- "Raise the flag high. Let those degenerates know who comes to claim their lives this day!"
- — Sergeant Adar Geronan, Imperial Fists 4th Company
An Ancient, also known as a Standard Bearer, is a hand-picked Veteran of a Space Marine Chapter who is chosen to bear the sacred battle standards of a Chapter or an individual company and is usally part of a Chapter or company Honour Guard. These battle standards are possibly the most revered of all of the Chapter's artefacts. Each standard has proudly flown over hundreds of battlefields and every Battle-Brother will understand the exact nuance and reference that has been woven into their lavish designs. The Standard Bearers are chosen specifically for their bravery and steadfastness. They are also a more than capable warrior who is not to be discounted when assessing the Chapter's fighting strength. The title of "Ancient" is reserved for the standard bearers of the Codex Astartes-compliant Chapters and is considered one of the most prestigious and senior ranks within most Space Marine Chapters. A Standard Bearer is sworn to carry the standard forward, not to dishonour or lose it, and to die defending it if necessary.
Among the formations of the Primaris Space Marines, a Standard Bearer for a company or the entire Chapter is known as a "Primaris Ancient."
- "You know what it is to carry this banner in war. You become the vessel of all of us, the symbol of our unity and strength."
A Standard Bearer is an honourific that heralds back to the bygone Legion Standard Bearers of the ancient Legiones Astartes. These specially chosen individuals were consummate warriors, chosen for the honour of carrying one of the Legion's great standards, making them a rallying point on the battlefield for the Legion's troops. These chosen Space Marines were members of Legion Command Squads, and had access to the finest wargear available to the Space Marine Legion's rank-and-file and embodied the Legion's honour in war.
In the late 41st Millennium, Standard Bearers continue to uphold the honour of their ancient predecessors as members of a Chapter or company Honour Guard. Chapter Banners are the most sacred artefacts belonging to a Chapter. These banners are very ancient and are only ever carried into battle by the appropriately named Chapter's Ancient. These individuals carry the battle-flag of the Chapter or company in which they serve. Each standard is an ancient relic, steeped in history and heavy with the glories of the Chapter. A Standard Bearer serves within the Command Squads that accompany the high-ranking Space Marine officers on the field of battle. A Chapter Standard Bearer is recognised by a skull and Imperial Laurel honour worn on their right shoulder plate.
The banner is as individual as the Chapter itself and there are few rules to govern its design. The Codex Astartes limits its comment on the Chapter Banner to simply saying that the standard should carry the colours and icon of the Chapter and should display such honours as the Chapter Masters deems worthy. Venerable Chapters usually possess several Chapter Banners, although only one will be in use at any given time. The specific design varies greatly from banner to banner, but all will evoke one of the Chapter's greatest triumphs or some other key moment from its long history.
It is quite likely that a Chapter will in fact own a number of Chapter Banners although one, and only one, will be in use at any given time. This battle standard will have been consecrated by the Chapter's senior Chaplain and dedicated to the heroes of the Chapter's past, present and future. In battle the banner is used to inspire the Space Marines to superhuman feats of martial prowess and woe betide the enemy that threatens this holiest of relics. Eventually these banners age or are damaged beyond repair and it will then be retired to grace the great hall of a Chapter's fortress-monastery. Furthermore, new Chapter banners may be fabricated to mark great victories or to honour mighty heroes who have fallen in battle. For a Chapter with a long history like a First Founding Chapter, there will be dozens of these venerable and venerated flags in the great hall, each one carefully preserved and honoured by the Space Marines.
One Battle-Brother amongst the Honour Guard may have the distinction of carrying the banner of their Chapter into battle. This is a sacred task, one borne with immense dignity and gravitas. Whether providing a rallying point to the warriors fighting around him, or racing to defiantly plant the standard upon a contested elevation and in doing so claim the battlefield for his Chapter, the Ancient serves to inspire all around him.
One of the most common specialists found fighting alongside company Veterans in a Command Squad is the Company Ancient. These warriors carry the battle-flag of the company in which they serve. Each standard is an ancient relic, steeped in history and heavy with the glories of the Chapter, and every Space Marine, from the most inexperienced recruit to the hoariest veteran, fights all the harder in its august presence. The Company Ancient is trusted never to let his banner out of his grip while he still draws breath -- to do otherwise is to invite the most terrible and shameful dishonour.
A standard Astartes Ancient is armed as follows:
A Primaris Ancient is armed as follows:
- Mark X Tacticus Power Armour
- Bolt Pistol
- Mark II Cawl Pattern Bolt Rifle
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
Notable Standard BearersEdit
- Veteran Sergeant Cleutin - Cleutin is the most senior Sergeant within the Blood Angels Chapter and the current Guardian of the Shroud of Sanguinius -- one of the Chapter's most revered holy relics. It is said to be the remnants of an ancient battle standard that the Emperor used to cover Sanguinius' dead body when He discovered it on Horus's flagship Vengeful Spirit after the Warmaster had slain his former brother in the waning hours of the Battle of Terra. Soaked with the blood of the Primarch, it was later retrieved by the Blood Angels and taken back to Baal. Only a small fragment remains, preserved lovingly in an iron box with a built-in stasis field. Though a miniscule relic, its powerful psychic aura can drive any Blood Angels near its presence into an ecstatic state from the psychic emanations. As the senior Sergeant of the Chapter, it has fallen to Cleutin to be the current Guardian of the sacred shroud. It is rumoured that Cleutin is so old that he was the Sergeant in charge of Lord Commander Dante's Scout Squad when he was still an Aspirant. Whatever the truth of this rumour, there is no doubting that Cleutin is a doughty and experienced warrior, and a worthy guardian of the Shroud.
- Brother Bethor - Current Bearer of the Sacred Standards of the Dark Angels Chapter.
- Captain of the Banner Navarre - The Wars of Apostasy, also known as the Terran Crusade, was a series of battles fought against the forces of the Renegade High Lord of Terra Goge Vandire during the Age of Apostasy's Reign of Blood in the fourth century of the 36th Millennium. During this tumultuous period, the Black Templars had concerned themselves little with the affairs of the Imperium, but when Black Templar Crusade Fleets returned to the Segmentum Solar and discovered that their Chapter keeps had been destroyed by orbital bombardments, the full extent of Vandire's treachery became apparent. Enraged by what they discovered of Vandire's perversion of the Emperor's will, in 378.M36 the Black Templars Chapter's High Marshal Sigenandus declared an Imperial Crusade against Vandire on Terra. The Black Templars, together with their progenitors the Imperial Fists, the Soul Drinkers, the zealous Fire Hawks and elements of the Martian Tech-Guard, took the fight to Terra itself and laid siege to Vandire's Ecclesiarchal Palace. For months the armies of the Imperial Preacher Sebastian Thor, the Space Marines and their allies laid siege to the Ecclesiarchal Palace without managing to breach its formidable defences. Eventually, the Emperor's Champion Navarre of the Black Templars led a daring last ditch assault. At the height of the fighting, the Chapter Banner Bearer fell, and all eyes watched as the Black Templars Chapter Standard began to slowly sink to the ground, but Navarre swept the banner up and carried it through the breach in the palace's walls, inspiring his brothers to fight all the harder. After the battle, Chapter Master Lazerian of the Imperial Fists honoured Navarre with the title of Captain of the Banner in recognition of his exemplary bravery and courage.
- Captain Odovocar - Legion Standard Bearer for the IIIrd Legion, Emperor's Children during the Great Crusade era.
- Ancient Galatan - Ancient Galatan was the Bearer of the Banner of Macragge in times past for the Ultramarines Chapter, taking part in the Corinth Crusade from 698-705.M41. During a fierce battle against the Orks of WAAAGH! Skargor, he briefly dropped the sacred standard when his arm was chopped off by the Ork Warboss Skargor. While distracted with trying to break the banner with his Power Claw, Ancient Galatan impaled his Power Sword through the back of Skargor's head, killing him instantly and breaking the spirit of the Greenskins. Though he later died from the wounds incurred in the encounter, the Banner of Macragge remained upright for the remainder of the battle, rallying the Ultramarines to finally defeat the Orks.
- Ancient Helveticus - Ancient Helveticus was a Bearer of the Banner of Macragge for the Ultramarines Chapter. He bore the Chapter's Banner during the Battle of Macragge, and was present aboard Chapter Master Marneus Calgar's Battle Barge when it was boarded by Tyranids. He led the fierce counter-attack against the encroaching xenos, and was subsequently killed in battle, both fatally poisoned and burned. His grip upon the shaft of the banner was said to be so tight, that initially it could not be pried from his hands even after his death.
- Ancient Tortalus - After the Battle of Macragge, the young Chapter Master Marneus Calgar declared that the Banner of Macragge would not be carried forth again until the Ultramarines had rebuilt their strength, until they were once again a whole Chapter. It has taken them two centuries to bring the 1st Company back to full strength after their sacrifice at Macragge. Only then did the Chapter Master believe that the Ultramarines were fit to carry the Banner of Macragge once more. Ancient Helveticus was succeeded as the Chapter Standard Bearer by Ancient Tortalus.
- Burias Drak'Shal - Burias Drak'Shal was the Icon Bearer of the 34th Host of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion. Burias had been born and raised in the monastery-prisons of Colchis but only indoctrinated into the XVIIth Legion during the first great influx of Colchisians into the Legion after the old beliefs of the Colchisian Old Faith had been re-embraced wholeheartedly. He fought under the command of the Dark Apostle Jarulek and later Marduk, being the latter's blood-sworn brother and closest ally. During the Horus Heresy he fought during the Battle of Calth against the Word Bearers' most hated rivals, the Ultramarines. Burias was also known as Burias Drak'Shal because he had become of the Possessed, joining his soul with that of a daemon. When Marduk was elevated to the esteemed position of Dark Apostle of the 34th Host, Burias thought that he would be elevated as well. But Marduk elevated Ashkanez to the position of First Acolyte of the Host instead. Bitter at this betrayal, Burias grew spiteful towards his former master. Seeking to prey upon this bitterness, Ashkanez fuelled Burias' anger towards Marduk and secretly inducted him into the ranks of The Brotherhood. This newest iteration of a secret sect founded deep within the XVIIth Legion was composed of Word Bearers primarily loyal to the Black Cardinal Kor Phaeron. Eventually, Burias revealed his betrayal to Marduk and was mortally wounded in a massive battle between the factions by Kol Badar, the 34th Host's Coryphaus. After the annihilation of Burias' co-conspirators, the traitorous former Icon Bearer was sent to the Basilica of Torments to suffer accordingly for his transgressions. Not satisfied that the pain and torture Burias endured was punishment enough, Marduk came up with a most vile way of punishing his former comrade. He had Burias entombed within The Warmonger's now-empty Chaos Dreadnought sarcophagus. He then had the Dreadnought's limbs removed, entombing the traitor for all eternity within its adamantium shell to slowly go insane.
- Jeddek - Jeddek was the Standard Bearer of the elite 8th Assault Company of the World Eaters Legion under the command of Captain Khârn. During the Horus Heresy, Jeddek was already one of the oldest living members of the XIIth Legion. He had crusaded across the stars from the time of the Legion’s Founding, long before the War Hounds had rediscovered their Primarch Angron's homeworld or started recruiting Neophytes from worlds beyond Terra. He was one of the first volunteers to successfully bear the Butcher's Nails neural implants. Having endured the Nails longer than almost any of his Battle-Brothers, Jeddek no longer felt anything but the need to slaughter and kill. He possessed a dead-eyed glare, and often murmured to himself in a low monotone between battles, until he was once again turned loose upon the foe. Only then could he feel something, experiencing a palette of emotions beyond staring at everything and nothing with his face twitching in pained distraction. Jeddek was eventually killed upon Angron's homeworld of Nuceria during the Shadow Crusade by the Loyalist Astartes of the Ultramarines Legion, who had sought out Lorgar to gain vengeance for the atrocity committed against the Realm of Ultramar by the Word Bearers Legion during the Battle of Calth.
- Chapter Approved: Second Book of the Astronomican (2001), "Ultramarines Special Characters - Ancient Helveticus, Bearer of the Battle Standard of Macragge," by Andy Chambers, pp. 120-121
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 66-67, 151
- Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition)
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition), pg. 19
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 22
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 23, 55
- Codex: Ultramarines (2nd Edition), pp. 25, 28, 32, 73
- Imperial Armour - The Horus Heresy: Betrayal - Part One, pg. 192
- Insignium Astartes: The Uniforms & Regalia of the Space Marines, pg. 19
- White Dwarf 263 (US), "Index Astartes - First Founding: Warriors of Ultramar - The Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter", pp. 18-25
- White Dwarf 256 (UK), ""Ultramarines Special Characters - Ancient Helveticus, Bearer of the Battle Standard of Macragge," by Andy Chambers, pp. 88-89
- White Dwarf 312 (UK), "Righteous Victories" by Graham McNeill
- Betrayer (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Nightbringer in The Ultramarines Omnibus by Graham McNeill, pp. 29, 204
- Dark Apostle (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Dark Disciple (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Dark Creed (Novel) by Anthony Reynolds
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 394
- Word Bearers Omnibus (Novel) "Tormented" by Anthony Reynolds