre-industrial era of Terra, could endure such punishment speaks to the strenght that made its sons a perfect stock for the Chapter. Although Aides had once been an agri-world of modest importance, the flesh and blood of its people were now everything it could offer to the Imperium in exchange for salvation. Thus flesh and blood were, and still are, offered without respite.

Since this alliance was born, the now Wardens of Hades have been waging a constant war of attrition against the madness gnawing at Imperium Nihilus. They are the protectors of the Eusinian sector, fractured by the restless tides of the Great Rift, far from the Emperor's light and cut off from the realms of men.

Stretched thin and ultimately insufficient for the defence of a whole region of space, they fight alone and forgotten.

IMG-20200721-182325.jpg
= Pic-capture of Tisiphonos Kratos, Despot of the Third Tagma.

 

And yet, those same malignant voices mentioned above speak, in this case, of planned isolation to avoid close scrutiny. A better reason for the Chapter's position, however, comes with the presence of a minor Warp-tunnel in the Aides system; a narrow passage that could run through the Cicatrix and connect pars Nihilus with Imperial space. This path, called «Cariddi's Throat», is currently considered unsailable, and every known craft that attempted this jurney has been regurgitated and added to the graveyard of broken hulks floating before its entrance. Still, should the intensity of the Warp storm ever decrease by a percentage considered plausible by the magii of Mars, this passage could become practicable, restoring communication with Imperial space and becoming a strategic route of supreme importance. This is the only hope for Aides and its warriors, a hope they cling to as they continue their daily struggle. In the meantime, the Cicatrix looks at them from above, like a grin of amusement for their delusion.

 

A Hundred Years of Torment

 

For more than a century now, Aides has been the anvil upon which the hammer of false gods has struck and struck again. It was by such strikes that its people and Chapter were forged, bringing them together in a fashion rarely seen on other Astartes homeworlds. Although a hundred years may seem nothing in the context of Imperial history, one should not forget that entire mortal lives begun and ended in such timespan. We are talking about a century of isolation and constant war. Everything the current generation knows is this neverending collective effort for survival, where everyone -demigod and mortal- must play their part to see another day. This century of almost exclusive collaboration has created an incredibly strong sense of cohesion and identification between the Chapter and its people. The Astartes are the pride of their mortals, but the mortals are the pride of the Astartes, and from many a standpoint they seem to think and behave as a sole entity.

It is from local mythology that the Marines adopted their symbol, and it is their name in the local tongue that they use more frequently: oi Archontopouloi, «the Noble Sons».

 

Nowadays, war against Chaos has been an existential condition for most of the Wardens since before their ascension. The situation is not favourable for survival, yet those strong enough to endure quickly gain a lifetime of experience.

A century of constant war against renegade Astartes has made them experts of such a fratricide war, but the butcher's bill cannot be stated to be anything other than horrendous. The mortality rate among the Wardens is so high that – could His Angels know such a feeling- it would send a shiver down the spine of another Chapter's Master. How the Archontopouloi can sustain such attrition is a matter for debate. Most explanations mention an incredibly stable geneseed, with an acceptance rate far above average.

 

Whispers in the Dark

 

It is doubts about its geneseed that make this Chapter, otherwise be relatively unremarkable to the wider Imperium, the object of sinister rumors. Not everyone accepts the endogenous birth of the Wardens' heraldry, nor are they quelled by the official statement that counts them among the sons of Dorn. According to these rumors, their origins would sink towards far darker depths, and the choice of their isolation would be more than an unfortunate necessity. Of the Archontopouloi's geneseed we shall talk in greater detail elsewhere, but should such hearsay be believed, theirs would be a secret better kept in Nihilus.

 

 

Homeworld

 

 

A
ides, meaning “the unseen one” in its arcaic tongue, owes its name to the first astral cartographers that discovered it before the Age of Strife. The precise reason for the name can only be the inferred, though, and its inhabitants simply accept it as a matter of tradition. It is a dark joke of fate that, in this new era of darkness, the planet's nomen should become an omen, shrouded by warp storms and isolated as it is from the wider Imperium.

Aides is located in pars Nihilus, Ultima Segmentum, on the very edge of the Great Rift. This is why it became a Space Marine homerworld and, as a consequence, its Sector's capital planet. Aides wasn't the most advanced world in its region, nor the richest, and not even the most strategically valuable before the Cicatrix exploded in the galaxy. The tragedy marked, in fact, a dramatic shift for the planet's role in the Imperium, turning it from a marginal agri-world to the closest bastion to Cariddi's Throat - a potential asset to be protected at all cost. This implied a heavy and hastened militarization, for which the planet had, truth be told, a favourable disposition: its pugnaceous -if retrograde- people, as well as some, until then, misunderstood relics of the Age of Technology, proved a fertile ground for such evolution.

As common for planets near the Rift, this started a new era in chronological accounts, which adopted a localized datation system that uses the Great Opening as its year 0. It was that brutal event that brough forth every change that followed, and rendered everything that came before it meaningless.

 

 To enter the Underworld

 

Above the skies of Aides, and in the spaces of the Eusinian Sector, the ships of the Archontopouloi keep their scattered patrols, ever vigilant of the raging storm. Such area is saturated with semi-automatic orbital stations and weapon-satellytes, ready to obliterate any invader or signal their presence to the Chapter. No one can fly in the Archontopouloi's space without a cannon pointed to their ship.

Should a visitor survive these defences and be allowed to set foot on Aides, he would be met by a blue planet, with a multitude of tiny islands becoming distinctly clearer on its surface. As he approaches from afar, he would then see the mighty station Thàlassa, a hulking brute of metal locked in geo-stationary orbit above the ocean. Shipyard, forge, and devastating gun platform, this was the Mechanicus's last gift to Aides before leaving it to its own defence, providing the Wardens with an invaluable asset for the survival and upkeep of their armoury.

 

In striking dissonance to this sky fortress, barely a century old, is the colossal Nekromanteion. The fortress of the Chapter is built upon what was discovered to be a monument from the Age of Technology, improved and refortified according to the precepts of Primarch Dorn. The most impressive part of this complex is the so-called Theodosian Wall, a whole network of trenches, traps and fortifications supported by an ancient and revered multi-layered void shield which, to this day, has never been breached. This is indeed a fortunate thing, for should it be destroyed, it would be impossible to restore, the secret of its construction long-lost to time and superstition.
 

A Land of Legends

 

The rest of the planet, though, is deeply different, and what an average Imperial citizen would find remarkable stops here - except, perhaps, if he had an interest in the cultural anthropology of ancient terra. He would otherwise find aidian people retrograde and superstitious, as well as less than pious. Indeed, an inquisitive mind could say that the Imperial Cult is just a patina upon their polytheistic beliefs. Before the Imperium established stable contact, they had a multitude of very human divinities, related to practical matters such as war, farming and trade. They later identified the God-Emperor with the highest divinity of their pantheon, father and king of every other god -which is to say, in some interpretation of these mythologies, the Primarchs. In this regard, the Chapter, educated on Mars and Terra, was expected to be more orthodox and function as an example for its people, but with the attrition and recruitment rates of the Archontopouloi, the opposite appears to be true. In other times, this would have attracted immediate attention from the Inquisition, but now, at the end of history, contact is impossible – and one could go so far to say that, to the new ruler of the Imperium, religious orthodoxy matters infinitely less than strategic importance.

Aidian mythology is no less erratic, and deeply populates the imaginary and forma mentis of its people. The most important feature is the costant presence of what an Imperial scholar would identify as beastmen – harpies, syrens, centaurs, gorgons – and monsters populating the oceans of the world. One can only speculate about what passed on Aides during the Long Night, but strange and enormous marine species have indeed been observed, and in these days of Darkness returned, the endless tides of deamons that besiege the planet have brought new truth to these legends. Many are the legendary heroes fighting these monsters in the lore – and in the long and ever growing mythology of Aides more are being added every day, since the Astartes have been inserted in their ancient canons as the demigods of legend finally returned.

Marine.jpg
Wardens of Hades Demi-Squad during deployment.

Aides has as many kingdom-cities as is has islands -and each of them is proud, intractable, and with its own version of legends and history. They mainly used to farm and wage war on eachother, but since the opening of the Rift a perpetual league has been formed. The respect of the treaty is granted by the Chapter's presence – but even more, by the never ending need to collaborate and fight the monsters at the door.

Despite all of this, it would be wrong to define aidian culture unrefined or primitive. A citizen of Hades would undoubtedly look down on a native of Fenris or Chogoris, and consider himself far superior to those uncultured barbaroi. If Imperial thought and technology haven't found a deeper way in the planet's culture, it's because of its endemic traditionalism, campanilistic attitude and general mistrust of anything external. If a city can despise its closest neighbour, what can be said for the wider Imperium?

However, aidian presumption cannot be completely dismissed. Not only does the planet have an incredible, if obsolete, martial culture, but also a widespread ethos of outside-the-box thinking and inventiveness. Problem-solving and creativity are prized qualities – this is certainly true in battle, but it also reflects on crafts such as sculpture or ceramic production, with items that have been, at least before the Rift, highly prized by Imperial collectionists of artworks and curiosities. The Imperial archives mention an aidian inventor who was starting to build mechanical constructs, but was censured by the Adeptus Mechanicus. Altough this latest rumor is unsubstantiated, it must be conceded that for their actual technological level, the aidians are remarkably inventive. Cut off from the rest of the Imperium, their ability to make do has now become a necessity.

 

 Of Past and Future

 

Despite all of its traditionalism, it would have been impossibile for Hades to remain completely unchanged after the Great Rift and the adoption of its Noble Sons. The past, albeit slowly, is giving way to the future, and Imperial technology started spreading top-down from the Chapter. The Wardens are generally happy to leave aidian culture as it is: objectively, it constitutes a good recruitment pool for the same reasons why the people of Fenris or Cretacia are left unchanged. The reality of war, though, is uncompromising, and natural selection imposes to adapt or perish. Altough sword and spear, with their symbolism as old as man, work well against the Nephila, the assaults of void pirates and heretic Astartes have increasingly led to the use of augmentation, flak armour and lasguns. Ever proud, the élite mortal phalanxes still march to war with their traditional panoply, updated for a new kind of war: the artisans of the Chapter have reinforced their hoplitic armour with ceramite, provided their shields with energy fields and added disruptive generators to the tips of their spears. Altough such a warrior couldn't individually stand a chance against a traitor Astartes, a shieldwall could hold long enough for the Archontopouloi to turn the tide: so the new and the old fight as one for survival, in a peculiar but functional concert.

 

 

 
Unit and Formation Structure within the Chapter

 

 

 

The original Chapter, founded on Mars, was entirely composed of «awoken» Astartes. This first generation emerged from stasis ready for war, psycho-indoctrinated to immediately take up their duties. Ultimately, though, they proved inadaptable, each of them conditioned to fulfill a single role -and most importantly, lacking any actual experience. A few of them serve to this day as Techmarines on Thàlassa, a natural affinity for machine spirits granted by their Martian heritage.

The majority, though, has been lost to eternal war, and -in the opinion of most present day Archontopouloi- to the intrinsic weakness of their inflexibility.

 

 

Recruitment

 

 

I
n a world such as Aides, where isolation is a constant and the foe can take the infinite shapes of the daemon, the ability to adapt to the changing situation, to rapidly re-contextualize every detail, and to make do with what few resources are available on the moment -in one word, what the people of Aides call Phronesis- is the foundation of survival. Indeed, the Wardens value such virtue in a recruit just as much as physical strength.

 

At the moment, the Aidian System is the only known recruitment source for the Archontopouloi, and nothing different could be expected given their circumstances. It is not known whether they would recruit from a different population should they ever fight a protracted campaign far from their home-system, although Phronesis would surely call for them to do it. This vision would be hard to reconcile with their intrinsic campanilism, but an answer may come from the way recruits from the rest of the system are treated: they are welcome to the Chapter, but are expected to behave like blank slates, abandoning their barbaric customs to fully embrace aidian culture.

 

Aides provides, after all, everything the Wardens need in their recruits. Since their first breath, the homeworld's children are plunged into a daily struggle for survival. When they are seven years of age, they are taken from home and inducted into one of Aides' local armies, where they are forged by the planet's proud military tradition. This education forces the boys to fight, to adapt, to overcome fear and starvation -and should one of them excel, he would be sent to one of the traditional élite phalanxes. Here, he will be «adopted» by a veteran warrior, who will be responsible for the young man's military refinement. It is alongside these soldiers that the Archontopouloi fight to protect their planet, and it the most promising of their novices that they take for their own recruitment. These young promises of battle will become their planet's most noble sons.

 

 

Doctrine

 

 

T
he Archontopouloi's combat doctrine has three cardinal tenets: mastery of void war, adaptability and the quest for personal glory in close combat.

The first can be attributed to the geography of their homeworld. Since Aides is a sea-planet, participation in naval operation is a given in any inhabitant's life. Upon ascension, an Astartes replaces the wooden ships and the sea with the metal walls of a spacecraft and the blackness of the void, but his drill remains fundamentally unchanged, ony refined by and endless patrol of the skies under the Rift. The Wardens have thus developed a particular efficiency for fast and brutal boarding assaults against intruders, which they seek to intercept and neutralize as soon as they translate in theirsystem.

 

The second point, adaptability, should come to no surprise. In Aides' situation, the law of the frontier prevails, and the Chapter does whatever is needed to endure, as unorthodox as it may be. Most notably, is it not uncommon for the Wardens to requisition resources as needed from the system, and to intervene quite heavily in political affairs as it fits their wider scheme of survival. While this behavior would be met with censorship in Imperium Sanctus, it is far from uncommon in pars Nihilus, where contact with the wider Imperium may have ended -like in this case- more than a century ago.

It is undoubtedly this isolation, with the unrelenting attrition/recruitment rates, that made a Chapter as young as the Wardens so susceptible to penetration from its home culture. The adoption of Phronesis as a cardinal doctrine is but one among many consequences. The Archontopouloi have to be self sufficient by force, and their flexibility serves them well against a foe as unpredictable as the Nephilla. Cunning is considered among a warrior's most valuable qualities: indeed, the Aidian Canon contains as many stories about wits as it does about strength and courage.

This focus on self-sufficiency, problem solving and personal initiative has repercussions on the Chapter's command structure, which is heavily based on personal bonds, trust and fame rather than rank per se. A leader will command as much respect as his strategic history grants him, and a lower ranking Astartes who doesn't trust in his superior's plan may well behave in a fashion some would see as undisciplined, if not outright insubordinate. This is why a battleplan is often discussed beforehand with all of the ranking officers, dissecting and analyzing it before consensus is reached. Although such a procedure would seem inconvenient and inefficient to most Astartes Chapters, the Archontopouloi maintain that this improves the quality of the plan and the battleforce's cohesion. Indeed, only the most successful and respected commanders can bypass such a process, an action which would otherwise be seen as disrespectful by his warriors.

 

The third pillar is close combat. The Chapter has significant aggressive tendencies, and it's a collective opinion that true glory must be found in melee, where the Emperor can witness their prowess and listen to them roaring their names.

This preference clearly stems from their society's culture, which is heavily tied to pre-industrial weaponry and filled with stories of heroes facing the darkness with the strength of their arms.

Aides' martial tradition also focuses on a peculiar tension between brotherhood and individual glory, resulting in constant competition. Although the Archontopouloi are as well coordinated and tightly knit as any other Chapter, their ultimate aspiration is to physically break the enemy in front of their brothers, so that their name may be remembered and their warrior legend spread.

One can speculate that this desire for remembrance -and, on the opposite side, «fear» of oblivion- is itself due to the Chapter's isolation from the wider Imperium. Mankind shall never know the heroes of Aides, nor shall the Bell of Lost Souls ever toll for one of them. As long as the Rift keeps them confined, their brothers and their people will be the only ones to remember them - they, and the Immortal Emperor on his Golden Throne, regarded by the Archontopouloi as the ultimate witness and judge for their actions.

 

The Chapter's Chaplains play a particular role in this obsession. Not only are these leaders responsible for the purity and zeal of their brothers; it is also their duty to record and compose the poems celebrating aidian heroes, which they will later chant into battle to inspire their warriors for yet greater deeds.

Every member of the Archontopouloi, then, knows there is no better way to live forever in his Chapter's history than to prove himself in front of those who bear witness.

Some warriors will stop at nothing for such recognition, and display an utter disregard for self preservation in their quest for a Beautiful Death.

 

 

Organization

 

 

The Other Oracles of the Nekromanteion

The Temple of the Nekromanteion does not exclusively host Astartes, but also a number of human seers. It is rather baffling that these individuals carry the same title, and receive the same religious respect, offered to their transhuman colleagues.

This notion illustrates once more the Chapter's close relationship with its population, but also their unapologetically practical nature: while most of their male Oracles undergo the process that reshapes them in Primaris Astartes, there is little reason to waste 50% of the already small psychically gifted demographic.

Many of the untranscended Oracles of the Chapter are thus women, offered to the Noble Sons by their superstitious parents and educated by the Librarius as if they were fully inducted members. Off course, few survive the rigours of such training, but those who do become a highly valued asset for the Archontopouloi.

T
he Archontopouloi remained, at their core, a Codex compliant Chapter, changing little more than their titles to best suit their native tongue. They are organized in ten Tagmata, each led by a Despot and formally comprising a hundred warriors, with a Chapter Master bearing the title of Autokrator holding command over all of them.

 

There are only two idiosyncrasies that would merit a real distinction: the Chapter's Librarius and the distribution of their veteran warriors, the so-called Epilektoi.

 

Most, if not all, of the Noble Sons' Librarians focus on the Divination discipline, entering trances to look into the twisting strands of the Immaterium and offer wisdom and guidance to their brothers. These Oracles rarely leave the Nekromanteion, because their feverish dreams and the influence of the Great Rift leave them vulnerable and enfeebled. They need to set aside their Chapter's desire for personal glory, for their insights are valued far above any service they could render in battle. This self-sacrifice, though, only makes them greater in the eyes of their brothers, for the Wardens value their prophecies immeasurably. More than once they have guarded the planet from ruin. However, they rarely take them as pure dogma – after all, Fate has a displeasing sense of humor, and the Archontopouloi know that the future is a double-edged sword.

The second divergence from standard Astartes organization is the absence of a First Company as conventionally intended. There is, clearly, a Tagma bearing that numeral designation, but it does not absolve a distinct function nor comprise a higher number of veteran Astartes than the others. Instead, individual bands of élite warriors, called Epilektoi or «Chosen Ones», are scattered through every Company. Every one of these veterans is personally picked by the Despot of his Tagma to serve as a bodyguard, be part of his command staff or, most often, fight at the speartip of an assault.

 

Considering its current situation, it is impossible to quantify the assets controlled by the Chapter. One can infer that they are remarkably well-equipped, in spite of their difficulties, thanks to the presence of the forge-station Thàlassa.

Still, the Warden's protacted isolation threatens to deplete such resources sooner rather than later, and in its ruthless struggle for survival, the Chapter has been appropriating civilian and mercantile assets in its region to supplement its diminishing reserves.

 

 

Heraldry

 

 

T
he Chapter's symbol, a collared hound facing towards the enemy, was officially adopted after their assignment on Aides. The figure of Kerberos, a beast who stood guardian over the Underworld, is a prominent feature of aidian mythology. The Wardens must have seen him as a fitting metaphor -after all, they truly are the guardians of Hell, considering their defensive role on the edge of the Great Rift.

 

Uncontrolled by the Archontopouloi, some depictions and pic-captures have circulated outside their realm – be it via hearsay from the nearby sectors, the whispers of daemons or resources thrown into Cariddi's Throat and regurgitated elsewhere. Certain Imperial observers have thus noticed their icon's striking similarity to that of the expunged Warhounds Legion - after ten thousand years of censure and lost legacies, though, such observations appear paranoiacally biased. Has no Chapter ever used an eagle or a skull as its symbol, since the accursed IIIrd and XIVth turned from His light? Aren't the Silver Skulls honored and undisputed descendants of Lord Guilliman, despite an appearance far more damning than that of the Archontopouloi?

There is little reason to take a beast as common as a hound, and make it evidence for linkage to a forgotten proto-Legion unrelated to the XIIth's betrayal.

 

On the titles of the Archontopouloi

An imperial observer could find the Archontopouloi's organization to be confusing and inextricable; a matter further complicated by their «flexible» idea of command and approach to warfare. Indeed, the Chapter maintains a plethora of titles, each bearing associated privileges and responsibilities, such as PodṓkēsSymbasileus, Megadux, Stratigothos or Prōtonobelissimos. Transcripting every one of them, and translating their variations and nuances, would turn this account into a byzantine catalog of poetic epithets, but those suggested here should give an impression of their sounds an morphology.

The standard Kerberos heraldry has a red hound over a blue field: red, for the sacrifice required of the bearer; blue, for the seas of the world he has sworn to protect. Novices must earn the right to bear this symbol, so a fresh recruit is distinguished by a plain pauldron. On the other hand, honored warriors can display a golden hound, and/or a bronze faceplate – each element contributing to the individual's displayed prestige.

From there, a warrior is free to personalize his suit, putting the artisans of his homeworld to task. Commanding cadres often adopt a vertical crest, along with weapons and items recalling their native material tradition.

Many among the Wardens adorn their armors with kill marks, hoplitic-styled helmets and chains. The latter are likely a remnant of their original heraldry, but the Wardens have enriched them with an abundance of additional meanings.

Firstly, they reinforce the Kerberos motif, for the beast was bound to the gates of the underworld.

Secondly, they represent a limit or forbidden passage to the enemy. It should be noted that the Castellans of the Rift, another Ultima Founding Chapter with analogous duties, employ them in their heraldry with a similar meaning.

Most importantly, they indicate an oath taken or an oath completed. When a Warden undertakes a specific task or makes a solemn vow, he is bound to it upon penance of death, and declares this by wrapping a chain around his armor. When his oath is complete, the warrior takes off the phisycal chain and instead paints it on his armour, indicating that he is “Unchained”.

It is extremely hard for an outsider to obtain such an oath, for the Archontopouloi do not give them lightly. Once a warrior has given his word, though, nothing short of death will stop him from keeping it.

 

 

Geneseed

 

 

T
he Wardens of Hades descend from the Imperial Fists.

They closely match with many predispositions associated with Dorn's lineage: they have been manning their wall for a century, fortified the mighty Theodosian Wall following the doctrines of their Primarch. and they are distinguished void commanders.

There is no denying that they have more violent tendencies than most of their brothers, but this just brings them closer to the Black Templars or the head-taking Executioners.

Their perfectly functioning Betcher's Gland and Sus-an Membrane, commonly degraded among the sons of Dorn, are little proof to the contrary. It is known that Archmagos Cawl employed Geneseed from the uncorrupted Primarch DNA contained in the Sangprimus Portum. Every Primaris Astartes, then, has all of his organs in perfect health, regardless of lineage.

 

Sinister Doubts

 

And yet, stemming from the Kerberos heraldry, speculation has run rampant in certain imperial circles. The Wardens were thus compared with XIIth Legion's psychological profile recorded by Remembrancer A.K. This included a competitive, hot blooded demeanor, with aggressive tendencies and maniacal joy experienced in the thick of battle.

Other aspects overlap with typically “dornian” qualities -such as a fierce tenacity, a nihilistic perspective and even a self-disregard bordering on suicidal tendencies. Still, there is little reason to explain all of this using Geneseed, rather than the homeworld's cultural outlook this account has tried to provide. After all, the Archontopouloi do have other and better traits, like artistry and a strong sense of humor despite all, that have nothing to do with their genes and define them more than any teleological aggressiveness.

 

Secrets of the Archmagos

Concerned by the rumors surrounding the Chapter, Inquisitor Marius Daval conducted an official inquiry on the Archontopouloi Geneseed preserved on Mars. The samples provided by Cawl-affiliated adepts were confirmed to be of dornian descent, but did hardly settle the dispute.

In certain regards, this only intensified the murmurs. Some observers have even suggested Thàlassa to be some sort of communication device allowing Archmagos Cawl to monitor a forbidden creation. This is obviously an impossibility, considering the warp-storms that drown the Eusinian Sector in the coldest silence.

If a single concession to these arguments had to be made, it would be about the exceptional rapidity of the Chapter's induction process. It is known that the dreaded XIIth tinkered with its own gene-stock during the Horus Heresy, using forbidden technologies to hasten the process of Astartes creation. The Legion became capable of quickly producing unrefined demi-gods for its endless warfare; a meatgrinder not dissimilar to the one experienced by the Archontopouloi.

This project has undoubtedly tainted and perverted the original Emperor-created geneseed, and the prospect of a Chapter derived from such stock would be worrying indeed.

It is not believable, though, that Archmagos Cawl would employ a similar abomination in his blessed work. The exceptional stability and success of Archonopouloi Geneseed is better explained as a Primaris characteristic; a success -rather than a sin- of Lord Cawl, with a fortuned match later found in the population of Aides. This does not excuse the Chapter from all of the accusations sent in their way – if anything, it makes the sin of over-recruitment the most likely to be committed.

 

Astartes develop two Progenoids at a time, and they are normally harvested only post-mortem. The process of implantation in an aspirant, then, takes no less than 15 different phases to be conducted, if hastened, in a minimum time span of three years, yielding most likely suboptimal results. Considering the institutional limit of 1000 Astartes imposed by the Codex, and the uninterrupted attrition suffered for a century by the Chapter, it becomes apparent that the numbers don't match.

One must remember, though, that the ferocious Warp storms of Imperium Nihilus prevent the Chapter from sending its regular gene-thite to Mars. This extra 5% of genetic stock is then likely kept in activity, and such increased availability should be considered. It is also possible that, foreseeing the problems posed by the Chapter's situation, an unusually high amount of the original Mars-cultivated Geneseed had been stored in Thàlassa's vault

 

Even if it wanted, the Chapter could not reply to these accusations. The maddening tides of Imperium Nihilus, at the rotting edge of humanity's Empire, shroud them in eternal silence.

Should the truth ever be discovered, it may very well be on a barren planet, scoured of all life; the forgotten theatre of a war long-lost.

 

The Chapter knows this and embraces its struggle, always smirking in the face of the Rift.

 

 

The Emperor shall know their names.


Edited by The_Bloody, 24 July 2020 - 07:22 PM.

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#2
Messor

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It sounds like a good foundation to work off of, and the heraldry is very solid.

 

The discussion beween Guilliman and Cawl regarding traitor geneseed was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting passages in Dark Imperium, and a concept I wanted to dip my feet into.

For those of us who haven't read it, could you give us the spark notes version?


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Kelborn

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And there goes my Cerberan Blades idea :P

As this is pretty much my idea for a Primaris chapter, which I'm not sure to finalize anymore, I could share a thrice headed wolf/dog head as chapter symbol for a Cerberus reference.

Looks solid.

@Messor:
Basically
- Cawl wants to use all of the 20 geneseed strains. The sons cannot be blamed for their fathers sins. And there were enough examples of fallen chapters from "loyal Primarchs.
- Guiliman still forbade it.

To be continued by every hobbyist in their projects.
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Bjorn Firewalker

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Interesting. Will the Wardens claim to be an Ultramarines descendant? An Imperial Fists descendant who inherited Dorn's hatred towards those who oppose the Emperor's will (as an excuse for why they go berserk in battle)? A Blood Angels descendant (Khorne's attempts to lure Sanguinius, and later, Mephiston to his service, hinting at links between the Blood God and the Blood Angels)?

Edited by Bjorn Firewalker, 06 August 2019 - 04:14 PM.

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#5
The_Bloody

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It sounds like a good foundation to work off of, and the heraldry is very solid.

 

The discussion beween Guilliman and Cawl regarding traitor geneseed was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting passages in Dark Imperium, and a concept I wanted to dip my feet into.

For those of us who haven't read it, could you give us the spark notes version?

 

Thank you, brother.

Kelborn has it right. 

The only thing I would add is that the conversation is actually ambiguous about wether Cawl was just contemplating the possibility or actually had some of those Chapters made already. 

I'm going with this second option, taking the Sons of the Phoenix as an exhample.

 

 

And there goes my Cerberan Blades idea tongue.png

As this is pretty much my idea for a Primaris chapter, which I'm not sure to finalize anymore, I could share a thrice headed wolf/dog head as chapter symbol for a Cerberus reference.

Looks solid.

 

Thank you for your feedback - and sorry for raining on your parade! I hate it when it happens to me.

I think we have actually moved along the same lines, though: most Ultima Founding Chapters were tasked with the defence of a world on the Great Rift, and using the hound/cerberus as a symbol reinforces the idea of these marines being the ones who are guarding the gates of hell. It is also the reason why I decided to go with a (possibily not so original) ancient/mythical greek homeworld, Hades. 

See? Nothing at all to do with the Warhounds, they just adopted a creature from their homeworld's culture, like all the cool Chapters do! smile.png

This also allows me to use the Forge World World Eaters transfer sheet, and have an easily accessible source of heraldry for my models - no luck printing my own at the moment.

I'd obviously appreciate you sharing the symbol, but truth be told, I believe the galaxy is big enough for both of our Chapters. We may even talk about having some kind of alliance/honour bond between them, if you'd like - that's an idea I've always fancied, tying my original lore with someone else's. After all, if Cawl used the seed, I don't think he stopped at one chapter per lineage.

 

Interesting. Will the Wardens claim to be an Ultramarines descendant? An Imperial Fists descendant who inherited Dorn's hatred towards those all oppose the Emperor's will (as an excuse for why they go berserk in battle)? A Blood Angels descendant (Khorne's attempts to lure Sanguinius, and later, Mephiston to his service, hinting at links between the Blood God and the Blood Angels)?

 

They will claim (and perhaps actually believe, I'm still not sure about this particular point) to be Imperial Fists descendants. It ties well with their defensive role on the rift, and allows them to fall in the same folder of the Templars and the Executioners if someone asks about their aggressive behaviour on the battlefield. Tying them to the Templars also justifies the chains in their iconography.

Plus, the VIIth Legion were masters of void warfare, and that's something I might keep, making Hades a maritime world full of islands and sea monsters, taking a page or two from the Odyssey's mediterranean imaginary.

 

On a side note, the Forge World Horus Heresy Book I: Betrayal says that the effects of XIIth Legion geneseed are enhanced aggressivity, but also a tendence towards individualism. I think this will tie well with the mythical greek inspiration, with my dudes valuing personal glory in battle (like the iliadic heroes) but also wits and individual initiative (Odissey style). This may translate in a flexible and inventive but somewhat undisciplined (compared to other chapters) approach to things. After all, after Guilliman's return the Codex Astartes itself seems to be moving towards a more flexible structure, with a less defined company organization etc, and this "second edition" would be the one these Ultima Founding Chapters had since their beginning. 

Lastly, the Wardens being somewhat isolated on a planet on the Rift (beset by daemons and such, like everyone else at this point) would also go to reinforce this "I am alone, I'll think about something and fix it myself" kind of behaviour. This would in time become a source of pride -after all, if there's something ancient greeks absolutely were, that's campanilistic tongue.png

 

It's all just brainstorming for now.

 

Thank you all for the feedback! smile.png

 

Here's a bonus painted test model:

 

IMG-20190724-195558.jpg

 

The Pre heresy World Eaters helm is for hoplites similarity - not at all suspicious.

 

I also re-uploaded the image in the first post to make it more readable.

 

Cheers!


Edited by The_Bloody, 04 August 2019 - 10:03 AM.

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Kelborn

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Cheers, brother.

Your idea sound good to me. If I can finally decide what to work on, I'd Like to come back to your offer. :)
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#7
Bjorn Firewalker

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The model looks great!

Interesting. Will the Wardens claim to be an Ultramarines descendant? An Imperial Fists descendant who inherited Dorn's hatred towards those all oppose the Emperor's will (as an excuse for why they go berserk in battle)?

They will claim (and perhaps actually believe, I'm still not sure about this particular point) to be Imperial Fists descendants. It ties well with their defensive role on the rift, and allows them to fall in the same folder of the Templars and the Executioners if someone asks about their aggressive behaviour on the battlefield. Tying them to the Templars also justifies the chains in their iconography.
Hades was also the name of one of Armageddon's hive cities- where the Orks suffered a humiliating defeat in the climactic battle of the Second War for Armageddon, and which the foul xenos destroyed via orbital bombardment in a futile attempt to erase that humiliation at the start of the Third War for Armageddon. You can say the Warden's training cadre were Black Templars who fought in the Third War for Armageddon, and who chose to name the new Chapter after the hive as a deliberate insult to Orks.

Edited by Bjorn Firewalker, 04 August 2019 - 03:42 PM.

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#8
Brother Lunkhead

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Looks good Brother Bloody. I'm looking forward to more detail.


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#9
The_Bloody

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So... after gathering my thoughts, I finally started writing about the Wardens.
Please forgive me if you find any grammar horror - english is not my mother tongue, and writing a piece such a this is not an effortless endeavor. Feel free to point them out, and I'll be glad to fix them.
As always, brothers, I am deeply thankful for your time and feedback.


Index Apocripha: the Wardens of Hades (Archontopouloi)
“New blood mends old wounds.
By the future is the past redeemed”


Founding: Ultima
Primogenitor: Rogal Dorn [disputed]
Homeworld: Aides - Imperium Nihilus
Fortress monastery: The Nekromanteion
Specialization: Void war, close-ranged combat


Origins


Spoiler

 

 

EDIT: Added to the first post!


Edited by The_Bloody, 14 August 2019 - 09:47 AM.

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#10
Bjorn Firewalker

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The details on the Chapter's early history are well-written, and welcome for the insights they offer.

Edited by Bjorn Firewalker, 13 August 2019 - 06:08 PM.

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#11
The_Bloody

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Thank you, Bjorn! That's what I was talking about. I'll fix those mistakes immeditely!

#12
Kelborn

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Nice read. :tu:
Glad to see that we're truly heading opposite directions with our chapters though some similarities might be the case. ;)

Will they have a certain arch enemy? Chaos in general, a certain warband?
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#13
Bjorn Firewalker

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Will they have a certain arch enemy? Chaos in general, a certain warband?

As the Wardens were founded in the 41st Millennium, I doubt they have existed long enough to have formed a bitter rivalry with a specific foe. Of course, if a certain World Eater impugned the Wardens' honor by claiming the latter are his brothers, and should join the traitorous Angron in attacking the very Imperium their TRUE father, Dorn, gave his life to protect; or if this World Eater obsessively attempts to exterminate the Wardens for "betraying their god by fighting for the very tyrant who enslaved their father and subjected him to torture," (all nonsense, as the Emperor never enslaved Dorn, or subjected him to torture)...

Other possibilities include Aeldari Farseers who seek to exterminate the Wardens out of fear the latter would follow in their father's footsteps- a self-fulfilling prophesy, as Dorn and his sons are known for their loyalty, and if Lord Regent Guilliman ordered the Imperial Fists and their successors to maintain the Imperium's alliance with the Aeldari, the Wardens would join their brothers in obeying this order and sparing the xenos- and Orks who fought alongside Ghazghkull at Armageddon, whom the Wardens' Black Templars training cadre sought to bring to justice, and who refer to the Wardens as "White Black Templars, good for a scrap!"
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#14
Messor

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Point of curiosity; what made you choose to title it "Index Apocripha"?


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#15
The_Bloody

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Nice read. thumbsup.gif
Glad to see that we're truly heading opposite directions with our chapters though some similarities might be the case. msn-wink.gif

 

Thanks, Kelborn!

And well, that's a relief. Nonetheless, the arms of the Archontopouloi are still open towards your Chapter, should you so wish!

 

 

 

Will they have a certain arch enemy? Chaos in general, a certain warband?

As the Wardens were founded in the 41st Millennium, I doubt they have existed long enough to have formed a bitter rivalry with a specific foe. Of course, if a certain World Eater impugned the Wardens' honor by claiming the latter are his brothers, and should join the traitorous Angron in attacking the very Imperium their TRUE father, Dorn, gave his life to protect; or if this World Eater obsessively attempts to exterminate the Wardens for "betraying their god by fighting for the very tyrant who enslaved their father and subjected him to torture," (all nonsense, as the Emperor never enslaved Dorn, or subjected him to torture)...

Other possibilities include Aeldari Farseers who seek to exterminate the Wardens out of fear the latter would follow in their father's footsteps- a self-fulfilling prophesy, as Dorn and his sons are known for their loyalty, and if Lord Regent Guilliman ordered the Imperial Fists and their successors to maintain the Imperium's alliance with the Aeldari, the Wardens would join their brothers in obeying this order and sparing the xenos- and Orks who fought alongside Ghazghkull at Armageddon, whom the Wardens' Black Templars training cadre sought to bring to justice, and who refer to the Wardens as "White Black Templars, good for a scrap!"

 

 

That's a nice trove of ideas, Bjorn. You actually seem to throw them around quite freely and generously, a nice quality indeed for a brother of the Liber!

I particularly like the prophecy idea, and think I will include it. They shall follow in their father's footsteps. Sounds grim and pretty damning, but perhaps it isn't talking about the (not) obvious father... I like it.

I'd prefer to leave the Chapter facing its true origins for the future, and focus on developing an original (well, as original as I can) identity for the Wardens before they discover more. 

As far as grudges go, a young Chapter allows for much development in the future. I'll let the tabletop speak! 

They're supposedly going to fight lots of Death Guard and Iron Warriors...and Necrons.

 

 

 

Messor, on 13 Aug 2019 - 9:32 PM, said:

Point of curiosity; what made you choose to title it "Index Apocripha"?

 

 

 

Well, mostly because I liked the sound of it... but my main inspiration was from the Index Astartes Apocrypha book, which gathers what could be considered loose canon (as in, very old) information about the Space Marines. Since my Chapter is homemade, and not part of official canon, I'd consider their Index entry as an apocriphal text... which could be edited at any time by a certain anonymus archivist!


Edited by The_Bloody, 13 August 2019 - 08:03 PM.

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Ace Debonair

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So far so good, I'd say. happy.png

Definitely looking forward to seeing more of this Chapter as it develops!

 

They sound like proper old fashioned honest Angron Dorn Successors, not afraid of massive bloodshed casualties if that's what it takes to win the day.

 

I'm sure the Wardens of Hades would rightly dismiss any ridiculous attempts by outsiders to cast aspersions on their heritage; they're hardly the first sons of Dorn to have a healthy zeal for close quarters combat, after all. biggrin.png


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#17
The_Bloody

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Have I gone too far with this one?
You tell me.


Homeworld


Spoiler

 

 

EDIT: Added to the first post!


Edited by The_Bloody, 21 August 2019 - 08:40 PM.

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#18
Messor

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What aspects are you concerned are going too far?


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#19
The_Bloody

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What aspects are you concerned are going too far?

 

On the nose, clumsy references, mainly.

 

Also, the Aidians are perhaps too different from what an Imperial citizien is required to be.

 

"Low key politheistic? Inventive? Let me just exterminatus these bastards!"

- Inquisitor Egotoobig



#20
Bjorn Firewalker

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The details on the Chapter planet are well-written, and welcome.

Nitpicking, with my emphases:
Spoiler

Edited by Bjorn Firewalker, 16 August 2019 - 11:47 PM.

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#21
The_Bloody

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Thank you for having the patience to correct me on my mistakes, Bjorn.
It deeply appreciate it, and promptly fixed the text.

Your objection about Thalassa make sense, it should probably be moved somewhere else!

I was putting myself in the anonymous archivist writing the account, but a more impersonal style would probably be better. I'll fix those passages tomorrow.

Adamantium has now become ceramite for the hoplites.

Thank you! :)

Edited by The_Bloody, 17 August 2019 - 12:18 AM.


#22
The_Bloody

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I think I'm done updating the Homeworld section - everything should be fixed now.

 

In these days I haven't written anything else, but I've done some other concepts for the Chapter on the tabletop:

 

68449481_875370892846751_348366286873218

 

I can't say I love the Gravis Captain as a sculpture, but the talons and skull helmet may help a bit. 

They give him a more aggressive appearence, which is fitting for a melee-oriented Chapter...

 

Anyway! 

I've been thinking about incorporating Etrurian influences in the fluff - they are, after all, a more original  source that blends perfectly with greek suggestions... and there is also the fact that I come from Tuscany, that helps biggrin.png


Edited by The_Bloody, 19 August 2019 - 11:52 AM.

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#23
Bjorn Firewalker

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The models look promising. Is the Captain a former Chaplain? Or the skull helm a Chapter Relic- a gift from the Wardens' Black Templars training cadre, one the Wardens' Founding Chaplain transformed into a Relic when he heroically sacrificed his life to destroy a great evil in the Indomitus Crusade, or an archeotech device the Wardens found somewhere- and an option for any HQ unit?
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#24
The_Bloody

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Truth be told, the skull helmet was just thrown there because I liked the look of it - I'm contemplating replacing it with an hoplitic style (World Eaters) helmet to stick to my theme!

 

I have a new section, I would be most grateful to know what you think of it - and thank you, as always, for the feedback you've provided so far!

 

 

Recruitment

 

Spoiler

 

 

EDIT: Added to the first post!


Edited by The_Bloody, 26 August 2019 - 08:58 PM.

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#25
Bjorn Firewalker

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  • Location:Catachan
  • Faction: Catachan Wolves

When the Chapter was founded on Mars, the so called «specimen 12» was composed entirely of «awoken» Astartes. This first generation of Primaris emerged from stasis fully psychologically indoctrinated and ready for war. These warriors were immediately able to take up their front-line combat duties in the Indomitus Crusade, and possessed a natural affinity for machine spirits thanks to their Martian heritage. Ultimately, though, they were strategically inflexible, each of them indoctrinated to fulfill a single, defined role -and most importantly lacking of actual experience earned with a natural progression through the ranks. A precious few of them survive to this day, but most have been lost to eternal war, and -in the opinion of most present day Archontopouloi- to the intrinsic weakness given to them by their inflexibility.

Is the inflexibility due to having cruciamen implants?

Aides provides, after all, everything the Wardens need in their recruits. Since their first breath, the homeworld's children are plunged into a daily struggle for survival. When they are seven years of age, they are taken from home and inducted into one of Aides' many armies, where they are forged by the planet's proud military tradition, manufactured by a hundred years of conflict against pirates, daemons and worse. This education forces the boys to fight, to adapt, to overcome fear and starvation -and should one of them excel, he would be sent to one of the planet's traditional élite phalanxes. Here, he will be «adopted» by a veteran warrior, who will be responsible for the young man's military education and refinement. It is alongside these soldiers that the Archontopouloi fight to protect their planet, and it the most promising of their novices that they take for their own recruitment. It is these young promises of battle that will become the planet's most noble sons.

Agoge?
  • Messor and The_Bloody like this
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Warhammer 40,000+ Star Wars- Rian Johnson- Reylo= AWESOME! (Knights of Renaissance)

Reasons to use the Steel Crusaders ('Codex: Space Marines' supplement) or the Iron-hearted Angels ('Codex: Blood Angels' supplement): Because you think giving Sternguard Veterans a heavy bolter wtih special issue HEAVY BOLTER ammunition is ALMOST as much fun as shoehorning an Earthshaker cannon into a Land Raider.




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