Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Better Know a Chapter: The Dragons Rampant - Armada Draconis

     The Dragons Rampant are an Imperial Fists successor chapter that follows in the footsteps of the Black Templars - a fanatical, spaceborne crusade chapterthat specializes in brutal hand-to-hand combat. Many of the spacecraft in the Dragons' fleet are named after mythical creatures of ancient Terra. Likewise, upon attaining a sufficiently high rank in the Chapter, it is not unheard of for an aspiring Tyrant (roughly equivalent to a Marshal of the Black Templars) to assume the name of a mythical dragon. The office of Emperor's Champion is replaced in the Dragons Rampant by the office of Slayer. Slayers are peerless combatants, and also the ultimate arbiters of Armada law among Astartes and human crew alike. Each ship in the Armada nominates one Slayer, who takes the name of a dragon-killer of old (most ships' Slayers take the name of their predecessor). Slayers are always on the lookout for heretics and sorcerors within the Fleet, and are swift and merciless in disposing of both.
     Warning: May contain tl;dr.
     These are the seven largest capital ships in the Armada Draconis. Each of these battleships is accompanied by an escort of cruisers and support craft. Taking after the Black Templars from which their gene-seed was derived, the Dragons Rampant care little for the 1000-man limit imposed by the Codex Astartes. On the rare occasions when the entire Armada Draconis comes together, it is rumored that there may be as many as a hundred capital ships and ten thousand battle-brothers. It may be that these numbers are greatly exaggerated, either by Grand Tyrants wishing to project the impression of great strength or by detractors wishing to see the Dragons Rampant brought low by the Inquisition.

Major ships in the Armada Draconis:
Fafnir - A Battle Barge that originally belonged to the Space Wolves in the days of the Great Crusade, Fafnir was one of the ships thought to have been brought by the Thirteenth Great Company when they went into the Eye of Terror. Fafnir first reappeared at the dawn of the 35th Millennium as part of the Space Hulk Augur's Folly. The Armada Draconis (at this time no more than a few battered old strike cruisers and a dozen escort frigates) happened upon the hulk completely by chance, but when scouting parties found Orks within, Grand Tyrant Tarog Daur acted swiftly to purge the greenskin infestation. The fighting was hard and bloody, but the Dragons triumphed, and as a prize they claimed Fafnir. The other tangled within the hulk were deemed irrevocably tainted by the blasphemous energies of the Warp and scuttled. Fafnir was the first Battle Barge to be added to the Armada Draconis, and its massive size and generous facilities (forges, armories, etc.) allowed the spaceborne Chapter to nearly double in size. Fafnir is traditionally the Grand Tyrant's flagship. Fafnir's Slayer takes the name Sigurd.

Balaur - The second Battle Barge added to the Armada Draconis, Balaur is a pre-Heresy battle barge originally owned by the Alpha Legion. When the Legion turned on the Emperor, the Imperial Army and Adeptus Mechanicus elements on Balaur remained loyal to the Emperor. Fierce fighting took place on every deck; though the Alpha Legion were outnumbered by as much as 20 to 1, Balaur's decks and bulkheads provided the perfect battleground for a detachment of Astartes. In the end, the Alpha Legionnaires were victorious over Balaur's crew, but the Barge itself was critically damaged, and so the Alpha Legion reluctantly abandoned the crippled vessel. Thousands of years later, a raiding party emerged from the Eye of Terror and led a band of cultists to retrieve the ship. A force Dragons Rampant battle-brothers tracked the Alpha legionnaires to Balaur's resting place. The dozen Alpha Legionnaires and their fanatical followers were not enough to stay the wrath of fully a hundred Dragons Rampant, who claimed Balaur as their own. Balaur's Slayer takes the name Fath-Frumos.

Azi Dahaka - This Retribution-class battleship was once the flagship of Warmaster Shariid Mazak-hal, an Imperial Navy Admiral of great renown. The admiral was Warmaster of a massive Crusade to crush the Ork empire of Mekboss Zarg Red-Axe. His crusade was remarkably successful, scoring several major victories over the Mekboss so that, before long, his subordinates turned on him and the Ork empire collapsed into infighting. However, once the Warmaster finished driving the Orks from the sector, he turned traitor, declaring himself Regent and claiming all Imperial tithes from nearby systems. He used the money, resources, and soldiers levied to create a military dictatorship and fortify a score of worlds in what he began calling "The New Empire." The Dragons Rampant were among the Imperial forces tasked to crush Shariid's fledgeling empire and bring him to justice. Though a master of naval strategy, Shariid's military expertise did not extend to battles planetside, and his upstart government was toppled in short order. The Dragons Rampant claimed Azi Dahaka as spoils of war, making her the third battleship in the Armada Draconis. Azi Dahaka's Slayer takes the name of Kaveh.

Lotan - Lotan was the first Battle-Barge crafted specifically for the Dragons Rampant. The chapter took up arms against the tyrant Goge Vandire during the Age of Apostasy, and were instrumental in liberating a shrine-world from the grip of one of Vandire's corrupt Cardinals. As a reward, Chapter archives claim, Sebastian Thor personally petitioned the Fabricator-General to build a ship that would commemorate their faithful service. Her crew claims that Lotan is the luckiest ship in the Armada; indeed, she has suffered much less damage over the years than any other capital ship in the Armada. Lotan's Slayer takes the name of Bael Hadad.

Illuyanaka - The Storm Lions are one of the few Space Marine chapters ever to be completely destroyed. One of the chapters created during the Cursed 21st Founding, the Storm Lions did not, at first, seem to suffer from the same woes as many other chapters of that founding. However, on the millennial anniversary of their Founding, the Storm Lions gathered on their Fortress-World for an enormous feast. As soon as the last trailing members of the chapter had arrived, a massive force of Eldar descended upon them. Some emerged from hiding beneath stealth fields and camo cloaks. Others attacked straight from the Webway through portals well-hidden from human eyes. Caught unawares, and many of them without their armour or weapons, the Storm Lions were cut down almost to a man. The few remaining Storm Lions, numbering now less than Company strength, boarded a Strike Cruiser and set off on a vengeance crusade to track down the Eldar who had doomed them. In the wake of their destruction, much of the Storm Lions' wargear and many of their vehicles were left ownerless. The Dragons Rampant claimed the battle-barge Thunderhead as their own and renamed the ship. Illuyanaka's Slayer takes the name Tarhunt.

Ismenia - An Oberon-Class Battleship that was found drifting and derelict, Ismenia has since been retrofitted with enhanced armor and the Bombardment Cannons favored by the Adeptus Astartes. It is unknown what, exactly, killed the crew of this battleship; when she was discovered by Dragons Rampant recon ships, her entire compliment of thousands had been dismembered, their blood smeared on the bulkheads and their body parts littering the floor. Though several Tyrants voiced objections, the Grand Tyrant claimed Ismenia for the Armada. The ship was boarded, scrubbed, and recommissioned. Though Tyrants through the ages have tried to squash the superstitions surrounding Ismenia, tales persist of spectral apparitions in the deepest decks of the ship, ghostly wails, and crewmen disappearing, never to be seen again. Ismenia's Slayer takes the name Cadmus.

Gorynych - The youngest battleship in the Armada Draconis, Gorynych was built at the Jupiter shipyards during the 40th Millennium. Gorynych is typically given to the command of the fleet's youngest or most inexperienced Tyrant. At fewer than two thousand years old, Gorynych's name does not carry the prestigeof some of the other ships in the Imperium. Most Tyrants see this as a challenge rather than a stigma, and much honor has been won by the Tyrants who captain this vessel. Gorynych's slayers take the name Vadim.

No comments:

Post a Comment