Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Master of the Faith Lunatus Maximus: A Brief History (Part II)

Reclusiarch Lunatus Maximus has seen over three hundred years of service among the Knights of Glory. The monstrous roar of his bike's engine is a sound feared by many a chaos lord and warboss, and his mere presence on the battlefield is enough to invigorate the war-weary battle brothers over whom he has watch.  In any conflict where speed is key, Maximus is sure to be on the front lines, his cataphracti spearheading an armored assault, striking deep behind enemy lines, or smashing enemy advances against his shield.
Maximus was an orphan on a hive world named Kanabera.  Most of the planet's Hive-Cities had long been abandoned (the exception being Hive Thunderdome, which was home to a shrine erected by the Emperor Himself when He conquered the world during the Great Crusade). Though most of Kanabera's inhabitants had long since left or perished, the underhivers and other scum on the planet stubbornly persisted in their survival, roving about the surface of the desert world in mobile caravan-convoys or raiding parties, or scratching out an existence farming cacti in walled fortress compounds.  It was in the burning ruins of one of these fortress-settlements that the outriders of the Knights of Glory's Order Errant found Maximus.  A boy of roughly twelve years, Lunatus was discovered sitting in a rusty hulk of an automobile in the center of the wrecked town.  He was alone, clad in black leather, with a crude scattergun across his lap and a mongrel dog sitting obediently by his side.  Surrounding him were the corpses of a dozen raiders.  The Knights Errant took the child with them and offered him a chance to serve the Emperor among the stars.  He distinguished himself early, and his climb through the ranks was swift, his faith in the Emperor absolute.

Shortly after his promotion to Chaplain, the Knights of Glory were called back to Kanabera in pursuit of an Eldar pirate Corvette.  While the Chapter's strike cruiser searched for the renegade vessel, the Eldar pirates settled down on Kanabera, hoping to repair their ship.  When they landed, the pirates callously exterminated several nearby settlements in order to secure peace and isolation for their repairs.  They proceeded to obliterate any caravan that crossed the highways they had claimed as their own.

Maximus had become something of a legend among the nomads of Kanabera in his absence. Many of the locals referred to him as the "star child." He rode his bike from town to town, bringing tales of his many battles and of the conflict that brought him back to his homeworld.  His tales of alien brutality spread among the caravans and raiders of the world and united the fractious people of Kanabera in a way none could have forseen.  Certainly they had been fighting one another most of their lives, but they were, at heart, the descendants of criminals and scum.  The only thing criminal scum hate more than one another is outsiders.  Maximus, who had seemingly come back from the stars to aid his people in their time of greatest need, swore a personal vendetta against every member of the pirate crew that tainted the soil of his home.  He sped from settlement to settlement and trade route to trade route, amassing a truly staggering army of misfits, gangsters, and guns for hire.  Then, with hundreds of Kanaberans driving dozens of battered old vehicles from motorcycles to armored buses, Maximus lead an assault on the Eldar landing ground.

While the ragtag hivers followed the mighty Chaplain and his handpicked vanguard into battle on the surface, the strike cruiser of the Steel Revenants positioned itself above the hidden Eldar camp.  With the alien raiders distracted by the large force of mon'keigh on the ground, a dozen Thunderhawks screamed in from above, disgorging scores of Marines on bikes, while land speeders strafed the corvette with their deadly weapons.  The Eldar's jetbikes and Vypers were quick to respond, sowing death among hiver and battle brother alike, but Lunatus Maximus, on his heavy bike, hunted down the swifter Eldar craft with a combination of sublime maneuvering skills and brilliant use of terrain.  Here he earned his title as the Road Warrior when he rode his bike off of a cliff and down onto the top of a speeding Fire Prism tank, which he demolished with a single expertly-placed melta bomb.  The resultant explosion took off his right arm to the elbow and drove shards of Eldar wraithbone into his primary heart, but the destruction of the big gun turned the tide of the battle in the humans' favor.  The Apothecarium saved the Chaplain's life and replaced his arm with a revered augmentic relic said to have been possessed by the first Master of the Faith.

In battle, the Chaplain is never seen off of his bike.  When he returns to the Chapter's fortress-monastery, he spends most of his time ministering to the faith of the Squires who will one day serve alongside him.  Here, he has an almost uncanny ability to select those who will become the future heroes of the chapter and nurture them to their full potential, but this has made a few of the Chapter's leaders uneasy.  Though they would never say so to him directly, they whisper that perhaps he simply chooses upcoming youths he believes will be most loyal and hopes, one day, to seize the position of Master of Virtues. The current Master will hear none of it, claiming that if you cannot trust the most faithful of your brothers, then you are already doomed.  So far, that trust has been repaid a thousandfold with victories on the battlefield and with numerous fresh battle-brothers whose skills are nearly on par with the Chapter's veterans.

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