Like clay I shall mould them and in the furnace of war I shall forge them. They shall be of iron will and steely sinew.
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In great armour I shall clad them and with the mightiest weapons shall they be armed. They will be untouched by plague or disease; no sickness shall blight them. They shall have such tactics, strategies and machines that no foe will best them in battle. They are my bulwark against the Terror. They are the Defenders of Humanity.
They are my Space Marines The Space Marines or Adeptus Astartes are foremost amongst the defenders of humanity , the greatest of the Emperor of Mankind 's warriors.
They are barely human at all, but superhuman; having been made superior in all respects to a normal man by a harsh regime of genetic modification, psycho-conditioning and rigorous training. Space Marines are untouched by plague or any natural disease and can suffer wounds that would kill a lesser being several times over, and live to fight again.
Clad in ancient Power Armour and wielding the most potent weapons known to man, the Space Marines are terrifying foes and their devotion to the Emperor and the Imperium of Man is unyielding. They are the God-Emperor's Angels of Death, and they know no fear. The Astartes are physically stronger, far more resilient and often mentally far removed from the lot of most normal human beings.
Why do the Adeptus Astartes have that name?
In the presence of the Astartes, most people feel a combination of awe and fear, and many cultures on the more primitive worlds simply worship them outright as demigods or angels of the God-Emperor made flesh.
They should feel so, for many Space Marines feel little compassion for those they have sometimes termed "mortals" in comparison to themselves, seeing the very people they were created to protect as little more than obstacles to a more efficient eradication of the Imperium's enemies.
This is an attitude sometimes taken by whole Chapters. They see normal humans as frail, weak creatures given to the follies of temptation, avarice, greed, lust and cowardice -- all emotions they rarely feel, if ever. Yet there are some Astartes who remember why they were created by the Emperor, who avoid the trap of hubris which the Space Marines are so prone to and which has seduced so many of their number to serve the Ruinous Powers of Chaos.
They are the final guardians of Mankind , the saviours of last resort. They were intended not to lead humanity, but to defend it, sometimes even from itself.
Adeptus Astartes Resources
At the heart of that mission lies the limitless compassion the Emperor extended to every man and woman in the galaxy when He willingly chose to condemn Himself to more than 10, years of imprisonment within a dying prison of flesh for their sake. Some Astartes sneer at compassion, seeing it as one more human weakness that has been purged from their superior transhuman bodies and minds.
But the wisest of the Space Marines know that in the end, compassion is their only salvation. Potential Space Marines are usually, but not always, recruited from the worlds where a Chapter has established its fortress-monastery , although some Chapters are known to recruit from a collection of different worlds in an area of space that they protect or frequent.
Recruiting methods vary from Chapter to Chapter.
Some select their Neophytes from feral tribes roaming the surface of inhospitable worlds, while others draw upon eager volunteers who have been groomed from birth to become an Astartes. Still others watch and kidnap potential warriors, turning them into Astartes whether they will it or not.
Whatever the method, all Space Marine Chapters will only accept those who successfully pass the grueling initiation trials and prove themselves worthy of becoming a Space Marine. However a man becomes a Space Marine does not matter: once his body has been forged into that of a transhuman Astartes, he must forever stand apart from the people to whom he was once kin and who he is now sworn to protect. Once a man becomes a Space Marine, he is no longer mortal; his genetic heritage is now that of the Emperor Himself, and a spark of the same divine majesty flows in his veins.
Since the opening of the Great Rift , these Chapters have been comprised of a mixture of traditional Firstborn Space Marines and the even more enhanced Primaris Space Marines , or may contain only Primaris Marines. A list of the most notable and well-known Chapters in the Imperium can be found here. However, the exact population of Astartes in the galaxy remains far from exact and may fluctuate widely depending on the time period and the circumstances confronting the Imperium.
The Space Marines are the Imperium of Man's supreme warriors. Genetically-enhanced to be the ultimate soldiers of Mankind , they are far stronger and more resilient than ordinary human beings. Space Marines are organised into roughly a thousand Chapters, with each Chapter numbering approximately warriors organised into ten companies of troops each. Each Chapter is a self-sufficient Imperial army, equipped with its own spacecraft and capable of responding at a moment's notice to any threat to the security of the Imperium.
Every Chapter is fiercely proud of its history and achievements, and each one has its own distinctive colours and heraldic markings.
These were established at the Chapter's Founding and are displayed with pride upon all of its armour and vehicles. All of the wargear of the Space Marines is painstakingly maintained, and many items are covered in lines of intricately rendered devotional script in High Gothic , each line detailing a battle honour won in a glorious campaign.
A Space Marine is a towering, transhuman warrior, his brute strength tempered by inhuman skill. He is armed with the fearsome Bolter , a blessed weapon that fires devastating, mass-reactive shells that explode within the flesh of the target.
He is protected by a suit of Power Armour , shielding him from the fiercest of enemy fire whilst simultaneously strengthening his blows and allowing him to survive the most hostile of environments. He is the product of intensive training and genetic manipulation, which transforms mortal men selected from the deadliest warrior races in the known galaxy into the most lethal of superhuman killing machines in Mankind 's arsenal.
The Space Marines can trace their origins back to the Unification Wars on Terra in the late 30th Millennium, when the Emperor of Mankind first revealed His existence and led regiments of deadly genetically-engineered soldiers known as Thunder Warriors in a great campaign to unite all of the myriad techno-barbarian tribes and nation-states of Old Earth under his rule.
From the outset of his retaking of Terra, the Emperor employed genetically modified warriors within His forces and in these early enhanced troops lay the origins of what would later become the Space Marine Legions. During the Age of Strife , known as " Old Night " on Terra, the cradle of Mankind had seen more than its fair share of augments and "super" soldiers created both from the bio-alchemy of genetic engineering and cybernetic augmentation.
But it was the Emperor's own Thunder Warriors, named for the early thunderbolt and raptor's head heraldry used by their master in the Imperium's earliest days, that were to prove superior to all of them. These superhuman warriors were a gestalt mix of unprecedented superhuman physical power, gene-programmed resistance to environmental and even psychic attack, a warlike spirit and the Emperor's own strategic genius.
The Thunder Regiments were an army unlike any that had come before them, and the forces of the powerful tyrants of Old Earth had nothing to match them. This Unification of humanity's homeworld marked the beginning of the Imperium of Man and the Emperor's quest to reunite all of humanity under a single interstellar government.
This quest was intended to prevent His species' extinction from the growing threats which confronted the human-settled galaxy in the wake of the Age of Strife. But despite their many early victories in the Unification Wars, the Thunder Warriors were far from perfect. Some were mentally unstable, others suffered catastrophic biological failure after an unprecedented span of years as their own superhuman physiques turning against them in the end.
List of Space Marine Chapters
It seems obvious in retrospect that the Emperor knew early on that a more permanent and stable force of genetically enhanced warriors was needed, so even while the Thunder Warriors waged war in their early days the Emperor gathered about Him a team of savants and gene-wrights, some willing and others as captives taken from His foes, and constructed new genetics laboratories deep in the vast dungeons of the former Sigillite fortress He had taken on His own beneath the Himalazian Himalayan Mountains.
Labour there went on for solar decades in absolute secrecy and resulted in the creation of the Primarchs and other wonders of gene-craft known and unknown. Into their creation went all the secret history and genetic lore of the Age of Strife, hard wisdom gained through the success and failure of the Thunder Warriors and the Emperor's own unparalleled genius. In these days in which we now live, however, heroes are indeed born, in the gene-forges of the Emperor's genius. To be a hero amongst such warriors as these is true achievement, and one even the most elevated of our forebears could never have dreamed of.
A Pre-Heresy VII Legion Tactical Squad Marine in Unification Wars -era livery, wearing an early variant of Mark II Crusade Pattern Power Armour ; the eagle and lightning flash device called the Raptor Imperialis on the left shoulder pauldron makes it likely the warrior was a veteran of the very first wave of Imperial Compliance actions fought beyond the Sol System ; of particular note is the use of yellow heraldry on several segments of the Legionary's armour; limited to the right arm and shoulder, this dates the Legionary's original induction to just after the Fall of Roma.
The first among the Space Marines were hand-picked men drawn from the Emperor's personal bodyguard. These volunteers were subjected to surgical, genetic and psychological modification. With rigorous training and appropriate mental conditioning they became not only immensely strong and tough, but iron-willed and disciplined, no longer prone to the psychological damage that normally affected humans facing the stress of constant combat.
They were an unstoppable force whose loyalty to the Emperor was unflinching. Quickly the process was refined and systematised, and the numbers of the new enhanced warriors, at first armed and armoured as the Thunder Warriors had been, grew swiftly. The first Astartes were organised into twenty distinct regiments numbering no more than a few hundred warriors each. Although it remained a dire secret at the time, it is now widely believed that this division was more than a merely administrative one, as each regiment contained variant " gene-seed " encoding drawn from a different primogenitor Primarch.
This often manifested its influence in subtle and unexpected ways, not least of all in influencing the psychological character of the genetically enhanced warriors.
With the regiments expanding rapidly into full Legions with the intake of new blood from the areas of Terra that had already joined cause with the Emperor, the new warriors quickly eclipsed and replaced the mighty but far less-disciplined and mentally unstable Thunder Warriors.
As the proto-Space Marine Legions were unleashed in the latter days of the Unification Wars, victory followed victory in quick succession. As time went on, the Space Marine regiments became Legions as the Emperor recruited young men from amongst the newly conquered tribes of Old Earth and the hundreds of Astartes in service to the Imperium swiftly became tens of thousands.
These superhuman troops dominated the final days of the Wars of Unification, easily defeating all their Terran opponents and forcing those among the Tech-priests of Mars who had intervened in the conflict on Terra to delay the Emperor's victory to sue for peace.
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But in truth, the victories of the early Space Marines created a new problem within the Imperial fold. The Emperor had been right to be worried about His earlier creations, the Thunder Warriors.
One ancient source claims that even before the Unification Wars had ended, the Thunder Warriors, already jealous of their replacements' long lives, at last realised that their creator had cursed them with short lifespans as a result of their imperfect genetic augmentations. In their rage and fear, they turned upon Him for what they saw as His betrayal. It was a cadre of several hundred Custodians of the Legio Custodes , the Emperor's bodyguard, even then believed to have been led by the legendary Constantin Valdor , and accompanied by several thousand prototype Astartes of the I Legion of the newborn Space Marines, that stood in the Emperor's defence, carrying out a merciless culling of the obsolete and rebellious gene-soldiers.
Despite such tragedies, the Space Marines fought with righteous zeal and it was they who first referred to their mission as a "Crusade. The armour they wore was not new, but the same partially powered armour that had evolved on Old Earth and was worn by the elite of both the Emperor's armies and the techno-barbarian tribes that had fought against Him.
Some of this "Thunder Armour," first named for the Thunder Regiments that were the Legions' forebears, was newly forged, but the Emperor's warsmiths also took or cannibalised many suits from the armouries and corpses of conquered foes. As if to mark a break from the wars of the past, the armour of the first Astartes was cast in storm cloud grey, and bore only the thunderbolt and lightning marks of Imperial Unity.
Over time, the Space Marine Legions gained their own marks of distinction and character. Names, Emperor-given in some cases, others by the Primarchs, came to replace the Legions' original numbers, with many Space Marine companies seeking to single themselves out from their brother Legions.
Battle honours were accumulated and the effect of each Legion's character worked upon them, so that as the Legions expanded to conquer the galaxy, storm cloud grey became granite, silver, viridian, sable, gold, ocean, ash or ice, and by the time of the Triumph of Ullanor , the "Grey Legions" of the Unification era were gone, lost to history. Of the 1, or more Space Marine Chapters thought to be in existence at the present time, a blessed few can trace their beginnings back to an age more than ten thousand standard years ago in the late 30th Millennium, when the Emperor of Mankind still walked amongst mortals.
In those days, the Emperor first created the Primarchs , 20 immortal superhumans blessed with extraordinary intelligence, charisma and sheer physical might who were to be His proconsuls, generals and closest comrades during the Great Crusade to reunite the scattered and long-isolated human colony worlds after the end of the Age of Strife. The Primarchs wielded powers the like of which are not known in the Imperium today, yet they were lost to the Warp in an accident deep within the Emperor's gene-laboratories beneath the fortress that would become the Imperial Palace.
They were were scattered, still in their gestation capsules, through the Immaterium to worlds across the galaxy by the will of the Dark Gods of Chaos. The first Space Marines of the nascent Imperium were also the creation of that era, each made using the genetic inheritance of one of the Primarchs, albeit diluted a hundred times, for no merely human body could contain such power.
As each of the Primarchs were encountered in turn by Imperial Expeditionary Fleets during the progress of the Great Crusade, they became the natural and obvious leader of the Space Marine Legion created from their genetic material and with whom they had so much in common. In many cases the Primarch's adopted world became the new base of operations for their Legion and was known henceforth as that Legion's homeworld. The Primarchs then recruited their loyal followers from each of these world's peoples into the ranks of their Legion while others were given rights to draw fresh blood from suitable warlike worlds that were liberated as the Great Crusade progressed.
With the re-discovery of the Primarchs and in many cases newly adopted homeworlds used as Legion fiefs most commonly the worlds upon which a Legion's new master had been found , this was to change the character and culture of the original Legions profoundly.
Some alterations were superficial: a habit of speech, a change in close-quarter tactics, martial traditions and warranted additions to iconography and even language.
But for others the change would prove dramatic, with entire paradigms of culture, tradition and even ideology overwriting what had come before, such as in what came to be known as the Space Wolves and Dark Angels Legions. In many cases the stamp of the Legions and the will of the Primarchs on their recruits came to largely outweigh differences of birth or blood. But in other Legions such as the Luna Wolves and the Emperor's Children , a subtle divide would grow between those veterans born on Terra who had been recruited into the ranks of the Astartes by the Emperor and those who had come into the Legion from their Primarch's homeworld.
This cultural rift would be one factor among many that would lead several of the First Founding Legions towards ultimate damnation.