Founded to guard against the threat of the Traitor Legions attacking from the Eye of Terror, the Relictors were once counted amongst the most stalwart defenders of humanity. But Chaos is insiduous and a sinister secret now lurks at the heart of the Chapter, a secret that almost destroyed it and now threatens its very existence.
Originally designated the Fire Claws, it is thought the Relictors were founded during the dark days of the Age of Apostasy, though records of events during that strife-torn period are notoriously ambiguous and difficult to uncover. One transcription of the Mythos Angelica Mortis suggests that the Fire Claws maybe have been one of the so-called Astartes Praesus Chapters, a founding intended to bolster the defenses around the Eye of Terror be deploying twenty or so newly formed Chapters at strategically vital points in the region. The Fire Claws' fortress-monastery was based on an ancient Ramillies class star fort in geostationary orbit around the world of Torva Minoris, and the Chapter served as part of the Imperium's defences against the forces of Chaos for nigh on five millenia.
The Fire Claws 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 Seige 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 revealed the existence of a badly damaged space hulk emerging from the Warp near the forge world of Stygies in the Segmentum Obscurus, and the Fire Claws mobilised to intercept it. The hulk, codified as the Captor of Sin, contained a renegade warband led by a Tzeentchian Chaos Chamption known as the Excoriator.
The Fire Claws' strike cruisers crippled the vessel as it entered the Stygies system and Terminator Assault Squads led by Librarian Decario and the shadowy figure of Inquisitor De Marche stormed the vessel. Realising they were doomed, the renegades made their stand in the cavern-sized engine room where furious battle was joined and Decario and de marche fought the Excoriator.
The Champion was a mighty warrior and carried a weapon forged in the heart of the Eye of Terror, a terrible Daemon sword with the essence of a Greater Daemon bound within its unearthly steel. The Inquisitor hacked at the Champion with his power axe, but the unnatural armour of the Excoriator was impervious to his blows.
The Chaos Champion retaliated, his Daemon weapon easily cutting through De Marche's armour and greviously wounding him. With another strike, the Excoriator shattered Decario's force sword and laid open his Terminator armour. Decario staggered, but struck back with his power fist, ripping the Chaos Champion's sword arm from its socket in a welter of vlood. Even mortally wounded and unarmed, the Champion fought with hideous ferocity, smashing the Librarian to the ground and slaughtering four Terminators. Decario muttered a prayer to the Emperor, reached for the nearest weapon to hand and struck out at the Champion. The Excoriator's head was chopped from his shoulders and Decario realised he had picked up the Daemon sword, killing the Champion with his own weapon.
Decario was filled with a sense of utter purpose as he weilded the Chaos sword and instinctively felt that this was a weapon that could be turned against the forces of Chaos. The wounded De Marche cautioned the Librarian to put the weapon down, that only he was trained in the use of such artifacts. The Librarian handed the Inquisitor the weapon and the Space Marines returned to their ship, leaving behind an Adeptus Mechanicus survey teams to search the hulk for any archaeotech.
De Marche explained that he also believed that such weapons could be used to fight Chaos and should not be destroyed out of hand as was current Imperial policy. With the aid of Decario, he was able to convince the Fire Claws' Chapter Master of this and, under De Marche's guidance, the Fire Claws embarked on a crusade to explore the worlds around the Eye of Terror and uncover more such relics. Over the decades that followed, many such artifacts were discovered and the Fire Claws Chapter became known as the Relictors.
However, it was only a matter of time before others discovered the Relictors' practise of using Chaos weapons in battle. A cell of Inquisitors backed up by the fleets of no less than four Chapters of Space Marines and an Emperor class battleship descended upon the Relictors' fortress-monastery and demanded they hand over De Marche and all recovered Chaos weaponry or be destroyed. Faced with destruction, the Chapter had no option but to obey. As penance for dealing with heretical weaponry, the Chapter was despatched on a century long penitent crusade. De Marche was taken by the Inquisitors and executed as a heretic.
As part of their crusade, the Relictors recently took part in the Third War for Armageddon. However, the Chapter was publicly criticised, as the majority of its warriors concentrated their efforts in the equitorial jungle, particularly in the region surrounding Angron's Monolith, despite repeated requests for assistance else where.
Torva Minoris, the Relictors' homeworld, is situated in an area of the Segmentum Obscurus notorious for the intensity of the Warp storms afflicting it, and it is believed the world was trapped within such a storm throughout the early years of the Chapter's founding. A plague of Warp storms affected the Imperium during the Age of Apostasy, during which invasion and insurrection were rife. 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.
Torva Minoris is a satellite of the massive, blood red gas giant Torva Prime, and is classified by the Administratum as a Feral world. The population are superstitious savages who worship the Relictors as emissaries of the God-Emperor when the Chapter visits 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 weilded by true and worthy servants of the Emperor; an attitude that seems to have been carried forwards into the dogma of the Chapter.
The "sky fortress" is the Relictors' fortress-monastery, a massive Ramilies class star fort that orbits Torva Minoris. Few emissaries are known to have returned from the fortress, but those few that survive speak 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 is 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 he saw, and died a slow, painful death within the torture chambers of the Ordo Malleus.
After the Inquisiton censured the Relictors for the actions of Inquisitor De Marche, the Chapter lost its feudal rights to Torva Minoris, which meant they could no longer recruit from amongst its feral tribes. The Relictors were forced to gather potential acolytes from amongst the populations they encountered during their penitent crusade. The Inquisiton has ruled that no Aduptus 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 their attempts to atone for whatever fault has caused the emissaries of the Emperor to turn from them.
The Relictors are known to follow the Codex Astartes as far as overall organisation is concerned, but it has been noted that they have strayed from approved doctrine in a number of other areas. The major difference between the Chapter's combat doctrine and that of any other is in its use of captured enemy weapons. Many Chapters indulge in trophy taking, but the Relictors have in the past gone out of their way to capture, master and utilise weapons taken from the forces of Chaos. Despite the evident consequences of Inquisitorial sanction, they are thought by some to be continuing this practise.
Another notable feature of the Chapter's organisation is the inclusion of more Librarians than is usual, a feature some observers have attributed to the Relictors' proximity to the Eye of Terror. To date, the Inquisition has not acted on this information, though with the Chapter's recent conduct on Armageddon, it will doubtless be led to investigate further.In terms of battlefield tactics, many Imperial commanders who have fought beside the Chapter have voiced concerns about its behaviour. It has been noted on many occasions that the Relictors will only embark upon a specific course of action if it meets with some criteria only they are party to and will often only fight alongside other Imperial forces if that agenda can be furthered. This is most evident in the Chapter's actions at Armageddon, where it answered the general call to defend the world from the Ork invasion, but ignored all specific instructions and requests, despite these orders originating from Commander Dante of the Blood Angels himself.
When the Ork Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka led the largest Ork invasion in many centuries against the Hive world of Armageddon, the Relictors were amonngst the first of the twenty plus Space Marine Chapters to rush to its aid. Commander Dante of the Blood Angels took overall command of the Chapters present, and each was utilised to the best of its abilities towards the goal of pushing back the millions-strong Ork horde.
Alone of all the Chapters, the Relictors did not acknowledge the authority of Commander Dante, or of any other Imperial leader. Dante was far more forgiving in this regard than General Kurov and others, who publicly decried the Relictors as oath-breakers, after the majority of the Chapter spent the greater proportion of their time on Armageddon engaged in operations of their own in the vicinity of Angron's Monolith. The equatorial jungle in this area is dark and twisted, the only living creatures frequenting it are the Feral Ork tribes who were said to perform dark ceremonies beneath the gloomy jungle canopy.
As the first phase of the campaign drew to a close, and the Season of Fire approaced, a ceasefire of sorts was achieved, with both sides digging in to weather the coming storms. Many Space Marine Chapters withdrew, as their lightning attack style of warfare was of less relevance in this new stage of the war. First to withdraw were the Relictors, who, with no explanation whatsoever, emerged from the jungle, boarded their Thunderhawk gunships and simply left. Imperial Navy picket ships in orbit challenged them, and a violent confrontation between supposed allies was only narrowly averted when Commander Dante ordered the picket ships to stand down and allow the Relictors' ships to rendezvous with their fleet.
The next time the Relictors were seen was one month later, when they arrived at the orbital shipyards of Belis Corona and demanded a complete resupply of their entire fleet. After some tense altercations with officious Departmento Munitorum officials, the Chapter's demands were acceded to and their ships resupplied.
With no further explanation, the Chapter left in the direction of the Cadian Gate. Nothing has been heard of them since.
The Relictors conform, at first appearance, to that of a standard codex Chapter, with ten companies divided into a standard mix of Battle, Assault, Tactical, Devastator and Scout Companies. But it is in the higher echelons of the Chapter that many differences become apparent. The Chapter's command ranks are gathered together in a group known as the Conclave and every decision concerening the Chapter's deployment and operational doctrine is made here. Only those proven in combat and of guaranteed purity are permitted to rise to become members of the Conclave, and privy to the true nature of the Chapter. As a warrior rises through the ranks he is gradually initiated deeper into the Chapter's mysteries and when he is judged worthy to join the Conclave the truth about the powerful weapons weilded by its senior officers is finally revealed. It is these warriors who, after many days praying and shriving their souls of all impure thoughts, are permitted to carry the Chapter's Daemon weapons into combat. The Chapter's Librarians, of which there are a great many more than a Chapter should normally possess, meticulously screen potential initiates, rejecting all but the strongest willed candidates.
In batlle the Chapter fights with a balanced mixture of forces, appropriate to the given threat, and deviates little from standard battlefield operation. Only when members of the Conclave take to the field do the Relictors become something much more sinister. Senior members of the Chapter employ the weapons of the enemy against them, and individual squads carry unholy artefacts, utilising the power of Chaos against its foul minions.
Central to the Relictor's belief system is the tenet that Chaos is not inherently evil, that it is merely a power that may be turned against those who weild it for evil. This manifests most commonly in the Chapter's use of captured Daemon weapons, but also extends to their increased reliance on Librarians. As a relatively new Chapter, the Relictors display a confidence of youth that borders on arrogance, as they believe that they have the strength of will and faith to resist the corruption of Chaos. They disdain those who have not the courage to use such artefacts, claiming that the power of Chaos is a weapon like any other and that the evil that threatens to engulf the galaxy merits the use of such weapons.
The Librarians and Chaplains of the Relictors teach that a warrior who is armoured in faith can withstand the temptations of Chaos and it is their belief that they possess this in sufficient amounts to do so. They believe it is their sword duty to hunt down such artefacts and study them that they might better understand the machinations of the enemy. This attitude has often brought the Relictors into confrontation with other Imperial organisations when their objectives are in direct opposition, but thus far open conflict has been avoided.
The source of the Relictors' geneseed is largely based on gene stock taken from the laboratorium on Mars and is thought to be composed of that grown from the Ultramarine and Dark Angels. If this is the case, then it would appear that the High Lords of Terra's reluctance to sanction the use of Dark Angel's geneseed in the creation of new Chapters has relaxed somewhat. There are no recorded instances of unacceptable mutation in the Relictors' geneseed, though given their close working with the powers of the Warp, the Apothecaries and Librarians maintain close watch on the purity of their Battle Brothers for any signs of aberration. It is rumoured that those zygotes that display mutation are allowed to mature before implantation into a host organism in order that the Apothecaries might better study the workings of Chaos on the flesh and how to defeat it. The source and veracity of these rumours are unclear and, in all likelihood, they are the product of a fevered imagination.
"Strength of will, courage of will!"