The Cobalt Scions are an all-primaris chapter created from Ultramarines gene stock. Initially they participated in the Indomitus Crusade. After a century of crusading, Guilliman has assigned them to watch over a region of the Segmentum Pacificus from their new home system of Thonis.
The Scions' heraldry is very close to their gene-sires, with the bulk of the armour painted the same blue as the Ultramarines. The two differences are their white pauldrons, and their company markings displayed on the left kneepad rather than on the shoulder trim. Since the Cobalt Scions' guiding principle is flexibility, none of the squads display the traditional tactical/assault/devastator symbols, but merely numerals denoting their squad number within their company.
The primary exception to the chapter's bright blue heraldry can be seen on their camouflaged Phobos-pattern armour, which is repainted to suit the local terrain.
The blue fist used in the Scions' heraldry symbolises the Gauntlets of Ultramar, as the chapter is particularly keen on celebrating and aspiring to the deeds of their forebears.
The Cobalt Scions are only partially Codex compliant. They argue that they follow its rules in spirit, just not in detail, and have reworked elements to suit Cawl's new equipment.
A recruit's journey
When recruited, a novitiate is assigned to the 10th Company to begin their training. Once considered battlefield ready, they are issued carapace armour and used as a reserve that is only called upon when the need is desperate, since the chapter is still under strength and cannot afford to throw its less durable recruits into serious firefights. Consequently, novitiates are generally given garrison duties and other auxiliary tasks. During this phase of training, Novitiates are also expected to familiarise themselves with Guilliman's works on governance, along with other texts of similar note. Novitiates soon learn they must show administrative aptitude if they hope to advance through the ranks.
Once a Novitiate has been given their final implants they are assigned to one of the reserve companies. Here, surrounded by more experienced marines, they will learn to master one specific role (such as Intercessor, Aggressor, Infiltrator, and so on). Over time they will be rotated through different reserve companies, until eventually they have mastered all the forms of war practised by the Astartes. At this point, most will be given the honour of joining one of the battle companies. Those that show a particular gift for infiltration will be assigned to the 10th Company's Vanguard, and will spend the bulk of their career in Phobos plate.
Any marine who proves their valour and skill may one day hope to be elevated to the veteran ranks of the First Company, whose venerable warriors are generally divided among the various active battlegroups so that they are better able to share their knowledge.
The Twofold Path
Once a brother has been elevated into the battle companies, there are several routes to further advancement and greater personal glory. If they show spectacular aptitude for the martial virtues, they may pursue such honoured roles as membership of the Bladeguard, a position as a company ancient, or service in the First Company. Alternatively, if their martial talents are merely acceptable but their political nous is exemplary, they may pursue an Honorary Praetorship such that they can function as an ambassador and intermediary between the chapter and other Imperial institutions, as well as administrators of the chapter's domains. Only masters of the twofold path - both martial and political - can truly hope to be given a true Praetorship, or a position in the Reclusiam.
Those who do well in their Praetorships can expect, if they live long enough, to progress to a Consulship and command of their own company. Those who are too hobbled by injuries and whose bodies reject grafts and bionics tend to retain their Praetorships and serve in a purely political fashion. In this way, the number of Praetors far exceeds the 20 lieutenants one would expect to see in a strict observance of the Codex Astartes.
The following individuals are known members of the Cobalt Scions' leadership.
- Dictator Tiberius Drusus, Chapter Master
- Consul Quintus Tarentian, Captain of the 1st Company
- Consul Gaius Fabian, Captain of the Second Company
- Consul Martellus Lucullus, Captain of the Third Company
- 1st Company: the veterans. Squads from this company are often attached to other forces to share their experience and aid with further training for their brothers.
- 2nd-5th Companies: the battle companies. All members are expected to know how to operate in any battlefield role, including vehicle crew, and in any armour pattern. The company captain decides on the mixture of 5 and 10 man squads. Squads may be temporarily divided between (for example) forming a three man fire team and a two man vehicle crew.
- 6th -9th Companies: the reserve companies. Members are only adept at certain battlefield roles, with each squad always performing a consistent role. When their sergeant judges that a marine has mastered their current role, they are rotated out to another squad to begin learning a new one.
- 10th Company: The Vanguard. These are the Chapter's clandestine experts, and forego the traditional blue armour in favour of camouflage. Technically, this company also contains the Novitiate Auxilia, meaning that this is the only chapter with over a hundred members. That the Novitiate Auxilia are attached to this company is largely to give lip service to the Codex; in reality they are essentially two unrelated organisations.
The Novitiate Auxilia
The Cobalt Scions' equivalent of the Scout Company do not perform the traditional infiltration duties seen in other chapters. As their name suggests, when deployed they are used for auxiliary duties such as guard duty, where they will get some combat experience, but generally with the added benefit of heavy cover. Only in extremis are they committed to the front line, as the needless loss of a novitiate is considered wasteful. The bulk of a novitiate's time, however, is spent in training.
An Honorary Praetorship is not a military rank but a political one, and could even be held by a battle brother. Honorary Praetors form a cadre of the chapter's most able negotiators and orators, dedicated to inspiring traditional virtues and compliance among other Imperial institutions. There are naturally those who argue this constitutes the chapter at its most meddlesome, and certain institutions do not look kindly on some post-human warrior interfering in their business. The Cobalt Scions take this as an additional challenge, and seek to prove their utility, although the petty ambitions of lesser men regularly contrive to make it appear that the Scions are pursuing power for power's sake in clear contravention of the Emperor's original intent for the Astartes.
The Azarian Guard
The Cobalt Scions' equivalent of the Bladeguard. This brotherhood of warriors exist outside the company structure, although to avoid the appearance of growing the chapter beyond the traditional thousand warriors, their numbers (a maximum of thirty) count against the tally of the First Company. The Azarian Guard do not have squads, and bear heraldry of the individual rather than the unit. To join them is to foresake the right to seek a command position within the chapter, and to become truly dedicated to pursuing martial prowess. Answerable only to the Chapter Master and the Reclusiam's Master of Sanctity, they serve to protect the virtue of humility within a chapter that might otherwise encourage personal ambition to a dangerous extent. They explicitly have permission to criticise and mock officers, and cannot be censured by any but the Chapter Master or Master of Sanctity for doing so. If they decide to follow an officer to war, however, they must follow the officer's commands precisely during engagements. If a Consul or Praetor wants the aid of the Azarian Guard on a mission, he cannot requisition them; instead, he must petition them. Likewise, Azarian Guards are permitted to turn up unannounced and accompany a strike force if they deem the mission interesting.
Origins of the Azarian Guard
Lieutenant Azarias was one of the few Azure Drakes officers to survive the Nova Tarentis Massacre. Following the incorporation of the surviving Drakes into the Cobalt Scions, Azarias took an oath to protect his new chapter master with his life. Coming from a very different chapter culture, he refused to conduct himself in the refined style of the Scions, often mocking others and then challenging them when they failed to mock him back. Amused by this upstart and keen to temper the egos of his senior staff, Chapter Master Drusus instructed Azarias to create his own semi-autonomous brotherhood within the First Company. Azarias himself was slain protecting Drusus two years later during the reclamation of Raxis Minor, but the Azarian Guard, then numbering seven brothers, remained. Their numbers have since grown, and a number of onetime Azure Drakes use this brotherhood as a way to keep some of their chapter cult alive.
The Phratry Munitorus
If the Cobalt Scions' techmarines can make one honest boast, it is the speed and efficiency with which they can erect fortifications and other structures. The Phratry Munitorus (rough Low Gothic translation: the kinship/tribe of builders/engineers) serves the same purpose as a normal Chapter Armourium, but with the added responsibility of assisting with the integration of defences with civic infrastructure. To this end, the techmarines are not just supported by serfs and servitors, but also by human techpriests and architects. Chief among such human followers is Archmagos Felicita Morleio, the chapter's head architect. She is given near-equal standing to the Master of the Forge, and oversees a substantial and growing staff working on the construction of the chapter's fortress monastery and the more general defence enhancements of Thonicia.
When the chapter goes to war, it brings a substantial support staff of humans and servitors tasked with the rapid construction of defences, bridges, field hospitals, and whatever else might swing the Imperium's chances in any given theatre. A supply of prefabricated structures is also brought along for time-critical projects. Encampments are often built along standardised lines, ensuring that personnel familiar with one Scions base are familiar with them all. It has been pointed out by other chapters that this is a strategic vulnerability, but the Scions prefer the speed that comes with familiarity, and are convinced they will be able to adapt on a tactical level to counter this strategic weakness.
When founded, the Scions had only six strike cruisers and a single battle barge: the Reason Inviolate. Following the Nova Tarentis Massacre, the Azure Drakes' fleet -- far less damaged than the chapter it served -- was folded into the Scions' fleet. Consequently they went from having barely enough capital ships to deploy the chapter to having, arguably, an excess that they should have donated to other Indomitus Founding chapters. The Scions claim to make good use of their fleet assets given that it has enabled them to expand the capabilities of the Phratry Munitorus, with every Scions capital ship being well supplied with the engineers, materiel and prefab structures to respond to the humanitarian requirements of a warzone as well as prefab fortifications, bridges, and other infrastructural elements. The Scions brush off criticisms that this exceeds the remit of the Adeptus Astartes by claiming that a population protected is a rebellion prevented.
The chapter has also attracted further criticism for employing several squadrons of the controversial Nova class frigate, which some say Astartes have no need of unless they're expecting to instigate naval battles without the assistance of the Imperial Navy.
Like many (if not most) Astartes fleets, the ships are crewed and captained by humans, although even an Astartes Sergeant is considered to outrank a ship captain as regards the chain of command. What with the fleet regularly returning to Thonis, the crew are given the option of having their families aboard their ship or in terrestrial housing. The family of slain personnel are given a stipend by the chapter, money which originally is taken from the financial tithe the Scions collect from their home system. While living conditions aboard the chapter's vessels are superior to the average ship of the Imperial Navy, expectations are high. Any personnel found wanting are rarely given second chances, and if lucky will get away simply with being discharged without a pension. Of course, incompetent crew can still offer dependable service when sent to the tech-priests for conversion, serving as a grim reminder to their former crewmates of the price of laxity. Those who have actively transgressed face even worse fates, up to and including a one-way trip to the great arena at Heracleion.
Current Fleet Assets
- Reason Inviolate, the flagship. Constructed to default specifications during the Primaris project, prior to the chapter having a name or an identity. The Scions have since made it their own, modifying a number of its orbital launch bays for the deployment of Phratry Munitorus assets. The vessel served throughout the Scions' participation in the Indomitus Crusade, but the scars it gained during those battles have long since been removed.
- Tarasc, the one-time flagship of the Azure Drakes. There is a hall, deep in the ship's core, that serves as a hall of remembrance. There is a plaque on the wall for every Azure Drakes warrior who died in the Nova Tarentis Massacre, commemorating their noblest deeds. Above the hall's threshold is engraved the legend: In memory of those I could not rescue.
- Dutiful, currently undergoing repair at Keraphon.
- Preceptor. Deployments include the Andaras Affair.
- Vritra, co-opted from the Azure Drakes.
- Azhdaha, co-opted from the Azure Drakes. Currently undergoing repair at Thonis.
- Illuyaka, co-opted from the Azure Drakes.
- Erenkyl, co-opted from the Azure Drakes. Currently undergoing significant repair at Keraphon.
The precise disposition of the Scions' flotilla of frigates and destroyers is unknown, but thought to consist of up to 9 squadrons. While some of them are named along similar conventions to other Scions vessels, as with the Rigorous and the Corinth, it seems the Scions are willing to give somewhat more ironic or whimsical names to escort vessels. Examples of such vessels include the Vengeful Redaction, the Censor, and Triplicate I, II and III.
Guilliman's major concern about Cawl's artificially indoctrinated primaris marines was their lack of real combat experience, so he decided to form the Scions' senior leadership from veterans of the Ultramarines' 1st Company. A call for volunteers went out.
Encouraged by Calgar's survival of the Rubicon Primaris, Aelius Justarian and his squad stepped up. Their idea was that each of them would be a company captain, forming a group of officers who already knew and respected each other. Guilliman, Calgar and Captain Agemman accepted their proposal, and the ten brothers eagerly submitted themselves to the process, nodding confidently as the risks of the process were explained to them.
In their optimism they hoped they might all survive; the process was becoming less risky with time, but in reality, six brothers died. Sergeant Justarian was among them.
The four survivors had known it was possible some of their brothers might not survive the process. They had lost brothers in the past. Astartes are indoctrinated to process the grief when a brother falls in combat. If anything, it strengthens their resolve. But the survivors learned that losing a brother in combat and losing an uninjured brother to the operating table are two very different things. This new form of grief ate away at them.
The chaplains tried tending to the brothers' spiritual wounds, but old Cassius refused to let them languish in mourning. Success, he told them, is meaningless without adversity. Still despondent at the loss but obedient nonetheless, the four brothers prepared for their voyage across the galaxy to rendezvous with their new chapter in the Sol system. They sought guidance from Calgar, Agemman, and other senior Ultramarines while their new armour was forged. They spoke to political leaders and logisticians, shipmasters and tech-magi, trying to learn what they could, still lamenting the loss of wise Justarian and the others.
When their new Mk.X armour was ready, they entered the Fortress of Hera and donned the unpainted suits for the first time. After so many decades as Ultramarines, it was a strange thing for them to see each other wearing unpainted armour. As they stood there exchanging uncertain glances, they were approached by Sinon, Captain of the Ninth and Master of Relics, who presented them with four master-crafted power swords in honour of their service with the Ultramarines. It was a welcome and tangible connection to their past.
On the journey to Sol, they occupied themselves by debating how they might go about organising their new chapter. Quintus Tarentian and Gaius Fabian favoured adhering strictly to the updated Codex Astartes, while Tiberius Drusus and Martellus Lucullus argued that it didn't map well onto purely primaris chapters.
Unable to agree on how far to stray from the wisdom of the Codex, they turned their attention to what they thought would be the less contentious question of naming the chapter. They soon learned that much rests in a name, and many names are unfit for purpose. Nothing sounded right. At one point, Tarentian confessed that after days of considering monikers for the new chapter, even the honoured name of the Ultramarines sounded foolish. “It is a pun!" he exclaimed, agast. “Or perhaps a declaration that we think ourselves above other chapters." The other three looked at him, appalled by this heresy.
“On the contrary, brother," Drusus replied, “I believe Ultramar to be a word from Ancient Terra describing an empire that stretches across an ocean. In this instance, the void is the ocean, the Five Hundred Worlds the empire. The suffix -ines must simply indicate that we are men of that great empire. Surely, therefore, the word Ultramar preceded the word Ultramarines? You're putting the artillery train before the tractor."
“Let us pretend I said nothing," Tarentian said, clearly troubled.
It was Lucullus who spoke next. “If we should decide to break with some edicts of the Codex, it would seem all the more important to remember our point of origin. A new chapter has no history, but the Thirteenth Legion and all its successors have ten millennia of it. What if our heraldry echoes that? Our chapter symbol could be a cobalt fist, as if to show one of the Gauntlets of Ultramar."
“That is not a name, Martellus, that is a badge," Fabian said. The others laughed.
Never one to enjoy a joke at his expense, Lucullus doubled down. “It's the idea I'm driving at. Make a point of upholding our identity as scions of Ultramar."
“The Scions of Ultramar is quite the mouthful," Tarentian said.
“The Cobalt Scions," Drusus said. The four of them were silent for a moment. Tarentian, for whom everything now sounded wrong, opened his mouth to speak. Fabian cut him off. “I like it," Fabian said.
“As do I," Lucullus added.
Tarentian frowned, then shrugged. “I am pleased this task is done."
After much debate the four brothers also agreed on their roles. Someone with a willingness to embrace the unfamiliar would be needed to form a new chapter, and so Tiberius Drusus would serve as chapter master. It helped that he was the most learned among them. To keep Drusus grounded, the traditionally-minded Tarentian would assume command of the 1st company, and Fabian would take the 2nd. Martellus Lucullus, Drusus' fellow advocate for new ways, would helm the 3rd.
To find the other seven captains, they would have to screen Cawl's unnaturally trained creations to see if any among them had the wit for independent thought.
When the four brothers eventually reached the Sol system they found a fleet of unnamed ships waiting for them in Mars' crowded dockyards. Inside, a chapter of new marines slept in stasis. Neither ships nor men bore heraldry. Drusus and his brothers had understood the scale of the task ahead in theory, but found the reality somewhat daunting. They were veterans of combat, not leadership. Who were they to step into the shoes of their betters and start from the very beginning?
The four brothers toured the fleet and its crews. They went to see the stasis chambers, and the marines inside. An army of techpriests, artisans and servitors awaited Drusus' signal to begin.
Drusus wanted the chapter to wake up to some sense of heritage, so the artisans were set to work first, applying heraldry to empty racks of armour. Ships were named. The four brothers met with the fleet's human officers, many of whom were decorated volunteers from the Imperial Navy.
When all was prepared, Drusus gave authorisation to wake the chapter.
They soon learned that the indoctrinated marines had names from their previous lives, but all were uncertain how many of their memories were real, and how many implanted. They all thought they remembered lives in Ultramar, and so the four brothers found some common ground with them. Even so, the marines knew little of the modern Imperium. Some spoke of the secular Imperial Truth promulgated in the days of the Great Crusade. The four brothers realised that bringing these men into the 42nd Millennium would involve significant culture shock. Worse yet, they had been indoctrinated to fulfill a single role, rather than having the flexibility of a marine who had worked their way through the ranks.
In the short term, Drusus and the others would simply have to accept Cawl's inflexible progeny and work with them as best they could. The Cobalt Scions fleet began its maiden voyage out of Sol and towards the nearest prong of the Indomitus Crusade.
The Cobalt Scions in the Indomitus Crusade
Over the next few decades, the Scions slowly morphed in the direction the four brothers intended. While in transit between warzones, squads were trained in other methods of warfare. Hellblaster units learned to use bolt rifles, Intercessors learned how to move in gravis armour, and so on. Like many of the all-primaris chapters, they took higher casualties early on in the Crusade, and despite occasional reinforcements from Mars, eventually found themselves able to field only 780 combat-ready marines, and it was at this depleted level that they met with their greatest disaster.
The Nova Tarentis Massacre
A prosperous world of significant agricultural and mineral output, Nova Tarentis was crucial to trade within its area of the Segmentum Pacificus, and an obvious target for the archenemy. Traitor Guard and Dark Mechanicum forces attacked in strength, and pleas for aid were made. Keen to prevent a cascade of infrastructural failure, the full Azure Drakes chapter was deployed with four companies of Cobalt Scions in support. The Drakes' chapter master, Sorkhos Danithor, committed to a full orbital assault, giving the enemy on the ground little time to react.
Once the bulk of the Drakes and Scions units had launched from their vessels, however, drive cores began to kindle all around Nova Tarentis' planetary rings. A substantial force of Black Legionnaires, thousands strong, had lain the perfect trap. Extracting the deployed troops would take hours, so Danithor - now trapped on the surface with the rest of his chapter - ordered the fleet to break orbit and seek reinforcements. The one-sided fleet engagement was a sign of things to come. The Imperial fleet suffered catastrophic losses as it sped for the Mandeville Point.
With their fleet gone, the loyal Astartes fought on as the traitors made planetfall. The fighting was brutal, but ultimately the Drakes and Scions were in an impossible position, hunted by a superior foe and lacking crucial supplies thanks to the loss of their orbital support.
Danithor orchestrated several breakout attempts, reasoning that asymmetric guerrilla warfare might allow more of his forces to survive until reinforcements arrived, but the Black Legion's noose proved too tight. Slowly, the Astartes army lost ground. When the battered Azure Drakes fleet returned with reinforcements, it was too late to meaningfully save the chapter. Fewer than a hundred Drakes were still alive.
As soon as the heretics' scout vessels spotted the incoming Imperial fleet in the system's outer reaches, the Black Legion began evacuating, their mission a total success. They had slain over a thousand loyalist marines, and had taken favourable casualties.
The final blow was, perhaps, the bitterest. During the enemy's final assault, Danithor noted enemy bombardments on the Imperial formations either side of his position, but none on his own. When enemy veterans in terminator plate teleported down behind him, preventing retreat, he realised all to late that they intended to take him alive. In his last recorded communication, he passed command to the most senior Imperial commander left - a Cobalt Scions reserve sergeant - before taking his own life. Frustrated, the Black Legion veterans butchered his retinue, but left empty handed. It mattered not; the Azure Drakes were gone in all but name. The few survivors were folded into the Cobalt Scions, along with what few fleet assets were left. Some were unhappy to muddy the chapter's culture with the more bellicose Drakes, but none would have seen the survivors cast adrift. The legacy of the Drakes would live on as one of a number of fraternities that a Cobalt Scion might choose to join upon inculcation into the Chapter.
While the Crusade continued to spread out through the galaxy, it was decided that the time had come for the Scions to go to the world that had been assigned to them by Guilliman: Thonis.
The Reclamation of Raxis Minor
On their way to Thonis, the Scions received a distress call from the agri-world of Raxis Minor. While in theory the Scions were supposed to make all haste to their new homeworld, Drusus refused to ignore such pleas and directed the chapter fleet to alter course. Upon arrival the Scions found the defenders had been overwhelmed by Heretic Astartes of the Iron Warriors Legion. Reconnaissance revealed that the enemy numbered at or below company strength, with substantial mortal auxiliary forces. But even with the chapter at half strength and still suffering low morale following the Nova Tarentis Massacre, Drusus judged that his chapter would be more than strong enough to rally the tattered remains of the planet's defence forces. He split the fleet into three formations and approached the planet from different directions, forcing the Iron Warriors' smaller fleet to try and fight their way clear of the tightening blockade. Badly outnumbered, the Iron Warriors ships were cornered and destroyed, trapping the remaining Iron Warriors on the surface. The Cobalt Scions, hungry for revenge against the forces of Chaos, fell upon the planet with eagerness. There was no glory to be taken in vanquishing a foe so badly outnumbered, but there was some satisfaction to be had in restoring Imperial rule to a world in need of help.
When the Iron Warriors made their final stand, an undecipherable astropathic communication was sent from their command bunker. Fearing reprisal, Drusus committed his resources to reestablishing Imperial rule and improving Raxis Minor's defensive infrastructure. Foremost among this was the creation of several defensive hubs built at the centre of the main population centres with shielding and defensive batteries to defend against orbital assault. The Scions deployed hundreds of servitor-crewed machines to expedite construction, and after only four months' work, Raxis Minor's defences had become substantially easier to hold. Leaving the locals to complete the work, the fleet continued on its journey to their new home.
A new homeworld
When it was designated as the Scions' homeworld, Thonis was far from any active warzones. Situated in the Eridani Sector of the Segmentum Pacificus, it was Guilliman's intent that the Scions would further strengthen a relatively stable part of the Imperium. Some whispered that it was further evidence of Guilliman ensuring the Ultramarines' ascendancy, particularly given the cultural ties the First Four had sought to maintain.
Either way, none could gainsay the Lord Commander of the Imperium, and so the Scions' fleet made for Thonis. Drusus and the others knew relatively little about Thonis beside some centuries-old information about its major exports and government, but it seemed reasonable to assume the locals would be grateful for the protection of an Astartes Chapter. With four stars and a great many settled worlds, the Thonis system almost seemed like a sub-sector in itself.
The Scions fleet returned to Mars first. While ship repairs got underway, Chapter Master Drusus met with Archmagos Felicita Morleio, the fabricator-general Cawl had assigned to the chapter. She had been tasked with designing and overseeing the construction of the Scions' fortress monastery, and then remaining with the chapter for the rest of her life, tending to the fortress' manufactorums and forges. She seemed at peace with the notion that she would get to create this one great structure and then be relegated to its maintenance. Drusus, however, was far less willing than Cawl to waste human resources. He suggested that if she showed aptitude for architectural design and understood siegecraft sufficiently, there was every chance she could embark upon an indefinite number of projects across Thonis and the wider Eridani sector as the Scions established themselves.
In that moment, he won Morleio's undivided loyalty.
Everything that would be needed for the fortress monastery, save the stone and rockrete itself, had already been loaded onto Morleio's kilometers-long fabrication ark. The fleet, now repaired, broke orbit and made for the Eridani Sector.
Arrival in Thonis
The Imperial governor on Thonis had been told decades ago that a chapter called the Cobalt Scions were coming to live on the planet. That was it. No details, no instructions to make particular preparations. Simply that they were coming.
When a fleet of Astartes ships arrived claiming to be the Cobalt Scions, no one had any reason to doubt them.
The fleet moved straight through the Eridani sector and on to the Hasmides system in the neighbouring Achernar sector. There had been some civil unrest; bombings and the like. It was assumed the Scions intended to terrify the populace into compliance.
In reality, the individuals aboard the Astartes fleet had created the uprising. They were not the Cobalt Scions at all. They were the Word Bearers, six hundred of them, acting on the orders of Khairon. If Guilliman's sons were coming, the Word Bearers were keen to preemptively tarnish their good name and make it clear the Scions' very arrival would only bring suffering.
Hasmides offered little challenge to them.
A thousand light years away, the Scions' fleet approached in blissful ignorance.
With Hasmides' government and infrastructure in tatters, the Word Bearers returned to their ships to prepare their next blow. The Scions might not have been there to prevent the atrocity, but the wider Imperium did not leave it unpunished. As the Word Bearers fleet made all speed for the Hasmides system's Mandeville point so as to escape into the warp, they were intercepted by the full might of Battlefleet Achernar.
The ensuing Battle of Hasmides cost both fleets dearly, but ultimately the Word Bearers' fleet was so badly damaged that, while most of their Astartes survived, their ability to prosecute a full naval engagement was, for a time at least, nullified.
Ironically the Navy's victory at Hasmides was politically bad for the Cobalt Scions. Not only had their impending arrival attracted dangerous foes to a peaceful place, it wasn't even the Scions who saw them off. Furthermore Thonis' incumbent planetary governor, Lord Aderbal, was well regarded by his subjects. There was little appetite for change.
When the true Cobalt Scions fleet approached Thonis, they were bombarded with security questions, and requests that they remain at a distance until their identity could be verified. It was hardly the welcome the Scions had hoped for. Eventually, Thonis' modest orbital platforms cancelled their firing solutions and stood down. A lone Overlord-class gunship bore the first delegation of Cobalt Scions down to the verdant surface of their new homeworld.
Chapter Master Drusus expected Aderbal to unquestionably accept the Scions' clear right to rule the system. Drusus informed him that there would be a brief transition phase followed by significant reforms in which Aderbal's official title would change from Planetary Governor to Locutor of the Senate: a position Drusus assured him would be very important in the new regime.
Given the choice between no power and some power, Aderbal was forced to accept Drusus' offer.
In his address during the ceremony in which the Sceptre of Heracleion, symbol of the capital, was to pass from Governor Aderbal to Dictator Drusus, the governor's wording carefully managed to remain obedient while subtly emphasising Drusus' status as a newcomer to an old world with a well-established culture.
The address set the tone for the months to come. The Scions were too terrifying for anyone to risk obvious dissent, but any request made to the government by an Astartes would mysteriously require more paperwork and bureaucracy than the same request made by a native official. If asked for an explanation, people would claim they were taking extra care that they did a good job, or would say they had heard Guilliman's sons encouraged detailed paperwork. The Scions came to be seen as a source of problems by the general populace. With no experience of nuanced public relations, Drusus and his captains were at a loss as to how to win their people over. They went on speaking tours, endeavouring to rouse the public with stilted recollections of their great victories in the Indomitus Crusade, but received only polite applause. They made suggestions to improve the efficiency of institutions, but were told said suggestions would reduce productivity even when it seemed clear this was not the case.
During those first few months, some of the Scions grew restive. They felt the battles they had fought deserved the respect of any Imperial citizen, and talk grew of taking a harsher line with the recalcitrant public. Tarentian in particular advocated for a more direct approach.
Lucullus disagreed. He argued that the harder they pushed, the harder the people would resist. Some would fall into line, of course, but there would also be dissent and perhaps even the fomenting of heresy.
Drusus, politically inexperienced, was indecisive as to whose approach he would implement, and changed his mind regularly. This in turn created a rift between him and Captain Fabian, who proclaimed that he didn't care which side Drusus took, only that he committed to a course of action. Fabian went to far as to suggest that if Drusus couldn't make such decisions, Fabian was happy to take his place. Fabian's insubordination outraged Tarentian, Lucullus, and the other captains. The argument served a purpose, at least. Drusus was at last moved to choose. He took Lucullus' cautious approach.
The construction of the Fortress of Syrnum
While the Scions struggled with the political landscape, Archmagos Morleio worked on her designs for the fortress-monastery. It was to be built in the hills above Heracleion, and would require surprisingly few homes to be demolished. Strangely, the news that five hundred families were to be given the honour of having their homes bulldozed for the fortress monastery wasn't met with the sort of gratitude the Scions expected. Citizens of Ultramar, the Scions reflected bitterly, would have been proud to give their land for such a purpose.
Morleio estimated the project would take three years before it would be usable, and more than that before it would reach its full potential. Work began to prepare the Syrnum hills as Morleio and Drusus spent many long days drawing up plans.
Expanding the docks
Work also began on enlarging Thonis' modest orbitals. In time, they would need to serve a full fleet of warships in addition to providing efficient trade berths. Where the Scions had failed to gain any political capital thus far, the trade-focussed Thonicians were keen on the idea of increased docking facilities and reduced piracy. Sensing an opportunity, Drusus made a series of speeches promising that within fifty years, Thonis would enjoy the protection and commerce of vast orbital facilities. Finally, the Scions had said something popular.
Naturally this meant the native politicians, still angry at their reduced autonomy, argued for increased influence in the design of the orbitals to ensure the opportunities for trade were maximised.
The nobles' request for greater influence was an overt challenge to Drusus' competence in terms of trade, and public perception was very much that a space marine couldn't possibly have the same expertise as the great trading houses of Thonis.
In a move that shocked the Thonician nobility, Drusus responded to their challenge with his first sign of political deftness.
Drusus declared that if the native politicians wanted a say in the Scions' construction projects, then apparently they had accepted the chapter was here to stay. It followed, therefore, they were ready for the political reforms Drusus had promised.
A senate was formed from the heads of the fifty most influential noble families. The senate's role would be to advise the Scions as to how they should proceed in matters of commerce and governance. One senator would be first among equals, and would present the senate's suggestions to the Dictator. This individual would be known as the Locutor, a position that would initially be taken by Lord Aderbal. Upon his death or dismissal, another senator would be elected by their peers to take his position.
The reforms went further still. Ten commoners would be chosen to represent the labourers. These ten Tribunes were to keep the Dictator and Senate informed of how their legislation was being received by the commoners. More importantly, if all ten Tribunes agreed, they had the power to veto new legislation. The veto could only be overruled by the dictator, or in the absence of the Dictator, by one of the chapter's lieutenants, all of whom held the honorific of Praetor.
Being a Praetor incorporated two main duties beyond an Astartes Lieutenant's combat role. One was to act as a diplomat or ambassador for their captain when on campaign, and the other, as intimated above, was to arbitrate on disagreements between the Senate and the Tribunate when at home. In this way, lieutenants gained extensive political experience in preparation for becoming a captain.
Captains, in turn, held the honorific of Consul. Being a Consul meant having the Dictator's blessing to instigate reforms of a planet's government if it was militarily advantageous to do so, up to and including its annexation. The wording of this rule was vague enough that neighbouring planetary governors began to issue complaints to the Adeptus Terra. Guilliman's sons were laying the illegal foundations of their own empire, the governors said. Months later, Guilliman provided a curt response: “Then do not give my sons cause to annex your planet."
This further stoked speculation that the Lord Commander took issue with the modern Imperium, but as yet no one was willing to risk secession.
While the heavy-handed reforms were obviously taking power from the ruling class and handing it to the Cobalt Scions, the nobles also realised that they were now competing with each other for places in the Senate. This broke their unity and revealed their selfishness for all to see, and the mere existence of the Tribunate empowered the bulk of the population far more than the previous regime, even if this was representation in name only.
Tiberius Drusus finally had the political situation working to his advantage.
The Scions soon learned of the Hasmides atrocity, but were reliant on the Inquisition for further intelligence as to where the Word Bearers might strike next.
In the interim, they had two priorities: rebuilding the chapter, and dealing with any lesser threats in their immediate area. Neighbouring systems, particularly those bordering the Scyrian Expanse, were suffering from frequent greenskin raids. The Scions set about crushing these lesser orkish warbands with relative ease, and cleared out several remote human pirate strongholds, all of which was well received by the Eridani Sector's border colonies, but was of little relevance to the people of Thonis.
As for rebuilding the chapter, the Scions embarked on a major recruitment drive in Thonis. They asked for volunteers only, but the financial support they offered volunteers' families meant that a noticeable percentage of the adolescent aspirants clearly had no desire to be there.
Despite these issues, the Scions soon had a good number of scouts in training, and with at least half the chapter stationed at Thonis at any given moment there were always plenty of instructors available. A major difficulty, of course, was that most of the instructors had never been scouts themselves. Many of the initial recruits were pushed too hard, or were simply not trained effectively, and it took some time before the first generation of aspirants - those that survived - started to make good progress.