The Spartiate Marines are an Ultramarines Successor Chapter created during the 4th Founding sometime during the late fifth century or early sixth century of M32. They act as a designated offensive force, and paired with those defensive experts the Gatekeepers, are a part of the Hell Warders Chapters - a quintumvirate of five Space Marine Chapters - tasked to defend the Imperium against Chaos incursions from the dual warp rifts known as the 'Hellgates' of Sector Occident Prime, located in the Segmentum Solar uncomfortably close to Holy Terra.
The Spartiate Marines were created during the Fourth Founding along with fellow Ultramarine Successors the Imperius Ravagers, Sons of Gulliman and the Howling Griffins. Their original homeworld was Laconia, located in the Aliris Sector. They were counted as one of the Astartes Praeses, one of twenty Space Marine Chapters charged with protecting the Imperial sectors surrounding the Eye of Terror and supporting Cadia and the Inquisition as needed.
First Hell Crusade (110-199.M36)
The Hellgates are a pair of relatively small warp rifts located in the Thermopylae sub-sector. In M36, the Hellgates were still a part of the ancient Loculus sub-sector, located in the area of the galaxy known as Sector Occident Prime. These dangerous warp rifts are located only 1,000 light years from the Imperial Throneworld of Terra. This region has long been a haven for renegades, outcasts and the followers of the Dark Gods. Within the Hellgates, these hellish realms of Chaos are ruled by all four factions of the Ruinous Powers, who constantly vie with one another for absolute supremacy. Daemonic incursions and the predations by marauding Chaos warbands have been common for millennia.
In 110.M36, a massive Slaaneshi warhost led by the Daemon Prince, Xeraz the Exquisite, and his Chaos allies, erupted from the hellish pleasure realms from within the Ashaklun Gate, and soon the entire sector became embroiled in bloody conflict. Hearing of the massive Chaos incursion, Polemarch Leonidas Gorgo of the Spartiate Marines leads his First, Second and Third companies, along with a regiment of Astra Militarum Laconian Guard Regiments in support of the beleaguered sector. Arriving in the theatre of operations, Polemarch Gorgo found many of the planet names uncannily familiar, especially 'Thermopylae', a name out of the Laconian's most ancient legends. It was instantly clear to him that this was where he should establish his blockading force. He was, of course, well aware of what had happened to those ancient Laconians at Thermopylae, but his aim was to buy time, with all their lives if necessary.
As one of the first Imperial forces to respond, this potent force bought precious time for the Imperial defenders to mount a sufficient counter-attack. Soon several other Space Marine Chapters - including the Golden Castellans, Knights of the Anvil, The Lightning and the Templars Moline - respond to the threat, rushing to commit their strength to the rapidly escalating war. Though several worlds burn in the fires of destruction, and the shadows gather close, throughout the sector, the Emperor's avenging Angels of Death stand fast, determined to save the besieged Imperial worlds of this sector or die in the attempt.
The Spartiate Marines focus all their efforts on superbly devised, ranged kill patterns far superior to any that could be conceived, and thus, launched very successfully executed ambush tactics that assured an extremely high kill ratio, in which every Astartes traded his life for hundreds, if not thousands, of Chaos heretics. After nearly eight decades of bloody conflict, the Imperial forces finally drive the Chaos armada back into the swirling eddies of the Hellgates.
The Hell Warders
The establishment of the Hell Warders Chapter was fully documented in the ancient text known as the Codex Fuego or 'Book of Fire'. According to this ancient text, in 199.M36, following the end of the massive Chaos incursion known as the First Hell Crusade, the High Lords of Terra pronounced an Edict Imperialis in response to the dire predations, ordering several Adeptus Astartes Chapters to permanently base themselves near the Hellgates in order to protect the Imperium's interests and pacify the region. Assigned permanent overwatch over the twin warp rifts, the newly-renamed 'Gatekeepers' Chapter, would stand sentinel over the worlds of Sector Occident Prime. Once the Hell Warders were put in place, the Spartiate Marines lay claim over the feudal world of Sparta, whose feral tribes make excellent candidates as potential Astartes. When the Chapter established themselves, they were accompanied by a large number of Laconian Colonists to maintain their recruitment pool.
Second Hell Crusade (829-933.M37)
Third Hell Crusade (514-918.M39)
Current state of the Chapter
Like many Ultramarnine successor Chapters the Spartiates control more planets than their monastery world of Sparta. There is the Shrine world of Amyclae in the same system as Sparta; the agri-worlds of Helos and Thespis; and warblasted Thermopylae fortified as a forward launch base.
Chapter Home World
The home-world of the Spartiate Marines is a feudal planet with large sections still given over to feral tribes. When the Chapter first established themselves on the world formerly known as Danaan, they were accompanied by a large number of Laconian colonists to maintain their recruitment pool. After eliminating the ruling caste and several warrior tribes, the Spartiate realm expanded quickly expanded across the planet over the course of several centuries. Eventually, the Laconian inhabitants renamed the planet 'Sparta' in honour of the chief city of their homeworld and themselves 'Spartiates'. The Spartiates constituted themselves a military-governing caste over the Danaans or Danaoi general population.
(For further reference please refer to Imperial Data File: Ω4399.35Σ342Z, Subject: Sparta)
Though both they and their birth families reside in the Monastery-Fortress of the Meneleion, Spartiate Marines remain tied to their native townships and blood lineages through their wives and children. Spartiates are extremely eugenically minded meaning they are not about to allow their finest men not to contribute to the greater gene-pool. They prevent this eventuality by extracting the Aspirants' testes as the first stage of their transformation into Space Marines. Spartiate Matrons who have produced notably superior children are chosen to become the Wife of a Space Marine (in addition to her present husband) and arificially inseminated with her new spouse's offspring. She recieves separate maintenance for these children - including a second house for their accommodations neighboring her original home - and is expected to keep the finances of her two families distinct.
Unlike normal Spartiate Husbands Marines never live with their wives but they are not only permitted but expected to visit their households on certain holy days and festivals and take a paternal interest in their offspring.
The Spartiates are generally speaking Codex-compliant but with some very interesting twists:
- The Polemarch - The Polemarch or 'First In War' is the title of the Chapter Master of the Spartiates. He is the battlefield leader of Chapter, ordering deployments and tactics as his judgement requires and the battle develops.
- The Strategos - The Strategos is second-in-command to the Polemarch. As his title suggests he is a practical theorist in the art of war. It is the Strategos who studies the big picture and draws up the plans for a battle or a campaign which he then hands over to the Polemarch for implementation. In the field the role of the Strategos is to analyze military intelligence and advise the Polemarch.
Arch-Captains act as councilors to the Polemarch and the Strategos. They command elements of the Chapter combining two or more companies and fill the duties that in other chapters fall to the Company Captains. They include:
- The Master of the Assault: This Arch-Captain commands the Assault formation when squads are deployed from multiple companies to act as a unit in the field. He also oversees the training of the Chapter's Assault marines.
- The Master of the Drill: Spartiate tactics depend on precision in deployment, maintaining that precision through regular drill and directing the marines in the field is the job of this Arch-Captain
- The Master of the Arsenal: As his title suggests this Arch-Captain in is charge of the heavy weapons and relic weapons used by Devastator marines. He also leads formations of said marines when so required by the mission.
- The Master of the Law: This Arch-Captain holds in his memory the martial customs and traditions of the Chapter. It is his duty to remind the marines of the ancient laws of war that bind them and the high deeds of their predecessors that they must live up to. His presence on the field raises the hearts and courage of the marines to almost miraculous levels. The Master of the Law must be a veteran marine of heroic strength and unstained honor.
- The Master of Recruits: The Arch-Captain who oversees the testing of aspirants and the training of neophytes.
The Banner Guard
The Banner Guard is the elite of the Spartiate Marines. They are the guardians of its standard - and its honour. So high is the level of excellence demanded of these ultimate warriors that though every neophyte dreams of joining them few truly believe that they ever will - and many who have been appointed to the Guard feel so unworthy of the honor that they have to be commanded to accept.
The Spartiate's Techmarines are headed by the Master Armourer. They have also the usual Librarium, Apothecarium and Reclusium. But in addtion to these they have the Strategion made up of Marines who act as planners and intelligence analysts and whose relationship with the Captains echoes that of the Polemarch and Strategos. And the Crypteion; specialists in covert warfare trained as scouts, spies and assassins.
Order of Battle
The Spartiate Marines are divided into the usual ten commanded by ten Captains. All ten companies are full combat formations, there is no Scout company, instead 'passed' neophytes are assigned as equerries to a Battle-Brother. They wear carapace armor and fight beside their mentors, who bear the further burden of setting a worthy example to the youngster.
Weapons and Tactics
The Spartiate Marines operate as heavy infantry bringing shock battle to their opponents in tightly massed formations. In a typical demi-company battle square the first line will consist of assault marines armed with storm-shields locked in a solid wall which smashes into the opponent's lines like hammer with the weight of the successive lines behind it. Even solid fortifications frequently melt under this impact. The files behind the assault marines exploit and widen the initial breech deploying in a wide variety of lines and formations as commanded by the Company Captain or the Master of Drill. Sometimes a heavy weapons barrage will take the place of a shield wall assault depending on the strategic situation and assets available.
A squad of Cryptoi is attached to each Company. It is their job to gather intelligence on the enemy and to sow confusion and fear by assassination and sabotage.
Spartiate Marines are normally supported by Spartiate Guard regiments or Battle-Sisters of the Chalcedony Spear both of whom favor similar tactics. Thespian Artillery and Tank regiments and the Helotian light infantry also regularly take the field alongside the Spartiate Marines along with Danaoi Rough Riders who serve as scouts and skirmishers.
Recruitment and Training
The Spartiate Marines recruit from the Agoge , the state academy that trains young Spartiates to become soldiers. A Battle-Brother is delegated to observe the twelve year old boys undergoing the trials before promotion from day student to boarder. These consist of a mock battle as a trial of skill; a ten day survival test; and finally the (in)famous test of endurance. The Battle-Brother will most likely chose one or two boys to become aspirants. Other boys ambitious to join the Chapter can demand the test of battle; one on one with the Marine. They are not, of course, expected to win. It is their aggression, their determination and spirit that is being judged.
- Gorgopis Pyrrhos-Kleomides - Current Polemarch (Chapter Master) of the Spartiate Marines Space Marine Chapter.
- Mikemenes Stroxus -
- Antalos Abdera
This bellicose and ruthless Chapter was created during the 4th Founding, and share a similar fearsome mien and bitter anima as the Spartiate Marines. Hailing from the same proud lineage of the Ultramarines, these two bloody-handed Chapters forged strong bonds of brotherhood during their long crusade from Macragge to the Segmentum Obscurus, where they were both assigned as Chapters of the Astartes Praeses, one of the several Chapters charged with permanent overwatch of the Eye of Terror. During that time, the Imperium was rife with civil strife and insurrection, and so, the Chapters of the 4th Founding were often of a brutal demeanour, forging ruthless reputations as blood-soaked executioners of the Emperor's divine will. Finding themselves of like mind, these two Chapters launched a brutal war of reciprocity against the heretics, apostate and the xenos.
Riding from the depths of the outer darkness, the formidable flotilla of warships of the Scions of Guilliman launched their campaign of fire and blood from the bloodied void, attacking their foes while they were at their weakest and obliterating them without mercy. Those worlds that had fallen beneath the shadow of the Ruinous Powers, were reserved the greatest measure of these two Chapters' boundless wrath. The full role taken by this independent Astartes battlegroup is impossible to collate. Nevertheless, fragmented accounts of dozens of battles are extant in the scattered records of the era. Some list no more than the Chapters' names, soon a byword for destruction of those who followed the Dark Powers, and can therefore be considered apocryphal, while others are more complete, offering a tantalising glimpse into the many savage wars of this bloody age. This Crusade of vengeance came to be known as the 'Aimatirós Monopáti' or the 'Bloody Path'.
Since that time, though these two Chapters have not fought alongside one another for several millennia, they both swore binding blood-oaths, that should one Chapter ever call upon the other for aid, that they would do so - a debt repaid by both sides only on a handful of occasions.
- "The only thing tougher than a Spartiate Marine is the mother who bore him."
- — Common Spartiate Laconic saying
- "These are Sparta's walls."
- — An Arch-Captain's curt reply after pointing to his warriors, when asked by an Imperial Guard Regimental Commander why the Spartiate Marines lacked fortifications.
- "If once I attack, I will destroy you all, and you shall never rise again."
- — Typical Spartiate Marine reply, when a Chaos Lord threatens them.
- "So that we may get close to the enemy."
- — An unnamed Spartiate Marine, after being asked by a Gatekeepers Space Marine, why their chapter prefers close-assault tactics.
- "To quote a rather stubborn and ancient saying of Terran past, Molon labe, Eleftheria i thanatos. "
- —Chapter Champion, Ligitarto, of the Gila Monsters