Chapter Symbol of the Flaming Swords
The Flaming Swords committed their Chapter’s entire strength to bringing the lost sector back under the aegis of the Imperium. The Chapter’s leadership saw the Orstaat campaign as a fitting conclusion to their thousand year quest. And so the Chapter launched itself into the campaign with an intensity and fervour unmatched, and on countless planets the sigil of the flaming sword became a portent of impending judgement and doom.
The violence of the Orstaat campaign was such that the Chapter’s already depleted strength fell by over a third in less than three years, the loss of so many battle-brothers especially difficult to replenish in such a hostile sector. The ferocious pace of the battles would however vindicate the Chapter’s leadership. The final traitor stronghold in the sector fell within the sixth year, the dark lord of the Unborn Knights falling in combat with the Chapter’s champion. Despite the greatness of their achievement, the Flaming Swords found themselves on the brink of extinction.
Further reconnaisance revealed that the planet did indeed support human life. A forbidding and inhospitable place, the planet was also home to a variety of dangerous fauna. Such conditions bred tough and hardy people tempered by war and the struggle to stay alive. The disparate human cultures of the planet had progressed to a pre-fedual level of technology and fought with sword, lance and bow. Raids and battles were fought for the right to survive one more season, and the mightiest warriors occupied positions of great influence amongst their people.
Operating as a fleet-based chapter meant that the Flaming Swords were dangerously under-strength for long periods of time, a regular intake of suitable aspirants not easily guaranteed by the constant redeployment of the Chapter’s forces into new regions. In Sidon the Chapter had finaly found a steady source of strong and ferocious recruits that would allow them to pursue their campaigns.
The systems that keep this mighty structure aloft are barely understoot, however over the years the most gifted of the Chapter’s Techmarines have discovered how to change the great fortress’s elevation, speed, and direction. Assaulting such a fortress would be a daunting prospect for any foe, with defense laser emplacements and missile batteries studding the walls. The Castellum Nubifraxis is connected to a network of orbital defenses that keep watch over the star system. The orbital defenses serve another, more sinister purpose; any sign of technological progress on the planet is vigorously eradicated by the Space Marines.
To Sidon’s populace the wrath of the Sky Warriors raining down on any transgressors is deterrent enough to steer them away from to pursuit of progress. Such ruthlessness, combined with the planet’s scarcity of ores and minerals, ensures that civilization on Sidon will never progress to a level where the inhabitants grow soft, decadent, and weak. The Chapter thus plays its own vital part in maintaining the endless cycle of war and suffering that sweeps the planet.
The Chapter places great importance on ship boarding actions, and veterans of these operations display a non-Codex-compliant lightning bolt insignia on the armour of both legs. It is credit to the Chapter’s skill at void warfare that almost every battle brother bears such an insignia on their armour. Personal heraldry is also proudly displayed and embellished as the battle-brother’s feats of arms and legend grows.
Rumours exist of an additional company bearing markings with strong resemblance to the Flaming Swords’, but such tales have yet to be corroborated. What is certain is that above all else the Inquisition wishes to prevent the outbreak of another conflict to rival the Badab War. Its instigator, the traitor Chapter Master Lugft Huron, began his descent into heresy precisely through an expansion of his Chapter’s forces.
This has led some branches of the Inquisition to investigate rumours of covert force-building more thoroughly than would previously have been deemed necessary. Any attempts to uncover the truth regarding this additional unit have so far been inconclusive, although strangely such investigations have been marked by the suspicious disappearances of many of the Inquisitors involved.
Each of the Chapter’s Battle Companies maintains small squads of company veterans to act as breacher squads during ship-to-ship combat, sieges and city-fighting. For the Space Marines assigned to these squads, the honour of being selected for such duties far outweighs the increased lethality of the assignment. Many tactical squads are equipped with Umbra-pattern bolters fitted with chainaxe attachments, increasing their effectiveness in the closing phases of an engagement. The demand for such weapons is great enough for the Chapter's Forge to continue manufacturing them in significant numbers, despite the relatively archaic nature of their design. These boltguns are much prized by their owners for their combination of firepower and vicious close combat capabilities.
The Chapter is well-equipped with a wide range of equipment and variants of armour and weapons, as befits one of the older Chapters of the Imperium. Many Forge Worlds of the Mechanicum contributed to the Chapter's armaments over the years and this has resulted in a wide range of weapon and armour designs being available to the Chapter. Over its storied existence the Chapter’s warriors have honed their skills with the full arsenal of weapons at their disposal, however many Space Marines have developed a preference for brutal and effective weaponry such as melta weapons and flamers, which are lethal in the close confines of ship boarding actions.
As a consequence the Chapter’s fleet is lighter and more mobile than that of more conventional Chapters. Several of the Flaming Swords’ Strike Cruisers were modified to carry only a demi-company of Space marines. As major objectives have changed in recent millennia, this intermediate class of Strike Cruiser has become less popular, despite composing a large part of the Chapter’s fleet. Many of the Chapter’s Caestus assault rams and Thunderhawk gunships have been modified to enhance space operations and facilitate the Chapter’s ambush tactics against pirates.
Senior figures such as Captains are followed with unfaltering loyalty, which is not borne of a rigid deference to hierarchy. The Captains and Chapter Masters of the Flaming Swords are considered equals to their battle-brothers, and must prove that the faith placed in them is justified. Many foolhardy Imperial commanders have learned this the hard way, through spectacularly unsuccessful attempts to establish their precarious authority over the Chapter’s commanders, and not all have survived their harsh lesson.
The punishing nature of void warfare, combined with the relentless crusade that the Flaming Swords pursued during their formative years, implanted a fatalistic and embittered streak in the Chapter’s culture that persists to this day. In certain individuals this translates into a death-impulse that drives warriors to commit acts of suicidal bravery. This is known in the Chapter’s parlance as “seeking the Emperor’s favour”, and such warriors often volunteer to lead forlorn hopes or last stands, where their chances of survival are almost non-existent. Nowhere is this trait more pronounced than in the warriors of the First Company, who upon induction ritually repaint their armour black, in penance for a secret shame known only to the Chapter, and never discussed with outsiders.
The Apothecaries of the Flaming Swords performed countless vivisections, autopsies and many other atrocious experiments on the population of Sidon before satisfying themselves that the inhabitants would be suitable hosts for the Chapter's gene-seed. The final assessment of the unwitting inhabitants classified them, as "extremely viable" implantation subjects, the first time in the Chapter's history. Gene-seed implantation, though inherently dangerous to the subject, has seen its highest success rate since the occupation of Sidon, and this has doubtlessly contributed to the preservation of the Chapter’s purity.
Although the Chapter’s geneseed is considered pure and free from mutation, some scholars have speculated that the death drive that takes root in some of the Chapter’s veterans might be caused by an almost imperceptible imbalance in the subject’s Catalepsean Node. In recent years the Chapter has trialed additional psycho-indoctrination in the most afflicted subjects, with mixed success. While some of the subjects thus treated have apparently been cured, many others have immolated themselves in renewed acts of spectacular recklessness and suicidal bravery. Though the loss of such warriors is a terrible price to pay, such sacrifices invariably inflict punishing losses on the enemy, in many cases turning the tide of battle at crucial moments.
Flame and Ruin!