Legion of the Damned
|This article is about the Space Marine Legion, for the Novel by Rob Sanders see Legion of the Damned (Novel)|
The Legion of the Damned are a legendary and mysterious force of Adeptus Astartes. Holding the forms of ghostly and ethereal Space Marines plated in black power armour adorned with death imagery, they unexpectedly appear from nowhere to help Imperial forces in times of great need. The truth behind their origin is currently unknown for certain, but Inquisitorial investigations have drawn a link between them and the lost Fire Hawks Chapter.
The Legion are afflicted by a warp contagion that destroys their sanity; as it progresses their bodies decay, but they grow in supernatural strength. Each Marine is rapidly approaching the moment when he will succumb to the contagion. Combat can initiate the final stages of the disease, in which the Marine reaches a peak in power and enters a berserker state.
Organization and Combat Doctrine
The Legion has no formal organisation - it fights as a single body of troops. The only tactic possible to such a formation is to steam-roll over the enemy by a steady advance.
The Legion is not a part of any Imperial force, and employs an unusual modus operandi. Apart from driving them insane, the contagion heightens their psychic awareness considerably. One result of this is the way in which the legion selects and attacks targets. These matters are left entirely to the process of divination provided by the mystic Emperor's Tarot. This tarot is supposedly bound within the psychic will of the Emperor and is used throughout the Imperium as both a pastime and a form of divination. It is an undeniable fact that attacks seem to fall in 'the right place at the right time'.
In the year 963.M41 the Fire Hawks were sent to the Crows World subsector against Eldar pirates. The entire chapter-fleet, including the chapter's mobile space-fortress Raptorus Rex, made a successful warp jump from the Piraeus system 120 light years to Crows World. The five ships, over eight hundred brethren, and two thousand other personnel expected to reach Crows World within no more than 12 hours. They never arrived.
Twenty years after the event the chapter was officially declared lost in the warp and presumed destroyed. The great Bell of Lost Souls tolled a thousand times, and it said that the Emperor himself ordered a Black Candle to be lit in the Adeptus Chapel of Fallen Heroes.
On 986.M41 a routine Imperial patrol passed through the Ork-held system of Jakor-tal. The squadron uncovered altogether unexpected scenes of devastation. The limited facilities available to the patrol could uncover no clue to the identity of the attacking forces. The incident was noted and passed into the records of the Administratum.
A rash of similar incidents within the same and adjoining sectors aroused the interest of the Inquisition but no sign of the intruders was discovered for almost a year. Then, a patrol ship in the Maran sub-sector narrowly avoided a collision with a space-craft at the Cift jump-point. The patrol ship was entering the Cift system as the unidentified craft was leaving. Alerted by the close encounter, the patrol crew scanned the entire jump-area and discovered two long cylindrical objects within the intruder's projected flight-path. These were hauled aboard and proved to be standard space-coffins without identification markings.
The coffins were shipped back to earth and opened by the Adeptus Mechanicus. The coffins themselves were identified as belonging to the Absolute, one of the spacecraft from the vanished Fire Hawk fleet. Inside were the armoured remains of two Space Marines. The unconventional armour colours and unofficial insignia puzzled the investigators, but serial numbers tallied with equipment made by or issued to the Fire Hawks. The armoured suits were expected to house members of the lost chapter, and were carefully broken open. The bodies within were human, but further identification proved impossible due to their advanced state of decay.
Almost a year later a besieged Imperial research station received unexpected help. The garrison had been attacked by Ork pirates. After three hours of fighting the situation looked hopeless. Then, without warning, the Orks found themselves attacked from the rear. Within half an hour, several hundred Orks had fallen to the mysterious, power armoured figures. Then, as suddenly as they had appeared, the warriors vanished. This time they left behind a banner - the gnarled chapter flag of the Fire Hawks - and inscribed upon it was the motto In dedicato imperatum ultra articulo mortis (For the Emperor beyond the point of death). As well as the banner there was a recorder and sundry other sealed items. These were shipped to Terra.
The next known contact with the Chapter was on the cemetery world Certus-Minor where they showed up just before the Cholerclaust Blood Crusade attained ultimate victory, swiftly annihilating the entirety of the crusade, leaving no enemy survivors. A system defense ship in orbit reports that shortly before the unexpected reinforcement of the all but destroyed defenders, a vessel resembling a Star Fort appeared in system and began systematically obliterating the Chaos armada.
The Fire Hawks' Fate
From the data contained in the recorder the Administratum was able to determine exactly what had happened to the lost chapter. Following their warp-jump the entire fleet had been caught within a warp-storm of terrific intensity and forced to endure the attacks of powerful warp entities. Ship after ship was destroyed. Soon only one craft remained. By a daring warp-exit manoeuvre the craft burst out of warp-space, emerging far in the galactic east, thousands of light years off-course and beyond even the psychic light of the Emperor.
The original survivors numbered two hundred brethren. All gene-seed had been lost, all initiates killed, and most of the chapter's masters were gone. None of the ordinary human staff have survived at all. To make matters worse the brethren had changed. This change became more obvious over the next few months. Skins began to blacken and blister, flesh began to fester and putrefy. Slowly they began to die. Within days of the transition into normal space it became obvious that the chapter had been exposed to some form of dangerous mutation or disease. It took many years to navigate a way back into the Imperium, during which time almost half the brethren succumbed to the malady. Those who remained were no longer sane. Pain and despair had driven even their hardened minds beyond the point of rationality. Doomed to agonising deaths, they gradually became obsessed with their fate. Now they only wanted to die. But they were still marines, still loyal to the Emperor and humanity. They would not die without a purpose.
So began the unstoppable war of the Legion of the Damned! The marines elected to remove all insignia from their armour. Instead their armour would be black, decorated by each brother with whatever emblems of death he chose. Most brothers employed a similar theme - skeletons, bones and skulls.
All ranks and companies were abolished, most of the chapter's officers were already dead and the remaining warriors were too few to make up a fully functioning chapter hierarchy. All brothers were to be equal before death - levelled by the certainty of their assured extinction. The warriors decided to expend their lives attacking enemies wherever they could be found. The disease had robbed them of their sanity, but not their loyalty!
- Sergeant Centurius - The limited edition character model made for the Apocalypse 100 event. He carries the Animum Malorium, an ancient relic in the shape of a skull that can suck souls from its target and then resurrect a fellow Legion of the Damned member.
- 1: White Dwarf 99 (UK), Index Astartes: Legion of the Damned by Rick Priestley
- 2: Games Workshop Online - Founding 21 (accessed 2007.02.19)
- 3: White Dwarf 195, Legion of the Damned: Veteran Sergeant Centurius, by Ian Pickstock
- To Cleanse The Stars by Andy Chambers and Matt Keefe. (accessed 2007.02.19)
- Index Astartes I – The Cursed Founding.
- Chapter Approved 2003
- White Dwarf #223 (US)
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 95