This is derived, without permission, upon the Warhammer 40K intellectual property of Games Workshop Ltd, from articles by Graham McNeill and Andy Hoare from White Dwarf WD 281(UK) and WD 295(UK) plus various other snippets of info from around the blog bazaars – I do hope I do the RELICTORS justice. More juicy RELICTORS type stuff can be found via Google and there is even a Relictors logo sheet on Belloflostsouls. All rights reserved to their respective owners.
The RELICTORS were first founded in the Age of Apostasy originally designated the FIRE CLAWS and are believed to have been created from Ultramarines and Dark Angel gene-seed. A transcript of the Mythos Angelica Mortis suggests that the Fire Claws may have been one of the 20 or so Astartes Praeses Chapters formed to defend the Eye of Terror region of space. These included the Excoriators, Marines Exemplar, the Night Watch, the Subjugators, the White Consuls and the Relictors/Fire Claws and have served as part of the Imperiums defences against Chaos for nigh on five millennia.
The Astartes Praeses task, assigned by the Adeptus Terra, is to protect the Imperium from Chaos incursions from within the Eye. This is not an easy task and the Chapters bear the brunt of countless raids and Black Crusades before reinforcements reach them. Of major importance is the Cadian system.
The Adeptus Terra, also known as the Priesthood of Earth, is the central organisation of the Imperium to which most of the Imperium’s other official departments and organisations belong. The following are all formally part of the Adeptus Terra: Administratum, Departmento Munitorum, Adeptus Mechanicus, Adeptus Astra Telepathica, Adeptus Custodes, Adeptus Arbites, Adeptus Astartes, Officio Assassinorum, Imperial Guard, Imperial Navy and Planetary Governors. Only the Ecclesiarchy and the Inquisition are not formally a part of the Adeptus Terra.
Torva Minoris is the homeworld of the Fire Claws. It is situated in an area of Segmentum Obscurus notorious for the intensity of the Warp storms afflicting it. Torva Minoris is a satellite of the massive red giant Torva Prime and is classified by the Administratum as a feral world. The population are superstitious savages who worship the Fire Claws as emissaries of the God-Emperor when the Chapter visited them once a generation to carry off the most promising young warriors to its ‘sky fortress’. The tribes are known to revere the artefacts carried by the Space Marines as divine weaponry that can only be wielded by true and worthy servants of the God-Emperor; an attitude that seems to have been carried forwards into dogma of the Chapter. The Inquisition has since ruled that no Adeptus Astartes Chapter may recruit from Torva Minoris and it is believed the Ordo Malleus keeps a close watch on the world to ensure its ruling is adhered to. The superstitious natives of Torva Minoris now believe the God-Emperor has forsaken them and every year their ceremonies of abasement grow more extreme in attempts to atone for whatever fault has caused the emissaries of the God-Emperor to turn from them.
A plague of Warp storms affected the Imperium during the Age of Apostasy, during which invasion and insurrection were rife. It is believed the world was trapped within such Warp storms throughout the early years of the Chapter’s founding. The area surrounding the Torva System was so ravaged by the taint of the storms that frequent pogroms are to this day carried out to ensure instances of mutation within the population do not rise above tolerable levels.
The ‘sky fortress’ was the Fire Claws’ fortress-monastery, based on an ancient massive Ramilies Class star fort in geostationary orbit above the largest continent on Torva Minoris. Few Emissaries were known to have returned from the fortress, but those who have spoke of a monastery wreathed in perpetual gloom, where acolytes toil within locked cells to transcribe ancient, some say forbidden, texts as part of their training to become a brother of the Chapter. One such report, recounted by the notorious Heretic Archivist of the Gethsemane Reclusium, tells of the existence of a chamber deep within the fortress, sealed behind stasis fields and protected by the most severe of wards. Exactly what was held within this chamber is unknown, but the account speaks of a miasma of evil that leaks through the metre thick adamantium blast doors despite the safeguards. The Heretic Archivist’s writings suggest that the original witness was driven insane by what e saw and died a slow, painful death within the torture chambers of the Ordo Malleus.
The Epiphany and Renaming
The Fire Claws fought in the area around the Eye of Terror alongside the Cadian Shock Troops. They are listed in the annals of Imperial history on many occasions and have taken part in many glorious victories. Not least amongst these conflicts were the purging of the Cult of the Inner Eye, the First Siege of Cocalus and the Albrecht IV landings. They were also part of the relief force that made possible the evacuation of the millions-strong crusade army of Warmaster Hendrik during his ill-fated expedition into the Wheel of Fire, far from the Eye of Terror.
In the middle of the ninth century of the 41st Millennium, the Emperor’s Tarot showed a badly damaged Space Hulk emerging from the Warp near the Forgeworld of Stygies in Segmentum Obscurus and the Fire Claws were mobilised to investigate. The hulk was codified as ‘The Captor of Sin’ and contained a Chaos warband led by a Tzeentchian Champion known as the Excoriator. The Fire Claws used their Strike Cruisers to cripple the hulk and sent Terminator Assault Squads to investigate it, led by the Librarian Decario and the shadowy Inquisitor De Marche. The renegades realised they were doomed and made their final stand in the vast engine room, where Decario and De Marche both fought the Excoriator.
The Champion carried a Daemon sword, forged in the heart of the Eye of Terror, that had the essence of a Greater Daemon bound within it. De Marche quickly found himself out of his league as his Power Axe had no effect. His armour was cut open and he was grievously wounded. Decario’s Force Sword was shattered and his Terminator Armour was cut open in one foul swoop. Fortunately, Decario used his Power Fist to rip the Excoriator’s sword arm from its socket. Even though it was wounded the Champion fought on smashing down the Librarian and killing four more Terminators before Decario grabbed the nearest weapon and, with a prayer to the Emperor, took off the head of the Excoriator.
Afterwards, Decario looked down and realised that the weapon he had used was the Daemon Sword. Instantly he felt that this weapon could be used to defeat Chaos. De Marche warned the Librarian that only he was trained to handle such diabolical weapons and Decario handed it over to the Inquisitor. On returning to their ship, leaving behind Adeptus Mechanicus survey teams to search the hulk for any archaeotech, De Marche explained with the help of Decario that this weapon could be used against Chaos and should not be destroyed. Together they convinced the Chapter Master not to destroy it.
Over the decades that followed, the Fire Claws scoured nearby systems, under the eyes of the Inquisitor Marche, in search for other such powerful weapons, weapons that could be turned against the Chaos advance toward Terra. They slowly collected more artefacts or relics and became known as the RELICTORS.
Thousands of traitors were slaughtered beneath Decario’s sword, and thousands more quelled in fear at the sight of it. It was then too that the Chapter’s Librarium began to overtake the authority of the Chapter Master for control of the Chapter.
Judgement and Crusade
Unfortunately, it did not take long for the rest of the Imperium to discover their use of Chaos weaponry in warfare and it was only a matter of time before the Imperium began to grow suspicious of the Chapter’s artefacts. Could he be so foolish to hold in his hands a relic of pure evil? What good could possibly come from the use of these weapons? A cell of Inquisitors, four Chapter Masters and an Emperor Class Battleship descended on the Relictors Fortress Monastery and they were forced to hand over all relics, De Marche and Decario to the Inquisition. As a penance for associating with the Dark Powers, the Relictors were sent on a century-long penitent crusade. Inquisitor De Marche was executed as a heretic and Decario was stripped of his rank and taken prisoner by the Inquisition and never heard from again. After the Inquisition censured the Relictors for the actions of Inquisitor De Marche, The Chapter lost its feudal rights to Torva Minoris which meant it could no longer recruit from amongst its feral tribes and were forced to gather acolytes from amongst the populations they encountered during the crusade. Their Chapter Insignia took the form of the Penitent Grimacing Skull as seen today.
Ephesus succeeded Decario as the Chapter’s new Master-Librarian. His mentor and friend Decario was all but dead at the hands of the Inquisition. Their victories in the name of the Emperor, too many to count, meant nothing to those who would question his means, but Ephesus knew in his heart the Decario would be vindicated yet.
Crusade and Conclave
Over the next few decades, Ephesus led his Relictors about the galaxy on their crusade, occasionally clashing with Chaos forces whenever they were found. It was during this time that Ephesus established The Conclave, an inner circle of trustworthy and battleworn Relictors including the Chapter Master, other high ranking veterans and almost all Librarians – this would act as advisors and leaders in battle. In time, The Conclave would eclipse the Chapter’s First Company, much in the same way as the Librarium had overtaken the Chapter Master’s overall control.
Sins of the Father
On the plant Monnad IV, a small planet near the Eye of Terror, Ephesus and his brothers clashed with a powerful Chaos Warlord named Gr’yythnyk, and fought to a stand off. In the midst of a raging battle, Ephesus and Gr’yythnyk duelled. Ephesus saw his foe’s weapon, a long Daemonic lance with cryptic inscriptions upon the shaft and knew what it would take to turn the battle.
He thrust and parried with his Force Staff, hurled psychic attacks at the traitor and as Gr’yythnyk thrust with his lance, Ephesus caught it and forced it from the Warlord’s grip. He turned the weapon quickly and watched it slide gracefully through the enemies armour. Even with war raging around him, he knew the battle was won. Ephesus dropped to his knees and prayed that the Emperor would let him use these weapons or good.
When Ephesus returned to the Battle Barge, he proceeded to ritually cleanse the weapon as he had been instructed to by Decario. For seven days he remained in the ritual without food or water and when he emerged he held the weapon, dubbed Shadowlance, at his side. He immediately convened a conference with The Conclave where he outlined the Chapter’s new mission: To continue Decario’s goal and turn the dark tide of Chaos upon itself. Only the most trusted Conclave would wield these weapons in battle.
Vision and Quest
Soon after this victory, the Relictors were summoned to aid the Hive World Armageddon against the Ork Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka’s Waaagh! Invasion. They sped to the battle and were amongst the first of the Space Marine Chapters to arrive to aid the Imperial stalwart defence. The Relictors’ did not recognise the authority of the Imperial Commanders who publicly decreed that they were oath-breakers because the majority of the Chapter’s fighting strength was engaged in operations of their own elsewhere on Armageddon.
It was during this time whilst exploring the arcane ruins of the Angron Monolith that Ephesus was assailed by a vision of a massive red eye weeping blood. He took this as a sign of an impending attack from the Eye of Terror and withdrew his forces. The next time the Relictors were seen was at the orbital shipyards of Belis Corona and demanded a complete resupply of their fleet. After some tense altercations with officious Departmento Munitorum staff the Chapters demands were acceded too and their ships resupplied. With no further communication, the Chapter left orbit in the direction of the Cadian Gate. The Inquisition and the remaining armies on Armageddon took this as a sign of retreat but no further action was taken against them.
The Inquisition and Black Crusade
Once again at the gates to the Eye of Terror, the Relictors rejoined the Imperium’s defences. As the Relictors descended deeper into the Eye in search of tools of Chaos to turn against their foes, Ephesus began to teach the Conclave how to manipulate the ruinous powers and safely wield their weapons. When one of his more foolhardy pupils stormed a remote Inquisition Archive that held a Chaos Artefact, Ephesus joined only to keep word of the event from spreading – it is rumoured the pupil was beheaded for this insurrection, some say at the hands of Ephesus himself.
When Abaddon the Despoiler launched his 13th Black Crusade from the Eye of Terror, the Relictors were there to meet him in force. The Relictors stationed themselves in the Xersia System of the Cadia Sector, and once again fought bravely against the Chaos hordes. Many useful artefacts were collected in secret during this campaign.
After the campaign the Inquisition turned its investigations towards the Relictors. Continued conflict with the Inquisition and reports of strange weapons and unorthodox teachings from the Chapter’s Librarium led the Inquisition to declare the Relictors Excommunicate Traitoris and moved to destroy them for once and for all. Ephesus was warned of the attack by a mysterious source within the Inquisition and fled the Fortress Monastery with a sizeable proportion of his Battle Brothers just before it was destroyed by the Grey Knights of the Ordo Malleus under command of Inquisitor Cyarro.
Exodus and Alliance
Enraged that his Chapter’s many victories in the name of the Emperor would mean nothing and the loss of so many Brothers at the hands of the bloodthirsty and short-sighted Inquisition, Ephesus left the Eye of Terror and headed toward the Galactic Fringe with the remnants of his still loyal but misunderstood Chapter.
In the Ultima Segmentum, a small ship bearing the marks of the Ordo Malleus approached the Relictors ragtag fleet, but rather than fire upon the Relictors, the ship identified itself as the vessel of Inquisitor Lord Antioch and promised a peaceful passage if the Inquisitor was granted a safe audience with the Master-Librarian. Antioch came aboard the Relictor Battle Barge and met with Ephesus in private.
There, in Ephesus’ chambers the two talked of the Daemonic menace, the Emperor’s Will and the Inquisition’s stubbornness. Antioch was a radical and a kindred spirit to Ephesus, a hunter of Chaotic Artefacts, Relics and indeed intended to harness the powers of Chaos within the mortal bodies of Daemonhosts. It was Antioch that had warned Ephesus of the coming Grey Knights. The two forged a bond of friendship and eventually joined forces, setting off together in search of tools to use against the Ruinous Powers. Antioch used his influence to keep the remaining Relictors under the Inquisitions radar and Ephesus contributed his resources, men and knowledge to Antioch’s growing arsenal.
To this very day, the Relictors continue their fight against the Ruinous Powers using the very tools of Chaos against itself. Although labelled Excommunicate Traitoris, the Chapter remain ever loyal to the Emperor and abide by most part to the Codex Astartes.
Part II of this Background Blog will cover the Combat Doctrine, Organisation and Beliefs. Rules for using Relictors in Warhammer 40K can be found in WD 281(UK) and WD 295(UK).