|This article is about the Adeptus Mechanicus troops; for the novel by Rob Sanders, see Adeptus Mechanicus: Skitarius (Novel).|
The military forces of the Skitarii are known as the Legiones Skitarii.
"Skitarii" are armies of specially augmented cybernetic warriors sworn to a specific Forge World and serve alongside the Collegia Titanica and Taghmata Omnissiah as the military forces of the Mechanicum. It is a term equivalent to the Imperial Guard as it generally includes almost all combat personnel and armour that the Mechanicus possesses. Skitarii are also known as Tech-Guard (or Tech Guard) to outsiders, and the singular form of Skitarii is "Skitarius." The term "Skitarii", however is often used to reference only the augmented infantry.
While their bodies are more machine than flesh, Skitarii are not true Servitors and still retain independent thought. Those with the highest level of augmentation are known as Skitarii Alphas, a high honor in Skitarii culture. Due to their extensive modification Skitarii can excel and survive in almost any atmosphere.[9b] Skitarii are also known for their near-emotionless nature, a result of both brain surgery and psychological condition.[22b] Because of their conditioning Skitarii are so loyal to their Tech-Priest masters that they will even blindly kill one another if ordered.[19b]
In battle, Skitarii fight with near-robotic discipline and base their firing vectors and positioning on mathematical formulae guaranteed to bring about maximum success. While the Imperial Guard focuses on broad sweeping assaults, Skitarii units generally focus on maximizing their strength against vital enemy units and installations. While Skitarii fighters do not require any boost in morale, they do receive regular enhancements from combat drugs that can cause sudden bursts of energy, strength, and regenerative power. However, many of these drugs are extremely dangerous and cause horrific side effects mere minutes after their use.
The Skitarii also serve as the bodyguards of the Adeptus Mechanicus Survey teams. They were present at the First Encounter with the Eldar. The Eldar of the Biel-tan craftworld slaughtered the Skitarii present and only one ship was able to escape, though the crew died from lack of food and oxygen.[Needs Citation]
Recruitment and Creation
Skitarii recruitment follows no universal role. Some Skitarii began as volunteers who were faithful to the Cult Mechanicus[9b] Others are recruited from the factory workers of Forge Worlds.[22a] Some denizens of Forge Worlds are destined to become Skitarii at birth, having been bred from eugenics programs that emphasize strength and aggression.[19c]
The process Skitarii creation is a closely kept secret of the Adeptus Mechanicus, but what is clear is that involves heavy cybernetic augmentation to those with a fanatical faith in the Omnissiah.[9b] During the process of conversion into a Skitarii most of their organs and tissue are modified or replaced entirely with circuit, bio-plastic, and metal.
Each Forge World of the Mechanicus operates a Legion of Skitarii. This is in turn divided into a number of Macroclades, which in turn are broken down into 4 Cohorts, each consisting of 3 Maniples. The vast majority of Skitarii troops are not brought into battle by aircraft or armoured personnel carriers, rather they simply march into battle without stopping even if they have to start the journey months in advance.[9a]
Types of Skitarii
Skitarii can also be divided into several types, based on their battlefield role:
- Hyspasists: These are the basic tech-guard infantry, and are armed with lasguns. They are more augmented than the normal Imperial Guardsman, and may have received emotional-suppression surgery.
- Skitarii Vanguard: Radiation weapon-equipped infantry
- Skitarii Rangers: Hunter-Killers
- Sicarian Infiltrators: Scouts
- Sicarian Ruststalkers: Assassins
- Pteraxii: Winged infantry
- Protector: Used as bodyguards by Mechanicum Tech-Priests.
- Secutarii Axiarch: Skitarii officers used by the Collegia Titanica's Titan Guard
- Secutarii Hoplites: Skitarii warriors used by the Collegia Titanica's Titan Guard
- Secutarii Peltasts: Skitarii warriors used by the Collegia Titanica's Titan Guard
- Serberys Sulphurhounds: Cavalry
- Serberys Raiders: Cavalry
- Sagitarii: These are the heavy weapon operatives. These only include dedicated heavy weapons squads, as heavy weapons attached to Hyspasist squads are still called Hyspasists.
- Skitarii Provost: Internal Security troops used to maintain order on Mechanicum Worlds.
- Balisteria: These are the artillery units. The range of artillery goes from Thudd guns to the massive Ordinatus pieces. This includes both the vehicle/machine, as well as the crews manning them.
- Cataphractii: These are the armour units. The range of armour goes from small transports to heavy walkers and superheavy tanks such as Baneblades.
- Praetorians: These are the elite of the Skitarii. They are super-enhanced (bionically/cybernetically/chemically/genetically etc) humans who are augmented with a huge array of cybernetics and heavy weapons. They are, essentially, a sort of counterpart to Obliterators. However, many old sources also suggest that Praetorians are instead an elite Skitarii type following the fashion of Imperial Guard stormtrooper units, but with slightly more augmentations, putting them somewhere "between" storm troopers and Space Marines. All of these are completely plausible, and based on the preferences of the Magi who build them.[Conflicting sources]
- Skitarii Mandragora: Elite Skitarii that serve as the bodyguards of the Fabricator-General of Mars.
- Tribunes - Elite forces
- Skitarii Alpha: Squad Commanders
- Master of Skitarii: The commander of a Skitarii brigade.
The Skitarii generally have more advanced weaponry and equipment than their Imperial Guard equivalents, due to the technological expertise of their Techpriest masters. Bionics are quite common and devices such as weapon links and sensory feeds are also common amongst them.
The equipment can vary massively based on which Magos, Mechanicus Organisation or Forge World has raised and equipped them. There is little standardisation or central command of Skitarii across the Mechanicus, as each individual regiment is the personal army of a particular Magos. For example, the Skitarii of the Titan Legion Legio Invicta are gene-bulked humans with weaponised limbs and augmetic armour, whereas a different type of Skitarii investigated the dead world of Tarsis Ultra, and were seen to be wearing something similar in both function and design to Terminator armour.
Due to their substantial bionic enhancements, Skitarii are capable of marching for periods far beyond standard humans. Skitarii Rangers can hunt for decades on end. Thus most Skitarii forego the use of armored transports, finding them redundant.[9c] Despite often going on foot, they nonetheless operate an array of vehicles which include Rhinos, Chimeras,, Skorpius Duneriders, Skorpius Disintegrators, Triaros Armored Conveyors, Leman Russ Battle Tanks[20b], Malcador Heavy Tank[19a], and Hydra Flak Tank. Combat walkers include the Onager Dunecrawler, Black Widow[20a], and Ironstrider Engine.[9d] They also operate air units which include Thunderbolt Fighters and Vulture Gunships[19a] as well as Archaeopters.
The word Skitarii likely derives from Scitari, Latin for seeking to know/inquire.
In Andy Chambers's Deus ex Mechanicus (Short Story), Praetorians are in fact servitors, rather than living humans. They move on tank treads and are armed with powerful weaponry, such as plasma cannons.
- Adeptus Mechanicus: Skitarius (Novel), by Rob Sanders
- Adeptus Mechanicus: Vanguard (Short Story), by Peter Fehervari
- Adeptus Mechanicus: The Zheng Cipher (Short Story), by Josh Reynolds
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