+ inload: Gatebreaker Astartes +

+ Building the Old Guard +

+ Building and painting Primaris marines is one thing – had I not given in to my compulsion to convert the guns and arms, they'd have gone together quickly and simply. The Astartes (or Firstborn, or old-school marines, or whatever else you want to call them) of the Gatebreakers, however, were a different kettle of fish, requiring quite a bit of kitbashing and conversion. +

+ Of course, that's quite nice – and knowing that I can fall back on the comparatively simple Primaris marines to bulk out the force, leaving these to stand out, is lovely: a lovely halfway house. +

+ An important theme of the Gatebreakers is their resourcefulness and lack of sentimentality. The Astartes use old, hybrid suits of patchwork armour for two reasons – the first is that, like most Imperial institutions, they're respectful of their wargear and the associated machine spirits. The second is more immediate: they have no way of replacing things. +

+ With resupply infrequent or relying on bargains with nearby forgeworlds, the Gatebreakers have been eking out what equipment they have, patching together suits of power armour for centuries. Lacking any Techmarines of their own, they have been forced to make do with what their more talented Chapter Serfs or resident techpriests can improvise. +

+ The arrival of the Primaris of Chapter 333 has changed all that – something for a future story – and together with an influx of new battle brothers, the old equipment has been supplemented by substantial stocks of new armour. I wanted to represent that in miniature, with some suspicious Astartes sticking with their tried-and-true armour, other adopting much of the new Tacticus suits (but retaining elements of the old, so as not to offend the machine spirits), and others replacing selected elements with Tacticus equivalents. +


+ Notes on Antecedent Chapter 333: Gatebreakers  +

+ As dictated by Inquisitrix Barbari Kills, recorded faithfully by Adept Halm +

Opening remarks: Upon witnessing the sheer divergence from standard type that the Chapter demonstrated from first contact, I had fully expected the Gatebreakers' leadership to be hostile or attempt to withhold information. In fact, access to the Gatebreakers thus far has been pleasingly open, and investigating their ways, martial culture and divergence has been eye-opening. As is my preference, Brunski, Halm and I have begun our interviews with the rank and file. Such a broad-based approach has frequently provided me with the tantalising inconsistencies that provide trails – trails to malefaction, dereliction or even heresy.

Let me be clear that what I have found amongst the Gatebreakers thus far reveals a pious, loyal and effective Chapter – and yet one that is simultaneously inconsistent, irreverent and curiously recondite. I have found it, I confess, both refreshing and unexpected to find that such strange defenders of the Imperium exist. Perhaps it is simply a symptom of being here at the very limits of Imperium; perhaps such deviations are common at all arc-sectors of the Galactic Rim. Certainly the Gatebreakers' reported lack of Imperial contact and support must be a common result of the accelerated star-drift in such regions.

It is my firm belief that variety is at the heart of strength. Over-specialism leads to extinction when one's niche alters; and the Gatebreakers have made a necessary virtue of adaptability. While warfare inevitably depletes their ranks, they pursue recruitment with a near-monomaniacal keenness and with scant regard for anything save biological compatibility; each Strikeforce demanding a tithe of potential aspirants – willing or not – from the worlds they visit. From my previous experience with the Stellar Steeds, another fleet-based Chapter, I had expected to find strong enforcement of a Chapter cult, but such seems to be largely absent. 

Most Astartes have reacted to my requests for interviews in a number of ways. Most have proven apparently open, even discursive, and occasionally conversational – it is, I confess, a novelty to meet anyone who has treated my office with such a lack of gravity. Some are clearly more recalcitrant, but it appears that an order has been issued by Sho; a figure whose precise role remains a mystery, and with whom I have not yet requested a direct audience. From his report, it is clear that Master Scipius regards Sho as the Chapter Master of the Gatebreakers, but such a simple, unequivocal evaluation sits uneasily with me. 

Such hunches and intuition are the bread and wine of my calling, but it is that last – somewhat questionable – nature of Sho that perhaps best sums up the nature of the Gatebreakers thus far. I cannot be certain that Sho has issued any such order; or even if he has the authority to do so: certainly I have not received any official notice. It is only by reading into the words unsaid by my interviewees that I surmise such an order was given. It is, I suspect, only an apparent or partial openness that I have been granted. To what end, I do not yet know – but for the moment I suspect no cause for especial concern. 

I digress. For the moment, I will pursue my investigations of those 'Members-Ordinary', to use the Gatebreaker's vernacular, that inhabit this strange, owl-haunted ruin. The following attached files – scripted by Halm – provide assorted examples of this curious group that I hope will prove illuminating. 


+ Member-Ordinary Kyi Dzungar +

Work in progress

+ Striking me as young, inventive and adaptable, this Member-Ordinary proudly reported that he was one of the first to benefit from the integration of the Primaris equipment, and was able to largely replace his much battered Armourum Impetor plate; retaining only the backpack and helm – the two elements that he – and I tentatively assume the Gatebreakers as a whole – believe house the machine spirits. +

+ Dzungar patiently explained to me over the course of an hour or so a wide-ranging set of beliefs. Of relevance here is that the backpack is seen as a figurative heart that fills the otherwise inert materials of the other armour elements with motive force. It is at the core of the armour's mystery, acting as a point where the numinous world of the machines can join with that of man. The helmet, conversely, is the site not of synthesis, but of alliance. Here, man and machine remain separate – the Astartes, after all, must have precedence – but can share their insights through the technomystical hood. +

+ When correctly invoked, the hood conjures spectral lines and datarunes on the wearer's sight, haunting the Astartes' vision and enhancing his abilities. I am no techpriest myself, and while I find the subject interesting, I refer you to the Inquisitor on whether this represents an acceptable divergence in belief. +


+ Gentle Ousanas Wazeba +

Work in-progress

+ The office of Gentle – an oddly-constructed word that quite belies the belligerent duties of all Astartes – is a Chapter office that equates closely to the Apothecarion of Chapter 333, unlike nearly all their other affairs. It is illustrative of the complete lack of regard for the Codex Astartes that the Chapter shows. +

+ I believe this is not a simple lack of respect; and certainly not an intentional snub. From what I can gather, the Gatebreakers have not had access to the Codex – certainly not in living memory. I am led to believe that this relates to the loss of the Chapter Fortress, around the time of the Ninth Founding, in some way. I will endeavour to investigate this further, but of immediate relevance is the Gatebreakers' alternative, the so-called Tenets of the Ten Divine Princes, a peculiar collection of aphorisms, stories and martial advice drawn from the Gatebreakers' history and mythic cycles. Each member bears a copy of this book, but far from being a closely-monitored holy text, the bearer is encouraged – indeed expected – to add his or her own notes, amendments and stories. +

+ Despite its obvious personal importance, Wazeba seemed quite at ease with me borrowing his copy. Indeed, he struck me as being oddly unconcerned with what happened to it. When pressed on this, he seemed almost confused; as though he had no conception that its loss might affect him. I suggest that this may be a cultural idiosyncracy worth pursuing; or it may be that he has the weighty tome memorised. +

+ Like Dzungar – who suggested I met with Wazeba – the Gentle has adopted a number of replacement armour elements from Tacticus suits. Here, however, they were necessities: the Gentle's presence at the thinly-populated fortress was apparently forced by the near destruction of much of his armour. What remains of it is truly ancient – chronotracing is unclear, but my research indicates a number of elements, including the crucial backpack – are from Mark II Crusade Armour. Wazeba is infuriatingly vague on their provenance – though again I suspect an empathic lack of understanding rather than any intention to mislead or hinder my research. +


+ Member-Ordinary Gyalo Zhongxin +

Work in-progress

+ Lest it be assumed that the Gatebreakers welcomed us with open arms, eager to spill their personal biographies to any who would listen, it behoves me to note the rather more... recalcitrant members of their brotherhood. Zhongxin was one such: a towering, wild-eyed and tousle-haired individual, who flatly refused to sit down throughout the interview. He paced back and forth throughout, and only removed his helm on the direct order of the supervising officer. Even then, his broad, scarred face wore a snarl. +

+ His dark, glittering eyes roved while we talked, as though suspecting an ambush or attack at any moment. His analysis of me clearly marked me as little threat, but he continued darting looks at my Primaris warder, Coriolanus, throughout the interview. +

+ A quick cross-reference of the text of Gentle Wazeba's The Tenets of the Ten Divine Princes with Zhongxin's makes it clear that the book is hugely divergent. Whole sections are identical, while others are apparently without parallel between these two members. I intend to look at other copies to clarify further. +

+ I learned little directly from Zhongxin save that he was taken as a slave from a nameless world beyond the Rim (I took the liberty of recording what details he gave, that I could pass them on to Taiwo, as per our agreement), and served in the ninth Strikeforce, alongside Eo Daur – more on whom in a later file. However, much as the shape of an object can be discerned from the negative space that surrounds it, I inferred a great deal. +

+ It appears that the ninth Strikeforce has been much reduced in resolving an ongoing border dispute with a extragalactic species that matches no description I can find in our records. The Strikeforce's presence on Andocrine – indeed, the entire Gatebreakers' presence on their supposed homeworld – is entirely down to dumb luck, as they had returned to harvest further potential recruits. Had we arrived a week later, it is entirely possible the court would have moved on. It appears the fortress-monastery's tumbledown appearance is no sham – it truly is rubble. +


Closing Remarks: Halm's notes are of concern. That a Chapter has let its homeworld fall into disrepair is of grave import; but it also makes me suspect that the mysterious Sho is playing a poor hand rather well. No wonder we were not met with system monitors – it seems there are none. Further, I suspect the welcome was enforced. Sho could not have hoped to hold the ruins against a full Chapter Astartes intent on entry; not with the seeming handful of warriors at his ready command.

This raises the critical question: Are we in turn being evaluated? That seems all but certain. If that is the case, why? My suspicions must be kept smothered until we are certain. For the moment, we are being treated cordially; and I will not fray what little ties Scipius and Chapter 333 to me by moving against what he clearly sees as his brethren. For the moment, I will continue my investigations; and endeavour to get word to Taiwo. Whether the intention is innocent or malign, the Rogue Trader must be forewarned.

The more optimistic answer is simple over-eagerness. This Chapter has been long-starved and now sees the potential for salvation in these long hoped-for reinforcements.

The second is more problematic – and since my task is inevitably cynical, more likely: we are being delayed while others gather.

– Inquisitrix Barbari Kills

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