- "Let them know fear and terror! Let them know that behind every rock and tree and bush lurks a tiger! They were born on this world but these jungles belong to us!"
- — Colonel Sokhem Asna
The Wild Tigers is the name collectively given to Imperial Guard regiments hailing from the planet Tropinine in the Verana Sector. Light infantry specialising in jungle and mountain warfare, infiltration and counter-insurgency, the Wild Tigers are known for their resourcefulness on campaign and devastating guerilla tactics.
Drawn primarily from the hill tribes of their home world, the Tigers developed from loyalist partisans fighting during the Second Tropinine War (841-846.M40) against the Chaos invaders. This heritage has made them fervently religious with a particular zeal for fighting the Ruinous Powers and other traitors to the God-Emperor. They also retain a flexible, independent-minded approach to war and have a reputation as plunderers and black marketeers. The spread of K-Tab, a highly addictive narcotic, across the Eastern Fringe in recent centuries has been linked by the Adeptus Arbites with the deployment of Wild Tiger regiments.
Knowledge of Tropinine's existence did not reach the Imperium until the late 39th millennium. At that point the planet and it's human inhabitants had been under the rule of the An'Guem Hegemony for well over a thousand years. A regional alien space empire, the An'Guem had quickly overpowered the native pre-industrial states and forced their kings to accept the vassalage of the Hegemon. Xeno rule was lax. In return for tributes of food, resources and slaves the An'Guem allowed the local rulers to carry on as before, albeit under the watchful eye of a colonial garrison.
The occupation brought peace between the Tropinese kings, stability and access to the markets of the Hegemony, bringing in new medicines and crops. However the slow collapse of the alien empire, partly due to civil wars and partly due to the Imperium saw corruption and hardship strangle Tropinine. The tithes grew as the increasingly decadent puppet kings retreated to their palaces guarded by alien soldiers. By the mid-40th millennium word had spread to the planet from Tropinese serving off-world as servants to the An'Guem of the mighty Imperium. An empire that dwarfed that of their hated masters and was composed of fellow humans.
These fragments of information soon became legend and prophesies of liberation saw the growth of numerous millenarian cults and resistance groups.
War of Holy Liberation
The death of the great Hegemon Shenko'jira in 797.M40 saw the briefly resurgent empire collapse into anarchy. Taking advantage, the Imperium launched an invasion of several frontier worlds. Tropinine with its human population and lush environment was the prime target. The Imperial task force, including a Strike Cruiser and several squads of the Marines Ardent, obliterated the poorly-maintained xeno fleet guarding the planet. The sight of An'Guem ships burning in the atmosphere triggered pandemonium on Tropinine.
Rebellion spread across the planet, her kings and others seen as servants of the xenos were torn apart by mobs. Somnang Sut, a prominent cult leader known as the White Lion quickly became the figurehead of the native resistance, declaring a Holy War of Liberation and sending waves of fanatics against the heavily-armed citadels of the An'Guem. Sut proved himself as much a politician as a prophet quickly presenting himself to the Imperial commanders as lord of Tropinine. Meeting with members of the Ecclesiarchy, Sut also converted to the Imperial Cult declaring to his followers that "new revelations" had clarified his faith, previously based on the mystical polytheistic beliefs native to the planet. Imperial forces combined with the native resistance crushed the isolated alien garrisons within six months. Though Sector Command deemed it wise to install an outsider as Governor, the White Lion's powerbase and religious zeal, however contrived, saw him raised to the title of Pontifex, leader of the Imperial Cult on Tropinine.
For forty years, Somnang Sut was the real power on Tropinine. His zealous followers spread the Imperial Cult across the planet. However many natives held their ancient beliefs sacred and found themselves victims of pogroms and public immolation. The realities of life under the Imperium saw many of the rebels who had faught the An'Guem continue the resistance against their new human overlords led by the 'heathen' Vana Tok.
Into this situation stepped Lord Lyconus, a former Astartes and leader of the Hounds of Ydyros, a Chaos warband that had plagued Verana Sector for centuries. Communicating through covert agents, Lyconus made an alliance with Tok promising the Tropinese rebels salvation from the terrors of the Imperium. In 841.M40 the Hounds' fleet entered the planet's system. Accustomed to small raids from the warband, the Imperium was unaware of the true extent of Lyconus' forces and had made little preparation for a full blown invasion of Tropinine. The meagre Planetary Defence Forces and feudal militias proved no match for the battle-hardened Hounds and Tok's rebels newly armed with las and autoguns. Tok called for a return to the old gods and declared himself high king though the taint of Chaos soon made itself known. Lord Lyconus' motivations for the invasion, save to cause problems for the Imperium, remain something of a mystery.
Similar invasions and uprisings supported by the Hounds spread through the Sector. It was three years before Imperial forces returned to Tropinine, the last world held by Lyconus. By this point Tok's rule had degenerated into a parody of Sut's with the Black Temple, a nihilistic cult centred around the Tropinese god of death, taking on the trappings of Ecclesiarchy, buring and torturing servants of the God-Emperor. The White Lion had vanished to the despair of the faithful (Imperial authorities later identified Sut had died attempting to escape the planet in disguise, something that has remained classified ever since). However some continued to resist. The tribes of the thick jungle highlands had been some of the most fervent converts to the Imperial Cult and buoyed by those fleeing the Black Temple, a large army of loyalist partisans began to form. Guerilla attacks against the Hounds and Tok's forces increased by the day. Efforts to flush out the loyalists usually ended in disaster with impaled traitors marking the boundaries of their territory. Bombings and assassinations spread the resistance to the towns. Tok made numerous pronouncements against them, declaring them 'wild tigers', predators stalking the fringes of Tropinine society. The name was happily taken up by the loyalists.
When Imperial forces made planetfall in 844.M40, the partisans quickly made contact and the two forces slowly pushed the traitors out of the cities. Tok and the Hounds retreated to strongholds, some former An'Guem citadels, others veritable fortresses dug into the mountains of Tropinine, from where they conducted their own guerilla campaign. Due to Hound numbers and the skills needed, the majority of the fighting was soon between native Tropinese irregulars, a brutal civil war bathed in religious hatred. The dedication and effectiveness of the loyalists impressed the Imperial commanders, particularly Colonel Etson of the 233rd Catachan Jungle Fighters. The Catachans and Wild Tigers became close allies during two years of merciless battle in the forests and hills. The final confrontation came at the Battle of Mount Malaking in 846.M40. Thousands of Catachans and Wild Tigers, led by a vanguard of Assault Terminators of the Marines Ardent slowly pushed through the labyrinth of tunnels beneath the mountain. During three weeks of close-quarter fighting the traitors were slaughtered to a man.
The trials and horrors of the Second Tropinine War had if nothing else proved the fighting prowess of the native loyalists. Lord Lyconus had escaped the planet. Despite his defeat he had proven his ability to strike deep into Imperial territory and attack worlds previously thought secure. Both facts combined, Colonel Etson sent a report to Sector Command encouraging the creation of Imperial Guard regiments from the partisans to better defend the region. In truth there was little work required beyond making it official. After several years fighting alongside Guardsmen, the Wild Tigers had adopted much of the weaponry and command structure of their Catachan allies. Hungry for good soldiers, Sector Command agreed. In 855.M40 the 1st Tropinine Rifles were established, composed entirely of Wild Tiger veterans. They retained their wartime name and lineage which has continued now for over a millennium.
Raised in a hostile landscape ranging from snowy peaks to equatorial swamp, the Wild Tigers quickly adapt to their surroundings on campaign. Often sent behind enemy lines, they will split up into smaller columns before heading into the wilderness to raid supply depots and ambush patrols. When employed as counter-insurgents such as during the Saint Maximon Cleansing (919.M41), the Tigers will run a campaign of terror, isolating the population from the rebels and publicly displaying the impaled bodies of enemies to dry up support. Even when given responsibility to defend a conventional front line the Tigers employ their craft, digging elaborate tunnel networks, traps and decoy positions to throw off the enemy.
The Wild Tigers favour self-reliance, each company having its own battery of mortar teams to act as on-spot artillery. Hunting being a favourite Tropinese pastime, sniper teams are maintained in every company also. Some Wild Tiger regiments such as the 88th which fought through the Wirak Campaign (314.M41) have picked up Ratling units. They readily welcome the dinimutive Abhumans with their talents for marksmanship, cooking and 'commerce', all skills held highly amongst the Wild Tigers.
Overwhelmingly light infantry, most Tiger regiments maintain several troops of mounted scouts, usually riding the Maximonite Raptor, a hardy reptilean steed or in Sentinels. In battle such mounted units are often used in flanking attacks.
When brute force is required, veteran squads called Breachers lead the way. Taking their name from the tunnel fighting of Mount Malaking, Breachers specialise in close-quarter action. Armed with flamers, shotguns, blades and a variety of explosives, they cut through enemy lines clearing the way for the rest of the company.
The Tropinese are deeply religious with each Wild Tiger carrying some Ecclesiarchic symbol into battle. Ministorum Priests are always well represented within their ranks with at least one per company. Prior to a major battle or long patrol, the men will bow before their unit priest to recieve the Emperor's blessing. The holy men are well respected by the Tropinese which is in stark contrast to their often difficult relationships with commissars. With platoons, often entire companies made up of men from a particular village, discipline is lax and away from the front lines there is little to distinguish the officers from the men. This natural bond has proven invaluable on many occassions but the lack of esprit de corps has led to numerous ineffectual reprimands from commissars and commanding officers.
Often such an offended party can be bought off. The Wild Tigers have a well-earned reputation as scavengers and black marketeers. A boon due to often their need to live off the land, Tropinese soldiers are always on the lookout for a better gun and quickly make connection with smuggling outfits when on campaign. Many Wild Tigers are also members of the Liga, a Tropinese criminal organisation that has stretched through the Vernana Sector sometimes even via the positing of Wild Tiger forces. For all their value as light infantry, commanders using the Tropinese have to accept increases in gambling, racketeering and drug use amongst neighbouring units as the price.
Perhaps the most infamous export of Tropinine is K-Tab a highly-addictive stimm drug made of chemically purified khatab. Also known as Redweed, khatab is a naturally grown mild psychadelic found on the planet's mountainsides. Chewed in its natural form by the Wild Tigers it helps maintain alertness for hours at a time, with stronger doses supposedly triggering mystical visions. The latter made it an attractive product for the Sector's drugs trade and through the Liga and the Wild Tigers it has spread rapidly in recent centuries in the form of K-Tab. Passed on to civilian populaitons, ship crews and allied forces, K-Tab has reached further into the Segmentum and has become a concern for the Adeptus Arbites. Despite the connection being common knowledge, Wild Tigers of all ranks have refused to discuss the issue with outsiders.
Colonel Ralo Hueng "Red Bison" - Commander of the 73rd Wild Tigers, Hueng and his men fought in the mountains of Eloknoptra Prime against Waaagh! Tufgit. Hueng earnt his honorific for his stubborn defence of the Kellerak Ridge in 966.M41. Utilising his environment, the Colonel connected the strategic peaks of Kellerak through underground tunnels allowing reserves to move quickly to areas under attack and providing sallying points to outflank the Ork assaults. After four months of bloody combat several mountains had fallen to the Greenskins isolating Peak 151, Hueng's headquarters and lynchpin of the Kellerak defence.