- "With steel we are stronger, but without a soul we are nothing."
- — Iron Father Kardan Stronos
An Iron Father is a specialist officer unique to the Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter. A hybrid of the Chaplain and Techmarine roles found in Codex-compliant Chapters, to the Iron Hands, the duties of both are intricately intertwined. The Iron Fathers oversee the Chapter’s spiritual health, but they also guide the Battle-Brothers in their journey from a being of biological weakness to a warrior of rage and iron.
An Ancient OrderEdit
One of the many anachronisms exhibited by the Iron Hands is their continued use of the rank of Iron Father. The first individuals to bear this title were not of the Xth at all, but were instead engineer-mystics who maintained the Dark Age machineries of the Medusan clans. These original Iron Fathers wielded considerable influence thanks to their vital contribution to life on Medusa, and enjoyed positions in the hierarchy of each clan. When Primarch Ferrus Manus forcibly introduced his Legion to the world they would call home, the rank of Frater Ferrum, or Iron Father, was adapted by those Battle-Brothers whose duty was the care of the Iron Hands' weapons, vehicles and armaments. Though the title has remained constant over the millennia, its meaning continued to change after the Iron Council's formation -- by the dawn of the 41st Millennium it had come to be an honorific, an additional title awarded to the esteemed individuals who were voted into the ranks of the Chapter's Iron Council. Any Battle-Brother of rank within the Iron Hands can become an Iron Father, from mighty Iron Captains, Iron Chaplains and Librarians, to Apothecaries and Veteran Sergeants. Historically, though, the most common recipients of this honour have been the Techmarines and Masters of the Forge -- those Iron Hand warriors whose own duties echo those of the Iron Fathers of old. Every Iron Hands Clan Company must always have at least one Iron Father amongst its ranks -- most will have more -- and the word of these individuals will often be heeded by their Battle-Brothers even over that of higher ranking officers who are not themselves members of the Iron Council.
Given the atypical nature of the Iron Hands’ Chapter dogma, it is not surprising that they espouse a highly divergent form of beliefs. Instead of the conventional Chaplains fielded by most Codex-compliant Chapters, the Iron Hands maintain a special cadre of officers known as the Iron Fathers. These individuals combine the qualities of both a Chaplain and Techmarine. It is the Iron Fathers who administer and oversee the Neophytes' ascension to full Initiate, and who, along with the Chapter’s Apothecaries, conduct the many and escalating cybernetic augmentation surgeries a Battle-Brother undergoes throughout his service. The Iron Fathers are inspirational figures to their charges, shining exemplars of all that the Chapter holds dear. They preach unyielding hatred for the foes of the Emperor, and promise that one day their lost Primarch Ferrus Manus will return, to bring light to the benighted Imperium as he did to gloomy Medusa over 10,000 Terran years ago.
The Iron Father is considered the representative to the Chapter of both the Emperor of Mankind and the Adeptus Mechanicus' Cult Mechanicus. Unlike the Chaplains of other Chapters, however, the Iron Fathers do not receive a Rosarius from the Ecclesiarchy because of the perceived heresy of the Iron Hands' belief in the doctrines of the Omnissiah rather than the standard Imperial Creed. The Iron Fathers are schooled in the mysteries of the Machine Cult to a far greater degree than the Techmarines of most other Chapters. Like all Techmarines, they undergo a portion of their instruction under the supervision of the Tech-priests of the Cult Mechanicus. Yet, while most Techmarines maintain a mutually reserved distance from the Cult of Mars, the Iron Fathers appear to have far closer links, and are schooled in the most obscure of disciplines.
The use of Bionics is commonplace in the Imperium, yet the Iron Fathers are able to reconstruct the bodies of their charges right down to the cellular level, replacing the tiniest of biological functions with far superior mechanical components. It is only by way of the arts of the Iron Fathers and the skills they are taught by the Adeptus Mechanicus that an Iron Hands Astartes may be transformed from a genetically enhanced warrior to something not far from a pure machine, without losing the essence of what it is to be a member of the Adeptus Astartes. A fully mechanised Iron Hands Battle-Brother is far more than an automaton controlled by a scrap of grey matter—he is an unstoppable machine of war fuelled by faith and hatred, and utterly convinced of the truth of the dogma that the flesh is weak and that iron is strong.
Notable Iron FathersEdit
- Iron Father Kardan Stronos - Kardan Stronos is the de facto Chapter Master of the Iron Hands Chapter. Of all the Iron Fathers to have led the Iron Hands Chapter, none echo the glory of their Primarch Ferrus Manus more than Stronos. Since the loss of their Primarch, no single warrior has ever permanently led the Iron Hands. Instead, they are guided by the Council of Iron Fathers who appoint one amongst their number to command, according to the needs of the Chapter. So it is that an Iron Father might lead for the course of a campaign for which his particular skills make him singularly suited, and whilst that war rages, he wields all the power and responsibility of a Chapter Master. Upon the mission’s conclusion, he cedes power back to the Iron Council, who then calculate the next Iron Father to lead them. It is testament to Kardan Stronos' skill as both warrior and commander that he has been reappointed as head of the Iron Council for over three hundred consecutive years.
- Iron Father Anatolus Gdolkin - Iron Father Anatolus Gdolkin was given command of the Strike Team sent to aid Magos Omega Thule during the 13th Black Crusade. Gdolkin was accompanied on the mission by his blessed Combat Servitors Gibeon XII, Joab XIII, Gibal 674, and Ishmael 192. While critically wounded in combat against the Word Bearers Dark Apostle Iscariot, Gdolkin survived his mission and was interred within a venerable and sacred Dreadnought of the Chapter.
- Autek Mor - Known as "The Maimed" and the "Blood-Wrought", Autek Mor was both Iron Lord and Iron Father to the Iron Hands Legion's Morragul Clan Company during the Great Crusade of the late 30th Millennium. Autek Mor held a sinister reputation within his Legion, and dark rumours accompanied him long before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, including whispered accusations that the origins of his gene-seed or perhaps his bloodline were not as they should be. A Terran by birth, he was a part of the Xth Legion's first intake and fought in the re-conquest of the Sol System. He held field command by the time of his Primarch Ferrus Manus' discovery, having already developed a reputation both as a weaponsmith and a malevolent soul, having killed several Astartes of his own Legion in duels over "slights of honour." He ruled his company with a cruel and unforgiving fist. His Morragul Clan became a sink for the outcasts and most unstable elements of the Iron Hands Legion, who fought and died under Mor's merciless command. No love was lost between Autek and his Primarch, but despite this, when his Grand Cruiser, the Red Talon, arrived at Istvaan V during the Drop Site Massacre when the void battle was at its height, he attacked in an attempt to reach the surface and was only driven off after sustaining massive damage, fleeing the Istvaan System dogged by murderous pursuit. He would eventually become the patriarch and first Chapter Master of the Second Founding Red Talons Chapter.
- Master of the Forge Xerill - Xerill is an Iron Father of the Iron Hands Chapter who is currently seconded to the Deathwatch and has served as a Master of the Forge for close to eight Terran decades. He joined a handful of like-minded, inquisitive Deathwatch Space Marines that have been drawn back to the study of nearly-deserted Watch Stations, now known as the Dead Stations, and the ancient traces of knowledge and prophecy they contained. These few members have since dedicated their lives to finally unravelling the enigma of the Jericho Reach known as the Dark Pattern -- a series of mysterious events that continue to unfold, presaged in numerous ancient prophecies foretelling of great strife and darkness are coming to pass in this area of space. Thanks to their interest in the Dead Stations, their peers refer to them as the "Dead Cabal." Xerill was inducted into their ranks fifty standard years ago after he recovered a series of Eldar Spirit Stones. His passion for understanding and unlocking the knowledge contained within xenos artefacts drew the attention of Inquisitor Ramaeus, who had him reassigned to permanent detail on the Dead Stations Vigil. Since that time, Xerill has embraced the Dead Cabal and has dedicated his tenure with the Deathwatch to studying as many xenos artefacts as he can. He is especially fascinated by anything relating to the Necrons and has undertaken many missions based on the slightest inclination that there could be Necron activity involved.
- Iron Father Paullian Blantar - Blantar is an Iron Father from the Kaargul Clan Company. This inspirational figure embodied every one of the Chapter's teachings, from the utter certainty that Ferrus Manus would one day return, to the hatred of all that is of the flesh. His knowledge of bionic enhancement is unparalleled, and his refinements of the augmentation process distinctly affected the direction of the Chapter. He led the dramatic counter-attack against the insidious Dark Eldar on the industrial world of Kaladrone, rescuing the badly wounded Warleader Bannus. Blantar personally performed the augmetic surgeries and augmentations that enabled the crippled form of Bannus to survive and go on to lead his company for many centuries to come. In fact, Bannus still leads his Clan Company as an ancient Venerable Dreadnought and is an integral part of the Chapter's current Great Council. Bannus' wisdom and experience continue to serve the Chapter to this day. Of equal legendary status was Blantar's disdain for his own organic body. Blantar constantly flayed his own body of the flesh he was born into, until eventually, towards the end of his extremely long and successful life-span, only his mind remained. This was implanted into the towering frame of a mighty Dreadnought, and some say that in so doing his very soul was ex-loaded into the machine’s systems so that not a scrap of biological matter remained. Blantar serves as a permanent member of the Chapter's Great Council, having transcended the limits of his flesh and effectively attained immortality. Should Ferrus Manus ever return, as Chapter dogma asserts he will, it is certain that Paullian Blantar and any others who replicate his feat will be there to greet their Primarch, and to fight at his side in the final battle. To this day other Iron Fathers ritually scar their flesh in honour of one of the most renowned Iron Fathers of all time.
- Iron Father Gebren - Ever since the dawn of the Great Crusade, the most technically adept members of the Space Marine Legions have been sent to Mars to be trained as Adepts in the Cult Mechanicus, and Iron Father Gebren was one of the first and best. Gebren served during the Great Crusade and on through the dark days of the Horus Heresy. Gebren was trained by none other than Fabricator Locum Kane, who would later become the Loyalist Fabricator-General of Mars after the betrayal of Kelbor-Hal during the Schism of Mars.
- Iron Father Kosvorr - Iron Father Kosvorr dissects enemy squadrons with a methodical precision that is terrifying to behold. An Iron Hands Techmarine of great age and experience, Kosvorr has led squadrons of aircraft from his Chapter’s Armoury for over two centuries. His wealth of aerial combat experience is stored within his augmented cerebral databanks, ready to overlay his vision with predicted flight plans, fire solutions and strategic manoeuvres. All this allows Kosvorr to direct his squadrons to stay one step ahead of the enemy, leaving his victims screaming in frustration as the Iron Hands predict and punish their every move.
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pg. 9
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 20-21
- Index Astartes III, "Hand of Justice - The Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter"
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre, pp. 185, 231, 237
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest, pp. 55, 157
- The Horus Heresy - Book Six: Retribution (Forthcoming)
- Warhammer 40,000: Clan Raukaan - A Codex: Space Marines Supplement (7th Edition), pp. 10-11, 13, 15-16
- Warhammer 40,000: Death from the Skies (7th Edition), pg. 77
- White Dwarf 291 (US), "Cult of the Machine God: Techmarines of the Adeptus Astartes", pp. 14-17
- White Dwarf 290 (US), "The Flesh Is Weak"
- White Dwarf 263 (AUS), "Index Astartes – Iron Hands"
- White Dwarf 262 (US), "Index Astartes First Founding: Hand of Justice, The Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter"
- Innocence Proves Nothing (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Iron Hands (Novel) by Jonathan Green
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Mechanicum (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Wrath of Iron (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- Forge World - Legiones Astartes: Iron Hands - Iron Father