"The heretics call us dogs, and in that, they are right. Dogs are loyal, brave, and vicious in the defence of their master. I would rather be compared to the lowliest cur than for a moment be known as a traitor." - Imperial Hounds Chapter Master, Rohan Kahmer
The Imperial Hounds are a 21st (Cursed) founding, roughly Codex compliant, Space Marine Chapter. They were created with experimental Gene-Seed that was heavily modified and may have had more gene-seed organs implanted that were crafted by the Mechanicus' Magos. Their exact linage is only known to the long dead magos who created them and the highest officers of the Inquisition. (though most sources point to Iron Hands proginators)
They are a fanatically devoted Chapter, their loyalty to the Imperiums people and the Adeptus Mechanicus is absolute. (though the Inquisition finds their loyalty to the other Adepta lacking) They are also notably faster, stronger, more durable and aggressive than other Space Marines. Their Gene-Seed is prone to various instabilities and can only be successfully implanted in recruits who have particular biological predispstions. They are also known to be risk takers and sub-par strategist, this was in the end the source of the Chapters near extinction.
They are extremely loyal to their battle brothers, known to risk anything to rescue brothers cut off from the main lines and going to great lengths to avenge the fallen. They are also one of the most benevolent Chapters in existence, known to sacrifice themselves to defend even lowly Guardsmen. They believe that it is their sole duty to defend the Imperium, and will act on that duty unto their dying breath.
They have also gained a reputation as relentless fighters and will hunt down the foe with dogged perseverance that has earned their 1st Company the title of "The Emperors Avengers".
In its early days the Chapter was a fleet based crusading Chapter and at one point numbered well over 2,000. But costly campaigns and strategic blunders saw the Chapters numbers plummet. By the end of M37, they numbered no more than 400.
However this Chapter refuses to be taken of the list of active Chapters and continues to serve with distinction, they have settled on a world at the very centre of the Ultima Segmentum and in spite of their small numbers they are none the less a force to be reckoned with.
The Imperial Hounds were the result of arduous work done by the Magos of the 21st founding, they were one of the most radical attempts to improve on Astartes Gene-Seed. They had at least four experimental Gene-Seed organs implanted into their makeup that made them faster, stronger, and far more durable than any Space Marine before them.
In spite of these ground breaking advancements, their were several severe drawbacks. First and foremost, the Imperial Hounds Gene-Seed was very difficult to craft and even though the Magos had a large stockpile of it (which allowed the Chapter to far exceed Codex regulations in numbers) it was inevitable that it would eventually run short. Compounding this with the highly aggressive nature of the Hounds Astartes, though not insane or overly bloodthirsty, they did tend to rely on brute force and sheer numbers to achieve victory. Further more the Gene-Seed itself soon saw various drawbacks, although it did not mutate often it was incompatible with a majority of new recruits and would inevitably kill those who did not meet particular biological requirments, the significance and exact nature of which remain unknown.
All this and more would lead to this Chapters downfall and near extinction.
The Imperial Hounds began their existence with much promise. They were favoured by the Mechanicus' Magos as the greatest result of the 21st founding and thus were given various "blessings" by the Mechanicus. (which came in the form of advanced weaponry and large numbers of highly experienced Tech-Marines) Their 'superior' Gene-Seed made them nigh unstoppable warriors and their numbers soon swelled.
They were at the forefront of hundreds of Crusades across the Millennia, earning renown and distinction as dire foes for the enemies of Man and the Emperor. They decimated legion after legion of Xenos and Chaos hordes, they conquered world after world in the Emperor's (or Omnissiah's) holy name, and they were heralded as defenders of the innocent and guardians of knowledge.
But behind all the glory and battle honours, the Chapter was slowly dying. 2,000 became 1,500 and soon 1,500 became 1,100. Their numbers were falling with each gilded victory, but the Imperial Hounds pressed on, certain that their friends within the Mechanicus were on the verge of a breakthrough in the Chapters unusually temperamental Gene-Seed. How wrong they were...
The Korek Calamity
"The events of Korek remain a stain on our honour that no amount of victory will ever mask, on that day we failed... We failed our brothers in the Mechanicus, we failed the people of the Imperium... We failed Him and all His glory was ripped from us in a storm of bolter fire." - Unknown Imperial Hounds Marine on the Korek Calamity
The Imperial Hounds came to the aid of the Forge World of Korek in the early years of the 40th Millennium. The planet was in danger of being totally annihilated by the Scales of Malice warband. The whole of the Chapter descended upon the world in all haste, as their Mechanicus allies had no hope of holding the Scales relentless assault for long.
No sooner had the Hounds arrived in the system they were under attack by a pirate fleet bearing the symbol of the Maelstrom Dogs. The Chapter fought back with their trademark tenacity but they were wholly outnumbered and it was a solid month of bloody ship to ship fighting before their attackers pulled back enough for the Hounds to land upon the beleaguered world. On the ground at least, they had the advantage in numbers and they tore their way through the traitors lines, slaughtering both cultists and mercenaries in hails of heavy weapons fire and ferocious charges. They had soon routed the traitors and the Scales of Malice were in full retreat...or so it seemed.
The final battle would come at the Bastion Dictatus, the planets local Arbetires fortress and now the last stronghold for the Scales of Malice's Marines who had as of yet to show themselves in battle. The current Chapter Master, Kilano "Beast Blood" Taka ordered that the whole of the Chapters battle brothers assault the fortress in an all out charge.
It was at dawn that the Imperial Hounds first marines left their Skitarii allies in the trenches and surged forth, all 1,200 battle brothers, clad in bronze and red, their banners depicting their symbol, a Cyber Mastiff with the Aquila on its collar, flowing proudly in the wind. In their path stood only a handful of Mercenaries and Cultists, with no more than 30 Chaos Marines. Victory was at hand.
It was then, with nearly the full chapter out in the open, that the first line was cut down in a single volley of bolter fire. Their Chapter Master was the first slain, a bolt having torn out his throat. Suddenly the chilling howl of mortars filled the sky and the rear of the Imperial Hounds charge was torn to pieces, their surviving brothers now trapped in the open. The hail of bolts came from all sides, from the rooftops of the surrounding hab-blocks and every level of the Bastion Dictatus, the whole of the Scales of Malices marines stood, stalker bolters and Oblivion rifles in hand. Within minutes, 90% of the Chapters senior officers were dead, within an hour, all the marines within the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd companies were long dead. The Chapters Old Ones were almost immediately destroyed by the Scales of Malices Oblivion Rifles and only a scant 5 out of 30 would withstand the hail of death.
Indeed the whole of the Imperial Hounds Chapter would have died that very day, had it not been for the actions of one Marine who had just recently earned the right to bear the Tech-Marines shade of red, Rohan Kahmer. The 10th Scout Company and much of the newest Tactical Marines were still in the trenches, deemed too inexperienced for glorious front-line combat. As Rohan watched his brothers die by the hundreds, he led his fellow Scouts to flank the Scales of Malice's various positions. The Scout marines managed to force the Scales of Malices snipers to fall back to the Bastion and their actions as counter snipers forced the Scales of Malice marines to abandon their positions on the gantries and rooftop of the Bastion.
The following day the Skitarii forces breached the Bastion to find that the Scales of Malice had snuck away in the confusion following the massacre, and had left their traitorous symbol carved into the walls of the Bastion as a final insult to the Imperial forces. The Imperial Hounds were totally demoralized, their leaders dead, their Chapter in tatters, but one voice kept their spirits up. Rohan Kahmer became the Chapters unofficial and later, official leader and called for his brothers not to lose hope that their Chapter would rise again, he set in motion various reforms and established the Chapters Fortress-Monastery over the Knight World of Dongar.
Though few in number, these Marines are often found alongside other Imperial forces in a support role, their grievous losses in they have suffered have taught them humility and though they still border on near recklessness when left to their own devices on the field of battle they are a force to be feared when given a guiding hand and will complete any objective they are given to the letter.
The position of their home system means that they can reach almost any place within the Galactic East in a reasonable amount of time. As such they have participated in many major battles and an even large number of minor conflicts. They will come to the defence of worlds in the name of defending the innocent but the needs of the Mechanicus take precedence over all other calls for aid.
Though most Chapters of the 21st founding are looked upon with little favour in the Imperium the Imperial Hounds considerable battle honours and deeds in the name of the Omnissiah have seen them greatly rewarded by the Mechanicus in terms of weapons and powerful gear. These gifts, along with the Imperial Hounds experimental Gene-Seed, still cannot make up for their numbers however, and thus they can rarely participate in large conflicts in any other role other than as support.
The Imperial Hounds focus heavily on two distinct types of warfare, deadly hand to hand combat, and the use of heavy weapons and vehicles. Though these two dissimilar tactics seem oddly placed, the Hounds believe that piloting a Tank is no different from striding forth into battle, Master Crafted Power Sword in hand. This is due to their deep faith in the Cult of the Machine, and thus they see constructs such as Dreadnoughts and Titans as holy beyond all things save for the Emperor himself.
Their 1st Company are the most elite warriors of the Imperial Hounds and are led by the Chapter Master himself in the heat of battle. They consist of the Chapters Dreadnoughts known as the "Iron Hounds", Robot Cohorts, Terminator Armored Veterans, and the elite "Knights of Dongar" who are a select group of Marines who are descended of Noble Dongarian blood. Thus the Knights of Dongar are trained in the traditional sword fighting rituals of the noble houses thus making them some of the deadliest hand to hand fighters in the Chapter. They often serve as the Chapter Masters Honor Guard.
Thus this Chapter specializes in hammering the foe with powerful heavy weapons and then closing in for the kill in hand to hand combat. This has earned them a reputation as great swordsmen and utterly relentless on the attack.
The Imperial Hounds posses various plasma and master crafted weapons, and a few unique weapons made by the forge world their star fortress orbits:
Dongar-Pattern Power Blade- These distinct Power Swords are some of the finest weapons ever wielded by a Space Marine, each one is a masterpiece of steel and disrupter field technology. Based off the ancient blades used by the elite warriors of the various Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusades, these blades feature a distinct curve and a monomolecular edge. Each Space Marine of the Imperial Hounds receives one of these after completing his Warriors Rite and carries the blade until his dying breath. These weapons are considered holy by the Chapter, as each one was made for the surviving Marines of the Chapter as a gift from the Tech-Priests of Larea when they set up their Fortress-Monastery in an ancient relic of a starfort. The Fabricator-General himself was said to have designed these blades. Thus the Imperial Hounds rarely use these blades unless honour demands it, such as personal combat with a worthy opponent or in a gallant charge. These blades are capable of slashing through Terminator Armour and in the hands of Imperial Hounds can kill a group of enemies in one stroke. The Imperial Hounds spend most if not all of their time off the field of battle training with these blades, and this has led to their famous reputation as unmatched swordsmen. Due to the important nature of these blades, the Imperial Hounds usually have a second more common melee weapon that they use more frequently.
This Chapter specializes in the use of armoured warfare, and are each expert tank pilots. They also make heavy use of assault bikes. As such they have an extensive motor pool and a very large number of Techmarines.
The Chapter also shows a near childlike admiration for any and all forms of humanoid machine. As such Titans, Dreadnoughts, Combat Robots, and Knights are viewed as holy above all other constructs, thus the Chapter maintains uniquely cared for war machines:
Iron Hounds- The Iron Hounds are five Dreadnoughts that, after millennia of proud service, are the Chapters sole surviving Dreadnoughts. They have been heavily modified and can no longer be wholly considered Mars-Patterns any longer. Each one has received various upgrades, from experimental plasma weapons, to massive Dreadnought sized Power Swords in the design of a Dongar-Pattern Power Blade. Though these alterations are all considered acceptable by the Mechanincus, it has raised some eyebrows amongst other groups of Mechanicus who think the Fabricator-General of Larea may be too lenient in his position.
The Imperial Hounds are Codex compliant in most terms, however their reduced numbers instigated a reform in the area of overall organization. The Chapter is split into eight Companies, each fifty Marines strong. This tactic allows the Chapter to spread out and therefore be more available to the Imperium. Overall the Chapter has a large pool of Assault and Devastator marines. Aside from this, various offices and occupations have arisen since the Chapter settled near the Knight world of Dongar:
The Chapters Techmarines, in the years following the Korek Calamity, were renamed Iron Brothers. Iron Brothers soon fell into a leadership role as well as a technical one. Iron Brothers have become the leadership of the Chapter and are often found on the front lines. They are calm and collected as well as highly respected and are often the only ones with the calm demeanour and stern enough hand to keep his brothers from plunging head first into battle. Veteran Iron Brothers of the are entrusted to lead the "Cohort Squads", squads of deadly Tallax warriors who fight alongside the Imperial Hounds. Iron Brothers can be identifyed by their black helmets and solid red armor.
Ordo Reductor Cohorts (Tallax Cohorts)
Due to the Imperial Hounds sworn loyalty to the Adeptus Mechanicus and the investment the Mechanicus has made in the Chapter, the Imperial Hounds are entrusted with small squads of Reductors infamous Thallax shock troopers.
The Forge Liberians make up the Imperial Hounds Librarium, as their title hints, they are also responsible for operating the Chapters personal forges under the watchful eye of the Tech-Priests of Larea and their Iron Brothers. Using their psychic powers, they shape the Chapters weapons and armor in ways that defy belief. Though this has made many Mechanicus on edge about the potential for Warp corruption in the products of such a process the Tech-Priests of Larea assure their fellows that the results of the Forge Librarians labors are far from heretical, as the wargear from the Chapters forges are up to snuff with the Mechanincus' various tests for purity.
Forge Librarians are also responsible for recording the Chapters history, and are often assisted by a Chapter Serf and a retinue of Servitors. In battle, Forge Librarians are often seen as strategists and advisers as often as they are seen as front-line combatants. Even in the field their loyal Serf never leaves their side, as these individuals are honor bound to serve their master unto their dying breath and, though mortal, are still deadly combatants.
The Chapters loyalty to the Cult of Machine is reflected in their Steel Priests, who play the role of Chaplain in the Imperial Hounds. These Space Marines are unbreakable in their faith and loyalty to the Imperium and the Cult Mechanicus. Steel Priests act as spiritual and tactical advisers and liaisons between the Chapters command and their allies, keeping the Chapter coordinated with whatever force they are supporting.
The Imperial Hounds have a surprisingly large Chapter Fleet. However, it is mostly made up of support craft, the Chapters main line fighting ships is a forces of twelve ageing Vengeance-Class heavy cruisers.
The Imperial Hounds Gene-Seed was aggressively altered by the Magos of the Mechanicus during the 21st founding, and were one of the few "successes" of the founding. The Imperial Hounds are stronger, faster, and tougher than most Space Marines. However, Imperial Hounds Gene-Seed is inherently unstable, and very few aspirants survive the implantation. These mutations are so extreme that the margin for error is practically nonexistent. Only successful implantation result in a functional Marine, thus none of the Battle Brothers of the Chapter show any outward mutation. But for every one existing Marine there are scores of wrenched failures that have been given the Emperor's Peace.
The Imperial Hounds are, in addition to being strict adherents to the Cult of the Machine, deeply seated in their code of honor. This code stems from the ancient warrior culture and cast system of the royal Knight Houses of Dongar. These edicts enforce a strict code of conduct that all Imperial Hounds follow without question.
The Imperial Hounds value obedience and martial honor over all. Orders are to be followed to the letter, and to disobey is to bring great shame upon one's self. Previously the Chapter's zeal for battle combined with this imperative caused a great many deaths as Battle Brothers threw themselves at the foe alongside their commanders. With this zeal tempered, it makes them hardy and dependable warriors.
The Imperial Hounds will refuse certain tactics that they deem dishonorable, though this perception is flexible depending on the Marines perception of the foe in question. Creatures such as Dark Eldar, Tyranids, and Traitor Marines are given no quarter and no consideration to the fairness of a certain tactic. Imperial Hounds will readily ambush and strike such foes without prior warning. However, Craftworld Eldar and their Maiden world cousins are given a measure of respect. To strike such xenos without a formal declaration would be considered uncouth, though some Captains are known for such hatred of the alien, and few would fault them. Orks though a foe without much in the way of grace or stature, are often considered worthy of a declaration. The Chapter finds an Orks willingness to fight to the death in a forward fashion something to be respectful of. Some would even say that an Orks fighting spirit is something to look well on, for while the Ork may be pitifully shortsighted, one cannot fault them for their bravery.
Imperial Hounds recruit from the Knight World of Dongar, where various ruling houses are allowed to make small wars with one another and are encouraged to do so by their strong martial traditions. The Cult of the Machine is also the worlds state religion. This made it a prime world for the Imperial Hounds and they soon became quite popular with the nearby mechanicus of the forge world Larea and were likened unto demigods by the people of Dongar. The Imperial Hounds have various military bases and shrines on Larea following an attempt by Chaos corrupted Knights to bring the world to ruin, and thus interact on a daily bases with the people.
Potential Astartes are selected from both the youths of noble houses and children of the lowly foot soldiers of the Knight Houses. Any young warrior that shows himself to be exceptional is eventually taken to the chapters Star Fort for induction and training. When compared to other Chapters, the Imeprial Hounds induction ceremonies and training seems light if not too easy, but the true test is when the Asperaints gene-seeding begins. The pain is beyond agonizing and often the stress brought on by the Imperial Hounds gene-seed is often too much for the mortal body to bear. Those who survive are then and only then given the full training, and are molded into a warrior of unquestionable faith and honor.
The Imperial Hounds second any experienced Marines they can spare to the Deathwatch, safe guarding the Imperiums borders from Xenos filth is considered a very honorable mission, though most Imperial Hounds begrudge the secrecy and lack of honorable combat. Imperial Hounds are very deadly additions to a Deathwatch Kill-Team, being faster, stronger, and tougher than the average Space Marine. They also work well with almost any team they are placed with, as the Imperial Hounds are nothing if not gregarious by nature.
- "Let me get this straight. They made an honest to goodness innovation in Power Sword technology, but they hoard them and only use them on a rainy day because 'honor' and reasons? Wow, this is why those Tau-holes are going to inherit the galaxy. Well done Hounds!"