Index Astartes: Wormwood Sons

Index Astartes: Wormwood Sons


‘The Sons were like a moth trying to wield a flame. Doomed to be burned to ash.’

[//Master Enoch, Ordo Astartes+]


Some came to follow the 'Primarch' of their own volition; others were driven to him by the actions of the High Lords. For the Wormwood Sons, however, Volnoscere represented little more than a lever; an opportunity to bring into action a future towards which they had long worked: the reinvigoration of a philosophy that even they little understood – the Imperial Truth.

Consumed by their own cryptic practices, they were the most diffident and half-hearted of the Pentarchy, serving with obvious reluctance alongside, and disregard for, most of their fellow Partisans. Many of their allies they regarded as credulous and unsophisticated in their open worship of the supposed returned Primarch.

Bitter and brutal, but nevertheless motivated by hope, the members of the Wormwood Sons were more concerned with severing the hold of the Ecclesiarchy's yoke on Mankind than seating the Primarch on the Throne of Terra. Their downfall was long, and painful and humiliating – but equally tenacious, hard-fought, and resisted to the very last.

'Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.'

[//Imperial Aphorisms+] 


Warcry  'We are the ruin of His Foes, His Scouring Light.'

Cognomen  'The Bitter Sons', 'The Light that Scours His Foes'.

Founding  Third M32.010 [//appendnoteedit: Markedly large founding of 'Ultramarine Veterans'. Discrepancies noted by Ordo Astartes//]

Geneseed  [+/XIIIroboute_g/+] [//Appendnoteedit: Engrated Ramazzottius varieornatus 'Dsup' enzyme markers in oolitic kidney; anomalous marker indic. high rad-tolerance adapt.+]

Successors  Sons of Chernokov

Chapter Master  Ivanov Kurst  [//honorificval=TRUE: The Bitter King; Salter of the Earth; World-burner; He Who hast heard the Voice of the Black Wurm; Scion of Atom..+]

[//The Bitter King+]

Chapter Master Kurst is pictured armed with the Kadathian Eradication Lance The-Spear-That-Tears-The-Throat-From-His-Foes and an archaeotech combi-weapon. Alone of the Partisan Chapter Masters, Kurst was never granted a face-to-face meeting with the Primarch, sending his high-ranking lieutenants in his stead. Kurst was likewise notable for his absence from Partisan High Command. 

His insular habits during the War of the False Primarch are clearly representative of his more general disposition, as little is known about the Kurst other than his increasingly cybernetic nature. The bionic limbs incorporated in the Wormwood Sons' honorific Cataphractii plate The Mantle of Atom are clear signs, but the augmetic organs he required following the hellish campaign in the Gehenna Rifts are less obvious. 

Records often contradict each other in regards to whether Kurst was the Son's first Chapter Master or second. All Ordo Astartes queries on this subject prior to the war were met with the seemingly ritualised reply: 'There has always been a Bitter King, sat upon a throne of ash.'

Homeworld  Chernobog

[//ident: Chernobog | Quarantined?!Corpse_World_ | tithegrade=NULL+]

A barren radioactive husk, Chernobog lurks at the rimward edge of Morqub. A dimly-lit and mournful place, Chernobog was once home to a thriving xenos pre-spaceflight civilization. Archaeo-extracted evidence suggests that a short but destructive pan-global nuclear war ended their time here, some million years prior to the Imperial era. A number of isolated groups apparently survived for several generations, eking out an existence in deep bunker-analogues before presumably succumbing to whatever starvation, madness and disease affected these otherwise unknown beings.

[//Due to the severity of the atomics used by the aboriginal inhabitants, much of Chernobog's surface is designated as Rad-Seas. The planet as a whole is inimical to human life, but the sheer lethality of the radiation in the Rad-Seas spells death even to Astartes in short order.+]

The surface of Chernobog is no longer habitable by unenhanced lifeforms: the amount of iodine-131 and caesium-137 far surpasses the tolerable levels required by the majority of STC-class modules which could withstand the extreme radiation. While most flora and fauna perished with the death of Chernobog’s atmosphere, certain groups of aggressive algae-like clades have spread, and now constitute a natural ‘crust’ which can be found on most surfaces in the ruins of the ancient civilization.

Fortress Monastery  Their Wormwood Sons' seat on Chernobog well deserves its name: The Ashen Folly. A brutalist, uncompromising edifice, the Folly stands upon a blasted table mountain. Its structure extends deep into the mountain's roots, filled with numerous fallbacks and shield-hardened chambers. The site was chosen due to the defensive advantages conferred by its location. Raised above the Rad Seas that surround the area, a standard ground assault is all but impossible, leaving only a more hazardous orbital drop available to invaders.

Besides the facilities required by an Astartes Chapter to wage war on a sector-wide scale, the Ashen Folly contains several chambers dedicated to the strange and esoteric rituals of prophecy favoured by the Sons. Few outsiders have been granted access to these rooms, which are of utmost importance to the Chapter in both their devotional and operational service. The chambers known to the Ordo Astartes carry obscure titles such as Gudme, The Isle of Pythago and The Law of Six

Prior to the War of the False Primarch, few investigators and cell-agents were granted access to make reports; and those that did were mere suppositions, usually suugesting that these rooms served as focal points for the mystics of the Chapter, rather than as ritualistic sites in their own right. An exception to this was the testament of Kiersendhal of Teo Sentinental.

Claimed as a genius by Partisan Inquisitors and derided as a chem-addled lunatic by those loyal to the High Lords, the scholar Kiersendhal perished messily at the hands of the Flesh Eaters during the War of the False Primarch. In his most famous work, the fabled Gesta Morqubean Ecclesia Pontificum, Kiersendahl dictated his idiosyncratically unpunctuated remarks on the 'lines and curves' in one of the Chambers:
'[...]leading through walls and space to other spaces beyond and alluding to a mural with [...]zeros only at the negative even integers and complex numbers with real part ½ [...] making up impossible numbers and shapes of prisms and clusters of cubes it shames me to admit the geometry eluded even me [...] cyclopean buildings with dimensions too complex for the untrained and uninitiated [...] attenuated into a nonsensical distance'.
The existence of such a mural in the deep vaults of the Ashen Folly remains unconfirmed.

Appearance  The Wormwood Sons' armour is a sickly sea green, contrasted with arterial crimson on the shoulders and helm. Weapon casings are usually coloured a jaundiced yellow – the hue resonating with ideas of woe and death within the Chapter. These colours are more often than not covered in additional esoteric heraldry and trappings.

[//Brother Vladimir Yag, Second Company Sixth Tactical squad+]

Codex regulations receive a nod only in that the left pauldron always bears the Chapter's symbol. Beyond this, consistency in markings is thin – though exceptions to this do exist. The right kneepad, for example, is frequently coloured the same yellow as their weapon casings, to indicate the bearer having taken part in an action alongside use of atomics. This holds true across the Chapter, suggesting that iconography is perhaps not necessarily simply personalised, but rather assigned according to an unknown and complex formula.

Scorched black ceramite, typically of a gauntlet, is another honorific. Common amongst veterans and the higher ranks, this marks the bearer as 'A Companion of the Black Wurm' and is symbolic of their being granted access to the fabled Wormwood Vault. It is less frequently found than the yellow kneepad, and particularly unusual because it is occasionally extended beyond the Chapter brethren to other Chapters and even serfs  and agents of the Wormwood Sons.

Besides these, the Sons show marked leeway in the symbols that they may bear, and the right pauldron is frequently left, seemingly for the individual to decorate or demarcate as they wish. Small company and squad runes are usually marked at each corner, and the remainder of the field typically marked with obscure atomic arcana, and nuclear sigils.

[//Alareiks Iovanus, Tactical Marine of the Sixth Squad, Second Company+]

The Chapter Badge is the fabled Mors et Atom or 'Necro-Hydrogen' in Low Gothic. It depicts the glyph for the simplest of all alchaemical elements, hydrogen, its nucleus replaced with a blind skull. The symbol harks back to the fabled Oppenhammer, he who harnessed atomic fission from the gods, and was blinded for his hubris.


History and founding

'We are the ashbringers, His bitter sons, the Lords of Ruin.'
[//Brother Sergicus+]

Records from the Librarium Magna Bodleia on Terra note the Sonnes of the Wyrm's Wode as part of the Third Founding. The weight of centuries, however, has occluded their line of ancestry. While distant, the Ultramarines recognise the Chapter as their get; but deny a direct lineage. By implication the Wormwood Sons are therefore likely to draw direct descent from one of the Primogenitor Chapters – those initially whelped from the Ultramarines Legion.

The Primogenitors are a group that includes such notable Chapters as the Black Consuls, Praetors of Orpheus (formerly, of course, the Praetors of Calth) and Novamarines, whose deeds and actions are nearly as famous as those of their Legion forebears. It also includes those less well-starred or merely of less renown, such as the Marines Oblate, Patriarchs of Ulixis and the Griefbringers. It is possible the Wormwood Sons stem from one of these lesser-known Primogenitors.

[//Ambrax Theatre – oppfor: Death Eagles and Charnel Guard. Result=Inconclusive +]

Of course, it ought to be noted that the character of the father does not dictate that of the son; and the Wormwood Sons bear little marked resemblance in temperament to any of the Primogenitors. Regardless of their origin, the Wormwood Sons were a stable and well-provisioned Chapter, tasked with patrolling and reinforcing the rimwards reaches of Morqub. 

After settling upon the ruined world of Chernobog, and signing the Kadath Accords – a pact that allowed the Chapter succour from the nearby Forgeworld – the Chapter immediately threw itself into several brutal xenocidal campaigns, under the auspices of the fabled Ordos Xenos Council of Ruin.  [//MU321ALPHA: +GEHENNARIFTS+ +THEINVERSIONCAMPAIGN+ +PURGINGOFHADLEYSSORROW+]. These campaigns ensured the annihilation of several species designated Xenos Extremis that were threatening new colonies or the rimward edge of the sector. They also left a line of rad-scorched husks marking the edge of their territories.

The Wormwood Sons' uncompromising nature was forged – or simply revealed itself – during these hard-won wars. Their access to, and free use of, an almost obscene supply of atomic and archaoetech weaponry ensured success where more balanced – or 'mild', to use the Sons' own disparaging assessments of allied support – Astartes Chapters might have faltered. 


The Sons were always regarded as an ill-omened Chapter, owing due to their dour disposition and their frequent use of atomics, generating much unease in neighbouring Chapters and the local Administratum, who viewed their tactics at best 'excessive' and at worst 'horrifying'. Worlds attacked by the Wormwood Sons would frequently drop in tithe grade, and after numerous demands by the Administratum, the Chapter was relegated to xenocidal, hulkbreaking or culture-killing campaigns. Unwilling to compromise, their early years saw the Chapter gradually moved away from a Codex they found restrictive and unhelpful in their preferred full-frontal and brutal attacks; and thus became an inflexible – but undeniably effective – weapon of last resort.
'Beware locking away your regrets. Exile not those loyal to you simply because you fear their presence will shame you in your new rank. Sunlight is the surest answer to corruption; and all the more effective when you never shut your past allies in the dark.'
[//Meditations of Hale, Myrean Library+]

Disdainful and uncaring of their political sidelining, the Wormwood Sons isolated themselves – but also became a useful tool for several Ordos Xenos inquisitors. Their peculiar combination of traits and preferences, together with their increasingly secretive and esoteric Chapter cult, would lead to a great deal of surprise amongst both the Orthodoxy forces and the Chapters of the Pentarchy of Blood when the Sons made their sudden and dreadful entrance to the War.


Chapter cult

Though all revere him, few Astartes Chapter Cults worship the Emperor as a God. Nevertheless, some are  relatively more open to – or at least tolerant of – the Ecclesiarchy's teachings. Others are openly hostile. 

The Astartes that formed the kernel of the Wormwood Sons included an organised group that was openly scornful of the Imperial Cult's concept of the Emperor deified. They harked back to a concept now poorly-understood, that of 'The Imperial Truth' – the secular philosophy that had guided the principles of the Great Crusade.

In the following decades, the Sons had become aggressively laic and at increasing loggerheads with the waxing power of the Ecclesiarchy. In the century leading up to the appearance of the False Primarch, Inquisitor Idon Brod and her successor, Hurin Fung of Gendath, noted the increasing adoption of divergent occult and esoteric beliefs by the Chapter following the return from each extra-sectorial Xenocidal Crusade. Fung noticed with concern that this direction of philosophical travel accelerated after the Chapter began using Forgeworld Kadath as a staging post and launch site.

Relations between the Ecclesiarchy became increasingly strained until the Chapter eventually opted to cut all ties, the Chapter's Reclusiarch sending back his symbolic Rosarius to the Cardinal World of Sanctram in Heliopolis. From this point on, the already highly-secular Chaplaincy of the Wormwood Sons came to serve more of a philosophical role within the Chapter than a dogmatic or religious one. While continuing to wear the black as a symbol of loyalty to Him-on-the-Throne, the battle-chaplains came to operate as naysayers and advisors for their rank-and-file brothers and the Wormwood Sons' officer corps.

[//Athalaric Constantine, Brother-Chaplain of the Second Company Wormwood Sons, The Hammer of Chernobog, Theoretician of the Boron Stacks+]
Fung's sporadic missives to his fellow Inquisitors increasingly noted a swelling adoration/respect for an entity known as 'Atom'. Barred from the Chambers of the Folly, Fung's concerns grew alongside his fascination. To his colleagues in the Ordo Astartes and Pacificus, Fung initially wrote that:
'Atom represents a 'demiurgic aspect' of the Kadathi's concept of their Omnissiah – the Legatum Lator (or Lawmaker) – that governs the underlying nuclear forces underpinning the universe. Hence he is the recipient of devotion from the Sons; placing this false idol on a blurry footing and place alongside the Emperor. Such potential heresy warrants continued surveillence.'
He would continue to develop this theory, later recanting the account above. At the time, however, he was  openly suspicious of the influence the Adeptus Mechanicus had on the Chapter. Swallowed in his investigation within the Ashen Folly, Inquisitor Fung next appeared when news of the attack on Ishim reached Chernobog. This was swiftly followed by a request from the Inheritors and Firebreak to assist in driving the reaving Carcharadons away from Kadath – a request that the Wormwood Sons could hardly refuse, even prior to declaring for the False Primarch.


The Wormwood Vaults 

Worthy of particular note is the importance placed on the Chapter's peculiar Warrior Lodge. As with most Chapter Mystery Cults, little can be said for certain, for the innermost rites are inherently reserved for the inducted. What little can be pieced together of the Lodge of the Black Wurm is that it was bound to the Chapter's seemingly-heretical devotion to the concept – or being – they heralded as Atom. 

Records of the Wormwood Sons are dogged by their infuriatingly ritualised and occluded manner of speech, full of half-references and private code. Nevertheless, they repeatedly mention 'Atom'. Initially taken by Inquisitor Brod of the Ordo Pacificus to be a simple metaphor for the Emperor; her successor, Fung – a notoriously cynical individual – harboured doubts. His later conclusions were lost, going unpublished and undistributed against the backdrop of the broader War, but he did manage to smuggle microfiche of his notes to Ordo Pacificus agents via his Vigilant bodyguard (all three members of the Golden Hand Chapter that later formed a reluctant part of the Annulus Umbra) prior to them escaping from the Wormwood Sons.

Fung's notes mention in passing that the Kadath Accords were a treaty binding the Kadathi Mechanicus with the Sons. This was supposedly observed by members of the Ordo Analyticae and Ordo Xenos – though no records are such an event or treaty survive. 

The Inquisitor had been able to confirm that the Wormwood Vaults were a physical location, and one to which it is implied he gained some limited access. The Vaults were a great strength of the Wormwood Sons, and one over which the Chapter's techmarines and librarians worked in close concert to maintain. Seemingly a stockpile of ancient and oft-proscribed weaponry, the Wormwood Vaults were – according to Fung – more than a mere armoury. They contained a wealth of material drawn from Kadath, including hundreds of pieces recorded as 'unique archaeotech' that, with retrospect, were almost certainly xenos technology of a most peculiar kind. Fung's notes read:
The ill-rumoured Wormwood Vaults, a vast armoury of terrible devices and archaeotech from Mankind’s earlier epochs, much of it atomic, were finally located right under my nose, on Chernobog itself. Earlier explorators did not register any vaults, terrestrial or otherwise, when the initial surveys of Chernobog were conducted in M32.004; but my suspicions increase that such explorators were either granted revelation by the Lodge; or their accounts – or indeed perhaps their very selves – were simply 'altered' in some way by same.

How the Vault came to rest in this locale, or how it was acquired, doubtless lies deep within some of the most restricted data-stacks of the Sons. If there are extra-planetary back-ups, it seems likely they lie on accursed Kadath itself, sealed by the orders of the Lords Analyticae and protected by several data-geass and Code-hexes. What I can surmise is that the Vault came into the Son's possession after the signing of the Kadath accords. Filled with vast stores of Atomics and other more obscure esoterica, this allowed the Sons to rapidly staunch the expansion of several rimward Xenos empires and the annihilation of several more.

My late mistress, Brod, first came to the Chernobog to find answers to the rumours of the usage of hideously powerful antimatter devices and chrono-atomic weaponry that have constantly dogged the Sons; but neither she nor I could truly confirm the existence of such horrors from the burnt husks of planets left behind. I hope and fear in equal measure that the Vault will provide the answers I seek.

The Lodge of the Black Wurm

The Sons at least recognised – and ritualised – the dangers inherent within the Vault, granting access only to those who had proven their worth to the Chapter and Cult. Such individuals were marked with a blackened element of their armour; usually a gauntlet or whole arm, and became part of the Lodge of the Black Wurm. As noted above, membership of the Lodge was not wholly restricted to the Wormwood Sons themselves. A number of Partisans were marked with the blackened arm, particularly towards the end of the war, when it appears that desperation and experience were thawing some of the Sons' previous frostiness towards their allies.

The Red Fish, ever the Wormwood Sons' staunchest allies and supporters, were the most notable beneficiaries of the Vault, with more than a dozen recorded members of the Lodge; but the Iron Guard, Void Barons and Storm Tyrants also benefitted. The other surviving Partisans, including the Silver Stars, were also occasionally honoured; and such individuals were frequently sighted as part of Marines Mendicant kill teams, their unusual weaponry bringing an element of unpredictability to their operations.

[//Chapter Champion Justinian had fought many times alongside the Red Fish before the War, and was one of the staunchest voices during the Conclave of Ash, calling for the Sons' entry into the conflict. As with much of the officer cadre, he was a Companion of the Black Wurm. +]

Fung's final missives never emerged complete from the Golden Hand Chapter's records. That famously eidetic and obsessively intelligence-driven Chapter were themselves sanctioned following the War of the False Primarch for overstepping the duties imposed on them by the Annulus Vow. Their colours and name were re-used in a later, unrelated unfounding – but their folly in scouring the Wormwood Sons' datavaults for their own satisfaction has at least given us Fung's conclusions on the nature of Atom and the Black Wurm. 

Even this is fragmentary and doubtful.


'Hark, what horrors doth lie in yonder vaults? The ends of god's and empires. The fury of the stars caged and wielded by Post-human. 

Let us give thanks that Those of Bitter Blood are ones that wield such abominations. For what mortal man could safely gaze upon such terrible furies unleashed, and remain sound of mind?'

[//Fragment believed to be part of an intercepted Kadathi communiqué+]

The Inquisitor's last theory rejected the idea of Atom and the Black Wurm at the centre of a dualistic creed, in which the two were opposing forces. Certainly the Wormwood Sons denied any supra-physical dogma. 

Magos Xio-xio of Forgeworld Avarice, ally of and confidante to both Brod and Fung – and, perhaps more notably, an enemy of Forgeworld Kadath – gave a supporting account. She postulated that Fung had stumbled upon proof that both Atom and the Wurm were members of a primordial or extrachronic xenos species, whose capabilities were beyond the comprehension of man. Her death was never recorded, and on what evidence she based this theory has never come to light.

The truth of the matter is of no small concern to the Ordo Xenos, for the potential existence of a species of extra-galactic beings of such unknowable strengths that the smouldering ashes of their past conflicts could have left behind such puissant weapons is unnerving to say the least. 

Many of the Chapter's heirlooms and weapons of rank – including that of Chapter Master Kurst himself, the Spear That Tears The Throat From His Foes – were likely of this dubious origin, but doubtless that which came to be most dreaded was one that bore none of the ornate titles so common to the materials drawn from the Wormwood Vaults. 

'We found the Spear drifting beyond the Galactic Rim, embedded in a vast corpse the size of a starship. A slain demiurge, one of Atom's many brother's, laid low in a war far more ancient than we could comprehend. We lost several hundred servitors extracting it. Their flesh and internal workings were scorched beyond recovery by the Spear's nuclear fury. Most lasted mere minutes. A vast coffin of Neo-Cartesian inscribed lead was constructed, to cage it rage on its return to Chernobog...'

[//Account of the Fourth Forgemaster+] 

Known simply as 'The Spear', or occasionally 'Atom's Spear', the weapon was known to be wielded by just three beings during the War of the False Primarch: the Kadathi-pattern Domitar robot Pazazu, seemingly adapted purely for this purpose; Chapter Master Stanizar Gorn of the Charnel Guard; and during the apocalyptic warfare over the Shieldworlds near the end of the War, the False Primarch himself.

[//'Pazazu. Bearer of Atom's Spear, Chained Guardian of the Final Vault'+]

Whatever the origin of the peculiarities of the Wormwood Sons' Chapter Cult, it is now certain that it was at least mildly heretical; and this perhaps partially accounts for the Chapter's unwillingness to engage with allied agencies prior to, and during, its secession from the Orthodox Imperium. It is a mark of the Chapter's stubborness, secrecy and rear-sightedness that the potential of the Wormwood Vault to turn the tide of the war was perhaps squandered.
'It used to be an integral part of one of mankind's most advanced particle accelerators; part of a battery of emitters helping teams of scientists to probe the very fundamentals of reality.' 
'Thousands of years later, Particle-emitter B12-6U Delta, is now clutched in the gauntlets of a post-human thug, wired into an antimatter power supply I doubt he has the wit to comprehend, and crudely integrated into powered armour.' 
'It sorrows me. Rather than probing the frontiers of physics, B12-6U Delta is being used for punching holes in bulkheads; armoured doors, armoured vehicles; enemy combatants; enemy spaceships and suchlike violent applications. B12-6U Delta does not care. Its job is to emit a stream of highly charged particles at a sliver below the speed of light. It matters not where the particles end up.'
[//Archmagos Delta-Delta Delta, Marathon+]



Nominally a Codex chapter, the Wormwood Sons adhere to the structure of ten companies, though several major differences mark them out from Codex structures. Firstly, the Sons rarely field dedicated veteran squads, instead seeding their Veterans throughout the chapter as attachments to existing squads. Acting with an advisory role, these battle-hardened individuals also provide leadership redundancy, able to take over command in the event of the sergeant's death or incapacitation. This practise is carried through the entire Chapter, with even the Tenth company hosting veterans within squads of neophytes. 

With their Veterans spread throughout the Chapter, the Wormwood Sons' First Company is therefore operationally identical to the other Battle Companies, which has led to the Chapter's habitual divided manner of campaigning beyond the sectorial rim. The Chapter rarely makes the distinction between smaller Strikeforces and larger Taskforces suggested by the Codex; instead sending an isolated and self-supporting battlegroup no matter the size of the threat. 

Each campaign is thus prosecuted by an Battle Company with its only ongoing support assigned from the Reserve Companies prior to departure. If reinforcement is required, it will come in the form of another similar battlegroup; the force expanding and expanding until the threat is invariably overcome. 

Operating in such an isolated manner, it is perhaps understandable why the Wormwood Sons' Companies are relatively self-contained, and subject to the whims and decisions of their Captains. They do not operate with complete impunity, however. Their officers answer to the higher-ups within the chapter, including the Lodge of the Black Wurm.


Lacking substantial quantities of Tactical Dreadnought armour owing to losses and lack of maintenance, the Son's Sixth Company – usually the first Tactical Reserve – is instead composed of specialised squads known as Shipbreakers. Universally equipped with an adaption of Mark VII power armour prototyped by the Kadath Mechanicus, this 'Shipbreaker plate' includes heavy additional ceramite plating over a rudimentary set of servos. Though falling short of the unparalleled protection offered by Tactical Dreadnought armour, it proved successful in the narrow confines of asteroids, ships and space hulks, and so was adopted wholesale by the Chapter. 

Deployed in support of the Battle Companies, Shipbreaker squads are typically used for annihilation of enemy vessels, space hulks or xenos asteroids, with squads inserted to plant atomic demolition charges and key structural points.



Lacking an indiginous population from which to draw their warriors, the Wormwood Sons recruit from two nearby principal worlds, Harrangeal, a feudal forest world, and Neo-Constantinople, a civilized world. 

Both supply fit, healthy neophytes, and the two populations are forcibly integrated, despite yawning differences in their upbringings and values. Differences in base culture are hammered out in favour of the Chapter's demanding and complex Cult – a time-consuming process that results in a relatively stop-start recruitment rate; with large pauses between large groups of warriors becoming suitable for entry into the Tenth Company at one time.

The Wormwood Sons numbered some eight-hundred battle brothers at the time of the Silver Stars' appearance at Hong Qi, when their recruitment cycle was just bringing in a substantial number of potential candidates. Entering the Chapter proper in the Sorrowful Years, these would become known as the New Hundred; Wormwood Sons who had known no other leadership than the False Primarch – though their direct loyalty remained with the Bitter King and the Chapter. The New Hundred provided the Partisans as a whole, and the Marines Mendicant in particular, with some of the more easily-integrated Marines from this famously isolationist Chapter.

Harrangeal, Pride and Shame

The feudal world known as Harrangeal is the fourth planet in the Naimorean Solar-system, with a small population of approximately ten million souls scattered over the planet. A cultural backwater, the huge forests of its continents forcibly separate the myriad tribal cultures, creating grounds for a migratory pattern which results in tribes falling out over the territories and hunting grounds. Therefore the population live their lives in almost constant struggle, warring over hold-fasts and small buurhs perched on the top of cleared patches of forest. The tribal leaders have an ongoing arrangement, which means that all that can be seen with the naked eye from a warchiefs buurh is considered his. However, there is no respect for bloodlines or other claims, and any tribal leader strong enough to claim a buurh for himself in any way possible, is considered its master. 

Under the crust of the planet there is a vast underground cavern-network spanning the central continent. The caverns are generally inaccessible to the tribesmen of Harrangeal, the main openings having been closed off long before the time of Man, but sometimes a natural disaster or such will open a fissure into the caverns, and they then become religious sites, where the tribesmen will go and worship or make offerings.


Settled in Pre-Imperial time and reconquered during the Great Crusade by a combined force of Imperial Army and [REDACTED], both of which left a lasting impression on the largely barbarous population, the [REDACTED] organising the tribes and clans with their usual thoroughness and efficiency. The planet itself was considered of little worth, its main contribution to the armies of the Imperium being the nutrient fungi developed from the local flora of the caverns and – of course – the bodies raised in regiments to join the Crusade's front towards the Galactic frontier. When the Great Heresy spilled out over the entirety of the Imperium, Harrangeal was largely spared, the local rulers having little interest in politics and the few traitorous forces found in the vicinity of the planet being wiped out once the treachery of [REDACTED] became more widely known. The Harrangeal regiments inducted into the Imperial Army fared well. Although only a fraction of the soldiers returned to Harrangeal, most of these survivors belonged to the new privileged officer-class.

It was the aftermath of the conflict that more truly affected Harrangeal. The Imperium, its resources stretched to the limit and its armies embattled elsewhere, were slowly but surely forgotten. Not even the new cult of the Emperor Divine could take root in the cavern-cities of Harrangeal, and soon the tribesmen returned to their pre-Imperial state of inter-clan rivalries, followed by tribal warfare. When a warband of [REDACTED] came to the system in their flight from the vengeful Imperials, they did not linger there for long, instead taking what little resources they could get and making their escape before the pursuing Imperial fleet could catch them. The loyalists, once they set foot on the planet, were appalled by the state of their former colonial world. The palaces of law and justice had fallen into disrepair or had been turned to private bastions for local clans. The Scholam facilities built to house the new generations of Harrangeal 's nascent intelligentsia stood empty, their charges abandoned to be sucked into the warring armies of petty warlords, returned from the Heresy to establish themselves as masters of their homeworld. 

A planet-wide purge-campaign was planned to put Harrangeal back into line. A contingent of clerks and administrators were sent from the core worlds of of the Imperium to take charge of the process of rebuilding what had once been a promising colony at the fringe of the Chapter's holdings. However, before any of this could come to pass, the Greenskins stirred to the Galactic East, calling the eye of the High Lords away again. When the small fleet of civilization-builders arrived, they found a world which would not be tamed. Some made planetfall but were never seen again. Most went back to the safety of civilized space and logged Harrangeal as ‘lost to barbarism’. Harrangeal was forgotten in the Imperial records, crushed beneath the weight of the collective memory of the Imperium. And so it remained for hundreds of years, with entire generations of Harrangeals living and dying in their shelters, caverns and halls, developing a strong martial culture on the bones of hate and spite. And so the planet festered in its own darkness, until the light of the Emperor returned, this time clad in ceramite and with an entirely different prospect for the future of its people…

[//extr. From The Tribes of Harrangeal – a short history by Chronicler M. Befaleus of Herod, 545. M32+]


Disposition during the War of the False Primarch

The Wormwood Sons had little truck for alliances. While they had worked alongside the Inheritors in joint operations against Brhaga expansionism, the Inheritors regarded the Wormwood Sons as difficult allies; withdrawn, uncommunicative and unreliable. In turn, the Wormwood Sons regarded the children of Hyperborea as over-zealous and prideful. The two Chapters had little in common, and so worked with professional courtesy rather than warmth. Their other sectorial neighbour, the Firebreak, were the Sons' equals in craving isolation, and thus communiqués between the two were few and far between.

One might, then, be surprised to find that the Wormwood Sons enjoyed a surprisingly close relationship with the Red Fish, distant though the two Chapters were in Sectorial terms. Here were two Chapters with surprising compatible philosophies. Both revered the sanctity of mankind in all its forms and were sceptical of the benefits of the complex web of stratified governance that they felt dogged and held back the common folk of the Imperium.

The two served together during conflicts such as the Kortox Xenocides, in which the titular carnivorous species were driven away from their raids and reaving upon rimward colonies by the two Chapters before being pursued into the darkness and destroyed; and numerous culling raids against the axial polyps, orks and En–Rin of Venture's End and the Tinctures.


While the Red Fish moved openly through their Dominate, the Delphurnean League, treating the peoples as equals before the Emperor, the Wormwood Sons enjoyed no such common touch. Fighting mostly beyond the Sector, resentful of the need to return and dismissive of the 'shepherd' Chapters that served besides them, the Wormwood Sons were little-loved by most in positions of authority. Nevertheless, their shared tolerant attitude towards abhumans had seen them fight in defence of the numerous squats, longshanks, ratlings, ogryns and pelagers of the region. In this, at least, they had an ally in the Silver Stars, whose forces were swelled by jubilant abhuman groups and even entire planets claiming the Primarch for their lord.

[//Hailing  from the dark green Forest-Seas of Harringal, Alareiks wields one of the world's iconic Axe-maces. He suffered severe promethium burns during an altercation on Pao Fung, opposing Frateris Militia undertaking an unsanctioned Abhuman purge+].

This lenient attitude to the extent of humanity's bounds, together with the reformist programme that the Wormwood Sons believed the Silver Stars and their 'Primarch' represented, explains a great deal about why the Wormwood Sons remained loyal to the Partisan cause until their final moments. It was not simply their stubbornness that led to their downfall; but a desire to see humanity expanded and protected. 

Much of the Wormwood Sons' culture, beliefs and actions were reprehensible – even abominable – to their allies. This purity of concept, this devotion to the all-but-extinguished Imperial Truth, however, shone a light on a Chapter that, perhaps more so than any other in the Partisan cause, embodied the Emperor's vision for the Astartes; that of a shield for humanity against the darkness.

Ishim and the the Conclave of Ash

When news reached Chernobog of the Siege of Ul-Hiyar, the Wormwood Sons were all too ready to believe that the Red Fish's utopian dream – as realised through the Delphurnean League – had met a fate all but inevitable: destruction. As the one-armed Chaplain Ustr Houd noted in his personal meditations:
'An Imperium that relies on the division and sectarian approach of humanity by levels of purity; that is built on an intentionally disconnected mass of serfs, can not afford an alternative model of humanity to exist. However appealing it appears, the lack of control meant it was a direct affront to the High Lords and the Ecclesiarchy, whose elevation relies directly upon the suppression of mobility. For if freedom and equality is afforded to some, it leaves others to grow bitter. Better, the High Lords must feel, that the tall poppy is uprooted swiftly, that the others have not time to grow jealous.'

[//2nd Lieutenant Lashynn Akhmet-Kwok, 2nd Company, Red Fish Chapter. Lashynn is a Companion of the Black Wurm; having been gifted a rare Volkite weapon upon his ascension. His membership is obviosut from the scorching of his right gauntlet. He also wears the blessed hydrogen orbital around his chapter symbol, a token of the Sons' high regard+]

The Conclave of Ash was one of the Wormwood Sons' infrequent all-Chapter gatherings; where the portents were read and debated, and the Chapter's course set. Taking as its core the question of whether to support the Red Fish and send a relief force to lift the siege, the Conclave was all but decided beforehand – offering as it did the Wormwood Sons a legitimate cassus belli to exercise their simmering hatred of the Ecclesiarchy – until the arrival of a mysterious hooded messenger. 

Unarmoured, but with the bulk of a post-human Astartes, the figure politely asked for the podium with a strange, halting mode of speech. As the chamber erupted with objections, Gergorii Varn, Chief Librarian of the Wormwood Sons, stood in his support. Kurst accordingly waved the visitor forward, and as he ascended, it became apparent his apparel was not a cloak, but a sealed shroud; surrounding his form entirely with intricately-embroidered drapery. In his idiosyncractic speech, the figure began to berate and insult the Wormwood Sons roundly for their 'absence and isolation', their 'hypocrisy in belief' and their 'credulity'; finishing with the ominous words:
'You stand. And you rattle your spears. And you stand. Empty, the pot. Lacking the foresight to see. How easily gulled are the Sons of Wormwood. For the Orcinus are in the hands of Orion; and your efforts will be naught besides. You must not visit the lake for want of fish; but move to your true motive – else Kadath will fall.'
During the ensuing uproar, the figure somehow contrived to disappear entirely, as mysteriously as he had arrived – leaving Varn to swiftly vault to the podium and call for calm. 

The figure had essentially claimed that the core question of the Conclave – of whether to oppose those attacking Ishim – was a distraction. That the Delphurnean League's existence was irrelevant to the assaulting Pentarchy doubtless came as a surprise to the Wormwood Sons, but their part-formed preparations to send three Battle Companies to raise the siege of their allies was seemingly moot – if they moved to support Ishim, they might allow Kadath to fall.


Sharkbite – the Conflict on Kadath

The official record of the war on Kadath is detailed in this account; but the Wormwood Son's own records are an perfect example of just how difficult it is to treat any of the War of the False Primarch as certain. Quite beyond different intepretations of concrete events, it is apparent that the Edict of Obliteration did not simply attempt to remove or destroy official records, but also to supplant, corrupt and introduce intentionally conflicting or openly contradictory notes on same prior to destruction. In this way, even scraps of surviving materials are thrown into doubt – for how can anything be deemed certain in the light of such redaction?

The War on Kadath is a perfect example; for records recovered from the Golden Hands extensive mem-banks – greedily stolen from the Wormwood Son's own during the Chapterdeath – were destroyed by the Ordo Pacificus in the dying years of the War. Partial reconstruction of these records provides an entirely contradictory account of the war, in which conflict between the Kadathi forces and the Wormwood Sons was entirely falsified. 

[//One of the Wormwood Sons' rare Tactical Dreadnought armour-equipped warriors, pictured during the Twill Campaign, asynchonously reported simultaneously with Kadath.+]

A lone report remains of vast Janus engines feeding deception code through the Astartes battle-net in order to cloak the Wormwood Sons' actions. Far from opposing the Kadathi, they supported the Inheritors and Firebreak only insofar as dislodging several Pentarchy firebases before turning about to occupy Kadathi territory and evacuate key assets and materiel. Indeed, the report suggests that, far from being a minor part of the assault, the Charnel Guard under Captain Nero were in fact at multi-company strength at the start of the conflict, and it was they who detonated the dirty atomics at the Forge-city Mark-Not-The-Spear-But-The-Ploughshare; and were in fact the primary target of the Wormwood Sons 'assaults' on Days-Scented-with-Thoughts-of-Home and Idle-Thoughts-of-What-Might-Have-Been.

Perhaps this explains why the Carcharadons were willing to remain so long in the face of such an otherwise one-sided conflict – though the account cannot be held to be completely credible; for if it is taken at face value, it leaves unexplained how the Charnel Guard were able to deploy in such strength to the assault on the Delphurnean League; or why the Firebreak and Inheritors were so mauled. So much has been lost, never to be recalled.



In the aftermath of the war of Kadath, the Wormwood Sons moved to the Delphurnean League in an attempt to stymie the Pentarchy attack across the region, and offer help to their long-standing allies, the Red Fish. Treated with suspicion by the declared Partisans already embroiled across the League – the Inheritors, Marines Saturnine and Argent Heralds – their presence was hailed with relief by the Red Fish.

[//A Wormwood Son assault marine burns out Orthodox invaders on Blacbedd+]

Together with the full might of the Silver Stars pseudolegion, the five Chapters were able to stabilise the line; and as the crisis passed and the Pentarchy retreated to lick its collective wounds, the Primarch summoned the Wormwood Sons. 

That the Bitter King refused the summons, sending instead his Chief Librarian Gergorii Varn, was a source of great personal embrassment to Chapter Master Madu Iri-Abasza of the Red Fish, who had interceded on the Wormwood Sons' behalf at a number of objections from the remainder of Partisan High Command, objections to the alliance being made by Partisans of high-standing, including Captain Dius of the Argent Heralds, Inquisitor Bhatt, and a number of the Guard and Navy Generals, all of whom regarded the Wormwood Sons as a liability at best, and a threat at worst.

The Primarch nevertheless took the Librarian's vows, and in return granted the Chapter one of the lesser Golden Caputmorii sigils granted to those Partisan Chapters who had not formed part of the Quadrargenta.


The Primarch's orders in the wake of the Delphurnean conflict were clear. While the remainder of the involved Chapters would remain in position to support and secure the League in rebuilding, resettling and fortifying against the inevitable and imminent future conflict, the Wormwood Sons would accompany the Void Barons, Jade Talons, and Riven Lords in linking up with allies in Heliopolis: the Star Wardens and Iron Guard, and enact a co-ordinated campaign to winnow the Extinction Fleets – the so-called War of a Thousand Blades. The Wormwood Sons served with some distinction – for though the effectiveness of their fleet tactics was limited in comparison with their void-warfare specialist allies, they proved a remarkably zealous and effective force in invading the cluster of Cardinal Worlds and Ecclesiarchy-dominated planets of the Cambyses Subsector of Heliopolis.

[//Battle-choirs of the Ecclesiarchy served on both sides of the War, and proved staunch and capable enough to prevent the wholesale sacking of the Cardinal Worlds of Cambyses by the Partisans.+]

Together with the Riven Lords, the Wormwood Sons were responsible for breaking the back of planetary Ecclesiarchy resistance in the region as the other Partisan Chapters on this front moved on to combat the Pentarchy more directly across the spinwards reaches towards the Moreau Subsector. 


The War of Broken Bones

The warfare of the Machinedeath on Null saw the Silver Stars' first legion-scale deployment, with more than five thousand armoured vehicles, headed by three-score superheavies. In so doing, it revealed the true horrifying might of the pseudolegion – and of the Partisans as a whole, for a number of them deployed their vehicle pool in the Primarch's bid to wipe out the Orthodox's ace-in-the-hole, the Titan Legions Legio Punica and Legio Validus.

The Machinedeath itself is investigated elsewhere, but prior to the calamitous war came the War of Broken Bones, in which Volnoscere sent the Wormwood Sons in support of the Star Wardens to the Forgeworld Neo Jove with the aim of scuttling the Orthodoxy's Titans before they could be mounted in their great coffin ships. 

[//Wormwood Sons at bay – suffering appalling losses, the Wormwood Sons fail to run the Death Eagles'  gauntlet and become embroiled on Presumption in the Bastard's Teeth system – leading to what proves a fatal delay for the Star Wardens.+]

It proved a humiliating defeat for the Wormwood Sons, who had been riding high on a series of one-sided victories over Ecclesiarchy fanatics, and some hard-won but tense battles against the Red Talons and Death Eagles II to the spinwards regions. Here, however, their plans had been intercepted by the Vigilants, with the result that the Chapter's fleet was interdicted, corewards of the Myrean League, by an Orthodox fleet headed by Death Eagles I vessels. 

Unwilling to fight a fleet battle for fear of losing the transport ships vital to extracting the Star Wardens, Kurst ordered the bulk of his forces to take up orbit around Gorlensk in the Bastard's Teeth system. Gorlensk was a civilised world that had initially aligned with the Orthdoxy but had increasingly professed Partisan sympathies as more and more of its wealth and workforce was siphoned off by the Extinction Armada under Master Enoch.

Making a hurried landfall into the great city of Presumption under cover of a great storm, the Wormwood Sons awaited the inevitable planetstrike. An assault was all but certain, for Enoch had determined that no landfall could be left unchallenged – a decision typical of the 'Master's' foolish gesture politics, for it straitjacketed the Pentarchy's tactics, making them clear to their opponents across the entire sector. That the decision was not openly opposed by the Pentarchy themselves was a mark of how withdrawn their overall Commander, Jan Velghor of the Flesh Eaters had become by this point; and when he was evetually replaced by Gorn, the strategy was immediately rescinded.


Warzone Gorlensk: Presumption


Swollen by the Edict of the Diet of Fools, the Death Eagles were brazen and spoiling for a fight – and the Wormwood Sons' sneering disdain for their enemies had become well-known. However, the battle of Presumption was an example of how the Pentarchy Chapters' tactics had altered in the wake of their losses in the Delphurnean League.

Rather than the Astartes that the Wormwood Sons had expected, waves of Ecclesiarchy fanatics swept across the plazas, eager to meet their stimm-fuelled deaths in battle against a Chapter that had gained a notoriety for 'its inhumanity to those faithful to the Emperor'. The Wormwood Sons' actions in Cambyses had come back to haunt them, for many of those deployed were the rad-ravaged survivors or orphans of the battles there. With no homes, and with their death sentence already signed, they had little to live for beyond revenge. 

More than twenty thousand cyber-enhanced and drug-blind berserkers were unleashed by the Death Eagles on the first day as the Wormwood Sons belatedly adjusted from static to mobile defence. Even as the Wormwood Sons' positions were shifting, the human waves crashed down upon them. Dotted through the mass were kill teams of Death Eagles and allied Vigilants, all under operational command of none other than Chapter Master Tywin Dimmerlock, who oversaw the battle with his keen, stern eye.

The Death Eagles infantry withdrew after just fourteen hours, having inflicting stinging losses all along the Wormwood Sons' line. With their strongpoints broken, Kurst and his Wormwood Sons were left to churn their way through the surviving Ecclesiarchy forces, largely in isolated pockets. All the while, the Orthodox fleet intensified its excoriating attack on the Wormwood Sons' larger but slower transports. By the time the Wormwood Sons managed to assemble and evacuate to their own ships, they had lost nearly half their deployed number – some two-hundred-and-fifty – and three-quarters of their transport vessels. 

Worse still, the delay meant that the Star Wardens and Silver Stars deployed on Neo Jove were overwhelmed. By the time the Wormwood Sons translated in-system, this crucial battle was lost and all that was left was for Kurst and his men to prevent the retreat from becoming a rout. While the Star Wardens never lodged a formal complaint, tensions were clear from this point on between Chapter Master Argo and his Wormwood Son counterpart – and by extension, between the Wormwood Sons and the other members of the Steel of Heliopolis alliance.


Mid-war: the Sorrowful Years

[//Navigator Vitus of House Heiratarces and ward-brother Neoster Teichos, Wormwood Sons+]

The War of Broken Bones saw the Wormwood Sons somewhat withdrawn, seemingly chastened by their failure at Neo Jove. The fallout of the resulting Machinedeath at Null, however, saw a shock run through the ranks. They remained relatively withdrawn – they would never come to be so earnest as the Red Fish, nor so ebullient and garrulous as the Void Barons or Jade Talons – but the near-loss of the War at the flashpoint of Null seemed to galvanise the Wormwood Sons. 

[//Kill Team of the Wormwood Sons in action in the Abraxas Subsector during the Sorrowful Years+]

Kurst in particular seemed to change somewhat in character following Null. While not present himself at the battle, he had been embroiled in heavy fighting across the Abraxas Subsector alongside the Iron Guard and Argent Heralds. As the War died down and the sides entrenched and reinforced during the Sorrowful Years, Kurst made the unprecedented step of sending a cadre of warriors that became known as the New Hundred to fight directly alongside and under the wing of the Primarch himself. Seemingly seeing in this an act of contrition, Volnoscere deployed the New Hundred just once, in the minor system of Mangonel, Rimwards of Donias, to oppose a small force of Flesh Eaters then threatening the Partisan population there. Thereafter, it is believed that he sent them back to Kurst with the request that these warriors be seconded to the Marines Mendicant en masse, and seeded through the Partisan war effort to better make use of the Wormwood Sons' undoubted specialisms.

These warriors were the most visible of the Wormwood Sons forces during the Sorrowful Years, but the Chapter is known to have subsequently deployed dozens of pure Wormwood Sons Kill Teams in counter-Orthodox action across Subsector Abraxas in Heliopolis during this period.

The Wormwood Sons themselves abandoned their typical deployment during this period, instead breaking their forces down into demi-companies – or occasionally strikeforces of just two or three squads under lieutenants or similar low-ranking officers. While this unfamiliar deployment undoubtedly led to heavier losses than their preferred method of operation, they were nevertheless successful in extinguishing resistance across a broad number of Orthodox-leaning planets and systems. Here, their reputation went before them: the mere threat of the Chapter's warriors being deployed was often sufficient to see opposition quelled.


'The pict-corder feed flickers back into life. A wall of dust and ash visible, with distant fires visible through the haze. Screaming can be heard intermittently. Resolving into the burning remnants of the Janizaar 96th, rapidly fleeing towards the pict-device. Several of them drop to the ground, felled by the eerily blue flames.

A looming figure can be seen approaching through the ash. Hulking and correlating with an Astartes clad in Tactical Dreadnought armour. The silhouette can be seen levelling an unidentified Polearm/Stave at targets behind the Pict recorder.

The feed is abruptly overwhelmed with caustic blue light. When it resumes, the pict-corder is being held aloft by Astartes in non standard Cataphractii plate; immediately identifiable as Ivanov Kurst,Chapter Master of the Wormwood Sons

Kurst speaks, a deep basso audible even amongst the rad-static.

'If you had not burnt Ishim, Atom would not have sent a punishment like me amongst you. Flee little Vigilants and bickering Inquisitors; the Wormwood Sons march to War!'

[+Pict recording recovered from Brother Marik of the Storm Dragons helm, formerly attached to Vigilant Kill Team Castigator, recorded killed in action during the Scourging of Cattalin.+]