- "Heroes of Armageddon! You have withstood the evil savagery of the Orks, and they have nothing left for you to fear. So raise high the black banners of vengeance -- now it is our time."
Sebastian Yarrick is an Imperial Guard Commissar, famous for his involvement in the Second and Third Wars for Armageddon in the last century of the 41st Millennium. There he fought against the forces of the Ork Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka. Yarrick was already old when the war began and was scheduled to retire on the day the Greenskins landed. He possessed an excellent history serving with Armageddon's Planetary Defence Forces and a reputation for unswerving loyalty to the Emperor. In his youth he had learned the Ork language from a human raider captured by the savage xenos and was one of the few recognised experts in the Imperium on Ork psychology and culture.
Like most Imperial Commissars, Yarrick was taken from his parents at birth to be raised and indoctrinated by the Imperium's Schola Progenium. He learned the Ork language while fighting the Greenskins during a WAAAGH! on the world of V'run. Since that time, he has extensively studied the Ork mind, and is considered one of the Imperium's leading experts on Orks. His years with the Imperial Guard were eventful ones, as he served in over a dozen warzones and with regiments from Necromunda, Luther McInytre, and Armageddon. His final assignment before retirement was to run the recruitment program for the rebuilding of the 4th Armageddon Imperial Guard Regiment.
Second War for Armageddon
During the Second War for Armageddon, Yarrick had been banished to Hades Hive by Herman von Strab, the inept Planetary Governor of Armageddon, after he ordered the planet's astropaths to send a message to the Imperium for help. Von Strab has been described as "the greatest waste of flesh and bone born in the last five hundred years" by Princeps Prime Kurtiz Mannheim of the Iron Skulls Titan Legion. Gradually, under von Strab's incompetent leadership, the planet fell bit by bit until the Orks reached Hades Hive. Here, Commissar Yarrick commanded the defending forces, inspiring them to fight like the possessed. The Imperial defence was so vicious that eventually Ghazghkull himself joined the attack, leading his forces from the front. He tried to deplete the hive by every strategy he could muster, but Yarrick countered them all. Eventually, Hades Hive became a personal battle for the two warriors. Ghazghkull fell upon the hive, and Yarrick realised that Imperial defenders could not hold their position. In a series of daring shuttle runs, the remaining Imperial forces managed to escape from the Greenskin trap. In the retreat, Yarrick was almost killed, but his iron will allowed him to survive. Eventually, the war ended with the arrival of Commander Dante of the Blood Angels Chapter of Space Marines, whom the defenders of Armageddon turned to for leadership.
Siege of Hades Hive
During the first assault on Hades Hive during the Second War for Armageddon, the Ork Warlord Ugulhard, one of Ghazghkull most prominent underlings, drove the bulk of his forces towards Yarrick's position, and was able to engage the elderly Commissar in single combat. Ugulhard quickly used his Power Klaw to sever Yarrick's right arm at the elbow. The Warlord's victory was cut short, as Yarrick, fighting the pain and shock like no mortal man, swung his sword and beheaded the Ork Warlord who had lowered his guard, believing the "humie" to be finished. Yarrick was said to have picked up and brandished the Ork Warlord's Power Klaw (and eventually had it attached in place of his right arm), inspiring fear in the Orks and prompting the Imperial defenders to surge forward and leap upon the aliens. Battlefield legend has it that only after the Ork assault was routed from Hades Hive did Yarrick "allow himself the luxury of passing out." News of this incident spread like wildfire amongst the Orks, and wherever Yarrick fought, the green-skinned xenos would flee in terror. Yarrick exploited this to the full, having Ugulhard's Klaw modified to suit him as a prosthetic limb. He also exchanged his left eye for a pulse laser bio-implant, playing on the Orks' superstition that he had an evil eye, as they called him the "bale eye that could kill with a glance."
For six months following the first assault, the defenders of Hades Hive held out against further attacks. Although recollections of the siege vary, it was almost unanimously considered that Yarrick was the man who made it all possible; he was the one who held the defenders together, the one who brought them back from the brink of defeat countless times, and the one whose belief gave others the strength to go on. The time he bought at Hades Hive, tying up a vast portion of the Ork WAAAGH! and distracting Ghazghkull himself from his ultimate goal, made all the difference, allowing time for the reinforcing Imperial Guard and Space Marines to muster and launch a counter-attack. Yarrick was one of the few survivors of the final battle for Hades Hive, and it took many months for him to recover from the injuries he sustained during that final assault. He accepted nominal retirement, along with a training post on Armageddon. However, the knowledge that an Ork like Ghazghkull was still at large proved too much of a distraction, and only months later he reported back for active duty, vowing that he would not rest until the day Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka was hunted down and killed.
Yarrick attempted to follow through on his oath, and set off in pursuit of his nemesis in a game of cat-and-mouse that lasted for nearly ten standard years. Ghazghkull fled before Yarrick and protected what remained of his forces, only committing to rearguard actions when necessary. Yarrick attempted to break the deadlock by forcing his opponent down on the once-Imperial planet of Golgotha. At first it appeared that Yarrick would finally triumph, as Ghazghkull at last committed his forces to open battle, but the tables were turned when it became clear Golgotha was a trap: the moment Ghazghkull and his Goffs engaged, a second, lesser WAAAGH! of Orks hit the humans from behind, having patiently laid in wait for just that moment. A Space Hulk then emerged from behind Golgotha's moon to drive off the Imperial Navy. Ghazghkull and his Greenskins devastated the Imperial defenders with such ferocity that even the Commissar himself could not stand against it. Despite a ferocious defence, and incredible feats of valour, the humans were exterminated to a man, and Yarrick was captured by Ghazghkull.
Waking up on the Orks' Space Hulk, Yarrick found himself bereft of his bionic Klaw and Bale Eye, and hanging in chains above a pit. Ghazghkull, who was watching, waited Yarrick to retain full consciousness before sending him plummeting down the chute to the laughter of the other Orks present. Landing amongst the refuse of the Hulk, Yarrick was forced to fend for himself amongst the many Squigs scavenging amongst the rubbish. Refusing to be daunted, Yarrick set about hunting the Squigs and using their massive quills as improvised steps to build a ladder to get back up the waste chute. When he finally managed to do so several solar days later, Yarrick was surprised to find Ghazghkull waiting for him, as if the Warboss had known all along the human would make it out alive. Ghazghkull then ordered Yarrick thrown amongst the other human slave-prisoners on the Space Hulk.
Quickly assessing this new situation, Yarrick set about organizing a revolt amongst the human slaves. Since the human work crews were used haphazardly by the Orks as a slave detail, they managed to crudely map a large part of the Hulk in the course of their labours. Yarrick wanted to attack a large structure shaped like an Ork head, believing it was a temple to the Ork gods and that Ghazghkull would be there; but the other prisoners convinced him to try to escape and warn the Imperium instead. Yarrick reluctantly agreed, and when the time came, one of the work gangs sabotaged a large Orkish ammunition dump, with Yarrick and a dozen other slaves slipping away in the confusion. Alas, escape would prove impossible, for their intended rescue vehicle had was in the process of being "kustomized" by the Space Hulk's Mekboyz, leaving the humans stranded on the Hulk. Faced with discovery, the pilot amongst the group sacrificed himself and started the altered spacecraft up anyway, which resulted in another massive explosion and diversion for Yarrick.
Left with no other choice, the remaining humans made for the Hulk's "temple" (actually the Space Hulk's bridge), with each member of the escapees in turn sacrificing themselves to give Yarrick a chance to reach the top of the structure and his hated foe. Yet, at the last, Yarrick would be denied; when he reached the bridge, he found only several of Meks manning the stations whom he quickly dispatched. With the Orks in hot pursuit, Yarrick opted for a last gamble, activating all the systems of the Space Hulk at once in the hope of making it tear itself apart due to the stress of such uncoordinated forces. As he gazed out of the bridge's "eyes" Yarrick saw massive devastation erupt alongside one side of the Space Hulk, and commended his soul to the Emperor as it raced toward his position.
Days later, Yarrick once again regained consciousness. He stood up, astonished, and even more amazed that his bionics had been retuned to him while he slept. Exiting the room, he was greeted by hundreds of Orks who started to cheer him on, while parting a way through their ranks. Bewildered, the Commissar followed his "escort" of Greenskins to the closest launch bay, where Ghazghkull waited for him in front off an intact shuttlecraft. Yarrick expected to be forced to fight, but Ghazghkull merely stepped out of the way, stating to Yarrick that it had been a good fight, and that he should now get back to Armageddon and prepare for the Ork's return. For they would would soon be launching yet another battle to reclaim Armageddon...
Return to Golgotha
However, in a move that surprised friend and foe alike, Ghazghkull later released the elderly Commissar, stating to his astonished underlings that "Good enemies iz 'ard to find", implying he enjoyed the challenge the human posed enough to not want it ended just yet. Yarrick left the Ork Space Hulk orbiting Golgotha in the shuttlecraft his nemesis had provided, but soon returned with a force drawn from the ranks of the Adeptus Mechanicus' military forces and the massive weapon known as the Ordinatus Golgotha, and routed the Orks from the world. Ghazghkull again escaped to fight another day, and Golgotha would eventually be reclaimed by the Orks soon before the start of the Third War for Armageddon.
Third War for Armageddon
Fifty years to the day after the end of the Second War for Armageddon, Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka launched his second attempt to take the hive world of Armageddon from the Imperium. The Third War for Armageddon would prove to be a much harder battle for Commissar Yarrick. Yarrick arrived back on the planet two weeks before the invasion began. He agreed to take over total control of all forces on the planet and his first order was to send all remaining Imperial aircraft to destroy as many of the Orks as possible before they could touch the ground. Eventually, the Orks landed their Roks, providing them with pre-built fortresses made from hollowed-out asteroids. Yarrick personally led the assault on one of these with a force of Cadian Shock Troopers. Eventually the Orks were pushed out of the Armageddon System. When Ghazghkull fled Armageddon and the Black Templars prepared to give chase, Yarrick petitioned High Marshal Helbrecht to allow him to join their quest; Helbrecht agreed, and Yarrick immediately set off.
Yarrick wears the typical uniform of an Imperial Commissar, including the ubiquitous black greatcoat and peaked cap. The elderly Commissar also wears a suit of Carapace Armour with a built-in small fusion reactor that furnishes power for Yarrick's many other pieces of wargear. Foremost amongst those is his most renowned trademark item, the Power Klaw he claimed from Warlord Ugulhard's corpse during the Second War for Armageddon, to replace the arm he lost in combat. Despite its typically crude Orkish appearance, the weapon has been restored and blessed by both the Priests of the Adeptus Ministorum and Adeptus Mechanicus, and is powerful enough to kill anything foolish enough to stand before Yarrick in one swipe. His armour also has a special built-in Conversion Field which shrugs off almost all attacks. Finally, he had a bionic eye implanted to play on the Orkish superstition that he possessed an evil eye and could kill with a glance. This so-called "Bale Eye" can produce a laser beam in combat at Yarrick's mental direction, so Yarrick can live up to this reputation. Unlike most Commissars who wield a Bolt Pistol as a side arm, Yarrick opts for a Godwyn-De'az Pattern Storm Bolter as firearm, wielding the huge weapon one-handed as easily as a lesser man might wield a Laspistol.
When he is not proceeding on foot, Yarrick can count on his personal Baneblade super-heavy tank, the Fortress of Arrogance, to convey him and serve as a mobile headquarters and motivational platform. Blessed by the Priests of the Ministorum and Mechanicum, the Baneblade has been specially modified to allow Yarrick to motivate his men from atop the main turret, clearly in sight of everyone, yet remain well-protected by a special force field. The Fortress of Arrogance is almost as renowned as its passenger, and many consider the tank just as blessed by the Emperor as Yarrick.
However, Sebastian Yarrick's most potent weapon is not a mechanical contraption or mighty vehicle, but his own iron will, which allows him to shrug off and ignore the consequences of wounds that would disable most other beings. This undaunted resolve to fight and win in the name of Mankind and the Emperor, coupled to his personal charisma and oratory prowess, have made him one of the most renowned and beloved leaders in the history of the Imperial Guard. Imperial soldiers see it as an immense honour to serve under the venerable Commissar, and it is said that Yarrick has never had to execute an officer serving alongside him for cowardice, so great is his motivational presence. It is also said that even commanders of the Adeptus Astartes have deferred to his authority, although this might just be rumours spread amongst the rank-and-file to bolster morale.
- Battle For Armageddon
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), p. 63
- Codex: Imperial Guard (4th Edition), p. 52
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, 1st Codex)
- Codex: Imperial Guard (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex)
- Codex: Armageddon (3rd Edition)
- Gunheads (Novel) by Steve Parker
- Helsreach (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha (Novel) by David Annandale
- White Dwarf 152 (US), "Commissar Yarrick and Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka", pp. 14-22
- White Dwarf 182 (US), "Blood & Fire"
- White Dwarf 227 (US), "Chapter Approved - Imperial Guard, Commissar Yarrick"
- White Dwarf 248 (US), "In Defence of Armageddon"
- White Dwarf 338 (US), "Commissar Yarrick's Fortress of Arrogance" by Neil Hodgson, pp. 94-95