- "We are the storm! We are the fury!"
- — Ward-Master Lorgath Maclir at the Purging of Vigil
The Storm Wardens is a Codex Astartes-compliant Loyalist Space Marine Chapter of unknown origin and Founding located on the Forbidden World of Sacris in the Calixis Sector of the Segmentum Obscurus. The Storm Wardens are stoic defenders of Mankind often found upon the borders of the Imperium. Until just recently, these Astartes were most focused upon the great Warp Storms that troubled the Halo Stars region of the Segmentum Obscurus on the galaxy's western edge. There, they protect Imperial frontier planets from the predatory actions of xenos, Chaos Renegades and Heretics. They are often unknown and unsung heroes to the worlds that they defend, as the Storm Wardens are a highly insular Chapter and there are only a small handful of monuments and Imperial records outside of their fortress-monastery on their homeworld of Sacris' moon of Highcastle that celebrate their long list of battle honours.
A bizarre twist of fate occurred in the depths of the 36th Millennium, during the Age of Apostasy -- an event that many hold responsible for the Chapter's aloof nature. The Storm Wardens lost many of the records of their Founding during what later became known as the Nemesis Incident in roughly 945.M36. This event began during an illomened joint operation involving elements of the Inquisition against the Enslaver infestation of the Steropes Cluster. It is unknown exactly what transpired amongst Steropes' cyclopean ruins, but the aftermath of this campaign forever altered the destiny of the Storm Wardens Chapter. Upon the conclusion of the Nemesis Incident, the serving Storm Wardens Chapter Master, Owin Glendwyr, consulted with an Inquisitor Lord of the Ordo Xenos upon a most dire decision. The Chapter Master sealed many sections of the Storm Wardens' Fortress-Monastery by the authority of the High Lords of Terra. All traces of their history and even the proud legacy of their heritage to one of the Primarchs were destroyed or hidden away. The Storm Wardens' homeworld of Sacris was forbidden to have greater contact with the Imperium at large. The only sanctioned record of that time, the Liber Tempest, claims that many Storm Wardens were placed in hidden stasis vaults, including the Chapter Master and the entire Veteran 1st Company. The Chapter's Dreadnoughts are the guardians of these hidden chambers, and each has taken a vow of silence, standing as mute sentinels over these forbidden places.
After the Nemesis Incident, the Chapter re-built its 1st Company. These honoured Battle-Brothers know themselves as the "The Inheritors", custodians of the Chapter's honour until the day their ancestors rise from their timeless slumber. Ever since this time, the Storm Wardens have redoubled their diligence, and their fortress-monastery mounts sophisticated scanning technology placed reluctantly by the Adeptus Mechanicus as payment for an ancient pact. Currently, the Chapter is led by Lorgath Maclir, a cunning strategist who constantly challenges his captains with tactical exercises and obsessively studies the Tactica Imperialis. Some rumours claim that Lorgath has managed to memorise these precepts of war, an impressive feat even for a Space Marine's genetically enhanced memory.
While many of the Chapters serving in the Jericho Reach's Achilus Crusade are well known across the Imperium, the Storm Wardens are one of the hundreds of Chapters in existence whose deeds go largely unrecorded, whose activities are confined to a relatively contained theatre of operations, or whose histories are as yet largely unwritten. In the case of the Storm Wardens, there is an additional reason why their name is not more well known, a tale of calamity known as the Nemesis Incident, of which few outside of the Battle-Brethren have any inkling. But it is not just the events of the Nemesis Incident that have kept the Storm Wardens from becoming the celebrated heroes of the Imperium that they arguably deserve to be. Some would say that they have inherited much of the taciturn, even dour nature of the tribesmen of Sacris from whom they recruit Aspirants, and this would certainly go a long way towards explaining why the Storm Wardens appear to shun the laurels they are undoubtedly due. Sacris is a world forbidden to all but the Storm Wardens, and its warring clans exist at the very precipice of survival. They are distrustful of outsiders and utterly relentless in war. The Storm Wardens have inherited these, and many more aspects of the culture of the tribes of Sacris, granting them a unique blend of qualities.
One of the most obvious manifestations of the Chapter's desire to keep much of its identity and its deeds secret is to be found in the manner in which it administers its home world of Sacris. This gloomy world is located within the borders of the Calixis Sector, but those gazetteers that even list it describe it as a Forbidden World. Beyond its name, most Navigators and Free Captains have no knowledge of the world, and no need to approach it. Were they to do so, they would be challenged by an outer ring of automated defence monitors, dire warnings against proceeding any further looped over and over, transmitted into the void. Anyone foolish enough to proceed into the system's inner zone finds something entirely unexpected -- hostile patrols of Space Marine vessels. Sadly for the intruders, the Storm Wardens do not repeat the warnings transmitted by the automated monitors, opening fire immediately and with deadly effect.
So deep is the Chapter's desire to remain isolated from the other worlds of the Calixis Sector that very few Calixian authorities or institutions are even aware that a Space Marine Chapter exists in their midst. Exactly how many know of the Storm Wardens is unclear, but certainly the fact is not common knowledge, even in the highest echelons of the Administratum mission in the sector. Lord Marius Hax, the Administratum's highest ranked potentate in the sector, does know of them, but how many of his underlings do is unknown. Furthermore, it seems unbelievable that the Inquisition's Ordos Calixis would not be aware of an entire Space Marine Chapter operating within their sphere of influence, yet there appear to be no links between the two groups, formal or informal. While the Storm Wardens are not known to have undertaken any direct missions alongside any agents of the Ordos Calixis, they have fought alongside other Inquisitors, in many different warzones, which is suggestive of some deeper mystery that may be in play. Perhaps this desire for secrecy is simply a holdover from the habits of the peoples of Sacris, but perhaps it indicates some deeper conspiracy at work, throughout the Calixis Sector and beyond.
The Nemesis Incident
In 945.M36 the Storm Wardens aided the Inquisition in operations against an infestation of Enslavers, psychic entities from the Warp, in the Steropes Cluster. What came to pass in the alien Steropes' cyclopean ruins is unknown but shortly after the Storm Wardens returned to Sacris, something endangered the Chapter and potentially the Imperium itself. At the conclusion of the Nemesis Incident, the Storm Wardens' Chapter Master Owin Glendwyr discussed with an Inquisitor Lord of the Ordo Xenos what needed to be done. A dire decision was made. By the authority of the High Lords of Terra, Glendwyr had much of the interior of the Storm Wardens' Fortress-Monastery on their homeworld of Sacris' moon of Highcastle sealed. All records of their history, the Primarch from which they descended and the date of the Chapter's Founding were destroyed or hidden away. Furthermore, the Storm Wardens' homeworld of Sacris in the Calixis Sector was forbidden to have contact with the Imperium at large. Following this, according to the only record of this time that still exists, the sacred history of the Chapter called the Liber Tempest, many Storm Wardens, including the entire Veteran 1st Company and Chapter Master Owin Glendwyr himself, were placed in hidden stasis vaults. The Chapter's Venerable Dreadnoughts have taken vows of silence and stand guard over these hidden chambers.
The only details of this event that would later become known as the "Nemesis Incident" are to be found within the pages of the Liber Tempest, a 77 volume tome describing the deeds of the Chapter and the lives of its heroes throughout the turbulent years of the Age of Apostasy in the late 36th Millennium. This mighty book was authored by Chief Librarian Brin Maxen, who had himself become so crippled in body during the fighting that he was capable of no more service to his Chapter than committing his wisdom to parchment before his wounds eventually claimed his life. It is said that Maxen held death at bay for almost twelve years as he recited the Liber Tempest to his disciples of the Librarius, each of his followers transcribing his words faithfully.
Yet, the very fact that several versions of the Liber Tempest were written simultaneously led to a near schism within the Librarius after Maxen's death. When the texts were studied in detail it was discovered that they differed from one another in several major details. The differences were not mere errors of transcription, but were so great that Maxen's successor came to suspect some outside agency of deliberately corrupting the transcription process, or of interfering with the archives at some later point. Yet, the Librarius of a Space Marine Chapter should be one of the most secure and sealed places in the entire galaxy and surely nothing short of the supernatural could have altered Maxen's words once they were committed to record.
Following the discovery of the divergent accounts of the Nemesis Incident, the senior members of the Librarius undertook a process of determining which of them, if any, was truthful. This process took the best part of a standard century, and was made all but impossible by the facts of the incident itself. Eventually, one single version of Maxen's account was declared the truth, and the others labelled apocryphal and locked away deep inside the inner repository of the Storm Wardens' Librarium. Each of these divergent tomes became known by the name of the Librarian that had compiled it, such as the Apocrypha of Yorath, the Book of Einion, and the Liber Esoterica Cadfanius.
The Liber Tempest details the calamitous events of the Age of Apostasy, as experienced by the Storm Wardens Chapter. The Nemesis Incident represents a brief but dramatic period within this turbulent epoch, and the Liber presents very few details of it. The roots of the incident are to be found in the general increase in Warp Storm activity that afflicted the Imperium in the run up to and during the Age of Apostasy. Trade routes the length and breadth of the galaxy became all but impassable as the Warp boiled with tumultuous etheric storm fronts. Entire war fleets and crusading armies were lost as the Warp routes they travelled were overcome with impossible energies. In many areas the raw stuff of the Empyrean bled through the thin skein of reality and engulfed settled worlds or entire systems. The more fortunate were simply cut off from all outside contact; the less fortunate were saturated in the terrible unreality of the Warp, entire populations spontaneously mutating or falling victim to apocalyptic daemonic incursions.
Aside from aetheric overbleed, genetic mutation and daemonic incursion, Warp Storms sometimes bring with them the risk of another, thankfully rare, but utterly devastating threat. There exists in the depths of the Warp entities other than what men call daemons. Enslavers are one such form, a nightmarish hybrid of the xenos and the daemonic that exists for most of its life cycle within the Empyrean but breeds and multiplies in realspace. Enslavers utilise the minds of untrained or latent psykers, transforming their victim's bodies into vast, distended gateways through which the Enslavers themselves pour from the Warp. Furthermore, they are able to take control of the bodies of their foes, turning them into drooling mindslaves that fight until overcome by their wounds, exposure or malnutrition. When Warp Storm activity increases, so too do the rates of psyker births, and so the Age of Apostasy was underpinned by a second horror -- that of Enslaver infestation.
This much the various versions of the Liber Tempest all agree upon, but the accounts begin to diverge at the point when the Chapter was committed to a region of space known as the Steropes Cluster. For the Space Marines, the Age of Apostasy was an extended period of retrenchment during which the pronouncements of the Senatorum Imperialis were replaced with the irrational dictates of the High Lord Goge Vandire. The vast majority of Astartes Chapter Masters became so distrustful of Vandire's pronouncements that they were forced to pursue their duties without recourse to the central authority once provided by the council of the High Lords of Terra. Where Warp conditions allowed, Chapters coordinated their actions with brother Chapters or occasionally with the forces of the Inquisition, yet very few answered the commands or demands of High Lord Vandire. Most versions of the Liber Tempest agree that the Storm Wardens' Chapter Master, Owin Glendwyr, took his force to the Steropes Cluster in response to a reading of the Emperor's Tarot made by his Chief Librarian, but some texts call this into question, insinuating that the deployment may have been carried out at the behest of the Inquisition or some other faction within the Imperium's shattered structure.
Having reached the Steropes Cluster, it is said that the Storm Wardens discovered a swathe of worlds entirely consumed by the roiling energies of the Warp. Those worlds lying on the outskirts of the storm had come under the dominion of the largest Enslaver plague the Segmentum had ever witnessed, and Chapter Master Glendwyr was faced with a terrible choice -- deploy his warriors in a battle that would undoubtedly prove costly in the lives of his warriors, or grant the doomed and enslaved populations the Emperor's mercy and scour the worlds' surfaces with the nucleonic fire of Exterminatus. Once more, the various accounts of the war differ in their descriptions of what followed. The Liber Esoterica Cadfanius contains a detailed account of Glendwyr and an unnamed Inquisitor Lord exploring a series of ruins across several of the cluster's worlds, and this is corroborated by the Liber Tempest itself. No account of the ruins gives any suggestion as to which alien species may have built them, but all describe their halls as black and oppressive, and completely dwarfing even the mighty Space Marines.
At some point during the exploration of these ruins, it appears that the Storm Wardens and an allied Inquisitorial force came under attack, first by a horde of enslaved human meat-puppets, and then by Enslaver Behemoths. The Chapter Master and the 1st Company fought a series of desperate battles against the Enslavers, during which many heroic Battle-Brothers were lost. Three entire worlds were cleansed of the xenos' presence, but ultimately the Inquisitor Lord declared the Writ of Exterminatus on seven more before the cluster was declared purged of the Enslaver Plague. In the aftermath of the Steropes Cluster campaign, the Storm Wardens returned to their homeworld of Sacris. Yet, by a reading of a number of the Apocrypha, it appears that the taint had not been entirely eradicated and that the 1st Company had in fact brought it back to the Calixis Sector.
According to the Book of Einion, a number of 1st Company Veterans had become corrupted by some form of psychic taint, which was only uncovered during post-battle cleansing protocols. The Chapter's most senior Apothecaries, Chaplains and Librarians turned their efforts to purging this taint, but, according to Einion's account, the taint was too ingrained and presented a dire threat to the survival of the entire Chapter. Initially, the Inquisitor Lord was of the view that those infected should submit to voluntary liquidation, yet the Storm Warden's senior officers argued vehemently against such a drastic sanction, and Glendwyr proposed a compromise. Having convinced the Inquisitor Lord of the viability of his plan, the Chapter Master ordered that he and the entire 1st Company would be interred within stasis sarcophagi in the vaults far below the Chapter's fortress-monastery, which would not be opened until such time as a definite cure for the Enslaver taint was discovered. The Inquisition placed a condition on their acquiescence, demanding that the Chapter's homeworld be isolated from the greater Imperium and all knowledge of the Nemesis Incident be purged from the annals of the Imperium's history. Aside from those often contradictory accounts presented in the various Apocrypha, which are accessible only to the most senior officers of the Chapter, none outside of the Storm Wardens have any inkling of the tragic events of the Steropes Cluster campaign.
There were a number of side effects to the sealing of the stasis vaults and the isolation of Sacris. Firstly, many of the Chapter's oldest archives were sealed along with the 1st Company, so that millennia later the Storm Wardens remain ignorant as to many details of their Founding and earliest history. Furthermore, a number of legends have evolved around the incident, which form the basis of some of the Chapter's most cherished rituals. One such legend states that the long-lost Brethren of the 1st Company will some day return, when the very existence of the Chapter and indeed the Imperium is threatened. The Chapter's beliefs call upon its members to be ever vigilant for such a time and to meet with honour and stoicism every challenge the galaxy can throw at them. The Storm Wardens maintain their traditions to this day, seeking every chance to prove themselves in the eyes of those who they believe will one day return and judge them worthy of standing at their sides in the final battle against the myriad foes of Mankind.
After the Nemesis Incident, the Storm Wardens rebuilt their 1st Company of Veterans. Those who joined its ranks became known as "The Inheritors", knowing that they represent their Chapter's honour until their ancestors awaken from their timeless slumber in stasis. Ever since the Nemesis Incident, the Storm Wardens have redoubled their diligence and their fortress-monastery of Highcastle now mounts sophisticated scanning technology reluctantly given by the Adeptus Mechanicus as payment for an ancient pact between the Tech-priests and the Chapter.
The annals of the Storm Wardens stretch no further back into history than 945.M36, the events surrounding the Nemesis Incident obscuring all that transpired before. Several of the Chapter's most prized banners, including one of its oldest Chapter Banners, proudly proclaim the names of battle honours earned before then, but about which the Storm Wardens have no knowledge at all. Such titles include the Scouring of Mo'Shan, the Second Magellanic Expedition and the War of the Pillars of Creation. The Chapter may never know what mighty deeds were undertaken to earn these honours, what heroes fell, what vile enemies were slain, and what sacrifices were made that the Imperium might prevail.
- Kraazgrug's Folly (Unknown Date) - One of the most famous of the Storm Wardens' campaigns took place on the plains of the Agri-World called Keffik's World in the Scarus Sector. An Ork warband led by the Warboss Kraazgrug had been ravaging a number of settlements and threatened the food supply for an entire Sub-sector. Just before the Orks overran the last of the star system's defences, an Imperial astropathic distress signal was relayed to Sacris. In response, the Storm Wardens deployed several companies of the Chapter, supported by many armoured vehicles. These forces were placed under the command of Captain Lorgath Maclir as Force Commander (prior to his elevation to the rank of Chapter Master) and included a small group of Space Marines from the Chapter's elite 1st Company. Maclir's plan was to face the Warboss' Wartrukks and Warbuggies on the open plains of the planet's northern continent. However, the Orks' vehicles manoeuvered through the depths of a potent dust storm and Captain Maclir was forced to change his strategy. Using Scout Marine Bike Squads, Stormravens and Land Speeder Typhoons. Maclir used his swiftly-moving skirmishers to lure the main body of the Greenskins' army into a box canyon. The Orks and their Warboss were eliminated with an unrelenting hail of heavy weapons fire from the rim of the canyon and no Ork left the battle alive to trouble the peace of the Emperor again.
- The Cleansing of Vigil (Unknown Date) - The Cleansing of Vigil was a singularly savage conflict that took place in the lightless tunnels beneath the surface of the Dead World of Vigil against the alien Slaugth and their warrior constructs. The conflict consisted of a series of bloody, close-range firefights in confined subterranean conditions. Due to these conditions, the Storm Wardens' favoured armoured vehicles were impossible to use and their advance became cautious and methodical. To make matters worse, the Slaugth forces seemed adept at provoking the Storm Wardens out of such careful tactics. The toll of casualties eventually grew high and this tested the morale of the Chapter. Despite their losses, the Storm Wardens finally pulled through and Vigil was cleansed of the Slaugth. Those Veterans who survived the Cleansing of Vigil had learned to pay closer attention to the wisdom of the Codex Astartes. Chapter Master Lorgath Maclir promoted many of these Veterans to serve in his Honour Guard.
- Ambush in the Maw (331.M41) - The Storm Wardens' Strike Cruiser Eternal Sentinel was ambushed in the depths of the Maw travelling between the Calixis Sector and the Koronus Expanse. The attackers were a previously unidentified Chaos warfleet and subsequent analysis of augur-core archives determined that it was emerging from an unknown Warp interface beyond the 12th Station of Passage. The Eternal Sentinel affected a boarding action against the enemy flagship, slaughtering its command crew before triggering a cascading plasma core purge cycle that destroyed the vessel and crippled three nearby Escorts.
- Operation Hammerfall (777.M41) - Of all the Space Marine Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes to have contributed forces to the opening battles of the Achilus Crusade, the Storm Wardens committed by far the largest single contingent. Seven entire companies and significant fleet assets were dispatched from Sacris, a number not far short of the Chapter's full strength. By mutual assent of the Crusade's ruling council and personal sanction of Lord Militant Achilus himself, Ward-Master Lorgath Maclir, Chapter Master of the Storm Wardens, was appointed the figurehead and nominal leader of all of the Space Marine forces committed for the opening battles. The deployment would be known as Operation Hammerfall, and it would achieve some of the most stunning victories, and suffer one of the most galling twists of fate, in the entire Crusade. Planning for Operation Hammerfall began in mid-773.M41, when Maclir was summoned to attend the Senatorum Imperialis. In sealed session, the High Lords of Terra bid the Master of the Storm Wardens to lend their support to the man they had not an hour earlier confirmed as High Lord Militant of the Eastern Marches, Achilus. Maclir knew Achilus of old, having served alongside him during the Scouring of Low Boria, when so many had fallen prey to the repulsively neurophagic xenos species called the Khrave. Maclir would have fought alongside such a man regardless of the High Lords' wishes, but he knew that the undertaking at hand must be a truly epic one for the highest council in the Imperium to have summoned him in such a manner. Then, the new Lord Militant emerged from the shadows below the High Lords' dais, and greeted his old friend. Achilus apprised Maclir of the flight of the Spear of Tarsus through the Jericho-Maw Warp Gate, and of the weight of the discoveries made since in the region. Maclir committed his Chapter to the Crusade there and then, and the foundations of the operation were set down. While Achilus and Maclir laid their plans for the subjugation of the Jericho Reach, messengers were sent out to dozens of Space Marine Chapters. In many cases, Maclir sent his own brethren to petition his brother Chapter Masters to lend their support to the coming Crusade. In other cases, Achilus dispatched his own agents and emissaries, so that in total, almost a hundred Space Marine Chapters were approached. The requests for aid were by necessity short on details, for the need to conceal the existence of the Warp Gate was overriding. Some Chapters refused to commit based on the scant information they were given. Others, notably those who had served alongside Maclir or Achilus in previous campaigns, agreed outright to lend whatever aid they were able, and within the year several dozen Chapters were committed to the Achilus Crusade. A Space Marine command council was formed, consisting of the most senior officer of each Chapter represented in the force, and Maclir was elected its figurehead. The build up of military force and logistical support that precluded the Crusade was an undertaking only the most brilliant of minds could have conceived. Achilus was a leader of prodigious will and vision, and the authority vested in him by the High Lords of Terra meant there were precious few limitations in the scope of his power. Yet, the need to maintain secrecy remained paramount, for if the existence of the Warp Gate became known, the numerous enemies of the Imperium might utilise it to strike from one side of the galaxy to the other. The totally unheralded arrival of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Behemoth on the Eastern Fringe had defied all strategic prognostications, and although most in the Imperium's highest echelons believed the threat overcome, others feared that another such foe might descend upon the region and, utilising the Warp Gate, strike directly towards the Imperium's heartlands. Achilus conceived the plan of conducting the build up in the guise of directing troops towards the Margin Crusade on the fringes of the Calixis Sector, for while that war still officially raged, in reality it had long ago lost momentum and become a fruitless meat grinder. Imperial Guard regiments were raised from the worlds of the Calixis Sector and numerous others. Strategic Segmentum reserves, including veteran regiments originally drawn from such famed worlds as Cadia and Mordia, were committed to the Crusade. The Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas pledged the zeal of their Battle-Sisters. The Adeptus Mechanicus committed Titans, Knights, and Skitarii regiments. The Imperial Navy assembled the largest fleet deployed since the Battle of Macragge. The Departmento Munitorum, by far the largest contingent in the entire Crusade, mobilised countless support formations, without which not a single las shot could have been fired or a single trench dug. Even the Rogue Traders answered the Lord Militant's call, and those he trusted were promised riches beyond even their wildest dreams when it came time to apportion the prizes of war. But mightiest of all the contingents were the Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes. Hundreds of Battle-Brothers were gathered under the banner of the Achilus Crusade, literally, for Maclir ordered a composite Crusader Company raised. Each Chapter present contributed Battle-Brothers to an elite honour guard whose sacred task was to wield and protect the Crusade Banner. Finally, after several decades of planning, years of preparation and months of build up, the Crusade was ready to embark. Incredibly, the undertaking had remained secret, the cyclopean bureaucracy of the Imperium ensuring, even without deliberate effort, that the flow of men, materiel, and information was strictly one-way. Though never openly acknowledged, it is suspected that the Inquisition had a hand in reinforcing the issue of operational secrecy, the little known Ordo Redactor purging the archives of any data that might compromise security and tracking down and eliminating any who might let the secret out. Ten days before the Feast of the Emperor's Ascension in 777.M41, Lord Militant Achilus gave the final, irrevocable order, and the countdown to the Crusade began. The first Imperial warriors through the Warp Gate were the Space Marine strike forces assigned to Operation Hammerfall, and these were led in person by Lorgath Maclir, who had planned every aspect of the assault in person, in minute detail. The Crusade's objective was to push the Tau out of the region and reclaim the worlds of the Jericho Reach for the Imperium of Man. It was Achilus' most cherished dream that the Tau would be so undermined by the Crusade that they would fall back towards their own region of space and, in time, be destroyed utterly. But for now, Achilus and Maclir held the Tau capital in the Reach, Tsua'Malor, firmly in their sights, and nothing, or so they thought, could possibly distract them from their goal. Operation Hammerfall ranged ahead of the bulk of the Crusade, smashing aside all enemy forces that dared stand before it. As hoped, the Tau were initially unprepared for the attack, coming as it did from an entirely unanticipated quarter. The Space Marines fought as angels of death, conducting planet strikes, boarding actions, and massive frontal assaults in the manner of the battles of the Great Crusade. Despite the potential for destruction, Maclir ordered that those worlds occupied by human populations be spared unnecessary suffering and allowed to rise up against the Tau and join the crusaders. Shockingly, the human populations failed to welcome the Crusade, let alone join it. Instead, their leaders declared the Imperium the enemy, rejecting all communications and asserting their independence. As world after world rejected the Crusade, the forces of Operation Hammerfall were forced to divert around planets they had no immediate resources to suppress. Initial planning had assumed that the worlds coreward of the Well of Night would be usable as staging points for later stages of the operation. With the worlds rejecting the Imperium, the Space Marine strike fleets were forced to operate far from their rear echelons, and their line of communication were becoming more stretched with every world they were forced to bypass. Despite these setbacks, Operation Hammerfall achieved countless glorious victories, overwhelming the Tau in battle after battle. At Spite, twenty Tau battle cadres were utterly wiped out, while the Battle of Kaggeran sent an entire Air Caste picket fleet burning through the skies to crater several thousand square kilometres of the surface. At Wrath, the Tau attempted to mount a rearguard action while they evacuated several hundred thousand of their worker caste. The Battle Barges of the Storm Wardens, Black Templars, and the Dark Sons Chapters annihilated them from orbit before seven entire Assault Companies made planetfall to destroy what little resistance remained. Perhaps the greatest battle honour won in those opening months was that earned by Maclir himself, when he held the line at Epiphany Rock against a massive Tau counterattack. The xenos fielded heavy Tau Battlesuits, whose weapons were capable of punching straight through Adeptus Astartes Power Armour and which accounted for dozens of casualties before Maclir took the initiative. The Storm Wardens Chapter Master led a teleport assault of the massed Terminator squads of a dozen Chapters, materialising in amongst the enemy formation and tearing it apart before the heavy Battlesuits could re-deploy. With Epiphany Rock smashed wide open, Maclir scented blood and drove Operation Hammerfall on still further, pushing the Tau back along the Hyades Ebb Warp route and down the length of the Arethusa Flux all the way to the Death World of Ravacene. There, amongst the ash forests and volcanic chains, the forces of Operation Hammerfall fought their largest and most costly battle to date. The Tau threw every asset they had into a last ditch effort to repel the Space Marine advance, committing Fire Warrior cadres, thousands of Battlesuits, and massed grav tank wings. Vast hordes of Kroot Carnivores stalked the grey forests, while the ash-choked skies were darkened further as Vespid Stingwings swooped down to bring death from above. Alien mercenaries not seen before or since swelled the Tau's numbers still further, and soon the ash coating the forest floor turned to a glutinous mire as the blood of xenos and Space Marine alike was spilled. The First Battle of Ravacene raged for three weeks, neither side able to gain the initiative or strike a telling enough blow against the other. During the darkest days of the battle, it is said that Maclir was everywhere, bolstering the defence, leading bold counterattacks, and taking the fight directly to the enemy without rest or respite. The Storm Wardens drew on every single one of their traditions. Riding their mighty armoured Land Raiders and Predators in the manner their ancestors rode their huge Sacrisan steeds to war, the Storm Wardens smashed aside whatever Tau forces stood before them, dismounting to engage the enemy in the brutal melee of close combat and continuously testing themselves against the very best the Tau could field. Maclir is said to have dreamed of seeing the white domes of the Tau capital in the distance, knowing that Operation Hammerfall was mere light years away from its objective and that one final push would see the Crusade attain its primary goal. Achilus had always planned for a decade of war, yet Maclir sensed that victory could be won within mere months if one final push could be made. Knowing that a second wave of Space Marine strike forces followed by a third of front line Imperial Guard regiments was fighting its way down the Hyades Ebb, Maclir ordered all available forces to mass at Ravacene and smash the Tau aside, so that the advance on Tsua'malor could begin without delay. Lord Militant Achilus signaled his assent and the final phase of Operation Hammerfall was ordered. But Maclir's order was never enacted. All across the Jericho Reach, those worlds that had refused to yield to the Crusade rose up, millions-strong armies and ramshackle fleets of ancient system defence vessels smashing into the Imperial Crusade's exposed and over-stretched lines of communication. Worse, it soon became apparent that the recalcitrant populations were not motivated by notions of mere misguided isolationism. Underlying the resistance was the hand of Chaos, the poison of the Ruinous Powers lending the armies strength at the very moment when the Imperium could have pressed home its assault and driven the Tau from the Jericho Reach. Maclir's reinforcements never arrived at Ravacene. Instead, Imperial transport fleet after transport fleet was ambushed, encircled, and destroyed, entire regiments of Imperial Guard perishing in the cold void before setting foot on a single world of the Jericho Reach. Maclir raged in the face of such perfidy, swearing to avenge himself of the Traitors who had cost the Imperium its victory, for he saw there and then that Achilus had, if anything, been overly optimistic in his estimation that the conquest of the Jericho Reach would take a decade. With Chaos raging in the central zones, Maclir knew the Crusade might not complete its objective even in his own lifetime. Ironically, it had not been even partially completed by the end of the Lord Militant's lifetime, for Achilus died in tragic, and some have said suspicious, circumstances when his flagship Proclamation of Wrath suffered a catastrophic Gellar Field collapse in 786.M41. In truth, the longstanding friendship between Achilus and Maclir had soured by the time of the Lord Militant's death, both warriors deeply embittered by the Crusade's descent into a gruelling war of never-ending attrition.
- Destroyer's Last Crusade (784.M41) - Three companies of Storm Wardens accompanied Rogue Trader Tyral "Destroyer" Cathek into the Halo Stars beyond the Calixis Sector, encountering several isolationist pocket empires. The Destroyer lived up to his moniker in razing to ashes each kingdom he encountered despite the growing protestations of the Adeptus Mechanicus Explorator contingent accompanying his fleet. Eventually, the Explorators refused to allow any more pre-Age of the Imperium technology to be lost, and attempted to stop Tyrel from destroying any more. The Storm Wardens were forced to choose between the two factions, and sided with the Mechanicus, with whom they have well-established ties, forcing the militant Rogue Trader to continue his crusade alone. Tyral has not been heard of in decades, and it is assumed he met his match amongst the Halo Stars.
- Liberation of Colhep (789.M41) - Battlegroup Venicus, together with a company of Storm Wardens Space Marines, broke the alien enslavement of the Colhep systems. A daring in-system translation from the Warp and surgical strikes against key enemy holdings in overwhelming force returned the human population to Imperial rule in a single week of fighting.
- Battle of Port Mad Dog (801.M41) - The Battle of Port Mad Dog illustrates the precarious nature of the extreme long range patrols many Space Marine vessels undertake, as well as the unique capabilities of the Adeptus Astartes. While the Imperial Navy would no doubt argue that their own crews would have found an equally imaginative means of returning to port, the Storm Wardens achieved a notable victory, if one that is likely to go largely unmarked amongst the calamitous wars engulfing the Jericho Reach. It was during a long-range sweep deep into the Outer Reach that a Storm Wardens Hunter-class Destroyer suffered a navigational error during an unprecedented flicker in the beacon of the Astronomican. Cast adrift in the lifeless nebulae of the Slinnar Drift, the destroyer's crew found themselves light years from any Imperial installation and far beyond the reach of the nearest logged friendly unit. The ship's navigational array, Warp-Drive vanes and Gellar Field projectors were damaged. Meditating on the matter for several hours before consulting his peers, the destroyer's master formulated a plan, if one that was highly unconventional, to extricate his vessel from its predicament. The Storm Wardens decided that they had no choice but to set in for repairs at the nearest port, which happened to be the pirate haven of Port Mad Dog. The Space Marines decided they had two options, both of which they would try. Firstly, they would set in at Port Mad Dog and simply demand the denizens provide them with the materials and facilities needed to affect repairs. However, the Storm Wardens suspected that the outlaws were unlikely to agree to such demands and, if they did not, the Space Marines would simply take what they needed. As predicted, the pirates rejected the Storm Wardens' demand. The dozen Space Marines aboard the destroyer were drastically outnumbered by the pirates, so they executed a swift strike against the pirate king, seeking to decapitate the enemy before serious resistance could be mounted. The Storm Wardens found the enemy leader attended by a veritable menagerie of alien bodyguards, including Kroot, Loxatl, and a multi-headed monstrosity never before recorded. The battle was joined in the pirate king's throne room and, although the xenos bodyguards were far more dangerous foes than the Space Marines had anticipated, they were ultimately no match for the champions of Humanity. Having decapitated the pirate hierarchy, the forces of the port were thrown into anarchy. The Storm Wardens dug in for a days-long defence of the docks, knowing that their foes would not attack without order or direction. While the Space Marines held the dock, the crew-serfs of their destroyer affected the needed repairs, a process that was completed within three days. Breaking dock, the Storm Wardens released the pirate king of Port Mad Dock in the fashion his kind were notorious for, ejecting him from an air lock as they pulled away.
- Through the Warp (815.M41) - Answering an astropathic distress call emanating from the Feral World of Belami, the Storm Wardens Rapid Strike Cruiser Glendyr's Lament rescued the Navigator Hernando Jurkantz from an entire nation of angry natives. Known as one of the most skilled Navigators in the quadrant, Jurkantz' skills were tested to near breaking when the cruiser was engulfed in a Warp flux and spewed from the Warp twenty thousand light years away and several decades before it had set out, through the stellar phenomenon known as the Hadex Anomaly. Only Jurkantz' skill in traversing the Warp and the Storm Warden's bold stand against the enemies that assailed the vessel throughout the journey saved the souls of every man on board.
- "What threat might require an entire Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes to guard against it? I for one sleep no sounder at night knowing that such warriors guard our Imperium, for my nightmares are haunted all the more by what enemies they watch for."
- —Lord Sector Calixis Marius Hax
The Storm Wardens maintain a high degree of isolation from many of the other institutions within the Imperium, and although their homeworld is located within the region of space once called the Calyx Expanse, very few amongst the ruling classes of the Calixis Sector or elsewhere are even aware of their existence. The exact reason for this isolationist tendency is unknown, but is likely to be a combination of the inherent character of the warrior-clans of Sacris from which the Chapter recruits and the events surrounding the Nemesis Incident. It is known that Ward-Master Lorgath Maclir has met with Lord Sector Marius Hax, the most senior representative of the Administratum in the Calixis Sector, but has had comparatively few dealings with the Inquisition's Ordos Calixis. He has, however, undertaken joint missions with a number of Inquisitors outside of the Calixian Conclave, amongst others one Inquisitor Lord Petrion Borsch. In addition, the location of the Chapter's homeworld and its mission to guard the northern reaches from threats emanating from the Halo Zones, the Storm Wardens have fought alongside various Rogue Trader houses, seconding forces ranging in size from a single squad to an entire company to take the light of the Emperor to the dark spaces on the map.
One body that the Chapter does appear to have closer ties than normal with is the Adeptus Mechanicus. Because the Chapter maintains a large number of armoured vehicles, its forge is well served by Techmarines, but some would say this in itself is not sufficient to explain the closer than usual ties. Perhaps the answer is to be found deep beneath the fortress-monastery of Highcastle, sealed within the stasis chambers of the Watch Tower.
A tradition has grown up within the Storm Wardens, based around the notion of the pursuit of the last duel. Warriors who have attained the acclaim of their entire Chapter are hailed as so-called Tempest Blades, and grouped together into special Veteran squads within the 1st Company. On the field of battle, Tempest Blade squads seek out the most powerful enemies and engage them in close combat, no matter the odds. Sometimes the enemy is a band of champions, in which case the Tempest Blades disperse to fight each foe individually, while at other times the enemy is so large and powerful that they must pool their power, though no others outside of the squad are allowed to intervene. Occasionally, the most senior Tempest Blade declares that he and he alone may engage the foe, his Battle-Brothers forming a perimeter around the fight so that none may interfere or influence the result.
But Tempest Blades are far more than Veteran Squads, for they embody much of the character and aspirations of the Chapter. Each Tempest Blade is the inheritor of the teachings, honour, and often the wargear, of a named predecessor, following his example and passing it on by his own deeds. Thus, each Tempest Blade is said to be continuing the deeds of a particular ancestor, and none can be declared a member of this inner order of the Chapter unless they have proven themselves worthy of replacing the ancestor whose deeds they intend to emulate. Tempest Blades are masters of close combat and carry to battle the most sacred of relic weapons and Artificer Armour available to the Chapter. Many carry the huge claymore Power Swords symbolic of the warrior clans of Sacris. Every Storm Warden is skilled with the great claymores of Sacris, and many strive to master the subtleties of wielding so large and deadly a weapon. Tempest Blades have perfected the use of such weapons, wielding large, heavy implements of destruction deftly and gracefully. Others bear Thunder Hammers, Power Axes, glaives, or halberds, all distinctly two-handed Power Weapons. Because they bear such oversized weapons, the Tempest Blades must rely on their own skill at parrying or avoiding enemy attacks, some becoming adept at utilising the hafts of certain weapons to turn an enemy's blow.
It is the aspiration and most cherished dream of every Tempest Blade to earn a place in the Lexicon Heroica, a great tome maintained by the Librarians of the Storm Wardens Chapter. In the pages of this multi-volume archive, the deeds and the manner of the death of the greatest of heroes are written, and it is through the chapters and verses written therein that the Tempest Blades follow and continue the traditions of their ancestors. Each studies the deeds of a particular figure of legend and seeks above all else to live up to the example set by his predecessor. Thus, a continuous lineage is established, examples from thousands of standard years ago driving the Chapter forward. Of course, the earliest volumes of the Lexicon Heroica are missing, sealed away beneath the Chapter's fortress in the wake of the Nemesis Incident.
It has been observed by some outside of the Storm Wardens Chapter that there is something tragic, almost fatalistic, in the traditions of the Tempest Blades. Each is engaged upon a quest that can only end in his own death. The Tempest Blades themselves might counter that it is the manner of a warrior's death that defines him. They hold the belief that only at the moment of death does a warrior gain true insight, learning the limits of his own ability and in so doing knowing himself as no other warrior can. For this reason, the Tempest Blades hold those interred within the sarcophagus of a Dreadnought as especially holy, for these Astartes have experienced the point of death, gained the ultimate insight, and returned to fight on. For many Tempest Blades, such a fate is the ultimate revelation, and one they yearn to attain as the culmination of their own service.
It is not unusual for Tempest Blades to take the Apocryphon Oath and take up the Long Watch of the Deathwatch, for in so doing they might reasonably expect to encounter foes no warrior has previously faced and test themselves against truly unique challenges. In the service of the Deathwatch, a Tempest Blade carves his own legend, transcending the traditions of his forebears so that one day, his own deeds will be studied by future generations and his name recorded in the hallowed pages of the Lexicon Heroica.
Storm Warden Librarians
Like their fellow Astartes Chapters, the Storm Wardens also maintain a Librarium of potent psykers who are highly talented and trained to master the power of the Warp at the highest levels. Each Chapter selects its Librarians in its own way, either from seed worlds, as it does with the bulk of its Initiates, or from the ranks of gifted psykers brought to the Scholastica Psykana. Most Chapters train and test chosen psykers following the ancient ways laid out in the Codex Astartes. Librarians of the Storm Wardens are trained in this way, and, with few minor variances, have been taught to live by the word of the Codex. Storm Wardens Librarians have a number of unique psychic abilities only used by the psykers of their Chapter:
- Ancestor's Rage - Calling upon the talents of dead heroes, a Storm Warden Librarian is able to instill within himself or another Astartes exceptional skill at arms.
- Call to Arms - Plunging his will into the Immaterium, the Librarian calls forth ancestral spirits to fight at his side.
- Crown of Lightning - The Librarian encases one of his foes in a crackling cage of lightning, searing his flesh and contorting his muscles.
- Hammer of the Emperor - With the power of an orbital barrage, the Librarian calls down a mighty hammer of psychic energy with the power to lay waste to entire towns.
- Mark of Scorn - The Librarian casts a curse upon one of his foes, marking him for death at the hands of the righteous and causing his combat abilities to degenerate.
- Thunder's Shell - The Librarian covers himself in a reactive psychic shield that gets stronger the more force that is brought against it.
The world called Sacris is classified as a Forbidden World by the Adeptus Terra, though it was originally a Feral World of highland moors and dark, gloomy swampland. It is inhabited by primitive human tribes of warriors who gather around charismatic clan warlords and continually battle for supremacy in the planet's shadowy swamps. The tribes of Sacris have a fierce code of honour and deeply believe that a man's word is his bond. The tribes worship the Emperor of Mankind as a stern divine father who judges the souls of all men by their strength at arms and the purity of their honour. The culture of Sacris has had a strong impact upon the Storm Wardens, as many of the Chapter's Neophytes come from its tribes. It is not uncommon to see Storm Warden Scout Marines with woad-painted faces like those of the native tribes. Humans are not the only inhabitants of Sacris, however; a sizeable colony of the Abhuman Ogryns survived on the planet's rocky southern continent, possibly the descendants of Ogryns owed a debt of honour as the result of an ancient oath sworn by the Storm Wardens before the Nemesis Incident. Whatever the truth of their origins, the Storm Wardens do not show the usual Imperial distaste for Abhumans and have fought beside many Astra Militarum regiments in the past that included units of Ogryns and Ratlings.
At the present, automated Imperial orbital beacons encircle Sacris, declaring the world forbidden to all traffic and communion with the wider Imperium and spreading rumours that the planet is home to a deadly plague. The reason for this deception is unknown, save for the fact that it was Owin Glendwyr's final command as Chapter Master. Later Chapter Masters have continued this false quarantine, though they do not know the purpose for it or what danger Sacris might present to the rest of Mankind.
The Storm Wardens maintain their fortress-monastery on Highcastle, the single ivory-coloured moon that orbits above Sacris. Crenellated Gothic towers surmounted by Gargoyle-Servitors define this great stronghold. Inhabited by all the Storm Wardens, it holds massive chambers where the Chapter's many vehicles and wargear are maintained. The fortress-monastery's halls bear a multitude of blank banners and deep scars left behind by the Nemesis Incident. Highcastle's lower halls (the term refers to the fortress-monastery as well as the moon of Sacris) extend deep below the moon's surface and contain the automated nanofurnaces that provide the raw materials and physical conditions necessary to craft new weapons and vehicles for the Chapter, overseen by the Master of the Forge. Deeper still are the stasis chambers, though none but the Storm Wardens' Dreadnoughts know their true location. Highcastle is a seemingly impregnable citadel, although much of the fortress remains inaccessible and unknown, even to the Storm Wardens. The age of Highcastle is difficult to determine accurately, but the fragmentary records remaining to the Chapter from before the Nemesis Incident reveal that Highcastle was present in this part of the galaxy even before the Angevin Crusade and the resulting formal incorporation of the Calixis Sector into the Imperium of Man.
Halo Stars Garrison
The Storm Wardens currently have their attention as a Chapter fixed on the great Warp Storms that plague the Halo Stars near the Calixis Sector's borders. The Frontier Worlds that border them are protected by the Storm Wardens from xenos threats, Chaos renegades and heretical recidivists. Because of the Storm Wardens' insular nature, only a very small number of monuments and documents celebrate their often heroic defence of these worlds.
- "Steel is only as good as the man who wields it. Words are only as good as the man who gives them. You stand here today to be judged not by your tribe's name or your possessions, but by your skill and courage."
- — From the Opening Rituals of the Storm Wardens' Trials of Aspiration
The Storm Wardens descend from their fortress-monastery on Sacris' moon of Highcastle to the foggy moors and feral tribes below to hold a series of games and ritual combats to select only the fiercest and most intelligent warriors to join the ranks of the Adeptus Astartes. Often, Aspirants must struggle against the fen-trolls and other dangerous native animal life of Sacris during these trials, facing combat in the mist-covered moors in what is actually a combination of a running skirmish with a marathon race. The recruits must navigate past pockets of toxic swamp gas, through infestations of swarm leeches, across the quicksand-filled plains and then reach the Storm Wardens' landing site. Those recruits who survive that far then compete in the games that pit potential recruits against each other in contests of raw physical strength and skill at arms. Simply to be able to compete in these trials elevates the status of a man among the feral tribes of Sacris. Whether he succeeds or fails, he has tested himself against the greatest warriors on a harsh world and thus earned great respect. After passing the trials, many of these Aspirants take with them to Highcastle the Sacris claymore, an heirloom weapon given by the Storm Wardens to successful Aspirants as a reward for their tenacity that is cherished by the tribesmen. It is also common that when a Storm Warden dies, his claymore is ritually returned to his tribe on the homeworld. Many blades have earned great fame and a place in legend for their tribe in this way.
Like the feral tribesman they recruit from, the Storm Wardens value personal honour and strength at arms. The chance to challenge enemy foes in personal combat to test themselves, is of paramount importance to the Storm Wardens. Performing service in the Deathwatch, the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos, provides ample opportunity for a Storm Wardens warrior to test his martial skills and his mettle against foes undreamed of. While fierce upon the battlefield, Storm Wardens are no less committed to the tenets of personal honour and obligation. Service to the Deathwatch comes naturally to the Storm Wardens, for they understand the dangerous duties inherent in performing the Long Watch against the vile xenos that would threaten Mankind. Perhaps because of their fondness for debate or their own turbulent history, Storm Wardens have an interest in mysteries and enigmas. This curiosity has led more than a few Battle-Brothers to volunteer for service to the Deathwatch as well.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
The traditions of the Chapter mirror those of the feral tribes of Sacris, which place a strong emphasis on close combat and testing one's self against the strongest of foes upon the field of battle. The Storm Wardens are unemotional defenders of the Imperium of Man, often found at the outermost edges of Imperial space where they are needed most. Even amongst other Space Marines, the Storm Wardens are considered clannish and distant. They are slow to make friends but those who persist they respect and protect. A Storm Warden's word is his bond; honour, to him, is of the utmost importance. Storm Wardens are also meticulous planners of tactics and strategies, often spending the night before battle planning ahead, where other Chapters would be in deep meditation.
In battle, the Storm Wardens lay aside any personal disputes and stick to the decided plan and, usually, they will seek out enemy champions and commanders to test themselves against. Like most Codex Astartes-compliant Chapters, the Storm Wardens perform well at all forms of combat, but they prefer one devastating strategy. They prefer heavy armour, and their assaults unleash numerous Predator main battle tanks and Land Raiders. The enemy is first subjected to a savage but brief bombardment from either a Strike Cruiser in orbit or a strafing run by a Thunderhawk gunship. This pins the enemy in place for an armoured assault by the Chapter's Predators and Land Raiders, supported by Rhinos and Razorbacks carrying Tactical and 1st Company Sternguard Squads into battle.
These Tactical Squads are flanked by Predators and supported by Vindicators and Whirlwinds. Elite Terminator and Tempest Blade squads often go to war mounted in the mighty Land Raider, while bike and Land Speeder squadrons range far ahead. The intention of such a doctrine is not to gun the enemy down with the formidable firepower mounted on each vehicle, for these weapons are used to support the warriors once they have dismounted. Upon closing with the enemy, the Storm Wardens draw their Chainswords and Sacris Claymores, and engage the enemy in the manner of their forebears -- in the bloody maelstrom of close combat.
This armoured assault has its roots in the tribal culture of Sacris. Many Storm Wardens use their armoured vehicles as steeds to carry them into combat, where they launch assaults against the enemy and fight according to the tenets of the Way of Honour. Their preference for fighting alongside their armoured units has led to many stunning tactical feats and also evens the balance of forces so that they can fight their enemy on more even and thus honourable terms. It is no surprise, then, that the Storm Wardens maintain a large number of Techmarines in their ranks and there is some speculation that, like the Iron Hands, the Storm Wardens have a closer relationship with the Adeptus Mechanicus than other Astartes Chapters.
Yet it is in close combat that many of the Chapter's traditions are most fully expressed, for the Storm Wardens are possessed of a fierce sense of pride and believe that honour is to be found in the act of striking an enemy down with one's own hand. To this end, the Storm Wardens utilise the fearsome claymore wielded by the clans of Sacris, each Battle-Brother practising endlessly until he is a master in its use. Only when he is judged worthy is a Battle-Brother formally allowed to wield his claymore on the field of battle, mostly limiting its use to officers and Veterans. Many claymores have been passed down through the generations, and some are truly ancient relics forged by the clans of Sacris and later fitted with power field generators to wreath their mighty blades in shimmering, deadly force. A master of the Sacris Claymore wielding his weapon against the foes of the Emperor is an awesome sight indeed, and one that fills the hearts of the faithful with as much pride as it inspires dread in the souls of Traitors.
The Battle-Brothers of the Storm Wardens Chapter are known to exhibit a fierce resolve in the face of overwhelming odds and display an unstoppable drive to test themselves against all who would stand before them. Perhaps this feature of their character is a result of the beliefs instilled in each before he has even joined the Chapter, for the warrior clans of Sacris are fearsome and resolute indeed. Others might say that the need to test their limits is a result of the Nemesis Incident, for the Storm Wardens do not know which of the Primarchs is their gene-father, who they should revere above all others. In truth, there are many Chapters that do not have knowledge of the identity of their Founding Legion, but perhaps things are different for the Storm Wardens because, presumably, they once possessed that knowledge, but necessity has shorn that link. Few Battle-Brothers can imagine such an existence, the doctrine and dogma of the Chapter, including accounts of its founding and its earliest battle honours, locked deep within the stasis vaults in the deepest levels of the fortress-monastery.
Some Storm Wardens Battle-Brothers become disturbed with the fact that so much of their Chapter's heritage is lost, and are consumed with an existential grief. The Chapter's Chaplains are ever watchful for such afflicted brethren, and when they are identified they are counselled to renew their quest for excellence, challenging themselves against ever greater foes. In some cases, the Chaplain must set the target of the quest himself, knowing that in its completion the Battle-Brother will find respite from his spiritual turmoil, on this side of the grave, or the other.
The Way of Honour
The Storm Wardens, like the feral tribesmen they recruit from, value personal honour and physical strength at arms over all. Many Storm Warden Astartes prefer to challenge enemy commanders to single combat in order to test themselves against the mightiest of enemies. Storm Wardens often seek out single combat with a foe they consider worthy of the honour, although more than a few Veteran Sergeants and Captains have fallen against particularly dangerous opponents this way. As noted, the Storm Wardens are an unusually insular Chapter and rarely visit other worlds in the Imperium. In fact, the Calixis Sector is largely unaware that it is even home to an Astartes Chapter, with the exception of certain Inquisitors and the Sector Governor Lord Hax of Scintilla. Much of the Chapter's standoffish culture results from the Storm Wardens' deep sense of personal honour. Some Imperial analysts believe that these Space Marines prefer not to stain themselves through association with so many of the disreputable worlds of the sector that surrounds them. Despite their remote natures, the Storm Wardens rarely clash with the Imperium's other Adepta as Space Marine Chapters often do, having assisted both the Inquisition and the Imperial Guard in numerous campaigns and battles throughout the Imperium's history. Many Imperial frontier planets under dire threat from xenos or the Forces of Chaos have witnessed the incredible sight of the Storm Wardens' Drop Pods entering their atmosphere, each containing a squad of ten Astartes who will defeat the foes of the Emperor and defend Mankind. This is the true Way of Honour.
While fierce upon the field of battle, Storm Wardens are no less committed to the tenets of personal honour and obligation. Generally considered clannish and aloof even by other Space Marines, Storm Wardens prefer to remain distant from the Imperium at large. A Storm Warden is slow to make friends, but esteems and protects those who persevere to become companions. Amongst the Storm Wardens, one's word is his bond, and honour is paramount. The night before battle is often spent in meticulous planning of tactics and strategy, sharing quiet camaraderie amongst fellow warriors. Many of the most senior Battle-Brothers engage in ritualised duels so that the victor may gain a coveted place in the vanguard. Most Storm Wardens enjoy debate and crafting intricate points to support their arguments, although some outsiders see these tendencies as quarrelsome or insubordinate. However, once a course of action has been agreed upon, a Storm Warden will set aside any dispute and carry it out. Perhaps because of their fondness for debate or their own turbulent history, Storm Wardens have an interest in mysteries and enigmas. This curiosity has led more than a few Battle-Brothers of the Chapter to volunteer for the Deathwatch. When battle begins, Storm Wardens Astartes fight with keen fervour, and often seek out an enemy champion or commander to test their skills against.
The Storm Wardens Chapter fleet is known to contain the following vessels:
- Mark of Honour (Strike Cruiser) - Command ship of Captain Kynar Half-Hand and the 7th Company.
Notable Storm Wardens
- Ward-Master Lorgath Maclir - The current leader of the Storm Wardens Chapter is Ward-Master (Chapter Master) Lorgath Maclir, Imperial Commander of Sacris, Lord Protector of the Northern Halo Marches and Marshal Designate Imperialis of the Ninth Convocation. Maclir was initiated into the Storm Wardens in 229.M41, and assumed the mantle of Ward-Master four hundred years to the day later, his ascension validated by every one of the twenty-two Chapter Ancients the Techmarines were able to awaken. Since then, Maclir has served his Chapter and the Imperium with the utmost dedication, though few outside of the Chapter and the highest tiers of the Imperium's power structure have even heard of his name. Maclir is typical of his kin, in that he was recruited from the warrior-clans of Sacris, the Feral World from which the Chapter exclusively draws its Neophytes. It is recorded that the trials that season were especially harsh, the swamps through which the competing Aspirants raced boiling with vicious bile-wyrms that dragged dozens down beneath the fetid waters. Upon reaching the Storm Wardens Chaplain overseeing the contest, Maclir was instructed to face the other nine who had arrived ahead of him if he wished to join the warriors from the sky. This he did, slaying his rivals without mercy to be judged worthy of leaving the surface with the Chaplain. Upon his initiation, Maclir began an ascent that would take him to the very highest tiers of the Chapter's chain of command. He was driven by an insatiable urge to test himself in all he did, more so even than most Battle-Brothers of the Storm Wardens. He undertook a study of the Tactica Imperialis, committing the entire work to memory within a century, a feat few even amongst the Adeptus Astartes could ever match. But Maclir did not simply learn the precepts of the Codex by rote, priding himself on fully comprehending each lesson and principle and testing himself to ensure his understanding was total. When he was judged worthy of promotion to Company Captain, Maclir turned the honour down, stating that his mastery of the Codex was not yet complete. A decade later, having been offered command three more times, he accepted, leading first the 7th, then the 3rd, and finally the 1st Companies to victory after victory against every enemy he faced. Since assuming the mantle of Chapter Master, Lorgath Maclir has been honoured as the greatest Ward-Master in the Storm Wardens extant history. He is known for his continuous testing not just of himself, but of his officers and the entire Chapter. On the rare occasions when they are not on operational deployment, Maclir's company commanders are undergoing the most rigourous drills. Yet, Maclir is not a cruel or capricious master and not a single one of his warriors resents him for his constant testing of their abilities. Instead, they undertake the challenges willingly, knowing that what does not kill them makes them stronger, and prepared for the horrors that await on the battlefields of the 41st Millennium.
- Ward-Master Owin Glendwyr - The Storm Wardens' former Chapter Master upon the conclusion of the Nemesis Incident five thousand standard years ago. Owin was placed in stasis soon after the incident in the Chapter's fortress-monastery on its homeworld of Sacris.
- Captain Kynar Half-Hand - Kynar Half-Hand is the Captain of the Storm Warden's 7th Company. Kynar arrived in the Achilus System with the vanguard of the Achilus Crusade. Within the Jericho Reach there are few who have earned a reputation for grim determination and uncompromising violence like that of Brother-Captain Kynar Half-Hand.
- Watch Captain Tarran Cearr - Watch Captain Cearr is currently serving the Long Watch with the Deathwatch -- the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos -- at Watch Fortress Erioch in the Jericho Reach. While he takes the mission of the Deathwatch very seriously, he has continued to further the interests of his Chapter by seeking to discover the truth behind the Nemesis Incident despite Inquisitorial sanction.
- Watch Captain Brand Mac Lir - Brand Mac Lir won fame during the Cleansing of Vigil, and because of his experience fighting the foul xenos known as the Slaugth, he desired to join the Deathwatch. He has served 9 Vigils and now serves as a Watch Captain. In battle he wields the Chapter relic called Morwenna, a two-metre-long Sacris Claymore that has reaped a tremendous toll of alien blood.
- Veteran Sergeant Calyn MacAntir - Veteran Sergeant Calyn MacAntir was involved in a lamentable event known as the Investigation of Rain which occurred in the Halo Stars. Called to investigate the disappearance of Imperial survey teams and colonists in 808.M41, the Storm Wardens found little left of the Imperial colony and its research stations. No bodies remained and the structures looked to have merely fallen into disrepair rather than having been attacked. Puzzled by this, the Space Marines investigated further and found one small vault where a series of data entries from the colony leader were kept. The entries spoke of the ghostly figures that came in the rain and stole the colonists away. It was then that the Storm Wardens noticed that the rains had begun and that their Auspexes were picking up phantoms. Veteran Sergeant Calyn MacAntir began the order to withdraw when the three squads under his control were attacked. These were no ghosts, and the sergeant recognised the threat: Dark Eldar raiders. Splinter Cannons began to rain down death on the emplacement as Calyn and his Battle-Brothers began to fire shots on the incoming jetbikes and skimmers. The forces of the xenos raiders quickly bore down on the embattled Space Marines. Several alien skiffs carrying snares began to fly by and latch onto individual squads, either killing them or snatching them and flying away. At the battle's end, the Storm Warden force suffered significant losses, a bitter defeat for the proud Chapter. Veteran Sergeant MacAntir has sworn a solemn oath to recover his captured Brothers and wreak a bloody vengeance against the Dark Eldar. While such a task is difficult, those who have seen the depth of MacAntir's rage do not doubt that he may one day succeed, though the cost may be great.
- Techmarine Mac Zi Ven - Mac Zi Ven is a Techmarine of the Storm Wardens and a devotee of the Cult Mechanicus who has shown the touch of a true master in the arts of technomancy. His humble beginnings among the warrior tribes of Sacris led him to view technology as truly touched with divinity. In the ranks of the Storm Wardens it soon became clear that Mac Zi was gifted with the technical arts and he was quickly raised to the rank of Techmarine. Some of his Battle-Brothers mutter that Mac Zi shows more respect to the Red Priests of Mars than to his own Chapter, but Mac Zi's contributions of finely-crafted weapons and armour win him many friends. Mac Zi volunteered for the Deathwatch to satisfy his growing hunger for knowledge. Now in the foundries and catacombs of Watch Fortress Erioch in the Jericho Reach he has access to a vast repository of data about both human and alien devices. He secretly views xeno-tech as only another tool for glorifying the Omnissiah, believing that any science can be turned to Mankind's service once it is properly understood. Mac Zi has come to despise Deathwatch Forge Master Harl Greyweaver for the old Iron Priest's disrespect of the Machine God and his narrow-mindedness. If Greyweaver should somehow lose his position as Forge Master of Erioch, Mac Zi would be ready and willing to take his place.
- Synfell - A Tactical Marine and a veteran of several vigils, Brother Synfell was known throughout the Deathwatch of the Jericho Reach as a redoubtable warrior and a loyal comrade. He was noted for the sheer number of bionic limbs, organs, and other implants his body was fitted with, the majority of them earned taking on challenges on the field of battle that others, even the mightiest of Space Marines, might not have accepted. Those that knew Brother Synfell well were unsurprised that he was amongst those who rallied to the side of Epistolary Sabazius and entered the crater of the Darkling, for he was ever at the forefront of such impossible assaults. In the aftermath of the Scouring of Andronicus Prime, Brother Synfell's trusty bolter was discovered, firmly gripped by the bionic arm that held it. The weapon's appearance spoke volumes of the manner of its bearer's death. Its ammunition was spent and the overheated state of the barrel told of nigh constant firing. The state of the bionic arm suggested it had been torn from its socket with tremendous force, and those Battle-Brothers that had served alongside Brother Synfell understood well that he would have continued fighting even unto dismemberment. One thing is certain -- the legend of Brother Synfell lives on long after his passing.
- Fury Unrelenting - These vambraces were salvaged from the ruined armour of a Battle-Brother of the Storm Wardens during an engagement by the Chapter against a Tau battlegroup. He survived the barrage brought to bear against his squad by Broadside Battlesuits and charged the position held by the heavy guns alone. In vengeful rage, his Sacris Claymore shattered by the barrage, he assaulted his foes with just his armoured fists, but his furious blows were enough to bring down the two Battlesuits in the fire team before he was slain in a hail of plasma. The instruments of his fury were miraculously undamaged after his assault, and they were repaired and gifted to the Deathwatch so that their fury against the alien might serve a wider theatre.
- Levin Shield - The Storm Wardens Chapter Master, Lorgath Maclir, once wielded the Levin Shield, a powerful, master-crafted Storm Shield. It is said he passed it to the Deathwatch in payment of an honour debt to Watch Captain Mordigael. This Storm Shield adjusts to the bearer's bio-electric signature and uses his body as part of the circuit to generate its powerful energy field. The crackling nimbus protects the wielder while electrifying his foes. The Shield's kinetic repercussion plating also unleashes thunderous fury when struck.
- Morwenna - This is a revered Chapter relic of the Storm Wardens, a two-metre-long Sacris Claymore of forbidding reputation. The current bearer of this blade is Deathwatch Watch Captain Brand Mac Lir.
- Skybolt - Skybolt is a unique Power Weapon crafted in the form of a heavy spear. Whilst the Sacris Claymore is the weapon of choice amongst the feral tribesmen of the Storm Wardens' homeworld, spears are commonly used when fighting in larger battles, often in conjunction with a shield. This relic was fashioned for an honoured Storm Wardens Chapter Master from before the time of the Nemesis Incident, whose name is now lost. His weapon remains, a bold symbol to be wielded by a skilled warrior.
- Tempest Amulets - The native traditions of Sacris place a strong emphasis on the ability of an individual to affect change in the world through strength of arm and force of will. Tempest Amulets are rooted in mysticism, but also serve as a focus for the Storm Wardens' stubborn will. These small leather pouches contain "Tempest Stones", rocks fused into glass by the fierce lightning storms of Sacris and wrapped in prayer scripts written by the owner.
The Storm Wardens wear blue and light grey Power Armour. The Aquila or Imperialis on the chest guard is light grey. The open-faced blue squad specialty symbol -- Tactical, Devastator, Assault or Veteran -- is located on the right shoulder plate. A blue Roman numeral is stenciled in the centre of the squad specialty symbol, indicating squad number. A black Roman numeral stenciled on the left knee guard indicates company number.
The Storm Wardens' Chapter badge is a grey lightning bolt imposed over a blue shield, centred on a field of light grey.
- Adeptus Astartes: Successor Chapters (Limited Release Booklet)
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 50-52, 168, 170, 199, 335
- Deathwatch: Honour The Chapter (RPG), pp. 17-24
- Deathwatch: Know No Fear (RPG), pg. 10
- Deathwatch: The Achilus Assault (RPG), pg. 134
- Deathwatch: The Nemesis Incident (RPG Web Supplement)
- Deathwatch: The Emperor's Chosen (RPG), pg. 46
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 87, 238