The Sundering Call
note: this is currently placeholders and outdated content from previous smatterings of lore and bits, some more comprehensive and complete versions will be added in time so please bear with me!
14/09/2019: Character titles, Zhang's background, geneseed first draft, Chaos icons added as dividers
18/09/2019: Beliefs first draft, appearance added with first draft, alternating melon/white headings added
27/10/2019: Warband symbol added
It is without surprise that the grateful peoples would want to honour their saviours; statues would be raised for their victories and songs written to praise their name. Over time the Swords did come to appreciate these acts of thanks but this would be the seed that would eventually result in their fall. For what once started as acknowledgement of gratitude did then become appreciation and finally expectation of the adulation they received. In time this devotion would become more important than the victory that earned it.
The Swords always has a grace about them in appearance and action, squads and brothers would compete for glory but this took a more sinister aspect once their attitude to victory changed. It was no longer about friendly rivalry and skill and become a direct competition regardless of the consequences. What was once battles won in the most efficient way to preserve life became a race to see who could take the most. Ironically this fervent desire to be better and more impressive only lead to lightning quick victories that gave Imperial commanders the fast victories they craved, without care for how it came about. The name of the Swords became praised to new heights but it was not enough.
Surely it was time for them to be proclaimed the greatest of all, as is clearly proper? Surely this was only fair? Not only did they prosecute campaigns in less time than others but they did so with grace that other brutish chapters could never hope to achieve. Such greatness must be rewarded and so it became, but through the attention of Slaanesh. It was not just the Prince of Excess who noticed the Swords though, but also the glaring eye of the Inquisition that turned upon them...
Perhaps foreseeing what may be the Holy Inquisition of the Emperor deemed the Swords needed to be brought to account for their actions. The Sword's Chapter Master was indignant and sent their representatives away with no small threats should they return, but it was a ruse and distraction letting spies report far more than the Sword's inhospitality to their master. Without delay a fleet is assembled to enforce the Inquisition's will; regiments of the Guard are joined by Sisters of the Sacred Rose and 6 companies of the Legio Venator Space Marines - headed by the Inquisitor Lord himself and his personal retainers.
Despite their skill at battle - and their opinion of such - it was a battle impossible for the Swords to win once the Eldar mysteriously appeared to aid the attackers. Whether joining to fight the mutual foe of Chaos or to repay one of the many bloody victories the Swords had gained over the Eldar it sent the scales of battle crashing against them. The Inquisitor had chosen his forces well, what's more displayed an unusual flair for strategy; the forces at his command were grim and determined, resisting the powers of Chaos and resolute in executing the Emperor's will no matter what. Every sally by the Swords was pushed back with righteous faith and fire power - the unthinkable was happening and the Swords of Victory were losing, and losing badly.
The rage of their Chapter Master at admitting defeat was said to have been terrible to behold and the survivors fled to the warp, leaving their world and its people to the cleansing fire of the Imperium - and taking their souls to Slaanesh. None of the survivors talk of their previous life, the shame of their first defeat burns brightly even to this day. That the Inquisitor declared this result a great success perhaps suggests some greater threat to the Imperium was avoided but the truth can never be known.
While the Sunder may well cast aside this part of their history the Imperium has not forgotten; it is widely known that the forces of the Emperor involved in the initial crusade are all too eager to catch up with them once more to finish what they started...
The war band's attitude to most other things is set predominantly to individual Marine's preferences. Some despise mutation and consider it ugly; others desire it. Some have forged ornate and decorated armour; others stand plain aside from the Praefactor's colours. Beauty comes in many forms and it is next to impossible to get such a group of individuals to agree on anything consistently. Others would have surely fractured under such strain but fortunately the Call follow those with the greatest skill and the closest to perfection. Each following planning to learn, steal and eventually replace him but yet standing together with his fellow lessers in doing so. It is fitting that the Sunder make no sense to outsiders as they would have it no other way!
The beliefs of the Sunder take various forms; and not always coherent ones, at least on the surface. They readily speak down to any they consider their inferior (which is pretty much everyone), but will be courteous to those that they bear some respect towards - or more commonly those who have a use to the Sunder. To the Sunder worthiness is one of the true aspirations for all life; the problem is that for each Marine you'd ask you'd likely get a different answer as to in which regard.
That is besides something they can all agree on in martial might, for what is a Marines if not an instrument of war? Fervent competition is normal with Marines always seeking to one up others and they're not above discrete ways to inhibit rivals (though woe to anyone caught doing so, for the Praefactor does not tolerate waste of his resources...). Diligent training and tournaments are common when not engaged in other activities such as worship, the less pious taking to the field more often or usually entertaining their own wants and/or needs. The battlefield is also a place for worship after all.
Where others could be fractured by the competition it is not so for the Sunder, beholden as they all are to the Praefactor's absolute will. To some he is an object of adulation to be followed or perhaps imitated; others quietly scheme to surpass him one day to take his place and some, usually the eldest, adhere as the old hierarchy dictates - but all follow. This unity gives the Sunder great strength and while they would not admit it is no small part of their success.
This cohesion is only so far as he leads adequately - the facade of perfection must be maintained at all times lest he be ritually challenged to duel for the leadership. This brutal system helps keep the Sunder strong as much as united, for the weak could never hope to prevail and the Sunder would never follow the weak. Absolute power comes with downsides accordingly, as to lead you must put no foot wrong - as an ancient Terran saying goes "a crown does not make a king".
Being prideful creatures they usually take a dim view of mutation, and tend to consider those spending more time in the warp to be idling around at best, but some more zealous Marines are more favourable to gifts from their patron even if few in number. Appearances count for much and while all will stick to the colours decreed by their master (the white and gold their former livery, the off-pink a tribute to their god) they will take care of their armour and wargear further than the need to rely on them to survive.
Wearing more older/original armour is a testament to your skill, either as an older member of the warband or being capable of taking them, so are highly sought after - in particular MkIV Maximus pattern armour that once proudly bore the white and gold are common, as the Chapter had them in good supply. Choice is not often available for a roving warband as much as they may trade and steal, so most Marines wear armour from several sources including former Chaos Marine allies (or even pillaged from battlefields!).
Prior to their fall the Swords followed their Ultramarine primogenitor ways closely, using the Codex Astartes to further their ways of war and bring greater glory. Despite this they always remained aloof from their cousins, even the Ultramarines themselves, and didn't interact with them in any particular way different to how they worked with any other Chapters.
Even without any closeness their turn to Slaanesh is considered a stain to be removed by their former peers, for the affront to their gene-heritage is compounded by the mockery of the Codex itself. Aside from the Sunder's open disdain for it the fact that their organisational structures and methodologies match their loyal ways so closely is an insult just as unforgivable. Of this hypocrisy the Sunder apparently show no acknowledgement, whether intentional or not.
Master of the Toll, Keeper of Oaths, Scion of Perfection
Not much is known about Yjun though it is anyone's guess if this is intentional or not. Having ruled supreme over the Sunder for living memory some claim that he was the original Swords of Victory's Chapter Master, others that it is a persona adopted by each Praefactor. Whatever the truth is seems to matter little, for Yjun has lead the Call in a manner they appear to find satisfactory enough as it is claimed he has never fought a duel for leadership. Yjun is highly talented combatant and masterful strategist that would surprise those expecting the Sunder to be more interesting in sating their desires - the Praefactor reigns supreme in all things and his word is law. That is assuming he deigns to fight at all for the Sunder consider no battle preferable to a disappointing one. There are other ways to be entertained after all.
It may be Yjun's greatest gift is his diplomacy and silver tongue. There appears to be little he doesn't know, and powerful figures are lining up to pay for the Sunder's services despite their reputation. Perhaps there is more to him than meets the eye, perhaps his fickle and contradictory nature has a greater goal in mind? If so it is a mystery that will remain so until he decides otherwise.
Ijax "the Silent"
Master of Books, Warpsighter
The psyker Ijax is somewhat of a mystery even to Veterans of the war band. He never speaks instead communication through a Daemonette who always accompanies him. Whether this is because he considers talking to others beneath him or signifies a more malignant relationship nobody knows. Not much thought is generally given to him as most are too busy with their own affairs even if a powerful psyker to aid in war is always useful, and to make things better he's seldom seen outside of battle. What he does in this time none can say for sure but it is usually assuming that he is busy researching and using the powers of the warp to find worthy foes or potential employers with useful trades to be made. Few even claim he uses his power not to find strong foes, but rather avoid them for it is said he was once the Chief Librarian and has foreseen the Call's destruction should their final foes as the Swords of Victory catch them again...
Zhang the Lion
Venerable Ancient, Earl of the Kindred
Though the chapter armoury of the Sunder was mostly lost when they fled to the warp, this was not the case for the 1st Company that had split from the main forces after the glorious victory on Lilaethan. Aside from forming much needed reinforcements and uniting the survivors this also meant the chapter's greatest warriors still lived and foremost amongst them were the Dreadnoughts of the 1st Company.
Of these heroes Zhang stands proudly alongside the best and greatest, earning the name of the lion during his tenure in the 4th Company as an Assault Marine due to his unblemished valour and skill. Suffering his first death during one of the many battles against the Eldar he holds a special hatred of their kind, and was said to be an active part of the Sunder's gradual service to the Dark Prince.
Where other renegade and traitor Dreadnoughts are maltreated this is not so for the Sunder, in one of the many manners they retain their old ways. It was Zhang himself that discovered he could renew and retain his senses by bloodshed, keeping him as active as when first interred - Dreadnoughts that spill enough in tribute to Slaanesh even find boons in reward. So in battle is Zhang more deadly and powerful than ever before as terrified foes see the damage they inflict undone as he rips all before him to pieces.
While this can result in the Dreadnoughts being more bloodthirsty than their commanders may wish, their unstoppable onslaught is always worth the risk so the Sunder are ever keeping an eye out for a new chassis to take...
The Sundering of Lilaethan
Arguably their greatest of victories - their last when they were still loyal to the Imperium - The Sundering of Lilaethan was such an epic battle that it would forever shape the Sunder, giving them their name once they fell to Chaos and an eternal foe in the Eldar. It was the name given to a decisive battle to save a young Imperial colony on an Eldar maiden world from the vengeful xenos, the moment the aliens were at the apex of their strategy the Swords of Victory struck with speed and ferocity that seemed all but impossible to the beleaguered Imperial defenders. History records would - before their expunging - declare that the Swords attacked with such a mastery of war that the Eldar had no choice but to focus on them, saving the PDF force. Of course the truth was far from it as the Swords had no intention of saving lives by drawing the attention of the enemy, but given the choice the Eldar knew who the true and greatest foe was even if the Imperium was yet to understand.
It mattered little in the end, the full strength of the Chapter slaughtered them to the last and as the Swords left behind exuberant celebration their Chief Librarian ordered the fleet back to their home world with the plundered soul stones. The fate of these Eldar stones is unknown as the Swords were visited by the Inquisition and their allies shortly after returning...
None; though the Swords of Victory were once known for their war cry of "First to victory", which the Sunder darkly mirror in action rather than words.
Edited by WarriorFish, 27 October 2019 - 05:52 PM.