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therisnosaurus
14-07-2005, 02:22
The astral swords are a mysterious and specialised chapter, dedicated to surgical strikes using teleport and drop pods. Though young compared to the illustrious first founding chapters, the astral swords have an unparalleled combat record and are some of the finest troops of their kind in the galaxy

Origins
The astral swords are a mysterious and specialised chapter believed to have been founded shortly after the third founding. It was a period in which the imperium was attempting to curb the massive flow of traitor crusaders from the eye of terror, flooding from great fortress citadels on the blighted worlds that ring that great warp-realspace overlap. Like the Grey Knights, the Astral Swords were created by order of the High Lords of Terra for a very specific purpose. Millions of men were lost assaulting rebel fortresses or sieging the great space-forts that drifted through systems, sending out raiding parties to devastate the surrounding planets and the strain was beginning to tell on the imperiumís resources. The only effective way of defeating these threats was to sabotage the power systems or defence mechanisms that rendered the structures nigh invincible. It is believed that it was for this purpose that the Astral Swords were created. The first recorded combat involvement of the chapter was during the siege of Gryphonne IV. The forgeworld had been taken over by rebellious mechaninicus cultists, influenced by the presence of an artifact containing the essence of the daemon prince Gharzhan. The imperial guard had successfully created a planetary landing zone but could not breach the defences of the giganitc factories and forges that made up the epicentre of the chaos activity. During the third month of the siege a space marine battle barge arrived in orbit and positioned itself above the complex. Astropaths in the service of the imperial navy reported a large disturbance in the warp surrounding the ship, similar to that caused by teleportation but on a far greater scale and shortly afterwards the guns of the rebels fell silent. Responding only curtly and briefly to hails, the space marine vessel retreated to the warp. The imperial guard stormed the fortress and easily overcame the rebels. They found that every single plasma generator in the complex was a fused and twisted wreck that bore the mark of melta weaponry and other close range firepower. The lexmechanics who accompanied the guard theorised that the marines had teleported in, sabotaged the generators and teleported out, leaving no trace of their presence. Over the next hundred years several more instances of an unknown chapter performing a devastating pinpoint teleport strike before disappearing back into the warp were reported, but scholars could not identify either the name or the history of the mysterious chapter.
The first known instance when the Astral Swords fought alongside other imperial troops was during the purge of hellsreach during the battle for Armageddon. Two scout units reported for orders from Commander Terius, the blood angel captain leading the purge. They infiltrated to the western spires and as the forlorn hope assaulted the walls, a full company of astral swords materialised seamlessly into firing positions in the shattered spire. Nearby Ork resistance was rapidly scythed down and the Astral Swords set up a firing position to rain down death from dreadnoughts and devastators. When the orks turned to counter this threat, terminator units appeared behind them, catching them in a crossfire before charging and obliterating the few remaining greenskins. Since then the Astral Swords have become a more common sight on the battlefields of the imperium, but are still a mysterious group of marines. The administratium is strangely reticent to release details of the chapterís founding, and neither the Astral Swords, nor any other for that matter, know the true origins and primarch from which they were created. As the chapter has grown older they have become more open, and while their homeworld is still a mystery, they have willingly allowed inquisitorial officers and other delegates onto their battle barges, which seem to be their primary dwelling. Schematics of these barges show that they are far more reinforced than others of their kind and incorporate a greater array of teleport and drop pod systems, some of the former large enough to teleport dreadnoughts and land speeders, an ability unheard of elsewhere in the imperium. Astral Sword power armour is also further reinforced with psycho-resistant materials such as obsidian and is engraved with a lattice of blessed hexagrammic wards similar to those of the grey knights, allowing them to better withstand the rigours of teleportation. This all points to a chapter founded with a very specific purpose in mind, and may go some way to explaining the mystery of their origins.

Homeworld:
The Astral Swords homeworld remains unknown to the authorities of the imperium, leading to speculation that they in fact have no home world and instead have a mobile base of operations, like the Ďrockí of the Dark Angels, or that they are simply based on their fleet, with each battle barge operating separately but containing a small part of the chapterís infrastructure so that if one is destroyed, the knowledge of the chapter is not lost. However, as the Astral Swords have never requestioned resources or equipment from the imperial planets or the mechanicus, and that they do not recruit on any known worlds, it is most likely that they have a homeworld that is simply not on the imperial galactic map, leading some to speculate that it may be in the halo zone, the area around the galactic core that is filled with very old stars and very few habitable planets. Imperial activity is rare in the halo, so it is the best place for any group seeking secrecy. Others believe that they have a secret monastery on Ganymede, one of the moons of Saturn, though deep scanning shows no evidence of human presence on that icy sphere of rock. In any event, it is unlikely that the imperium will discover the world on which this chapter is based.




Combat doctrine
The astral swords have an extremely specialised combat doctrine that many believe was the sole reason for their creation. All Astral Swords vessels are equipped with teleportation equipment that is far beyond the normal technological levels of even the Adeptus Mechanicus. Indeed, there has been feuding between the two organisations as the Mechanicus believes that the Astral Swords may be withholding an STC fragment with the data required for the creation of their amazing teleporters.
As a force, the astral swords rarely, if ever employ armored support or heavy weaponry. Devastator units are most commonly armed with multimeltas or heavy bolters rather than the longer ranged lascannons or missile launchers, though the latter have been observed on occasions. The fact that the Swords will normally teleport in close to the enemy eliminates the need for long ranged weapons. The other major element of equipment in the ranks of the Astral Swords is the preponderance of blades. Marines of the Astral Swords are taught to fight close in with bolters and swords or elongated combat knives known as Ďgladiií, in close concert with their battle brothers. The doctrines of the Astral Swords teach them to strike in and out cleanly- like a blade- and this has led to them frowning on more brutal weapons such as power fists and thunder hammers. Even dreadnoughts of the Astral Swords are often seen to replace their standard close combat weapons with huge blade arms, allowing them to parry and slice their way through combat with the speed and finesse of their living brethren. Even chaplains seem to favour stylised blades made of what appears to be bone over the standard chaplainís armament, the Crozius Arcanum.
Tactically, the Astral swords will often use scouts or veterans to infiltrate a battlefield before teleporting an elite strikeforce directly into the enemy lines, often backed up by automated turrets that guard the apparition or drop zones while the Astral Swords rapidly and efficiently carry out their mission objectives before retreating and disappearing back onto their ships, often before the enemy troops have even begun to run to the armouries to equip themselves. In situations when teleportation is impossible, the Astral Swords adopt standard combat doctrine, but with the exception that they will often try and close with the enemy, rapid firing to thin the ranks before taking the counter attack on their swords and knives. Every marine serves a specific purpose in his squad- demolitions, sniper, communications and so on. They are trained to use each marineís abilities to the fore, so in battle squads of Astral Swords work like the muscles of a hand, each working with the other to rip the heart out of the enemy

therisnosaurus
14-07-2005, 02:23
Organisation
The organisation of the astral swords is very similar to that layed out in the codex astartes: the chapter has a veteran and scout company, four battle companies and four reserve companies like other codex chapters. The librarians of the astral swords are, however, more frequently tasked with leading forces than in other chapters, as the reliance of teleportation of the chapter lends well to their psychic prowess. The main difference, however, lies in their deployment. From records recovered and observations by imperial scribes, the battle barges of the astral swords do not carry companies as normal, but forces of marines from different companies led by charismatic individuals or heroic warriors, with the official company captains simply tending to the records of their men and delegating them to their strike forces. Only during larger conflicts will a company join as a whole to do battle


Beliefs:
Like most space marines, the Astral Swords believe the emperor is a man not a god, and venerate him as their creator, not a deity. However, as they do not know the identity of their primarch, the emperor is the sole target of their worship and so the astral swords revere him as their personal father and creator, forsaking their genetic parents. The Astral Swords believe that they were founded to be the sharpest point of the imperiumís sword in itís reconquest of the galaxy; a point that is easily blunted if wasted against thick armour best crushed with a sledgehammer, however, when they strike at the throat of the enemy, no weapon can carve through the enemies of the emperor more effectively.

Geneseed
Sampling of Geneseed of the Astral Swords has so far proved unable to discern their origins, but it appears to be stable and almost mutation free, leading to most scholars to believe they are descended from the dark angels or ultramarines. The only aberration is that marines tend to show increased resistance to psychic activity and older marines can consciously resist psychic activity in their vicinity. Marines also have a black carapace that is stronger than normal, reinforced by ridged supports where the ribs of a normal man would be. Though this has little effect in combat, it means that during honour duels and sword fights, a marine can take a thrust to the chest directly without any damage to internal organs.

Battlecry
Swords of the Emperor! We are His blade!

Hideous Loon
14-07-2005, 18:11
I can see a lot of Blood Ravens in that (the Librarians-leading-troops, the not-knowing-who-our-Primarch-was), but not in a bad way. After all, writing a whole IA article for your DIY Chapter is pretty serious. Kudos.

Btw, will the little fluff-thing concerning older Astral Swords being able to resist psychic attacks be represented in gameplay? Or is it just a thing thrown in for the sake of 'rule of cool'?

therisnosaurus
19-07-2005, 14:35
these guys came before the blood ravens (well, at least just after the game came out so before we knew anything about them). I tend to write a lot of background for my armies (each marine in this one is going to have his own personal historicus with various battle honours and exploits recorded

as for the psychic resistance, not in gameplay. the swords wear a similar apparatus to the aegis suit so they can undergo the strain of teleporting, but it's gameplay effect is slight enough that it can be ignored.