"Men die, monsters die, only the glory of Heroes lives forever." - Talhonic proverb
"Harken, Brothers; for I will sing you a tale of glories old, and heroes remembered!" - Kordran, Song-Brother of the White Hawks 4th Company, on the eve of the Battle of Kyband, 989.M40
Born of the line of the Primarch Roboute Guilliman in the latter days of the Fifteenth Founding, the White Hawks began life as a crusading Chapter. Given a mandate to 'protect Imperial interests' and sent eastward, the Hawks found themselves taking part in a number of battles where their timely arrival tipped the scales in favour of Imperial victory.
Parades and celebrations in the wake of the White Hawks and their battle companies became a common sight over the next several centuries, as the white-armoured marines fought against every foe they could find. Be it orks in murky jungles or sprawling caverns, or Chaos Space Marines on ashen deserts and airless moons, the White Hawks never refused a battle, and they were happy to bask in the praise of the Imperial citizens on the worlds that enjoyed their assistance. Though they achieved a respectable tally of victories, the Chapter didn't really come into its' own until the closing days of M37.
A council of Inquisitors, with the blessing of the High Lords of Terra, selected the White Hawks to join a group of other Chapters in the permanent defence of a particularly perilous area of space called the Glastheim Rifts. This 'Silver Circle' of Space Marine Chapters would surround the Rifts and the worlds that bordered them, keeping the threat of xenos raiders out and penning the heretics within the Rifts in their self-appointed hiding place. The Inquisitors pressing the issue maintained that doing so would 'decisively protect Imperial interests in the area', and thus satisfy the Chapter's reason for creation. Grudgingly, the White Hawks deferred to the Inquisitors' demands. They felt certain that being assigned a homeworld would do little to interfere with their crusades.
Thusly assigned to the south-east of the Glastheim Rifts, the White Hawks set about looking for suitable worlds to draw recruits from. One in particular stood out - the mountainous, feudal death world of Talhon. Humans there dwelt in ancient stone cities, their walls thick and their towers perpetually manned with archers. The reason for this was abundantly apparent; monsters roamed the wild lands all over the world. From the fearsome, dragon-like Goliandr in the mountains, to the armoured Barghrex and winged Astraptors in the forests, and innumerable others besides, voracious carnivores made up the bulk of the wildlife on Talhon.
The people of Talhon were hardy and resilient, and trained from youth to fight and hunt these monsters, and in doing so, produced excellent potential recruits for the White Hawks. The Chapter set up a Fortress Monastery, dubbed the Hawk's Eye, atop a sturdy cliff in an isolated mountain range, and began inducting recruits as fast as they could find them. The people venerated their "sky warrior" guardians, recognizing them as scions of The Emperor and Angels of Death.
But just as the Hawks left their mark on Talhon, so too would their new homeworld leave its' mark on the White Hawks. It is unknown if the Chapter's hypnoindoctrination procedures simply became flawed over time, or if the Chapter willingly adopted as much of Talhon's culture as it eventually did. Regardless, within a century of settling on Talhon, the White Hawks had taken on many of Talhon's superstitions and the traits common to it's native warriors. Notably, Talhonic warrior culture makes much ado of sagas and songs of ancient days and heroic battles, and its' adherents are typically equally at home boasting and bragging about their exploits in their homes and holds as well as stalking and battling their prey in the wilds.
These traits have all bled into the Chapter over time, and a typical Battle Brother of the White Hawks will come across as brash, headstrong, boisterous and borderline arrogant in comparison to other Space Marines. Those that rise to leadership positions are not only the best fighters and tacticians in the Chapter's ranks, but also the ones with the most capability to keep the egos of their brothers in check.
In addition to cultural adaptation, the physiology of Talhonic natives, when combined with the genetic augments that create a Space Marine, lends itself well to high levels of hardiness and stamina , even by the standards of Space Marines. While the warriors of many Space Marine Chapters are more than capable of fighting for days at a time without cease, reports of the White Hawks doing so with nary a sign of fatigue are not unheard of.
The White Hawks themselves, previously used to adulation and celebration in the wake of their victories as errant crusaders, found they had little time to spare for either with the frequency and suddenness of enemy attacks on the worlds around the Rifts. The absence of this, coupled with the natural Talhonic love of sagas and songs concerning heroic deeds, left the Hawks somewhat unsatisfied with what they considered "guard duty" around the Rifts, and the Chapter has been known to send Battle Companies on distant crusades on several occasions, taking part in such diverse conflicts as the war in the Lauss Rift, or the Ensorcelled Stars Campaign.
Combat is a constant around the Glastheim Rifts, and the systems around Talhon have come under increasingly violent threats as the centuries have gone on. In the final decades of M41, the White Hawks found themselves often battling isolated splinters of an unidentified Hive Fleet that seemed to lack any real focus, seemingly picking its' targets at random and attacking worlds without any kind of rational reason to do so. This Hive Fleet - dubbed Hive Fleet Goliandr by the Hawks - has grown to recognize the white-armoured Space Marines who keep attacking it, and the creatures under its' thrall now tend to fly into berserk rages when confronted by Space Marines in battle.
Alongside this, Dark Eldar raids by the Kabal of the Shattered World have grown in frequency and daring over the last century, and a Chaos Warband calling themselves the [REDACTED (FOR THE MOMENT)] have made increasingly numerous sallies from the Glastheim Rifts to do battle with the White Hawks on a dozen worlds.
In spite of constant war on many fronts, the White Hawks remain undaunted by their current, precarious situation.
No matter the number of foes or the power they claim to wield, the White Hawks intend to weather the onslaught and come out the other side fighting, as they always have.
"You call this 'the age of nightmares and monsters'? We're the White Hawks! Don't you know what we do to nightmares and monsters?" - Captain Barodian Greystorm, in response to Lord Breiss of the Hatecrowned at the Battle of Kryndaia, 233.M41
The dawning years of the 42nd Millennium proved a difficult time for the White Hawks. From their position in the Glastheim Rifts, the entire Silver Circle bore witness to the distant creation of the Cicatrix Maledictum, an unnatural tear in space itself. Almost in concert with this horrifying event, uprisings began all over the Glastheim Rifts. The heretics dwelling in the Rifts sought to overthrow and destroy the Imperium's hold on the area, putting aside their own rivalries and squabbles for power in the face of finally destroying their hated foes.
The White Hawks committed entirely to repelling this threat, deploying en masse on battlefields all over the Glastheim Rifts.
It was during this time that the Indomitus Crusade arrived in the Rifts, bringing much needed reinforcements in the form of Primaris Space Marines and the means to create them. While the other Chapters of the Silver Circle - notably the Warminds and the Brotherhood of Crows - seamlessly integrated the newcomers into their ranks, the White Hawks were more than a little bitter about what they saw as 'replacements'.
Indeed, Hawks who had trained, fought and bled to be the best they could be for the Imperium over the lastfew centuries were hardly delighted to see these 'New Brothers' presented as the Chapter's future. Only the accompanying news that the risen Primarch himself had ordained these reinforcements and seen fit to accommodate them in his own forces kept the White Hawks from shunning the Primaris marines entirely.
It became commonplace in the following years for Non-Primaris (or 'First-Generation') Hawks to airily dismiss the accomplishments of their New Bothers, pinning any of their successes solely on their 'Cawl-given enhancements' rather than skill or daring, and denying any claims they truly shared the warrior spirit the Chapter is known for.
Over time, however, the Primaris marines' stoic endurance of these taunts, their adherence to the Chapter's traditions, and their willingness to prove their worth in battle to their Older Brothers gradually won the grudging respect of many within the Chapter. In more recent times, enmity has given way to a more amicable rivalry. Both First-Generation and Primaris Marines strive to outperform each other in battle and make sport of the other's efforts at heroics, but without malice or bitterness.
With the exception of slowly integrating the New Brothers into the Chapter, the coming of the Great Rift and the Indomitus Crusade overall did little to change the day-to-day life of the White Hawks.
Though the heretics from within the Rifts were dealt a serious blow by the unexpected reinforcement of the Indomitus Crusade, the surviving traitors continue to scheme and weave insidious plots against the Imperium, striking wherever the capricious whims of their foul deities direct them to.
Elsewhere, the myriad xeno threats that seek to prey on the worlds under the Hawks' watch muster their forces and prepare for war. The Kabal of the Shattered World used the distraction caused by the Rift-wide heretic uprisings to launch a raid on Talhon, burning a city to the ground and abducting several thousand men and women as prisoners. Hive Fleet Goliandr's splintered hordes wander closer to the Rifts, their maddened, howling ships disgorging swarm after swarm of feral, frenzied monsters on the worlds unfortunate enough to be in their paths.
It is a time of great peril for all around the Glastheim Rifts, and surely only a matter of time before repercussions from events in the larger galaxy are felt keenly by the Chapters of the Silver Circle.
But until then, the White Hawks endure.
"On Macragge they train youths in schools to make soldiers of them. On Talhon, we teach our young to slay monsters, and make heroes out of them!" - Captain Ambrose the Wild, White Hawks 1st Company
The world of Talhon is rugged and perilous in equal measure. The cities scattered across its' landmasses are bustling with life, safe behind the towering, thick stone walls that border them. The walls are buttressed, battlemented, reinforced with technology far beyond the level of the native humans there. In some places, the ruins of ancient gun emplacements can be seen, most if not all of the metal of which has long ago been taken and melted down for weapons or armour. Here and there, ancient buildings still stand, their original use long forgotten, now repurposed as shrines to The Emperor.
Talhon's people are largely dedicated to the simple matter of survival in a world where nearly every creature outside of the cities is a deadly predator. Children are trained from infancy to not only survive monster attacks, but how to fight back against creatures many times their size and strength.
Recruits for the Chapter must prove their mettle by successfully hunting deadly monsters as part of a group, monitored discreetly by members of the Tenth Company. Interestingly, the Chapter allows females an equal chance to participate in these trials - those that pass are inducted into the Chapter as serfs, and once fully grown are essentially granted the right to select any man on Talhon as their mate, to better increase the chances of the next generations producing viable recruits.
The traditions of Talhon greatly influence the White Hawks. Perhaps the most obvious one is the taking of trophies from defeated enemies - this practice quickly became a rite of passage enacted by recruits who would take trophies from monsters they slew. Scales, pelts, horns or fangs - anything that could potentially channel the slain beast's power, hardiness or fury. These trophies were invariably added to the nascent marine's power armour upon graduation from Scout. Many veteran Marines boast multiple pelts or decorative scale armour attachments for their armour, taken from defeated beasts on many worlds. This gives the Chapter a savage, feral appearance quite unlike the rest of the Silver Circle.
Coupled with this is an inherited tradition of placing great importance on the humble Combat Knife. Special hunter's knives are used by the warriors of Talhon to finish off 'worthy' enemies, as doing so is thought to amplify one's own warrior spirit. The White Hawks are known to execute defeated enemies with their knives for roughly the same reason, another custom that is looked upon as proof of the Hawks' primitive and uncivilised mindset.
"My ancestors are smiling at me, traitor - can you say the same?" - Last words of Brother Ingrad, White Hawks 3rd Company, at the fall of Veir's Gate, 155.M38
A key element of the White Hawks' mindset is their admiration for heroes of long-gone days, such as the loyal Primarchs and those who fought beside them. These heroes are known across the length and breadth of the Imperium for their valour, and the Hawks seek to emulate the great warriors of olden days by fighting unceasingly against the enemies of mankind.
So although they are quite well-known in the systems around the Glastheim Rifts, the White Hawks yearn to achieve the same level of prestige and respect afforded across the known galaxy to far more decorated and venerable Chapters, such as the Ultramarines, or the Imperial Fists. Though such a goal is certainly admirable, and the Hawks certainly pursue it with dedication, virtually everyone outside of the Chapter can see how utterly unattainable such lofty ideals are. For the White Hawks, however, this is simply considered the ultimate test of endurance - to withstand whatever the galaxy throws at them until their names are sung in admiration even in the halls of Macragge and Holy Terra.
It is to be noted that even crushing defeats have little impact on the Chapter's overall psyche. The Third Company was utterly destroyed in early M38 by attempting to defeat the Nurgle Warband called the Hollow Knights in a war of attrition. When the Imperial Guard embarked on a victorious campaign against the traitors two years later, the Hawks were quick to laud the bravery of the Guard, but also to claim that the Hawks had successfully blunted most of the traitors' strength, enabling the victory.
A battle in M41.989 on the desert moon of Akrilla against Hive Fleet Goliandr's mad hordes saw a similar result, the Sixth Company losing four fifths of its' strength in pitched battle with tyranid warriors after a failed decapitation strike on what was thought to be the enemy's leadership. The Hawks nevertheless touted this harrowing slaughter as a victory, albeit quietly.
The White Hawks do, of course, have Librarians to record the Chapter's history and deeds. But whether born from their own obsession with proving themselves, or simply inherited from Talhonic traditions, the Chapter developed their own system of recording their victories and defeats in the form of songs and sagas. The marines most capable of composing suitable verses are given the unofficial rank of Song-Brother, and it is their duty not only to fight beside, but to observe the valour of their brothers in battle, that it may be recorded in verse and remembered until the day The Emperor lives again.
It is common practice, on the eve of a great battle, for many sagas and songs to be recited, to better remind Battle-Brothers of the glories that may await them if they prove triumphant, or to remind them of past battles with hated enemies.
On the subject of Librarians, the White Hawks are known to be openly wary of their psychically-gifted kin. Their superstitious nature makes them simply view psychic power as 'magic', and most non-psyker White Hawks simply regard their gifted brothers as dangerous, different, and something to be wary of.
One lingering annoyance prevalent in the Chapter is that they are yet to be chosen to sire a successor Chapter, in spite of millennia of honourable service in the Imperium's name. Given that every other Chapter around the Glastheim Rifts is suffering from a degree of mutation in their geneseed, the Hawks assume the High Lords of Terra are simply being unnecessarily cautious about potential geneseed degradation.
The White Hawks venerate both The Emperor and their Primarch, Roboute Guilliman, as ferocious and resolute warriors. To the Hawks, both Emperor and Primarch embodied the virtues of warrior-kings, unflinching in the face of danger and strong enough to dominate any battlefield they strode onto. The White Hawks seek the chance in every battle to demonstrate the inherited might of their great ancestors, felling great and powerful enemies and thus ensuring the defence of the realm.
According to some rumours, the Primarch himself visited Drakon Primus, homeworld of the Brotherhood of Crows, whilst the White Hawks fought unnoticed all across the Glastheim Rifts. The notion that their own Primarch may have completely ignored the White Hawks is a thought that many Hawks struggle with. The current prevailing thought is simply that Guilliman, if he was truly at Drakon Primus, knew perfectly well that his own sons didn't need his presence to guarantee their victory.
As a further note, while the homeworlds of three Chapters of the Silver Circle suffered direct attacks during the heretic uprisings after the 13th Black Crusade, none ventured near to Talhon. The White Hawks are quick to brag how the traitors were too scared to attack Talhon, but some of the more dour amongst the Chapter take the wildly unpopular view that even the Chapter's most hated adversaries don't consider them worthy of the attention.
"If you see your False Gods when you die, tell them to try sending their best after me next time!" - Brother Sergeant Halmund the Vigilant, White Hawks 4th Company, before slaying Dark Apostle Gexeras Vold during the First Prontera Crusade, 810.M39
Since their inception, the White Hawks have favoured bold, aggressive tactics. Many of their early victories involved them appearing to reinforce Imperial forces already in battle, and the White Hawks quickly learned the value that sudden reinforcements could have not only in the physical sense, but on both allied and enemy morale.
To this end, the Hawks favour what some derisively call the "Big Entrance" approach to combat - deploying conspicuously via Drop Pod or Thunderhawk right into the thick of the battle, whenever the chance to do so arises. Furthermore, the Hawks have a long-standing tradition of bellowing challenges and taunts at enemies, even in the midst of bloody melee. This tradition is thought to have originated from further attempts to amplify their effects on morale - encouraging allies and scorning enemies in equal measure.
Proudly following the teachings of their Primarch, the White Hawks will make use of diverse strategies and tactics, especially in the early stages of battles. A notable trend in the Chapter is for the White Hawks to focus their early strategies around taking out the largest and strongest enemies as soon as possible - whether to better illustrate their skill-at-arms or as another blow to an enemy's morale tends to vary from battle to battle. Another near-constant in the Hawks' methods of war is for hard-fought battles to eventually devolve into gruelling tests of endurance, mostly in close quarters combat. The White Hawks will gladly admit to making use of their prodigious vitality to simply outlast enemies in battle when more decisive tactics fail to find purchase.
Though such tactics can prove costly in lives against suitably deadly or numerous foes, the White Hawks proudly point to a significant number of their victories that were earned through sheer unyielding stubbornness, knives in hands, long after ammunition had run out on both sides of the conflict.
The inclusion of Primaris marines into their doctrines has had little overall effect on the methods of the White Hawks, although it is noted that even the Primaris marines carry knives into battle, much like their Older Brothers.
"Welcome to the Fourth Company, brother. If you're hungry enough for glory, then this is where your saga truly begins." - Sergeant Egram, White Hawks 4th Company
While largely adherent to the dictates of the Codex Astartes, there are several of differences in how the White Hawks apply their gene-father's teachings when compared with more traditional Chapters.
While the Chapter boasts both a Veteran Company and a Scout Company, in practice both companies are virtually never fielded as a complete unit, instead operating in task forces alongside one of the Battle or Reserve Companies.
Furthermore, in the traditions of Talhon, it is considered very unlucky to count something broken or intentionally divided alongside or before things that remain whole or intact. Given how much of their homeworld's traditions influence the Chapter, it is perhaps little surprise to see the White Hawks name their Veteran Company as the Ninth Company. The First Company is instead simply the first of four Battle Companies. Fifth to Eighth Companies act as Reserve Companies, in Codex-approved fashion, and the Scout Company remains the Tenth Company.
Since the Codex originally made no provision for the inclusion of Primaris marines, the White Hawks simply incorporated the New Brothers into the Battle and Reserve Companies. The Veteran Ninth has only a handful of Primaris brothers in its' ranks; partly as a result of the Hawks' early dislike of the new marines, and partly as a result of comparative inexperience.
"Our Primarch is famed for his wisdom, but we never forget that his hands, too, held bolter and blade." - Chaplain Braxas Ferredun, White Hawks 1st Company
The White Hawks proudly trace their lineage to Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines and author of the Codex Astartes. The Chapter's geneseed has remained stable in spite of the radiation from the Glastheim Rifts, which the White Hawks have long taken to symbolise their gene-father's approval of the Chapter and their deeds.
Though the Chapter was slow to truly adopt the use of Primaris marines, the White Hawks have gradually committed more and more recruits to the path of the New Brothers, resulting in a roughly equal split between First-Generation and Primaris marines amongst new recruits.
Call: "For The Emperor!"
Response: "Let the Hawks fly!"
This warcry is often repeated several times, with "For The Emperor" sometimes replaced on subsequent recitations with "For Talhon", or "For The Primarch", or other such cries.
I can call this version 1.1 at this point, I think!
Adjusted to give the Hawks roughly 7% more backbone when confronted by the Inquisition before taking Talhon as a homeworld.
Hopefully it's a worthy read - any thoughts, comments, barely-contained-disgust or accusations of completely dropping the ball with the Hawks yet again are welcomed and encouraged, so... What d'you think?
Edited by Ace Debonair, 29 September 2021 - 10:21 PM.