Index Astartes: Void Barons

Index Astartes: Void Barons

[+simon_v/@heresyhobbyheadquarters//]

The Void Barons. A name that once inspired awe and fear in the Segmentum Pacificus is now whispered but quietly, and then as an example of the reach of the High Lords and the Inquisition. They are a byword for those who sought to test the Imperium's credo of ‘Might makes Right’, and they suffered for it.

[//Extr. from Lisbett Mox’s personal journal, vol. IV: The Bastards of Siklon+] 

“Fleet warfare is touted as a war of calculations and precision. I naysay those men. Give me an assault boat and a chainsword and I will show you what being a master of the void means.”
[+Sergeant Liam Gaufedian, Void Barons 3rd company//]

Precis

Unsentimental, boastful and pugnacious, the Void Barons were rugged attrition fighters, drawn from the barbarous and spiteful populace of a hard and hateful planet. Despite their privileged position as part of the Quadrargenta, the Void Barons' leadership allowed – even encouraged – debate and doubt on Volnoscere's status to be openly discussed. 

The frank and direct qualities of the Void Barons helped to ground the Partisan cause in the early days, and their example led to many who might otherwise have remained equivocal to join the cause. Ever-pragmatic, as the War raged, the Chapter's fate became increasingly tightly-bound to the fate of the False Primarch himself. 

[+simon_v/@heresyhobbyheadquarters//]

 
Warcry  'Who holds the Stars? We do!'

Cognomen  Referring to themselves as the Sons of Siklon, the Void Barons became known as The Spear of Volnoscere [+pref. epithet Partisan//] as a result of their seeming ability to appear wherever the False Primarch bid them to go. Amongst their foes, the Void Barons were more commonly known as the Bastards of Siklon. Coined by Inquisitrix Lisbett Mox, the phrase became common parlance amongst the Orthodox forces – and was famously later adopted by the Wormwood Sons.

Founding  Third [+//001.M32/+]

Gene-Seed  [+/XIIIroboute_g/+]

Successor Chapters  [+absentia//]

Chapter Master  Kastor Drak [//epithetval: Dragon of Siklon+]

Homeworld  In the wake of the ruinous War of the Beast, veterans of the Shattered Suns Chapter (a well-respected member of the Primogenitor Chapters created by the division of the Ultramarines Legion) were used as the core of the Void Barons. The ocean world of Siklon was chosen by these august veterans as the site of the chapter's new home. Very quickly, the Barons established themselves as stern but fair masters of their people, with a reputation as watchful guardians of the Kr’nhsk system, one of the Morqub Sector's budding breadbaskets, helping to feed much of the local region.

Siklon was a world of violent storms, and an even more violent people. Land-poor; fishing and whaling were the primary sources of survival and income for its populace. Driven by war-lust and inter-generational spite as much as necessity, fishing villages would raid one another; the elaborate knotwork and stitching of the woolen genser sweaters worn by the menfolk indicating the lineage and blood feuds of which he was a part. The Siklans were voracious trophy-takers, particularly heads, wearing them on belts as a mark of disdain for the enemy who had lost them.

[//Adeptus Astartes Chapter Planet: Siklon – Tithegradevalue: aptus non+]
[//Systemdata DK/829/VBHW – Pan+]

Fortress Monastery  Nominally Mount Kaukaris, the Void Baron's wide-ranging modus operandi and disdain for static defence means that the fortress was little-used. It was populated by a surly and frequently understrength garrison of Void Barons and their Chapter-charges.

Appearance  The Void Baron's livery is commonly assumed to be inspired by the tempestuous ocean world they jealously ward, but in fact the colours were chosen by their first Chapter Master, Luciel Fidelitas, prior to selecting the system. Known as 'Gulf Blue', the exact hue was inspired by the Tempestus Gulf Nebula, which the Shattered Suns traversed to find the region. In combining aspects of the storied blue of the Ultramarines and blazing orange of the Shattered Suns, Fidelitas hoped to provide the warriors under his command with pride in their heritage. 

[+subj.ident: Cadmus B'Kar, Sapper, Tactical Section, 5th Company Void Barons. Datascrape indicates B'Kar present as witness of the crucifixion of Inquisitor Luis Miliptos and his retinue, following the initial warfare on Choreopsis.//]
[+//simon_v/@heresyhobbyheadquarters//]

Broadly Codex in the application of their tactical designations and markings, the Void Barons supplemented their uniform with the black seaweed-derived fabrics used by the locals, and frequently displayed vulgar gewgaws and trophies as demonstration of their individual prowess. 


[//Theatre: Teo Sentimental. The mounted head has been tentatively identified as a Red Talons marine.+]
[+//edward_r/@death_of_a_rubricist//]

Handmade corded ropes were often displayed on wrists or as bandoliers, perhaps an echo of the gensers of their former tribes. These are often surprisingly delicate and beautiful, the Void Barons spending a great deal of effort in gathering rare fabrics and materials to incorporate into their handicraft. Examples recovered from battlefields continued to trade hands on the black market for astronomical sums in the years immediately following the War.


***

Modus operandi

Void Baron forces entered the war with a reputation as attrition fighters, stubbornly battering an enemy no matter the cost to their own forces. It was a point of pride for them to rely upon sheer force of will to drive on, when other – in their eyes lesser – Chapters might have consolidated or withdrawn.

Specialising in shipborne assault, Void Baron fleet tactics typically revolved around a direct drive for the heart of an enemy formation, breaking shields and swatting aside escort vessels to allow for assault boats, filled with blue-and-orange-armored killers chanting the dark shanties of their homeworld, to penetrate and capture vessels worth taking, and scuttling those that were not.

Planetside, the Void Barons took a similar head-on approach to their coldspace exploits. The Chapter boasted an excess of heavy armour, which were frequently used as the prow of field assault. Notably, the Chapter boasted a sufficiently large Land Raider pool to permanently second these vaunted assault tanks to serve their Battle Companies. Stealth was anathema to the Barons, who refused to hide their colours, and proudly flew banners proclaiming their supremacy to all with eyes to see them.

[//The haloed skull was a time-honoured adornment of the Astartes that became particularly well-favoured by the Partisan forces, owing to its similarity to the Caputmori totem of the movement.+]
[+//simon_v/@heresyhobbyheadquarters//]

 
Prior to assaults, the armoured spear tips would broadcast the war dirges of the Barons in the guttural Siklonic of their battlecant, flying black flags that promised no quarter to any who would raise a hand against them. In combat, the void barons excelled in short- to medium-range engagements, closing with the enemy whenever and wherever possible.

While brutal in their extermination of opponents, the Void Barons made efforts to leave a world intact after conquest. Whether a relic of their XIIIth Legion lineage or owing to the Siklon respect for workable land, regions conquered by the Void Barons were readily able to be reseeded and resettled by the Imperium, allowing them to quickly regain their pre-combat footing. This would later lead to internecine conflict within the Partisans. When the Wormwood Sons entered the the conflict, the Void Barons would attempt to censure their allies. This was recorded by their one-time attach√©, Inquisitrix Lisbett Mox of the Ordo Astartes, who recorded: 

"[The Void Barons] call[ed] their use of atomics ‘wanton’ and an ‘affront to the edicts of the Primarch’ in a charming example of the hypocrisy so common to traitors."

It is known that the two Partisan Chapters came to blows on at least one occasion, though the result of the conflicts is lost to time.

***

Of Hearth and Home

The hard people raised on the unforgiving world of Siklon made for hard Astartes. In their early years, the Void Barons made myraid bitter foes of the petty xenos powers of the region – notably the Harlequin troupes of the dying Aeldari. As time wore on, local uprisings began to be rooted out with the same unstinting cruelty previously reserved for xenos foes.
 
[//Phraenos – Third xenocidal campaign+]
[+//simon_v/@heresyhobbyheadquarters//]

The veteran core, late of the Shattered Suns, attempted to curtail the excesses of Siklon culture in the early years. Master Fidelitas began a series of 'improving' reforms, even attempting to re-style the tribes as noble houses, like those of his homeworld of Talassar. His efforts were met with a profoundly lukewarm reaction by the locals. A noble city at the foot of the monstrous Mount Kaukaris, site of the Void Baron's tunnel-laced bastion-fortress, was likewise abandoned within a decade of it’s founding as the people of Siklon reverted to the familiar semi-nomadic ways of their forbears. Much like the storms from which the planet took its name, the centuries-old indigenous culture proved difficult to influence, and impossible to change course.

The number of veterans dwindled, and their steadying influence diminished further as more Siklon blood reached the chapter's higher offices. Communication with outside forces became less formal and structured, and relations with local Imperial bureaucrats, barely cordial prior, soured further. This was particularly notable amongst the officers of the Imperial Navy's Battlefleet Morqub, an organisation that the Void Barons regarded with open, sneering disdain. With the Chapter's leadership now largely comprised of these bloodthirsty warriors, the Chapter's coldspace-culture took a marked turn from elegant duellists to brutal brawlers. Kastor Drak, then First Captain, launched a campaign to strengthen the Chapter's already extensive fleet, by means both fair and foul.

[//Many a member of the Pentarchy would find themselves facing archaic Breacher-designate units, shields and belts mockingly decorated with the skulls and helms of their brothers. Non-Astartes trophies were rare. Inquisitorial agents were often stapled to the front of assault craft, as a warning to those that dared stand before the might of the Barons.+]
[//mike_f/@eatdrinkdeath]

A century or so prior to the War of the False Primarch, the Chapter began to expropriate vessels that were not within the purview of the Codex Astartes. Starting with 'battlefield requisition' of a squadron of Strike Cruisers mounting lance batteries for long range duels against the Eldar of Dain-Mir, the Void Barons ignored Battlefleet Morqub's increasingly trenchant requests for their return, instead mockingly repainting their newly-up-armoured hulls in the Chapter's vivid blue and orange heraldry.

A graver sin in the eyes of the Imperium – and crucially the Inquisition – was the Chapter's 'requisition' of three Avenger-class Grand Cruisers from dry docks in the Sectorial naval base in Oblitus Vega. To the officers of Battlefleet Morqub, the Baron's unauthorised acquisition of these craft was theft – nothing less than piracy. By extension, this brought the attention of the Inquisition to the Chapter, and the Ordo Astartes took an increasing interest in the comings and goings of the Void Barons distinctly non-standard fleet. In an unusual example of practical realpolitik, the Ordo requested – and at length were granted – permission to seed Inquisitorial agents amongst the various fleets. As the Master of the Fourth Company put it,
"We have nothing to hide. Come amongst us, if you have the stomach for war. If you have not, then listen for the wails of our foes to tell tale of our success."
Decades later, it was one of these vessels, the Scion of Belthomor, that would lead to the Void Barons declaring for Volnoscere. 

***

The Dirge of Destruction

As their fleet swelled, the Void Barons altered their operations to being more openly aggressive. Operating in multiple strike forces throughout the sector, the Chapter began a common tactical deployment of two capital vessels flanked by a dozen or more escorts of various provenance. These strike forces would patrol their realm, responding to calls of aid whenever they were heard.

 
[//edward_r/@death_of_a_rubricist+]

To the disquiet of the Inquisitorial agents aboard, Void Baron fleets would arrive right as – even prior to – calamity striking; and always near the heart of the conflict. Despite their apparent openness, once aboard, agents of the Inquisition found themselves barred from certain areas supposedly sacred to the Chapter's cult – areas which seemed to change by the day. Painstaking secret investigations on the part of Inquisitrix Undia's agents eventually tied these feats of prognostication to a caste of the chapter called Esoterists, hybrid Chaplain–Librarians that were rarely seen outside of the command vessels. When she eventually confronted the Void Barons on their unerring prognostication, Inquisitrix Undia was told that:

"Rare√łyne Maggib's use of the Imperial Tarot to direct the warleaders of the Chapter and prophesize future events is familiar and unproscribed. Your flagrant lack of respect and trust means that we withdraw our offer to host you – and other Ordos agents – on our sovereign vessels."

Whether sincere or dissembling, the Chapter clearly resented the oversight of the Inquisition, and Undia's veiled accusation was all the excuse they needed to remove her and her kind from their vessels. Whatever the Esoterists – or others – were doing, it seemed to allow the chapter to be everywhere. It was owing to this quality that the Void Barons were to become a constant thorn in the side of the orthodox forces throughout the War of the False Primarch.

***

Of Blade and Bolter

It would be ill fate that would lead to the Void Barons turning from the Imperium, a disaster that could have been easily avoided, had one man’s ego been curtailed at key points. In the decades since disbarring Ordos agents on their vessels, the Void Barons' fleet had stabilised – perhaps even the proud Astartes recognised the importance of staying within certain conventions. Nevertheless, it far exceeded the mandates laid out in the Codex Astartes, comprised of a multitude of different classes of vessels, many of which were not to be under the stewardship of the Space Marines.

This was a fact known to Ostar Tojo, Lord Admiral of Battle Fleet Morqub, and one that he chose to overlook. The Void Barons were demonstrably loyal, answering or appearing when requested, and worked well, if somewhat coldly, with the local forces of the Morqub sector.

[+Void Baron Tactical Marines storm an Eldar redoubt in wilderness space//]
[+//simon_v/@heresyhobbyheadquarters//]

However, when the Lord Admiral was replaced with a younger, more ambitious man, things quickly came to a head. Following a joint Void Barons/Naval operation in which an ork fleet [//subref: Bigblasta+] was routed from above Ti’roa, Lord Admiral Vicinius, feeling that he had the upper hand due to damage sustained by the Astartes fleet, made the fateful demand that the Void Barons turn over the Grand Cruiser Scion of Belthomor, on the grounds that it:

"[...]violated the Imperial Doctrine in which the Void Barons were required to be in accordance.”

Inquisitor Mox, present on the bridge of the Naval flagship, immediately cautioned the Lord Admiral, who responded by banished the Inquisitor from his vessel, and ordered his squadrons to make speed towards the Void Baron fleet sitting above Ti’roa. This was to be the start of a fatal error that saw the Void Barons wiped from Imperial record.

The Inquistrix warned the Void Barons, begging them to surrender and let an Ordo Astartes delegation investigate. She was sure that they would side with the Space Marines, and that would be that. Drak – by this point elevated to Chapter Master simply laughed, and on a system wide broadcast, denounced the Lord Admiral as a man overstepping his role. Mox's personal notes recorded:

"I had served alongside the Void Barons above Ti’roa, indeed I was on a first name basis with one of their Void Lieutenants. I knew they would not back down, but Vicinius botched this entire affair, Emperor rest his soul."

The Lord Admiral continued to press on, and according to voxlogs, ordered his Arms Master to fire a broadside across the bow of one of the leading cruisers. The demonstration was meant as a warning, to force a cessation of hostilities. Unfortunately for Lord Admiral Vicinius, the vessel he fired on shifted position, and having struggled to re-light it’s void shields following the orbital battle, exploded amidships as a macro round tore into its powder magazine, slaying fifteen Void Barons, and destroying a relic of the Great Heresy.
  
[//edward_r/@death_of_a_rubricist+]

Vicinius looked on in horror and could only watch as the Void Baron fleet as one lit their engines and surged towards the battered battlegroup. The Inquisitrix and her retinue withdrew, observing the ensuing slaughter.

Unprepared for another combat, the Naval fleet was slow to come about. Before a proper response could be mustered, the Barons demonstrated to them the merit of Siklon shock combat. For three hours, the Void Barons took ship by ship, jumping out vessels and crews they deemed worthy of the fleet, detonating the warp cores of those they did not. By the end of one-hundred and eighty minutes of slaughter, only the battlecruiser Pride of Heliopolis remained, and the sharks in blue and orange descended upon it with unadulterated fury. As assault boats made way for the Inquistrix and her vessel, she fled with a heavy heart, knowing that she would be forced to condemn a chapter to oblivion, for heresy.

When the Pride was found three weeks later, the recovery crew found an abattoir inside the vessel, but were unable to locate the Admiral's body. It took an exterior crew scouring the vessel to find the body, lashed to the prow. Laser etched into the adamantium besides him was an ancient quote, that told the Inquisitrix everything she needed to know: Sic Semper Tyrannus.

***

Disposition during the War of the False Primarch

[+Two Void Barons perform holding operations to support the Firebreak during the War on Frith//]
[+//simon_v/@heresyhobbyheadquarters//]


In the two years between these events and the events at Hong Qi, the Void Barons evaded Imperial contact. Indeed, there are no records indicating any activity within Imperial space until their sudden reappearance above Choeropsis, where they blockaded and destroyed the Inquisitorial forces threatening the retreating Inheritors.

On the face of things, Siklon had all but been abandoned by the Void Barons in their self-imposed exile, and Ordos forces had been able to secure the world, taking the small garrison into custody – with no small amount of bloodshed. It was clear, however, that the Void Barons were still recruiting. The ocean world was so vast that it proved impossible to patrol; and the Inquisition was forced to acknowledge that the Void Barons were making small-scale slaving raids here – and likely elsewhere – away from the few small main settlements.

This was, not, however, sufficient to maintain the Chapter against the increased attrition they were suffering with no permanent safe harbours; and it is estimated that the Void Barons entered the war with a nominal strength of just over eight hundred Astartes.


[+//simon_v/@heresyhobbyheadquarters//]


After the events on Ishim, Chapter Master Kastor Drak announced that the recruitment rituals, long-used to weed out the unfit or those of weak character, were to be dropped in favour of rapid implantation in order to better account for the inevitable high casualty rate that the Partisans would face. Despite this expediency, even a neutral observer would be forced to acknowledge the inexperience of the newly-blooded members of the chapter weighed against them in their clashes with the Pentarchy, and it fell to the elite of the Chapter – the First, Fourth and Fifth companies – that would do much of Volnoscere’s will, led by the dreaded ‘Dragon of Siklon’. Chapter Master Drak was claimed to have taken the scalps of at least one Chapter Master, and three Captains of the Pentarchy during the conflict, earning him the personal emnity of the Charnel Guard and Red Talons.

The Void Barons raiding and piracy increased as the war wore on, but from the very outset of the war, it was clear that the Void Barons would have no issue taking from any orthodox – and latterly, partisan – fleet that they saw fit. The Firebreak's Chapter Master wryly noted that the Void Barons might have been more aptly named the 'void reavers', operating as they did in small cells to take shipping vessels, and stage ambushes of isolated battlegroups before they could escape.
 
Their specialised void combat training made the Barons masters of Zona Mortalis theatres, and the 'Primarch' would often use them as his speartip for urban or void assaults – indeed, records supposedly found aboard one of the captured Void Barons' warships contains a missive alleged to be from the Abomination calling the Sons of Siklon:

"a precise weapon held in my hand, ready to be loosed at whatever target I deem worthy."
[+//simon_v/@heresyhobbyheadquarters//]

***

"Drak was not listed as one of the executed members of the Partisans. Indeed, he is not on any rolls of death given to my warparty. I am hard pressed to believe that Drak is dead. Perhaps I should reach out to the local Watch station…"
[//Remarks, Inquisitrix Mox+]