Legio Praetempus-The Cosmic Hungerers
Title: The Legio Praetempus Ordo Titanica
Militaris Grade: Secundus
Patent: Originating-Pre-Unification, Anetarbraxian Mechanicum
Reinstated under the Atarktosan Mechanicum
Warden Domain: Atarktos(Forge World) Anetarbraxus Remnant(Dead World)
Cognomen: The Cosmic Hungerers
Allied War Houses:None
Allegiance: Traitoris Perdita
Born from the ashes of a decimated Legio, Praetempus would almost be destroyed before its rebirth. From here it would forge a new and unsettling reputation.
Hailing from the Forge World of Atarkos, The Cosmic Hungerers were a Legion both renowned for its skill and criticised for its unreliability. Unceasing hunters on the verge of obsession, their unreliable nature shrouded a dark transformation that twisted the Legio’s heart against the realm of the Emperor and His servants, becoming things that, like so many of the Stormlord’s abominations, have never truly ceased to haunt our nightmares.
The true birth of the Legio Praetempus can be said to be linked to the demise of their previous identity as the Legio Celephan in the destruction of the Forgeworld of Anetarbraxus during the great Mandragoran incursion.
Already aware of a growing threat in the region, the Magi of Anetarbraxus had recalled the bulk of the Dusk Sentinels, as they were then known, to their homeworld in reparation for the struggles to follow. In this, they were only partially successful. Battle raged for weeks, and through the chaos the Legio and their supporting Taghmata held firm against the xenos invaders. Frustrated by their inability to seize the planet, the xenos began to unleash their ultimate fury on the planet. Though their augery arrays could detect the mass bombardment vessels of the enemy moving into orbit, they were powerless to intervene. Their own fleets, both military and retrofitted transports, had already been destroyed in the attempts to prevent the attackers from making planetfall.
It was the arrival of a fleet from Atarktos that shifted events. Barely able to breach the maelstrom of violence in orbit, a handful of armoured barques were able to reach the surface and retrieve high level members of the local priesthood, relis and STC data. Among these were two maniples of warhound titans, the only class swift enough to reach the extraction sites in time and small enough to fit within the transports cramped holds. They were forced to flee as their larger brethren fell attempting to buy time for their retreat. Using every trick their tactical doctrines and personal initiative allowed to evade the constructs attempting to prevent their departure, they were just able to reach the transports.
For the remainder of their participation in the defence and retaliation against the Mandragoran incursion, those maniples served along the Atarkton Taghmata. When those contingents of the Dusk Sentinels that had remained offworld arrived to the warzone, mutual recriminations between the splinters of the Legio prevented them from uniting on the field of the battle. Both blamed one another for their forgeworld’s destruction, either through absence or cowardice. It was the portion of the Legio absent from Anetarbraxus that felt the guilt sharpest, and their determination to obtain redemption would eventually see them push themselves to destruction during the war.
Contrastingly, the splinter that renamed themselves the ‘Cosmic Hungerers’ - attributed to Princeps Karyvos stating that their ‘hunger for vengeance would carry [them] through all the cosmos if need be’- would be preserved both through the benefits of close logistical support from Agnaris and increasingly divergent practices. Obscuring their original heraldry with obscure camouflage patterns, another point of contention between themselves and the more traditional survivors, they adopted patterns of ceaseless hunting. They would select their targets and hound the target until utter destruction. In particular, it is believed that elements identified at the fall of Anetarbraxus were prioritised and that not one of these had not been destroyed by the Cosmic Hungerers. Such an assertion is apocryphal, but also hard to disprove.
Upon the campaign's conclusion, the two maniples would return with the Taghmata they had fought aside to Agnaris. This event was surprisingly bereft of the usual politicking associated with such occasions, though in hindsight Agnaris’ membership of the Cognis and the Cognis Prime’s relationship with the Fabricator General can perhaps be deemed responsible. From there, these Cosmic Hungerers would form the nucleus of a new Legio.
The same techniques that had both preserved the maniples and proved lethally effective during the Mandragoran incursion were soon to be replicated on a larger scale. Frustratingly, the Legio’s thereupon insularity and their lack of coordination, the most common reason for criticism of their methods, makes detailed analysis of their tactical abilities difficult. The Legio’s hunter maniples would select or be given a target before departing from Imperial lines and not return or initiate communication until the target is destroyed, no matter how long or far it might take them. There are even instances of maniples departing planets onboard their dropships to follow quarry to other warzones without waiting for authorisation.
It was incidents like these that often served to damage the Legio’s overall reputation, but many records still speak of their successes with a muzzled admiration. In particular, their ability to exploit seemingly implausible avenues of attack, striking out from a foe’s own territory or regions supposedly inaccessible due to geographics. Shroud barrages often enhanced such effects, the use of which even gave rise to absurd reports of Titans materialising from clouds of shadow to strike down their quarry from impossible quarters.
Though their loyalty to the Insurrectionist cause was guaranteed through the webs of fealty that bound the Cognis Heretica together, their poor relations with other Legios and their allies in general hardly proved a barrier to this change in loyalties. Even to other Legios based around the use of warhounds and focused on the hunt, such as Solaria and Audax, their single minded objectives seemed fraught with disregard for the wider ideals of His Great Crusade. It was at least noted that their temperament seemed to lack the same savage enjoyment that some Legios seemed to take in the more brutal necessities of His wars. In truth, most would be hard pressed to affix any particular motive to their struggles. Their actions during the Insurrection has since lead to conflicting postulations, some arguing that they selected their prey based upon some undescribed transgression that went against the obscure designs of the Atarktosan Magi while others theorised that they blamed the Imperium for Anetarbraxus’ destruction and now sought bloody revenge.
Whatever their motives were, the Legio hunted Loyalist Titans with the same techniques they used against the xenos and recidivist during the Great Crusade according to some inexplicable method of selection.
By the time of Ixipatian's treachery, the Legio Barghesi had crossed the line from being a Tertius grade Legio to being qualifiable of the Secundus ranking, numbering 117 Titans. Since the fall of Anetarbraxus, it seems that it became practice to rely upon Warhounds among the bulk of the Legio, both because of the Legio's new tactical tendencies and as a testament to those who had survived the Legio’s long rebirth. Though a few Reaver class Titans saw construction, typically seeing assignment to Corsair or Venator maniples. At no point is there any record of a Warlord or any larger class ever came out of Atarkos’ foundries, though such assertions have been questioned. The basis for this would appear to be that Warlords were simply too slow and too pick to effect the precise maneuvers and shock ambushes favoured by the Legio’s princeps.
It is worth noting that many of these Warhounds bore cosmetic variances unique to Atarktosan patterns, and that seemed to vary between each individual Legion. Such embellishments seemed to enhance the Legio’s fell reputation and had noticeable effects upon enemy morale when conducting their customary ambushes.
On a more practical level, Barghesi Titans are also believed to have benefited from several rare armaments. The best known of these were the shroud barrages emblematic of the Legio, consisting of a unique chemical composition that was unusually effective at concealing the Titan’s means of arrival. The ‘black smoke’ can often be proven to be what gave rise to the earlier tales of Warhound Maniples materialising out of nowhere. Analysis of destroyed or silenced Titans whose demise was attributed to the Cosmic Hungerers also indicates that they may have had access to some form of Macro-acidic weapon, possibly biological in nature.
In terms of support forces, the Legio possessed a number of Titan barques, drop coffins and escort ships provided by Atarktos, t least some of which were capable of deploying shrouds from orbit. The small size and enhanced sub-orbital capabilities of many of these craft is yet another factor to which the Legio’s strategic maneuverability has been attributed. In addition to this, hunter phalanxes of Secutarii Peltasts, Moirax Talons and Vulturax-Stratos Automata augmented the Legio’s hunting capabilities. Capable of venturing where even Barghesi Warhounds could not, there was more than one occasion where these forces flushed prey into the Hungerer’s guns and vice versa.
Those observations that could be obtained from personnel outside the Legion noted the sheer improbability of the avenues of attack being used
Legio Praetempus Warhound Titan- The Endless Cull
During the subjugation of Nerak VI, the Endless Cull worked in participation with the Praetempus Warhound Nightgaunt in order to destroy the final command elements of the non-compliant forces there. After weeks of evading the Nightgaunt, the convoy containing the remainder of the resistant leadership in exile was successfully able to traverse a mountain pass inaccessible to the God-Machine, only to be ambushed by the waiting Endless Cull on the other side. Fragmentary intercepts of the convoy's final communication indicates that in the confusion of the ambush, the two warhounds were mistaken to be one and the same.
The Endless Cull displays several of the engine variations common across the Legio. In this case the camouflage 'dazzle patterning' - also believed to have some form of heraldic significance due to the absence of banners within the Legio - has had its lines physically etched or built into the hull. In addition to this the viewports normally present upon the head of the Warhound have been sealed under further armour plating. Finally, one will note that the treads of the Warhound's feet have been fashioned into something resembling claws. Though initially assumed to have a function in improving the stability of the engine, they may also relate to the discovery of downed Loyalist Titans whose heads, if not already ejected, had been torn free of their bodies and further desecrated by the Cosmic Hungerers.
Abhumans WIthin the Imperium
Volume Six: The Mechanicum
Excerpt pertaining to the Taghmatas Bestia [Abridged]
It is of course, worth mentioning the aforementioned Beastmen. For the Imperial Army, and indeed the majority of the Imperium, the utility of this subhuman strain was highly limited to that of high-casualty shock assaults and similar scenarios. This of course has all been discussed in the previous volumes of this work, and shall not be reiterated in detail, but it is worth noting due to the fact that this is not necessarily the case for the Martian tech-savants and their descendants.
As with Ogryns, there were various cranial augmentations that could enhance the Beastmen’s mental capabilities and through infospheric linking could also reduce the disciplinary issues inherent among them. Not only does the Mechanicum naturally have the capability for such augmentation, it does not particularly excessive in comparison the modification that most Skitarii undertake and certainly not in comparison to the Thallax and similar patterns of Mechanicum menial.
Of course, the allowance of such actions within the belief system adhered to by the majority of the Tech-Priests is another matter and has been cause for some debate, and even low level conflict. The arguments against such auxiliaries and workforces generally revolve around how the ‘purity of the machine’ should not be ‘debased’ buy using such stock. It is also true that the outcome of the Prosecution of Baal also saw a drop in similar projects, largely because the Beastmen in some cases bore the additional stigmata of having been the failed result of some pre-Imperial genetic modification project (though that theory not universally accepted). Indeed, some individuals had attempted to use the Beastmen as evidence for the Prosecution at the time as an example of what unregulated genetic modification could lead to. Though this was decried both on terms of actual evidence for the theory and as a scaremongering tactic, it cannot be denied that tech-puritans became yet further determined to deny the sub-species access to augmentation.
As a workforce, Beastmen were typically only used by the Mechanicum where other alternatives - namely baseline menials, servitors, work-automata and so on - were unavailable. In terms of dexterity of cogitator-interface they still could not match the efficiency of baseline counterparts, yet there were a number of significant benefits to their use. Their short lifespan was balanced by their rapid reproduction rate, both of which made worker attrition a lesser issue than it might have been. They were also naturally hardier and stronger than the majority of baseline humans, allowing them to survive harsher environs with less modification and to carry greater workloads.
In void stations, and similar enclaves where the confined space magnified the issues typically associated with the Beastmen, basic levels of augmentation tended to be higher and attempts were often made to curtail reproduction while extending lifespan. Even cognitive enhancement is not out of the question, as the accomplishment of precise and complicated tasks can be vital to the survival of an entire vessel in the void. This can bring such variants them far closer to the human baseline, possibly surpassing it as augmented humans are wont to do. In truth this is a rare scenario. The extensive modifications required for a fractional increase in manpower means that Beastmen are rarely posted to Mechanicum outposts in the void or other contained facilities in equally lethal environments.
Basic mining work was one of the most common uses for augmented beastmen, as it utilised their enhanced strength to the full and as long as the correct quota material was delivered to their Lacrymaerta overseers there was little need for any disciplinary intervention. The efficiency of such a system was questionable at best, but where more reliable labour was hard to come by it would prove better than nothing.
Attempts to bring the Beastmen into Manufactorum workforces proved futile in almost every case. In part this was due to the fact that levels of augmentation were required to match the mildly complex tasks that unaugmented humans were capable of, as well as numerous reports of damaged equipment. Another significant factor in this was the organic factor, that is the reactions of baseline human menials and members of the priesthood. It is an odd circumstance that the menials and lower ranking of the Mechanicum may sometimes prove to be the more superstitious of the Mechanicum - having had less of the divine mysteries of the universe revealed to them - and it was from these classes that the major and sometimes violent opposition came. Whether this was due to the proximity of these ‘unclean hordes’ to the holy sanctuaries of the Omnissiah or more prosaic concerns regarding safety and the distribution of labour in another question that is not easily answered.
One of the most successful applications in a non-militant role was that of vast salvage parties. Roaming across barren rad-plains or weapons battered plateaus, vast ‘scrap-herds’ were often hardy enough to traverse such terrain with greater ease than their baseline counterparts. Sheer numbers and speed allowed them to achieve what auspex technology sometimes could not in locating the detritus of centuries past. Recovered material could then be dragged back to a collector outpost or else left for a more careful exhumation by Mechanicum Techno-Archaelogists. Of the above configurations, this one comes closest to a natural societal structure and lifestyle for the Beastmen, and thus was one of the most successful in regards to maintaining the population. The cost of the relative freedom allowed in such instances was the occasional attempted rebellion, but such agitators would often be torn apart by their own kind before they could become a threat. On those occasions where the renegade outnumbered the loyal, the deployment of Vorax Automata, ground attack flyers and Knights was sufficient to resolve the situation.
When Beastmen were integrated into the tech-guard of the Taghmata they overlapped in purpose and effect with the existing varieties of Heavy Skitarii, especially the ‘techno-barbarian’ sub-types, which are far more widely seen in the ranks of a Forge World’s defenders. The primary necessity in such deployments was always the suppression of the instincts that lead to the disciplinary issues that made them such a volatile force within the ranks of the Imperial Army. This was accomplished in much the same manner as other Skitarii are linked, through infospheric communion and where necessary the assumption of direct control of the herds motive abilities. Combined with the swifter and more detailed system of informational transfer, this iss enough to significantly enhance the tactical and strategic capabilities. In addition to this, they could bear heavier augmentics and weapons with less involved surgery than a baseline human could. Theoretically, it would be capable of making a Beastman a heavy weapons platform equal to the Ordo Reductor’s Matarax thralls. In practice, this approach was dropped in favour of enhancing the Beastmen’s potential as shock troops. Any up-armouring is usually done to the fore, and their lower limbs are modified to further increase their speed. The nature of such attacks means that aiming one’s firearm is neither easy nor a priority, and as such favours high-tech analogues of primitive melee weapons (photon-edged halberds, poweaxes, concussion mauls and so on) at short ranged assault firearms. There are even cases where a Beatman’s natural horns have been modified or replaced with arc or powerfield infused defenses that can reduce a Beta type Orkoid’s head to fine mist. The thunderous charges of an augmented warherd can be observed moving in synchronicity, flowing and redirecting their approaches as the battlefield changes around them. When the charge hits home infantry formations are brutally swept away, fleers gunned down, and armoured vehicles leapt upon from blind spots and mauled into malfunction.
On one final note, there is an uncommon practice of using far subtler augmentations in order to preserve a Beastman’s original appearance. Under an untouched hide lies bundles of synth-muscle, the rigid frames of blackbone bracing and artificial organs embedded with chem-shunts. Cloth wrapped hands conceal transonic claws and bioelectrical dischargers while bulky and rough hewn blades shimmer with energy with the press of a depressed button. Within the brain lies enhancements identical to their more noticeably altered kin, but invisible without autopsies or detailed scans. When attacked by such subjects, one might notice that they move a little too fast. One might notice that they seem to be acting with an uncanny coordination and are far more resilient to damage than they have any right to be. One might not notice anything at all until they are upon you, and the blaze of formerly concealed weapons systems reveal them as a far greater threat than the savages you had presumed them to be.