The Shell Case Shorts 4 – Honourable Mention

The third post for the Shell Case Shorts 4 is for the honourable mention. This entry was by no means poor or a poor second, it was just pipped at the post. The entry belongs to none other than Lee of The Chaps. Having lovingly built his loyalist Emperor’s Children he used the Shell Case Shorts 4 as an excuse to put down the background he’d always carried around in his head. I think you’ll agree that it’s a good entry. The only thing that stopped it from hitting a top spot was its reliance on existing canon rather than a straight up new chapter. But still very good. And he’ll still receive a signed copy of Back from the Dead by Nick Kyme.

So I give you the honourable mention – Loyalist Emperor’s Children

HISTORY

The Emperors Children are known as a Traitor Legion, forever tainted by the moment of weakness displayed by their Primarch, Fulgrim.

When the galaxy stood on brink of achieving the Emperor’s grand vision, instead the most grievous betrayal in the history of humanity was allowed to be realised. Doubts had been raised over Horus’ actions and Fulgrim was had been warned of Horus turning against the Emperor by the Eldar Farseer, Eldrad Ulthuan, during an ill-fated meeting on an Eldar Maiden world, although by this time it was too late.  The daemon bound within a sword he had captured during the Cleansing of Laeran had been fighting for control over his soul and Fulgrim was close to completely falling under its sway. The meeting descended into bloodshed between the escorts of Eldrad and Fulgrim, the Emperor’s Children fortunate to escape the planet with their lives. Fulgrim killed the wraithlord, Khirean Goldhelm, before reinforcements emerged from the Warp Gate Eldrad has chosen as the setting for his greeting.  Forced to kill an Avatar with his bare hands, Fulgrim suffered severe burns but enabled he and his captains to escape the surface.  After these events, Fulgrim met with Horus for answers to the questions over his intent, but rather than hold true to his faith, he put the friendship he shared with his Warmaster before his duty to the Emperor and condemned his legion to bear the stain of the traitor.

After Fulgrim had been convinced by Horus to turn from the Emperors light, it took little effort for him to subvert his senior commanders to follow his lead.  The corruption spread throughout the Legion, Captain to Sergeant, Sergeant to Marine, the once proud warriors sliding inexorably into damnation. The pride they held in their perfection too strong to relinquish its grasp on their actions, their arrogance blinding them to their fate.

Not all followed this change in character so readily, but whereas some voiced their opinions, others judged that to show dissent was to invite unwanted attention. Captains Solomon Demeter and Saul Tarvitz of the 2nd and 10th Companies respectively, were the most senior individuals known to have resisted the taint along with scant few others scattered amongst the Legion.  Lord Commander Vespasian had tried in vain to reason with Fulgrim over the Legions fall from grace but was killed for his efforts by the Primarch under the influence of the daemon bound sword he now favoured over the ‘Fireblade’, crafted for him by his closest brother, Ferrus Manus, Primarch of the Iron Hands.  Fulgrim would come to slay Ferrus with this weapon in the Battle of Isstvan V.

When the first of the Traitor Legions comprising of Horus’ Lunar Wolves, Angron’s World Eaters, Mortarion’s Death Guard and Fulgrim’s Emperors Children gathered together at the now infamous Isstvan system, they enacted a plan to purge all those who had not yet given themselves over to Horus’ designs.  Under the pre-tense of removing the planetary governor who had revolted against the Imperium, the four legions arranged for all those whose loyalties could not be counted on to make planet fall on the Capital of Isstvan III, Choral City, in a drop pod assault. Lines of communication were severed and the planet then virus bombed from orbit, annihilating the 12 billion inhabitants and resulting in a psychic death scream so powerful it overshadowed the Astronomican.  Those loyal marines planet side would have surely shared that fate had Captain Tarvitz, not escaped the fleet in a Thunderhawk and carried warning, giving precious little time to find suitable cover in bunkers and other fortifications. Many were unable to find shelter before the bombs fell and were engulfed in the ensuing fire storm that scoured the planet of life.  Captain Tarvitz was supposed to be present on the surface having irked the Primarch on many occasions with his actions, but sensing something was amiss, had managed to remain with the fleet.

Once it emerged that not all the Loyalist forces had been destroyed by the virus bombs, Angron launched an immediate assault with his World Eaters. This forced Hours’ hand into sending detachments from all the Traitor Legions in a show of force to ensure the demise of the Loyalists.  Despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered, the Loyalists managed to organise themselves into a cohesive force and mounted a ferocious defence in the ruins of Choral City. Under the command of a hand full of Captains from the various Legions, including Captain Tarvitz, the Loyalists held out for three months and inflicted massive casualties on the Traitor Legions.  Eventually defeated through yet more betrayal and an orbital bombardment of the city, the victorious traitors then began the systematic extermination of all loyalist survivors hiding in the ruins.

Horus could now count on the absolute fealty of every soldier within his core Legions but it wasn’t without its price.  The ruins of the capital had been turned into a city of death by the staunch Loyalists, the dead and dying covered every corner of the once beautiful gardens and promenades, only to be smashed to atoms under the massive batteries of the Traitor Fleet. The many casualties sustained represented a significant proportion of the forces at Horus’ disposal and ultimate victory over the Emperor was no longer assured.

This is where the story should have ended for those that upheld the honour of the Emperors Children, hunted to extinction by their former friends and brothers.  Yet somehow a scattered few emerged from the ruins of the city, a few of the bunkers having withstood the terrible pounding inflicted on the surface above. Despite their best efforts in leaving nothing alive on Isstvan III, Horus and his fleet were forced to proceed with the next stage in his plan and departed for Isstvan V, allowing the few remaining Loyalists to escape their attentions.  Gradually the prolonged silence encouraged them to break cover and they could no longer see the fleet in stationary orbit above the ruined planet. Evaluating their situation stranded on a ruined planet, who knew how long it would be before they would be found, and even then, how would they be viewed. Banding together for support with most seriously wounded, they had little to do but wait for either death or salvation.

It was only some years later when the Imperium had began picking up the pieces of a galaxy shattered by the conflict did vessels begin to return to the Isstvan system and investigate the events that lead to the Heresy. It did not take long to detect the faint signs of life clustered amongst the devastation of Choral City.  The wreckage of several Legions lay twisted within the ruins and this had provided the Loyalists enough materials and supplies to endure the passing years. The few score of survivors were rounded up and treated with the utmost suspicion before being handed over to the now established Inquisition.  Subjected to many years of interrogations, tests and trials, the Inquisition could find no proof that the taint was endemic to their Geneseed and deemed that the Emperors Children were instead led into damnation by Fulgrim and his Commanders.

The Emperors Children pleaded with their interrogators to be given the opportunity to redeem their honour by fighting for the Imperium once more and help chase down their traitorous former comrades into the Eye of Terror.  Deliberations were lengthy and difficult, with many wishing for an end to their name. The fact that one of the founding members of the Inquisition was none other than Captain Nathaniel Garro, a former member of the Death Guard Traitor Legion who had escaped the Scouring of Isstvan III himself, appeared to carry their argument and stay the executioner’s hand.

Granted their wish, the Loyalist Emperors Children, as they were now officially known, were tasked with helping the Inquisition to locate the planet Fulgrim was thought to have retreated to within the Eye of Terror. After achieving Daemonhood, his chosen world is now twisted into an almost alien realm of indulgence and excess which both the Inquisition and Traitor alike have sought for the last 10,000 years.  They weren’t given free reign by any means, instead attached to a force of Grey Knights operating within the Eye.  Seen as expendable, they were used to absorb casualties and divert the enemy, enabling the Grey Knights limited numbers to carry out their most crucial of missions, while sparing them from the full horror of a Daemonic incursion and the risk of corruption – the life of a single Grey Knight viewed as being infinitely more valuable than that of a former Traitor Legionnaire. As almost all those who come into contact with the Grey Knights either have their minds wiped or do not live beyond the encounter, word of a force of Emperors Children still operating in pre-Heresy livery and their exploits has not spread beyond the Inquisition  – any suggestion of a sighting reported as a case of mistaken identity.

RECRUITMENT

Whether by design or accident, their role with the Grey Knights has meant that the now ‘Chapter’ has struggled to grow in number.  Barely a company could be scraped together when they were first given the Battle Barge ‘Forlorn Hope’ as their new base of operations and attached to the Grey Knights, and in the long millenia since have only managed to double that number.  The attrition of endless conflict and downright brutality of the engagements has meant for painfully slow progress. The marines themselves bear terrible wounds from the many battles, almost all having at least some body part augmented or completely replaced by bionics in order to speed their recovery and sent back into the fray.

The Chapter is longer responsible for its own Geneseed and recruitment, the Inquisition do not yet trust them fully and prefer to retain as much control as possible. Recruits are delivered directly and without information on their origins – their minds wiped to ensure secrecy.  Rumours circulate that in lieu of their destroyed home world they derive from Terra itself, as it was for the original Legion before the Heresy, but none could ever be sure. Apothecaries are worryingly absent from their formations, those marines suffering serious injury must trust in their brothers to succeed before being recovered for treatment.  Those that pay the ultimate price are stripped of their equipment and taken by the Inquisition for Geneseed recovery. Nothing is known of these events and no communication forthcoming, their brothers can only hope the fallen receive the honour they deserve.

Whether the Inquisition will one day loosen the grip they keep over them is unknown, but it will be many more years before the possibility would even be considered.  Perhaps one day they may even be granted a home world of their own to replace Chemos, which was destroyed by the Inquisition and placed under quarantine following the end of the Heresy, its location unknown to anyone outside the Ordos.

COMBAT DOCTRINE

They Loyalist Emperors Children possess precious little in the way of heavy armour despite the forges on the ‘Forlorn Hope’ working day and night to constantly repair the non-stop procession of damaged vehicles cycling through the workshops. However, the Chapter is one of the few who retain the knowledge of building Dreadnoughts. This combined with the endless casualties the Chapter sustains giving ample candidates for internment, has lead to the Emperors Children fielding more Dreadnoughts than most other Chapters, despite their relatively small size. Of those currently active, some are truly ancient and have witnessed death on a scale unimaginable.  These do not enjoy the long slumbers as is traditional for such heroes, they are relied upon time and again to bolster the lines with their formidable abilities and serve as the spear heads for the rest to follow.  One such Dreadnought, Rylanor, was pulled from the rubble of Choral City some 700 years after the conflict ended.  Almost shorn into two when a towering spire had collapsed upon him, his life support had gone into a mode of extended shutdown, but was somehow still functioning when his battered purple sarcophagus was unearthed from the tonnes of rubble that had buried him.  After he was repaired and slowly awakened from his state, he was informed of the events that had taken place during the Heresy. On hearing of Fulgrim’s decent into depravity and the Emperors grievous wounding at the hands of Horus, he flew into a terrible rage, destroying anything he could, believing it all to be tainted with their deeds.  Most feared he would not be able to continue in his service so terrible was his anger, but gradually he began to acknowledge what his new brothers were endeavouring to achieve.  He is now a common sight on the battlefields graced by the Emperors Children, his timeless rage unleashed upon his enemies, he show’s no mercy in his prosecution of the Emperors will.

Pre-Heresy, the Emperors Children were strict adherents to approved combat doctrine. They put much effort into preparation and used templates for each combat situation, detailing the appropriate use of available forces to overcome the enemy.  The Chapter has now had to radically change its tactical philosophy, primarily due to the equipment and manpower restraints it currently operates under. Their formations are now focussed around bringing about large concentrations fire at close range. Tactical squads are mounted in lightly armoured Rhino’s and Razorbacks which deploy them swiftly into cover, supported by their advancing Dreadnoughts. Landspeeder’s and Assault marines provide fast moving flanking forces to keep the enemy off balance while an endless wave of fire keeps them pinned in place. Having not forgotten the lessons learnt in the ruins of Choral City, they excel in defence and possess a vast wealth of strategic and tactical knowledge.  The bare handful of marines who manage to keep themselves free of any augmentation either through supreme ability or divine fate are formed into units of elite Honour Guard who accompany the current Chapter Master into battle, although only in the most dire of circumstances,  their numbers being few to point of extinction . The rank of Chapter Master is merely an honorary title held by the most senior Captain, as there is no need for such a position when the amount of warriors to lead is so few. In truth, a Master of the Forge is just as likely to put in command as his abilities in repairing bionic components and tending to the many Dreadnoughts are of great importance to the Chapters survival.

NOTABLE ENGAGEMENTS

The cleansing of Laeran should have a victory remembered by all the Imperium as a monument to the marines fighting ability.  The Administratum on Terra had feared the technologically advanced Laer would take over 10 years to be brought to compliance and even suggested the xenos be made a protectorate of Imperium to spare the resources necessary to bring about their defeat.  Fulgrim was disgusted by this opinion, and he and the Emperors Children set about cleansing the entire planet in only a month. Laeran consisted of many atolls floating above an ocean that covered the entire surface of the planet, their altitude maintained by mysterious energy columns.  Bridge heads were established by assault forces and then used as staging posts for defeating the next platform in quick succession.  On finding a temple at the heart of the atoll deemed as the focus of their civilisation, Fulgrim recovered a shimmering silver blade.  Unbeknownst to him, it contained the bound essence of a Daemon Price and the Laer temple was dedicated to Slaanesh, corrupting everyone who entered it without their knowledge.  With the sword now in the possession of Fulgrim, it began to whisper thoughts to him, masquerading as his conscience and manipulating his decisions.  In so doing, it engineered his siding with Horus over the Emperor, a fact Horus himself was ignorant of until he met with Fulgrim after the Battle of Isstvan V and was presented with the head of Ferrus Manus as a gift.

As a species, the Laer combined a serpentine lower body with four arms on an armoured torso, and an insect like head with large multifaceted eyes. They wielded a pair of swords in their arms which easily defeated a marine’s armour, as did the energy gauntlets on the second set of limbs.  These gauntlets spat a green energy which no protection was proof against, and combined with the creature’s tremendous speed, reaped a terrible toll upon the Astartes.  At the end of the war, 700 Emperors Children had lost their lives and over 4,000 had been admitted as casualties, in exchange for the entire Laer species.

As for the silver sword, devoid of the entity which now resided with him, Fulgrim gifted it to Lucius, former Captain of the 13th Company following the events on Isstvan V.  He is now known to be the Slaaneshi Champion, Lucius the Eternal.

Since their attachment to the Grey Knights, all records of their exploits within the Eye of Terror are sealed under order of the Inquisition.

MISSION

It was one of the greatest tragedies of the Heresy that the Emperors Children succumbed to Slaanesh. During their founding, an unexplained accident led to almost all of their Geneseed being destroyed and so they began their service with barely 200 marines to call to arms. The Emperor bestowed upon them his name and gave them his symbol of the Imperial Eagle to wear on their armour – the only Legion given this highest of honours. And so they dedicated every victory, every glory to his name.  They strove for perfection in every aspect of warfare in order to serve him better, none could claim to be more devoted to the Emperor than they. The brothers who now make up the Chapter’s 200 or so able marines are fully aware of their history and see themselves in a similar position as those first courageous crusaders. Each battle brother still strives for perfection in his duties, but it is without the taint of arrogance displayed by their forbears.  They hope that by achieving this they can progress as a Chapter, increase their numbers and one day take their place amongst the other Chapters as true defenders of the Imperium.  They fight on to reclaim the name of their Chapter from those who have kept it as an insult to its honour. Fate has not been kind but still they toil, never allowing doubt in their cause to enter their thoughts.

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