Cursed 21st Founding (36th Millennium)
Bronze and Red
- "The beast, the bronze beast in the darkness, footsteps, it never tired, it just kept coming! We didn't stand a chance...wherever we turned, we could not escape, never escape!"
- — Testimony of Hedrith Blaine, Sole Survivor, Jurah-17 Mining Colony, Larsha Tertius
The origins of the Minotaurs are shrouded in mystery, for the formation at large in the Imperium today appears to bear little resemblance to accounts of its past. That there existed a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter called the Minotaurs, created during the Cursed 21st Founding of the 36th Millennium, is not widely contested in the Imperial record, but whether or not they are the same as the Chapter bearing the name that took part in the suppression of the Macharian Heresy in the opening decades of the 41st Millennium and the same Chapter that would later go on to play a crucial and bloody role in the Badab War is not so certain. The Minotaurs possess a reputation for being unusually xenophobic Astartes, even for the Imperium, as well as often unreliable combatants who do not work well with other Imperial military units.
The origins of the Minotaurs Chapter are shrouded in mystery, for the formation at large in the Imperium today appears to bear little resemblance to accounts of its past. Once, the Chapter was thought to belong to the 21st, so-called “Cursed” Founding, and to be a virtual outcast amongst the ranks of the Adeptus Astartes. Descriptions of the Minotaurs of old describe a force of berserkers that made war with savage abandon and eschewed all contact with other military forces. The Minotaurs of today have either mastered their former curse, or else they are a different body of warriors entirely, merely sharing the same name and similar heraldry. The truth may never be known, even at the highest levels, for all data relating to the Minotaurs’ origins and the current status of their gene-seed tithes is sealed by the highest possible authority.
The Chapter is highly active in the prosecution of the Emperor’s wars, seemingly deployed according to the highest level pronouncements of the Senatorum Imperialis and rarely if ever answering calls to war from any other Imperial authority. Many of the operations in which the Minotaurs have been committed are notable in that they are against other Space Marine forces, often Renegades or isolated elements within an otherwise loyal Chapter that refuses to suppress its own. It appears that the Minotaurs undertake such missions with relish, perhaps testing themselves against the most potent enemy they can find—other Space Marines. Furthermore, on the rare occasion of the Chapter serving alongside brother Adeptus Astartes, the Minotaurs have displayed such open contempt that all manner of recriminations have ensued, up to and including the fighting of duels and other low level hostilities. It is often reported that the Minotaurs are disdainful of all other subjects of the Imperium and that they radiate a malign intensity that makes even the boldest Imperial general fearful of approaching them.
One further detail marks the Chapter as unusual. While they appear to adhere closely to the organisational dictates of the Codex Astartes, the Minotaurs almost exclusively operate as a complete Chapter. While most Chapters spread their forces across multiple war zones, only coming together as a whole for the most momentous of conflicts, the Minotaurs rarely detach smaller forces away from the main body. This makes the Chapter a blunt instrument, but one capable of ripping through almost any enemy that dares to stand against it. This reality, combined with what appears to be a program of rapid psycho and surgical indoctrination of Neophytes, means that the Chapter is inevitably encountered as a single entity.
A Space Marine Chapter of brutal repute within the Imperium of Man, the Minotaurs have long been the brunt of suspicion and acrimony by other Space Marine Chapters. Furthermore, there are those within the Ordo Hereticus of the Inquisition who believe the Minotaurs possess unknown ties to the High Lords of Terra. While much of the Minotaurs' records going back over the last millennia has been ascertained through sifting through myriad battle archives from across the Imperium, much of their history before this point is not simply lost, but has been deliberately suppressed and sealed under binding edicts laid down by the High Lords of Terra that even the authority of the Inquisition cannot circumvent. It has been acknowledged that there was a Space Marine Chapter of the name Minotaurs created as part of the 21st Founding (Cursed Founding). But whether or not the Chapter bearing the same name millennia later during some of the most notable campaigns in the early 41st Millennium is the same has become a subject of much debate amongst Imperial scholars.
The Minotaurs of the Cursed 21st Founding rapidly gained a reputation as a force whose ferocity and fury on the battlefield were all but unmatched. As time progressed, their tendency to shun the command of others, and their erratic gene-seed tithe to the Magos Inviglia of the Adeptus Mechanicus, combined with the diverse curses and genetic corruption that seemed to afflict other Chapters of their Founding, raised much darker suspicions about the nature of the Minotaurs and the secrets they might be hiding. The few fragmentary records that remain show the Chapter's gene-seed branded as "Chimeric." This, as blasphemous as it may now seem, may have indicated that the Minotaurs' genetic material was either procured from a prohibited source, mixed with a heretical genetic pool, adulterated or somehow tampered with during its creation. Many Astartes scions of the Chapters created during the 21st Founding were found to have had their gene-seed experimented on. The Minotaurs are more than likely to have been among those who had their gene-seed tampered with or altered in some way as well. It is likely that the Minotaurs' barely-controlled battle fury and desire to shun those they should have called comrade was a result of some particular curse in their blood, but whether or not their affliction has mastered them or they have finally mastered it remains unknown. Regardless, from the middle of the 38th Millennium onwards, the Minotaurs all but slipped from the Imperium's records, their deeds and battle honours suppressed or expunged by a series of edicts and data purges.
When the Chapter reappeared millennia later, it was noted they had a tendency to respond quickly and without question to a call to arms from the High Lords of Terra, even when the case was to castigate, apprehend or even destroy formerly Loyal Space Marines who had been declared Renegade or had accusations of suspected transgressions lodged against them. This gave the Minotaurs a fell reputation as a Chapter. In particular, the Ultramarines and its myriad Successor Chapters are known to bear considerable ill will towards the Minotaurs and will not fight beside them after the Minotaurs' near-extinction of the Inceptors Chapter at Euxcine.
Since its return to prominence, some Imperial scholars who have studied this reclusive Chapter's actions have noted the discrepancies between the Minotaurs Chapter of the present and that of the past, both in terms of structure and behaviour, and in matters of minutiae such as livery. This speculation also pertains towards the Minotaurs' gene-seed, of which tithes have been logged but remain classified at the highest level.
- Macharian Heresy (ca. 400-425.M41) - When the Minotaurs reappeared again for the first time in millennia during the Suppression of the Macharian Heresy, they were a Chapter both familiar through their fell reputation and profoundly changed. Equipped to the highest Imperial standards, they fought as an integrated and highly flexible force and were based upon a powerful Chapter fleet operating more than a dozen Strike Cruisers. No less brutal than their ancient reputation suggested, they fought in what was nevertheless a more considered and controlled manner than that heard of in the ancient tales of the Imperium. During the suppression, it was the Minotaurs who formed the spearhead of the battle group which shattered the petty star empire of the outlaw Colonel Lyrias of the 11th Kahdu Armoured Corps, their Chapter's Land Raiders blasting apart the famed tanks of the elite Kahdusine "Immortals" on the ice plains of Gyros Prime. They also carried out Exterminatus orders on the Hive World of Duval and the Sword Realms of the Hope Cluster. While on the Ocean World of Nereus they hunted down and obliterated the xenos-possessed remnants of the Imperial Paladins Chapter's 4th Company in the mazes of the sub-surface cavern cities, poisoning the seas of this once vital Agri-World. The Euxine Incident was an action for which the Minotaurs gained the most infamy during the Macharian Heresy and involved the near-destruction of two Imperial Space Marine Chapters—the Doom Warriors and the Inceptors -- who had become locked in conflict. With the two combatant Chapters refusing calls to end their battle and aid with the pacification of the Macharian Crusade's conquered worlds, the Minotaurs were despatched to sunder the two and end the strife. Caring nothing for the causes or rights of the two Chapters, the Minotaurs attacked in full force. Overmatched and broken, the Doom Warriors fled the system almost immediately in a barely organised retreat. The remaining Inceptors Space Marines were forced into a humiliating surrender, as fewer than 100 Battle-Brothers survived the Minotaurs' assault. This created enmity between the Minotaurs and the Ultramarines and their Successor Chapters, who have sworn vengeance on the Minotaurs should the opportunity arise and have banned them from entering the space of Ultramar.
- Defence of Hermetica (760.M41) - The Defence of Hermetica was a notable Imperial military campaign carried out by the Minotaurs Space Marine Chapter against the forces of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion on the world of Hermetica in 760.M41. This vital Hive World was the capital of the Chonma Sector in the Segmentum Solar, and it came under a massive assault from a vast mutant horde numbering in the millions, led by the armies of the Word Bearers Dark Apostle Leyak the Devourer in 659.M41. The Chaos attack arrived from a Warp Rift that opened on the system's edge and was carried aboard a colossal Space Hulk designated the Nightmare Paradox. Although Hermetica was well-protected, owing to the suddenness of the onslaught and the sheer scale of the Chaotic attack, the system's outer defences were soon overwhelmed, and the trans-continental hive cities of Hermetica itself swiftly became battlegrounds on which its beleaguered defenders fought desperately against the tide of damned horrors that assailed them. In 760.M41, the Minotaurs Chapter were the first outside force to respond to Hermetica's strangled pleas for help, and using their Chapter fleet's firepower for cover, they cut off the invaders from orbit and swiftly counter-assaulted the main Chaotic foothold on the planet at Hive Casaubon, centered on the Basilica of Saint Lehsor the Anchorite. The Minotaurs' assault was devastating and indiscriminate, and after a heavy bombardment of their landing zones they smashed through the cathedral district's plazas and temples in attack columns of heavy armour heedless of the cost in civilian lives. The Minotaurs' advance was relentless, blasting apart any strong point they encountered and driving the enemy before them along with thousands of trapped civilians fleeing the carnage but who had nowhere to run. Swiftly the cathedral complex itself was encircled and bombarded; its kilometre-high main spire toppled in a crossfire of turbo-laser strikes from the wings of the Minotaurs' Thunderhawk gunships. Into this storm of debris and ash, the Terminators and assault squads of the Chapter attacked to wipe out any survivors, led by their Chapter Master Asterion Moloc at the forefront of the attack. Fighting his way into the depths of the basilica vaults, it was Asterion Moloc who slaughtered the foul Leyak's daemon-possessed bodyguard and struck a mortal blow to their hulking, toad-like master. But before the fatal stroke could be dealt to the Dark Apostle, he fled into the Warp through the use of his black arts. The degenerate mutant tide fought on, but now leaderless and without direction, it was beaten back and contained until the arrival of the Imperial 17th Battle Group and Imperial Guard regiments from Necromunda which purged the world of the Chaos taint. Deflected from its course by Nova Cannon strikes, the Hulk Nightmare Paradox, now silent, occupies a quarantined orbit in the distant reaches of the star system, awaiting further detailed examination by the Grey Knights and the agents of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
- Badab War (907-913.M41) - The Minotaurs arrived in the Maelstrom Zone of the Ultima Segmentum in 907.M41, answering the direct call from the acting Legate Inquisitor for more Space Marines to join the Loyalist cause against the Secessionist Chapters. The conflict was in its fourth year of open warfare, and the Minotaurs committed their entire strength to the war; ten companies and eleven capital ships of various types. While the Chapter coordinated their efforts with the Loyalist command, they operated largely independent throughout the conflict, striking targets as they saw fit. The viciousness of the Chapter's reputation for leaving no survivors among those that resisted them quickly grew, and remained uncontested until the arrival of the even more savage Carcharodons Chapter. The Minotaurs gained several important victories during this time, effectively destroying Secessionist forces on multiple worlds. However, the action for which their fame would spread far beyond the conflict (despite a deliberate suppression of the war's progress by the Inquisition), would be their wholesale defeat of the Lamenters' Chapter in a close-quarters space battle in the Optera System in the closing days of the early Badab Uprising in 908.M41. Finally, the Minotaurs withdrew from the Maelstrom Zone in 913.M41 after the fall of Badab Primaris, taking with them several former Lamenters warships to replace their own losses.
- Rynn's World (989.M41)- The Minotaurs saw action on Rynn's World during the attempt to reclaim the Crimson Fists' homeworld from the Orks.
The Minotaurs conform to both the structural and squad-level pattern of the Codex Astartes in terms of broad organisation. But at a tactical level this Chapter differs significantly in its general approach to warfare. The Minotaurs prefer to operate as a whole, or at least in as few divisions of its forces as possible in any given theater of war, concentrating and thereby maximising its destructive power. This strategy has allowed the Chapter to excel at siegecraft and in combat against monstrous opponents, which they can overwhelm by sheer weight of numbers if need be. Unlike most Space Marine Chapters, some of the Minotaurs' key tactics are partly dependent on the use of superior attrition within a confined area of engagement, the Chapter's commanders perhaps less mindful of the fate of their Battle-Brothers than some, so long as victory is achieved. Two significant factors aid the Minotaurs in their chosen pattern of warfare; their excellent supplies of heavy arms and war machinery and a markedly rapid influx of new Neophytes to replace ongoing losses due to attrition. The exact source of their war materiel has remained unconfirmed, but they have been observed to operate using large and replenishing stockpiles of tanks and heavy armour (primarily Vindicators and Predators as tactical support vehicles). The Minotaurs have also been observed to have widespread access to supplies of the advanced Mark VIII "Errant" Power Armour, and commonly field much of their 1st Company as Terminators in combat.
Another unusual aspect of the Minotaurs is the methods in which they are able to replace losses in manpower so quickly. The speed of transition between Neophyte, Scout Marine and full Battle-Brother in the Chapter is brief compared to that of many other Space Marine Chapters. This is explained by the use of extremely high levels of programmed psycho-indoctrination and neuro-cerebral surgery by the Chapter. This program accelerates the recruits' progression and is continued during deployment as ongoing treatments to reinforce mental conditioning administered by the Chapter's Apothecaries. These techniques, though not forbidden as heretical, have inherent dangers that could carry a greater risk of damaging the subject physically and mentally than those normally performed by other Chapters. Most Space Marine Chapters consider the more studied training and battlefield erudition of their Neophytes to be a key component in tempering the soul of a warrior rather than the dangerous artificial techniques employed by the Minotaurs to replace their often self-inflicted losses.
While the Minotaurs appear to adhere closely to the organisational dictates of the Codex Astartes, the Minotaurs almost exclusively operate as a complete Chapter. While most Chapters spread their forces across multiple war zones, only coming together as a whole for the most momentous of conflicts, the Minotaurs rarely detach smaller forces away from the main body. This makes the Chapter a somewhat blunt instrument, but one capable of smashing any foe that dares stand against it. This, combined with what appears to be a program of rapid psychological-and-surgical indoctrination of Neophytes, means that the Chapter is inevitably encountered en masse. How many Minotaurs have the opportunity or the temperament to stand a Vigil of the Long Watch is unknown and the Chapter has not been well-represented at Watch Fortress Erioch in the Jericho Reach.
Chapter Combat DoctrineThe ancient repute of the Minotaurs of the 21st Founding suggests that on the battlefield their Astartes often times eschewed any form of combat that did not allow them to rapidly get to grips with their enemies as fast as possible. This highly autonomous, almost berserk force was often announced in a war zone without preamble or even much by the way of reconnaissance. They would hurl themselves at the enemy without heed of loss or cost. Their fury spent, the Minotaurs would then withdraw as suddenly as they had arrived. This pattern made the Minotaurs too unpredictable and unreliable a force to be counted on by their fellow Imperial allies. The Minotaurs that emerged in the early years of the 41st Millennium were quite different in regards to how they prosecuted a campaign. The Chapter now preferred to deploy a vanguard to pin their enemies in combat, then use fast units to encircle them to ensure there can be no escape before bringing in the full weight of the Chapter's firepower and heavy armour to crush the foe without mercy. Still highly autonomous, the Minotaurs go where they are willed by the needs of the Imperium but now seem far more content to operate within the structure and command of the Imperial war machine than the Chapter's distant history suggests.
The Minotaurs seem to bear little respect for anyone or anything, save the Emperor of Mankind and the High Lords of Terra, for whom they have displayed fanatic and unquestioning loyalty. The Chapter tends to show no love for civility or deference when dealing with individual Imperial commanders and other Space Marine Chapters, but they have been known to show pleasure in testing their skills against worthy foes. Some speculate that perhaps the Minotaurs consider their fellow Astartes as particularly worthy. In one well-recorded incident, the Chapter nearly came to blows with the Genesis Chapter after deliberately insulting the name of Marneus Calgar. Bloody conflict between them was only averted by the arrival of a fresh wave of Orks from the Octarian Empire. Given this predilection for testing themselves against their fellow Space Marines, it is unsurprising that the Minotaurs would appear during the Badab War. The Astral Claws and other Secessionist Chapters would have certainly proved to be worthy foes. Some Imperial commanders who have served with the Minotaurs since their reemergence have gone on record, hinting that this Chapter is at the edge of madness or heresy - describing the defences and security precautions taken by them even when dealing with supposed allies as obsessive bordering on the paranoid. Given the number of enemies both within and without the Imperium this is perhaps unsurprising.
- Lord Asterion Moloc, Master of the Minotaurs, Satrap of the Daedelos Krata, Bringer of Wrath - Asterion Moloc is the current Chapter Master of the fearsome and brutal Minotaurs Space Marine Chapter. This paranoid and bloody-handed Astartes commander revels in his dark reputation and his name is a byword for death and mayhem carried out in the name of the benevolent Emperor of Mankind. Lord Asterion Moloc is a brutal tactician and enjoys the utter destruction of his foes, but has little patience for councils or strategic planning when forced by circumstance to work with other Imperial forces. Instead he chooses to remain aloof, as is his Chapter's nature, often sending his Reclusiarch (High Chaplain) Ivanus Enkomi as his Chapter's emissary and his personal representative in such matters. During the conflict known as the Badab War there was no record of Asterion Moloc ever being present for a war council of the Loyalist Astartes Chapters involved in the conflict. The only record of his presence in the war came from pict-footage recovered from battle scans and fearful stories spread by the few Secessionist survivors of the Minotaurs' brutal attacks. Moloc is a bloody-handed and paranoid Chapter Master who revels in his dark reputation, and his name is a byword for slaughter and destruction carried out in the Emperor's name on a score of worlds. A veteran of hundreds of battles, his body has been heavily rebuilt with cybernetic augments and his sheer spite and malice is enough to allow him to shrug off wounds that would fell a lesser Space Marine. A brutal tactician, Moloc takes pleasure in the utter destruction of his foes, and is most often found in battle at the head of his Chapter's Terminators slamming into the enemy line. He is also a diligent and disciplined logistician and strategist, and a master of siegecraft. Outside of battle he can be found on his brazen throne at the centre of the maze-like chambers of the heavy Assault Carrier Daedelos Krata, surrounded by datafeeds, tabulation Servitors and casualty reports, measuring the drops of blood spilt in pursuit of his Chapter's strategic goals.
- Reclusiarch Ivanus Enkomi, The Voice of the Chapter - Ivanus Enkomi is the current Reclusiarch (High Chaplain) of the fearsome Minotaurs Space Marine Chapter. A skilled tactical commander, he leads his forces from the front in battle, exhorting them to ever greater heights of hatred and destruction against the foes of theEmperor of Mankind. During the infamous internecine conflict known as the Badab War, Chaplain Ivanus Enkomi was at the forefront of the Minotaurs' offensives in several key battles. Enkomi served as the Minotaurs' primary representative to the Loyalist war council that oversaw the Badab War.
- Vanguard Veteran Sergeant Thoul - Assigned to lead the Minotaurs' contingent force (numbering some five squads with Storm Eagle and Techmarine support) attached to the Ordo Xenos Interdiction Force-Kappa to perform an interdiction operation at Thamyris, Thoul proved to be a particularly savage and aggressive commander when operating under his own independent authority in attacking the waking Necron tombs of the Maynarkh Dynasty. Although the interdiction force was eventually driven off the accursed world, thanks to a series of highly destructive raids by the Minotaurs, Deathwatch Kill-teams and Death Korps of Krieg Combat Engineer strike forces, a number of Necron structures and tomb complexes were successfully sabotaged and badly damaged, thus denying them to the foe.
- Unmaker's Touch - In many Chapters, the mighty Chainfist is a weapon that sees use only in the direst of conflicts, as the armour of most Battle-Brothers is insufficient to bear the weight and supply the power of such a weapon. The Minotaur’s great stock of Terminator Armour means that they are able to bring forth such weapons more easily than most. Of the terrible weapons so mounted, few are more feared than the Chainfist called Unmaker’s Touch. Its potent power field makes a mockery of armour and vehicles, and has also served admirably against the creations of Hereteks and other unliving foes.
- Daedlos Krata (Heavy Assault Carrier) - The flagship of the Minotaurs' large and powerful Chapter Fleet
Since their reemergence, some Imperial commanders have gone on record as finding the Space Marines of the Minotaurs Chapter to be brooding and malign warriors, far from the epitome of honour and righteousness. The Chapter's individuals hold about them an aura of barely restrained spite and malice that breeds fear and apprehension in all but the strongest heart. The Power Armour worn by the Battle-Brothers of this Chapter typically bears syncretic iconography, denoting rank and battlefield record. Many of these symbols have meanings hidden from outsiders to the Chapter, though it is believed that the numeration and colouration of the "lamda" Helikan-glyph markings common to Minotaurs heraldry refer to attested "kills" against worthy opponents in single combat, likely in increasing order of magnitude.
The Minotaurs Chapter's original colour scheme was yellow, with red decorations (usually warning markings). The Minotaurs contemporary colour scheme is that of bronze armour with some darker red on the shoulder plates at times.
The Chapter's original badge is a blue bull's head on a yellow background. The contemporary Chapter badge is a red bull's head with black horns on a bronze background. Members of the elite 1st Company wear a variant of the Chapter badge; a bronze bull's head on a dark red background.
- Chapter Approved: The Fourth Book of the Astronomican (2004), "The Cursed Founding by Andy Hoare, Graham McNeill & Phil Kelly, pp. 4-9
- Deathwatch: Honour the Chapter (RPG), pp. 117, 135
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War, Part One, pp. 42-43, 48
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War, Part Two, pp. 9-10, 23-24, 27, 47, 51, 58-59, 104-113, 176-177
- Imperial Armour Volume Twelve - The Fall of Orpheus (Forthcoming)
- Warhammer 40,000 Compendium (1st Edition), "The Badab War", p. 34
- White Dwarf 260 (UK), "Index Astartes: The Cursed Founding"