This is a piece of background I wrote for the 4th Company of Ultramarines. It was a long time ago now, and only reaches as far as the defence of Tarsis Ultra. A lot’s happened since then, but now the company’s history is being written in the pages of the novels…
The Fourth Company of the Ultramarines
The Ultramarines are a byword for courage and honour, and their warriors are justly held in the highest regard throughout the Imperium. Unlike many other Chapters, who control a single planet or fortress-monastery, the Ultramarines control no fewer than eight systems from their homeworld of Macragge, the stellar realm known as Ultramar. It is from these worlds that the Ultramarines recruit their newest members, administer Imperial Justice and rule Ultramar with a just and disciplined hand. The Ultramarines fortress monastery – known as the Fortress of Hera – is situated in the highest peaks of Macragge, and it is here that the best and bravest of the children selected from the many training academies throughout Ultramar are brought to begin their training as Space Marines. Here, they will become the most feared fighting warriors of the Imperium – the Angels of Death, the Adeptus Astartes.
Roboute Guilliman, the Primarch of the Ultramarines, set down the foundations of the Imperium’s fighting forces ten thousand years ago in a mighty tome known and revered as the Codex Astartes. This holy work embodied all the Primarch’s military genius and set out precise guidelines for virtually every single aspect of war imaginable, everything from the correct conduct while marching to the precise execution of a planetary assault. But perhaps its most significant edict was the breaking up of the Space Marine Legions into the smaller Chapters that exist today. No longer would one man control force as powerful as a Space Marine Legion. Each Chapter would be broken up into a force of ten companies, roughly a thousand warriors strong. The Ultramarines have followed his teachings since those days and are strict adherents to the words of their Primarch’s tome, and the organisation and combat doctrines of the Ultramarines of today are the same as those followed by the Ultramarines of ten thousand years ago. These tenets of belief have passed to the citizens of Ultramar and this stellar realm is as close to the ideal of a human Utopia as is imaginable in a galaxy of war.
Defenders of Ultramar
The Fourth Company of the Ultramarines has a long and glorious history, stretching back to the dark days of the Horus Heresy when brother Space Marines fell into the bloodiest civil war ever to tear at the Emperor’s realm. They have fought and triumphed against traitors, fallen Space Marines and vile xeno creatures, bringing honour and glory to their Chapter. In most recent times, the Company has faced some of its greatest challenges and met some of the most powerful enemies. All of which its warriors have fought with courage and honour.
The Fourth Company is known as the ‘Defenders of Ultramar’ – an accolade won in the Chapter’s earliest history, when Chaos Space Marines from the Word Bearers attacked the Ultramarines towards the end of the Horus Heresy and drove them back to the very heart of Ultramar. It was upon the world of Calth that the final battle would take place. Famed for its orbital shipyards, Calth was a typical world of Ultramar. Its inhabitants were wealthy and generous, knowing little in the ways of want or fear. In many ways, theirs was a paradise, and as such it was not to last.
When the Word Bearers launched their attack against the Ultramarines, the strike against Calth was led by one of the Word Bearers’ greatest champions, the former Master of the Faith, Kor Phaeron. This mighty champion swore to utterly destroy the planet, and was very nearly successful. From his personal battle barge, he directed a full-scale invasion of the Calth system. Calth’s three sister planets were all destroyed, massive geo-nuclear strikes ripping them apart at the core. Calth’s once gentle sun was laced with deadly metals and substances that increased the star’s radiation output tenfold. (Within a century after the battle’s end, the final elements of Calth’s atmosphere were burned off by its sun and the world left airless, its populace now dwelling in gigantic underground caverns.) Upon its surface, the Fourth company fought the Word Bearers to a standstill. The traitors held superiority in numbers, weaponry, and brutality, but the Ultramarines would never give in. As driven as the warriors of Lord Kor Phaeron were, they could not dislodge the Ultramarines, many of whom had once called the planet home.
The war upon Calth was devastating and horrific. Ancient codes of warfare and martial conduct were broken and set aside by the Word Bearers as all manner of death and destruction was unleashed. The Ultramarines were stunned by the millions of cultists the Word Bearers used as human shields and cannon fodder. The Word Bearers, in turn, had underestimated the tenacity and resolve of their hated foe. In the end, Lord Kor Phaeron was defeated when reinforcements from Macragge drove the Word Bearers from the surface of Calth. Kor Phaeron retreated all the way to the Maelstrom, a turbulent region of the galaxy where the Immaterium of Chaos seeps through into the material realm of the universe. The Ultramarines were victorious, and the leader of the Fourth company, Brother Captain Ventanus, would one day set foot upon the shattered homeworld of the Word Bearers, symbolically capturing the abandoned homeworld of the Legion that had once threatened to enslave Ultramar.
Guardians of the Eastern Fringe
The Ultramarines have always held the eastern fringes against the forces of darkness that threaten the Imperium from beyond the halo stars, and the Fourth Company have an especial hatred for the alien invaders known as the Tyranids. Rapacious, extra-galactic predators, these relentless alien killers consume all before them in their quest for bio-matter to feed the ever-hungry bio factories of their hive queens. The first Tyranid hive fleet, codified as Behemoth, smashed into Imperial space in 745.M41 and descended upon Macragge in a flurry of talon and claw. Forewarned by Inquisitor Kryptman, the Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, Marneus Calgar, stood ready to face the deadly aliens, but nothing could prepare his warriors for the sheer horror of what was to come. Commanded at this time by Captain Idaeus, the Fourth Company fought at the forefront of the invasion and were instrumental in the destruction of several of the larger Tyranid vessels. At last the invasion of Behemoth was repulsed, but at terrible cost; the entirety of the First company was wiped out defending the northern polar defences and many great heroes met their end. The Ultramarines had won the first Tyrannic War, but Kryptman assured Calgar that the Tyranids would be back.
With the destruction of Behemoth, the Ultramarines set about consolidating their hold on Ultramar. Many of their best and bravest warriors had fallen to the Tyranids, and with their strength thus depleted, many other alien and piratical raiders took advantage of this lapse in security and launched their own raids throughout Ultramar to sack worlds previously unassailable. Thus it was that the Fourth company – which had been at full strength when the Tyranid fleet attacked – had come through the war with the fewest casualties, and were thus the first called upon to help liberate Vorhn’s world, a Shrine world in a neighbouring sub-sector.
The Ork Warlord known as the Arch Maniac of Cabela had sized the world, enslaving its population and defiling the holy temples of the Emperor. Such barbarity could not be countenanced on such a holy world and thus the Fourth company was tasked with its liberation. Idaeus once more led his warriors into battle, using a combination of rigid adherence to the words of the Codex Astartes and an uncanny ability to adapt to rapidly changing battlefield conditions to circumvent many of the Ork strongpoints and destroy many vital elements of their defences. With much of their energies spent hunting down the raiders in their midst, the Orks were unable to repulse the massed tank companies and regiments of the Jovian Hussars who overran the greenskins with a staggeringly low casualty rate. It was during the cleansing of Vorhn’s World that a young Space Marine named Uriel Ventris came to Idaeus’s attention. Descended from the legendary Lucian Ventris, who had died fighting the Tyranids of hive fleet Behemoth beneath the polar defence fortress one hundred and eighty years ago, Uriel displayed an exemplary courage, even amongst warriors for whom heroic feats of bravery were the norm. Taking command of his squad when his sergeant was killed by an Ork warlord, Uriel displayed the qualities that would one day lead him to command the Fourth Company itself.
With the liberation of Vorhn’s world, the task was now to secure the borders of Ultramar, and upon their return from the victorious campaign against the Orks, Idaeus’s company joined their Battle Brothers in securing the borders of Ultramar against further attack. For the next five years, the company patrolled the northern borders of their realm, running interdiction attacks and boarding actions against any and all raiders they encountered. Aboard the Vae Victus, an honourable ship commanded by Captain Lazlo Tiberius, himself a scarred veteran of the Tyrannic Wars, the Fourth company destroyed over three hundred vessels and achieved the highest number of kills to add to the banner in their company chapel.
Over the next few years, between occasional returns to Macragge for obeisances at the Temple of Correction, where the stasis-sealed corpse of Roboute Guilliman watches over his Chapter, the Fourth company regained its strength and inducted many new members. Returned to full combat readiness, the company was once again fit for duties beyond the borders of Ultramar and in the Mereneas Core, the company was to earn the gratitude of the Adeptus Mechanicus when they boarded and destroyed the space hulk, Flame of Iniquity, an agglomerated structure of scores of derelict spaceships that threatened a number of their Forge worlds, giant, factory planets where much of the armed might of the Imperium is produced.
Following this success, the determination and courage of the Fourth Company came to the attention of Inquisitor Markhov, who was in need of warriors of such great skill. He petitioned Marneus Calgar for the Ultramarines assistance in a matter of grave urgency. Calgar consented to allow the Fourth company to be seconded to the Inquisitor’s service and Idaeus’s company was despatched to the world of Epsilon Regalis – a world later to be made infamous by Witch Hunter Tyrus. Precisely what occurred on this world has never been made known, the events subsequent to the Ultramarines deployment on Epsilon Regalis having been sealed by the Ordo Hereticus. Immediately following this mysterious mission, the Fourth company were involved in the eradication of several indigenous life-forms on the world of Horranveth to allow colonisation by an Adeptus Mechanicus Explorator team. Many among the Ultramarines felt that this was beneath them, but none dared defy their Chapter Master’s decree.
Following the purgation of Horranveth, the company was recalled to take part in the Balur Crusade, a mixed Chapter-force led by Marneus Calgar himself. A strong coalition of xeno creatures (identified as Tau, Kroot and Tarellian) had launched an attack into Imperial held space and demanded that the inhabitants of the captured worlds swear allegiance to their blasphemous empire. Naturally, such naked aggression could not go unanswered and together with warriors from the Blood Angels, Marines Malevolent and the taciturn remnants of the Scythes of the Emperor, Calgar led the combined army to swift victory, destroying the nascent colonies and re-establishing Imperial rule.
Return of the Tyranids
The Fourth Company were to fight the Tyranids again on the world of Ichar IV when these xenos returned with yet another hive fleet, this time known as Kraken. Far from the battering ram of Behemoth, it appeared that the Tyranids had somehow learned from their defeat centuries before and attacked in a series of smaller, yet no less lethal splinter fleets – attacking across a much wider front. Many of these fleets were destroyed, driving the aliens to consolidate their attack on the industrial world of Ichar IV. Again, the Tyranid threat was met with courage and steel, the men of the Ultramarines fighting alongside hundreds of Imperial Guard regiments and seven other Space Marine Chapters. The Fourth Company were again in the forefront of the fighting, with Idaeus and Uriel both awarded the Imperial Laurel for their heroism. Once more the aliens were repulsed, though the threat of Kraken remains strong. The Tyranid fleet broke into a number of smaller fleets as it retreated from Ichar IV and it is known that many of these splinter fleets have penetrated deep into the galactic core. Some have even reached as far as Segmentum Solar though the massed guns of the Imperial fleet have destroyed these without mercy. However, whether every one of these splinter fleets has been destroyed remains unclear.
Following the defeat of the Tyranids at Ichar IV, the Fourth company was despatched to the world of Thracia, where the rumoured involvement of the Night Lords Chaos Space Marines necessitated a force capable of meeting them blade-to-blade. Regiments of Imperial Guard pushed towards the planetary capital, meeting stiff resistance, but crushing all before it. As the campaign progressed, the Imperial lines became lengthy and strung out – all too easy to attack and destroy from the flank. Realising this, the Fourth company attacked the bridges that would allow such an attack, but in the process Captain Idaeus was lost, heroically sacrificing his own life to destroy the last bridge. Mourning his loss, the Fourth company returned to Macragge to inter their fallen captain within the sacred soil of their homeworld, whereupon Veteran Sergeant Uriel Ventris was elevated to the rank of Captain.
Together with the newly appointed Captain Ventris, the Fourth company set off on their latest mission; to escort Adept Barzano of the Administratum to the troubled world of Pavonis. On the eastern fringes, Pavonis had been plagued by piratical raiders and civil insurrection and upon the Ultramarines’ arrival, the planet was very nearly plunged into a bloody civil war between its competing industrial cartels. Captain Ventris and Adept Barzano (now revealed as an Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos) went on to discover that the planet’s troubles were at the instigation of a madman named Kasimir de Valtos who desired the release of an ancient and powerful star god imprisoned beneath the surface of Pavonis for millions of years. De Valtos was thwarted, though the ancient being known as the Nightbringer was freed from its aeons long slumber and set loose amongst the stars. Only time will tell whether its escape will cost the Ultramarines and the galaxy dear.
With peace and Imperial rule restored to Pavonis, the Fourth company journeyed to the northern reaches of Segmentum Tempestus to the world of Tarsis Ultra – a world liberated by Roboute Guilliman during the early days of the Great Crusade and with a proud history of upholding the traditions of the Ultramarines. Ancient oaths of brotherhood bound the fate of Tarsis Ultra to the Ultramarines and when a gargantuan space hulk drifted in-system, Captain Ventris led his men deep into its haunted depths to destroy it from within. Buried deep within its structure, the Ultramarines discovered nests of frenzied Orks. And something much worse: Genestealers. The fighting within the hulk was amongst the fiercest encountered by the Fourth company, but its warriors were able to fight their way clear of the hulk and watch its destruction from the bridge of the Vae Victus. But the victory was tinged with dread, for the ship’s Astropaths detected the forward edge of a bow wave of warp interference – a phenomenon known as the Shadow in the Warp – which could mean only one thing. The Tyranids were approaching.
The Defence of Tarsis Ultra
With warning of the approaching Tyranid fleet given, Imperial response was unusually swift. The Ultramarines contacted a brother Chapter of Space Marines, the Mortifactors, though they had diverged considerably from the ideals of Roboute Guilliman – embracing a culture of death worship. A fleet led by Admiral Bregant de Corte aboard the Argus was assembled, including many ancient and noble ships of war; Sword of Retribution, Kharloss Vincennes to name but two. Soldiers from the Death Korps of Krieg and the Logres Regiments were shipped in and the local defence forces trained by Sergeant Learchus using the methods of the Ultramarine training barracks. Inquisitor Lord Kryptman once again lent his expertise to the commanders of Tarsis Ultra as well as bringing an elite Deathwatch Kill team led by the justly famous Captain Bannon. As far as any world could be defended, Tarsis Ultra was as secure as it could be made given the time available to its defenders.
Battle was joined in the system’s outer reaches and though the world of Barbarus Prime was lost to the Tyranids, the first elements of their fleet were defeated. The advance of the hive fleet could not be stopped and Kryptman was forced to sacrifice the world of Chordelis – ordering the Mortifactors to virus bomb it from orbit before the Tyranids could assimilate its biomass. Despite fractures appearing in the Imperial alliance, the Tyranid threat was met with courage and honour on the surface of Tarsis Ultra, though the defenders were hard pressed to stave off the relentless attacks of the aliens.
Though many thousands of lives were lost, and a huge proportion of the Fourth company slain, the Tyranids were once more defeated when Captain Ventris cast off the teachings of the Codex Astartes and took command of the Deathwatch Kill Team. He led them on a last, desperate mission to deliver a lethal gene-poison to the heart of the last remaining hive ship. Having once served with the Deathwatch, Captain Ventris knew that this was where he could do the most good, and despite the grim warning from Veteran Sergeant Learchus that Marneus Calgar would hear of his flouting of the Codex, set off on his mission. Through alien terrors and biological horror, the Deathwatch and Captain Ventris were successful and the gene poison was administered to the Tyranid hive queen. Driven into spasms of uncontrolled mutation, the hive queen died and her death throes drove the slave organisms connected to it via the gestalt consciousness of the hive mind into paroxysms of self-destruction. The Tyranids were defeated, but like Ichar IV before it, the taint of the alien invasion would forever be impossible to remove.
With Tarsis Ultra secured, the Fourth company gathered its dead and returned to Macragge, the hearts of its warriors heavy as they contemplated the cost of honouring their ancient debt. But something worse was awaiting the Fourth company upon their return to their homeworld. Allegations of heresy awaited its captain and with it, the potential to strip the company of its honour…
Characters of the 4th Company.
Brother Captain Idaeus
Idaeus commanded the Fourth company from 627.M41 to 999.M41, earning a reputation as something of a maverick amongst the Ultramarines. His attitude was tolerated simply because he achieved victory with one of the lowest casualty figures in the entire Chapter. His penchant for thinking beyond the strictures of the Codex Astartes had earned him some powerful detractors within the Chapter and some say it was this that led to his company being posted to some of the most dangerous warzones throughout the galaxy.
Brother Captain Uriel Ventris
Born on the cavern world of Calth in the year 876.M41, Uriel is an ancestor of the Ultramarine hero, Lucian Ventris (who died in the first Tyrannic war) and as such he was inducted into the prestigious Agiselus Barracks where Roboute Guilliman and Marneus Calgar trained, though he had already earned such an honour. Uriel proved to be an excellent student and performed extremely well at Agiselus, graduating with honours at the top of his class and thus ensuring his selection by the Ultramarines for training at the Fortress of Hera that very day. He completed his training at the Fortress of Hera in 898.M41 whereupon he was inducted into the Scout Company, again performing exceptionally well before being elevated into the Fourth Company under the command of Captain Idaeus in 909.M41. He served under Idaeus for a further ninety years before his captain’s death and assuming command of the company. Though he has served with courage and honour thus far, there are some who suggest that he may be rather too much Idaeus’s prodigy in his attitudes to the Codex Astartes.
Lord Admiral Lazlo Tiberius
Tiberius fought as captain of the Vae Victus in the First Tyrannic War, helping to defeat hive fleet Behemoth, though he was terrible scarred during the final stages of the war when a Tyranid bio-weapon penetrated his ship’s defence screen. Schooled in the ways of war by the former Master of the Fleet, his skills in ship-to-ship combat are second to none and it was not long before he rose to the rank of Lord Admiral. Normally seconded to the Fourth company, the Vae Victus has carried Uriel and his warriors into battle many times and though Captain Ventris’s title is Master of the Fleet, this is a task he has passed to Tiberius as being the more suitable man for the role.
Veteran Sergeant Pasanius
Uriel’s closest and most trusted friend. Pasanius is older than Uriel and is perhaps a little more worldly-wise than his captain. He is loved and respected by the men and his unfailing support of Uriel in the early days of his command helped cement his leadership. Pasanius is brusque and not afraid to speak his mind, or voice doubts about a command decision, though once that decision has been made he will support it utterly. He is the embodiment of the spirit of the Codex Astartes. He has lost his arm below the elbow to the Nightbringer on Pavonis and now sports one fashioned by the tech-adepts of that world
Veteran Sergeant Learchus
Once Uriel’s nemesis when they trained together at Agiselus Barracks, Learchus has grudgingly accepted Uriel has his company commander. They fought together on Pavonis and he has respect for his captain, though they are never going to be friends like Uriel and Pasanius. He is a typical Ultramarine, honourable and noble, though he tends to look down on those cultures not as enlightened as those of the Ultramarines. Learchus represents the letter of the lore as laid down by the Primarch in the Codex Astartes and this is what has driven him to accuse his captain of heresy.