Apologies for the delay in getting this up, long story short I wrote a complete IA for an Ultima Founding version of this Chapter but when I was done as happy as I was, I just couldn't bring myself to do a Chapter with no Firstborn Astartes, and so weeks of work were put aside for further weeks of work to get this in for the deadline!
C&C always welcome, please excuse any formatting errors, this is my first topic!
Index Astartes - The Celestial Knights
CHAPTER NAME: ..............THE CELESTIAL KNIGHTS
CHAPTER WORLD: .............URDU
FORTRESS MONASTERY: ........THE CELESTIAL SANCTUM
GENE-SEED (PREDECESSOR): ...VII LEGION/IMPERIAL FISTS [<<REDACTED>>]
KNOWN DESCENDANTS: .........NONE
The Celestial Knights exact age, like so much knowledge in our proud Imperium has been lost to the intractable march of time. Records differ between the institutions of Man. The Adeptus Administratum first recorded mention of the Celestial Knights is during a brief excert with the Apocrypha Piscean as a proud member of the 4th Founding, the largest founding ever undertaken at it’s time, however the Librarium of the Chapter itself contains battle honours dating back to the War of the Beast.
The Mechanicus, while reticent on the date of their founding, have been forthcoming on their first recorded battle honour of the Celestial Knights; the Morannan Cleansing of 012.M33. A bloody but brief conflict in which the Celestial Knights reinforced a beleaguered Martian expedition within the Morannan Reaches, beating back the predations of Craftworld Caom-Scéal, ending thousands of Aeldari lives in the process. The grateful Mechanicus bestowed upon the Astartes with the Auric Cog, a prestigious honour for defenders of the Martian Cult and the offer of custodianship of Morannan Prime’s primary moon Udan, which was gratiously accepted.
Since those distant days the Celestial Knights have stood vigil over the Morranan Reaches protecting Mechanicum and Imperial fiefs alike
A stalwart defence against the outer dark. Much like their primogeniture, The Imperial Fists, the Celestial Knights took to their stewardship with a cold efficiency, building Chapter Keeps upon the key worlds of the Reaches, with defences so expertly designed they could be held for weeks with but a handful of Astartes garrisoning them.
While they inherited their primarchs acumen for the raising of great defences, it was in the offensive prosecution of siege the Celestial Knights found there true calling. Across the Imperium the Ultima Segmentum, and beyond, there are records of their famed mass infantry assaults supported by heavy ordanance breaking the fortresses of Xenos and Heretic alike.
The Fresco of Serapis, while physically lost, was fortunately extensively recorded via pictograph, was a masterful marble rendition of one such assault, hundreds of Astartes can be seen pushing through the a breach in the enemy Xeno defences, with unmistakeable outlines of Whirlwind and Vindicator tanks can be seen beyond the masses. Unfortunately, the classification of Xenos has been long lost to the ravages of time, long assumed to be due to their utter destruction at the hands of the Celestial Knights, the shape of their broken pyramid and obelisks, seem all to familiar and can still be clearly made out in the surviving pictographs.
M36.279 – The Imperium is lost in political turmoil once again, the whispers of civil war between the Administratum and Ecclisiarchy have long since been replaced with the Reign of Blood of the new High Lord of both august offices, Goge Vandire. Over the course of his reign his edicts had become more and more extreme, erratic purges and pogroms were common. Over the years the divides within the Imperium grew greater and greater, with more and more regions being cut off by the drastic increase of warp storms through out Imperial demenses.
It was in this climate that the conflicts now remembered within the Celestial Knights as The Bridal War took place; responding to reports of heresy on Coeus VI the 5th Company of the Celestial Knghts, under Captain Gail Gagern arrived in system and made planetfall to a sight both shocking and profoundy disturbing.
In direct contradictions to the reports of both the Ecclisarchy and Administratum, Captain Gagern and the 5th found no signs of armed uprising, nor any indication of their turning from the Emperor. Instead they were greeted with garlands and impromptu parades and religious celebrations celebrating the arrival of the proud sons of Dorn.
Concerned by the disparity between the apparent reality of the situation and the reports coming from Terra, Captain Gagern felt that discretion was the better part of valour, and elected stay to better ascertain the truth of the situation. Elements of the 10th Company were dispatched to seek out the truth, unseen and unheard by the denizens of Coeus VI whie the 5th returned to the Strike Cruiser Domitus. After a week the investigation still found no sign of treachery, raids on elusive cults within the city of Dumas found nothing but doctrinally acceptable death and redemptory cults. Such revelations did little to explain the order to punitively decimated the population, but a new arrival in the system would bring answers more terrible than Gagern had imagined, and with them a war for that would decide the fate of Coeus VI.
A force of Frateris Templars led by a detachment of the Brides of the Emperor, under the fierce Sister Lylith, translated from the tumultuous warp broadcasting but one message repeated into the void, “People of Coeus VI, rejoice for your salvation has come. You have been found guilty of apostacy, we are here to purify your souls with blood and fire.” Shortly there after the new arrivals began to make planetfall, and they brought all that was promised.
The Celestial Knights were faced with a dire choice, stand by and let the servants of an increasingly unstable, illigitamate regent impose their will upon a clearly innocent world, or take a stand to defend the mortal of a beleaguered world, at the risk of being declared the traitors they had originally travelled to purge themselves. Despite the repute of their progeny, Dorn’s sons are not the cold men of stone they are often believed to be, their stony countenance hides a fiery passion best shown through their rage, and enraged they were. Captain Gagern decreed that they would not stand idly as true, honest citizens of the Imperium were slaughtered on the whims of a madman, by fanatics and zealots. The 5th made planetfall upon Coeus VI for the second time, this time to act a balwalk between the people of the world and an outer threat rallying the Planetary Defence Force to stand with them in the defence of the populace. Much to their horror no cease of hostility occurred, in fact the servants of Vandire attacked with a renewed vigour and ferocity proclaiming the Celestial Knights traitors and heretics.
The war raged for the better part of a Terran year, the Celestial Knights of the 5th had converted the capital city of Dumas into a grand bastion which proved all but impregnable to the Brides and their forces, but they were not the only agents Vandire had dispatched to Coeus VI, the Officio Assassinorum had arrived in secret to aid Lylith, and now they struck at the heart of the resistance. Captain Gagern died at the Strategium, to his eye by his trusted Brother-Sergeant Armus, but truly it was the Callidus Assasin Lenora. In a move of outstanding co-ordination within minutes the Brides and Frateris Templars launched what would be their final push to remove The Celestial Knights foothold on Coeus VI.
The fighting on the outer walls was fierce with large swathes rent from heavy bombardment and swarms of Vandire’s zealots filling the breaches and venting their fury on the PDF. The forces of the Celestial Knights would bend no more, and breaking was not in their nature, the time had come for them to sally forth, led by the true Sergeant Armus, still filled with fury, even after killing the interloper Lenora. He had managed to assume command and co-oridnate the defence to meet the assault as well as it had thus far, pulling back the remaining 5th and 10th Company forces at the onset of the assault, it was now time to bring them to bear on the attackers.
It was a final bid to break the back of Vandires purge, depleted after over a year of war, there was little hope of success if they could not break their enemy now, before any reenforcements arrived, then Coeus VI would surely be lost. The same was true of Vandire’s forces and both forces met with a fury usually reserved for the enemies of Man.
After two days of bitter conflict the siege was finally broken when the entirety of the Celestial Knight Chapter arrived in system, bearing news of Goge Vandire’s death, the Reign of Blood had finally ended. Both sides were ordered to stand down and await further debriefing. In the face of certain annihilation it was thought that Lylith would relent, but fanatasism is not so easily quietened, she continued her assault taking advantage of the Celetstial Knights standing down, The 5th and 10th were caught unaware and almost entirely wiped out before the rest of the Chapter made planetfall and wiped out the attackers. So ended the Bridal Wars, unfortunately for the Imperium of Man the enmity between the Celestial Knights, and the forces of newly reformed Adeptus Sorriritas and Callidus Temple of Officio Assassinorum are still yet to fade to this day.
The closing days of the 41st Millenium were some of the darkest the Imperium have ever known, although not present themselves the loss of Cadia was felt in the distant Morannan Reaches. With Cadia’s death came the birth of Cigatrix Maledictum, and with it a night without ending, Noctis Aeterna.
The Morannan Reaches, now lying deep within Imperium Nihilus, found itself utterly cut off and alone. With no guiding light from the Astronomican and no astropathic communication The Reaches thought that Terra had fallen and with all hope was lost; anarchy spread through it’s worlds.
The Celestial Knights Chapter Keeps became the last bastions of order within the reaches, isolated battle-brothers held out against raging populaces baying for blood in increasingly shocking displays of depravity. The Celestial Knights attempted to muster their dispersed Companies at their Fortress-Monastary on Udun, but far fewer companies answered the summons, if they received them at all, than Chapter Master Harrick Zobel had hoped, but even with only six companies present the Celestial Knights sallied out to reinforce their brothers holding out within their keeps. Then reality tore and everything changed.
The turmoil in the Morannan Reaches had grown in intensity, building a preasure within the warp which now spilled out into realspace, and from this tear came the Bringers of Truth, a chapter of the XVII Legion the Word Bearers, seemingly disconnected cults and rebellions across the system suddenly began operating with a co-ordination that belied their true affiliations, now supported by the Neverborn and Heretic Astartes the worlds of the Reach were under sieige, and none more so than Udun.
Zobel had remained upon Udun with 7th and the 9th Company to co-ordinate the counter offensive to quell the uprisings across the Reaches, these same reserves were now faced with defending the chapters home, from eight companies of the Bringers of Truth supported by the innumerable hordes of the Neverborn.
The conflict that followed, was not not a war it was a massacre. Across the Reaches the Celestial Knights were outnumbered and losing more ground every day, and their list of allies were dwindling. Most disturbing of all Udun had fallen silent.
1st Captain Adelmann had assumed command of the chapter, trying to co-ordinate what forces remained into a coherent defence of the remaining loyal worlds; the forgeworld Ikenga, and the fortress world Agrona. With the support of their Skitarii Legions and Imperial Guard the Celstial Knights had managed to hold out, but Adelmann knew the end was near.
It was then that relief came, the Indomitus Crusade had come. Battlegroup Gamma of Indomitus Fleet Senimus translated into the system and struck deep into the system making their way to Udun.
Their mission was to offer relief and reinforcement to the Celestial Knights, but when they arrived on Udun there was naught but ruin and ash. The Celestial Knightsvwere gone and their Fortress-Monastry the Celestial Sanctum broken, it was here that they learned of the Last Bastion of Agrona and Ikenga.
Finally, after six years and four months alone the Celestial Knights received a much-needed reprieve. Led by Shield-Captain Apollion Nirah of The Emissaries Imperatus, Battle Group Gamma brought the combined forces of the Imperium to bear, better still they were accompanied by two lost companies of Celestial Knights. The joy of the reunion was short lived for Apollion brought new word from Imperium Sanctus, and its regent, the Primarch reborn, Roboute Guilliman.
The news of a Primarch returned was a source of joy until Captain Adelmann heard what came with him. The Celestial Knights were to be reinforced by a new breed of Astartes, the Primaris Marines. Such heresy was abhorrent, the cursed 21st founding had been proof, that improving upon the Emperor’s work brought naught but ruin, and Adelmann could not believe he was being commanded an Emmisary of the Throne itself. Threatened with censure and extermination if they refused, Adelmann grudgingly relented.
Within the solar month, the Reaches were cleared of the taint of the enemy, though there was no contact with The Bringers of Truth, Battle Group Theta and Epsilon arrived to further support the compliance, the heretical temple worlds they established were crushed and the embattled worlds lost to war were reconquored. With the region secured the Indomitus Fleet moved on leaving the Reaches to the Celestial Knights to fortify and hold until the Imperium could fully reintergrate the Imperium Nihilus.
Udun was never a kind land. Situated deep in the Morannan Reaches, a collection of some eight starsystems deep in the Ultima Segmentum. Udun itself, orbits the primary moon to the region’s capital world Morannan Primus.
Udun was always a rocky inhospitable land. Never inhabited in its own right, it stood as a planetary scaled monument to the heroes of the Celestial Knights; all across its surface statues, monuments and cemetaries. Over the millennia these became grander in scale until it rivalled a minthe maor cemetery world.
With no indigenous population of its own, Udun was inhabited by the denizens of worlds through out the Reaches, while a Space Marine homeworld, the majority of its population are made up by Chapter serfs: Artificers from Ikenga, Historitors from Morannan Primus and
Warrior Serfs Agrona to name but a few. Each world within the Reaches offering up serfs that best suited it’s disposition.
All of this ended with the burning of the Reaches. With the destruction of Udun, little remains of the once proud edifices of the Celestial Knights, the Celestial Sanctum fell, what little remains of its structure turned to glass by the heat of the orbital bombardment unleashed by the Bringers of Truth’s war vessels. The influx of personnel has stopped, worse still the land itself is haunted by the warp echoes of the fallen; while none can ascertain what happened upon the surface of Udun, in the darkness of Noctis Aeterna it is known that not one Celestial Knight’s body has ever been discovered upon its surface since it’s fall.
Unlike many chapters of the Adeptus Astartes the Celestial Knights do not limit their recruitment pool to one world, but rather recruit from numerous worlds through out the Reaches, in accordance with the accord struck with Adeptus Mechanicus during the colonization of the Reaches.
On a dozen worlds the Celestial Knights established their Chapter Keeps, not only to better hold the Reaches, but to operate as centres of recruitment. Each keep is garrisoned with a skeletal staff led by a member of the Apothecarion and defended by a solitary squad of Astartes.
The method of identifying aspirants varies from world to world, on more civilized worlds such as Nidaba III, aspirants often seek the privilege of ascension to an Angel of Death, fighting through the natural and mechanical defences along their pilgrimage to the Chapter Keep. On Morannan Primus potential candidates are taken in the night after careful observation of the conflicts of the underhive. The more primitative cultures like on Cammulus, the best of the clans young warriors battle in the rites of ascension, series of honour duals to the death between the gathered clans in which the victor and candidates granted their lives by the attending “Sky Giants” are taken back to ther Keep.
Regardless of the method of identifying aspirants, once within the walls of the Chaoter Keep from that moment onwards all remenants of their former culture is slowly stripped away and supplanted via extensive hypno-indoctrination and pain enduced physical reconditioning.
By the end of their training the neophytes have shed their former lives and take new names to better reflect their new, noble heritage. They are reborn as weapons to be wielded in the name of the Imperium, bound by duty and purpose like the knights of old.
Perseverance through adversity, a simple doctrine which carries through all the Celestial Knights do, and it is reflected in their methods of war more so than anywhere else, while they follow the edicts of the Codex Astartes they do so with a marked preference for mass inaftry deployment, to best test themselves against their foes.
Much like their primogeniture, The Celestial Knight’s planning is impeccable, though often it is reliant on their famed stubbornness to see their plans come to fruition. This has on occasion been criticized as an unimaginative method of warfare by those they have fought beside, but such a criticism is unfounded.
To the Celestial Knights pain brings with it clarity of purpose and should never be avoided; if a plan has been implemented by field command then it is by its nature a worthy undertaking, pain and death does not lessen its merit, and the Astartes were created to endure the horrors mortal men cannot, so endure they will. That is not to say that the Celestial Knights are unable to adapt to changing circumstances, rather doing so is only to be done if it is the only way to ensure victory.
The Celestial Knights are organized into ten companies, as per the dictates of the Codex Astartes, although they are referred to as Households in the style of the Imperial Fists Legion of old.
Each Household’s heraldry is derived from a mix Codex ordained company heraldry and the personal heraldry of its captain.
Since the arrival of the Indomitus Crusade there has been a slight deviation from their traditional organization. While as per Imperial decree, the Celestial Knights have welcomed the Primaris Marines into their chapter, all though to say their reception was cold would be an understatement. The initial influx of 400 Primaris Marines were organized into separate Households, the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 8th; the Households mainly operate as a supporting force within the Celestial Knights, many have claimed this is a sign of the Chapters acceptance being in name only, and that the spirit of the order was missed entirely, other observers whisper that this is a sign that the Celestial Knights recognize the heresy of these new creations and wish to maintain a distance from these new aberations. The truth of these claims is unknown.
The Fleet is led by the mighty Manifest Destiny, a battlebarge of ancient design, which is said to have been recovered from a region of space known as the Nouadhibou Drift. It’s 8KM long superstructure has been dated to the late 30th Millenium,
filled with resplendent artwork depicting the divinity of Man. Capable of supporting multiple chapters of astartes, and attending mortal forces, it has been postulated it was once the flagship of one of the Emperors mighty expeditionary fleets before it’s scuttling in unknown circumstances.
The rest of the fleet was made up of a roughly standard Codex complement, that was until dawn of the 42nd Millenium, shortly after the departure of the Indomitus Crusade.
Finding themselves once again cut off from the rest of the Imperium and besieged on all fronts the Celestial Knights endured for many years, finding themselves the centre stone holding up the defences of the region. To better co-ordinate the defence of the Reaches they took the bold step to commandeer the surviving local Imperial Navy assets and incorporated them into their fleet. Vastly expanding their naval capacity beyond the tenents of the Codex Astartes, such an action would normally have been denounced as Heresy but during such dire times such an action was deemed acceptable when communicated back to Imperium Sanctus.
Like many of the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes the Celestial Knights do not believe the Emperor to be a God, but rather the embodiment of fully realized human potential, which is the closest to divinity anything can come.
Such views have, on numerous occasions, resulted in conflict with the Ecclisiarchy. A relationship already strained since the Bridal War has only grown more hostile with each passing century. The Ecclisiarchy aware of the Celestial Knights beliefs posit that such a view would result in an increase in sedition on countless worlds should such a view be allowed to spread; if Man as a whole is divine then humans of all station are worthy of respect, such a view could only lead to strife.
Such an interpretation is wholy incorrect, for the Celestial Knights merely believe the Human form itself is the closest to divinity within the universe, a rebuttal on the validity of all religion.
Their interactions with baseline humans are far from that put forward by the afore mentioned elements of the Ecclisarchy, the Celestial Knights see themselves as living weapons, wraught to serve the Imperium, it’s citizens, and all Adeptus are seen in a similar vein. If one is not fulfilling its function it is better for it to be removed and replaced than upset the function of the whole. Such a view has often put the Celestial Knights in opposition to many other Imperial agencies, and the sacrifice of numerous civilians when found wanting.
The Celestial Knights often quote passages from the texts of their forebears, books such as The Verses of Sigismund and the Book of Five Spheres.
One such example often recited before the meeting of battle is in actual fact a derivation of a passage within The Verses of Sigismund [Book CIV, Verse I] found below:
“We carry the Emperor's will as our torch, with it we destroy the shadows.”
Edited by Inquisitor Van Horn, 20 November 2019 - 01:16 PM.