|Gladius Branch, Vitores Tenebras|
Revela scapulas ad portæ inferi
Paramilitary group of the Vitores Tenebras
The Gladius Branch is a sub division of the Vitores Tenebras. The fourth branch is by far the most bizarre, as it is not headed by one of the Tenebrous One - rather those of Gladius heed to the call of every one of the Tenebrous One as it serves as the Vitores' paramilitary force. Consisting of expertly trained and well equipped soldiers that turned their back on the Imperium, Gladius consists of a great deal of Imperial Guard veterans and former PDF members from across the Sephadollion Sector as well as the occasional enslaved Xenos to fill out specialist roles or if in large quantities as a simple bullet shield.
The Gladius Branch was founded shortly after the creation of the Tenebras' other three branches, to serve as the organization's militant arm. Most of the first to join the Gladius were Imperial Guardsmen and PDF Soldiers that had fought in the Lak'vrey Retribution, and were either coerced, bought off, or psycho-indoctrinated by the newborn Virtores Tenebras.
The Gladius Branch has shifting leadership positions, in order so leaders are not easily assassinated. These leaders often take the form of a "war council" and consist of elected representatives. These representatives are normally experienced warriors who have held senior ranks in their past careers.
The main ranks in the branch are:
- Venatores-The lowest of the ranks in the Gladius branch. Despite this, Venatores are trained to a high stranded and equipped well, often on par or better than Imperial Storm troopers. A Venator will be trained for a certain duty-some may be stealth specialists for example.
- Pronoiars-The commanders of the Ventores, Pronoiars are infamous for their usual steely demeanour. Often the Pronoiars will receive minor enhancements to their bodies (although nowhere near the amount Cataphracts are given). Proniars usually wear a form of advanced carapace armour that can easily shrug off las bolts and wield specialised weapons (such as a nanite gun). Many also mark their armour for personal reasons, where it is considered a rite of passage to do so.
- Cataphracts-The Cataphracts are the brainchild of Cutler Kar, and are the elite shock units of the Tenebras. Often not surviving the initial experimentation process, those who do are normally hulking brutes armed with heavy weaponry, but sometimes they can be lithe and agile, depending on the modifications. Unknown to the other Tenebras Ones is that Kar has almost complete control over the Cataphracts, as he can activate an implant causing them to die at any given moment.
At times the Gladius will use enslaved Xenos to fight for them. Often these Xenos troops are chained together, lobotomised, or given implants that either control their minds or kill them if they rebel against their handler. These Xenos are generally ones of lower intelligence or on par with humans. Sometimes they are used in specialist roles, but more often they are simply a bullet shield. They may also employ pysker auxiliaries.
- Tacticus Iared - Once a general of a fraction of the forces on Bythantis, the venerable Iared is one of the oldest living members of the Gladius branch, who commands great respect within its ranks as one of its leading members. Iared is known for his romanticised view on the Tenebras's activities and aims and his cynicism regarding Imperial politics, as well as his extremely militarised mindset that have proven effective in organising the Gladius branch.
- Eleazar Servius - Another influential figure within the branch Servius previously held a position in the Commissariat. He joined the Tenebras lulled by the messages of freedom and justice to mankind, and has since gained a reputation for being a harsh, cold leader, inspiring fear and keeping his troops in line. His brutal methods of enforcing obedience among the troops have meant that the men of Gladius while trained in different areas of warfare have remained a well drilled force.
The Gladius lack a central HQ, instead having smaller bases on a large number of planets. It is known they possessed at least one installation on Dedriton that was neutralised, but similar ones almost certainly remain undiscovered on other planets.
The Corpus branch are responsible with providing the Gladius branch with weapons and equipment as well as genetically modified soldiers. Often the Corpus branch will request that Gladius test out their newest weapons, which at times can result in disaster.