The First Founding
For many years, Terra was locked in an "Age of Strife" and humanity was close to wiping itself off of the planet, but then the God-Emperor of Man intervened. The Emperor planned to reunite humanity and re-conquer worlds that had been lost as humanity entered its decline. But before the Emperor could begin His crusade to reunite humanity under one banner, He needed an army.
During (approximately) the 30th Millennium, the Emperor began His project. He planned to create an army, children borne from parts of his own genetic code. These superhuman children were to become the leaders of the Emperor's armies, as the Primarchs of the Space Marine Legions. While they were still infants though, they were stolen from their cribs in the Emperor's laboratory and scattered across the galaxy. Before they had been scattered though, the Emperor had already removed enough genetic material from the twenty infants to begin working on the Space Marines themselves. Crafted not from the Emperor directly, the Space Marines were the "grandchildren" of the Emperor, made instead from the Primarchs that would be their future leaders. Then, during the 31st Millennium, the warp storms that had surrounded Terra, separating it from other words, disappeared. The Emperor took action. With his newly formed Imperial Army and the first Space Marine Legions, He began His "Great Crusade."
The Crusade started slowly at first. The Emperor's armies were small, but growing. Each new conquest brought new men and even saw the return of the Primarchs. As the Primarchs were recovered, they were given the command of the Legion of Space Marines created from their genetic material and allowed to go their own way, claiming worlds in the name of the Emperor. The first Primarch that was recovered was Horus, and Horus remained at the Emperor's side for much of the beginning of the Great Crusade. But before too long, the Emperor decided He had to return to Terra to further His own plan for the Imperium. Before He left the Crusade though, be pronounced Horus "Warmaster" of the Imperium and gave him complete control over the forces of the Imperium and ordered him to continue the Crusade. This promotion began to sow the seeds of discontent among the twenty Primarchs and would later be the Emperor's undoing.
The Fall of the Legions
Many of the Primarchs had been disillusioned by the Emperor's return to Terra, especially Horus. Horus began to doubt himself, believing that he was failing his father, and believed that that was the reason why he left. The true reason for the Emperor's departure was to build and improve the infrastructure of the Imperium, allowing it to truly function as His Empire. One of the first organizations he formed was the Council of Terra, a governing body charged with managing the taxation of the Imperium's worlds. But the creation of the council only further alienated the Primarchs. They did not understand why they had not been elected to serve in this council; they were the ones spilling blood and conquering worlds for the Imperium, but now they had yet another to be ordered by. Horus himself disagreed with many of the decrees passed by the council, but this only increased the turmoil that the Primarch was internally struggling with.
The beginning of the end did not come until Horus returned to the moon of Davin. As the years had gone by, Horus had slowly drifted away from the other Primarchs and Legions in order to bring glory to himself and his Legion in hopes that he would once again get recognition from his father. But here on the moon that the Luna Wolves, Horus' Legion of Space Marines, had established several lodges, Lorgrar, Primarch of the Word Bearers, set his plans into motion. Lorgrar had wished to venerate the Emperor as a God, but the Emperor flatly refused, denying established religion of any sort and stating the "Imperial Truth," that only science and logic reigned supreme, was all the Imperium needed. Crushed by the Emperor's unwillingness to accept his devotion, Lorgar sought out a new force to idolize. It was in that moment that Lorgar descended into Chaos. Lorgar accepted these new Gods, and his Gods tasked him with corrupting his fellow Primarchs, turning them to Chaos. The first Primarch that his Gods demanded he taint was none other than the Warmaster, Horus.
Struck by a tainted weapon, Horus had a wound that no apothecary within his Legion could heal. It was then that Erebus, Lorgrar's First Chaplain, approached the Luna Wolves and said that there were shamans on the surface of the planet that could heal Horus' wound. Unbeknownst to the Space Marines, these "shamans" were actually Chaos cultists, sworn to serve the God Nurgle. The rituals began shortly after Horus' arrival, and Horus' spirit was cast into the Warp. Here, the Chaos Gods approached him and gave him a terrible vision of the future. In this future, the Imperium has become repressive and violent and the Emperor is venerated as a God along with his sons, except for Horus. Sensing this disturbance, Magnus the Red, Primarch of the Thousand Sons, attempted to intervene with his own psychic abilities. He told Horus that was the Chaos Gods were showing him was not what will be, but only what could be. He tried desperately that Horus was the only one who controlled the fate of the Imperium and to not succumb to the call of Chaos. But it was too late; Horus had been disillusioned and alienated by his father for too long. His sorrow and confusion had turned to rage and hatred, and the Chaos Gods needed only to say "Give us the Emperor and we will give you the galaxy." Horus accepted and began to spread the word of Chaos among the other armies of the Imperium. He convinced his brothers Angron of the World Eaters, Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children and Mortarion of the Death's Guard to join him.
Foreseeing all of this, Magnus attempted to warn the Emperor, but the Emperor did not believe him. His hubris blinded him and ordered that Leman Russ and his Space Wolves bring Magnus into custody for spreading lies. Horus intercepted this order and told Russ that Magnus had to be destroyed, not simply arrested. This would in time seal the fate of the Thousand Sons Legion and Magnus the Red's, bringing another Legion into the folds of Chaos. But before Horus could take action, several more Legions eventually succumbed. Konrad Curze of the Night Lords turned after he was disciplined by the Emperor. Perturabo of the Iron Warriors resented Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists and was easily turned to Chaos. Alpharius and twin Omegon favored Horus and eventually joined his cause.
The Horus Heresy
There was one problem that remained between Horus and his march on Terra. There were still those that were loyal to the Emperor within his own ranks that had to be dealt with. In a series of unfortunate events, Horus made his way to Isstvan III, a planet that recently declared independence from the Imperium. Ordered to retake the world by the Council of Terra, Horus ordered a bombardment of the planet. Then he sent the loyalists from the four Legions at his command down to the planet to retake the capital, Choral City. But, in their moment of triumph, Horus made his true intentions clear. He let a virus bomb fall from the orbiting ships, with the intention of wiping out all people on the planet. Had it not been for Loyalist Saul Tarvitz, all the loyal Marines on the surface would have perished. Instead, with the help of Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro, he managed to warn many Marines of the bomb about to detonate above the planet. Those that received word took shelter, but the vast majority would not be so lucky. In an instant, the some sixteen billion inhabitants of the planet, including many Loyalist Marines perished, the deaths rippling through the Warp. The Loyalists warned by Saul and Garro managed to make their way to a damaged freight vessel and flee the planet, in hopes that they could bring word to the Emperor of the actions of Horus.
Garro and the Marines managed to meet up with Rogal Dorn, who was reluctant to believe what he was hearing, but the evidence and Garro's persistence managed to convince the Primarch. At Isstvan V, Dorn intended on halting Horus' progress and end his march on Terra. There, Dorn ordered seven Legions to land on the planet in two waves in order to break Horus' forces. Unfortunately, four of the seven Legions were traitors that had secretly sworn allegiance to Horus before their arrival at Isstvan V. The first three Legions to land on the planet were the Loyalist Legions and their Primarchs. The loyalists took heavy casualties, but managed to secure the drop zone. Horus attempted to bait Ferrus Manus and his Iron Hands into spreading to thin by making a tactical retreat. It worked, Manus met traitor Fulgrim in combat while the Raven Guard and Salamanders regrouped and allowed the second wave to come down. But, as the two loyalist Legions fell back, the second wave landed on the surface and immediately fired upon the confused Marines. Horus brought his forces around and advanced on the now-pinned Marines, slaughtering virtually all of them. Those few that survived managed to reach some of the remaining drop ships and escape. Meanwhile, the battle between Manus and Fulgrim raged on, but the powers of Chaos and the daemon within him gave Fulgrim the edge. Fulgrim beheaded Manus, but was overcome with grief at the sight of what he had done. In that moment, the daemon that he had within him overtook his mind, banishing the shattered Primarch to the recesses of his soul. Vulkan of the Salamanders disappeared during the combat, but did not fall. The events that occured on Isstvan V would later become known as "The Drop Site Massacre."
Following the massacre at Isstvan V, Horus made his intentions clear. He was to strike at the heart of the Imperium and take Terra itself. Meanwhile, Rogal Dorn recalled all of the loyal forces of the Imperium to Terra after he learned of the events at Isstvan V from the few survivors. The Space Wolves had meanwhile been carrying out their orders, not entirely aware of what had been unfolding. The Wolves and the White Scars, stationed near each other were both suddenly attacked by two traitor Legions. Jagahatai Khan received Dorn's orders to fall back, and relayed them to Leman Russ who was being attacked by Alpha Legion. Khan and the White Scars fell back, begrudgingly leaving the Space Wolves to repel and evade the Alpha Legion troops. Meanwhile the Ultramarines and Primarch Roboute Guilliman faced similar obstacles. The Word Bearers had been assaulting them, but the Ultramarines managed to dig in and eventually repel the Chaos Marines. Once the attackers had been broken, the Ultramarines regrouped and departed for Terra.
The pieces were falling into place for Horus; many of the loyalist Legions would be unable to meet to defend Terra because of the various ambushes and engagements with the traitor Legions. While the Warmaster was en route to Terra along with many of the Loyalist Legions, news reached Horus that the Thousand Sons now pledge allegiance to him after the alleged orders given to the Space Wolves from the Emperor to exterminate them were carried out on Prospero. By the time the Chaos forces would arrive at Terra, only the White Scars and Blood Angel Legions would be able to stand by the Imperial Fists and Rogal Dorn, but they also had aid from three Imperial Titan Legions and nearly two million Guardsmen.
Horus launched the initial attack, bombarding the spaceports nearest to the Imperial Palace and assaulting the defenses around Terra itself. Several days after the initial bombardment, the first Chaos drop pods began to land at the spaceports. A total of five traitor Legions commenced the landing operation and the spaceports both eventually fell, in spite of the efforts of troops on the surface. With the spaceports under Chaos control, the Legions began unloading all their troops. Chaos Titans, tanks and soldiers poured out of the drop ships that managed to reach the surface of the planet, but the defenders stood stalwart. Pushed back to the walls of the Imperial Palace, the Chaos forces began the true siege. For over fifty days, the two armies collided, but eventually the palace walls were breached by a Chaos Titan Legion. Meanwhile, Jaghatai Khan led an ambush on one of the two Chaos-controlled spaceports. In one swift blow, the Chaos troops garrisoned at the spaceport fell and the White Scars managed to reclaim it, slowing the Chaos advances. The siege reached its climax when Sanguinius of the Blood Angels was challenged by the Bloodthirster Ka'bandah. Both took to the sky, but the loyalist Primarch slayed the Daemon, casting its broken body back to the Chaos attackers. Meanwhile, the remaining Imperial forces fell back and sealed the "Eternity Gate," the only way into the heat of the Imperial Palace.
Horus received news that loyalist reinforcements would soon be upon them and that his attack had failed. On his flagship, The Vengeful Spirit, the shields lowered for unknown reasons. Seeing a break in the Chaos offensive, the Emperor led His Adeptus Custodes, His personal guard, Primarch Sanguinius, Rogal Dorn, and veteran troops from the Imperial Fists and Blood Angels in an attack on Horus' flagship. Although scattered upon landing within the vessel, all of the warriors managed to meet up as they advanced on Horus. Sanguinius made it to Horus first, but after his battles on Terra against the Bloodthirster, he was exhausted and no match for the traitor Primarch in front of him. Before the Emperor could reach Horus, Sanguinius had fallen.
Unable to bring himself to unleash his full potential against his favored, but fallen, son, the Emperor suffered many terrible wounds. Horus tore off the Emperor's right arm and broke him over his knee. As he raised the Emperor up, a lone member of the Adeptus Custodes entered the room. Blinded by rage at the sight before him, he charged Horus, only to be flayed alive as he charged by Horus' psychic powers. The Emperor was outraged and realized the ultimate truth that his son had lost to the call of Chaos. The Emperor launched one final psychic attack, unleashing all of his power. Blasting Horus with a lance of pure energy, the Emperor had managed to slay his favored son. In his last breaths, Horus begged his father to finish him and punish him for his betrayal. Before the forces of Chaos could possess his son again, the Emperor granted his wish, destroying Horus entirely. This immediately caused panic to spread throughout the ranks of the Chaos Legions.
Enraged by the death of their Primarch, the Blood Angels flew into a frenzy, cutting down any and all retreating soldiers. What had been a grim defense against their foes turned into a brutal slaughter of all Chaos forces. Rogal Dorn finally reached Horus and the Emperor only to realize the magnitude of the battle. Sanguinius lay dead in front of him and his father on the edge of death. The Emperor ordered Dorn to take him back to His Golden Throne within the palace. There, in the Imperial Dungeons, Rogal saw his ally Malcador the Sigilite sitting upon the Golden Throne in a last ditch effort to keep the warp-gate linked to the Golden Throne closed. As they removed Malcador to place the Emperor upon His throne, his body withered away to ash. There, upon the Golden Throne, the Emperor said in his final breaths that those who were still alive should continue to fight for the Imperium, and to free humanity from the forces of Chaos. He wished for them to save humanity from all that was assaulting it. And then, the Emperor spoke no more. His body forever locked within the life-support systems of the Golden Throne, neither alive nor dead.
The Second Founding
Those that were involved in the Heresy knew that no single man could ever have the power that Horus held, and that much of the Imperium had to change in order to prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring again. Within a few years of the events of the Horus Heresy, the Codex Astartes was created by Roboute Guilliman of the Ultramarines, reorganizing the Space Marines. Gone were the days of the vast Legions of Space Marines, as most of the remaining loyalist legions were split up into smaller chapters, no more than one thousand strong. Two Legions, however, did not split into smaller chapters. The Salamanders remained as they were since they had already been reduced to chapter size due to losses in battle during the Horus Heresy. The Space Wolves did eventually allow one chapter to be created from their geneseed, but something went horribly wrong and the new chapter was unable to sustain itself, so the Space Wolves continue to keep a much larger number of marines than dictated by the Codex Astartes as for some reason only the people of Fenris seem able to synchronize with the geneseed of Leman Russ.
Space Marine Chapters
Following the second founding, the former Legions were broken up into much smaller Chapters, about one thousand strong. One chapter could retain the markings of the original Legion, but the others would have to re-identify themselves. These new chapters would be known as "Successor Chapters." Within each Chapter, the Marines are further subdivided into ten companies one hundred strong. The first company consists of veteran soldiers; the next four are the frontline troops, usually more experienced than others. The following four are reserves, used to reinforce as necessary and the final company is forward scouts, which are usually newer recruits.
First Founding Legions and their Primarchs
- Dark Angels- Lion El'Johnson
- White Scars- Jaghatai Khan
- Space Wolves- Leman Russ
- Imperial Fists- Rogal Dorn
- Blood Angels- Sanguinus
- Iron Hands- Ferrus Manus
- Ultramarines- Roboute Guilliman
- Salamanders- Vulkan
- Raven Guard- Corax
- Emperor's Children- Fulgrim
- Iron Warriors- Perturabo
- Night Lords- Konrad Curze / Night Haunter
- World Eaters- Angron
- Death Guard- Mortarion
- Thousand Sons- Magnus the Red
- Luna Wolves / Sons of Horus- Horus
- Word Bearers- Lorgar
- Alpha Legion- Alpharius
List of Chapters formed during the Second Founding
- Angels of Absolution
- Angels of Redemption
- Angels of Vengeance
- Storm Lords
- Wolf Brothers
- Black Templars
- Crimson Fists
- Angels Encarmine
- Angels Sanguine
- Angels Vermillion
- Blood Drinkers
- Flesh Tearers
- Red Talons
- Brazen Claws
- Patriarchs of Ulixis
- White Consuls
- Black Consuls
- Praetors of Orpheus
- Eagle Warriors
- Black Guard
Since the Second Founding, there have been at least twenty four more Chapter foundings.
The Space Marines are equipped with some of the most lethal weapons in the whole galaxy. The standard marine is equipped with powered ceramite armor that replicates and amplifies any movement that a marine makes. This is made possible because of the Black Carapace implant that interfaces with the armor, monitoring vital signs and other biometric data. Servos within the armor are able to perform any level of effort from picking up a wine glass to punching straight through a tank. The standard issue weapons for a marine are a Bolter and Chainsword, both of which are so massive that they are only useable by a Space Marine. A Bolter is a handheld pistol that fires rocket-like projectiles that explode on impact, while the Chainsword is a combination of chainsaw and broadsword. Both are efficient and are kept up by the marine himself. This is standard policy within Space Marine chapters as it forms a bond between a Marine and his equipment. Only in cases where repairs are too complex for a marine to fix are they repaired by Chapter artificers. In addition to these standard issue loadouts, Space Marines have many weapons that can be fielded. A short list of these include:
- Plasma Pistol
- Heavy Bolter (Heavy Machine gun variant of bolter)
- Rocket Launchers
- Melta guns (Using highly pressurised pyrum-petrol gases melta weapons use a two part injection system to force them into an unstable thermal state at a sub-molecular level, releasing massive amounts of heat energy)
- Inferno pistol
- Bolter Weaponry
- Storm Bolter
- Bolt Rifle
- Bolt Pistol
- Bolt Carbine (Most common with non-astartes personnel but may be used by marines)
- Power Weapons (Sheathed in disruptive fields incorporated into the weapon itself. Allows them to utterly destroy armor and conventional weapons)
- Power Maul
- Lightning Claws
- Power Axe
- Power Sword
- Thunder Hammer
- They may also equip jump packs to be used in conjunction with chainswords for aerial assault close combat operations
Not only do they have a vast array of weaponry at their disposal but also many different armor variations. Two special armor types are
Veteran Marines that have proven their worth on the battlefield may be bestowed the "Crux Terminatus." The Crux Terminatus proves that the Marine bearing this honor can use Terminator Armor. This is the most advanced set of Power Armor available for a warrior of the Imperium. A Marine in Terminator Armor is an engine of destruction, capable of using heavy weapons that would be otherwise impossible to handle. The sheer size and defensive ability of a set of Terminator Armor allows a Marine to singlehandedly hold and clear choke-points and cramped corridors.
Any Space Marine that is mortally wounded or cripped in battle is usually given a merciful death at the hand of his brothers. But occasionally, a truly exceptional Marine will be instead entombed within a Dreadnought "sarcophagus." Inside the Dreadnought, the Space Marine is kept alive through the life-support systems of the coffin. This entombment allows the Space Marine to continue his service, even after death itself. Because of the systems sustaining the Marine within, a Dreadnought can live for eons, called upon when needed, but otherwise left dormant. Becoming a Dreadnought is considered one of the highest honors a Space Marine can receive, and older Dreadnoughts are considered heroes on the same level as the Primarchs of old. The oldest Dreadnought still in service is "Bjorn, the Fell-Handed" of the Space Wolves. He is over ten thousand years old, and served along side Leman Russ and the Emperor before falling in battle and being entombed.
A Dreadnought is essentially a bipedal tank, capable of taking punishment and devastating at virtually any range, depending on equipment. A Dreadnought can be damaged, but the only way to truly destroy a Dreadnought is to kill the Marine within it. Only then will that Dreadnought be destroyed. When not in service, Dreadnoughts are left to sleep, until they are needed again.
The creation of a space marine is a time consuming and tradition bound ritual that requires immense skill of Chapter apothecaries, endurance and strength from the initiate, and the appropriate genetic makeup. To make a Space Marine, nineteen genetically engineered organs must be implanted within a person and all must be fully functioning within the initiates body. The organs accomplish the task of taking an ordinary human being and making him into a superhuman monstrosity known as a Space Marine. These organs were first developed by none other than the Emperor of Mankind himself during his experiments to craft armies that could conquer the galaxy. In order to be considered for the ascension to Space Marine a person must meet specific requirements. These are:
- Must be male. Implants are keyed towards male genes
- Must be between the ages of 10-14 to start initiation as the implants to function properly must grow along with a person's normal puberty period
- Must be able to follow hypnotic suggestion and hypnotherapy. Not only is it essential for Space Marine battle doctrines, but three of the nineteen organs only become assimilated with the help of hypnotic triggers
- Only the strongest most physically fit are even looked at. Most applicants come from feral worlds where the average height for a person is well above 6'6
The implants are referred to as gene-seed and are the sole method by which Space Marine chapters can survive. Without them, the chapters would have long run out of troops. Because of the vital importance of gene-seed to a Chapter, the preservation of gene-seed as well as the reclaimation of it following a Space Marine's death takes priority over all other objectives. Gene-seed is reclaimed by Chapter Apothecaries with a tool called a reductor that removes the progenoid glands that contain the genetic material for all of the implants. Following a battle they will go through the Space Marine Corpses extracting progenoid glands from all that have perished.