I’ll warn you here and now that this is an unashamedly pretentious and self-indulgent post, so read on at your peril or skip to the end and look at the pictures!
It took me a long time to recognise that Space Marines, far from the tediously unbeatable interplanetary do-gooders I had initially believed, are actually more like monastic space-knights who control their psychopathic battle-lust through dedication and meditation; monsters built to kill and held in check only by tremendous will-power. A worthy adversary that my barbaric servants of chaos could really get their teeth into then, as I felt they lacked something without agents of good and order to stand against them.
Many of humanity’s oldest stories share the same theme; the battle between the order of civilised lands and the chaotic-dangers of the wilderness beyond. In the story of Warhammer 40k the Imperium of Man is besieged by monsters from the darkness of space as fearsome as any from the ancient wildwood and just as a dragon stalking the land needs a knight to slay it so the Space Marines must hold back the assorted daemons, traitors and xenos that rage around their gates.
So I devised a little background to my army, creating a theme around which the collection would be based (see below). In doing this I deliberately linked my Space Marines (the Hawkmoths) to my Chaos Space Marines (the Beasts of Ruin), allowing each to inspire the other. Until now I hadn’t written any of it down as I’ve regarded that kind of thing as fan-fiction, something I’ve tended to view with the same flirtatious distrust as a radical inquisitor finding a grimoire that twitches. However I was pleasantly surprised by how much its inspired many of the units and conversions you’ll see here, so expect to see more snippets as the blog progresses!
The Origins of the Hawkmoths
No records of the Hawkmoths exist in Imperial Archives prior to the Age of Apostasy and so it is to be assumed that whatever accounts of their origins might once have existed are now long lost. Given this dearth of information it is perhaps unsurprising that rumour and speculation have become so rife; that they were part of the cursed 21st founding, that they were born of heretical experiments by radicals from the Blood Angels chapter seeking a cure to their curse, that theirs is a Chimeric gene-seed or that its source was somehow prohibited, that darkness and heresy dogged their earliest days. These uncertain origins, combined with their terrible ferocity in battle and feral world traditions, have led the Hawkmoths to stand apart from the rest of the Imperium, shunned and distrusted by Imperial Commanders and fellow Astartes alike. Only two now remain who might know the truth; First Chapter Master Titus who has long slept as a dreadnaught and his former brother Byatis, who turned to the worship of the Chaos Gods and was damned.
Now, with the age of the Imperium waning, those secrets are returning to haunt them. Kalamoon Kell, Captain of the Hawkmoth’s Sixth Company and Master of Rites, located the prison moon upon which the Daemon Byatis was caged. Rather than order the beast banished into the warp he sought to bind him and force him to reveal his secrets. Whatever he learned on that dark, airless world was enough to convince him to abandon his former allegiances, gathering over a third of the Hawkmoths to him and leading them in a brutal campaign of extermination against their former brothers. Prohibited weapons were turned on their own homeworld, Sarnas Prime, whilst a surprise assault saw the chapter’s fortress monastery aboard the relic ship Heart of Carnelian boarded and almost scuttled. In the aftermath the Hawkmoths were reduced to a mere token of their former strength whilst Kell and his followers, now calling themselves The Beasts of Ruin, went on to rampage through the Kadatheron and Hathan systems.
The Hawkmoths however are not a chapter to accept defeat. They may have suffered the loss of much of their traditional might and resources, and the scouring of their homeworld into irradiated ruin, but they remain Astartes and will not fade into the coming night. Gathering their remaining strength they have set out into the desolate void in search of vengeance.
Captain Ankrion, Master of the Fleet.
Tactical Squad Maalin, including the first Space Marines I ever painted.
Many of the First Company sided with the rebels and slew their own Chapter Master. The surviving loyalist terminators reserve for these heretics a particular loathing and consider themselves bound by a debt of failure that will not be paid until the last of their former brothers is slain.
The background story has influenced the choice of colours for both armies. I chose red as the primary colour of the loyalist Hawkmoths, who have repainted their armour following their betrayal in a colour that signifies their quest for blood and vengeance. Similarly the colour has been washed out of the armour of the Beasts of Ruin by their submersion in the warp, leaving only pale, bone-coloured plates.
Many of the Hawkmoths bear sigils and primitive gang-markings, symbols of the feral worlds from which they draw their recruits.