The Astral Bears are a relatively new Space marine chapter who were established during the early days of the Indomitus Crusade. Known for adopting similar tactics and aspects of their primogenitor Legion, the White Scars, who use hit and run tactics to weaken and exhaust the enemy with fast and precise groups of Skirmish engagements. However, the Astral Bears are known to be more aggressive and arrogant in their methods of engagement by charging into battle to bludgeon the foe with brute force, or by sheer rounds of fire power.
This tactic isn’t completely doomed to failure as the chapter have won many battles for their ferocious combat skirmishes. But it has led to the chapter suffering above average of losses.
Like many Ultima founding successor chapters, the Astral Bears are primarily built on Primaris Marines, creations made by the controversial Arch Magos Belesarius Cawl. The chapter is a Codex compliant force that follow the dictates of Guilliman’s Codex Astartes, although there are some changes that the chapter have made to infuse their culture into their chapters organisation, as well as meeting the requirements of the Codex guideline.
- Command groups of each company have their own unique tribal marking to signify their role in the chapter, others in the company have tribal markings of the company they serve.
- Names of the marines are similar to the ones the White Scars use, a cultural heritage that the Astral Bears carry on with pride.
- Lieutenants have different tribal markings to not confuse their fellow marines and to identify who said individual is.
- The chapters armoury uses unique cultural style of the White Scars and the home world of Khoros.
- Primaris squads tend to be smaller than most chapter battleline squads, this is to spread squads out for wider tactics of hit and run engagements.
- Librarians are called Stormseers, like the White Scars chapter.
The Great Rift
The chapter was founded during the time of the Indomitus Crusade and it’s mission to bring worlds, resources, isolated chapters and those still loyal to the Imperium back to the Emperors light. During this time, the successor chapter of the White Scars, the Dark Hunters, found the world of Khoros, a world that belonged to the chapter many centuries ago as a tithe resource for new recruits. Ruled by the Imperial order of Hive cities in a land of vast deserts and forests, this world had everything for the chapter to recruit warriors of the land and Hives.
The Astral Bears homeworld of Khoros [M.42].
But during the splitting of the Great Rift, Khoros suffered greatly during one of the Imperiums darkest days, as the entities of the warp spilled out across the galaxy to wreck carnage on a scale not seen since the Horus Heresy. The world of Khoros was defended by a company of Dark Hunters [company unknown by Imperial records] who originally came to collect fresh tithes for the chapter.
Brave were those of the sons and daughters of Khoros in the Hive cities as they gave their blood and souls to punish the invaders. But they were foolish to think that they could win and live to fight another day, for the Night Lords are born to hunt and kill without remorse. Led by Captain Elskri, Master of the Serotine Company, the Night Lords attacked Khoros to take the opportunity to collect new recruits, and bloody slaughter hunts they enjoy partaking in.
The Dark Hunters suffered greatly during the war as the Night Lords picked them off a bit at a time, a slow but effective method of dwindling the chapters strength. Because the chapter had come to collect new tithes to fill its company that was already below combat effectiveness, the Night Lords had an easy picking fighting off the Dark Hunters.
First the Hive city of Zhoto fell after four months of constant fighting in the shadow of eternal night caused by sickly dark unnatural clouds. Then two more fell a few months afterwards until nearly all of the Hive cities in the world died out, leaving the natives of the world on their own.
It was until the Crusade fleet finally arrived in system along with a company of Dark Hunters, did the Night Lords stop their invasion and flee from then fleet incoming to Khoros. What was left of the population of the Hive cities was carnival of a slaughter house, all around were skinless corpses of the defenders and the civilians.
As for the Dark Hunters who were stationed at Khoros, their remains were found in Zhoto, when a squad of Dark Hunters searched inside the underhive of the city. What they saw had shocked and disgusted them by the sight of a abomination shrine of flesh and bone. The long dead skinless faces still screaming in eternal pain as one mass of dead corpses, shapes into a throne of a corpse ruler.
All is not lost
All would be lost if not for two discoveries by the chapter and other successor chapters of the White Scars including the now forgiven Mantis Warriors, the Sun Hawks, the Dark Lunars and the Red Sons. They’ve found one of the last surviving Dark Hunter stationed on Khoros, trapped from fallen masonry and severely broken by the war both physically and mentally.
His name was Gobi, a marine who saw all the horror and devastation during the war, he was defending civilians fleeing from the fighting when suddenly part of a tower collapsed on him whilst he saved the last few survivors before they could be crushed. His memory after that went dark until he was finally found in a state of pain and failure. As for those he protected, it would be better to be left in mystery for the truth is grim and unpleasant to record.
As Gobi was checked over by the Apothecary who assessed his physical condition, his mind kept repeating his last memories of the battle before he was caved in. Like a nightmare repeating itself over and over as the horror he witnessed wouldn’t leave his mind, the screams of suffering and agony buzzed in his ear as if it were happening now.
After months of the invasion took its toll on the defenders of Khoros, the Dark Hunters were dwindling in numbers, squads of marines were losing men weeks or even days. With no reinforcements coming to bolster loses, they were on their own to defend Khoros.
Gobi was the last of his squad after months of hard fighting in the streets, conserving ammo and hiding in the shadows from groups of Night Lords until the way was clear. After the last Skirmish, his sergeant and squad brother were killed taking down a champion of Chaos.
As he traveled alone in the dark with the shadows as his cloak, he sees life signs of human survivors running away from something, a shadow with blazing red eyes darting after them.
A mother, child and father were seeking safety as they were stalked by a shadowy beast from the darkness. It’s eyes glowed with red passion for the hunt, claws glowing in blue arcs of lighting, as well as its darkest of blue armour cracking with lighting dancing around it’s surface.
Bolt pistol in hand and a prayer whispered under his breath, Gobi gazed into the darkness of the alleyway as the beast stared back. He knew this thing as a Night Lord, one of the traitor legions that turned their back from the Emperors light many millennia ago. Both he and the beast are sons of the night for they use the darkness to their advantage, although their ideologies are vastly different in the way they use darkness.
For Gobi it’s to conceal his form to surprise his foes in skirmish engagements, to catch the enemy unaware and take them out before returning to the darkness in a hit and run tactic.
For the Night Lords, the darkness is the weapon of fear as they blend into the shadows, moulding them as predators who stalk and hunt their prey. Tactics are simple, scare your enemies enough that they can’t fight back, then torture them slowly as they freeze their gaze at the monsters of the night.
The beast charged for the alleyway as the civilians ran down to seek safety, Gobi knew that they won’t make it alive unless he stopped the beasts hunt. He lets out a bolt round from his bolt pistol which traveled like a comet heading towards the beast. However, he misses his target as the beast dodged the bolt round. Rather than running down the ally the beast uses its jump pack to elevate above to reach safe perch on-top of a ruined city apartment, so it wouldn’t be confined by tight spaces.
It laughs at Gobi with vile amusement as he raises his bolt pistol at the beasts perch, it took Gobi a few seconds to realise why it was amused. Behind him, two more beasts creep out of the darkness with twin lightning claws, they laugh with vile amusement too at the cornering of the lone marine.
One tactical marine against three veterans of the long war is a fools end to engage combat in, but what choice does Gobi have when all of his brothers are dead? There’s no rescue party, no reinforcements, only faith and will can Gobi survive this battle.
He prays to the Emperor to give him strength and the will to smite his foes, then he charges towards the first Night Lord as he raises his bolt pistol head height. He fires but the shot only scratched the Night Lords armour, in turn the Nostraman charges towards Gobi with his dual lighting claws. He tried to shred Gobi but the Dark Hunter dodges the attack side ways, he takes out his chainsword and strikes the Night Lord from the left side. He nearly had the kill but the veteran Nostraman blocked the attack with his claws. Gobi could hear garbled wheezes from the traitors helm grill, as if laughing at Gobi’s amateur attempt.
Before Gobi could make his next move, the second Night Lord enters combat as he strikes his claws into Gobi’s back. Gobi tried to dodge the blow but got caught in the right arm by the lighting claw. A solid chunk of admantium fell to the ground, Gobi realised a second later that his chainsword fell to the floor along with his hand.
He carried on fighting with strength and conviction to fight until his last breath, “For the Khan!” He shouted as he lets loose another bolt round which hits the first Night Lord through the left eye lens. The traitor stumbles as he grips his helm but stumbles again as Gobi shoots again at the traitors face. The traitor falls to the ground with smoke spilling out of his helm, the body was still and spilling blood around the corpse.
The second Night Lord was unfazed by his brothers death as though he cared only for the kill. He slashed his claws towards Gobi and nearly sheers off Gobi’s other arm by a pin thread, he checks his pistol, no ammo left. He doesn’t have any ammo left on him.
“God Emperor, my gene father Jaghati Khan and my dead brothers who now serve the Emperors eternal service, I Gobi, son of the hunt and master of the dark will smite this traitor!!!
Seeing the futile position he was in, Gobi runs towards his foe but as soon as he accepts deaths embrace he suddenly gets pushed down by a force more heavier then he. Masonry fell on him caused by the unnoticed Night Lord who chased the family down the ally, he laughs with a strong accent of a dead long forgotten world.
“Now now little Dark Hunter, there’s no use in trying to pray to the Corpse Emperor. He’s nothing but a dead carcass like the ones we’ve skinned and decorated on your walls” a dry laugh escapes through the vox grill of the beasts helmet. He continues, “My father Curze hated me and my brothers because of who we are and what we have become. He wanted Order from the masses by any means, even subjugation to death, torture and suffering. What you see here is my fathers legacy that we carry on as our custom in war. I could kill you now, slowly and patiently like the rest……”.
The beast points up to the top of the city tops where dozens of corpses hang on nooses, all skinned like a butchery with screaming faces frozen in time.
“But…….I’d rather leave you here so you can witness the work we have created. What you see here will always be a part of you, your legacy, your failure, your future” the monsters laughs as he sees the futile look in Gobi’s eyes. “Before I leave, I think I might alter that face of yours……….”
Before his vision blurs the Dark Hunter could only vaguely hear the sound of claws being unleashed as the beast steps towards the family of pale frightened faces. They scream as the beast desecrated their mortal bodies with blades of lighting.
Gobi in his state of severe physical damage could only think about that last battle, he could only just barely turn his head to see the place where he saw the family screaming in his memory. No bodies were left behind just the smear of blood to mark their death.
A Space marine is built not only to sever the Imperium of mankind, to smite the Mutant, the Xenos and the Heretic. To march as an army of super soldiers with the physical power to cause destruction to the enemy wherever they are.
But Gobi failed the greatest test that an Astartes must take, to defend the people of the Imperium and to save mankind from harm. He failed in his duty, a broken warrior who’s glory and victory are nothing but ashes.
The second discovery was back at Zhoto where a Mantis Warrior found an infant child hidden in a secret storage space, its mother blocking the entrance with her cold corpse slumped to the ground. Why the mother was mostly intact and the child left unharmed was a mystery, for the Night Lords would never leave anyone alive even with such innocence as an infant.
These two individuals would be the soul and foundation of the beginning of a new Space marine chapter. Khoros would be rebuilt, repurposed and armed to fight back against the foes of Mankind.
The time for the sons of the Great Bear has just begun.