3rd Founding (001.M32)
High Executioner Arkash Hakkon
Sytgia-Aquilon (Binary World)
- "You may cleave to your courage but that will fail you, look to your weapons but you will find them not enough. Run, fight, hide, pray, cry out or cower -- it does not matter, for we are come."
- — Fafnir Rann, Patriarch and first High Executioner of the Executioners Chapter
The Executioners were one of four formerly Loyalist Space Marine Chapters that rebelled against the Imperium of Man's authority during the Badab War. The Chapter was believed to have found itself on the wrong side of that conflict through little fault of its own, and was eventually permitted to continue in its service to the Imperium after a suitable penance. The Executioners were a 3rd Founding Successor Chapter of the Imperial Fists created according to Imperial records in the first year of the 32nd Millennium.
The Executioners are an ancient and proud Chapter whose origins are found in the chaotic centuries following the Horus Heresy. This Chapter's Astartes are the proud scions of the Imperial Fists Legion. Their patriarch was reputedly one of Primarch Rogal Dorn's most ruthless captains, by the name of Fafnir Rann. Aside from an unbreakable sense of honour and a history of unparalleled skill at arms, they share little in common with their forebears' culture and traditions, nor do they maintain any strong ties to any but their own successors within the Adeptus Astartes. Some of their fellow Space Marines view the Executioners as little more than ill-disciplined primitives and gore-splattered headhunters, little better than renegades. Yet, far from being a Chapter composed of nothing more than a barbarous horde in Space Marine guise, one must consider that the Executioners have a high degree of blood-bought battle wisdom and possess a certain deliberate cunning that has enabled them to attain a record of unwavering success in their service to the Imperium during some of the darkest periods in its history.
This Chapter is based on the Imperium's fringes along the desolate void wastes to the galactic south-south-west, between the borders of the Segmentum Tempestus and Segmentum Pacificus, although in their long history they have been accustomed to great voyages and forlorn quests, having fought the width and breadth of the Imperium in the past. Since the closing years of the 37th Millennium the Chapter has made its home on the twin worlds of Stygia and Aquilon; both infamous planets of fire and ice locked in a perpetual orbit ellipsing around a giant, slowly-dying sun. The Chapter's Fortress-Monastery is a huge armoured asteroid base known as the Darkenvault which is gravitationally trapped in the Lagrange point between these two worlds. It is from this bleak and foreboding bastion that the Executioners' skull-prowed warships sally forth into the galaxy in search of targets to destroy.
- The Invasion of Nova Sulis (302.M36) - During the wars that marked the beginning of the Apostate Cardinal Bucharis' Plague of Unbelief, the Executioners were amongst the first Space Marine Chapters to take up arms against the power-mad Cardinal at Galthamor, notably fighting alongside the Space Wolves, Angels of Absolution, and the Raven Guard at various points during the conflict. For their role in combating the apostates and traitors of the Plague of Unbelief, the Executioners were granted the rare honour of having a new Chapter, the Iron Champions, raised from their gene-seed in a later Founding.
- The Battle of Carrion Deep (899.M41) - Responding to a series of frantic astropathic distress calls from several Imperial deep-range outposts, the forces of the Executioners' 2nd Company, led by Lord High ChaplainThulsa Kane, found themselves in a desperate struggle against an awakened threat stirring on the Dead World of Carrion Deep, near the Veiled Region on the edge of the Segmentum Tempestus. Upon investigation the Executioners discovered nothing but a trail of shattered ruins and empty bastions where Imperial watchposts should have been. The 2nd Company was ambushed in the wreckage of the frontier base on Carrion Deep. Surrounded and outnumbered by metallic foes that would not die, it was only by the dauntless leadership and wise cunning of Kane that they were able to survive. Leading the 2nd Company in a furious counter-assault, the Executioners came to grips with their foes, taking advantage of their inherent speed and ferocity only possessed by an Astartes. Kane himself sought and confronted the enemy leader, and after a titanic clash of arms, the battle left Kane's Crozius Arcanum broken and his right eye withered in his skull, though he struck the metallic creature down. Though his Battle-Brothers wanted to fight on to the bitter end, the High Chaplain's will prevailed. Less than a third of the Executioners' force succeeded in breaking out of the deadly trap of their undying foes. The Battle of Carrion Deep represents one of the first confirmed and detailed Imperial battle reports against the ancient alien menace later identified by the Ordo Xenos as the Necrons.
- The Badab War (904-911.M41) - The Executioners Chapter was one of four Astartes Chapters that rebelled against the authority of the Imperium during the Badab War. Their involvement in Lufgt Huron's cause was the result of a blood debt the Chapter owed the Astral Claws from more than a millennium before. By 904.M41 the Executioners had fully joined the rebellion on the side of the Astral Claws and the Secessionists. Soon after the discovery of the heretical intent of Lufgt Huron and his Chapter, Inquisitorial missions were despatched to the homes of the Mantis Warriors and the Executioners Chapters to examine them for any evidence of complicity in the heresy, as well as genetic tampering and moral deviance of any kind. The Inquisition's mission to the Executioners' binary homeworlds of Stygia-Aquilon was allowed full access when it finally arrived after a five-standard-month-long journey fraught with peril to the southern fringe of the Maelstrom Zone. Despite some concerns over the individualistic and somewhat fractious tendencies of the Chapter, the Inquisition's investigation found both their gene-seed and faith uncorrupted, and the visit also shed some light on the causes of their involvement in the conflict on the Secessionist side. During the war, the Executioners steadfastly refused to operate under the direct control of the Tyrant of Badab, operating only as the Astral Claws' uneasy allies and never as subordinates. This resulted in much ire within the ranks of the Secessionists during the war. The Chapter had a tendency to leave survivors of their attacks behind once their military objectives were met, even allowing the surrender of defeated foes with honour. This incensed Lugft Huron to no end. Because of the Executioners' perceived lack of resolve, the Tyrant of Badab instituted the policy of having his forces shadow theirs "to do what must be done" and to keep the Executioners Chapter as distant from his own machinations and actions as possible, particularly as he fell ever further into heresy and Chaotic corruption. But as the war worsened for the Secessionists, Huron was forced to rely heavily on the Executioners' forces to contest the Maelstrom Zone. This would prove disastrous and result in the Executioners turning on the Astral Claws after the events surrounding the surrender of a Battle Barge of the Salamanders Chapter. The Executioners then became a rogue element, conducting their own private war with their former allies until they negotiated a surrender to the Loyalist forces and a withdrawal from the war zone in 911.M41. Of all those that were caught up in the Secessionist cause, the Executioners Chapter emerged from the conflict the least scathed and the least tainted. They had fought honourably and had lived and died by their oaths. One year after the destruction of Badab Primaris, in 913.M41, the remaining Secessionists from the Astral Claws, Executioners, Mantis Warriors and Lamenters Chapters were put on trial before a specially convened Consistorial Court of their peers in the Adeptus Astartes. The very existence of these Chapters was at stake. Despite the attempts of the Inquisitor Legate to have the matter placed fully under Inquisitorial remit, a conclave of five Space Marine Chapter Masters whose forces were not part of the conflict were convened in judgement in accordance with Astartes tradition. The Consistorial Court found all those Chapters that had taken part in the Badab Secession guilty in breaking with both the Codex Astartes and the ancient covenant with the Emperor that it represented. The Executioners had not rebelled against the Imperium out of treachery but because of a preexisting blood-debt between themselves and the Astral Claws Chapter, a debt they had felt that they no longer needed to honour due to the Tyrant's dishonourable actions during the conflict and turn towards the Ruinous Powers. Because of their honourable conduct throughout the conflict, the Salamanders Chapter themselves stood as guarantor of the Executioners' compliance and conduct, although there remained those on the Loyalist side who, though bound to obedience in the matter, would never forget the bad blood between them. The Executioners were granted a measure of comparable clemency by the court of their peers. Granted the Emperor's forgiveness by the High Lords of Terra, the court determined that the Executioners had mistakenly sided with the Traitors as a result of deception, though they remained subject to undertaking a hundred-year-long penitent Crusade to atone for the Loyalist blood spilled and were forbidden from recruiting new Initiates during that time, much like their fellow penitents, the Mantis Warriors. The Executioners' twin Chapter worlds were given over in trust to the Salamanders Chapter and their own Successors rather than forfeited entirely, to be returned to them should they endure their hundred year act of contrition and survive. Their future survival or destruction was left then in their own hands, and subject to the grace of the Emperor.
- The Corcyran Massacre (910.M41) - This is considered by some as a "lost tale" of the Badab War whose true facts will never be known. What became known as the Corcyran Massacre was discovered by a Loyalist naval patrol in 910.M41. The wreckage of a smugglers' base was discovered in the dust wastes of the forlorn world of Corcyra II. What was found within the base was a nightmarish scene of carnage and destruction never before witnessed. A bloody battle had been fought between sub-company-sized forces of Space Marines composed of the Executioners and the Carcharodons Chapters. These two Chapters, both famed in their own right for being savage and unyielding, had fought each other to mutual annihilation. The base around them was ripped apart, trampling its former inhabitants into the dust. Many of the bodies of both sides showed signs of having fought on despite suffering horrendous wounds, severed limbs and massive trauma that should have felled even an Astartes, and several were found locked in deathly, gore-splattered embraces, striking at their foes with their last ebbing strength. It is not known which Chapter's sole-remaining fighter breathed last to claim a bitter victory. Neither Chapter has acknowledged any survivors of the massacre living to tell of the battle.
The Executioners adhere very strictly to the tenets of the Codex Astartes despite their barbaric and unsophisticated reputation. The Chapter's structure and organisation follow the Codex closely, with only a few minor changes in orthodoxy which largely reflects a tendency towards close-range fire fights and brutal hand-to-hand combat. These tactics are preferred by the Chapter's Battle-Brothers so as to more rapidly prove themselves in such decisive combats rather than using hit-and-run tactics and long range firepower in their operations. Within the Chapter's Battle Companies this tactical bias is represented by the replacement of one of the standard Codex-compliant Devastator Squads for Sternguard Veteran squads of the company's finest warriors. The use of Assault Bikes and Attack Bikes is disdained by the Chapter, who have a preference for the use of Land Speeders for scouting duties, and heavy armour wherever possible for assaults and reconnaissances in force.
Each Executioners company captain is treated as a warlord in his own right, with great independence of action afforded to them in how they administer their companies. The company captains, the Chapter's Chief Librarian, Master of the Forge and Lord Speaker of the Dead (High Chaplain) form a war council which the High Executioner (Chapter Master) must heed despite possessing ultimate authority. This war council may, by unanimous assent, overthrow the High Executioner should he prove unfit or unworthy in their eyes. Unlike the traditions of most Space Marine Chapters, contests for leadership are quite bloody in the extreme; each company captain has the right to challenge for the title of High Executioner in trial by combat should they wish to do so.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
The Executioners prefer to engage the enemy as closely as possible. This ensures victory and glory for their Astartes. They are unafraid of battles of attrition or mutual destruction, relying on the abilities of their Battle-Brothers to overcome and endure anything the enemy can throw at them. At times this has proven to be a flaw, as the Chapter has a predilection to fight on once engaged where its better strategic judgment might have otherwise prevailed before its bloodlust was roused.
The Executioners believe that their Chapter was created for the sole task of seeking out and slaughtering Mankind's foes rather than undertaking any more defensive or strategic purpose. This Chapter is bellicose and almost barbarous in nature, and disdains martial trappings and the ordered obedience of other more stalwart Codex-compliant Chapters such as the Ultramarines and their own forebears the Imperial Fists. The Executioners have made up for this "flaw" by gaining a fearsome reputation for sheer undaunted endurance and destructive wrath. Their primary goal and purpose as a Chapter is a simple one; to extinguish the live of those that would have the audacity to contest the Imperium's manifest destiny or threaten humanity. The Executioners literally see themselves as the Emperor's chosen headsmen, and His judgement theirs to enact on His behalf.
This Chapter's ancient ways and beliefs are rooted in the Feral Worlds from which they have long recruited their Neophytes. By the laws and traditions of their Chapter, each Executioners Battle-Brother is expected to forge their own path to glory and become worthy of remembrance in the great chronicles that have been kept by successive generations of the Chapter's Chaplains, or "Death-Speakers" as they are known amongst the Executioners. It is the Death-Speakers' task to recount the slaughter-tallies of the Chapter's honoured dead during holy feasts and memorial ceremonies held deep within the Darkenvault's catacombs. Their second but equally important task is to keep order within the ranks of the often fractious Chapter. Consequently, the Executioners maintain an unusually high number of Chaplains, with three Death-Speakers assigned to each company by tradition. They report to the overall Reclusiarch, also known as the Lord Speaker of the Dead. As part of their duties the Death-Speakers are responsible for maintaining precise records of the Chapter's battles, so that lessons of both victories and defeats are never lost for future warriors of the Chapter.
It is only by right of bloodshed, by taking the lives of the Emperor's enemies. that an Executioners Battle-Brother can be granted the honour of a place in the Chapter chronicles, and thereby earn the respect of their fellow Space Marines and so attain rank and honour within the Chapter. The Battle-Brothers of this Chapter have an intractable and ambitious nature. Quick to anger, an Executioners Astartes is taught to avenge slights to their honour with blood, even amongst their own, but unlike the few other Chapters where such behavior is tolerated or even encouraged (such as the Space Wolves or Marauders for example), there is little that passes in the way of brawling or boisterous competition amongst the Executioners Astartes, for all such battles are to the maiming or the death of those involved. In their extreme view, honour demands no less.
Another disturbing eccentricity of the Chapter to outside observers is the tendency for the Executioners' Astartes to carry trophies from the battlefield, taken from particularly noteworthy victims, and including such items as skulls, heads, and enemy weapons. They do not take these trophies for any ritual purpose but rather for the tally of the Death-Speakers after the battle. They are then promptly discarded after serving their purpose unless judged to be particularly significant, in which case they are preserved as relics, often adorning the Space Marine's armour or wargear for a time.
The Executioners' spiritual beliefs have also been called into question, but have endured since before the rise of the Adeptus Ministorum. These beliefs primarily take the form of animism and ancestor worship, and while they ascribe to the worship of the divine God-Emperor, the Executioners have little use for the Ecclesiarchy and its trappings and "petty" superstitions, save for as a useful tool of social control to bind together the scattered multitudes of the Imperium.
- High Executioner Fafnir Rann - A ruthless Captain of the Imperial Fists Legion who went on to become the patriarch and first High Executioner (Chapter Master) of the Executioners Chapter.
- High Executioner Arkash Hakkon - Current High Executioner (Chapter Master) of the Executioners Chapter.
- Lord Speaker of the Dead Thulsa Kane - The one-eyed Thulsa Kane is the current Reclusiarch (High Chaplain) of the Executioners, a role of singular importance within the Chapter which also carries with it the titles of High Mortiurge (or supreme-judge) and Lord Speaker of the Dead, responsible for recording the deeds of the Executioners Space Marines in battle and overseeing all of the Chapter's other Death-Speakers (Chaplains).
- Night Hag (Battle Barge) - The infamous flagship of the Executioners Chapter.
- Phaeton's Wrath (Battle Barge)
The Chapter's original colour scheme for its Power Armour was painted in a blue and gray camouflage pattern. The contemporary colour scheme is a metallic grey-blue colour. A single shoulder plate is often times painted to denote the various squad designations; green for Tactical Squads, yellow for Assault Squads, purple/blue for Devastator Squads or red for Scout Squads. Sometimes these squad markings are designated on one of the armour's knee plates, while the designated company is displayed on the opposite knee plate. Other times the squad markings are displayed on one of the shoulder plates.
The original Chapter badge of the Executioners was an axe on a red background. The contemporary Chapter badge is that of twin ebon-coloured axes facing away from one another on a red shield.
- Warhammer 40,000 Compendium (1st Edition), "The Badab War", pp. 33-35
- White Dwarf 101 (UK), "Index Astartes: From The Imperial History Archive - The Badab War: The Uniforms and History of the Badab Uprising" by Rick Priestley, pp. 71-73
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, pp. 24, 26, 40-41, 50, 51, 56, 119, 127
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp.10, 19, 30, 42, 44, 46, 54, 57, 59-61, 78, 84-93, 99, 109, 171, 175
- Legends of the Space Marines (Anthology), "The Trial of the Mantis Warriors" by C.S. Goto