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"What the hell are those things?!"
—The last words of Colonel Stienman of the traitorous Armenian 33rd

Also known as the Abyssal Guard and the Ghennan Indentured, the Ghennan Abyss-Born are a group of Abhuman Regiments hailing from the hellish Industrial World of Ghenna, pressed into service by their Imperial overseers to form a truly formidable fighting force. Fearsome and iron-willed, the Abyss-Born are best known for their incredible natural endurance granted to their species from centuries of dwelling within the toxic chasms of their homeworld, allowing them to fight through environments that would be instantly fatal to baseline humans.

History

Dwellers of the Deep

Ghenna was discovered in the late years of the Great Crusade, nearly a decade after the Imperium's triumph over the greenskins at Ulanor and the subsequent promotion of the Primarch Horus. Exploration fleets arrived in the planet's smoggy skies expecting little of such a barren world, only to find it's outward appearance deceiving. Deep-core scans undertaken by the Adeptus Mechanicus revealed that Ghenna was in fact a treasure trove of rare minerals such as darksilver and thyrexite, highly radioactive materials essential to the creation of warp drives and starship reactors, brought to the surface in massive deposits thanks to the unstable nature of the planet's tectonic plates. Ever-hungry for more resources, the Imperium descended into the jagged fissure-valleys that criss-crossed the planet's surface in the hopes of creating new mining facilities to power the colossal war machine that was the Great Crusade. Doing so, however, proved to be easier said that done.

Ghenna's great valleys, formed from untold centuries of tectonic shifting, proved to be inhospitable in every sense of the word. Like passageways into some unknown hell, they were dark and choking, the sunlight unable to pierce the depths of the planet as noxious vapors escaped from volcanic vents to shroud the skies above in an ever-present layer of toxic smog. The landscape of the valley floor was no kinder, rocky and prone to constant earthquakes, and even the occasional mini-eruption of white-hot magma as Ghenna's unstable geology forced it's molten mantle on to the surface. Furthermore, the expeditionary forces were further discouraged by what appeared to be the ruins of an ancient mining endeavor, the metallic scrap carpeting the valley floors alongside the looming ruins of gargantuan earthmoving machines. Still, the Imperium pressed on, determined to conquer the planet's violent nature as they dug new mineshafts and set up geothermal power plants to harness the planet's fiery might for their own ends.

In was during this construction that the forces of the Imperium first encountered Ghenna's native populace. Inhabiting the natural cave systems that lined the fissure-valley walls, dwelling in ramshackle villages constructed from metallic detritus, the Ghennans began to tentatively investigate the strange "sky-men" who had began to settle in their homelands. The Imperials were nearly as surprised as the Ghennans, as they had been convinced that no form of life, let alone sentient life, could have persisted in such a deadly environment. Nonetheless here they were, human-like in appearance yet pale, hairless, corded with wiry musculature, and seemingly unaffected by the toxic elements they were exposed to on a daily basis.

Curious, the Imperials made a study of the native Ghennans (or the Mara Ghal, as they called themselves) in order to better understand how they survived within the poisonous abyss they called home. It was revealed that the Ghal were in fact a race of Abhumans, no doubt the descendants of pre-Imperial settlers who had doubtless left behind the corroded ruins that decorated Ghenna's valleys. Their studies additionally revealed that the Ghal in fact possessed immune systems of such phenomenal strength that they were impervious to Ghenna's myriad poisons, which was seen as a fortuitous coincidence, as the Imperium had need of a massive workforce if they were to plunder the riches of this world.

Thus the Imperium of Man subjugated the Mara Ghal, ransacking their tribal homes and enslaving their people to serve as miners and laborers. They had little trouble justifying their cruelty, as the Ghal were seen as genetic offshoots, not true humans, and therefore not entitled the same rights. No, better for them to become slaves they reasoned, they could at the very least contribute the growing Imperium through the fruits of their labors.

The Abyssal War

The salvation of the Mara Ghal, somewhat ironically, came through the actions of yet another force who desired to conquer them. As the Horus Heresy raged throughout the galaxy, the forces of the now traitorous Warmaster converged on locations essential to the Imperium's war effort. This unfortunately included Ghenna, as it provided raw materials essential for maintaining the Imperium's massive fleets. As the traitors' massed forces lay appeared in orbit, Ghenna's Imperial government desperately tried to stave of their advances by arming their Abhuman workforce.

This last-ditch effort paid off surprisingly well, as the Mara Ghal proved to be adept guerrilla fighters. Luring the traitors into the smog-filled depths, the Ghal used their innate knowledge of the terrain to isolate the attackers, forcing them to wander through the the shadowed Ghennan wastelands were attrition alone slowly whittled their forces down to where even the smallest Mara Ghal warbands could strike them down with ease. Armed to the teeth with modern weaponry, they divided and slaughtered their would-be conquerors, seizing new weapons from their fallen to add to their ever-growing arsenal. By the time Imperial reinforcements arrived, the fissure-valley floors were now carpeted in a new layer of detritus composed of toxin-ravaged corpses and ransacked vehicles.

However, with the defeat of Horus' forces their came a new threat: the Mara Ghal themselves. Angry at the foreign invaders that had enslaved and abused them for years, and now armed with technologies that would allow them to go head-to-head with the Imperial forces, it seemed that Ghenna had repelled one hostile invasion from without only to face another from within. Desperate to save face, the Imperial government opted towards appeasement, agreeing to give the Mara Ghal full citizenship in the wake of what would later be named the Abyssal Wars. Unfortunately, the Ghal were hardly able politicians, and agreed to readily to a deal that made them Imperial Citizens only in the loosest sense of the word, changing their status from "slave" to "indentured servant" and little else. Unaware they had been cheated, the Ghal's warriors were quickly pressed into service as an "Abhuman Regiment" and sent into the teeth of the now galaxy-wide conflict. Deprived of their fighting force, the remaining Ghal were powerless to resist as the Ghennan government once again forced them into submission.

Present Status

Notable Campaigns

Physiology

The Mara Ghal resemble baseline humans in terms of anatomy, but most Ghal are tall and thickly muscled, ranging between six to seven feet on average. Their skin is pale and hairless, containing little melanin as result of their evolution within a low-light environment, and their eyes are similarly adapted: large with prominent reddish irises and massive pupils. While this gives them excellent night vision, it also renders their eyes extremely light-sensitive, and if exposed to direct sunlight for too long Ghal run the risk of permanent blindness. Their pallid hides are also vulnerable, their minuscule pigment levels making them susceptible to severe sunburn.

One of the Mara Ghal's more disturbing features are their dagger-like teeth, capable of ripping through unprotected flesh with ease. This is in fact an adaptation derived from the Ghal's mainly carnivorous diet, as they persist on raw flesh and little else. Like human teeth the Ghal loose their first set of fangs in childhood before their permanent adult teeth grow in, and wear from repeated use. Thus it is a common occurrence to see adult Ghal gentling filing their teeth in their spare time to prevent them from dulling. Much to their enemies' horror, the Abyss-Born are also not above tearing out throats and biting off chunks of flesh with their incisor-filled maws.

However, what truly stands out is Mara Ghal's superhuman immune systems, capable of keeping all but the most virulent of toxins at bay. This natural resistance stems from centuries of dwelling among the fume-choked chasms and radioactive caverns of Ghenna, the Ghal having long since adapted to the myriad poisons of their homeworld. This resistance also grants them a extremely high pain threshold, allowing the Abyss-Born to shrug off wounds on the battlefield that would cripple human soldiers, a biological feature that has become an integral part of both the Ghal's culture and their regiments' reputation.

Culture

"They take our strongest sons... take them past the stars... for fighting their wars. Their children... sent to the mines... they do not return. Hardship is great... but we endure... we survive... for we are Mara Ghal. That is our way."
—Elder Gathun (Translated from Ghalai)

The culture of the Abyss-Born is one based around endurance and pragmatism, for the noxious chasm-valleys of Ghenna allow for little else. The Mara Ghal's innate resistance to both pain and poison plays a large role, as within their society it is how much one can endure that determines one's rank and merit in their society. Whether it be physical or mental hardship, the Ghal strive to overcome and thus make themselves stronger, a mindset that has helped their culture to survive to this day. The Mara Ghal are well aware that the Imperium they belong to couldn't care less whether they live or die, either consigning them to a slow death in the mineshafts or a quick, brutal one on battlefields considered too dangerous for human soldiers, but they have never let this fact defeat them. They choose to endure rather than succumb to despair, taking simple joys in what they can achieve, such as defeating the Imperium's enemies. This has led to the rumor that the Ghal are bloodthirsty killers, as they seemingly enjoy their battles to no end, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The Abyss-Born do not enjoy needless death, but do enjoy contributing to the Imperium's cause in the one way they can. This, for better or worse, means they do not falter in the line of duty, regardless of those who would see them thrown into the meat grinder of conflict time and time again.

Unfortunately, it is the pragmatic side of the Mara Ghal that the Imperium often finds repugnant, for the Mara Ghal practice cannibalism of both their own dead and that of the enemy. This behavior was born out of necessity, as on Ghenna resources and foodstuffs were always scarce, and thus the Ghal would make use of their fallen in order to sustain themselves. Nothing was wasted: meat and blood were used as foodstuffs, bones cracked open for their marrow and the remains carved into tools and weapons, skin flayed off and tanned to be utilized as clothing and building material. The Ghal consider it a great honor for their remains to be sacrificed for the good of their people, and on the battlefield they often do the same to enemies who have earned their respect. The only exceptions to this rule tend to be the followers of Chaos and certain types of xenos, which they classify as Sklathgra or "bad meat".

Despite having long since been integrated into the Imperium, the Mara Ghal still stubbornly cling to their native tongue, a debased form of Low Gothic known to them as Ghalai. Many believe that this is because they are too slow-witted to understand the nuances of Gothic, when in fact most all Ghal are capable of speaking it. The Abyss-Born simply choose not to, most communicating in the language of their homeworld in some small display of defiance. However, some other do this dimply to infuriate Imperial commanders, taking no small amount of amusement in the fact that they can say virtually anything they please while their commanding officers look on in confusion.

Organization

Ghennan Abyss-Born regiments are for the most part small in size due to tithing quotas deliberately designed to keep their numbers "manageable", though this small size does benefit them as a unit due to their tactical preference. The Mara Ghal themselves make up the majority of the regimental structure but their officer core is heavily overseen by the Commissariat, as is the standard with many Abhuman Guard Outfits, and it is not uncommon for Commissars to directly take control of Ghal units.

The Abyss-Born follow the standard organization as laid out by the Tactica Imperium, but their overall structure is one designed to work in small groups rather than as a whole regiment. Most individual squads are trained to work independently of one another and have no real specialization, utilizing all available resources and tactical and tactical advantages in a given situation to the point where they are virtually self-sustaining, much like the Ghal warbands of old. This is often what makes the Abyss-Born so difficult to defeat in battle, for if one unit is destroyed, there is always another lying in wait.

Recruitment and Replenishment

The recruitment and training methods of Ghennan Abyss-Born are notoriously poor by anyone's standards. The Mara Ghal are drafted into the front lines at seemingly random intervals, usually depending on how large their population is at the time in order to cull their numbers drastically. Those that are drafted, regardless of age or gender, are taken to low-budget Topside facilities in which they receive a few months worth of basic Guard training before being shipped out. This process often goes poorly, as at that point the Ghal can barely speak let alone understand Gothic speech, and their instructors are usually human mining employees reciting passages from the Imperial Guardsman's Uplifting Primer and little else. Luckily, the Abyss-Born have a long-standing tradition of learning on their feet, veterans deliberately going out of their way to instruct newcomers in the myriad arts of warfare. Thus, the rank-and-file of the Abyss-Born remain a highly effective fighting force, though no thanks to their Imperial overseers.

Though unexpected influxes of new recruits keep the Abyss-Born at fighting strength, it is not uncommon for Ghal to raise families among the ranks, entire generations of their species having been never seen the crags of Ghenna. The pragmatic nature of the Ghal keeps this from becoming a compromising factor, as they are well-used to loosing kinsmen on a near-daily basis, whether it be on Ghenna or on the battlefield.

Equipment

The Ghennan Abyss-Born are not the most well-supplied Guard Outfits, and thus a great majority of their weaponry is either repurposed for equipment and materials taken from Ghenna, or constructed and/or modified by the Mara Ghal themselves, giving their Abyss-Born Regiments a somewhat unique arsenal.

Standard Equipment

  • Charon-Pattern Autogun - Sturdy, reliable, and easy to mass-produce, the Charon-Pattern Autogun is the mainstay weapon of the Abyss-Born. Designed towards prolonged engagements, the Charon-Pattern features a deep clip and a semi-automatic rate of fire, though it's design is so basic that with the right tools it can be easily modified by it's wielder.
  • Volg Mark II Autopistol - The standard sidearm of the Ghennan Abyss-Born, the Volg Mark II is a powerful is somewhat cheaply-made Autopistol variant, known for it's sheer stopping power in close quarters. The trade-off is that it's prone to jamming and suffers from a relatively short range.
  • Ghal Warblade - A weapon almost as old as Mara Ghal society, the Ghal Warblade simplistic weapon consisting of a wide, cleaver-like blade attached to the forearm like a bracer. An incredibly versatile weapon, it can be used as an effective melee weapon and buckler-like shield in close quarters, while still keeping the hand free. In addition, it's relatively easy to create even on the battlefield, most Ghal only requiring a few straps and a piece of scrap metal to fashion a new Warblade.
  • "Junk Armor" - Within the chasm-valleys of Ghenna, Ghal warriors would fashion primitive armor from the ancient scrap that liters the valley floors. They continue this tradition through their "Junk Armor", by layering their standard-issue Flak Armor with battlefield detritus, hence the name. Though ramshackle in appearance, the Ghal know their craft and thus this improvised armoring is surprisingly sturdy, and has since become the trademark appearance of the Ghennan Abyss-Born regiments.
  • Ghennan Tox-Mask - Originally used by non-Ghal when operating within the Ghennan mines, these heavy-duty gas masks were re-purposed for military use by the Abyss-Born, their protective filters having been removed to make way for built-in vox-beads and photosensitive lenses designed to protect the Ghal's sensitive eyes. Now they function as improvised full-face helmets, their thick armaplas plating providing significant protection against attacks to the face and head.
  • Rusack - Durable canvas backpacks typically containing poor weather gear, a basic toolkit, a mess kit, a water canteen, 2 weeks worth of standard rations, a sleep bag, a rechargeable lamp-pack, and 2-4 clips of extra ammunition.
  • Various Grenades - Typically consisting of 2 Frag Grenades for dealing with enemy infantry, and 2 Krak Grenades for dealing with enemy armor.
  • Tribemark - In place of dog tags, Ghal typically carry simple handcrafted totems of wood, bone, or metal known as Tribemarks, typically engraved with the bearer's name and native tribe. Upon the bearer's death, his usable equipment and remains are salvaged by his comrades, and his tribemark buried in the ground were he died, to forevermore mark his passing.
  • The Imperial Guardsman's Uplifting Primer - This standard-issue Imperial text is a valuable resource for new recruits, as it not only contains valuable information, but also serves as the primary means for young Ghal to learn Gothic speech. Thus most Ghal are surprisingly studious when it comes to the Primer, and routine inspections made by Commissars rarely yield anything but good results.

Specialist Equipment

  • Ghennan Rad-Caster - A notable example of Imperial Autolysis Weaponry, the Ghennan Rad-Caster is in fact little more than a retrofitted grenade launcher, though it's ammunition is not simple incendiaries but rather depleted cores of radioactive thyroxite, stored within eggshell-thin lead canisters. When fired the canisters and their fragile mineral contents shatter on contact, saturating the target area with autolysis-inducing radiation over a five-foot radius. A weapon originally conceived by Ghennan industrialists, the Rad-Caster was deemed unsuitable for the Imperial Guard due to it's designs poor radiation shielding that proved to be the end of many a wielder. However, upon the creation of the Abyss-Born Regiments, the Mara Ghal proved to be the optimal soldiers to wield such a dangerous weapon, as they possess a innate resistance to radiation and thus suffer very few adverse effects.
  • Ghennan Fumer - Another weapon created specifically for the Ghennan Abyss-Born, the "Fumer" is a variation of the standard Imperial Flamer, sharing the same basic design but modified to disperse toxic gasses harvested from the chasms of Ghenna. The gaseous mix itself is extremely poisonous, but is only released for a few seconds until in covers the optimal target area, at which point the Fumer's pilot light is activated, igniting the highly volatile gas and transforming the effected area into a firestorm. While extremely effective at clearing groups of enemy infantry, it is not recommended for use in particularly windy climates.
  • Ghal Rivet Gun - During the Abyssal Wars, in order to repel traitor forces the ever-resourceful Mara Ghal compensated for the their lack of weaponry by weaponizing industrial equipment. Constructional Rivet Guns were one such tool, and have since continued to be a part of the Abyss-Born's arsenal, though in a much more efficient form. The modern Ghal Rivet Gun is a compact rifle-like weapon, complete with a horizontal handgrip situated halfway down it's length and a drum-shaped magazine loaded with metal spikes that serve as it's ammunition. The Rivet Gun is tooled for short bursts of fire, though the impact of it's shots is enough to pierce plasteel with ease, and thus it serves primarily as anti-armor weapon.
  • Achillan Mk III Missile Tube - Colloquially known to Guard Outfits throughout the galaxy as "tread fethers", the Achillan MkIII is a favorite of the Ghennan Abyss-Born due to light, portable design, making it ideal for their trademark guerilla assaults. Though not as long-ranged as more standard variants, this Missile Launcher makes up for it's shortcomings through it's destructive potential, able to fire standard Krack and Frag missiles as well as more exotic varieties of ammunition.
  • Ghal "Scrapclub" - Another weapon wielded by the Mara Ghal since ancient times, known in their tongue as a Undrash or warstaff. The Ghal "Scrapclub" is a simplistic weapon in appearance, little more than a short pole with a weighted bludgeon on one end and a single-edged blade on the other. Often cobbled together from metallic debris and detritus (hence the name), this melee weapon is another example of Ghal versatility, as it's design allows it to serve as a mace, spear, or staff depending on the user's preference. Many of the Abyss-Born's most elite spend years honing their skills with an Undrash, turning them into whirlwinds of coordinated aggression in close quarters, and some officers even carry powered variants into battle.
  • Toxin Grenades - Made using industrial waste produced from the refinement of radioactive minerals, the Abyss-Born's Toxin Grenades are very primitive affairs, consisting of mainly of basic fuse timers attached to small sealed packets noxious substance. Upon detonating, Toxin Grenades shower the area in highly corrosive fluids, making it excellent for armor penetration. Those enemies who are not caught in the blast radius often choke on the poisonous fumes produced by said detonation.

Vehicles

The Ghennan Abyss-Born Regiments maintain a very small motorpool, partly due to their size, but also due to their tactical preferences.

  • Tauros - A light, surdy, all-terrain vehicle, the Ghennan Abyss-Born utilize both standard variants of the Tauros in battle. The Tauros Rapid Assault Vehicle, manned by two Ghal and equipped with either a Heavy Flamer or Grenade Launcher, is used mainly to scout ahead of the main force in order survey the landscape and make note of enemy positions. The Tauros Venetor meanwhile as a support vehicle, it's reinforced armor and Twin-Linked Lascannons or Multi-lasers allowing it to lay down much-needed covering fire during the Abyss-Born's trademark infantry charges. In addition, both Tauros variants are used to carry extra supplies during particularly lengthy campaigns, allow individual squads to operate for extended periods without resupply.
  • Taurox - The main form of APC used by the Abyss-Born, the heavily-armored Taurox is an excellent all-terrain vehicle, it's quad-track design allowing it to navigate through almost any environment. However it's usefulness doesn't end at transportation, as it is also optimal for fire support, armed with armored top-mounted turret consisting of a pair of Twin-Linked Autocannons. With a 360-degree field of fire and elevated firing position, the Taurox can make short work of enemy infantry in any engagement.
  • Armored Sentinel - Used as a dedicated tank-hunter due to the Abyss-Born's lack of heavy ordinance, the Armored Sentinel variant is deployed when enemy armor takes the field, it's reinforced plating and maneuverability allowing it to quickly close the distance to it's target and deliver a lethal shot with it's Lascannon or Multi-Melta.

Notable Members

Tactics

Relations

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Quotes

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"It seems the High Lords have sent forth the vermin in the second wave, release the prisoners from the first wave, let us see how brave these abherrent scum are."
—Lord Captain Sodos of the Black Hammers Renegade Chapter ordering his mercenaries to throw the decapitated heads of Death Korps of Kreig off the fortress walls of the Artok Citadel during the Siege of Kodav

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