- "Ignis Purifcatio brothers and sisters! Let no stone go unburned!"
- —Dux Primus Terribilia Ictus, commander of the Blackhope 23rd
The Blackhope Raiders are the deadly and zealous Guard Regiments raised from the hellish world of Blackhope. Founded in the tumultuous events following the Nova Terra Interregnum, the Raiders were bathed in the most extreme ways of the Imperial Cult, eventually adopting the Cult of the Emperor's Redemption as their state religion as their world was transformed into a great proving ground. Now they are considered some of the greatest warriors under the Emperor's command, striking swiftly with savage fervor and religious bloodlust.
The Decent of Darius the Pious
Blackhope was once a world of little to no renown, a backwater drifting along in the Galactic West. Eons before the Great Crusade, it was a paradise world of greenery and thriving mega cities. Then the Age of Strife came, and the world became torn apart by war and chaos. Now, and for as long as any human can remember, it has been a sun scorched world of badland and scrub. Of radioactive wastes and poison seas of acid stretching as far as the eye can see. This wasteland is only broken by the immense, dead husks of long dead cities, often called Boneyards. It was here that the tribes and city-states of Blackhope were formed, following the death of civilized society.
For eons these devolved peoples fought one another in wars for what pitiful resources remained. And when they were not fighting one another, they were fighting the deadly wildlife the likes of which make that of Feneris or Catachan look tame.
Then, in the year M999.35, a great cathedral vessel of the Ecclesiarchy crash landed on the surface of Blackhope. This was no ordinary ship, for it was the great crusading vessel of the famous Fraternis Militia Commander Darius the Pious. Few if any of the Blackhope natives bothered to investigate the crash site, believing it to be a bad omen, best left avoided.
The Ecclesiarchy came to investigate the disappearance of the famed crusader after nearly three hundred years of searching.
The Great Conversion (Founding)
The Ecclesiarchy came to the world, and, upon discovering the final resting place of Darius the Pious, built a mission. They then declared Blackhope a Shrine World and began to convert the people in the name of the late Saint Darius. At first they were met with resistance from many of the local tribesmen, and the process itself was slow going. The Cardinal leading the conversion was at a loss, at this rate it would be untold generations before the population were made properly pious. Often the tribes they managed to convert were slain by the heathens in retaliation for abandoning the old faiths. Then, as the tales say, the Cardinal was visited by the spirit of Saint Darius in a dream. Darius told him that the natives of Blackhope were not destined by the Emperor to be church going folk, who said their psalms quietly and bowed their heads in congregation. They were to be warriors, divine tools of the God Emperors will. They were to be molded into the finest of his soldiers, to rival all men who fought in the name of the Imperium. They were to be bred for the Guard.
With this revelation in hand, the Cardinal began what would become known as the Great Conversion, and subsequently the founding of the first regiments of the Blackhope Raiders. The missions on Blackhope began arming the faithful tribes with modern, near military grade weaponry. Autoguns and heavy stubbers, flamers and rocket launchers. These were the Emperor's gifts to his faithful flock on Blackhope. Soon the faithful overran the heathens, and they populated the land. It seemed that for the first time in countless generations, peace was a possibility on Blackhope. Then the Cardinal enacted the final phase of his plan.
In the Fires of Faith, Warriors are Forged
With the pious now dominating the wastelands of Blackhope, the Ecclesarchy dispersed various agents in order to sew dissent amongst the allied tribes and city states. They began to suspect one another of various failings, either a lack of faith, or even heresy. It did not help that their populations had skyrocketed following the temporary end to armed conflict between tribes, creating a population that could not be sustained by the harsh environment. Old tribal feuds came back to haunt the tribes, and very soon the peace they had fought for fell apart in accusations of heresy and weakness. Blackhope became a bloodier battlefield than ever before, with violent raids and skirmishes enveloping the planet. Blackhope became a warzone in which only the strongest, and most pure of faith survived. Those tribes that defeated their rivals, or brought real heresies within their enemies to the attention of the Ecclesarchy, were rewarded with the cults age old promise. The strongest and most pious would get to serve the Emperor personally. The dominant tribes had their populations whisked away onto great warships of the Imperial Guard, and crusaded through the galaxy against the Emperors foes. Meanwhile, those left behind would continue to struggle, fighting for the territory that the amended left behind.
The Cult of the Emperor's Redemption
Eventually, the Cult of the Emperor's Redemption sent various priests to Blackhope, feeling that their presence and their teachings would do the faithful of Blackhope a greater amount of good than the "tamer" cult that had settled on the world. Soon the tribes were more fervent than ever, and their devotion to the Emperor and his clergy was indisputable from cradle to the grave. However, this did result in the Blackhope natives shirking in their respect for other Imperial institutions and their representatives.
Blackhope is a savage, harsh, and abrasive world. Much the same can be said of the people that hail from it. The Blackhope natives are a simple people, living for faith and battle and little else. Their culture is a simple and brutal one, valuing only what the Imperial Cult holds sacred and force of arms. They wear crude tribal fetishes and weapons in addition to their issued vests of flak armor and weaponry, and tribes will style themselves in the fashion of their great forebears past.