CULT OF THE MACHINE GOD
Techmarines of the Space Marines
Schooled by the Adeptus Mechanicus in the mysterious rites of the machine, Techmarines are essential for the survival of any Chapter of Space Marines. It is they who tend to the spirits of the weapons and wargear of the Chapter, ministering to the technological secrets that bind man and machine into an instrument of the Emperor's wrath. Deep within their machine temples they forge weapons and armour for their Battle Brothers with great reverence and skill.
The workings of technology and the mysteries surrounding the inner secrets of machines is knowledge that has long since passed from the Imperium of Man. A great catastrophe wiped away much that was once common knowledge and reduced a great deal of Humanity to barbarism. What little remains, is debased, mythical or has become such unthinking repetition that its true purpose has long since been forgotten. These scraps, gathered obsessively over the millennia are jealously gathered together on Mars by the Adeptus Mechanicus, the devotees of the Machine God, the Omnissiah. Only those privy to such knowledge, however rudimentary it may be, can hope to utilise any form of technology, and such individuals are rare indeed.
Ancient pacts sworn between the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Adeptus Astartes allow the Space Marines to send a proportion of their warriors to Mars to train with the Adeptus Mechanicus and begin the long, arduous journey of becoming a priest of the Machine God. Without the passing on of such revered knowledge, the late of the Space Marines would be sealed, for only by such means may the weapons and wargear of the Adeptus Astartes be maintained. The role of the Techmarine is to minister to the spirits of the machines in the care of their Chapter, the weapons, the armour and all the equipment in daily use by the Space Marines.
The young Space Marines train for many years on Mars, swearing powerful oaths and spending their every waking hour in deepening their understanding of the Omnissiah. They learn the correct rites of activation, maintenance and how to call forth or placate the wrath of the war-spirits of the machines they will be entrusted with.
When they return to their Chapter, they are changed individuals, aloof and mysterious, with an unusual dichotomy of loyalties. They are Techpriests of the Machine God and Battle Brothers of their Chapter. This division of loyalties causes the majority of Techmarines to stand apart from their Chapter, becoming strange figures of awe and power. The knowledge they possess is held in great esteem by their Battle Brothers and they recognise and acknowledge their skills in the arcane sciences pertinent to the dark secrets of technology. Though they possess great skill and knowledge regarding the mystical science of machines, they are warriors first and foremost and are often in the forefront of many of the fiercest battles. Should a vehicle or artefact of technology be lost, it is the Techmarines who will fight hardest to retrieve it, and as hard, if not harder, than their brethren fighting to recover a fallen comrade.
Within their Chapter, Techmarines are arcane engineers, maintaining and ministering to the needs of the Chapter's arms, armour and vehicles. Each Chapter has its own weapon shops, foundries and artisans. Some Chapters honour long-standing agreements with forge worlds that supply them with starships and weapons which the Techmarines subsequently modify to meet their own requirements. This practice varies from Chapter to Chapter, but few Space Marine Chapters have the facilities to build their own spacecraft, most being constructed in the shipyards of Jupiter and Mars. A notable exception to this are the Ultramarines, who maintain extensive construction yards in orbit around Calth, one of the planets within their realm of Ultramar. Marine armourers are highly skilled, practical craftsmen and their chief weapon-smith is the Master of the Forge; an honoured title and a position of great respect. All of the Space Marines' armourers work within an ancient tradition of design and decoration unique to their own Chapter and the work of a fine artificer is incredibly prized.
Before battle, the Techmarines ritually prepare their charges for war, raising the anger of the war-spirits of the weapons and vehicles that are being employed in whatever coming conflict they are to take part in. They have a strong bond with the vehicles and weapons they issue to the Space Marines. Treating The equipment as though it belongs to them and the Space Marines are merely borrowing it temporarily. Once deployed for battle, the Techmarines and their servitor thralls ritually bless the weapons and tanks of the force, uncaging the war-spirits and allowing them to see the targets of their wrath. Together with a retinue of cybernetically altered servitors, the Techmarines can also effect battlefield repairs on vehicles, healing the damage done to armour and rekindling the war-spirit that it might fight once more. At battle's end, each wound done to the vehicles and wargear issued by the Techmarines is reverently repaired and recorded in the Litanies of Battle, and it is not uncommon for some vehicles to remain in service for many hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The oldest known serving vehicle is a Rhino belonging to the Salamanders, known and honoured as Nocturne's Hammer, said to have carried the great Primarch, Vulkan. It is a position of great honour to minister to such holy artefacts and those Techmarines who honour such revered pieces of technology are accorded great respect by their peers.
Techmarines employ a wide variety of esoteric tools and equipment not normally issued to their brethren. Many Techmarines are equipped with a servo-arm, a specialised auxiliary arm grafted to the Techmarine's armour and linked to his neural network. These arms can be fitted with a multitude of lastorches, vibrosaws and power drills or any number of arcane tools that aid the Techmarine in his battlefield role of vehicle maintenance and repair. Their gauntlets are also often heavily modified to include more delicate tools or even a limited form of mechadendrites. Many Techmarines have the organic components of their hands removed and replaced with augmetic prosthetics that allow them a greater connection to whatever machine they are ministering to, some even going as far as to incorporate mechanical interfaces that allow the Techmarine to commune directly with the Machine Spirit.
In deference to their training on Mars and the close bond that exists between Techmarines and the Adeptus Mechanicus, Techmarines traditionally repaint their armour red, though one shoulder guard will always remain in their Chapter's colours.
Techmarines understand better than anyone the risks inherent in angering the war spirit of battle gear and are careful to ensure that their Chapter symbol remains clear and unobscured. Though the Iron Priests of the Space Wolves, despite their training on Mars, exhibit a fiercely independent streak by retaining their original armour colour throughout.
The Iron Priests are masters of the forge and armoury, their expertise with matters technical marking them apart from their brothers of the Chapter. They fulfil the same function for the Space Wolves as Techmarines do for Codex Chapters. Like Techmarines they spend many years on Mars training with the Adeptus Mechanicus where they learn the innermost secrets of arcane mechanics. Like all those steeped in the mysteries of technology, the Iron Priests stand apart from their brethren though this is especially true of the Space Wolves who view such knowledge as a dark and frighteningly arcane science. The Iron Priests are the keepers and guardians of the venerable Dreadnoughts who dwell in the deepest cavern of the Fang, the Space Wolves fortress, monastery on Fenris. They ensure that their ancient brethren are woken only in times of great need and honour their undisturbed slumbers. Without their expertise, the Fang would crumble and the Chapter itself die.