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Abandon All Hope
The Scions of Desolation Renegade Chapter
Formerly members of the Black Templars Space Marine Chapter, the Scions of Desolation are tragic renegades who have lost all hope for the salvation of Humanity and now seek to cleanse the Imperium in purifying fire. It is said that their betrayal was brought about by the word of a terrible angel that descended upon them, though this is simply legend. Like all legends, however, there is some truth amidst the lies and mysticism.
Black Templars are essentially a chapter of wanderers, forever roaming the Imperium in an attempt to prove their worth to the Emperor. These wanderers sub-divided into Crusades, each working towards the same goal of seeking out the Emperor’s enemies and destroying them. These Crusades can be further sub-divided into Fighting Companies lead by experienced commanders and it is from these humble origins that these most foul traitors arose. In the middle of M34, a small Fighting Company under the command of Chaplain Vascar detected the presence of a Slaughter class cruiser in the vicinity of the planet Zephira on the outskirts of the Segmentum Obscura. Not foolish enough to give pursuit, the young Chaplain ordered the Destroyer Undying Retribution to relay the last known coordinates of the cruiser to the Imperial Fleet while they made planetfall on Zephira itself to discover just what the heretics had been after. When they landed, the sight that greeted their eyes was one of absolute slaughter – they had stumbled upon the remains of an Imperial excavation team along with the regiment of Guardsmen dispatched to protect them. With countless rents and tears in the shelters of the campsite as well as the wounds on the personnel, the attack had all the hallmarks of a daemonic assault or, more specifically, one by the Word Bearers Legion of Chaos Space Marines. Descending into the excavation site, the small fighting company of Black Templars attempted to discern exactly what the excavation team had been looking for when they were attacked. What they found was unlike anything that any of them had ever seen before.
The team had, apparently, discovered an ancient Imperial vault dating back millennia to the time of the Horus Heresy. No one knew what was contained inside; any records of it had been erased from standard historical texts, according to the site logs. Vascar approached the one artefact contained within the vault – a metallic column-shaped device with inscriptions in High Gothic. Completely preserved within this high-security vault, it had withstood the ravages of time and was exceptionally well preserved, awaiting only the advanced machinery of the Adeptus Mechanicus to have the device removed from the vault and opened for further analysis. However, as Chaplain Vascar began to read the inscriptions, he began to realise that there are some secrets in the world that were never meant to be discovered, some boxes that were never meant to be opened. The inscriptions read:
“Back, you who enter into the darkness without a true understanding of its power. Disturb not the rest of the seals of this box. Turn back the way you came and bury this secret once more, lest you unleash a hell beyond reckoning upon the universe.”
No sooner had Chaplain Vascar uttered these words than a dark and malevolent presence began to stir within the darkness of the artefact. Contained within that box was a Daemon of the Warp that took the form of an angel with fiery, daemonic wings. Biding its time over the millennia, it had worked to weaken the seals on its prison and now sensed the approach of an individual who was powerful and would serve as an ideal host for its immortal spirit. Gathering all of the power it had managed to accumulate over its millennia-long imprisonment, it burst through the seals in an almighty explosion that threw the Black Templars off their feet. Vascar himself lay stunned and wounded by the almighty surge of chaotic energy that dispelled the seals on that prison for just a moment. Surging forth, the daemon took possession of his body, while his soul was displaced and sealed inside the box, possibly for all eternity. Bending the flesh of its host to suit its whims, the Daemon then proceeded to slaughter all of the remaining Black Templars before fleeing to cause havoc on the remainder of Zephira, which, ironically enough, was uninhabited. Cursing the fact that he had no way to get off the planet and had invariably destroyed everything in his orgy of destruction across the barren world, the daemon disappeared into the Warp, leaving the host body dead where it stood.
Rise of the Dark Apostle
500 years passed before any mention of the name Brother Vascar was heard again in the Chapter’s history. It was after 500 years that he was mysteriously discovered while attempting to contact the Strike Cruiser Faith Everlasting as it passed through the Zephira system. He was immediately brought on board and, although there was much rejoicing amongst the Black Templars for his safe return, there were many who wondered where he had been and, more importantly, how he had escaped. The most reliable chapter records of his account claim that he had been captured by a daemon, but had escaped and had wandered through the caverns and vast rocky plains of the planet trying to find a human settlement from which he could make contact. This story seemed plausible enough, but there were always those who distrusted him and kept him under close scrutiny.
Not until the Irenician Purge, almost a century later, was Chaplain Vascar’s true nature revealed as he completed the purge of all of the citizens of several of Irenicius’ Hive Cities despite repeated orders to spare the innocent. When the Black Templars dispatched a fighting company to destroy him and expunge the taint of heresy, it was eradicated without mercy as Vascar and an entire unit under his command finally revealed their adherence to the Chaplain’s dark doctrine. The traitors retreated faster than the majority of the Crusade fleet could follow, so the task of hunting down the fallen Chaplain fell to the fleet’s Destroyers and other high speed craft, who pursued them to the Eye of Terror before giving up the chase. In the relative safety of the Eye, it would be another century before the traitors once again made their presence felt.
The Scions of Desolation
In the year 129.M35, the Ordo Hereticus responded to several distress signals coming from the systems surrounding the Eye of Terror, which detailed lighting fast raids for people and supplies which, the planetary governors suspected, was due to the rise of a new Chaos cult in the area. When the scenes of such raids were investigated, however, the investigators sent by the Witch Hunters found that the defenders had been ripped to pieces by deadly lightning claws or hacked limb from limb with chainswords. The interrogation of a survivor revealed that the leader was a tall, powerful, and monstrous individual who wore black armour and a mask that was shaped in the visage of a leering skull. The Witch Hunters further noted that the majority of the targets attacked were research stations or outlying communities, presumably to protect an operation from Imperial scrutiny. Following up on this, they posted additional units of Guardsmen in communities on the outlying planets of the Segmentum Obscura. For a time, this seemed to be effective until a squadron of transport ships belonging to the Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter was attacked with the speed and ferocity that had become the hallmarks of the so-called “Pirate Cult”. The attackers killed all of the Marines on board and cannibalised the ships of all available equipment before vanishing once more. An analysis of the last communiqués of the squad determined that the attackers bore the insignia of the Black Templars, thus implicating them in the raid.
The Black Templars denied all allegations, instead pointing to a group of traitors that they had hunted nearly a century before and who had retreated into the Eye of Terror to escape capture and execution. With the Black Templars now embroiled in the tangled mess, it was becoming clear that the hand of the former Chaplain Vascar could be seen somewhere, if the signs were read correctly. Finally, the Black Templars received the lead they had been searching for in the form of a distress signal from the Adeptus Mechanicus research station on Zephira. Rushing to the scene, they found that the raids were indeed the work of the traitor marines under Chaplain Vascar. Unfortunately for the loyalists, they were caught woefully unprepared for the unprecedented number and fighting strength of the traitors, who had over four times the original number of suspected troops at their disposal. The loyalists were slaughtered almost to a man by their one-time brethren and Chaos Marines of mysterious origin, with the traitor Chaplain Vascar carrying the body of Castellan Letheis off the battlefield. He was never heard from again.
The traitors set all of the research station’s transponders to broadcast a single message over all Imperial frequencies. Calling themselves the Scions of Desolation, the traitors claimed that humanity was beyond redemption and that the Imperium was responsible for mankind’s damnation. The time had come for it to be purged.
The Scions of Desolation have no home world but maintain the traditions of their Black Templar originators and wander the galaxy in a highly mobile fleet. In a terrible parody of the Crusade fleets, the Scions usually wander outside the range of the Astronomican, amongst the cold and haunted stars of the halo zone. There is no life in that desolate place, so why a Chaos chapter would choose it for a base of operations is beyond the understanding of the Ordo Hereticus and many of the Space Marine chapters. Perhaps the ones with the greatest understanding of why they roam the halo zone are the Black Templars themselves, who claim that it reflects the sorrow within the souls of the damned, for only sorrow and despair would drive a man to claim that humanity is beyond redemption and to break all bonds of honour and loyalty to purge the guilty and the innocent alike.
While it is has not suffered the predations of the Scions of Desolation for some time, the world of Zephira has been declared Purgatus by the Inquisition and all traces of the mysterious vault as well as the Adeptus Mechanicus research facility have been exterminated.
As with their choice of home world, the Scions of Desolation have maintained many of the Black Templars’ combat doctrines and incorporated them into their own. Close combat is one of the hallmarks of the Chapter, as well as the practice of choosing a Champion who will seek out and destroy the enemy leader. However, the similarities end there, as the Scions of Desolation have been known to use tactics that are less than honourable in their desire to achieve victory. While the bulk of their forces might fall upon the enemy at their weakest point, a Land Raider Crusader might be driven behind the lines to knock down the enemy battle line and deploy troops to waste their enemies from the rear with withering torrents of fire.
While not large enough to launch individual crusades, it is not uncommon for the Scions to send their strongest leaders with fighting companies in order to prove their worth to the Chaos Gods. In this case, many aspiring champions will resort to piracy as the chapter did in the early stages of its development. While this has earned them the hatred of their former brethren as well as several other Chapters for “cowardice”, it has proven a devastatingly effective tactic on the forces of the Imperium as well as a source of slaves, supplies, and other materials necessary for their continued existence.
The chain of command has proven largely intact, despite the small number of actual Black Templars in the chapter in the present day. Neophytes are still trained by Initiates and the strongest still form an elite company of Sword Brethren, known as Darkblades amongst the Scions. In addition to this, capable leaders who wish to become Darkblades are often sent on smaller crusades of their own, thus improving their ability to act independent of Chapter resources for long periods of time (making them excellent strategists or pirates, depending on how they handle this problem). The key difference lies in the fact that the High Marshal of the Scions of Desolation has take on the dual role of Commander and Dark Apostle, making them one of the few factions of Chaos Space Marines to still include Chaplains in their ranks, let alone have them in commanding positions. The Scions of Desolation are also an oddity in that they make remarkably little use of daemons for a Chapter that is so steeped in faith and tradition.
When the Dark Apostle Vascar attempted to corrupt his battle brothers to his side, he preached a defiled form of the Imperial creed that was altered in subtle ways, yet could not be detected by the prying eyes of his superiors, who watched his every move for the slightest sign of Chaotic corruption. It was only after his betrayal that the true nature of his dark doctrine was revealed – that humanity had lost all chance for salvation and that the Imperium was responsible for that failure. The Scions seek to use Chaos as a means to an end, their loyalty is ultimately to the doctrine set down by their master many centuries ago.
It is unknown where the corrupted Apothecaries of the Scions of Desolation learned the secrets for creating new Space Marines or, indeed, where they even retrieved the geneseed cultures with which to create the necessary organs. However, they draw their ranks from the numerous slaves they capture during the various periods of piracy that will follow a larger Crusade. The youngest and strongest of these slaves are forced to fight in gladiatorial combats from which only the strongest will emerge alive, though never unscathed. Those who are deemed worthy are offered the chance of a new life, which, upon acceptance, is followed by forced indoctrination and extensive conditioning before the surgery can begin.
The original Space Marines who formed the beginnings of the Scions of Desolation were Black Templars, so their geneseed is drawn from the Imperial Fists Legion and they still share many of the characteristics of the Primarch Rogal Dorn, even if twisted to extreme levels. They also exhibit the extreme loyalty and zeal in the service of Chaos that Sigismund once displayed in service of the Emperor, making them as dangerous, if not more, than the older Chaos Space Marine legions. Because the Scions spend little time in the Eye of Terror, preferring instead to move from place to place, their geneseed can still be considered remarkably stable and mutation occurs rarely, if at all. However, it is not unheard of for a particularly zealous Scion to become a daemonhost in the quest for greater power and the favour of the Dark Gods. Like the Imperial Fists, they lack the Sus-an Membrane, which allows a Space Marine to survive grievous injuries through suspended animation, and the Betcher’s Gland that allows him to spit corrosive venom at his enemies.
“No Pity! No Mercy! No Regret!”