- "A foe without honour is a foe already beaten."
- — Ancient Helveticus, Ultramarines Honour Guard
An Astartes Honour Guard is an elite cadre of Veteran Space Marines who have given many centuries of exceptionally courageous service to their Chapter. Every Astartes in a Chapter Honour Guard has proven himself to be a living exemplar of the Space Marine ideal that the Primarch Roboute Guilliman laid out in the Codex Astartes. These taciturn and solemn individuals are ferocious and unyielding in the heat of battle. On the battlefield they serve as their Chapter Master's personal retinue, responsible for the safety of their commander and carrying the Chapter's sacred battle standard into battle.
Veteran Space Marines with centuries of service and multiple commendations and decorations are sometimes awarded the chance to serve in their Chapter's Honour Guard. Honour Guards are stoic and spiritually solemn individuals when at rest in their Chapter's fortress-monastery, but ferocious and unyielding in battle. Each has received the very highest honours that his Battle-Brothers can bestow, performing deeds the likes of which lesser men can only dream. Indeed, it is said that each member of a a Chapter's Honour Guard has earned more commendations and glories in a lifetime's service than a whole company of Space Marines from any other Chapter, and that each individual has slain more foes than an entire regiment of Imperial Guardsmen. So steeped are the Honour Guard in the art of war that their understanding of tactical and strategic combat commonly outstrips even the experience of the Chapter's company captains. It is considered folly for even the Master of the Chapter to ignore the counsel of his Honour Guard. The most skilled member of the Honour Guard is usually selected as the Chapter Champion, whose duty it is to challenge any enemy commander to single combat. When this is not possible, the Champion directs all his effort in battle to killing the most elite individual enemy commanders he can find to damage the opposing force's morale.
An Honour Guard's wargear is drawn from amongst the most ancient relics of the Chapter, for such Astartes above all others have earned the right to wield such sacred weapons and bear the burden of leadership that accompanies them. Thus, it is common for the members of a Chapter's Honour Guard to wear Artificer Power Armour and wield masterwork versions of standard Astartes weapons. Most Space Marine Chapters have only a handful of Astartes in their Honour Guard, enough to form a distinct and capable fighting unit surrounding the Chapter Master, but no more. A few of the older and larger Chapters like the Ultramarines can muster as many as two dozen Honour Guards, but it is rare even for them to fight as a unit. When in combat, the Honour Guard acts as the Chapter Master's bodyguard, responsible for the safety of their commander and hoisting aloft the Chapter's battle standard. These are sacred tasks and the Honour Guard fight for both ferociously, and never succumb to fear or rage which may cloud their judgment. Such courage and devotion has been the salvation of more than one Chapter Master's life. When a member of the Honour Guard is slain, his Battle-Brothers will take any action necessary to recover the body so that his gene-seed may be returned to the Chapter and his remains can be interred with full honours in the Chapter's Vault of Heroes.
Honour Guard SpecialistsEdit
- Chapter/Company Champion - The Chapter or Company Champion is charged with defending the life of his Chapter Master or company Captain, and upholding the honour of his Chapter, his company and the Emperor Himself. His is the honour and duty to challenge the warlords and champions of the foe in single combat, leaving his Chapter Master or company commander free to conduct the wider battle, rather than engage in a series of personal combats. Most Chapter or Company Champions often serve as an advisor and confidante to their commander, as fighting countless battles back-to-back against the most horrendous foes in the galaxy often creates a strong bond of brotherhood and mutual trust between the Chapter Master or company Captain and his Champion.
- Chapter/Company Standard Bearer - The Chapter or Company Standard Bearer is a Veteran Space Marine hand-picked by either the Chapter Master or the Reclusiarch for his stubbornness and resilience, and given the honour of brandishing his Chapter's or company's most sacred relic in battle. Boldly accompanying his Chapter Master or company commander onto the field, the Standard Bearer's duty is to hold high the colours and to defend the precious relic with his life. In almost all Chapters, stories and legends similar to that of Ancient Galatan of the Ultramarines abound, of Chapter or Company Standard Bearers who held their ground and refused to die against the most terrible of foes, holding high their standard and rallying their Battle-Brothers and any other present Imperial forces against all odds, delivering victory at the willing cost of their own life.
Notable Space Marine Honour GuardsEdit
- Blood Angels Honour Guard - A Blood Angels Captain is often accompanied to battle by a dedicated squad of elite Astartes bodyguards known as an Honour Guard. The members of this Honour Guard are chosen only from a company's most experienced warriors. Indeed many are Veterans seconded from the Chapter's famous 1st Company. Each Honour Guard is therefore a canny and deadly warrior in his own right, for a Captain is ever to be found in the very heart of the fighting and, where he goes, his Honour Guard is duty bound to follow. Naturally, an Honour Guardian's years of service will have sharpened more than his combat skills. Some will have seen more battles than the Captain they accompany, and possess a wealth of tactical insights. It is not unusual therefore for an Honour Guard to form the core of a Captain's inner sanctum of advisors, lending their accumulated wisdom and experience to his weighty decisions. The specific armament and specialities of a Blood Angels Honour Guard's members can vary greatly according to the temperament and tactical preference of their officer. A commander who prefers to spearhead his strike force's attacks might well choose seasoned Assault Marines to form his bodyguard, or Battle-Brothers practiced with close-range special weapons, such as Flamers or Plasma Guns. Older and wiser officers instead select their Honour Guards to help create a visible anchor-point on the battlefield. Such officers go to war accompanied by their company's Standard Bearer and Champion, forming an easily identifiable and adaptable rallying point around which the battle inevitably focuses. A particularly respected officer can even call upon one of the Chapter's novitiate Sanguinary Priests to serve in his Honour Guard and bestow the benediction of his Blood Chalice upon the squad and all the other Blood Angels who fight alongside him.
- Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard - The Sanguinary Guard is comprised of the most elite Astartes of the Blood Angels and all of their Successor Chapters. The lineage of the Sanguinary Guard can be traced back to the dark days of the Horus Heresy, when they served as the Primarch Sanguinius' elite bodyguard. Sanguinary Guard are proven in mind, body and spirit to uphold the values of their famed Primarch Sanguinius to an extent that no other can. They are essentially the Blood Angels' elite version of a Chapter Honour Guard. Unlike the Chapter's other Veterans, the Sanguinary Guards do not select wargear according to their expertise. Instead they fight with the weapons traditional to their honoured position -- wrist-mounted Angelus Pattern Bolters and master-crafted Power Weapons in the form of a polearm known as a Glaive Encarmine. Each guardian's golden armour is a relic of the Chapter, one of a handful of surviving suits from the time of the Great Crusade, whose secrets of manufacture have long since been lost to the Imperium. There are few more revered relics in the whole of the Chapter's Armoury, for they are a tangible reminder of the golden age of not only the Blood Angels Legion, but of the Imperium as a whole. To join the ranks of the Sanguinary Guard is no mere battlefield assignment, nor even an honour. Rather it is to enter a brotherhood of mortals-become-gods, to continue a legend ten thousand standard years old.
- Space Wolves Wolf Guard - The Wolf Guard are the most elite Veterans of the Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter, comparable to a Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter's Sternguard Veterans. They are the bravest warriors of each of the Chapter's Great Companies, hand-selected by their Great Company's Wolf Lord to serve as his chosen protectors and the vanguard of his forces. Each Battle-Brother that serves in this elite unit has earned their place by some exceptional feat of arms that marked them out amongst their brethren, for a Wolf Guard is chosen based on his heroic deeds, rather than his age or time served with the Chapter. Therefore, the Wolf Guard maintains a mix of hot-blooded young warriors and stalwart Veterans amongst its ranks. Each Wolf Lord favours his chosen warriors with gifts such as antique weapons, ornate Artificer Power Armour of ancient origin and patterns, and, most precious of all, rare and venerated suits of Terminator Armour. In battle, the members of the Wolf Guard are assigned to lead other units or form a bodyguard to protect their Wolf Lord.
- Ultramarines Honour Guard - Each Honour Guard is a veteran of countless campaigns. He has faced nearly every enemy the galaxy has to throw at the defenders of Mankind and he knows no fear. The warrior has been selected, and has agreed, to become a Champion of the Chapter based on his glorious career. In battle, the Ultramarines Honour Guard forms a retinue that accompanies the Chapter Master, providing him with a degree of protection that no other force could match. Each member of the Honour Guard bears weapons that are in themselves amongst the most precious relics of the Chapter, and his armour is the finest Artificer-wrought war plate dating from the Chapter’s earliest days during the Great Crusade. Though their martial skills are without equal, this is not the only reason the Honour Guards take to the field. So experienced is each Honour Guard that a single word of counsel from them can turn the tide of battle, and even the Chapter Master knows to heed their words. Perhaps the most sacred of an Honour Guard’s duties is to carry and protect the Chapter Banner, bearing it aloft so that all may take heart from its colours. At times an individual Ultramarines Honour Guard will take the Apocryphon Oath and undergo a secondment to the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos, known as the Deathwatch. This is a momentous occasion, for it signifies that the Honour Guard is present as a champion and representative of his entire Chapter. The Oath he takes rests not simply on his own honour, but on that of every Ultramarines Battle-Brother. Grave bonds of honour and duty link the Ultramarines with the Deathwatch, and have done so since the earliest days of the Conclave of Orphite IV. The Ultramarines and the Deathwatch have fought alongside one another in numerous battles, and in so doing forged unbreakable bonds of kinship. There are times when an Ultramarines Honour Guard will take the Apocryphon Oath when the Deathwatch finds itself facing a foe which its leaders known to be a figure of special hatred for the Ultramarines, such as the Tyranids, and consider themselves honour bound to inform the Chapter. On discovering that some ancient enemy of the Chapter is abroad, the Ultramarines might despatch a strike force to fight alongside the Deathwatch, but if no such force is available, a single Honour Guard is despatched to join the Deathwatch and represent his entire Chapter in the battle ahead. His is the duty and the honour of fighting the final confrontation and striking the last, killing blow, for the glory of the Ultramarines and all their kin.
Notable Members of Space Marine Honour GuardsEdit
- Brother Aloysius (Ultramarines Honour Guard) - During the infamous Battle of Macragge when the Ultramarines' homeworld of Macragge was besieged by the Tyranid menace known as Hive Fleet Behemoth, Aloysius, Commander of the Honour Guard, held his ground alone against a Tyranid Swarmlord and its Tyrant Guard when Chapter Master Marneus Calgar was gravely wounded. As the rest of the Honour Guard got Calgar to safety, Aloysius was hacked down by the Swarmlord's four crackling Bonesabres, as the Chapter Master's Thunderhawk gunship lifted off to safety. Due to the noble sacrifice of Aloysius and his fellow Ultramarines, Marneus Calgar would live to fight again.
- Azkaellon (Blood Angels Sanguinary Guard) - Azkaellon fought alongside Primarch Sanguinius through the most terrible of battles during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy on such worlds as Dalos, Blindhope, Signus Prime and countless others. He served with the Great Angel until he perished in the assault on the Warmaster Horus' Battle Barge Vengeful Spirit during the final hours of the Battle of Terra. Azkaellon was the lone member of the Sanguinary Guard who survived that final confrontation. Sanguinius' prescient vision of his own fate led him to insist that his Herald Azkaellon remain on Terra so that should he fall, the Sanguinary Guard would not be extinguished. Once reconstituted by Azkaellon, they would go on to serve as a beacon of hope for the Blood Angels and the wider Imperium in the dark days ahead. Though he yearned to fight at his Primarch's side one final time, with a heavy heart Azkaellon acceded to Sanguinius' wishes. For he knew that he could not jeopardise the sacred duty entrusted to him. Following his Primarch's final orders, the Sanguinary Guard managed to survive when Sanguinius did not, for Azkaellon made certain that their legacy was maintained, not just in the Blood Angels, but in every Successor Chapter that arose from the dissolution of the Blood Angels Legion during the Second Founding.
- Ragnar Blackmane (Space Wolves Wolf Guard) - Ragnar Blackmane is the youngest Space Wolf Astartes ever promoted to the rank of Wolf Lord by the Chapter. He is exceptional in every sense of the word. When Ragnar was a young, impetuous youth he was elevated directly from the ranks of the Blood Claws to the esteemed Wolf Guard of his Great Company. This near-unheard of promotion was accomplished after Ragnar slew the Ork Warlord Borzag Khan in close combat and subsequently dispatched the Warlord's retinue of Ork Nobz one after another.
- Arjac Rockfist (Space Wolves Wolf Guard) - Also known as "The Man-Mountain," "Grimnar's Champion" and the "Anvil of Fenris," Arjac is the personal Champion of the Space Wolves' Great Wolf Logan Grimnar. Arjac was formerly a blacksmith of the Bear Claw tribe of Fenris, whose true skills lay not at the forge, but in the crucible of battle. His incredible strength, size and fortitude so impressed the Great Wolf that he was made his personal Champion even before he was inducted into the Space Wolves as an Astartes and made the leader of Grimnar's personal Wolf Guard.
- Canis Wolfborn (Space Wolves Wolf Guard) - Canis Wolfborn is an unusual Astartes of the Space Wolves, for he is a loner, a warrior who is more at home in the company of wolves than men. Though he is a member of the Wolf Guard of the Wolf Lord Harald Deathwolf, his saga has proven very different from those of his peers, and his prowess in combat is unmatched. The Wolf Priests theorise that Canis was lost in a snowstorm as an infant, abandoned after his tribe was killed in the wastes and raised as a whelp by a brooding she-wolf. In battle, his mettle and courage are beyond question, and wolves both great and small instinctively obey his commands. Canis is well known for his terrifying battle frenzy, and to this day rides the largest of his kin into battle, a terrifying Thunderwolf of immense proportions.
Space Marine Legion Honour GuardsEdit
It was common in the days of the Great Crusade for each Primarch of the Space Marine Legions to maintain an elite cadre of Astartes from their Legion to serve as their personal honour guard. These honour guards generally represented the most elite Battle-Brothers of the Legion they were drawn from and were exemplars of the culture and traits that their particular Legion most embodied.
- Lion Guard - The Lion Guard served as the honour guard for the Primarch Lion El'Jonson of the Dark Angels Legion.
- The Huscarls - The Huscarls were the honour guard for the Primarch Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists Legion. A contingent more than likely escorted their Primarch aboard the Warmaster Horus' flagship, the Vengeful Spirit, during the climax of the Horus Heresy at the Battle of Terra. It is not known in current Imperial records whether or not some of these valiant heroes, if any, survived this boarding action.
- Sanguinary Guard - The Sanguinary Guard served as the personal honour guard of Primarch Sanguinius of the Blood Angels Legion. They served with their Primarch until he perished in the Loyalist assault on the Warmaster Horus' Battle Barge Vengeful Spirit during the final hours of the Battle of Terra. Only Azkaellon, the Sanguinary Guard Commander, survived that final confrontation, as he was ordered to stay behind on Terra so that the legacy of the Sanguinary Guard would not die.
- Morlocks - The Morlocks served as the honour guard for the Primarch Ferrus Manus of the Iron Hands Legion. The Morlocks were nearly slain to a man during the disastrous Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V during the opening days of the Horus Heresy. But some few managed to escape the killing fields of the Urgall Depression on that world to carry their traditions forward for the Iron Hands.
- Pyre Guard - The Pyre Guard served as the honour guard for the Primarch Vulkan of the Salamanders Legion. Their present status has devolved to acting as an elite component of the Salamanders' 1st Company (the Firedrakes), and in the role as the personal bodyguards of the Regent of Prometheus (Chapter Master) Tu'Shan, and the current Forgemaster Vulkan He'stan.
- Phoenix Guard - The Phoenix Guard served as the honour guard for the Primarch Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children Legion. Their present status is unknown, as their last recorded battle with the Imperium occurred 100 Terran years after the Battle of the Iron Cage in the early 31st Millennium.
- The Devourers - The Devourers served as the honour guard for the Primarch Angron of the World Eaters Legion. Their numbers were drawn from the most fearsome Veterans of the XII Legion's elite Assault Companies.
- Deathshroud - The Deathshroud were the honour guard of the Primarch Mortarion of the Death Guard. They still acted as Mortarion's honour guard in the years after the Horus Heresy, as identified by Chapter Master Kaldor Draigo of the Grey Knights during his own battle with Mortarion in the late 41st Millennium.
- Sekhmet - The Sekhmet were the honour guard for the Primarch Magnus 'the Red', of the Thousand Sons Legion. Their present status is unknown, but logic dictates that they continue their ceaseless guarding of their Primarch on the Planet of the Sorcerers.
- Justaerin - The Justaerin were the elite black-armoured honour guard for the Warmaster Horus of the Sons of Horus Legion. They were led by First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon.
- Gal Vorbak - The Gal Vorbak (Colchisian dialect for "the Blessed Sons") was the name later given to the Space Marines of the Serrated Suns Chapter of the Word Bearers Legion who ventured deep into the Eye of Terror Warp rift and brought back the Primordial Truth of the existence of Chaos to their Primarch Lorgar. These crimson-armoured, daemon-possessed Astartes served as Lorgar's elite troops during the battles of the Horus Heresy. Thousands of the Gal Vorbak were left to die, alone and unsupported, on the surface of the devastated world of Calth when First Chaplain Erebus fled the conflict that the Word Bearers fought against their hated rivals the Ultramarines on that benighted world. Argel Tal, the Crimson Lord, was the sole surviving original member of the Gal Vorbak, having been seconded to the World Eaters Legion for temporary duty before the Word Bearers' assault on Calth. Argel Tal forsook his oaths to the annihilated Serrated Suns Chapter and gained permission from his Primarch Lorgar to form a newly constituted formation, known as the Vakrah Jal, the Chapter of Consecrated Iron, who rose from the ashes of Word Bearers companies devastated on the killing fields of Istvaan V.
- Effrit - The Effrit Stealth Squad served as an elite squad of personal bodyguards who served the Primarch Omegon of the Alpha Legion rather than his publicly known twin Alpharius. It is not clear whether Omegon's position as one of the dual Primarchs of the XX Legion was a permanent position or merely adopted when the situation dictated that he take over command duties for the Alpha Legion in his brother's absence.
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pp. 50, 52, 80, 85
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), p. 53
- Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition)
- Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), p. 13
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), p. 71
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- Imperial Armour - The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal, pg. 70, 107, 248, 248-249
- Index Astartes IV, "Sons of Horus - The Black Legion Space Marine Legion"
- White Dwarf 268 (US), "Abaddon the Despoiler" and "Index Astartes First Founding: Sons of Horus, The Black Legion Space Marine Chapter"
- Insignium Astartes, pg. 26
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- False Gods (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Galaxy in Flames (Novel) by Ben Counter
- Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow, pp. 19-20, 30, 57, 59, 67, 72
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 97, 300-301, 303, 314, 338, 369-370, 373, 375, 380, 383, 385-388, 392, 400
- Legion (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Promethean Sun (Novella) by Nick Kyme, pp. 3, 20, 23-25, 48, 53,-54, 60-62, 64, 68, 77, 80, 82, 85, 87, 100, 102, 104
- A Thousand Sons (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 11, 14, 26, 48, 57, 98, 101-105, 108, 215, 219, 230-231, 248, 251, 254
- Age of Darkness (Anthology) edited by Christian Dunn, "Little Horus" by Dan Abnett and "The Face of Treachery" by Gav Thorpe
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Aurelian (Novella) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Know No Fear (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- The Primarchs (Anthology), "The Serpent Beneath" by Rob Sanders
- Angel Exterminatus (Novel) by Graham McNeill, pp. 60, 83-84, 86-88, 101-104, 108, 113-115, 136-137, 142-143, 158-159, 162-168, 172, 174, 212, 216-217, 222, 271, 282
- Betrayer (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden