- "Good hunting. "
Flag-Captain Leoten Semper was the master of the Dictator-class Cruiser Lord Solar Macharius of the Imperial Navy during the Gothic War in the early 41st Millennium. He fought in many engagements and achieved great renown in Battlefleet Gothic during the course of that conflict, and his name and deeds are still cited as an example of naval valour in the present day.
Leoten Semper hailed fom the Semper bloodline of Cypra Mundi, an extended family which had a long and honourable tradition of furnishing the Imperial Navy with excellent officers since the Age of Apostasy in the 36th Millennium.
Little is known of Semper's history before he rose to the command of his own warship, as it is the naval tradition to attribute the feats-of-arms of a ship to its captain rather than his subordinate officers. It is known that as a young, freshly commissioned Lieutenant, Semper volunteered to lead a boarding assault against an Ork Kroozer and faced of against the vessel's Warboss. He managed to kill the Ork, but was severely wounded in return, losing an eye and earning an impressive vertical scar across his visage. Semper kept the Ork's skull as a memento of his first command, and as a warning against making hot-blooded decisions. At another point in his career as a Lieutenant, Semper earned the Order of the Gothic Star, Battlefleet Gothic's highest distinction for bravery. However, the exact nature of the action in which he earned it is unknown.
Semper was promoted to the rank of Captain after the onset of the Gothic War. He was put in command of the Dictator-class Cruiser Lord Solar Macharius which had lost its captain during Abaddon the Despoiler's initial push out of the Eye of Terror. Quickly asserting his authority over his ship's senior officers and Adeptus Mechanicus Tech-priests, Semper led his ship out on its shakedown cruise: a rendezvous with a squadron of Cobra-class Destroyers followed by a patrol of Gothic Sector space. This first mission took a turn for the worst when the Macharius emerged from the Warp only to be ambushed by the Chaos Hades-class Heavy Cruiser Contagion, a former Imperial Navy vessel known as the Vengis, which was commanded by Flag-Captain Hendrik Morrau. Morrau and his crew had been lost to the Warp after the defeat of the Blight Mutiny Renegades six standard centuries earlier. Marooned in the Immaterium, with madness and disease taking much of his crew, they had found their "salvation" in the form of Father Nurgle, the Lord of Plague, who they now gladly served and who had remade the crew of the Contagion over in his pestilent image.
Outgunned, and unable to flee their opponent either in the Materium or the Immaterium, Semper only managed to best his opponent with a desperate gamble: he ordered his Gellar Field lowered to simulate a failure, and lured the Contagion closer to admire the spectacle of Daemons destroying the Imperial ship utterly when the Geller Field disappeared completely. The Contagion took the bait, and the Macharius swiftly fired a full spread of six torpedoes into its opponent, destroying the Chaotic vessel.
Later, the Dauntless-class Light Cruiser Bellerophon, formally assigned to Battlegroup Fularis in the Bhein Morr Sub-sector, had attacked and destroyed the Mechanicus way station in the Oreicha System. Battlefleet Gothic High Command assumed that the Bellerophon crew had forsaken the Emperor's light and gone over to the side of the Archenemy. They also believed that important technical information had been stolen from the Oreicha way station. Impressed by Flag-Captain Semper's unorthodox resourcefulness, Battlefleet Gothic's Lord-High Admiral Cornelius von Ravensburg tasked the Macharius with the high-priority mission of tracking down, intercepting and destroying the wayward vessel.
In an effort to transform his officers into a finely-honed and flawless chain-of-command, Semper allowed his first officer, Flag-Lieutenant Hito Ulanti, to lead the chase and the engagement when they did corner their prey. Ulanti surprised everyone by suggesting and then leading a boarding assault on the Bellerophon, reasoning that retaking the turncoat warship was better in the long term than merely destroying it. Semper greatly approved the show of initiative, and commended his second-in-command.
Having proved their worth, Semper and his crew rejoined a battlegroup bound for the planet of Helia IV, with the orders to liberate it from an attacking Chaotic invasion fleet. Alongside the Cruisers Drachenfels, Scipion, Tonnent and Graf Orlok and their respective Escorts, the Macharius routed the attacking Chaos warfleet, destroying its troop transports and a half-dozen capital ships while losing only the Tonnent. During the battle, the Macharius came under heavy attack and a boarding assault from the Chaos Slaughter-class Cruiser Virulence, which was keen on avenging the earlier destruction of the Contagion. The crew of the Macharius valiantly managed to repel the boarders, and the Virulence was forced to relent when the Drachenfels hammered the Chaos vessel with its powerful Lance batteries. The Chaos warship's captain ultimately chose discretion as the better part of valour and retreated, opting to fight another day.
Immediately after their victory at Helia IV, the battlegroup of the Macharius was ordered to oversee and protect the evacuation of the planet Belatis. Belatis had been identified as the next target for Abaddon's horrific weapon known as the Planet Killer and, unable to properly defend against it, the Imperial Navy had settled for evacuating as much of the population and materiel as was feasible from the doomed world. The planet, and its capital city, Madina, were far from the Gothic War's frontlines, but even there the effects of the cataclysmic war raging throughout the rest of the Gothic Sector were keenly felt. Like the rest of the rear-echelon Imperial worlds, Belatis had been bled dry to provide manpower and materiel for the war, and many of those captured in routine round-ups eventually ended up as press-gang recruits in the warships of Battlefleet Gothic or fighting in the Penal Regiment detachments that the Departmento Munitorum had recently formed to replace the horrific losses amongst its Imperial Guard armies. There was little chance that any of those rounded up for Imperial military service would ever see their homeworld again.
Due to the incompetence of the planetary leaders and a full-scale insurrection fomented by the agents of Chaos, Semper became trapped on the surface of Belatis after being forced down to the ground as part of a pointless diplomatic gesture. Seeking refuge from the Chaos Cultists in the capital's Ecclesiarchy cathedral, Semper, his bodyguards, and his charges amongst the high and mighty of Belsavis joined the Ecclesiarchy's Frateris Militia, led by Imperial Guard officer-turned-Confessor Johann Devane, in defending the cathedral from wave after wave of Heretics. The cathedral's last remaining Astropath managed to send a desperate telepathic plea for help to the Macharius, and when Erwin Ramas, the master of the Drachenfels, sensibly refused to abandon the convoy for an hazardous rescue mission under the guns of the Planet Killer and its escorting warships, he was overruled by the Adeptus Arbites Marshal Byzantane, who commandeered the Macharius and proceeded with the rescue anyway.
After repelling yet another assault, and besting the Chaos Champion responsible for the uprising with the help of his bodyguard Maxim Borusa, Semper finally managed to return to the Macharius. He immediately ordered his vessel to make a run for the nearest Warp jump point at full speed, as the Planet Killer bore down on Belatis, and the escorting Chaos vessels were already surging forward to engage the Macharius. A running fight erupted, but, as the situation looked grim, the Chaos ships suddenly disengaged at speed: the Planet Killer opened up on Belatis with its incalculably powerful Armageddon Gun, and all but one of the Chaos warships ran for deep space, unwilling to be caught in the resultant blast caused by the doomed planet's destruction. The Virulence, still hell-bent on taking revenge on the Macharius, kept pursuing, and managed to land a crippling Lance strike on the Imperial warship. But at that same moment, another ship appeared in front of the Macharius: the Drachenfels. Fleet-Captain Erwin Ramas, knowing that the rescue mission would certainly be pursued, had powered his ship down and patiently laid in wait, ready to ambush the pursuers. The Drachenfels fired a full spread of torpedoes into the Virulent, utterly destroying it, before rejoining the convoy along with the Macharius as both Imperial vessels made good their escape.
A stern and grim-looking human male with hawkish features, Leoten Semper was a man devoted to his task, who believed in the virtue of leading by example. When promoted to the rank of Captain, he quickly asserted his authority over his crew, and made sure he had a good working relationship with his ship's Commissar. However, he was no iron-fisted tyrant, and gave all under his command enough leeway to speak out and voice their opinions, since he was ultimately interested in having competent officers under him and not mere "yes-men."
On a personal level, Semper was somewhat dull. His only passion was commanding his ship. His quarters were devoid of any entertainment or ostentatious decorations, save his personal collection of starcharts and the skull of the Ork he had bested as a young Lieutenant, and unlike most senior Imperial Navy officers, he did not keep a concubine onboard. He, however, enjoyed testing the men and women under his command, and often feigned anger when dealing with underlings, respecting those who stood their ground and defended their opinion.
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