|CHAPTER NAME: ............... STRIGOI|
FOUNDING: ................... UNKNOWN [EVIDENCE INDICATES A PRE-M.35 FOUNDING]
CHAPTER WORLD/DEPLOYMENT: ... MARAGRAD/CRUSADE CHAPTER
FORTRESS MONASTERY: ......... ARX CREPUSCULA [LUNAR FORTRESS]
GENE-SEED (PREDECESSOR): .... BLOOD ANGELS
KNOWN DESCENDANTS: .......... NONE
"Come not between the Dragon and His Wrath."
- Strigoi Chapter Motto
Whether time will make fools of Sanguinius’ unruly children or justify them in their bearing remains to be decided.
Of Wayward Sons
To seek out solid information about the past of this distant Chapter is to invite disappointment. Tenuous cooperation with the Adeptus Administratum has yielded the most rudimentary of data and even the tomes penned to commemorate the Strigoi’s creation have been found redacted, the lore held within lost like so many other works of this darkest age. Although the hope of one day restoring such precious knowledge is a feeble one at best, those who yearn for it are not restricted to baseless supposition. Ten millennia of historical records, after action reviews and ancillary documents have left observant investigators with a hidden paper trail from which some enlightenment may yet be gleaned.
An apocryphal account detailing hitherto undiscovered parts of the IX Primarch’s legacy, the Insignium Sanguis has remained under limited access since its discovery, being the result of research independent from Imperial authorities. The sheer wealth of information it provides cannot be denied, however, and so the work has been used in official dissertations despite repeated doubts in its authenticity. Its pages are the only ones to mention at any length an order of Space Marines “daubed in Unification’s stormy grey, for the Great Angel’s crimson was theirs to wear no longer.” To them, it ascribes “six hundred and sixteen greater brutalities committed In Nomine Imperatoris, lamented by the Adeptus Terra but needed one and all.” Many are the wars whose very existence now stands to question, supported by nothing save anecdotal evidence found beneath the Imperial Palace and, it is said, the honours inscribed upon the oldest of the Strigoi’s ancient dreadnought armours.
Chapter history proper begins in M.35 as they were discovered fighting insurgencies following the secession of Nova Terra. Given their complete ignorance of these warriors’ mere existence (one among countless victims of Imperial bureaucracy, no doubt), the High Senate dispatched an Inquisitorial envoy to find and learn more of this unknown quantity. Their efforts were met with little success as they could barely determine a Blood Angels descent and purported ident-code (Cross-ref.: ‘Chapter 101’) before the Astartes departed, decrying the entire affair as “idle prattle.” So has most known intelligence on the Strigoi been gathered: collected piecemeal in the wake of unnumbered battlefields. It is not the only custom born that day, for their apparent skill at slaying traitors did not go unnoticed. Stamping out these would-be revolutions has caused the Chapter to hold a special grudge for those enemies hiding among subjects loyal to the Golden Throne; a hatred the Lords of the Imperium do not refuse to call upon.
Maragrad - The Crucible
The Chapter is based in the Marag System, deep within the northern galactic arm. Nearly bereft of all sentient life, it serves as an ideal stronghold for a brotherhood as fiercely independent as theirs. Only the system’s eponymous capital planet provides ample ground for mankind to prosper, making it the Strigoi’s primary source of recruits.
Of its history before the coming of the Chapter, little is known. Evidence seems to suggest that the star system was settled by human colonists not long before the dawn of the Age of Strife. It must have been this infamous era of warp-borne madness and burning worlds that tore the fledgling civilisation asunder and ground it down to its primitive remains.
Maragrad would be rediscovered towards the end of the 30th millennium by Imperial expeditionaries. Having made the arduous journey into Ultima Segmentum, these dutiful pioneers lingered long enough to record their findings before leaving for the frontlines of the unfolding Horus Heresy, the world slipping into obscurity for centuries more. The Strigoi found a domain of gloaming beauty to call their own, untouched by the hand of industry and bedecked with mist-laden forests. Such worlds had been rare even in the days of the Great Crusade, and still, none within the Chapter spared a thought on their unusual find. Their attention lay beneath the sea of green, where a deadly clash of man and monster moulds prime material for the Adeptus Astartes.
A world that fights human settlement with tooth and claw, Maragrad breeds a hardy people. Carving out meagre lives in the shadow of vicious nocturnal megafauna has evolved the native clansfolk into natural-born killers that rely on each other for strength in numbers, the one advantage left to them come Old Night’s end. To hunt their erstwhile predators has grown from mere necessity to become an integral part of their society where the creatures’ hides have become a sign of status, worn by none but the greatest of Maragrad’s champions. Such a warlike culture spoke to the grey-clad Space Marines as today, the death world’s young vie to be reforged as mighty soldiers of the skies.
A Fortress Between the Stars
Barring their recruitment drives, the Astartes have little contact with the Maragrans. Recluses by choice, they make a quality out of solitude, thoroughly illustrated by the bulwark of stone and metal that is their fortress-monastery.
The Arx Crepuscula (Low Gothic transl.: Duskhold) is no creation of the Strigoi, its artless spires and black-metal ramparts having existed long before they first laid anchor at their new home world’s sole moon. Initially identified via auspex as a cluster of underground storage facilities, subsequent expeditions performed by veteran kill teams revealed the satellite had been hollowed out to accommodate a Terran star fort of ancient provenance. Though little power coursed through its systems and no trace of the structure’s occupants remained, the discovery was deemed a sign of the Emperor’s favour. Chapter 101 claimed their prize by right of conquest.
Centuries later, the Duskhold still stands firm as a symbol of Imperial supremacy. That it is confined to Maragrad’s orbit does not impede its deadliness, far from it: no effort was spared to ensure the monastery’s defences can stymie any threat to the home world at considerable range. Its firepower is controlled by a small army of serfs, indentured menials that manage the daily goings-on of the keep and oversee the maintenance of it and its contents. The Hold is scarcely attended by more than a handful of Marines as endless war demands their attention elsewhere. This may go some way in explaining why many of the halls and passages remain unexplored to this day - indeed, with the Chapter preoccupied, hardly anyone has dared descend into the moon’s bottomless depths over the millennia. Of those driven enough to try, not all returned; their lives ending in one of the unnavigable, labyrinthine corridors. A fortunate few would see the light of day once more, however, sometimes clutching fragments of technology thought lost to time.
Marag’s riches are kept far away from prying eyes not simply by means of the Duskold’s blistering weapons batteries; the space near the galactic core is also ripe with cosmic phenomena, making the knowledge of safe travelling routes an invaluable resource closely guarded by the Chapter. The System has remained unconquered for over five thousand years - nonetheless, there was certainly no shortage of attempts.
Sanguinius’ genetic template provides his sons with qualities unique among the Adeptus Astartes. The spawn of the IX Legion have proven themselves tenacious, uncannily resilient and possessed of the singular ability to recruit from almost anywhere as the Blood Angels themselves exemplify by transforming the rad-scarred nomads of Baal Secundus into potent warriors cast in their master’s fair image.
Of course it is their more aberrant quirks for which the bloodline is famous; the twin flaws that have coloured their history for millennia. Most prominent of these is the Red Thirst, that primal craving for flesh and blood which has to be held in check constantly lest its bearers tear themselves apart. The Black Rage on the other hand manifests itself at the end of a battle-brother’s lifespan. Simultaneously the strongest tie to their Primarch and the greatest burden they possess, it forces them to experience their progenitor’s final moments in a delirium from which there is no escape. It is a wicked irony, then, that their very flesh ensures that these Space Marines die as they lived; caked in gore, screaming oaths to a father that cannot hear them.
In the Strigoi, the Blood Angels and their ilk show themselves inextricably linked to their gene-wrought nature as they feed on the viscera of the battlefield dead. Indulging this archaic carno-ritualism likely provided the catalyst for their own mutations, rendering the curse in their genes visible to all. Several appear strained by some unseen effort as their faces, so famously reminiscent of their Primarch’s features, are marred by pallid, craggy skin. The more poetic among their censors have spoken of their ancestors’ sins writ large, whereas others see unforgivable deviancy in an order of unsavoury prominence.
The somber practices of the Chapter are no mere attempt to still their urges. Cause for the excessive bloodletting is their belief that the Red Thirst is not part of their curse, but a boon bestowed upon them by the Emperor of Mankind. Knowing that His Imperium had need of both the cruel and the just, He charged them to visit terrible fury upon the alien, the daemon and the heretic, exacting the will needed to restrain their inner brute once the day is won. Such a path holds opportunities for glory and madness in equal fashion, but the Strigoi march on undeterred. Sanguinius’ blood boils in their veins by design, and to neglect its call is to neglect their duty.
To the dismay of Imperial officials, Strigoi ordinance does not halt at the defilement of enemy remains, dictating the consumption of their own slain in a morbid show of ancestor worship. Their memories preserved through the ill-understood workings of the omophagea, the fallen are granted a measure of immortality, an eternal life more vivid than the likes of unread records or corrupted pict-feeds could provide. Only the death of the last Strigoi could end their Chapter’s legacy: an ever-evolving archive of battlefield experience.
An all-encompassing fixation on martial prowess has saturated most of the Strigoi’s myriad traditions. This is hardly a surprise given their belligerent nature, yet easily missed as their savage get belies any sophistication. From brief periods of meditation to the furor of live-fire drills, every facet of life within the Chapter is shaped by the desire to fashion battle-brothers with unparalleled control over their dark humours. Of particular note is the regular custom of gladiatoria, ritual combat serving not only to establish individual skill-at-arms but as an outlet for the mania perpetually gnawing at the Chapter’s spirits. Death is no stranger among the contestants despite the duels’ cathartic purpose, a circumstance that cannot be explained away entirely by debts of honour or slights avenged.
As a Space Marine’s body is covered in battle scars and devotional tattoos, so too does their armour affirm their many achievements. All Strigoi are encouraged to add to and display their personal heraldry, adorning their suits with trophies, campaign badges and kill-tallies. The resulting prestige and reputation are fundamental to their warrior culture, pertaining directly to a Brother-Marine’s influence among his kin. Crude as it might appear, the system fosters bonds between Strigoi officers and their men as with the right crusade honour, even a humble brother of the line could have the ear of his Captain.
The Chapter’s dogged single-mindedness has seen them disgraced among their fellow brothers of the Blood, a testament to the potential of Sanguinius’ gene-line squandered in the name of blind fanaticism. It is a cross they bear with bitter pride, unfaltering in their duty but disquieted all the same.
Grit and Ferocity
Any conflict involving the Strigoi is an unsubtle and grisly affair. Their inherited bloodlust compels them to seek their foes out as fast as possible, rending them to pieces in the mayhem of close combat. Most often, this translates into massed infantry assaults supported by mobile heavy weaponry, making rapid personal transportation crucial to the Chapter’s battle doctrine. Drop pods, Impulsors and even flights of Thunderhawks weathering opposing firepower before disgorging squads of Space Marines at close range are a sight most familiar to onlookers. Line units carry additional melee armaments as a result, wielding an assortment of chainblades, serrated combat knives and short-range pistols as often as boltguns and -rifles. Jump pack-equipped troops enjoy particular eminence, their speed weaponizing the bearer’s sheer mass to crush their mark underfoot. Intense as they are, these deployments leave any mortal allies far behind them; a consequence that serves the Chapter well enough. The Strigoi form the tip of the Imperium’s sword, striking a single, crippling blow that leaves their victims helpless in the face of imminent annihilation.
Deep inside enemy lines, the warriors of the Chapter gladly undo the mental locks keeping their Thirst in check, wreaking havoc with an apathy for collateral damage that borders on the callous. Nobler souls may have attempted to dispel these tales, denounce them as insult to their honour or silence the defamers. Entirely unphased by such claims, the Strigoi embraced their ill repute, now synonymous with bloody subjugation. Yet the most dreadful aspect of their craft is witnessed after the fighting is done, when the Marines gather the bodies of the slain and their priests recite the litany of purification. Only then do they give way to the acts earning them the byname Voratores Mortem - the Eaters of the Dead.
Hierarchy of the Host
Over the course of their long and storied existence, the chapter has developed an organisational structure divergent from codex standard. Based on the guidelines presented by Primarch Guilliman, the Strigoi are divided into ten companies, each with a nominal strength of 100 Space Marines. Of these, eight are outfitted as battle companies, a circumstance attributed to the Strigoi’s pragmatism and insatiable hunger for war. Providing them with additional flexibility, the adjustments allow the Space Marines to hold multiple fronts scattered throughout the galaxy, scout- and veteran formations being deployed as the situation demands.
These are ideal conditions. In truth, the Strigoi are continuously undermanned as they endure the ravages of blood and battle, amounting to less than 700 full-fledged Astartes. Battle companies are fleeting things, fracturing and absorbing one another as their numbers wax and wane. There is little to be done against this severe attrition bar upholding an aggressive recruiting policy spanning all their tributary fiefs. Maragran culture may consider conscription an honour but from the noisome hives of Vilis to the scorched plains of Daumathar, rancour reigns the day ships bearing skulls and blood drops hang in the sky.
Like their progenitors, the Strigoi field an array of specialist units and officers. Being of a less spiritual bent, the distinction of these Marines is invariably owed to their exceptional characteristics and unusual obligations. None of them truly operate outside of the command hierarchy of the Chapter, though all stand - in different ways - alone.
- The Impalers - Observed to act as the equivalent of the Sanguinary Guard, the Impalers have devolved into an instrument of violence rather than virtue. Their members are undoubtedly the Chapter’s most murderous elements brought together, armed and armoured with the finest wargear available. Impaler charges are fearsome things accompanied by frenzied howls and a thirst for blood that comes too easily to even these Astartes, a trait that has caused the assault cadre to remain a source of concern despite their undeniable efficiency.
- The Wardens - Informally referred to as Opsequiari, these sullen figures are much akin to the Chaplains of other Space Marine Chapters. Alongside serving in their roles as war-priests, ritual guides and retainers of the Strigoi’s most precious relics, it is they who must watch their fellows for traces of madness. In this matter they are the sole authority within the Chapter, expunging rogue elements at their own discretion. A Warden must therefore be a brother of unbreakable resolve, else the weight of his duties utterly crushes him.
- The Death Company - The Chapter’s afflicted are called the Morituri, for the sentence of all who wear red saltires is death. Dispersed among the Chapter’s strike forces, each group is overseen by a Warden intended to escort them into their last battle. With the readiness at which Strigoi officers throw these lost souls into ‘Forlorn Hope’-assaults, estimating their strength is nigh-impossible. Some have looked to the pits of the Chapter’s fortress-monastery in search of answers, its darkness parted by the fitful cries of caged beasts...
Strigoi power armour typically bears the grey of unpainted ceramite mixed with fields of white, black and gunmetal. Even with the significance of their chosen colours - or lack thereof - unknown, they underline the Astartes’ cold, disparaging demeanour.
Conversely, the rest of their heraldry betrays the beast beneath. The rugged, bullish type V warplate they favour emanates the same violence the Chapter has quickly become synonymous with, its characteristic molecular bonding studs having found their way onto many other suits since. The beauteous blood drop pendants, icons and trappings of the Angels are made symbols of their sinister intent, joined by grim reminders of mortality. Flensed, hollow-eyed skulls are chained to belts and shoulder plates, oath papers and armorials promise an unquiet death to those who would fall upon the realms of man.
True to their ad-hoc nature, the Strigoi have long ago resolved to use only the most crucial markings to denote their strategic disposition. Usually borne on the right pauldron are the appropriate symbols for either veteran status, battleline-, close support- or heavy support duty while company designations are foregone completely. Squad numeration is limited to the respective sergeants’ armour, lessening the effort of merging depleted squads and serving to identify unit leaders.
The sigil of the Strigoi is the Vultus Monstrum. Displayed here is the visage of the victorious predator, tearing its eyes from its quarry to stare down another adversary - a warning and an unspoken challenge both.
Edited by AHorriblePerson, 03 April 2021 - 05:56 PM.