"We are the Emperor's pride. Hear us roar!"
Less than 96 Astartes of this Chapter currently remain
Gold and Blue
- "Your future life shall be a series of trials, one after the other, until you attain the glory that is your due at the side of the Emperor. You shall face the hardest first, so that we know we are not wasting our time."
- — Chaplain Sighelm of the Celestial Lions
The Celestial Lions are a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter raised in the 38th Millennium during an unknown Founding as a Successor Chapter of the Imperial Fists. The Chapter has a long and glorious history, stretching back over 4,000 standard years, but events set in motion over a decade ago during a routine assault on the world of Khattar in 988.M41 may now prove to be the Chapter's undoing in the wake of the events that unfolded during the Third War for Armageddon. The Celestial Lions are deeply distrustful of the motives and methodology employed by the Inquisition, and are vocal opponents of its recent actions during the Khattarn Insurrection. This political opposition and demand for investigations into the Inquisition's dealings has raised the hackles of many important people within the Imperium's most senior circles. This may have contributed to the recent misfortune which nearly destroyed the Chapter.
- "Grimaldus. They lied to us about the Mannheim Gap. They sent us there to die. You know of whom I speak. We cannot outrun the echoes of Khattar. We pay the price now for our virtue in the past. The Celestial Lions will never leave this world. A handful of us remain, but we know the truth. We died at the Mannheim Gap. We died the day the sun rose over the scrap-iron bodies of alien gods."
- Khattarn Insurrection (988.M41) - During the event known as the Khattarn Insurrection, five companies of the Celestial Lions were attached to Inquisitor Apollyon in order to crush the ongoing revolt on the main planet, Khattar. The orbital defences were nothing to the Space Marines and they quickly landed on the planet, with virtually no opposition. As the campaign progressed and the number of prisoners increased, it became evident that this was no mere minor rebellion. Apparently the Imperial Cult's priesthood on Khattar had been corrupted by Chaos and had led the leaders of the planet into the arms of the Chaos God Slaanesh. Local Renegade Imperial Guard and Planetary Defence Force regiments were quickly defeated and within three months the rebellion was crushed. The detachment of the Celestial Lions boarded their ships and left for their fortress-monastery. As the Astartes warships left orbit, the Imperial Navy, under the orders of Inquisitor Apollyon, carried out an Exterminatus action and bombarded the planet with Cyclonic Torpedoes, obliterating its entire population. This action horrified the Celestial Lions, who proceeded to condemn the Inquisitor for wiping out the population of a planet that had been cleansed of all heretical taint and whose people had largely remained innocent. Captain Saul, the commander of the Imperial Navy flagship in orbit of Khattarn, had attempted to halt the bombardment, but could not countermand an Inquisitor. From then on, the Celestial Lions were highly vocal opponents of the Inquisition, as they believed it had been unnecessary to destroy the planet. They proclaimed a series of very loud and very public condemnations against the Inquisition that was intended to reach the powers-that-be within the highest echelons of the Imperium. A delegation of senior Chapter officers left for Terra to further their cause, but the starship never arrived. It was blown wildly off course by a freak Warp Storm, far into Ork territory. The wreckage was eventually found two standard years after the disappearance of the vessel, although this was not enough to deter the Celestial Lions, who kept demanding an investigation into the events surrounding the destruction of Khattar. Their efforts, though valiant, were completely in vain. The Inquisition technically answers to no one but itself and the Emperor, and is immune to any outside pressure or criticism, even from the Adeptus Astartes. Since the Khattarn Insurrection the Celestial Lions have refused to work alongside the agents of the Inquisition again, and for its part, the Inquisition began to look into methods by which the Lions' constant criticism might be silenced.
- The Third War for Armageddon and the Mannheim Gap Massacre (998.M41) - With the outbreak of the Third War for Armageddon, the entire Celestial Lions Chapter was deployed to that crucial Imperial Hive World to defend Hive Volcanus. They suffered horrendous casualties within only months of arriving. The intelligence they received was horribly inaccurate and often led them into ambushes where they were outnumbered and outgunned. Some of the higher ranking officers of the Chapter began to suspect this was intentional, a ploy to wipe out the entire Chapter as part of the political machinations of the Inquisition which they had vocally opposed since the events at Khattarn for over a standard decade, but nothing could be proven. One particularly devastating battle in the Mannheim Gap saw 4 entire companies exterminated by the combined forces of a Gargant under the command of the Ork Warlord Thogfang and the Razor Speed Freeks. Losses mounted and the battle ended with a very well-coordinated Greenskin attack on the Celestial Lions' base camp. It had been thought by the Celestial Lions that Thogfang's Gargants were still under construction and the Space Marines hoped to take the Orks by surprise before their war engines became operational. Unfortunately not only were the Gargants fully operational, they were waiting for the Celestial Lions, targeting the exact ridge where the Chapter had intended to launch their assault. Undaunted by this apparent betrayal, the Celestial Lions fought bravely and thought they could win. But then the Orks launched their trap and hundreds of buried tunnels opened behind the Lions' position, swarming their rear with thousands upon thousands of Orks. The last Captain of the Celestial Lions force, Vularakh, was eaten by Thogfang. The Imperials' losses mounted and the assault finally ended with a very well-coordinated attack on the Celestial Lions' base camp. This particular battle lasted for three hours. Hundreds of Astartes fell to the overwhelming Ork forces. Sniper fire rained down from the mountain sides, relentlessly targeting the Chapter's Apothecaries. It should be noted that the sniper fire was not Ork in origin, for Imperial-issued Longlas Laser Sniper Rifles were the culprits, burning holes straight through the helmet and eye-lenses of many of the Chapter's officers and non-commissioned officers. Finally, a small Celestial Lions company was able to break through the Ork lines and fight their way back to Hive Volcanus. Only 96 Astartes survived the battle at Mannheim Gap. To make matters worse, the last Apothecary was shot in the head within hours of arriving at Hive Volcanus; he was found slumped against his Rhino transport with a las burn straight through his temple, his slayer unknown. The dead Celestial Lions' gene-seed lay unharvested on the surface of Armageddon and the remaining Battle-Brothers of the Lions swore to die alongside their fallen brothers, fighting to the last to regain their honour even if it meant the death of their entire Chapter. Seeking one last hope for redemption, then Pride Leader (Squad Sergeant) Ekene Dubaku requested that Reclusiarch Grimaldus of the Black Templars Chapter perform the last rites on the Celestial Lions' survivors, who intended to return to Mannheim to die alongside their slain brothers. Grimaldus refused and marshaled the remaining defenders of Hive Helsreach to march alongside the Celestial Lions. Grimaldus believed that if the honour of the Celestial Lions could be salvaged by destroying the Ork base, then the remaining Lions warriors would return to their homeworld and be content with rebuilding their Chapter. The battle that ensued cost the lives of almost all of the remaining Celestial Lions. However, Pride Leader Dubaku was able to slay Warlord Thogfang with Grimaldus' help, avenging the loss of his Captain and the grievous wound to the pride of his Chapter. Only then did Grimaldus signal for Black Templar reinforcements to enter the fray and the Knights of Dorn fought one last time on Armageddon. High Marshal Helbrecht, the Chapter Master of the Black Templars present on Armageddon, forced Dubaku to take the oath of Chapter Master to lead the remnant of his Lions and granted him an ancient suit of Power Armour dating back to the Great Crusade which still bore the original heraldry of the Imperial Fists Legion. The few remaining Celestial Lions departed for their homeworld on the Strike Cruiser Blade of the Seventh Son, another gift from the Black Templars, alongside a temporary detachment of Black Templars Astartes to aid in the the rebuilding of the proud and defiant Celestial Lions Chapter on their homeworld of Elysium IX.
The Celestial Lions make use of several variant titles for standard Codex Astartes Chapter ranks, including calling its Squad Sergeants "Pride Leaders."
Notable Celestial LionsEdit
- Ekene Dubaku (Chapter Master) - Ekene Dubaku was a Pride Leader (Squad Sergeant) of the Celestial Lions who was one of the few Celestial Lions non-commissioned officers to survive the massacre at Mannheim Gap. When the Lions returned to assault Warlord Thogfang's camp, it was Dubaku who finally slew the monstrous Ork and thus regained his Chapter's honour. For his skill, bravery and proven leadership ability, Dubaku was selected by High Marshal Helbrecht of the Black Templars to become the new Chapter Master of the surviving Celestial Lions and to oversee the rebuilding of his Chapter on their homeworld of Elysium IX with some help from the Black Templars. Dubaku was gifted a suit of relic Imperial Fists Power Armour dating back to the time of the Great Crusade in the 30th Millennium by Helbrecht, which he now proudly wears as a badge of his office.
The Celestial Lions' Power Armour is primarily gold, with blue shoulder plates and helmet.
The Chapter badge is a roaring lion's head, and leonine decorations are often incorporated into their armour.
- White Dwarf 249, "Index Astartes - Emperor's Shield"
- Armageddon (Anthology) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Blood and Fire (Novella) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Third War for Armageddon Worldwide Campaign - Forces Disposition, Imperial Forces: Celestial Lions