*Picture of Space Marines here, still WIP*
"A poor hunter chases prey. A good hunter waits for it." - Notable Figure from the Chapter
Amongst the first Chapters created in the 18th Founding, the Champions of Athlum were given clear objectives from their very inception. Sent to the south-east of the Glastheim Rifts, the Champions were to establish a base of operations and destroy a festering empire of brutal, lizard-like xeno raiders called the Khovata.
Arriving at their designated area of operations, the as-yet-nameless Chapter immediately began a war of calculated aggression, striking the xenos occupiers wherever their defences were weakest and clearing the path for larger Imperial Guard and Navy forces to push the xenos back.
On the border of the Kohvate empire lay the Death World of Athlum, a stunningly beautiful but barely hospitable planet filled with hyper-lethal plant and animal life. The Chapter found the planet produced hardy, viable recruits, and quickly adopted Athlum as a homeworld, allowing them to replace the losses incurred during the Khovata wars.
The final assault against the Khovata empire saw their homeworld of Lor conquered, the aliens massacred and the scant handfuls of survivors fleeing into distant space. Lor fell into Imperial hands, and was quickly turned into a mining colony to supply the Adeptus Mechanicus with ores and oils.
The Champions, having succeeded in breaking the strength of the Khovata, found themselves suddenly beset by Dark Eldar - the Kabal of the Shettered World began launching raids on nearby Imperial worlds, forcing the Champions to chase after this elusive foe. At the same time, Chaos cults began to surface across multiple systems, sometimes in great numbers or with hordes of mutants or daemons in thrall. Beyond this, remnants of the Khovata sometimes launched their own bloody raids from the distant, disparate worlds they had fled to, cutting into the Champions' territory like a scythe, intent on causing as much damage as possible.
The Champions were unable to easily pursue foes across so many fronts, and so changed their tactics, drawing inspiration from the hunters on their Homeworld of Athlum. Studying the habits and attack patterns of their enemies, the Champions were able to use smaller forces to lie in ambush, using guile and forward planning to intercept enemy attacks. Chapter serfs were employed as agents, gathering intelligence and acting as watchful eyes for the Chapter on many worlds.
When enemies massed in large numbers, the Champions would seldom attack them head-on, instead sending strike teams of a few squads to destroy enemy supplies and materiel, sabotage enemy defences or ships, or assassinate key enemy figures. The Chapter quickly became famous for their "Death of a Thousand cuts" approach to warfare, weakening an enemy to the point the battle was all but decided before the Champions deployed their companies in open war to finish a foe.
The Champions of Athlum would, in M37, become part of the "Silver Circle", a band of Chapters around the Glastheim Rifts sworn to defend the Imperium's holdings in that area. Heretics lurking in the Warpstorm-addled Rifts themselves and xeno predators attacking from all angles made the Rifts a dangerous place, but the alliance of Space Marine Chapters worked - albeit grudgingly - to grant the Imperium some additional purchase in the region.
In late M40, the Champions discovered an uninhabited world, Kynasa, that was in many ways a mirror of proud Athlum. Claiming recruitment rights from the world at the same time as claiming Kynasa for the Imperium, the Champions even transported a small but significant portion of Athlum's population to Kynasa to help ensure the world's viability for recruitment.
The colonisation of Kynasa went smoothly, and the Chapter successfully took it's first batch of recruits from the world before disaster struck, three years later.
After feinting an attack at the Maladar system, the Kabal of the Shattered World were able to raid Kynasa, killing or abducting every man, woman and child from the young colony, and retreating back into the webway at blinding speed.
The Champions, overcome with grief and rage, raced to get vengeance. In their haste, the Chapter made errors of judgement that led to an extended series of defeats. Their supply lines were targeted by the Drukhari, several Chapter serfs killed or kidnapped while attempting reconnaissance, and on two occasions Company Apothecaries were assassinated in the midst of otherwise unimportant skirmishes.
The Champions came to their senses and saw that the Dark Eldar were trying to play them at their own game. The Chapter refocused their anger, turning it from a burning rage into an ice-cold, murderous focus. To this day, both the Kabal and the Chapter remain locked in an endless series of raids, ambushes and gruelling small-scale warfare all across the south-east of the Glastheim Rifts.
Amongst the many disasters that befell the Imperium with the opening of the Cicatrix Maledictum, Athlum came under direct attack, thanks to the machinations of the heretical Blades of Atracia.
At the head of their fell hosts, numberless hordes of crazed cultists, the Chaos Marines came. Bringing daemonically-possessed soldiers, warp-infused machines created by depraved minds, and even a quintet of Chaos Knight Titans, the Heretics rushed Athlum in a tide of fire and death.
The Champions were caught unawares by the attack, spread thin and fighting on numerous fronts against the Nurgle-aligned Hollow Knights and other Chaos Cults.
Scrambling to defend Athlum from the Heretic Astartes, the battle of Athlum was a desperate affair for the loyalists. Urgent calls to arms were put out to the Warminds and White Hawks, asking for aid. However, the Warminds were likewise beset by foes, and the Hawks were to far away to intervene before a likely Chaos victory on Athlum.
Resigning themselves to their fate and determined to cause as much damage to the enemy as possible, the Champions fought a desperate guerrilla war, striking from unexpected angles at unexpected targets, selling their lives dearly to stymie the efforts of the Blades of Atracia.
With half the Chapter still stuck off-world, and less than eighty marines left standing in Athlum's defence, the Blades began a final assault on the Champion's Fortress Monastery. Before they could breach the innermost walls, however, reinforcements arrived from an unexpected direction.
Companies of Primaris Space Marines, bearing the livery of the Silver Circle's Chapters, hosts of Adeptus Mechanicus skitarii and Imperial Guard, and even the Knight Titans of House Kokoto. The Indomitus Crusade had arrived, and with it came thunderous, inevitable victory for the Champions and the Imperium. The Riftmark leading the Chaos forces was slain, trampled to death by Kastelan Robots of Forgeworld Valstrax, causing a mass breakdown of enemy morale.
The aftermath of the Battle of Athlum saw the Champions take steps to make sure they would never be caught unawares again. Recruiting more serfs from other worlds allowed the Champions to spread their intelligence network further while tightening their control on the systems and subsectors around Athlum. A hundred Primaris marines were assigned to what was informally called "The Sentinel Company", a group dedicated directly to the protection of Athlum and neighbouring systems.
Athlum, the chosen homeworld of the Champions, is a beautiful, verdant paradise, crawling with life. But behind the beautiful visage is a world of extreme danger. Almost every life form on Athlum is dangerous, from the incredibly poisonous blossom trees that turn the forest canopies lilac and pink once a year, to the myriad of insects whose bites can cause permanent damage to unlucky victims. Amongst the deadliest things on Athlum are the carnivorous Wyverns, house-sized flying carnivores that roam the skies looking for exposed targets to feast upon, and the Dirgewolves, giant wolves whose front half is largely covered in scales and bone protrusions, making them very hard to hurt with conventional weapons.
The humans of Athlum live in scattered clans, and mostly survive as small packs of hunter-gatherers, armed with the finest bows, spears and traps that their craftsmen can make. Only the patient and the skilled can survive on Athlum, and it is from the youth of this hardy caste of hunters that the Champions draw most of their recruits.
Known as the Bright Spire, the Fortress Monastery of the Champions of Athlum was constructed in the centre of the planet's highest mountain range. The outside of the Spire is faced in gleaming white marble, and it can be seen from almost a week's journey away, on the plains below. For a recruitment trial, the Champions drop would-be aspirants in one of several pre-selected starting points, roughly a day's travel from the base of the mountains, and instruct them to reach the Spire. The trial routes bring aspirants face-to-face with some of Athlum's most dangerous wildlife, and then pits survivors against the treacherous, unfamiliar terrain of the mountains as they seek to reach their goal.
The Chapter's outlook and methods of war are shaped to a certain degree by the native hunters of Athlum. Patience, planning and decisive action are the keywords by which both hunter and Space Marine live and die.
Parhaps the most unusual aspect of the Champions of Athlum's outlook on the Imperium is their view on The Emperor. The Champions feel that He looks upon His Imperium with great sorrow, a soul-deep melancholy that what should have been His greatest work was laid to ruin. Additionally, the Champions believe that His Space Marines are the only surviving means of truly uniting and protecting the Imperium, and that The Emperor intended for Space Marines to not only safeguard humanity, but to embody the best aspects of humanity.
Thusly, the Champions of Athlum believe the Chapter must excel in all disciplines to be as The Emperor intended them to be. To this end, the Chapter can boast well-practiced craftsmen, diplomats, artists, musicians, and architects as well as great fighters and insightful strategists. The Champions point to their Primarch, Guilliman, and his own multi-faceted talents as further proof that Space Marines should be more than simple fighters.
* The obvious flaw to go with this is pride, like the rest of my chapters
* The Champions become proud of their Chapter's diverse array of talents, which lends them an air of arrogance and a sense of superiority. The loss of Kynasa mitigates this somewhat, but the Chapter's pride is still a stumbling block that leads, occasionally, to overconfidence.
The Champions of Athlum are somewhat atypical for Space Marine Chapters in that most of their defining victories ultimately come from small-scale actions. Kill Teams sent to eliminate key or isolated enemy figures, or sabotage enemy materiel, or disrupt a foe's supply lines. Combat Patrols using carefully gathered intelligence to cripple an enemy force before it ever truly musters its' strength. Small-scale strikes used to cause large-scale effects, so that when the time comes for the Champions to muster at Company strength and take to the battlefield, often the result of the battle is decided before the Company even deploys for battle.
On the battlefield proper, the Champions of Athlum fight as befitting an Ultramarine successor, with fluid battle plans that take advantage of an enemy's weaknesses as they are presented. There is a noted predilection to the use of ambush attacks, outflanking strikes and the use of carefully laid traps, mirroring the methods of hunters on Athlum. The use of camouflage is not only considered acceptable, but encouraged by the Chapter, though their innate pride ensures they seldom completely cover their Chapter's heraldic colours.
Taking pride in the heritage of their Primarch, Roboute Guilliman, the Champions of Athlum proudly adhere to codex-mandated Organisation. Such structure has served the Chapter well in their time in the Glastheim Rifts, being able to disperse or gather to deal with encroaching threats as they rise. For a long time, the only notable deviation was the renaming of the traditional rank of Company or Chapter Champion as "Headtakers", given that each Battle-Brother is already a Champion in name.
The arrival of Primaris marines placed the Champions of Athlum in a difficult situation with regards to their Codex-Adherence. Considering themselves exemplars amongst marines, how they handled the issue of the Codex Astartes not making provision for the Primaris Marines was seen in the Chapter as a decision of utmost importance, and arguments amongst the Champions' leadership for how to handle the issue were commonplace.
Eventually, the Primaris marines were all provisionally placed into an Eleventh Company, until such time as a satisfactory decision can be agreed upon by the Champions' leadership. Despite being technically limited to one company, the Primaris marines were scattered to reinforce the existing ten Companies around the Rifts, mirroring the way the First Company veterans are seldom gathered together.
A hundred Primaris marines of varying experience and role are kept at Athlum, known within the Chapter as the "Home Guard" or "Vigil" to better ward against another attack at Athlum itself. Marines in the Home Guard are rotated back into the regular companies on a yearly basis.
Those amongst the Chapter assigned to keep a vigil on specific systems or areas of space where enemy activity is expected are given the honorary title of "Marchwarden", taken from an old Athlumi title. The Title of High Marchwarden is bestowed to the marine assigned as the leader of the Home Guard.
* Slightly faulty geneseed, partly to explain away a lot of the Chapter having uniformly white hair and partly to give them a less than perfect recruitment rate
* Something snappy and cool, I'll work one out later
Not a huge update, filling out the outline slowly and adding all the flashy stuff like headers and the like.
Edited by Ace Debonair, 25 March 2021 - 01:15 PM.