Hey guys! I've composed a second draft of the fluff for my homebrew chapter, the Stormhunters. If it seems like I'm obsessed with these guys, then yes, I am, and I apologize. As a result, this chapter is excessively detailed and thus the thread will be very long
: you can get a Word doc of this, including optional crunch rules, on 2shared here
. Other than that, enjoy!
++++++++++++++++Transmitted: Adept Halken………………………….
++++++++++++++++Received: Astropath Algern…………………………
++++++++++++++Destination: Inquisitor Diocles…………………………
+++++++++++Telepathic Duct: Astropath Wessan…………………………
+++++++++++++Subject: Report on Stormhunters…………………………
+++++++++++++++++Author: Autosavant Sybern…………………………
++++Thought for the Day: Examine Your Thoughts.
By the authority of the Immortal Emperor of Mankind, this article (and any transcript thereof), are classified information, for Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Diocles (or his duly appointed deputies), eyes only.
As you requested, here is all of the information I was able to acquire in the thirteen months that I have been attached to the Stormhunters Space Marine chapter. If I may dare to say so, my lord, for such a secretive and relatively unknown chapter as you suggest, these Space Marines have been surprisingly forthcoming with information, although that may have more to do with either their lack of personal honor and pride that seems to encompass most other chapters or my Inquisitorial ties. In any case, I believe this article should answer your questions about the behavior of these marines serving in the Deathwatch, but if it does not, I will remain attached and see what additional information I can acquire.
I remain your humble servant.
The Emperor protects.
The origins of the Stormhunters are very ambiguous, with most of the details being legend. They have a large store of Mk6 Corvus power armor and, since their earliest days, have shown a predilection towards stealth and infiltration (or so I’ve been told), both marks of a Raven Guard successor chapter. However, they venerate Rogal Dorn as their Primarch and maintain ties to the Imperial Fists and their successor chapters.
Their genetic history is even more confusing. In every gene-seed sample recorded by the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Betcher’s Gland has been missing, but that is the only known consistent mutation. Other mutations include the Mucranoid and/or Sus-an Membrane failing to develop properly despite chemical treatment, genetic trademarks of the Raven Guard and Imperial Fists, respectively. However, the Melanchromic Organ consistently functions normally; there is no paling of skin or darkening of eyes, as is consistently the case with Raven Guard successors. The Magos I spoke to confirmed that there was no attempt to splice or mix the gene-seeds of the Imperial Fists and Raven Guard in the creation of the Stormhunters; it may be one or the other with a minor mutation. Overall, no concrete answers can be gleaned.
In any case, the Stormhunters don’t seem to dwell on the subject much. The legend of their origin goes that, some time in late M38, Theridus and his followers came to the Death World of Prima Tempestus, located in the Segmentum of the same name, and cleared only enough of the jungle so that they would be able to build their Fortress Monastery, which he then christened “Our Beleaguered Home”. The vicious predators, carnivorous plant life, and difficult terrain, almost unbelievably so at times, would remain constant albeit disorganized threats to the Space Marines – the perfect environment for initiates to be tested.
Theridus declared that his Space Marines would be “the hunters of storms, the seekers of tempests, and from this world of Dystopia, from Our Beleaguered Home, we shall outfight and outthink our foes! In our wake, we shall leave nothing left alive!” So were the first Stormhunters born. In the following years, the Stormhunters built their chapter and fought the foes of the Emperor. Much of their fighting, however, was and still is centered in Ultima Segmentum rather than the Segmentum in which they made their home. The Stormhunters reached full chapter strength in 058.M39.
The Stormhunters continued to ply their trade of stealth and infiltration, crushing uprisings, destroying Chaos warbands, stopping Waaagh!s in their tracks, and holding their own against Eldar warhosts; in other words, they were quite busy. Then, in 223.M39, at the battle of Teresa Secundus, Chapter Master Theridus was critically wounded by an Ork Warboss by the name of Badzogga. Badzogga was slain by the combined sniper fire of four squads of neophytes, completely destroying his head (according to legend) and leaving him vulnerable to the bolterfire of the other, now-enraged Battle Brothers. Theridus, meanwhile, was pulled away by his Terminator Armor-clad honor guard squad, apparently dead. Later that day, however, it was announced by the 1st company captain that Theridus had miraculously recovered, and that the Emperor alone was worthy of praise for such a convalescence…more on that later.
Ever since Teresa Secundus, Theridus continued to make the occasional, miraculous recovery. While pouring through the chapter’s cogitator archives, I observed that the Stormhunters’ general demeanor became more cynical and jaded over time, although I have found nothing to suggest that they were turning away from the Emperor or developing heretical practices. I was caught by one of the chapter’s techmarines, however, and after explaining myself, my purpose, and the above take on the chapter’s history, the techmarine proceeded to put a rather different spin on it. The Stormhunters were not becoming more cynical, but savvier and more aware.
According to the techmarine, they were becoming willing to shoot a Chaos Lord in the middle of his monologue and learning that a chainsword to a heretic leader’s groin is not dishonorable, or that covering one’s power armor in skulls, tabards, capes, robes, gold or silver plates, and other embellishments beyond those provided is more likely to draw fire than to inspire fear (or that the one is a result of the other), or that there’s little need to charge an Avatar of Khaine head-on when an orbital bombardment works just as well – and if it doesn’t, then concentrated lascannon fire will. This serves to strengthen them against the threat of heresy. To them, succumbing to chaos taint isn’t just heretical; it’s stupid in the long run.
In my perusals, however, I found that they are quite ruthless as well. They are willing to accept noncombatant casualties if it means the destruction of an enemy, and even in their thoroughness in cleansing heresy from worlds, they tend to leave planetary infrastructures worse off than when they found them. This may be true of all Space Marine chapters, but the Stormhunters moreso. Also after Teresa Secundus, the Stormhunters began to focus primarily on the threat the alien. Perhaps Theridus’s near-death left a mark on their collective psyches; they battled and learned the methods of the alien because they felt compelled to prevent another Teresa Secundus. The reasons of then are different from the reasons of now, my lord, as you will see.
In any case, not only did the Stormhunters become more jaded/savvy, but they also began to diverge from the Codex. Squad and company designations began to disappear; non-Codex-approved camouflage began to be painted on power armor to better hide the Stormhunters, in contrast to other Space Marines who openly wear their colors and heraldry. Most critically, the 1st company began to distance itself from the rest of the chapter. Two veteran squads were added to each battle company, and the chapter’s supply of Land Raiders was split equally between the battle companies. The 1st company veterans became known as the Foe Hunters. All of this would have drastic consequences in 742.M41.
Damocles Gulf Crusade
The Stormhunters were among those Imperial forces that were committed to the Damocles Crusade. They committed a sizeable force to the conflict, with their 2nd, 3rd, and 5th companies directly participating and their 6th, 7th, 9th, and elements of their scout companies in a supporting role. I don’t know why they aren’t listed in the Administratum’s records, my lord, but the Stormhunters’ cogitator archives contain greatly detailed records of their involvement in the fighting on Dal’yth, and there are many veterans of the conflict in the chapter’s upper echelons.
During the initial reclamation of the rebellious Imperial colonies, the Stormhunters were quite harsh on the civilian populace. Minimizing collateral damage was not critical to them, and they were keen on executing known or suspected sympathizers. This caused friction with the other Space Marine chapters participating in the Crusade, sans the Black Templars, whose leader seemed to approve. He who allows the alien to live shares its crime of existence, as you are so keen to remind me.
Afterwards, the Stormhunters did not see much action on the ground; most of the glory was claimed by the Scythes of the Emperor, as I recall. This changed when the Crusade stalled at Dal’yth. The Stormhunters were not assigned to any of the three wedges in particular, but instead provided support where needed and generally attacked the Tau wherever they could. What followed was a battle of wits between Tau commanders and Stormhunter captains as the latter applied their usual stealth tactics. The Stormhunters, as did the rest of the Imperium, exchanged victories and defeats with the Tau. While the other Imperial forces grew to respect the Tau’s battle prowess, only the Stormhunters’ hate grew with every battle. They did not take defeats well, for they thought the alien so low and so inferior to mankind that to be defeated by one was to be outsmarted by a Servitor. As their anger grew, their methods expanded from mere ambush and sabotage to acts of terrorism.
Speaking of methods, that the Stormhunters had deviated so far from the Codex was cause for significant friction between themselves and the Ultramarines and their successors. The sons of Guilliman scorned them for their “dishonorable” tactics and their “sacrilege” towards Roboute Guilliman and his work – the work that, to be sure, saved the Imperium. The Stormhunters fired back (verbally; no need for alarm, my lord) by defending their choices, saying that they have become more effective warriors by deviating from the Codex, and accusing the Ultramarines of naivety and reckless glory-hounding. If the Codex was the key to victory for Space Marines, then why weren’t they winning the Damocles Crusade? Tensions between the Stormhunters and the Ultramarines and their successors nearly reached a boiling point when the Crusade ended; if it had continued, open conflict between the two chapters would have been likely.
In any case, the Damocles Crusade was called off due to the impending approach of Tyranid hive fleet Behemoth, and the Imperium negotiated a peace with the Tau Empire. The Stormhunters departed from the Crusade fleet under the pretext of rebuilding from the losses suffered by their chapter and did not participate in the Battle for Macragge. They would not face the Tyranid menace until fifty years later. After that, Theridus gathered his remaining Stormhunters and announced that the chapter would no longer heed the dictates of the Codex Astartes at all; they would improvise and outsmart their foe, as they always had.
Normally, that would be the end of it, my lord. Recently, however, the aforementioned Foe Hunters, having either discovered my Inquisitorial ties or simply decided that I was trustworthy or easily silenced, have revealed to me the truth surrounding Theridus. In truth, Theridus is dead and has been since Teresa Secundus. Every miraculous recovery was simply a member of his bodyguard inheriting his weapons, his armor, and his identity. As is standard for a Codex chapter, every member of the 1st company is trained in the use of Terminator armor, so a Foe Hunter can ascend to membership of the Companions, Theridus’s honor guard, if necessary. I will describe the Foe Hunters in more detail later.
In the interests of preserving a chapter of effective alien hunters that so far has shown no evidence of heretical practices or deviation from the guiding light of the Emperor, I have neglected to inform the other Battle Brothers outside of the 1st company. I am willing to begin spreading the truth if you so will it, my lord, but I am certain that my life expectancy would be very short if I attempted to do so, for your consideration.
The Tempestus System
The Tempestus system is so named because it was allegedly the very first star system to be claimed in Segmentum Tempestus by mankind; I cannot confirm for certain whether that is true. In actuality, the Stormhunters tend to traverse and patrol the Ultima Segmentum due to the increased likelihood of a Tau presence, but make no mistake: they are intent on destroying all aliens everywhere, including Segmentum Tempestus. On paper, the Stormhunters rule only their homeworld of Dystopia, but in practice they hold considerable influence over the outlying worlds as well and are as much responsible for their defense as they are for Dystopia’s.
Few are the planets so deserving of the term “hellhole” as Dystopia, formerly known as Prima Tempestus. Almost every nightmarish environment that could possibly make up a world is present on Dystopia. According to the data my Lexmechanic collected from planetary scans, an estimated 20% of the planet is Volcanic; 5% is composed of lifeless deserts of grey sand and sediment; the northern and southern poles are frozen and blinding blizzards are commonplace; and the remainder is composed of dense and humid jungles filled with carnivorous plantlife. Each locale has its own predators, many of which are strong or insidious enough to take on a Space Marine and come out on top. The atmosphere is poison and clouds constantly cover the planet, often precipitating rain that is sometimes acidic enough to cut through flak armor, though carapace, power, and Terminator armors are safe from it. With such hazards and inhibitions in place, there is little wonder why Theridus chose the planet to become the Stormhunters’ homeworld.
Standing in the middle of a clear field surrounded by jungle is a towering fortress of adamantium and ceramite, topped by a shrine dedicated to Rogal Dorn that has withstood the environment and the test of time for three millennia. This structure, the only man-made structure standing on Dystopia, is Our Beleaguered Home, the Fortress-Monastery of the Stormhunters. It is staffed primarily by the leaders of the Chapter when not fighting in another theatre of war, by newly-inducted Battle Brothers seeking assignment to a company, and by potential recruits brought back from campaigns. Battle Brothers stationed here go through daily rituals and battle practice as normal, but the predators of Dystopia are perceived as being part of the practice rather than interruptions to it, representing the chance of random encounters in battle, and Battle Brothers are expected to adapt accordingly.
Dystopia has little in the way of natural resources and has no industrial capability; truly, no good can come of it! The Stormhunters thus turn to, in what I am certain is a massive bout of coincidence, the forge world of Secunda Tempestus. This world is ruled by a conclave of Magos whom the Stormhunters must beseech for vehicles, wargear, and other materials. Secunda Tempestus is responsible for the industrial output of the entire system; whisper has it that collectively, the Magos are growing sick of the Stormhunters, whose ambitions mean that they must produce even more for them at the expense of the rest of the system.
This forge world has recently churned out a new pattern of Dreadnought. The Morpheus-pattern Dreadnought uses the same chassis as the standard Dreadnought, but its ranged weapon is replaced by a second close-quarters combat weapon and two Whirlwind missile launchers have been mounted on its hull, onto its shoulders. The Stormhunters hope to prove its worth in combat to other chapters, and in so doing gain respect for their chapter. Again, I will describe it in greater detail later; as of right now, the Stormhunters are the only chapter known to use this Dreadnought pattern.
Tertia & Quarta Tempestus
Tertia and Quarta Tempestus are an arid Mining World and an Agri-World, respectively. The food imports from Quarta Tempestus are sent to the other planets of the system with the exception of Dystopia, but oftentimes they are not enough to feed all of the population. In earlier times, the resources mined from Tertia Tempestus would be used by the forges of Secunda Tempestus to build war machines and wargear that would see service throughout all of the Imperium. Those resources are still sent there, but now they are used first and foremost to supply the Stormhunters with whatever they need.
The Stormhunter of the present is the Stormhunter of the past, times ten. He wants to be able to glare at an alien and kill it with his righteous gaze alone, and especially wants to destroy the works of the Tau to avenge the deaths of his brothers at their hands. He places little emphasis on personal honor, and it translates not only to his armor’s heraldry (or lack thereof), but also to his reliance on underhanded tactics such as sabotage, assassination, ambush, and even acts of terrorism. He is not just disdainful of those Space Marines who religiously adhere to the Codex Astartes, but outright paranoid that the Ultramarines and their successors are conspiring to enforce “Guilliman’s Grip” on all chapters, including those that do not claim Roboute Guilliman as part of their legacy, forcing them to fight in a manner that will destroy them and thumbing their noses at those who do not. He reveres Theridus alongside Rogal Dorn and the Emperor and claims Theridus to be blessed by the Emperor with long life and invincibility (excepting the Foe Hunters, who know what’s actually happening regarding that). He is pragmatic and ruthless, recognizing that the foes of the Emperor are realizing the weaknesses of Space Marines and that he must adapt accordingly and accepting of any price in innocent blood to be paid to ensure the complete destruction of his foe.
The Stormhunters are a strange predator, my lord. On the strategic scene, they are a rabid animal, hungering for flesh and battle, but once battle is joined, they are cunning indeed, seeking to outsmart and pin their foe rather than charge the foe head-on. Having been attached to the Novamarines and Genesis chapters before them, I also believe the Stormhunters stand at an opposite extreme from those two: while the Novamarines and Genesis chapters adhere to the Codex religiously, the Stormhunters refuse to consider the Codex at all; that their current organization resembles a Codex chapter at this time is mere coincidence, so they claim.
Ever since the Stormhunters abandoned the Codex Astartes, Theridus has given his captains free reign over the organization of their individual companies and ratifies ideas for new positions within a given company on request. For now, the Stormhunters borrow many concepts from the Codex, even though they claim not to be a Codex chapter. All companies but the 1st and the 10th, however, bear some things in common.
Firstly, the Stormhunters do not use company colors outlined in the Codex Astartes. This is done in order to conceal marines in such a way that few could tell the difference between marines of different companies and focus attacks on that company. 10th company Scouts wield camouflage cloaks whenever possible. Only 1st company veterans bear the Crux Terminatus on their right shoulder; other company veterans bear the Medallion of Storms, which confers the same status within an individual company.
Secondly, a typical battle company is composed of 4 tactical squads, 2 devastator squads, 2 assault marine squads, and 2 veteran squads for a total of 100 marines each. The make-up of individual companies can vary; a captain may decide to eschew assault squads for more tactical squads or more devastators. As of right now, the Stormhunters are over-strength, so some companies have more Battle Brothers than others. Only the number of veteran squads remains fixed; Theridus decreed that no company shall have more veterans than his own.
Recognizing that the Stormhunters companies would be fighting independent of each other more often than not, Theridus decreed that each battle company would be allotted three Land Raiders of varying types for fire support. As such, Land Raiders are no longer exclusive to the 1st company. Predators and Vindicators remain available on-demand, and Dreadnoughts remain attached to their individual companies.
The 1st company in its entirety is composed of the sinister Foe Hunters. These veterans have all served in the Deathwatch and are often deployed against specific alien foes. They have mastered the art of stealth in their power armor – a very difficult art to learn, it would seem, as power armor tends to be very noisy – and may call upon any and all wargear they may require to do so, including Terminator armor in which they have trained as well. Each Foe Hunter focuses on their favored enemy – a specific alien foe – and come together in squads of five to ten in order to combat it. All Foe Hunters know the truth of Theridus’s death, having been told so at some point during their service in the Deathwatch, but may not reveal it to anyone else under the Oath of Binding.
The 2nd through 5th companies remain as the battle companies and the 6th through 9th as reserve companies. A captain of one of the battle companies is given his own battlefleet, usually consisting of a strike cruiser and several escorts, and free reign over his company’s organization, tactics, and objectives in a given region of space; he is the master of his own company and answers to no one but Theridus and the Emperor. These battle companies are highly independent; the only demand Theridus makes of his children is that they return to Dystopia at least once within 20 years after they were deployed to return potential recruits and gene-seed to the Fortress-Monastery.
Battle Brothers of the reserve companies tend to be attached to a battlefleet belonging to a captain of a battle company. Captains of the 6th through 9th companies generally serve as advisors and successors to those of the battle companies, assuming a given captain has not already chosen one, and assist in the general execution of a campaign, building their own command squads and fighting on other fronts. In a given campaign, a battle company Captain is the supreme commander, with the reserve company Captain, Librarians, and Chaplains forming a strategic command staff off the battlefield.
Overall, despite professing to be a non-Codex chapter, the Stormhunters are organized similarly to a Codex chapter. They differ from other chapters in their choice of tactics, which I will describe later.
The Stormhunters 10th company acts in much the same way as it might in a Codex Chapter. It is reserved for newly-inducted initiates and Space Marine Scouts, who are divided and sent to serve alongside battle companies just as members of a reserve company are. They fulfill the same battlefield niche as do their Codex-adherent brethren, but they are expected to keep what they have learned for their entire lives. The process and standards by which the Stormhunters accept recruits mean that there will be few scout squads available on a regular basis.
One does not choose to become a child of Theridus; the children of Theridus choose you. The Stormhunters will generally recruit in the locale in which they are campaigning during the campaign. Battle Brothers are advised to keep a sharp eye out for promising young men during battle, especially on feral or medieval worlds. These potential recruits are brought back on board the strike cruiser or into a designated “safe zone” where their skills will be further honed and kept sharp as much as possible before the return trip to Dystopia.
Once the fleet arrives back at Dystopia – if it does – the aspirants are thrown into the wild and expected not only to survive, but also to slay a mighty predator from each locale. Where an aspirant can end up is entirely random; he can end up in a volcanic locale, or in the jungles, or in the arid desert, or in the frigid poles. There’s more than one predator for every locale, and the aspirant is expected to slay one from each and take a memorable trophy from them. Afterwards, they must find their way back to Our Beleaguered Home; although they will visit it when they return from campaign, the exact location will not be given to them.
It is an arduous process that takes several years, and it goes without saying that not all of them will survive. The ones that do will almost certainly need revival of some sort by the chapter’s Apothecarion. However, they will have earned the right to undergo the transformation into a Space Marine. They remain on Dystopia for a few more years, receiving their implants and undergoing brutal planetside training exercises against full Battle Brothers until they are called upon to serve in campaign. Neophytes must serve at least two campaigns before receiving his Black Carapace and being promoted to full Battle Brother status.
A newly-inducted Battle Brother generally waits at Our Beleaguered Home, conducting his daily rituals and battle practice until he is called to serve in a company. If by some chance two or more captains should lay claim to the same Battle Brother, a fair duel is fought between them in what is observed as the Blood Rites of Possession. The captains are garbed only in robes and armed only with a combat knife; the battle is fought to submission, and the winner adds the Battle Brother in question to his company.
It took 60 years for the Stormhunters to recover from their losses in the Damocles Crusade, and it likely would have taken a shorter time, I believe, had Theridus not dragged it on so that the chapter might be over-strength. By 803.M41 the Stormhunters numbered 1,200 Battle Brothers, discounting the Librarium, the Armory, the Reclusiam, Dreadnoughts, and the Honor Guard, and their numbers have stayed roughly around that figure since. According to my Lexmechanic, as of 999.M41, the Stormhunters number approximately 1258 Battle Brothers. This includes all command personnel, the Librarium, the Apothecarion, the Armory, Dreadnoughts, and Neophytes.
The Foe Hunters have a somewhat different means of initiation. When a Stormhunter is seconded to the Deathwatch, he is often accompanied by a member of the 1st company traveling under the guise of a “chapter contact.” Alternatively, he is also seconded along with the Stormhunter. I’m sure you’ve seen them in the Watch Fortresses; where there’s a Stormhunter in the Deathwatch, there is often a Foe Hunter. This Foe Hunter’s task is to inform the Deathwatch Stormhunter of Theridus’s death and to offer him a place in the 1st company at the end of his service. These Foe Hunters have already served in the Deathwatch and make a point of not asking about the Deathwatch Stormhunter’s experiences, so there is no – or at least, minimal – taboo surrounding their conversation. Refusal is often met with termination at the end of the Stormhunter’s term, but to this day, no Stormhunter has refused; often, the Stormhunter is simply talked out of his doubts and fantasies of spreading the truth to the chapter and persuaded that preserving the lie is the right thing to do, and in any case, the Oath of Binding keeps the Stormhunter from speaking of the truth, since he learned it under oath. Given the character of some of the Stormhunters that have joined the Deathwatch according to your report, my lord, that would make Foe Hunters very persuasive and very politically savvy men indeed, especially for Space Marines.
After a Deathwatch Stormhunter returns to his chapter and joins the 1st company, he dedicates the next 20 years to hunting a particular alien species and learning how best to hide and move silently in his power armor as though it were his carapace armor as a scout, all under the tutelage of a full Foe Hunter, usually the same one that persuaded him to join in the first place. After 20 years, it falls to the mentor to deem his pupil ready to join him and his brethren.
Stormhunters battle doctrine is grounded in stealth and trickery, but also in improvisation and quick thinking. Reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering forms a vital part of their overall strategy and is usually performed by scout squads, land speeders, and, if on hand, Foe Hunters, coordinated by a Damocles Command Rhino. This reconnaissance force monitors enemy movements to determine when a foe will be moving and where, allowing them to fight battles at a time and place of their choosing.
After determining the likely destination of an enemy, the Stormhunters deploy in advance, setting up traps and taking up ambush, overwatch, and sniper positions. When an enemy army passes through the battlefield, the Stormhunters spring their trap. Scouts and veterans outflank their foe, attacking weak points in enemy formations and targeting vehicles and enemy leaders. Tactical and Devastator squads open fire from positions of strength, suppressing enemy troops. Tanks and Dreadnoughts lead an armored charge to support the infantry while Rhinos and Razorbacks carry reinforcements to “trouble spots” where ambush squads and overwatch positions are in danger of being overrun. Assuming it hasn’t been struck already, the killing blow comes in the form of deep-striking Assault squads, outflanking Foe Hunters where applicable, and drop pods containing Dreadnoughts and veterans bearing plasma or melta weaponry if possible. These elements focus on enemy vehicles and leaders, supporting the tactical and devastator squads and, like jaws with rows of jagged teeth, clamp down upon the enemy and allow no escape. A variation of this strategy is the baiting of an enemy by harassing an army in transit and then pulling back to an ambush position.
The composition of a Stormhunters ambush changes with the company(s) performing it and the captain behind it, but the focus on stealth and ambush remains the same. Compared to the Novamarines and Genesis chapters, which rely more on general knowledge of the Codex, it seems as though the Stormhunters rely on intuition; where the former would look to the Codex for an approach, the latter comes up with an approach on the fly. Their comparative lack of personal honor means that they have no qualms about assassinating enemy leaders or sabotaging vehicles before fighting a battle. Cover is also used extensively in those occasions where the protection provided exceeds that of their armor. Their cogitator archives show that they have painted their armor in camouflage patterns not approved by the Codex and that they are also willing to support extremist groups such as Redemption cults against their foes. There also exists evidence of toxins produced by the Apothecarion and then applied to combat knives, bayonets, and chainsword blades. Put simply, my lord, they’re willing to try anything short of wielding xenos or chaos-tainted weaponry or other practices deemed heretical if it means the utter destruction of their enemies in the name of the Emperor.
Battles of the Stormhunters
Below is a selection of famous battles and events in the Stormhunters’ history. I could not always put together events solely from pict and vox recordings, my lord, and some elements are based on eyewitness accounts and are thus subject to embellishment.
Betrayal at Ungern
Even today, the Stormhunters are little-known by repute, and where they are recalled, they are often not well liked. That is not to say, however, that they are without friends. Most of the time, these friends are on an individual basis – battle necessitates the forming of strong bonds, so I’m told – but early in their history, they once counted an entire chapter among their friends. Being an…odd chapter, however, means that they had odd friends.
The Lions of Destramo were a successor chapter born from the Ultramarines, founded in 635.M39. Unlike many such chapters, they held only a loose interpretation of the Codex; their 3rd Company housed their veterans rather than their 1st, for reasons that I surmise were important to their founder, a 3rd company captain. While shunned by their fellow sons of Guilliman, they found fast and unlikely friends in the Stormhunters. The bonds of friendship became so strong that the Lions’ struggles and victories were the Stormhunters’ and vice versa.
Then, in 113.M40, the Lions of Destramo suddenly disappeared. Their titular homeworld and their Fortress Monastery were completely abandoned, their relics, servitors, and serfs gone. There were no signs of any of the chapter’s battle fleets. Distraught, Captain Euthymios of the 4th company, who led the search, returned to Dystopia.
Later, in 293.M40, the Stormhunters were fighting to retake the Ungern system from a warband of Chaos renegades led by a traitorous Imperial governor. From out of the blue, a Chaos Space Marine battlefleet emerged from the warp…bearing the iconography of the Lions of Destramo. They attacked the Stormhunters and Imperial forces almost immediately, spouting profanities and threats and swearing death against the Emperor. The Stormhunters were confronted with the twisted and mutated forms of their friends, their armor decked in spikes and symbols of the Dark Gods. The shock was such that they initially fell back, and the forces of Chaos made gains in the system.
Then, in their moment of despair, Chaplain Mercurias began a speech on all vox channels. He denounced the Lions of Destramo as traitors, spitting back the insults and threats the Lions had used against them and then some, chanting litanies of hate and stirring the Stormhunters into a frenzy. So great was this frenzy that they abandoned their usual stealth tactics, their patience for it buried under furious rage, and they charged head-first into their foe.
The charge paved the way to a costly but complete victory. The Stormhunters took many casualties, fighting in a manner they were relatively unfamiliar with, and Chaplain Mercurias suffered terrible wounds, but they had utterly annihilated the Lions of Destramo, moving with such great speed that no escape was possible for the traitors. Mercurias was entombed within a Dreadnought – he would become one of comparatively many – and the Stormhunters’ speed would not falter; within six months, the traitors were crushed and Imperial authority restored to the Ungern system before it could grow into an even greater disaster.
I have reason to believe that the Ungern campaign was great cause for the Stormhunters’ slide into cynicism. The idea that any man, any group, any planet, or any system could be a loyal friend one day and a traitor the next is a most discomforting one. Those Battle Brothers closest to Euthymios suggest that, having seen such close friends fall to Chaos with no explanation, the aging 4th company captain began to actively seek death, charging foes along with the tanks and dreadnoughts in an attempt to slay as many of the strongest as he could before being killed. That he is not the current 4th company captain suggests that he found the death he sought, one way or another.
The investigation into the events surrounding the Lions’ fall to Chaos continues even to this day, I believe. Our Beleaguered Home’s cogitator archives offer no new information into the matter; in any case, I am in no position to find the authority in charge of the investigation, much less request information on it.
The Stormhunters were able to opt out of the Battle of Ultramar under the pretext of rebuilding their chapter after the Damocles campaign. Perhaps that was for the better; tensions were still high after Damocles and a rift between the defenders would undoubtedly have resulted in a Tyranid victory. That also means that the Stormhunters would not see combat against the Tyranids until 50 years after that battle, in the Sybris campaign.
A splinter of Hive Fleet Behemoth slammed into the Dranol system in Ultima Segmentum. The PDF was quickly overwhelmed and Imperial Commander, ignorant of the Shadow across the Warp that the Tyranid hive fleet was projecting, sent out astropathic distress calls to anyone in the surrounding sector who was able to assist. As fate would have it, a Stormhunters fleet under the command of Captain Evaristus Doukas of the 5th company and Captain Creon of the 6th company, despite the shadow across the Warp, received the (admittedly garbled) astropathic message.
Another Ordo Xenos Inquisitor, one Asbadus Julius, was also traveling with the fleet to monitor any alien opponents the Stormhunters might come across and to check for any changes in their tactics or their organization, or just to keep a log concerning them if needed once they were destroyed utterly. He and the two captains conversed on the Strike Cruiser Bombard of Krom
. There, they deduced that the Sybris system would be next in the splinter fleet’s path. Deciding that Dranol was lost, they resolved to make their stand there instead.
Thus, the Stormhunters made for the feudal world of Sybris Primarus and began fortifying it against the Tyranid menace – and against the whims of its Imperial Commandress, Malarea d’ Sybris, and the rest of Sybris’s nobility. Shortsighted nobles are nothing new to most Space Marine chapters, much less the Stormhunters, who mostly ignored their complaints and turned the entire planet into a veritable fortress. The presence of an Inquisitor also kept the ruling class from developing any mutinous thoughts.
When the splinter fleet arrived at Sybris Primarus, they were met with staunch resistance despite being bloated by its devouring of Dranol. Captain Creon commanded the Imperial fleet while Captain Doukas took command of all Imperial ground forces on the surface. From the outset, the Imperial fleet was outmatched, despite facing just a splinter of Behemoth; a Strike Cruiser, three Nova frigates, and a Cobra-class destroyer had no chance of facing the splinter fleet head on. The majority of fleet actions were hit-and-run attacks, damaging hive ships in surgical strikes and intercepting spores when possible.
The Tyranid swarm that reached planetside was quite typical; hordes of gaunts threw themselves upon the lines and bunkers of the PDF, while the larger synapse creatures focused their might upon leader figures and obvious threats whilst they were distracted. The massive Carnifexes tore fortifications and armored vehicles apart to make way for the rest of the swarm. And at the head of it all was the Hive Tyrant who, with its psychic powers, tore apart man, machine, and mind alike.
The Stormhunters countered the only way they knew how: stealth and ambush. As is to be expected of a chapter facing the Tyranids for the first time, this did not always work. Ironically, the hordes of gaunts rooted out many ambush squads before they could assassinate their intended target, and the number of reports of sergeants and even whole combat squads being slain at the hands of Lictors were disturbing to say the least.
Death loomed over the heads of the Space Marines, but it did little to intimidate them. Quite the opposite; a fiery determination gripped the hearts of the Stormhunters. Far from accepting the inevitable death, they instead chose to deny it, to crush their foes and emerge victorious no matter the cost. They did not just refuse to die an inglorious death; they refused to die at all.
This was clearly seen in hab block Varangius, in what has become known as the Charge of Meletius. Although having taken multiple krak missiles, the Hive Tyrant still persevered and along with the rest of the swarm was moving into the hab block in order to secure and consume it, despite the fact that those citizens living in Varangius had been evacuated. The Stormhunters’ line was minutes away from breaking when sergeant Meletius and his 5th Company tactical squad charged the swarm.
Meletius batted away the incoming Hormagaunts with his power fist and the rest of his squad tore through them with combat knives and the bayonets affixed to their boltguns. Squad Meletius was already taking heavy casualties, not only from the swarms of Hormagaunts, but also from the Warriors and the Hive Tyrant taking venom cannon shots at them with a complete disregard for the lives of the Hormagaunts. By steely grit and iron will, Meletius shrugged off the pain, even as the rest of his squad died all around him, and with a mighty leap, he brought his power fist down upon the head of the Hive Tyrant, and followed with another blow and another and another in slow but steady succession until it collapsed, dead.
In that instant, the Tyranid swarm turned upon itself as Hormagaunts tore into each other, Warriors and Raveners fired upon each other, and Lictors and Carnifexes preyed upon all of them as well as each other. The success rate for assassinations improved to 55%, and then to 75% as those creatures who were not affected by the Hive Tyrant’s death, such as the Zoanthropes, were hunted down and killed, starting the process over anew. Meletius’s body was recovered along with the bodies of the rest of his squad and the Apothecarion determined that, through some miracle of the Emperor, sergeant Meletius would recover, though the rest of his squad was as good as dead.
The Tyranid offensive soon slowed and then ground to a halt. The Stormhunters pressed the attack, regaining the ground that they and the Sybris PDF had gradually lost to the swarm. The guerilla actions of the Imperial fleet were beginning to take their toll upon the hive fleet’s bio-ships, despite the latter dealing heavy damage to the former, and it soon became apparent that it would not be able to support the swarm for much longer. Leaving the planetbound swarm to fend for itself, the splinter fleet fled Sybris.
Without the support of the hive fleet, the Tyranid swarm soon ran out of steam, unable to halt the Imperial offensive, and was completely destroyed; Lexmechanics reported a 99.8% casualty rating, and Inquisitor Julius rationalized that, with the exception of Lictors or Genestealers, the rest would die without the support of the Hive Fleet. Captain Doukas demanded pursuit of the wounded splinter fleet, but Captain Creon and Inquisitor Julius advised against it, since the already diminutive Imperial fleet was in no condition to perform such a feat. The Bombard of Krom
herself had taken several hits to the starboard and aft sections of the ship; for certain, it would not survive another encounter with the hive fleet.
The following week, after all had been said and done, the Stormhunters departed from Sybris and returned to Dystopia to share everything they knew about the Tyranids. Inquisitor Julius took his leave shortly after. Besides being the first campaign in which the Stormhunters battled the Tyranids, the Sybris campaign is also notable for the fate of sergeant Meletius and the standard set by his judgment.
When Meletius retold the tale of his triumph to Captain Doukas, he was lambasted. Doukas reprimanded the sergeant for endangering not only those men in his squad who perished, but also the other squads who were holding the line with him at the time of the Charge and whom he had endangered. Meletius responded by saying that his men knew the risks as well as he did, and were prepared to give their lives so that the Tyranid threat might be halted, but Doukas would hear none of it. The journey to Dystopia was not only to deliver information about the Tyranids, but also to deliver the sergeant to judgment at the hands of Theridus.
Theridus heard the arguments of both Meletius and Doukas, but conceded to the latter. He sentenced Meletius to death, and dispatched him to Ultima Segmentum and into Tau territory, where he was to capture an Ethereal and return him to the chapter. In the two centuries following the Sybris campaign, he has not returned, and is presumed dead. The younger Stormhunters accepted Theridus’s decree without complaint, but amongst the older veterans and the leadership, the Death Oath was one of the most controversial ever decreed. Arguments between veterans raged and I have heard them rage still in those moments when they are not at war, though they have seldom become violent.
The message was clear: foolhardy heroics would not be tolerated under any circumstance.
The Bandersnatch Incident
Truly, this tale is a strange one, my lord. Roughly a century and a half ago, a Tau expeditionary force appeared suddenly on the Agri world of Lymaeus in Segmentum Tempestus. There was no fleet action, no spaceport activity, nothing at the time that could have explained the sudden Tau presence on the world; all of a sudden, Kroot packs, Fire Warrior teams, Crisis suits, and other elements of the Tau military appeared over the hills. They came spreading a message of peace and unity under the Greater Good, as they are wont to do.
Lymaeus did not have a PDF per se. Rivalry was so intense between the planet’s inhabitants that, of the planet’s 200,000 inhabitants, each and every one owned at least a Las-Lock or a hunting rifle of some sort. To their eternal credit, each and every last Imperial citizen took up their arms and open fired on the alien invaders. A lot of them died, of course, but it’s their faith in the Emperor that counts, and as you are fond of saying, the martyr’s grave is the keystone of the Imperium.
As well, an Astropathic distress call was broadcast from the spaceport. A Stormhunters battlefleet, led by the Strike Cruiser Lancea Longini
, responded to the call within a day. This battlefleet held the 3rd and 7th companies, led by Mordalius Pilate and Kamytzes, respectively. The Stormhunters descended upon Lymaeus with haste. While they found that the Tau had not yet taken a significant portion of the planet, they had christened themselves as a brand new Sept: Bor’yeon.
As the Stormhunters joined the populace in fighting the Tau, they also conducted preliminary reconnaissance, searching for leaders and observing their actions on and off the battlefield in order to construct psychological profiles with which to predict their actions. What they found in the Tau leadership resembled a Eutolmian Triad, itself supposedly grounded in mythical psychological theories of Old Terra. The following profiles were completed and stored in the Lancea Longini’s cogitator archives (accessed 5453999.M41):
Aun’La Bor’yeon Ko’vash
– the Ethereal leader of the Tau expedition responsible for the rechristening of the expeditionary force as a new Sept. He took on the name of his Sept to provide an example to his followers; previous Sept name unknown. As the name suggests, he is young and idealistic, easily the “heart” of the Tau expedition. It falls to him to balance the pragmatic strategies of Shas’O M’yen with the more direct and idealistic strategies of Shas’O Fio’shas.
Shas’O Vior’la M’yen Mal’caor
– the first of two Fire Caste commanders leading the Bor’yeon Sept. Unlike Aun’La Bor’yeon, Shas’O M’yen has not changed his Sept name in response to the creation of the Bor’yeon Sept. His upbringing shows in his tactics; he is a vicious and pragmatic combatant who favors the Kauyon strategy, fond of setting up large ambushes of Kroot and Fire Warriors and baiting enemies with Crisis and Stealthsuit teams.
Shas’O Bor’yeon Mon’tyr Fio’shas
– the second of two Fire Caste commanders leading the Bor’yeon Sept. Like Aun’La Bor’yeon, he has changed his Sept name in response to the creation of the Bor’yeon Sept, but his battlefield tactics and demeanor suggest that he was once of the Sa’cea Sept. He fights honorably and is generally merciful, favoring the Mont’ka strategy, striking with his cadre in force. Nicknamed “Fio’shas” by his troops because he helped to organize and plan the infrastructure of the new Sept – cities, military outposts, agricultural centers, etc.
Aun’La formed the Kirkonus, O’M’yen the Makhoey, and O’Fio’shas the Spahc, according to the Triad, although it seems to me that there is some overlap. Whether or not this occurred to the Stormhunters, I do not know, as in any case they quickly got to work attacking the Tau and training the populace in the art of guerilla warfare. What followed was a veritable tug-of-war between two armies whose philosophies centered mostly on ambush. The Stormhunters had grown adept at combating the Tau since the Damocles Crusade, but gains were few and sparse. The primary problem was that, no matter how many Tau they slew, they simply kept coming – and from where?
After a week of unfruitful offensives, the Stormhunters ceased trying to bait the Tau into ambush and instead fortified their positions, setting up traps and ambushes in the forests and tall grass the way they usually do. In the meantime, a deep reconnaissance force was assembled whose primary objective was to locate the Tau’s means of travel and reinforcement. Deep within Tau territory, surrounded by forests and overgrown plantlife, they found an insidious new alien: the Bandersnatch.
The Bandersnatch by itself is not malevolent. It is an immobile, plantlike creature resembling a Venus fly trap exported offworld from Old Terra. The creature has natural ties to the Warp, but rather than serving as a conduit for daemonic invasion, it instead serves as a means of safe transportation from one fixed point to another. It is speculated that the Bandersnatch forms a psychic link with another of its kind. That partner could be anywhere, from the same system to an entirely different Segmentum. A stable warp gate forms within its maw, allowing safe travel through the warp…on foot. The journey is similar to the Maw-Jericho gate that allows safe passage from the Koronus Expanse to the Jericho Reach, or perhaps even the Eldar Webway. Being a plant-creature, it is reasonable that the Bandersnatch receives nourishment from the sun. Its only defenses are a collection of long, barbed tentacles. It is unusually resistant to many forms of attack, but is not aggressive.
Nevertheless, circumstance made the Bandersnatch the enemy. The Tau were using a Bandersnatch on the other side of the galaxy to reach Lymaeus and establish a new Sept. The reconnaissance team did not risk attacking the creature over concerns of retaliation and a swift, pointless death, so they returned to the Stormhunters’ base of operations at the spaceport with the new information. Captain Pilate resolved to destroy the Bandersnatch by any means necessary; even if it cost their lives, the Tau would be stranded. (I assume, since Lymaeus still exists, that Exterminatus was out of the question, my lord.)
Luckily, the Stormhunters would not have to make that sacrifice. They received reinforcements from the Krieg 313th Infantry and 71st Armored regiments as well as the Catachan 62nd regiment of the Imperial Guard. Together, they mounted a massive counterattack with the Stormhunters forming the vanguard, ambushing and disrupting the foe while the Imperial Guard maintained a steady advance. Three weeks into the advance, with Imperial forces closing in, Shas’O Fio’shas attempted to punch through the Imperial Guard line and draw Stormhunter strength away from other Tau units. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams…and was killed for his trouble, his forces encircled and crushed between the Imperial Guard and Space Marines. The Tau were thusly deprived of his leadership.
Finally, a month after the initial Tau incursion, the Imperial forces assaulted the Tau headquarters, wherein the Bandersnatch was located. A squad of the 1st company’s Foe Hunters was deployed during the assault to assassinate Aun’La Ko’vash. In this, they succeeded, dealing a terrible blow to Tau morale, but before they could retrieve his body, they were deflected by two teams of Crisis suits led by Shas’O M’yen. O’M’yen showed his true colors that day; he fled with the Ethereal’s body through the Bandersnatch. With no centralized leadership left, many Tau and Kroot followed suit, although they were defended to the last moment by Broadside and Crisis battlesuits and Hammerhead gunships. The Bandersnatch itself fell under overwhelming firepower from both the Stormhunters’ armor and that of the Krieg 71st Armored regiment.
The surviving Guardsmen departed for battlefields yet unknown, while the Stormhunters spent the next few weeks hunting down pockets of stranded Kroot and Tau. They were thorough in their hunt for the alien, and to this day, no xenos taint remains on Lymaeus. Lymaeus, however, had suffered greatly in just this one-month conflict; of the 200,000 that inhabited the planet, only 90,000 remained, though they had fought bravely and with great tenacity. The planet itself was scarred by the conflict; food output would be reduced for several decades. The Bandersnatch incident caused diplomatic tension, such as it is within this massive realm, between the Imperium and the Tau Empire, but it would be one of many incidents that did so.
The Stormhunters’ gene-seed is not entirely pure, and anywhere from one to three of their implants may not be functioning. On top of that, they’ve abandoned entirely the Codex Astartes which guides almost all Space Marine chapters and they’re willing to try many things short of outright heresy. They are almost devoid of honor, preferring underhanded tactics to valor; only a sense of political savvy keeps them from deliberately angering other chapters, such as by wielding their relics. Their Chapter Master is given semi-divine status, and even that is a lie. Overall, it is not a pretty picture.
On the other hand, the Stormhunters as a whole have not renounced the Emperor, nor have they taken up arms against the Imperium without provocation. They are zealous in their hunt for xenos threats and are uncompromising in their pursuit of victory; surely you have seen that in those who have joined the Deathwatch. Even though they are disdainful of heroics common to other Space Marine chapters, they are also savvy enough to realize that cavorting with the powers of Chaos will end badly for them in the long run, giving them strength to face the heretic.
Having observed them for these thirteen months, I have little doubt that they are untainted by heresy, nor do they entertain thoughts of rebellion against the Imperium; after all, they certainly don’t think highly of those wretches who have defected to the Tau Empire. They seem content to rebel against the dictates of the Codex Astartes, however, and also content to break the traditional conventions established a thousand times over by chapters older than they.
I simply think that they’re too smart for their own good.