The Swiftblade Consortium is a unique military force that operates solely within the Gallican Sector. It's uniqueness comes from the fact that it is made up entirely of mercenaries. The Swiftblade Consortium is composed of seven Mercenary companies, and they currently form a significant portion of the Gallican Sector's military strength. Formed in response to a shortage of Imperial Giard forces as a result of the Sector Quarantine, the Consortium has a binding contract with Sector Governor Herman Palinius for security of the Sector. As a result the Consortium has enjoyed both great wealth and political power within the Gallican Sector, and it is believed that they may replace the Imperial Guard as the dominant Imperial Military faction if the quarantine remains intact for much longer.
When the Quarantine was announced in 945.M40 it was initially believed by many that it would be short lived. The belief was that as long as the Blightspawn were contained within a set area it would only take a short period of time before they were eradicated. This belief eventually proved false, for not only have the Blightspawn not been eliminated, but more seem to come into existence with each passing decade. As a result the Gallican Quarantine persists to this day.
Once it sunk in that the quarantine would not be ending any time in the near future many within the Sector began to panic. While the Gallican mostly had enough resources among its world to support itself tenuously, being cut off from the rest of the Imperium created shortages of much needed resources within the Sector. A standard century after the quarantine had been instated several planets were laid low by famine, or regressed technologically do to a lack of resources necessary to maintain their technology.
One of the chief resources that the Gallican sector was denied were able bodied soldiers. The Gallican sector had a prior history for upheaval, and thus they had a sizable force of Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy elements. Furthermore they possessed a number of Imperial Guard recruiting worlds that regularly produced regiments, such as Akjuda and Taran. However with each passing decade the situation within the sector became less stable. In addition to ever increasing Blightspawn infestations the Sector has been raided by pirates and Xenos who have seen an opportunity for plunder in the weakened sector. Furthermore the rule of the Emperor has been challenged by ever more common rebellions launched by devious despots and the desperate peoples of many worlds, and the taint of foul Chaos Cults can be found on many worlds. As a result attrition has slowly but surely worn away at the manpower of the Sector's Imperial military institutions, first and foremost being the Guard.
As the 41st Millennium wound to a close this issue reached critical proportions. The Gallican Sector's Imperial Guard was extremely man starved, and despite instituting significant conscription throughout the civilian populace of the Sector the issue wasn't getting any better. Many of those that were forcibly conscripted were either ineffective soldiers, or quickly deserted their imposed post. The Sector needed a way to increase the number of reliable, willing soldiers at it's disposal, and it needed it soon.
It was in the midst of these desperate times that an ambitious and enterprising mercenary commander by the name of Jackson Swiftblade came up with a clever scheme. Swiftblade and his mercenary band, the Rogue Legion, had been doing fairly good business. There were always nobles and Planetary Governors that were craving a little more firepower in these troubled times. However The Rogue Legion's official status as outlaws, which they had earned on account of them being originally founded by Imperial Guard deserters, hurt their business prospects. Furthermore Jackson saw that the dire straights that the sector was in could provide even greener pastures if he could be inventive enough to exploit them.
Swiftblade realized that he did not have the resources necessary to accomplished what he had planned. So he sought out his six biggest competitors. With a good deal of clever political maneuvering, charm and promises of unequaled riches he eventually got them to put aside their differences and unite into a single, loosely bound alliance. He then approached Lord Sector Herman Palinius with a proposal. In return for pardons for previous crimes, considerable pay and the granting a special freedoms this newly formed alliance of mercenaries would provide the military force that the Sector desperately needed. the Newly formed Swiftbalde Consortium would be able to recruit from sources that the Guard normally couldn't, including some of the less reputable segments of the population, and could motivate them with one of mankinds oldest vices. Greed.
While there was considerable rancor being brought to the surface about the idea, Lord Palinius decided to accept the offer. While many believed that entrusting the protection of the Sector and its worlds to a bunch of dishonorable, money grubbing mercenaries was unacceptable, the Governor saw little choice in the matter. The Imperial Giard was increasingly stretched thin, and the Sector was in dire need of determined troops and in great numbers. Thus it was that the Swiftblade Consortium formed an exclusive contract with the Sector, providing mercenary soldiers in great numbers in return for pay and resources.
With access to a portion of the Sector's military resources, and their coffers stuffed with more money than they had ever seen the mercenary bands of the Consortium set to their task with zeal. They began recruiting far more soldiers to fight for them. The promise of money allowed them to recruit manpower from sources that the Guard often could not, and insured that the new recruits were motivated to do their job. They also took the time to eliminate several mercenary companies that had been competing with them. The Consortium was now almost exclusively the only professional mercenary organization in the Sector, and while the Gallican Sector's contract held with regards to how much pay they recieved, they could now charge greater fees to outside parties for mercenary work. Things were going well.
While many believe that the Consortium is undeserving of the pay and privileges that they are given, those people discount the impact that the Consortium has had on the military affairs of the Sector. The Consortium earns its considerations by fighting across the Sector, and in many of the most brutal theaters of these troubled starts. In many areas there will be as many Consortium mercenaries as there will be Imperial Guardsmen. The Consortium has gradually expanded its military power and political influence. Many within the Sector fear that the Consortium are becoming too powerful, and there are rumors that Swiftblade intends to replace the Imperial Guard entirely as the Sector's primary fighting force. Such a position would give the Consortium nearly unequaled power and authority.
The Rogue Legion
The Rogue Legion is the leading company of the Swiftblade Consortium. Lead by the de facto leader of the Consortium, Jackson Swiftblade, the Legion has a highly checkered past. It was originally an Imperial Guard Company that deserted during a particularly brutal battle. Captain Swiftblade knew that they could not go back to the Imperium without being brought down with charges of treason, insubordination and desertion, and thus realized the Company needed a means to support itself. This means would come in the form of fighting for the highest bidder. When Swiftblade approached Palinius about his Consortium the Rogue Legion was officially pardoned of their crimes in return for fighting for the Imperium once again. While the Legion is beaten in certain aspects by the other military companies, none of them combine numbers, high end equipment and professional soldiers in the potent mix that the Rogue Legion does. This makes them the most effective and versatile of the mercenary companies.
The Ghost Brigade has a well founded reputation for using elite, highly trained mercenaries, better than those of any of the other companies. Almost all of the Ghost Brigade's mercs originally came from the Imperial Guard. Admission into the Ghost Brigade is strict, and only professional veteran solders are accepted. Compounded with an extremely demanding training program this results in mercs that can hold their own amongst the Imperium's best soldiers. As a trade off for the quality of their mercs the Ghost Brigade is the smallest in terms of manpower. They make up for this by specializing in stealth, small unit tactics and asymmetrical warfare. The Ghost Brigade is the one the Guard calls when they need an operation done professionally, but do not want to risk their own Storm Troopers and Grenadiers.
Gilded Moon was originally founded by a spoiled, bored young aristocrat who grew tired of the tedium of noble life. Taking a good portion of his families considerable wealth as well as a fraction of their private army he went out to seek fame and fortune on the battlefield. His mercenary gang drew other young nobles of a similar disposition as well as their personal guards into their ranks. Gilded Moon was born. Gilded Moons general philosophy is that to be the best you have to have the best equipment. No other mercenary company in the sector can claim to have better equipped mercenaries as Gilded Moons aristocratic officer class spares no expense to make sure their soldiers have the best. For the longest time Gilded Moon served as an exclusive mercenary band for the economic and political elite. This combined with the arrogance and self-entitlement of its officers have caused many soldiers to view them as a bunch of foppish wimps. This is an unfair stereotype, for while Gilded Moon's officers generally view themselves above petty combat and are often unblooded, the rank and file are often those that served as the bodyguards and soldiers of their noble families, and as befitting of well paid mercenaries are highly professional.
In the Gallican Sector Holocaust is a name synonymous with brutality and carnage. Holocaust draws its recuits from the savage Gangers found in the Sector's many Underhives, and from Feral Worlders that they often forcibly recruite into their ranks. These new recruits are then subjected to an unecessarily harsh and violent training regimen that many don't survive. By the time their training is done they will have grown tough and angry from the horrible abuses they had suffered. Add to this the fact that Holocaust makes use of potent combat stimulants with its men and you have a recipe for tough, savage warriors simply frothing at the chance to inflict harm onto others. The infantry of the Holocaust is easily the most tough and ruthless of any mercenary band, and have some of the best assault and CQC soldiers in the sector. However they suffer from a blackened reputation as a result. Stories of the violence Holocaust troopers have committed against both enemies, allies and civilians have resulted and more than a little mistrust. However for fearless soldiers that are willing to stoop to any kind of savagery in the name of profit sometimes the risk is worth it.
The Scrappers originated in the salvage plains of Ganos. The Scrappers are masters of salvage, taking any scrap, spare parts and garbage and turning them into passable equipment and vehicles. The Scrappers prefer to fight with plenty of armor, making use of tanks and APCs of their own design, and even creating suits of armor for their infantry out of scrap metal. Some of the other mercenaries and the Imperial Guard turn their noses up at the Scrappers' crude, primitive looking vehicles, and some with less delicacy even compare these vehicles to those of the Orks. However these people would be surprised out how effectively the Scrappers fight. Their tanks and APCs may be primitive, but they are sturdy, easily repaired and numerous. The Scrappers often boast that no other mercenary company can dish and and withstand the amount of punishment they can, and not unjustly. There toughness comes at the cost of speed, but they don't mind. When lighter, softer foes are beginning to gasp for air and lick their wounds, the Scrappers will just keep coming.
He who strikes first and fastest usually wins. That is the martial philosophy of Razorwind. To these mercenaries the key to victory is highly mobile warfare. Razorwind makes use of a number of Fast attack vehicles, swift transports and special civilian aircraft that have been modified for combat in order to conduct lightning fast warfare against their enemies. To Razorwind the way to win is to hit first, hit as many times as possible, and then not be there when the enemy is ready to hit back. Thus Razorwind mercenaries are experts at skirmishes, hit-and-run tactics and whip quick surprise assaults. They are also the most gifted mercenaries in the use of airborn infantry. As a result of their martial philosophy they lack lasting power and if caught in a corner have very little chance of winning, but nine times of of ten they will be gone before a fight has a chance to drag itself out.
The Hive is looked upon with derision by both the Imperial Guard and their fellow mercenaries alike. Most of the mercenary bands of the Swiftblade Consortium have some black mark or another on their reputations. However the Hive's reputation is worse still due to the low quality of their soldiers. Even while Holocaust is mistrusted for their brutality they are still respected for their fearlessness and aggression. The Hive on the other hand does not employ mercenaries of any kind of caliber. In fact most of their mercenaries have no combat experience at all. The Hive thrive on a quantity over quality ideology that even Imperial Guard commanders find unpleasant. Hive recruiters sweep through the poor and destitute of Hive Cities, offering pay to generous to refuse. These unwashed masses are given no formal training and sub-standard equipment that no professional soldier would go into battle with. They are then thrown en masse at the military objective until the desired result is acquired. To the Hive their soldiers are cheap and easily replaceable. After all why waste money on the best when you can save it by buying in bulk?
- "Quarantine...what a shame, because laws and fleets are surefire way to keep me from doing business with the Swiftblade Consortium, surely."
- "No I will not answer any questions about these...armies of private forces working within the Gallican Sector, no i do not know when the quarantine will end. And by the Emperor if you ask if the 91st thinks that any such non-existent military force in the sector will be able to slow our chimeras down, I will personally make you swallow that vox-recorder am I clear?"
- —Colonel Vladimir Zhukov XIV of the 91st Ozue Mechanized Infantry Regiment