|Scythes of the Emperor|
"For the ghosts of Sotha!"; "For the Emperor and for Sotha!" (only used when fighting the Tyranids); "For the Emperor... We are his Scythes!"
25th Founding (Circa 500-600.M41)
Roboute Guilliman (Allegedly)
Black and Yellow
The Scythes of the Emperor are a Codex Astartes-compliant, Loyalist Chapter of Space Marines who are allegedly a Successor Chapter of the Ultramarines of the 25th Founding. The Scythes of the Emperor, along with their allies, the Lamenters Chapter, were virtually destroyed during the invasion of the Imperium of Man by the Tyranids' Hive Fleet Kraken.
The Scythes of the Emperor (sometimes referred to as the Emperor's Scythes) was designated Space Marine Chapter 874, and was Founded approximately in the years 500 - 600.M41, making them one of the Imperium's relatively newest brotherhoods of Space Marines. Their gene-seed is speculated to have been drawn from the the Ultramarines. The Scythes established a Fortress-Monastery upon their homeworld of Sotha. From this base of operations, near the region of space known as the Damocles Gulf in the Segmentum Ultima, the Chapter took upon themselves the duty of policing and safeguarding many of the nearby mining and manufactorum settlements.
The Scythes' first Chapter Master was Thorcyra, an excellent strategic leader. He led the Scythes for several centuries until his death during the desperate flight of his Chapter from the jaws of Hive Fleet Kraken on their homeworld of Sotha. As the Chapter grew in strength, they expanded their policing actions around their homeworld of Sotha in the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy. After eradicating human and alien pirates from the nearby Imperial mining colonies, the Scythes moved on to counter several Ork migrations in the lower Segmentums of the Imperium.
The Scythes served during the Damocles Gulf Crusade, and played a vital role in the capture of the world of Sy'l'kell from the Tau Empire. However, the Crusade ultimately stalled and withdrew when it was learned that the newly encountered Tyranids were heading for the Realm of Ultramar, the home of the Ultramarines.
- The Corinth Crusade (698.M41-705.M41) - The Scythes of the Emperor participated in the Corinth Crusade that fought under the command of the famous Chapter Master Marneus Calgar alongside elements of the Ultramarines, the Angels of Absolution, the Lamenters, Silver Skulls and Marines Errant Chapters, supported by 50 Imperial Guard regiments against the Ork WAAAGH! Skargor that emerged out of the Greenskins' pocket empire of Charadon. The Crusade drove WAAAGH! Skargor back to the world of Corinth and ultimately Warlord Skargor was slain. This Crusade pushed back the later invasion of Imperial space by the Charadon Orks' WAAAGH! Argluk by 30 standard years.
- Damocles Gulf Crusade (742.M41) - It was in the years following the Damocles Gulf Crusade against the Tau in M41.742, that the Scythes of the Emperor would come to the forefront of warfare within the Eastern Fringe. The Scythes led the first landing into Tau territory, the world of Sy'l'Kell. After establishing the landing zone, the Imperial Guard Regiment of the 17th Brimlock Dragoons heavy support element moved on to expand the Imperial foothold. The Dragoons were nearly destroyed by a heavily mechanised Tau counter assault against the expanding Imperial position. The timely intervention of the Scythes, accompanied by the 4th Imperial Storm Troopers, broke through the Tau lines, averting a near-disaster. After claiming Sy'l'Kell, the Crusade moved across the Damocles Gulf. After a brutal first fleet engagement with the Tau, the Imperials landed on the major Tau world of Dal'yth Prime. This led to months of bitter fighting, during which the Scythes (alongside the Ultramarines and Iron Hands Chapters) were constantly engaged against Tau Heavy Jump infantry units, during an effort to claim the Tau city of Gel'Bryn, intended to be used as a major starport for the forces of the Crusade. The Astartes maintained constant night patrols against Tau infiltrators during the months-long fighting. With news of the encroaching Hive Fleet Behemoth bearing down upon the Eastern Fringe and the stalemate between the two sides, the Crusade was forced to withdraw in order to bring full Imperial resources to bear against this new xenos threat. Despite requests from some in the Crusade leadership to perform an Exterminatus upon the Tau planet before the Imperial withdrawal, the Astartes and Imperial Guard commanders refused. An unusual mutual respect between both sides had been forged during the conflict.
- Aftermath of the Badab War (912.M41) - After the conclusion of the Badab War, the Scythes of the Emperor were charged by the Inquisition with watching over the penitent Lamenters Chapter of Astartes who were performing a penitent Crusade for their role in the rebellion, to make sure there were no further signs of heresy. Through this long watch, both Chapters became firm allies.
- Second Tyrannic War-The Fall of Sotha (992.M41) - Over 300 years after the assault of Hive Fleet Behemoth upon the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy, the Imperial Tarot began to tell of foul portents ten years before the arrival of Hive Fleet Kraken. Among the planets overwhelmed by the locust-tide of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Kraken was the Chapter's homeworld of Sotha. Even for a well-defended Chapter planet, there was little hope against such vast numbers of xenos and their remorseless hunger. With devastating losses to the Chapter fleet, the Scythes were driven back to their fortress-monastery on their homeworld of Sotha, which quickly came under siege by the Tyranids. Thousands of Tyranid creatures landed on the planet, and the Scythes, led by Chapter Master Thorcyra, prepared to make their stand at their fortress-monastery in order to give as much time as possible for the population of Sotha to evacuate. Before the planet and fortress-monastery were completely overrun, the Scythes managed a breakout from the doomed world, falling back to regroup in the nearby Miral System. Sotha, along with so many other planets in the path of the inexorable advance of Hive Fleet Kraken, was reduced to the barren state of an asteroid by the Tyranid swarms. Two hundred Space Marines from the Chapter broke through the Tyranid assault. With much of the region overwhelmed by the Tyranids, there was nowhere for these brave Astartes to go beyond the claws of the Kraken.
- The Battle of Miral (992.M41) - The last of the Scythes eventually landed on the Death World of Miral. Somewhere on the surface of this planet, a huge rocky outcrop called the Giant's Coffin rose from the jungle. The pursuing Tyranid fleet caught up and encircled them, leaving the Scythes trapped and surrounded on the jungle planet. The surviving forces of the Scythes prepared to make this their final stronghold. The Giant's Coffin was a tremendous natural citadel whose steep cliffs would slow the invaders and the rocky promontories would provide excellent firing positions for heavy weapons. As the Tyranids mounted their forces for a final push to wipe out the remaining Sycthes, Chapter Master Thorcyra ordered all of the remaining Battle-Brothers to withdraw from the world so as to avoid the complete extinction of their Chapter. In his last official act, Master Thorcyra passed the artefact known as the Emperor's Scythe (the Chapter Master's symbol of office) to Captain Thrasius of the 3rd Company, the only Captain of the Chapter still alive. As the rest of the surviving Scythes escaped the doomed planet in Thunderhawk gunships, Thorcyra and the remains of the Veteran 1st Company took up the position as the last line of defence. Leadership of the nearly destroyed Chapter passed to the new Chapter Master Thrasius. The solemn ceremony of investiture was conducted on the bridge of the Honour's Might (the Chapter's only remaining starship, an almost-crippled Battle-Barge with severely depleted resources). Thrasius then ordered the starship renamed The Heart of Sotha in memory of the Scythes of the Emperor's homeworld and the terrible sacrifices made there. The fate of the planet is unknown, although at the end of the Tyranid onslaught, little more than a company of the Scythes of the Emperor remained. The remnants of the Chapter now seek out and annihilate the remaining Tyranid splinter forces within the Ultima Segmentum and beyond even as they seek new recruits to replenish the Chapter's ranks.
The few surviving Space Marines of the Scythes of the Emperor Chapter now navigate through space on board their last starship and mobile fortress-monastery, the battle barge called The Heart of Sotha. The Chapter is but a shadow of its former glory, but they are a hard and elite fighting force, and can be found fighting anywhere against the Tyranids within the Ultima Segmentum. The Chapter was forced to break with its past tradition and now operates with only 2 full companies. The survivors of Sotha were amalgamated to form one company referred to only as the "Battle Company," while all new recruits to the Chapter which the Scythes actively seek from any suitable worlds they pass (often in fact those worlds that they have saved from destruction by Tyranid splinter Hive Fleets), are now inducted into the Chapter's other company, the Scout Company.
During the Scythes' retreat from Hive Fleet Kraken, Chapter Master Thrasius instigated tactics of minutely detailed withdrawals and a constant fighting retreat, viewing every engagement without a casualty as a victory despite the Chapter constantly falling back from world to world ahead of the Kraken's advance. Thrasius realised that the Chapter had to recruit new Space Marine Aspirants in order for the Chapter to survive. On each planet where the Scythes fought they would gather up those defenders with the greatest potential, especially those young enough to become Astartes, and rescue them while the rest of the world fought and died. In this way hundreds, if not thousands, of potential recruits have been gathered along with many others who could serve as Serfs to the Chapter, replacing those lost on their former homeworld of Sotha.
Before the near-destruction of the Chapter during the Second Tyrannic War, the Scythes drew Neophytes from many different worlds (Sotha, Miral, Narro, and Radnar), all worlds now fallen to Hive Fleet Kraken. These new Scouts are the future of the Chapter. They demonstrate the Chapter's new diversity, the new embryonic culture it is developing, and its old traditions are inevitably passing. For many Scythes Veterans, these Neophytes personify everything that they detest about the changes their new Chapter Master is forcing upon them and their disdain for those changes, alongside their resentment at having to train the new recruits instead of fighting as one of the Veterans of the remaining Battle Company. This has fostered a bitterness towards the Scout Marines of the Chapter that many Veterans are unable to completely conceal. With the news of the Kraken's defeat, Chapter Master Thrasius and many of his lieutenants disappeared, departing The Heart of Sotha abruptly and returning just as suddenly. What Thrasius did while away is unknown, but upon his return over 300 Neophytes had already had their gene-seed organs implanted and begun the Chapter's training regimen. These recruits were those who had been gathered from the many planets on which the Scythes had fought, but the source of the gene-seed was another matter. Rumours persist in the Chapter that perhaps the gene-seed had been secretly rescued from Sotha before the Tyranids attacked. Others believe that the gene-seed might have been stolen, pillaged from other Chapters in similar dire straits during the Tyranid invasion. Still others hold that perhaps the gene-seed was bargained for, or that it was the payment by the Inquisition's Ordo Xenos for seconding over 40 of the surviving Scythes to the Deathwatch. But the truth of the matter remains unknown.
- Salvation Teams - Rumours abound of Space Marines wearing the insignia of the Scythes still alive inside the Tyranid Hive Ships of Kraken splinter Hive Fleets; stories of Imperial Navy boarding parties of armsmen surrounded, nearly destroyed, before being saved by such warriors who then disappeared back into the depths of those hideous living vessels; stories of Tyranid Bio-ships convulsing and collapsing in the midst of battle, though untouched by any external force. The rumours of scattered remnants of the Scythes fighting the Tyranids has lead to the creation of "Salvation Teams"; small, autonomous units of Scythes given the task of traversing the battlegrounds of the Eastern Fringe in the wake of Hive Fleet Kraken and running to ground every rumour, every indication of Veteran Scythes still alive somewhere in the wake of the Tyranid assault. In reality, very few live Astartes are ever found, more often than not the "Salvation Teams" are merely reduced to salvage teams recovering the non-biological artefacts such as Power Armour and Bolters, and not just from the slain Astartes of the Scythes but from many, many other Chapters as well. Still, desperate times call for desperate measures and Thrasius has ordered all such recovered material to be taken for the Scythes' use. Nevertheless, Thrasius' strategy appears to be solid and succeeding, as the Chapter's Scout Marines eventually rise to become full Battle-Brothers on an accelerated timetable and lead their own "Salvation Teams" while the Scythes gain invaluable experience in boarding actions against the Tyranids. It is possible that the Scythes of the Emperor now know even more about this foul xenos species and how to defeat them than even the Ultramarines.
When the Scythes of the Emperor first came upon Hive Fleet Kraken, they had little idea of the horror that was approaching them, and so when the first Hive Ship appeared in their system, they attacked almost blind to the risks they were facing. They conducted desperate boarding actions to destroy as many of the ships as they could. One of the first boarding actions by the Scythes against Hive Fleet Kraken was led by Sergeant Remas, which was successful, but resulted in the death of all of the boarding team members save for Remas and another Battle-Brother named Tobias.
It can be assumed that the Thunderhawk Sergeant Remas used to escape the Hive Ship sustained some damage on its escape, as the lone Scythe did not rejoin his brothers but was instead found much later; unconscious and wounded on board his ship by the Ultramarines Chapter. Remas shared all his intelligence on the Tyranids with Chaplain Cassius and would later give key evidence at the Conclave of Hera from which agreement was reached for the Ultramarines to create their elite Tyrannic War Veterans.
In addition, other Battle Brothers of the Scythes of the Emperor have been reported as being rescued by various other Chapters performing boarding actions against Hive Ships from Hive Fleet Kraken. Usually the survivors are cocooned and commonly found in Terminator Armour, with an unusually high proportion of the captured Astartes being Librarians. Why this is the case is unknown, but perhaps they possessed some means of preserving themselves against being killed or consumed, or else the Hive Mind regarded them as worthy of preservation for further study. It is not known if any of these lost brothers have been reunited with the remnants of the Scythes.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
The Scythes have been forced to change their tactics due to the limited resources and manpower the Chapter now possesses. The Chapter generally organises small, mobile strike forces, which are capable of carrying out hit-and-run missions and are used to relying on only themselves during a fight. It is also not uncommon to see Chapter Master Thrasius take to the field of battle, due partly to the limited resources of his Chapter, but also because he is deeply driven to prove himself worthy of a command he does not feel he earned and to bring honor and glory to the Chapter once more. Due to devastating losses suffered at the hands of Hive Fleet Kraken during the withdrawal from Sotha, the Scythes of the Emperor have almost no suits of Terminator Armour left, nor any armoured vehicles larger than Rhinos or their variants. The Chapter tends to fight exclusively against the Tyranids (though they will of course engage any enemy of the Imperium of Man as any Space Marine Chapter would) and hate them more than any other force in the galaxy. Fully two-thirds of the Chapter are Second Tyrannic War veterans (the rest having been recruited following the destruction of Sotha), and the Chapter is also known to have killed more Tyranids per man than any other fighting force in the galaxy, including the Ultramarines. The Scythes of the Emperor are often the first Space Marines to respond to any distress call regarding an attack by Tyranids made within the Ultima Segmentum.
Chapter Master Thrasius, like his counterpart from the Crimson Fists, Chapter Master Pedro Kantor, is determined above all else to keep his Chapter alive. The legend of the tenacious survival of the Crimson Fists Chapter after the fall of their fortress-monastery on Rynn's World to an unexpected disaster and the Orks is well known amongst the Adeptus Astartes. That Chapter's struggle for survival details how hard the Crimson Fists' Master had to struggle to prevent his Battle-Brothers from launching a reactionary self-destructive crusade after the severe losses taken during the Ork attack on their homeworld. The Crimson Fists had been reduced to 300 Battle-Brothers and still managed to hold onto their homeworld. The Scythes now number only 100 Veteran Astartes and have lost their homeworld, so for them that struggle is all the greater. An Astartes exists only to fight in the Emperor's name; it is their only reason for existence. To tell one that he may not fight when the enemies of the Imperium are within striking distance is a far greater punishment than death. To many of the surviving Second Tyrannic War Veterans' of the Scythes of the Emperor, however, Thrasius' attempted reconstitution of their Chapter is a betrayal of the Chapter's very spirit, its legacy. It is consigning the survivors to a tepid, meek existence, unable to fight to their fullest. Many of the Scythes' Veterans believe Thrasius would have the Chapter die slowly and painfully, forgoing their duties, sapping their courage and their honour in order to simply maintain a further, yet ultimately empty existence. They fear the eventual loss of the Scythes' original spirit simply to produce larger numbers of Space Marines who are Scythes of the Emperor only in name. This feeling among so many of the Chapter's Veterans had produced a real political rift within the Scythes that Thrasius will soon be required to deal with if the Chapter is to remain an effective foe of the Imperium's myriad enemies.
Notable Scythes of the Emperor
- Chapter Master Thorcyra - First Chapter Master of the Scythes of the Emperor.
- Chapter Master Thrasius - Current Chapter Master of the Scythes of the Emperor.
- Chief Librarian Tormal - The Scythes only remaining senior officer and Librarian that has been with the Chapter for almost a standard century.
- Captain Romonos - Commander of the "Battle Company", the Chapter’s sole remaining Veteran combat formation following the battles with Hive Fleet Kraken.
- Lieutenant Hadrios - Seconded to Chapter Master Thrasius as his chief aide.
- Captain Cassios - Commander of the Scythes' lost 5th Company which disappeared in its entirety before Sotha fell to the Kraken. The Commander was discovered by Brother-Sergeant Tiresias' and his Salvation Team in a Sus-an Membrane-induced stasis aboard a dead Tyranid Hive Ship two years after the Salvation Teams were initially formed and dispatched.
- Sergeant Angeloi - One of 40 Space Marines from the Chapter (roughly 1/3 of the surviving Scythes of the Emperor) sent to the Deathwatch to assist their Kill-teams in fighting the Tyranid menace. He has also attempted to counter the dissent to Chapter Master Thrasius’ orders among the Veterans of the Chapter who desire to see the Chapter attack the Tyranids even if this means the Scythes ultimate extinction.
- Sergeant Tiresias - A Second Tyrannic War Veteran who survived the attacks on Sotha and Miral. Tiresias was assigned to the 21st Salvation Team - a small unit consisting of himself and four Neophytes. Sergeant Tiresias has led this team for two years, running to ground any rumours of surviving Scythes that may still be aboard one of the Tyranids dead Hive Ships along the Eastern Fringe.
- The Heart of Sotha (formerly Honour's Might) -- Battle-Barge -- The Scythes of the Emperor's only remaining Chapter fleet starship. It is currently serving as their mobile fortress-monastery.
The Scythes of the Emperor's Power Armour is painted primarily in black and yellow. The backpack, torso and groin armour are painted yellow, whilst the helm, pauldrons, greaves, gauntlets and leg armour are painted in black.
The Scythes of the Emperor's Chapter badge is a crossed (or single) yellow (or black) scythe painted on the left shoulder plate.
- Codex: Tyranids (4th Edition), p. 14
- How to Paint Space Marines, p. 88 (colour scheme, listed under Codex-compliant Chapters)
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, p. 77
- Index Astartes IV - "The Badab War", p. 55
- Legends of the Space Marines (Anthology), "Orphans of the Kraken" by Richard Williams, p. 445
- White Dwarf 264 (UK), "Index Xenos: The Kroot", p. 96
- White Dwarf 198 (US), "Honour and Glory: Veteran Regiments", pp. 34-37
- White Dwarf 48 (France), scenario for Epic 40,000 by W. Kinrade