- "We are the Emperor's fist that floors of his enemies and His boot that crushes their skulls. We fight in his name, for his people. Do not stop, my brothers, do not pause for breath or to tend to your wounds, fight until there is no one left to fight, for the honor of his name, fight!"
- — Ryork, Chapter Masters of the Iron Bulls
The Iron Bulls are a Loyalist Codex-Compliant chapter of the Adeptus Astartes created during the 25th founding in the 41st Millennium, a successor Chapter of the Ultramarines. A relatively young chapter, they are notable in their determination to document in detail their history, an effort undertaken by their Master Librarian Ikos Yurin, who regards it as his duty to ensure the deeds and sacrifices of his brothers are not forgotten. They maintain their Fortress Monastery on the world of Toranus III, a world they reshaped to their own purposes after overthrowing the planets former, corrupt Imperial ruler. They regard anyone who is not faithful to the Emperor as in violation of his will, and as such they maintain an unusually positive relationship with the inquisition, willingly working with the Ordo Xenos and Hereticus during several campaigns without any hesitation.
The Seizing of Toranus III (c. Early-M40)
The chapter was still not up to full strength when it's new Master, Ryork, ordered a purge of Toranus III. The planet was under siege from Ork Pirates led by an Ork Warboss known as Kraz' Guk the Loud, after the corrupt Governor, Irok Grul, had foolishly sought riches by trading illegal goods with the disparate band of Greenskins. Had it not been for a trapped Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos desperately seeking aid before falling to the Greenskins, the world would have been decimated by the horde. The Iron Bulls had begun their first patrols in the same sector, and thus were the ones to answer the call.
With only a single Battle-Barge, the Spirit of Honour, at their disposal and a complement of only three companies they arrived into orbit over Toranus & Master Ryork quickly led his untested Marines to the planets surface. They found a scene of utter destruction. The Governor and his Guardsmen had fled without firing a single shot, leaving the civilians of the cities to be butchered by the Greenskins. The only resistance came from the planets native Tech-tribes, savages with early industrial-era technology, who had been driven to the planet's fringes by Imperial colonists centuries before. They battled the Orks with a fierce resolve that was surpassed only by the Iron Bulls themselves. Quickly the Iron Bulls drove the Orks into the southern most tip of the continent, before turning their attention to the cowardly guardsmen that had emerged to put down the 'tribal rebellion'. Unimpressed by the excuses of the Governor, Ryork unleashed a brutal justice upon him and his Regiment. Half the Regiment was ordered to execute the other half under the watchful eye of the Astartes, whilst their Governor was chained to the front of a Chimera tank so that he may finally lead his remaining men to fight against the Orks.
The regiment was given a chance to redeem itself, driven forward onto the Orks by the Iron Bulls at their flank, ready to execute any who returned to their ways of cowardice. None did, and they fought alongside the brave tribal natives to free their world. The Orks were driven back further and further towards the Coast, until with no where to go, Kraz' Guk led a last stand against the human armies. It was here that Ryork, a giant even among his Brother Marines, met the Ork leader in combat. The Ork managed to grasp his might foes head with his Great Claw, but before he could crush the man's skull the Chapter Master ripped off his arm and drove his mighty thunder hammer down on the Ork's head, smashing it open like an egg. The warband fell into disarray, and were slaughtered by the Iron Bulls. None of the Guardsmen survived, but in their deaths they had restored their honor among the Brothers of the chapter, who lauded their bravery in the imperial records. Irok's broken body was cut from the remains of the Chimera and burned with his men. The Iron bulls then began to scour every inch of land the Orks had touched, eradicating their menace from the world, it was hoped, for good.
Ryork had so been impressed by the bravery of the tribesmen that he forged a pact with the natives, they would be free to live in peace on the planet's untouched North continent, whilst the Chapter would establish their base on the burning remains of the South. Here Ryork had found a source of recruits whose fierceness and determination matched his own, and within a century he had completed the Chapters Fortress Monastery upon the ruins of the old Governors Palace.
The Seed of Pestilence (446.M40)
Following the founding of the Iron Bulls Fortress Monastery on Toranus III, the chapter began a series of campaigns against the Ork pirate threat in Neighboring systems and subsequently, across the entire sector. Dozens of Asteroids, moons and planets were scoured from orbit by the Battle-Barge Spirit of Honour, the slowly growing squadron of strike cruisers and a series of successful land campaigns led by Chapter Master Ryork over the course of the next century.
Yet in 346.M40 the Iron Bulls encountered a foe that made the disparate Pirate enclaves seem rather pitiful. The Spirit of Honour, seeking out Orks within the vast asteroid belt of an outer solar system on the edge of the Imperium, detected an unusually large object that drew its attention. Inadvertently, they had discovered a vast, swollen Space Hulk. The Captain of the Second Company, Lucius Redeptis, cautiously led a boarding party. After an hour of eerie silence, Redeptis and his Marines noticed a growing coarseness in their breathing, a pain in their throats and a tightness in their chests. Realizing, too late, that their air-purifaction units were not protecting them from an undetected contagion, Redeptis ordered his men back to their ship.
By the time they reached the Apothecary infirmary half his men were unconscious and Redeptis himself was delirious. They were placed in total quarantine as the cause of their illness was determined, but before the tests were completed the Marine squad began to suffer from catastrophic swelling, profuse bleeding and acute organ failure. Their armour ruptured from the pressure of their swelling bodies as the entire squad exploded from the release of small, carnivorous parasites, Nurglings. The final act of the now contaminated Apothecary was to slay the foul beasts, before cremating everything within the infirmary, including himself, so that no trace of the contamination remained.
Attempts were made immediately to destroy the hulk, using the small Battle Barges heavy weaponry, but its surface had grown far too tough. Plague Marines emerged like putrid flies from holes in the hulks surface, forcing the Battle Barge to move away to avoid being boarded. Before a plan of attack could be finalized, the Hulk seemed to roar to life as vast ancient engines were awoken and the hulk slipped back into the Warp.
Organisation and Structure
The Chapter adheres closely to the structures laid out Roboute Guilliman in the Codex Astartes, it is divided into ten companies, each lead by a Captain, and each Company is divided into ten squads led by a Sergeant. The only deviation from the vision set out by their Primarch is that their Chapter Master is virtually always leading his men on the field, leaving the administration of his Chapter to the Master Librarian Ikos Yurin, an erudite and highly organized leader that oversees the running of the Fortress Monastery with brutal efficiency. He ensures the chapter is fully stocked with new neophytes, equipment and vehicles, even after an arduous Campaign drains their resources. He also records every action the Chapter takes, every brother that falls in battle or commits an act worthy of note, even moments that the Chapter would rather not remember, lest they forget their mistakes and repeat them.
The Iron Bulls do not win their battles through grand, complex strategy or defensive campaigns of attrition, they attack hard and are relentless in their charge. Much as their Primarch did, they first analyse their enemy and adapt to best strike at their weaknesses. This process is almost instant usually, upon seeing a heavily mechanized foe they will call forth additional anti-armor weaponry, whilst a lighter force will be met with overwhelming firepower. On an individual level, the Iron Bulls are trained to be particularly tough, a blow that would fell another Marine would often not even knock an Iron Bull down, fighting until they either cannot remain conscious or the fighting stops, and they succumb to their wounds peacefully. Such dogged determination combined with the strategy of all out aggression can often break the will of an enemy; seeing the Bulls charge, shaking off every hit in an seemingly unstoppable onslaught that just keeps coming can shatter the moral of any force stood against them.
Notable Iron Bulls
Chapter Master Ryork
A skilled veteran within the Ultramarines prior to Iron Bulls founding, serving as an elite Terminator Marine against Tyrannids, Necrons and Chaos with valor. When the creation of the Iron Bulls commenced, he was deemed the most skilled warrior that was not absolutely essential to the Ultramarines own war effort, and was summoned to Terra to face arduous trials of leadership. Ryork was tested for centuries, serving in the Deathwatch for a time to hone his skills against the myriad of Xenos threatening the Imperium before finally being awarded the mantle of Chapter Master.
His Chapter was let lose as soon as it was viable, and he immediately found a foe in Kraz'Guk that was worthy of testing his new Astartes' might. It was fighting that mighty ork that he began his now established preference for leading from the front, at the point where his Chapters blade dug deepest into its enemy, which earned him more than his share of battlescars, including the deep scars across his skull that marked his encounter with Kraz'Guk.
Master Librarian Ikos Yurin
Master Librarian Yurin is a studious, stoic warrior and scholar, meticulously recording his Chapters history so that future generations of Iron Bull Astartes could honor the sacrifice of their fore-bearers. Ryork relies heavily on the Librarian, who acts as an administrator and diplomat when the Chapter Master is leading a campaign.
Spirit of Honour- A Battle Barge built specifically for the chapter, it is smaller than most Barges, but can still deliver a sizable force in a matter of minutes upon arriving in a sector. The cost of acquiring such a vessel made it impossible for the Chapter to take any further ships to the chapter for over century after the Battle of Toranus III, causing Ryork to take great care to avoid placing her in unnessary danger. Her loss would have crippled the entire Chapter and even after the Chapter acquired additional vessels via alliances forged with the Adeptus Mechanicus, The Chapter Master avoided placing their most prized asset in harms way if possible.
Strike Cruisers Repression of Rebellion, Sanctity of War, Emperor's Claw, Divinity Ascended and The Black Hunter- Acquired over the course of the second century following the Toranus III assault, these vessels finally allowed the Chapter to take action across multiple worlds and system.
A number of Sword-Class Frigates- In service as an Escort for the Chapters Battle-Barge and Strike Cruisers, and also patrols around Toranus III.