The Legio Cybernetica is the robotics branch of the Adeptus Mechanicus. It is one of the oldest branches, with records stretching back to the very first days of the Imperium, and presumably before then.
During the Great Crusade, members of this division served the Emperor, with the likes of Gergerra Rei leading two full cohorts of combat mechanoids fighting many battles alongside Warmaster Horus and his Luna Wolves.[3a] Members of the Legion became corrupted by Horus after he fell to Chaos and many of their units supported his ideal of an Imperium of Chaos. Following the outbreak of the Horus Heresy on Isstvan V, the bases of the corrupt Legio Cybernetica on Mars were immediately assaulted by loyalists.
Some of the Legio dedicated themselves to Horus during the Horus Heresy, almost every major campaign of which seeing the service of robots. Perhaps one of the most famous robot-vs-robot actions took place in the Eastern Industrial Sector of Myrdinn City during the Scouring of Entessian, when a small but well-programmed force of Traitor robots held off a small force of Firebrand Titans supported by dreadnoughts and robots for almost an hour, causing considerable disruption to the planned flanking sweep.
Following the defeat of the Heresy and the banishment of the Traitor Legions, the dishonored Legio cohorts also fled into the Eye of Terror, where they remain to this day. Since the defeat of Horus, the Legio Cybernetica has pledged itself anew to the Imperium. Its members now take binding oaths of loyalty more terrible than any Marine Chapter oaths.
At its height the Legio Cybenetica was organised into several thousand cohorts. Each cohort was similarly organised into one hundred maniples of three, four or five Robots, commanded by a Legio tech-priest. A cohort would be attached to a larger formation, such as an Imperial crusade, and spread their forces out to support each unit. Cohorts rarely took to the field as a whole - exceptions including the titanic fights of the Horus Heresy - with most battles involving just four or five maniples.
Each maniple was a self-contained unit, with the tech-priest giving the Robots their final programming and monitoring their progress during the battle. The maniple also had a number of other non-combatant tech-adepts for repair and maintenance work on the Robots between battles.
Typically, members of the Cybernetica made use of cyborg augmentations as is seen in most cases within the Mechanicum. Those that enjoyed a high status of rank are known to had worn circuit-laced robes of a Mech-Lord. In addition, the organisation was divided into a number of sects such as the Kapekan Sect.[3b]
Imperial Robots are nearly identical to Dreadnoughts in parts and construction - it is not unknown for a disabled Robot to be canabalised to repair damaged Dreadnoughts, and vice versa. Contemptor Pattern Dreadnoughts in particular are built with some of the same parts used in Imperial Robots. The only true difference between the two is the Robot's cortex, an artificial computer/brain constructed from synthetic proteins and enzymes. The brain is imprinted with "firmware" routines, allowing it to follow simple commands, i.e. "Open the Weapon Bay Door" and "Move to the Holding Area." Prior to battle, these firmware routines are overlaid and replaced with combat "wetware," thin bioplastic cards small enough to fit into a pocket. These new programs dictate the actions the Robot will take in the coming battle, such as when to fire its weapons.
Robots without a cortex or programming are entirely useless unless they are "slaved" to a Master Robot, receiving commands via their communications link. Robots can also be inhibited by their programs, which they literally follow to an inhuman degree. While a human might be able to cope with the unexpected, a Robot can be easily befuddled by a rapidly-changing situation.
Besides their standard communication, sensor and suspensor systems, Robots were also notable for carrying self-destruct charges, designed to prevent the Robot from causing any harm in its damaged state. Should the Robot's programming fail in some way and prevent its own self-termination, the monitoring tech-priest can remotely detonate the charge as well. Other upgrades included a protective power field with synchroniser unit allowing the Robot to fire through the barrier and Bombot racks for carrying grenades. Robots of roughly human size could benefit from organic camouflage with a clone-skin of human flesh, allowing them to pass for human, and were particularly useful for missions such as assassination.
Armaments are mounted in both of the Robot's arms and on its back, allowing for deadly combinations that can be rapidly switched out depending on their mission. After each Robot's class name, a three-part code denotes which configuration the Robot is using, with capital letters referring to heavy weapons. For example, a 'Cataphract LBf' would be armed with a lascannon on its back mount, a heavy bolter in the right and a flamer in the left mount.
The Legio Cybernetica has produced many Robot designs over the centuries. Some were failures, such as the disastrous Castigator, a Robot so heavily armoured that it was slower than the troops it was designed to protect and support. Others proved more successful, and there are five types that have played a role in the Imperium's long history.
A light and agile Robot, the lightly-armoured Crusader is designed for quick, debilitating strikes. Specialized in anti-personnel combat, it is generally not fielded when heavy resistance or armour is expected, though it is a favorite of the Inquisition for hunting down heretics. The Crusader is armed with a power sword and twin lascannons, though its ranged weapons can be replaced with a heavy bolter and melta gun.
A siege Robot, the Colossus uses a Siege Hammer to pound down enemy fortifications, though it is equally useful squashing opponents. Other armaments include a boltgun and melta gun. Protected by a power field/synchroniser unit, its weaponry can be replaced with autocannons, heavy bolters, and power fists, allowing for a number of combinations.
The Cataphract is a general-purpose, heavily-armoured Robot, armed with a lascannon, boltgun and flamer and protected by a power field/synchroniser unit. Its versatility makes it popular Robot to deploy, although some commanders regard it as a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. It can substitue its weapons for an autocannon, Siege Hammer, heavy bolter and power fist.
Designed for anti-vehicle and siege work, the Castellan is an assault Robot useful for a wide range of battlefield roles. Its twin power fists and heavy bolter give it a dangerous punch, protected by a power field/synchroniser unit. It can subsitute its heavy bolter for a lascannon, melta gun or third power fist, while the standard fists can be replaced with a Siege Hammer, autocannons and flamer.
Protected by heavy armour and a power field/synchorniser unit, the Conqueror is particularly adept at taking out armoured vehicles and Dreadnoughts. Standard armament is a heavy bolter, autocannon and power fist, which can be swapped for lascannons, flamers, melta guns and bolter, as well as doubling up on any one.
- 1: Warhammer 40,000 Compendium, Imperial Robots, pgs. 96-112
- 2: Codex Titanicus, [Needs Citation]
- 3: Nemesis (Novel) by James Swallow
- 4: Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness, pg. 240
- 5: Forge World - Contempator Pattern Dreadnought (accessed 2011.07.01)
- 6: Horus Heresy (Artbook Series)