Monday, July 7, 2008

The Sons of Bartemaeus

With the release of an apparently "fixed" fifth edition of Warhammer 40k on the horizon, I decided to throw in my lot with a new army. Before I jump in with what and why, a little background information is in order as well. Back in the day, especially the Rogue Trader day, which Ray and I both played during, homemade chapters weren't just a trend, but almost a necessity if you wanted to play Marines. What follows is just that.

During the thirty second founding of the Adeptus Astartes the Sons of Bartemaeus were born. They were a successor chapter of the Crimson Fists and shared their gene seed and organizational parameters with at least a dozen other such successor chapters of the time. The Sons of Bartemaeus were named for their Chapter Master himself, who was said to be a direct descendant of the Primarch Rogal Dorn of the originating patriarch chapter, the Imperial Fists. The Sons of Bartemaeus served with all the resourcefulness and honor as befits any loyal Space Marine chapters, but they would soon become lost over time and all but forgotten.

[It should be noted that the original title of this 32nd founding chapter was the Disciples of Borris. The actions listed herein, at this point in the timeline, were when the chapter was still identified as the Disciples of Borris. With Imperial records being so hard to uncover, and taking so much time to decipher, much information is confusing, if not outright lost. Furthermore, the chapter master Bartemaeus is often denoted in Imperial records as 'Bartimus'.]

Raw footage of the Sons of Bartemaeus on the Plains of Ka-Zath, during the Battle of Nocturne on the Imperial Agriculture world of Iocanthus. Note the early model MkVII armor alongside an even more archaic MkVI missile launcher.

More Battle of Nocturne footage; here we see early model MkVII armor mixed with even older Rogue Trader era MkVI armor. Note the lone MkVIII trooper in the rear with a slightly modified paint scheme. This suggests the Sons of Bartemaeus never fully upgraded their chapter, even well after their founding, yet still had direct contact with Imperial supply.

It was shortly after their campaign on Iocanthus that the Sons of Bartemaeus withdrew to their home sector to consolidate their chapter's strength. Their rest would be interrupted however. Three systems from their home world, on the insignificant moon of Rastus Jendbock, a major chaos following was making itself known and a planet scale revolt was in progress. The Dark Angels were called in to assess the situation, and commit Exterminatus if need be. Once the depth of chaos was revealed, reinforcements were needed. The closest chapter, the Sons of Bartemaeus, were the first to arrive.

The fighting was fierce, and although the two chapters were immeasurably outnumbered, they held their ground awaiting more reinforcements. Inexplicably, in the third week of fighting, the Dark Angels chapter withdrew wholesale from the planet, ignoring all hails from the Sons of Bartemaeus, even going as far as neutralizing a Sons of Bartemaeus battle frigate in orbit when it moved to block the egress of three Dark Angels battle barges. The Sons of Bartemaeus would cite the Dark Angels for heresy and label their act as a betrayal to the Emperor himself. These communiques however would not surface for hundreds of years. Later records would also reveal that the Dark Angels were privy to an unusually large band of the Fallen, led by Cypher himself surfacing in a nearby system, and their zeal and honor-bound devotion to destroying these exiles superseded their current mission. They would later claim that inbound White Scars and Angels Sanguine chapters were calculated to arrive only the next day after their departure and the Sons of Bartemaeus were not abandoned. In retribution for the Sons of Bartemaeus firing upon their own ships, they would file a petition to have the chapter looked into on grounds of Heresy.

Outnumbered by a planet full of chaos-infused militia and PDF forces, led by a demogogue who declared himself the planetary warlord, the Sons of Bartemaeus would meet their alleged end. The planet itself became inaccessible due to warp storms enshrouding the sector, and whatever reinforcements were to arrive would never see dirtside. The bulk of the armored forces of the Sons of Bartemaeus were led into a cunning trap, freezing them in their entirety in one of
Rastus Jendbock's vast nitrogen seas. Large swathes of the chapter's infantry were slowly ground down in a number of theaters that included every imaginable environment from hive to jungle, it seemed that the chaos gods themselves were reshaping the very planet.

The fighting came to its climax as Bartemaeus himself led a daring raid against the bastion of the warlord. Mountains of the dead were strewn across the city streets, forming their own topography of decay and misery, the losses both sides suffered were high. At long last, Bartemaeus faced off against the warlord, a spiteful monster that could barely be called human anymore, being so imbued with the ruinous powers of chaos. Their clash was titanic, it raged for the better of two days as chaos claw shredded the rune-etched terminator armor of Bartemaeus. In turn, Bartemaeus' power sword sang through the air and connected, time and time again, with the warlord's bulk, rending chunks of flesh, chitin, and carapace from the despot. The chapter master took the left eye and wickedly barbed tail of the warlord with surgically precise and clean cuts with his power sword. The warlord, in turn, tore Bartemaeus' right arm from its socket in a mangled wound of muscle and bone. The survivors on both sides held their weapons at their sides, enthralled by the melee, and stood by one another in the rubble strewn streets, watching with awe.

There would be no further trickery or foul play; the warlord simply bested Bartemaeus. There weren't any defiant last words, or curses; just an audible crack of his terminator armor that signaled the end of the chapter master. The rest of the Sons of Bartemaeus, those not already ensnared or captured, were quickly rounded up and detained. The fate of Bartemaeus was not over, for he was a Space Marine, one of the Emperor's finest, and death does not come so easily.

The daemon-warlord put the broken, but still-living body of Bartemaeus upon a central spire, a gleaming spike, in the center of the city, a square where the fighting between the two giants leveled buildings the day before. Bartemaeus was impaled through his back and his body hung limp, one arm missing, facing the night sky, his slow-dying eyes forced to gaze at the stars; stars that would never yield his salvation, his redemption, or his brothers-in-arms with reinforcements. It took decades for the near-primarch to truly die, so resilient was he. All the while the forces of chaos grew. His living tomb was made into a mass grave all around the base of the spire with the fallen of his chapter, further testament to how far they had fallen. He called to the stars for the light of the Emperor to save him, for years he did this, and was answered only with silence. The marines of the chapter were dead, imprisoned, or lost to the nitrogen seas, frozen below its surface; their leader, the mighty Bartemaeus himself, eventually drew his last breath.

Their story does not end here however...

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