INDEX ASTARTES: DESERT EAGLES
SONS OF GUILLIMAN
Renowned for their adaptive warfare and righteous fury, few can resist the overwhelming onslaught of the Desert Eagles in their stride. Serving the Imperium since the earliest conflicts of the Great Crusade has earned the chapter numerous honours, as well as bitter enemies from the ranks of those who fled their advance.
The Desert Eagles are proud descendants of Guilliman and honour his name with a storied list of campaigns won over his enemies. In contrast to the measured tactics of their progenitor the Desert Eagles utilise highly responsive advances, shifting entire frontiers of battle to exploit opportunities. This characteristic descends from the forging of the Chapter during the vicious battles against the Word Bearers of Lorgar in the Horus Heresy, when a Chapter of their Ultramarine forebearers were left isolated and betrayed on the deserts of Calth. The resourcefulness of the Astartes in reclaiming critical supplies and positions and their unrelenting nature during those crucial hours earned them the nickname ‘Carrion Eagles’ during the siege by local forces. The brown-and-crimson armour of the Desert Eagles now reflects the desert that defined them over mere hours, as well as the commemorating the lives lost in those cursed sands.
When the Desert Eagles Chapter was brought into being during the Second Founding, Captain Catius Thassor, a renowned commander of the Ultramarines Legion, was chosen to be its first Chapter Master. Thassor's reputation was steeped in legend from the Battle of Calth, where he led what would become the Desert Eagles chapter against Word Bearers forces in desperate survival on the planet's surface.
The savagery of the Word Bearers' assault upon the planet's surface was secondary only the conflicts within orbit. Even as Ultramarines forces were shattered at Komesh the fighting in the deserts of Cuneth grew fierce, where the planned betrayal faltered under sandstorms. Thrice Thassor led the united Imperial forces into the sands to reclaim vital communication facilities to allow their evacuation, splintering the ammassed followers of Lorgar under blinding walls of dust and fire. Such conditions proved fatal for many of the allied Imperial Guardsmen within the deserts, however the loyalist forces made frequent use of their littered supplies as the hours of desperate fighting bore continued. Battletanks and artillery positions were scavenged for shells and explosives, and the Ultramarine defence bore on.
Communications reached the loyalist positions of the dire state of Calth, and with it news of impending destruction. The Word Bearers' obliteration of the system had destabilised its integrity, and soon the surface would prove fatal for any who remained on its surface. Thassor's forces turned their scavenged ammunition earthbound, and were able to detonate their way into the nearby subterranean networks where they would continue waging the Underworld War against Chaos forces until Ultramarines fleets returned several years later. By the time Thassor was able to return his Chapter to the Ultramarines Legion less than half of those he had led beneath the desert of Cuneth remained, and himself a hero of the Legion.
With the completion of the Codex Astartes by Roboute Guilliman at the conclusion of the Horus Heresy, he commanded his sons to divide into 1,000-member Space Marine Chapters so that no single commander could ever control the power of an entire Astartes Legion again. As the Howling Griffons and Genesis Chapter ventured into the galaxy at the dawning of the Second Founding so to did the Desert Eagles, now united in their brown-and-crimson and once again being led into the unknown by Catius Thassor, Chapter Master of the storied survivors of Calth.
The Desert Eagles' homeworld is located on the planet Audax, an Imperial Feral World in Segmentum Ultima.
The planet consists of a pair of hive cities, both heavily damaged due to solar radiation, as well as the Desert Eagles' Fortress-Monastery Basilica Solitudinem. Audax's population still resides within the ruins of the two cities, as the remaining landscape of sun-scarred rocks and salt flats proves fatal to those who pass through. Life is fierce within the crumbling towers with scarce resources and even scarcer allies, and attempts to unite the cities by those residing fall quickly due to mistrust and infighting.
The present-day Chapter utilises a variety of trials to select neophytes from those that remain clinging to the cities of eons past, their skills honed by the trials of living upon Audax. Representatives of the Desert Eagles descend upon each city twice within a normal human's lifetime and take the most skilled aspirants from the population, forcibly if required.
Many that fail the trials are returned as servitors, and are tasked with rebuilding for the remnants of their short life-span. Some have noted that the cities may have yet been recovered if not for the recruitment and removal of their most hopeful youth who now litter the alleyways as glistening mechanised corpses.
The method of fighting forced upon those of Audax for survival has served the Desert Eagles suitably over the millennia. Their modus operandi consists of fluid and interchanging attacks conducted by highly trained forces, destroying the enemy before any attack can be properly responded to and never allowing the enemy to force a static engagement. The Chapter emphasises the usage of shifting terrain and resources to their advantage, and each unit has a vital role within the overarching structure deployed. As a result, on some occasions that the tide of battle turned against the Desert Eagles the losses were significant, such as in M36 when they were ambushed by Drukhari forces who were able to interrupt communications systems between the Chapter.
Although preferring to keep the foe at arms-length, the Desert Eagles are still capable of engaging in bloody close-combat just as readily as at range, and are readily feared by the enemies of the Imperium. Despite their seemingly indecisive nature when employing tactics, the Desert Eagles disdains the notion of recklessly charging against an enemy without sufficient intelligence of the situation or the surrounding landscape which could be used to their advantage.
The Desert Eagles are classified as a Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter, and they follow the sacred tome with few variations in terms of organisation. They follow the tactics presented in the Codex, efficiently making use of different standard units, but frequently intermix and alter tactical decisions so that the Chapter cannot be readily countered. The addition of Primaris reinforcements has been received poorly due to their slow uptake of these decisions, a reflection of their Terran upbringing and previous engagements rather than ability.
The Desert Eagles are currently operating at near full-strength and organise their Chapter into 10 companies. In a reflection of the two cities of Audax the Chapter is often divided as two 5 Company forces known as Strikes, with the 1st - 5th Companies' shoulder pads being crimson to denote this whilst the 6th - 10th Companies have brown shoulder pads with a crimson trim. The appointment to Strike Captain is an incredible honour within the Chapter and often precludes appointment to Chapter Master, as a Chapter Master cannot himself lead a Strike as he must focus on the operation of the Chapter as a whole.
The Desert Eagles were established in the Second Founding (M31) from a Chapter of Ultramarines that survived the Battle of Calth, and are therefore descended from Roboute Guilliman. They have not experienced any significant issues from their gene-stock and answered Guilliman's call for aid upon his return, though the deviation of their combat doctrine has brought issues when fighting alongside other Astartes forces.
Chapter Master Catius Thassor - Catius Thassor was a former Captain of the Ultramarines Legion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy, achieving esteem for his service during the Battle of Calth. He became the Desert Eagles' first Chapter Master during the Second Founding and led them to their Homeworld of Audax, establishing the fortress-monastery Basilica Solitudinem upon the planet's weathered surface.
Chapter Master Martellis Riol - Martellis Riol is the current Chapter Master of the Desert Eagles following the death of his predecessor during the early Indomitus Crusade. Riol was formerly the Captain of the 5th Company and inherited Talonstrike, a Master-Crafted spear with attached bolt-pistol that is the pride of the Chapter. He was notoriously besieged by Desert Eagles forces for three days at the peak of one of the few remaining towers on Audax where he had made his lair prior to joining the Chapter, a feat thrice that of any previous aspirant. Utilising the crumbling nature of the ferrocrete building against them he was able to combat the incapacitating weaponry deployed against him in a cruel reflection of the Chapter's tactics. Only the intervention of an apothecary saved him at the conclusion of the siege from dying due to exhaustion, and the legend of his stand spread quickly throughout the Chapter.
Strike Captain Adonis Rake - Adonis Rake was a former Captain of the 1st company and Strike Captain in M36, when he led the 1st, 3rd and 4th Companies as a Strike against a significant Drukhari pirate threat. The two forces tactics were each a reflection of the other, however the lightning speed of the forces of Commorragh caught Rake both unaware and unprepared. The ensuing destruction led to the complete obliteration of the Strike, and the loss of experience and resources was a severe hit against the Desert Eagles, who sorely swear vengeance upon those who inflicted their destruction. Ever since the Chapter has favoured younger leaders and highly commemorates exceptional service of an individual, rather than solely years in service.
"Fluid/interchanging/responsive tactics" is justification for my terrible choices during actual games of 40k, thought it might reflect nicely in the lore as well.
I understand that Calth was an Agri-World prior to the Horus Heresy, and though I haven't read the books covering the Battle of Calth I'm banking on an image of Calth pre-heresy containing what appears to be deserts. If there's any issues I could switch the planet that the desert fighting takes place on, I just imagined that the Battle of Calth would be such a significant and defining moment in the Ultramarines' history that it'd send shockwaves even 10,000 years later in how some chapters function.
Full credit for the images goes to two very talented artists on DeviantArt, Kai Lim for the first which was for a series of Soul Drinkers novels, and Algrim-Whitefang for the Astartes image which I combined from a few of their images. I believe the shoulder pad is from the 5th ed. Space Marine Codex? Very easy to find on the various wikis. All were recoloured in Photoshop using Hue/Saturation layers.
I chose to use the Raven Guard insignia as transfers are made for them and I didn't want to use a third-party printing service when I already have a significant number of them. The insignia would usually be on a brown or crimson background anyway which should be different enough from the black.
If you wish to replicate the banners I've used here I'm more than happy to send the Photoshop file through.
Edited by Maque, 12 March 2021 - 03:29 AM.