- "I, heir of Usman, guardian of Jahan, lord of Angels, to whom mortals bow and xenos tremble, I am nothing more than a servant of He Who Resides. As are you, my brothers. All of us share in that greatest of honours."
- — Iskender Bey
The Marines Ardent are a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter created as part of the 23rd 'Sentinel' Founding. In the wake of the Third Navarine Crusade, which saw hundreds of worlds fall to the Imperium, it was decided a force of Astartes should be created to help protect the new territories, centred around the Verana sector. The chapter specialises in rapid response, crushing threats to the region before they have a chance to grow.
The native culture of their homeworld has deeply influenced the chapter although in terms of organisation they are mostly Codex adherent. The Marines Ardent have a particular hatred for Orks due to the Sack of Jahan, which triggered an ecological disaster turning the already hostile environment of their homeworld into a wasteland.
For millennia the chapter maintained close links with the Ordo Xenos until the recent Narnhem Controversy. The breaking of ties has been something of a scandal. The Marines Ardent however remain well respected within the Verana sector and across the Eastern Fringe.
Following the anarchy of the Apostasy, the High Lords of Terra sought to reaffirm Imperial power. Hundreds of campaigns were launched to cleanse Humanity of heresy and expand the Emperor's domain during the 37th Millennium. The Third Navarine Crusade proved one of the last, striking out into the Eastern Fringe led by the legendary Lord Solar Navar in 914.M37. Navar proved if anything too successful. By the turn of the millennium the crusaders were spread thin across a hundred worlds centred around the Belmont Cluster. Several planets resisted the Ecclesiarchy's missionary efforts, others were gripped by famine as the effects of the Imperium's total war economy made themselves known, while instances of mutiny within the Imperial Guard escalated. The region's Orks, previously disorganised in the face of Navar's offensives, rebounded led by Warboss Ardboot, stretching Imperial resources to breaking point. The Crusade would finally be declared over in 979.M38 with the death of Navar, not by enemy guns but by rioting hive workers, hungry for bread.
The High Lords of Terra deemed the situation dire enough to select the region for a new Space Marine chapter to help secure its worlds. The Iron Champions, who had contributed half their strength to the Crusade were granted the honour of becoming its progenitors. Captain Ullman of the 7th Company oversaw the chapter's creation, choosing the planet Jahan as its headquarters. Jahan was an arid, feudal world where city-states and nomadic tribes battled as often for water as for territory. A primitive, militarised society that had proven loyal to the Imperium during the chaotic aftermath of Lord Solar Navar's death, the Jahani were considered prime stock for the Astartes. Ullman and his Iron Champions found many willing recruits who battled in their thousands for the right to serve the Emperor at the first Great Tsam in 010.M38
Ullman instilled the righteous fury and calculating manner of Rogal Dorn into the surviving aspirants. As the Iron Champions moulded the Jahani, in turn the Jahani moulded them. Prussic honour duels gave way to Ghuta contests, the Pain Glove to the Sun Trials. They dubbed the chapter-master Usman, a name of great import on Jahan meaning “holy messenger”. Ullman embraced it and christened his chapter the Marines Ardent for their unbreakable zeal. He took the title Bey, meaning lord in Jahani. From it's official consecration, Usman Bey led the chapter through a dozen campaigns to the secure the Verana Sector. From the Narrows expedition to the Ben-Tebbit rebellion to the First Pnoxus War the inexperienced Astartes were blooded, building a reputation across the region as its most stolid defenders. When he died Usman was cremated atop the Silent Tower, the ancient funerary rite of Jahani kings.
798-846.M40: The Tropinine Wars
A previously uncontacted planet, the Imperium discovered lush, human-inhabited Tropinine in the late 39th millenium. A subject of the An'Guem Hegemony for over a thousand years, the puppet kings of Tropinine ruled protected by xeno garrisons in return for tributes of slaves and resources, notably the drug khatab, or Redweed. On the death of Shenkojira, the last great Hegemon, the Imperium launched an invasion of Tropinine and several other frontier worlds in 798.M40, easy targets as the xeno empire turned in on itself. The Imperial task force easily outclassed the decrepit An'Guem squadron guarding the Tropinine system. The crushing defeat triggered rebellion on Tropinine, her kings executed as huge numbers of human peasants turned against their alien masters. The rebelling natives combined with Imperial forces quickly strangled An'Guem citadels across the planet. The crumbling Hegemony unable to answer the Imperium's offensive, the operation and the war were considered concluded after only six months.
The peace would prove far more difficult with the restrictions of Imperial rule and harsh enforcement of the Imperial Cult angering many natives. Large numbers of former partisans returned to the jungles and hills, waging a guerilla war against their new occupiers. Many native Tropinese however took to the Emperor's Church, missionaries proving the Imperium's strongest weapon in robbing the 'heathen' rebels of support.
Forty years after the beginning of Imperial rule and with the insurgency still on-going, Tropinine suddenly founds itself under threat from the forces of Chaos. The traitorous Hounds of Ydyros, known mainly as pirates and raiders, had gathered their forces to strike at Tropinine. Meeting weak orbital and naval defences, the Hounds quickly made planetfall. As the Planetary Defence Forces mustered the planet erupted in riots and bombings as the partisans revealed their alliance with the invaders. Quickly taken, Tropinine remained under Chaos control until the arrival of an Imperial relief force in 844.M40 under the command of Shahzen Bey leading three battle companies of the Marines Ardent and a dozen Imperial Guard regiments.
Unable and unwilling to meet the heavy firepower of the Imperial invasion fleet, many of the Hounds fell back to their ships and left the system. Those remaining, fanatical cultists of Ydyros led the partisans back into the jungles to wage a two year campaign of ambush and terrorism against the Marines Ardent and the Imperium. Shahzen Bey utilised orbital bombings, chemical deforestation, native counter-insurgents (led by the Tropinine Imperial Church) and several regiments of the famed Catachan Jungle Fighters to slowly grind down the enemy. The Marines Ardent, often led personally by the Bey focused on crushing known bases of operation and mountain strongholds, crippling the Hounds' logistics and organisation.
Finally in 846.M40 Shahzen Bey's armies had surrounded the last major enemy fortress, dug deep into the rock of Mount Malaking. The brutal close-quarter fighting lasted for weeks through the endless network of caves and tunnels. Terminators of the Marines Ardent led the way, their bone armour painted red by enemy blood. The partisan commander Vana Tok was captured in the fighting and executed after public torture by the Ecclesiarchy. The Hounds' leader Lord Lyconus, a former Astartes, coordinated the war effort to the very end, only to disappear during the final days of Mount Malaking. According to the Marines Ardent Librarian Idris Hotep traces of warp energy suggested Lyconus had fled through the Immaterium. Imperial forces also found evidences of extensive excavations within the mountain focused around the undeground catacombs of an immensely ancient and unknown civilisation.
Tropinine has remained under the watch of the Marines Ardent ever since, her finest youth a prized source of recruits for the chapter following the devastation of their homeworld. The planet also supplies the Hilsari with specially grown khatab, used by the Chaplains of the chapter in hallucegenic rituals.
258.M41: Sack of Jahan
Whether by accident or design, Waaagh! Mongork appeared within the Marines Ardent home system without warning. At the time Kemal Bey and a full eight battle companies were abroad, leaving Jahan vulnerable. Technologically primitive, beyond the Astartes present the planet could only call upon several brigades of mudjha militia trained to Imperial Guard standards and the fierce but poorly armed nomad tribes for its defence. The Marines Ardent fought a vicious hit and run campaign across the deserts of Jahan but could inflict only minor reversals against the vast horde. Eventually the Astartes and their allies were forced back behind the walls of the Hilsari fortress-monastery. Parties of Scouts used the tunnel networks beneath the Hilsari to launch raids behind enemy lines, destroying Ork siege engines and sowing confusion through their camps.
As the months dragged on an increasingly frustrated Mongork detonated dozens of atomic weapons against the Hilsari in the hope of breaching the shield network. Finally overloading the arcane systems, Sappas and Drilla tanks began to burrow through the thick ceramite walls. Readying themselves for the final assault, the surviving Astartes armed serfs, aspirants and even civilian refugees, intending to make the Greenskins pay dearly for the abode of Usman. As the first Nobz burst through into the inner sanctum, Kemal Bey and hundreds of Marines Ardent descended from the heavens, supported by a dozen Guard regiments. The exhausted invaders were driven from the Hilsari. The majority of their fleet already burning in the upper atmosphere, the Orks were slaughtered in their thousands.
In one final act of defiance Mongork detonated his remaining atomic weapons within the heart of the ancient underground aquifiers that maintained Jahan. The sight of the rising mushroom clouds are said to have driven Kemal Bey into a state of frenzied anguish, for he knew they meant the death of the homeworld he had failed to protect. Charging alone into the heart of the Waaagh he found Mongork, slaying the Warboss and his retinue with the Sword of Usman before finally succumbing to his wounds. Though littered with stories of heroism and great sacrifice, the battle for Jahan is remembered by the Marines Ardent only as a tale of hubris and remorse.
886.M41: Pan'Eshah Massacre
Word reached Jahan that the fractious An'Guem Hegemony, once the greatest threat to humanity in the Verana Sector, was to be reunited under a new Hegemon, anointed by all the major warlords of their race. Taking pre-emptive action, Soluk Katiba of the 8th Company gathered over one hundred Assault Marines to launch an attack against the An'Guem homeworld. Due to the inter-clan rivalries of the xenos, only ceremonial weapons were allowed within the grounds of the imperial palace, the Pan'Eshah.
Descending from the sky, the strike force slaughtered thousands of An'Guem, including the Hegemon, decapitated on his throne by Soluk's own blade. In turn the Marines Ardent immolated the birthing pools within the palace catacombs, wiping out an entire would-be generation of An'Guem nobility. The operation lasted minutes, costing only a handful of Astartes. The virtual annihilation of their leadership caste has caused the Hegemony to collapse once more into a civil war which continues to this day. An'Guem mercenaries are increasingly found fighting alongside the Imperium's enemies, eager to face the "butchers of Pan'Eshah" in battle.
995-997.M41: Hive Fleet Samael
The appearance of Hive Fleet Samael at the borders of Verana Sector was not realised until the sudden destruction of Tesenmir Station. The loss of the major battle-station triggered the mobilisation of the entire region. A hastily assembled fleet of Imperial Navy and Marines Ardent ships led by Admiral Garoda intercepted Samael at the Battle of Paylos. Despite inflicting serious losses on the Tyranids, Task Force Garoda was shattered by the engagement and had done little to halt's Samael advance. Sector Command under advice from Inquisitor Narnhem turned to the Kryptmann doctrine, starving the Tyranids of bio-matter by destroying fertile worlds. A dozen planets and millions died to deny the enemy resources. The decision horrified the Marines Ardent due to their Shadow Oath. The self-annihilation of Imperial worlds was seen as a vile crime against the Emperor by Iskender Bey and his brothers.
Regardless the tactic proved successful, denying Samael of crucial fuel as Imperial forces continued to chip away at the hive fleet. Using the dead worlds as a means to guide the Tyranid advance, Sector Command had decided to crush Samael in the Hylios system, home to the forge world of Kater. Using Kater and its cathedral-factories as a base of operations, Imperial forces battled the Tyranids across several moons and planets before the xenos landed on the forge world in 997.M41. The fight for Kater would prove a meatgrinder, tens of millions dying to halt the Tyranid hoard. A half dozen companies of the Marines Ardent fought on the planet, holding the crucial Belgrove Complex in the Katerian capital. At the Battle of Titan Gate, Kemal the Penitent led his battle-brothers to hold the breach, personally defeating a Hive Tyrant.
In space, a new Imperial fleet had been assembled. It consisted of Imperial Navy ships from three sectors, all servicable Marines Ardent vessels, hired privateers and the armed merhant navy of House Koba-Jaheem. Diverting Samael's attention from Kater the fleet attacked the enemy rear drawing them towards the neighbouring gas giant of Hylios II. The ensuing Battle of the Hylian Rings was the largest naval battle in the Sector's history. Dozen of ancient capital ships and hundreds of smaller vessels were destroyed in the fighting as the Imperials struck into the heart of the hive fleet. The Auguston, a mining ship drafted as a supply vessel for the war effort used its grav-beams to launch asteroids into the mass of Tyranid ships while Naval boarding parties and Astartes battled the enemy hand-to-hand. After days of fighting Samael was finally shattered with less than half of the Imperial ships still fully operational.
998.M41: Narnhem Controversy
The defeat of Hive Fleet Samael was a costly one. The use of Exterminatus against Imperial worlds had deeply upset the Marines Ardent. The chapter had close ties to the Ordo Xeno dating back to the Sack of Jahan. Many Astartes wore the silver pauldron of the Deathwatch. Inquisitor Narnhem's actions demanded reponse in the eyes of the chapter. Following the Battle of the Hylian Rings, Iskender Bey had all veterans of the Deathwatch give up their pauldrons to unanimous but guarded agreement. They were then presented to Narnhem, symbollically cutting ties between the Ordo Xeno and the Marines Ardent. The action caused outcry across Verana Sector and beyond. The recent fall from grace of Inquisitor Kryptmann and his acolytes like Narnhem has softened the blow but the rejection of an entire of order of Inquisitor is bound to have ramification for the Marines Ardent in the future.
On the arrival of Imperial forces to Jahan in 922.M37, they were amazed that pockets of human life, even cities, seemed to spring miraculously from the desert. Agents of the Mechanicum were soon led to vast underground aquifer systems that had produced fresh water for the population for over twenty thousand years. Knowledge of how the machinery worked had been lost by the Jahani long ago, and still remains a mystery to the Adepts of Mars.
Beyond the rare green river banks the majority of the population lived a nomadic existence from the equatorial Dead Sea of Kesh to the colder but no less barren Southern Steppes, hunting and raiding to survive. Brutal sandstorms or khamsin were known to strip flesh from bone, forcing nomads to seek shelter in cave systems and mountain holds. Respite from the winds and burning sun, as well as underground springs made such places prized, even sacred to the Jahani. Nonetheless creatures like the hideous Spineworm lay in wait to feast upon resting travellers in the darkness, making them often only temporary havens.
The Sack of Jahan saw the ancient aquifiers that watered the planet destroyed. The crude atomic weapons used by the Orks for the task in turn contaminated the atmosphere. Alongside the millions slaughtered by the invaders, millions more would fall to drought, famine and radiation sickness. Less than 10% of the Jahani survived to be evacuated to neighbouring systems, leaving their home barren save for the Marines Ardent who reside within their fortress-monastery the Hilsari to this day. In the centuries since the event the environment of Jahan has partly recovered but without the great life giving engines from the Dark Age of Technology, re-population is impossible. Indeed the evacuees and their children have all but been absorbed into the populations of their new worlds, leaving the Marines Ardent the sole guardians of over 20,000 years of Jahani culture. It is a responsibility they carry with the utmost solemnity. As long as the sons of Usman live, Jahan will never die.
Culture and Beliefs
Jahani reverance for shaded places extended to religion with temples, monasteries and prayer rooms shrouded from sunlight. The first missionaries of the Ecclesiarchy on Jahan preached that the Imperium was the shadow of god on earth. The Emperor became known as "He Who Resides", meditating in eternal peaceful darkness, guiding his chosen through dreams and visions until the day he will awaken and lead them to paradise. While the Imperial Truth given by Usman and his Iron Champions provided a much more secular interpretation of the Emperor for aspirants of the Marines Ardent, as with everything the mysticism of Jahan soon came to influence the chapter. The concept of the Imperium as a mortal extension of He Who Resides has led the Marines Ardent to view all worlds within the empire of Man as inherently sacred. The loss of even a single backwater colony is an insult to Holy Terra and to willingly give up an Imperial world amongst the gravest of crimes.
The Kovmaksinva is a series of tests presented to Neophytes before they can become full Battle-Brothers. Translating rather poorly to the "flaming judgement of the unworthy" but more commonly known to outsiders as the Sun Trials, its Jahani name reflects the high level of failure common to all Astartes recruitment systems. Historically the Sun Trials began with the whittling down of Aspirants at the Great Tsam, in which many Jahani tribes would travel thousands of miles, establishing a massive tent-city at the foot of the Muhafizi Mountains to watch their finest youth battle before the Bey and his Qadi. Following this initial weeding, a variety of psychological and physical tests would be put before recruits. Most infamous -and where the tests get their common Low Gothic name- is the sending of Neophytes alone into the Dead Sea of Kesh to survive for thirty burning days and freezing nights.
The final test of a Neophyte is a ghuta contest. A wrestling-based martial art native to Jahan, it is notable for quickly replacing the Prussic honour duels of Usman's Dornian heritage as recreation and a means of settling disputes between Astartes. Unarmed combat is highly respected amongst the Marines Ardent and there are a fair share of tales in the chapter's archives of brothers, their ammunition spent, fighting the enemy to the death with their bare hands. The Kovmaghuta pits the Neophyte against a Battle-Brother. The Neophyte due to inexperience and genetic inferiority is not expected to defeat the fully-fledged Astartes but must simply survive while scoring through hits and holds. To be defeated by a Neophyte is not considered a shameful thing (for one it is rare), with the Battle-Brother mentoring his victor through his early years. Defeated Neophytes however are given no quarter with a great many being killed during the contests.
Known as the Devemshir in Jahani, the literally translated Blood Tax is the recruitment of Astartes aspirants from worlds across the Verana Sector that began following the Sack of Jahan. Their own homeworld now all but unable to provide fresh recruits for the Marines Ardent, they sought out primitive worlds across the sector. The hill tribes of Tropinine, the ice raiders of Sebatolus III and many others have provided new stock for the chapter. Due to the dwindling number of native Astartes, the history and beliefs of the Marines Ardent and Jahan bind the devemshiri with many taking a Jahani name on becoming a full battle-brother. The system is tacitly accepted by Sector Command though following the recent Narnhem Controversy it is being used by the chapter's enemies as proof of 'empire building'.
Commonly translated from Jahani as "the learned" and also known as the Twelve, the Qadi are the chaplains of the Marines Ardent. They form a collective body, all of equal authority. Alongside the traditional spiritual role of the chaplain, the Qadi undertake several important functions. It is their responsibility to oversee the vast archives that contain not only the relics of the chapter but the also the entire history of the Jahani people. On the death of a Bey, they ascend the Silent Tower high above the Hilsari and light the funeral pyre. When the ritual is complete they transport the remains into the lowest depths of the fortress-monastery, the Crypt of Shadows. Here their former liege is united with his predecessors. The Qadi are then locked inside. Surrounded by the lords of Jahan they partake in khatab, a psychoactive herb claimed to connect the Qadi to their Astartes ancestors and He Who Resides. During a day and a night of meditation, it is revealed who amongst the Marines Ardent is worthy to become the new Bey and take up the Sword of Usman.
The Quest of Ibn Farsi
The most famous revelation came in 647.M39 following the death of Murada Bey. The Qadi claimed his ordained heir to be Israfyl, former captain of the 2nd Company, believed by all to have died at the hands of Chaos raiders. Despite the doubts of some battle-brothers, the chaplains did not question the vision given to them. Electing one from amongst their number and a squad of the chapter's finest, they charged them to bring Israfyl home. So began the eight-year quest of Ibn Farsi. Travelling halfway across Ultima Segmentum, Farsi and his band battled Orks and pirates, trekked through steaming jungles and arctic tundra, searched underhives and xenos ruins for any sign of Israfyl. Finally they came to the warp-tainted world of Kthanox, ruled over by Khrone worshippers. Here they discovered Israfyl alive, forced to battle heretics every day in an arena of bones. The Marines Ardent liberated their brother from his cell and together slew his jailers. After rigourous testing of Israfyl's mind and soul for any sign of Chaos taint, they returned to Jahan. Israfyl Bey would come to be remembered as one of the chapter's finest leaders, while the epic journey of Ibn Farsi and his brothers has been etched into the annals of Jahani legend.
The Vanguard Cruiser Ibn Farsi routinely travels to the outer reaches of the Astronomican on punitive expeditions of lawless and xenos worlds in imitation of the fabled Quest. To be chosen for an expedition is a great honour and few Battle-Brothers can expect to rise through the ranks without such a campaign to their name.
The Marines Ardent order of battle includes several unique officer positions although they mostly correspond with standard Codex ranks:
- Bey (Chapter Master)
- Qadi (Chaplain)
- Hotep (Librarian)
- Katiba (Captain)
- Idam (Champion)
- Sevak (Sergeant)
Officially divided into companies according to the Codex Astartes, specialist units of the Marines Ardent form chapter-wide brotherhoods known as Banners or ghaza. When possible these fraternities train, pray and feast together, sharing a distinct philosophy of war.
- Ghaza Muhafizi (Veteran Marines) - led by the Katiba of the 1st Company. Dreadnoughts are considered part of this Banner, most having joined long before their internment. Named for the vast northern mountains where the chapter built its keep. They are the rock on which the Marines Ardent stand.
- Ghaza Basmiri (Assault Marines) - led by the Katiba of the 8th Company. Bike riders and Land Speeder crews are considered part of the Banner. Translating literally as "gallopers", the frenzied outriders of the nomadic tribes. They are often the first -and last- sight the enemies of the Marines Ardent will see.
- Ghaza Khamsini (Devastator Marines) - led by the Katiba of the 9th Company. Tanks crews are considered part of this Banner. Techmarines are deemed honourary members. Named for the deadly sandstorms that ravage their homeworld.
- Usman Fatiha - Battle Barge - Flagship of the Marines Ardent.
- Eternal Jahan - Battle Barge - Underwent major repairs at the Gotha Huron shipyards following the Battle of Paylos in 995.M41.
- Ibn Farsi - Vanguard Cruiser - Primarily used in anti-piracy actions in the Narrows and other frontier regions.
- Nanum Bey - Strike Cruiser - Destroyed at the Battle of the Hylian Rings in 997.M41.
- Scimitar - Strike Cruiser - Transported 5th Company at the outbreak of the Third Armageddon War. Still currently operating in the Armageddon sub-sector.
- Unbound Fury - Strike Cruiser - Part of the Imperial taskforce during the First Tropinine Campaign in 798.M40 against the An'Guem Hegemony. Destroyed the enemy flagship Arrogance of Greatness. Later crippled at the Battle of the Hylian Rings before ramming a Tyranid hive ship.
- Righteous Terror - Strike Cruiser - Base of operations during the Pan'Eshah Massacre in 886.M41.
- Adamim - Gladius-class Frigate - Disappeared during an expedition into the Leng system in 229.M39. Fate unknown.
- Iskender Bey - the current chapter-master of the Marines Ardent. Taking the mantle only a year before the apocalyptic battle against Hive Fleet Samael began, Iskender has spent his entire brief tenure on campaign. Following the defeat of the Tyranid invasion, he has turned his attention to the growing threat from the Hounds of Ynoggua following a major increase in raids and incidents like the Pentitent Sword bombing. A true born son of Jahan, Iskender holds the chapter's beliefs and traditions paramount. His decisions during the Narnhem Controversy are respected by his brothers but they may spell the doom of the Marines Ardent.
- Usman Bey - Founder of the Marines Ardent. Formerly Captain Ullman of the Iron Champions' 7th Company, he accepted a Jahani name and title, becoming the prophesised warrior-king of native legend. For several centuries he led his chapter, securing the Verana Sector across a dozen campaigns. Hollowing his death, the Sword of Usman became the symbol of command for future Beys, the holiest artifact of the chapter and a powerful weapon.
- Kemal the Penitent - Formerly Kemal Bey, a chapter-master renowned for his personal bravery in battle, his eagerness to meet the enemy on all fronts partially led to the disaster known as the Sack of Jahan. Horrified by the damage done to his beloved home, Kemal one last time threw himself into the thick of it, cutting down Warboss Mongork and his Nobz before succumbing to his wounds. This would have been the end but the chapter's Apothecaries and Techmarines were able to revive Kemal in the sarcophagus of a Dreadnaught. He refused to continue as Bey due to what he saw as his crimes. Since then, for over eight hundred years, Kemal has fought on the front-lines, hoping to achieve penance for his mortal failings.
- 'Red' Soluk Katiba - Leader of the 8th Assault Company and head of the Ghaza Basmiri Soluk is a noted warrior, his Assault Marines cutting through enemies on countless worlds. A native of the ice planet Sebatolus III, Soluk gained his nickname for his fiery hair which his brothers mimick by dipping their helmets in enemy blood.