First amongst the followers: The Quadrargenta

What Hangs in the Heavens?

Four dying men met on a dead world//
There to see a sight//
Soft words and hard vows passed between//
Who then lit the light?//

refrain: The Silver Star, the Silver Star!
[+//'The Silver Star'; banned nursery rhyme, Oblitus Vega+] 


Harbinger: Battle of Hong-Qi

Where the Silver Stars came from, none can say for certain; still less why. What is known is that a substantial battlefleet translated into the battlespace of a conflict between the Inheritors Chapter and an Eldar warhost of Craftworld Dain-Mir (also transliterated Dain-Muir and Dhan-Muir) some decade before the events of the War of the False Primarch. Surrounding the attacking Eldar, the mysterious fleet bombarded the xenos vessels, wreaking havoc and allowing the Inheritors to execute a much-needed fighting retreat.

Precis: First recorded appearance of the Silver Stars. A battlefleet of unquantified displacement – codified as AY-0975B – arrives during a battle between Eldar of the Halo Region and the Inheritors. The interdiction routs the Eldar; and the fleet leaves without communication.
Belligerents: Silver Stars; Inheritors – Craftworld Dain Mir

At the extreme reaches of Sector Morqub, and shrouded by sensor-dulling cosmic dust, the Hong Qi system is of little strategic import. It had previously provided a safe haven for the Inheritors as they prosecuted their interminable wars with the xenos of the Sector; and the Chapter had established a number of bastions and watch-fortresses there since their founding.

***

Already understrength owing to brutal anti-xenos campaigns within the Pieride Waste, the Inheritors had been attacked unexpectedly by the Eldar of Dain-Mir on a number of occasions – almost always when already heavily mauled after conflicts against the pirates of the Waste, or when falling back to regroup. The Eldar strikes had winnowed and damaged the Inheritors' ability to pursue their war, and in frustration, Jarnail Solarion, the Chapter's Master, had drawn all his reserves from their homeworld of Hyperborea. 

[+//Jarnail Solarion/] 
[//lars_d/lars.j.dahl+]

Gathering his forces within the Hong Qi system, Solarion aimed to draw out the Dain-Mir forces and engage them in strength. To this end, he sent missives to his sometime-allies, the Chapters of the FirebreakJade Talons and Red Fish, asking for their assistance within the Pieride Waste. In doing so, he hoped that the Inheritors could outmanoeuvre the Eldar fleet and ambush them in return.

Answering the summons swiftly, the Master of the Red Fish, Madu Iri-Abasza, readily committed what forces he was able; though these were barely sufficient to hold the Inheritors' already slim gains. The Firebreak sent a similar demi-company-sized force; the curt response preceding their deployment making it clear that the warriors of Frith regarded this request as unwelcome – and to be repaid. 

No message at all was received from the Jade Talons – though Solarion had sufficent previous experience with the Talons to know not to interpret this as an intentional slight. Their mercurial spirit left him hope that the Chapter might appear.


***

Treachery over Choreopsis

Precis: The damaged Inheritor fleet is targeted by Inquisition vessels on the route to their homeworld; they divert to Choreopsis, a Civilised world of religious fundamentalists. The intervention of a Void Baron picket fleet routs the Inquisitorial fleet.
Belligerents: Inheritors; Void Barons – Ordo Propter; Ordo Astartes; including substantial elements of the Vigilants

Indeed, as the abortive assault was revealed to be a counter-ambush by the precognitive Eldar, the Inheritors laid their hopes that the mysterious fleet designated AY-0975B was in fact the Jade Talons, riding to their comrades' rescue. The unusual craft were Imperial in origin, but seemingly unregistered. Sensor baffles and Eldar xenotech – not to mention the fact that the Inheritors fleet was fighting for their very lives – made more substantial contact or confirmation impossible.

[+//Dain Mir forward element Bridge of Mists+]
[+//paul_c_l_d/paulsmallus+]

The report was dutifully logged within the Imperial archives. Within Solarion's breast, however, a flame of suspicion was kindled. Unable to act upon his thoughts as the Inheritor's fleet limped to the galactic south, along slow but well-warded warp routes, he made the fateful decision to contact the Inquisition, requesting information on a 'mighty and unregistered fleet' in the wilderness space spinwards of the Sector.

Far from providing information, the Inheritors were ordered to drop out of warp, where they were met by a substantial Inquisitorial fleet. Shields lowered, the Inheritors were once more caught by surprise when the Inquisitorial vessels began to open fire upon them. 

The seemingly-senseless attack was met with desultory fire from the Inheritors' stricken fleet. Solarion was forced to make the distasteful choice to retreat once more. Sending what few escorts remained to buy them time, the bulk of the damaged fleet broke for the warp, limping towards Choreopsis, a nearby system that the Inheritors knew well.

***

Steel and Will

It was seemingly by chance that the a picket fleet of the Void Barons were present in the Choreopsis system – though the records of that Chapter's Esotersits might tell a different tale. As the Inheritors fleet translated, they were startled to find the Void Barons at full battle-readiness, their shields charged and weapons active. They moved to corral the damaged Inheritors fleet, all while Solarion desperately tried to determine whether the Void Barons were complicit in the attack. 

The two Chapters enjoyed no close ties – indeed, their philosophies bore stark differences – though they had never before raised arms against one another. It was with a profound sense of relief that the Inheritors received reassurances from the Void Barons' Master of the Fleet; though the wary Inheritor fleet continued to raise their own weapons and shields, citing the likelihood of pursuit.

If the Void Barons suspected treachery, they were swiftly disabused of the notion, as the forerunners of the pursuing Inquisitorial fleet translated. The resulting day saw the Inquisitorial fleet routed in a bloody running battle.

***

The Conclave on Jiam Tertiary

[//Jiam-Tertiary+]
[//TITHEclassific: DEADWORLDvalue=Aptus Non+]

Precis
: First recorded appearance of Volnsocere; assembly of the Quadrargenta. The first Four Chapters to declare for Volnoscere gather on this dead planet, and pledge service.
***
Events moved swiftly after the curious attack upon the Inheritors. Incensed by the assault, but not knowing who he could trust, Solarion was forced to put his faith in the Void Barons. The Barons, in turn, escorted the Inheritors crippled fleet to Hyperborea. Progress was necessarily hesitant, and slow, both Chapters wary of further attacks. A number of the Inquisitorial vessels had opted to retreat, and both Solarion and Ghan, Captain Commanding of the Void Barons, expected repercussions; likely imminently.

A typically bloodthirsty member of the Void Barons, Ghan was quick to laugh and quick to kill – but not without nous and cunning. Pensive and frustrated by the enforced slowness, he welcomed the distraction from day-to-day duties that word of a disturbance from below decks offered. An intake of slaves, destined to serve the Void Barons fleets, had been abducted from Choreopsis – indeed, the 'recruitment run' was the principal reason the Void Barons were present – and one in particular was making unsettling claims that gave the discipline masters pause; leading them in turn to contact their Astartes superiors for guidance.

The presence of a local religious leader was far from surprising – the populace of Choreopsis was renowned for its piety, and declarations of divine selection or other supernatural claims were common amongst individuals seeking to avoid work in the indentured decks, whatever their planet of origin – but something about the man's quiet insistence and nature caught the attention of one of the Void Barons' Esoterists.

Brought before Ghan, the two spoke privately, after which the Void Baron Master contacted Solarion directly. Sceptical but unwilling to refuse his ally's request, Solarion shuttled across to the fleet flagship Star-Foe. The man's message was stark, and simple:

A Primarch had returned. He wanted those who would serve the Imperium to gather.

***

A Year of Whispers

In the months that followed, the Inheritors withdrew to Hyperborea, settling into a hitherto-unfamiliar siege mentality. Forces were withdrawn from across the region, collecting on Hyperborea. The Void Barons fleets clustered in the skies above the system – a gathering of strength that none living could recall. The Inquisitorial counter-attack all expected failed to materialise; though planetary defences were drilled hourly, and recruitment stepped up.

Hesitantly and quietly, contact was made with those Chapters that Solarion and the Void Barons' Chapter Master Kastor Drak – the ‘Dragon of Siklon’ – personally vouched for. Of those, only one was brought into the full depth of the proposal: the Master of the Red Fish, Madu Iri-Abasza

When a cryptic message from Julijos Toth of the Riven Lords was received, the three conspirators were understandably suspicious – doubly so when the so-called prophet was found conveniently missing. Toth's message told of a request from an incessionary figure; one whose nature necessitated total secrecy. Initially believing the missive to be an Inquisitorial trap, the three eventually decided that the paranoia surrounding them could not continue – and besides, unless something truly startling was afoot, how would Toth have know the three to be connected? 

The message contained coded co-ordiantes to the distant Jiam system, whose principal world had been long ago blasted and scoured by the atomic fire of the dread Wormwood Sons in a forgotten war. Still wary of ambush, the Masters translated  to the system separately. There, they were met by a brooding and immense fleet, every ship of which bore an icon that would become both familiar and infamous: the Silver Star. Accompanied only by their honour guard, the four descended to the surface, full of trepidation, curiosity, and hope.

***

Revelation


[//Pict capture unresolved – Jiam III operatives uncontactable+]

The arid plains of Jiam-Tertiary are touched only by black dust and sorrow. The scouring hard-radiation of the scarred surface makes the presence of unaugmented humanity all but impossible. Even the deep-sunk bunker complexes of its final war do not fully screen visitors from its effects.

The truth of events of what happened on the surface of Jiam Tertiary is – as with so much of the war – fragmentary and contradictory. What scanty details can be gathered indicate that the four were met by a figure calling himself the Vox Volnoscere. Of Astartes build, but unarmoured, the figure seemingly spoke on behalf of the 'Primarch', who declined to speak himself when receiving the Masters. Why this should be is similarly undocumented. In the years that have followed, various theories were floated amongst the Inquisition; from the simple claim that the Abomination calling itself 'Primarch' was little more than a monstrous shell, and incapable of speech; to the whispered belief that Volnoscere's own voice simply told the listener what he or she needed to hear, akin to a silver-tongued agent of the warp; or – perhaps through psychic domination – forced the listener to acquiesce to him. As with all reports on the 'False Primarch', lies and mistakes are piled on one another; one man's daemon being another's Emperor-given gift. If the truth is recorded, it is all but impossible to separate from the dross of misunderstanding.

Whatever happened behind closed doors, each Master emerged in turn and gathered together in a side chamber, eyes alight. As the 'Primarch' joined them, the Vox Volnoscere sealed the chamber behind him. There the four were welded into the Quadrargenta – the False Primarch's co-conspirators, praetorians and loyal advisors. 

[+//AGENCY: 'Vox Volnoscere'+]

Each Chapter had their own reasons for supporting Volnoscere's claims. Whatever his vision, however esoteric his orders, the Quadrargenta were instrumental in carrying out what they believed to be a returned Primarch's plans. While their loyalty was seen as treachery of the highest order by the Senatorum Imperialis and Orthodox forces, their belief that they were led by a True Son of the Emperor inspired them, and the many millions of mortal followers under their respective spheres of influence.

Were it not for the Quadrargenta, the War for the False Primarch would likely have been considerably shorter, and hugely less destructive. Whatever the motives of Volnoscere and his Silver Stars, it frequently took them away from direct fighting; and it was into these largely inexplicable lacuna that the forces of the Quadrargenta were directed. Each brought their own specialisms to the Partisan cause, and their loyalty and connections led directly to a number of other Chapters joining the Partisans; not to mention the many hundreds of worlds who rose up in support of the 'Returned Primarch'.

As a mark of his favour, trust and support, each of the Masters was granted a silver vexilla styled after his own mace, Monstrance. Atopped by a great skull-headed eagle device – the Caputmori – these extraordinary objects indelibly marked the Quadrargenta; and would prompt some of the fiercest fighting, greatest heroism and deepest treacheries of the war.

***

Whatever his or her personal charisma and mystique, no Space Marine Chapter Master would blindly follow anyone; least of all one claiming such incredible stories. Each of the Partisan Chapters had their own reason for pledging to Volnoscere; and these are outlined below. 

Inheritors

First. Remember that. Call them many things – misguided, na├»ve, damnably hard to kill – but recognise them for who and what they are. First in joining the Abomination. To make a jump in loyalty of such magnitude suggests single-mindedness, determination; admirable traits, in their own way. Thus, though we take our byblow offspring's decisions to be ill-starred, do not mistake them for weakness. 
[+//Captain Bhal, Death Eagles (II)+]

[+//Brother-Khalsa Ranviir of the Silver Shield Guard+]
[//lars_d/lars.j.dahl+]

Notable as the first Chapter to encounter the Silver Stars, during the void war Battle of Hong-Qi, Solarion came to regard the intercession of the Silver Stars with gratitude bordering on reverence. Beyond anything, the Master of the Inheritors wished to preserve and restore the Emperor's vision, his hope for a golden future for mankind, an empire across the stars. It was a common ideology amongst the Chapter: the Inheritors took the ideals of their homeworld – the 'Laws of the Seven Pillars' – to heart from their inception and thus it was expected of their brotherhood that they would 'never lie, nor place themselves above the common citizen of the Imperium, and would venerate the Emperor as the greatest of all mankind, through fighting oppression in all its forms.

The Inheritors' own scrupulously-kept records were seized and burned during the fall of The Sundial, the Chapter's Fortress-Monastery on Hyperborea. Fragments recovered by radical members of the Ordo Astartes present the Inheritors' version of events thus: when presented to the being claiming to be a Primarch, Solarion was all but unguarded. After deep meditation, guidance and discussion with his Chapter's Librarius and Chaplaincy, he had taken his decision long before meeting the Lord of the Stars in the flesh: to feel Volnoscere's hand on his shoulder was a mere formality. The Inheritors would serve from the first; serve who they sincerely believed to be one of the Emperor's own sons, returned to guide the Imperium.

More cynical members of the Inquisition question this; pointing to the Inheritors' sorry state as making Volnoscere's 'request' little more than a gloved threat of extinction. The Inheritors would enter the War of the False Primarch in a less than optimal state. Due to the recent brutal warfare against the Eldar of Dain Mir, itself preceded by their draining campaigns in the Pieride Waste, the chapter could barely muster six hundred and fifteen or so battle brothers and seventy-five initiates. Worse, the battle companies had borne the brunt of the losses and thus had already drawn the reserve companies thin to fill their numbers; putting the latter at below half strength.  

Whatever the truth, the Inheritors fought proudly alongside the Silver Stars and their brethren, never surrendering, never offering quarter; and never compromising on their lofty ideals – even when forced to confront a number of the unpalatable questions about their origin, raised by the revelations of the opposing Death Eagles...

***

Void Barons

'We didn’t court war with the Orthodoxy. But War came to us anyway. Our oaths bind us. Without loyalty, we are no better than the enemy that attempted to tear down the Imperium.'
Lord Niabvult Loston, Truthseeker.

[//Cadmus B'Kar+]
[//simon_v/heresyhobbyheadquarters+]

Far from the immediate fealty that the Red Fish, Riven Lords and Inheritors offered the 'Primarch', later tracking suggests that the Void Barons primarily saw Volnoscere as a means to an end: that of independence from oversight – at least initially. 

Loyal to the Imperium and humanity, the Void Barons had ever chafed at the restrictions placed upon them, ever more eccentrically distorting the letter of the High Lords' rules. Indeed, were it not for the personal intervention of Volnoscere himself – and the actions of Lord Admiral Vicinius of Battlefleet Morqub – it is entirely possible that the Void Barons might have stood down when confronted by the Extinction Fleets.

Redacted records suggest that Kastor Drak, initially scornful of his allies' 'idealistic and starry-eyed' declarations of fealty, grew gradually to believe that Volnoscere was indeed a Primarch, despite his initial doubts. As his forces fought alongside the Silver Stars and their allies, a substantial portion of the brethren became true believers in the Primarch and the Partisan cause. 

For a Chapter that stemmed from a ruthless and bloodthirsty populace, who took pride in pragmatism and despised sentimentality as weakness, this was doubly worrying to the Orthodox Imperial forces that came to oppose them. The Void Barons' engorged and non-standard fleet was a powerful weapon in the hands of the False Primarch; and the Chapter revelled in their reputation as the 'Primarch's Spear'.

***

Riven Lords

Believe in Gods Again
[+//Final transmission to the Orthodox Forces prior to the Invasion of Artex+]

[//Brother Ahirom of the Riven Lords+]
[//cole_c/sharkamanderminis+]

Of those Chapters which fought alongside the Abomination Unto Him-on-Earth, Volnoscere, few proved as dedicated to the cause as the Riven Lords; driven as much by hatred of the Senatorum Imperialis as love for the 'Primarch'. 

Fleet-based for many centuries, the Chapter had repeatedly requested permission to settle and establish their own means of support within the Sector; but had been repeatedly rebuffed. Scant decades prior to the events of the War, Lord Commander Julijos Toth had taken it upon himself to do what the distant High Lords of Terra would not sanction; and had directed the Riven Lords’ collected fleets to the world of Icathus. Claiming the world as their own, the Riven Lords crushed the feeble resistance put up by the world’s residents who – loyal to the Imperium though they were – were loath to cede planetary governance to the Astartes. 

While necessary for the continued survival of the Chapter, this action directly contradicted the orders of the Adeptus Terra, and word soon made it to the Throneworld. Upon receiving news of the Chapter’s conquest, the Senatorum Imperialis declared a censure against the Chapter, ordering them to undertake a penitent crusade for their actions, and to cede Icathus.

It is while on this crusade – and during the Year of Whispers that followed the events of Choreopsis – that the Riven Lords would first encounter the Silver Stars. As the Chapter’s fleet scoured the Segmentum, seeking to prove itself to the Imperium, they were hailed by an unknown vessel; one claiming to represent the 'Primarch Volnoscere', and offering assistance to the visibly damaged Riven Lords fleet. Understandably suspicious, but in no position to turn down potential aid, Toth docked his Battle Barge with that of the Silver Stars, and went aboard to meet his saviour. 

Greeted there by the Vox Volnoscere, what transpired upon the craft is not recorded, but upon his return to the Scylla’s Wrath, Toth pledged his Chapter entirely to the Primarch’s cause, and soon smaller ships bearing the sigil of the False Primarch were docking, unloading much-needed arms and armour for the beleaguered warriors of the Riven Lords.

For the Riven Lords, pledging allegiance to a leader that they could genuinely admire, rather than merely obey, was a fait accompli. It was owing to this – rather than any doubts or disrespect – that the Riven Lords were unique in sending their First Captain, rather than Chapter Master, to the conclave. Their loyalty was beyond doubt.


***

Red Fish

Haruspicy is the habit of the Marines Orcinus. Divination is the heart of the chapter librarium’s study, but many amongst the rank and file continue to practise the arts of the Ishim’s ancient peoples.
[+//Contact Primer: Inquisitorial Libraries+]

[+//Mikha Levi, Devastator Squad Janarhta, 6th Company+]
[+//m_fitzgerald/eatdrinkdeath+]

The Marines Orcinus – more commonly known as the Red Fish – were a broadly Codex Chapter, known for their indomitable defence of the human inhabitants of Sector Morqub. Their homeworld, Ishim, lies towards the galactic core of the Sector, in the centre of a populous region rimwards of neighbouring Sector Heliopolis. The Chapter was held in high esteem by the worlds under their protection, and by their regional Astartes allies. Their stalwart and reliable nature – not to mention their high political standing in the region – made them an invaluable tool for Volnoscere in the early to mid years of the war. 

Their example, and frequent presence amongst the human populations, saw widespread support amongst the worlds of the region; and the Inquisition attributed their influence as amongst the most corrosive to Orthodox support. On worlds where the Red Fish trod, support for the Partisans was ever buoyant.

Longtime allies of the Inheritors, the Red Fish's rigid adherence to their vows of defence saw them stretched thinly across their extensive realm. Regarding themselves as honour-bound to the Sector, the Chapter's brethren were frequently divided across dozens of fortifications and holdings. 

Upon meeting the 'Primarch', Chapter Master Madu Iri-Abasza later claimed to have voiced his personal doubts directly to Volnoscere; earning him the wry sobriquet of 'the Pensive' amongst the later Partisans. He claimed to have laid out his thoughts to the supposed Primarch calmly and quietly; declaring that he could not pledge his service without some proof, no matter how magnificent, nor compelling his claims.

That he emerged from the cell convinced is clear; though what actually passed between them is unknown. From the lost tales that were told of Volnoscere's liminal nature and persuasive powers, it is possible that he used some form of influence – malign or otherwise – upon the representative of the Red Fish. If, however, he and his Chapter were bewitched or hexed into service, it was not something that affected their efficacy in warfare or logistics in the slightest. The Red Fish remained dutiful, stern opponents to the Orthodoxy, and ready allies to the Partisan cause, long after they might have recanted. Indeed, from the earliest days, the Marines Orcinus were counted amongst the most dedicated to the Partisan cause; champions of the Silver Stars and the New Imperium.

***