"These men are my bodyguards, their lives forfeit to the guarantee of my physical safety. Of their loyalty to me there shall be no question nor doubt. I, and I alone, shall have the authority to stand in judgement over them. No other commander shall they have in battle nor in service. None shall bar them from me and none shall hamper or stall their mission. So it is decreed!"
The Adeptus Custodes, known as the Legio Custodes during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras, is the Imperial Adepta responsible for protecting the Imperial Palace and the physical body of the Emperor of Mankind, as well as serving as His most important emissaries, His companions, and the keepers of His many secrets.
The Custodes is an elite cadre of genetically-engineered transhuman warriors who are even more potent in combat than the Adeptus Astartes. They are to the Space Marines as the Emperor is to His Primarchs, and it is rumoured that they were each created by the Master of Mankind personally.
Where Space Marines represent the mass-produced, genetically-engineered soldiers of the Imperium of Man, the Adeptus Custodes are a force of individual warriors, each a bastion in his own right and a sentinel of unmatched capability and singular purpose created to counter any possible threat -- human, alien or daemonic.
These warriors have stood in the presence of the immortal Emperor of Mankind since before the time of the Unification Wars. For ten thousand Terran years and more, the Custodians have stood watch over their lord and master, serving as the Emperor's personal heralds and praetorian bodyguard.
During the Great Crusade these resplendent warriors guarded the Emperor wherever He went and swore to give their lives to protect His. After His incarceration in the Golden Throne following the Horus Heresy ten standard millennia ago, they have taken a far more limited role in the Imperium of Man.
They almost never leave Terra and only very rarely are seen outside the Imperial Palace as they watch over their recumbent master and patrol the precincts of the Emperor's palace, ever vigilant of threats. It is only the Adeptus Custodes who decide who may enter the Sanctum Imperialis of the Emperor at the heart of the Inner Palace, and when they may do so.
With the birth of the Great Rift in the Era Indomitus, and the resurrection of the Primarch Roboute Guilliman as the Lord Commander of the Imperium, the Adeptus Custodes have been forced to take a more active role in galactic affairs. A force of Custodians has followed Guilliman's Indomitus Crusade out into the galaxy, often serving as the heralds of a Torchbearers fleet.
This was done both to reassure the existing Space Marine Chapters that the gift of the Primaris Space Marines was ordained by the will of the Emperor, but also because in this new era of constant threat, the Custodes have come to a hard realisation: sometimes, the best defence is found on offence.
Brotherhood of Demigods
"Give thanks to those most courageous and loyal of guardians, the Adeptus Custodes, who stand in constant vigil over the Emperor's palace. A veritable legion of warriors ready to lay down their lives without doubt for the beloved ward of Mankind. None pass through the Imperial Palace without their knowledge; steeped are they in the arcane secrets of that labyrinthine edifice. Ten thousand blades await the call to arms; to defend against any threat, from without or within."
- —Atr. Unknown
The Adeptus Custodes. It is a name spoken in reverent whispers, for these warriors have stood in the presence of the immortal Emperor of Mankind, and are charged with His protection. His greatness runs in their veins, undiluted by the passage of aeons. They have been called the Emperor's right hand, for they act with His authority and fight in His name. Only now, as the threat of Chaos grows ever greater and takes its dreaded toll, does that gilded hand reach out and become an eagle's claw. The Custodian Guard are the talons of the Emperor unsheathed, and they will tear the corruption of Chaos from the Imperium no matter the cost.
Near-immortal are the Adeptus Custodes, for the golden elixir of the Emperor's own blood runs in their veins. Though outwardly resplendent, there is a scar upon the soul of the Custodian Guard, an inescapable disgrace that has tainted their history and lives in the heart of every warrior, from fresh inductees to veterans over a thousand Terran years old. Clad in baroque, golden Custodian Armour and armed with priceless relic weaponry, the Adeptus Custodes make for a magnificent sight. They tower over mortal men; each has the statuesque physique of an ancient hero, close to nine Terran feet in height even without his scarlet-crested helm. Yet for all their might, for all their bravery, the Custodians were unable to prevent the Emperor from falling to His traitorous son, the Primarch Horus.
For millennia, the Adeptus Custodes have formed the unyielding core of the Emperor's multi-layered defences. Those Custodian Guard charged with the physical protection of the Master of Mankind spend every waking second devoted to their task, refining their warrior skills and constantly testing and updating their own strategies to ensure the sanctity of the Emperor's throne. They are His last line of defence against a hostile galaxy hell-bent on humanity's destruction. If they fail in their task, the Imperium of Man will collapse from the inside out. Their duty is so sacred, their reputation so profound, that even Space Marines and Inquisitors kneel before them.
Though few truly realise it, humanity teeters upon the precipice. Aliens and fiends hurl themselves against the Imperium's borders even as the rot of treachery and the mutating curse of Chaos gnaw at it from within. Under such impossible duress, Mankind cannot endure. Once, the most part of the Adeptus Custodes would have stood stoically by as the Emperor's foes advanced upon Terra, each lordly champion stern and immobile until the foe crossed the pitch-black moat of the Sol System and hammered upon the palace walls themselves. After all, to keep vigil is the oath they swore to fulfil, and they have never abandoned it, even as thousands of worlds have burned.
Now that sovereign duty has changed. In Mankind's darkest hour, a legend has emerged from the annals of history -- the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman, an icon of authority. The coming of this legendary High Lord has galvanised the Adeptus Custodes, and after long consultation, seen them reorganised and given new life. The golden brotherhood now numbers not only guardians, but also crusaders. Alongside the anti-psykers known as the Sisters of Silence, the Adeptus Custodes bring war anew to the enemies of the Imperium. All shall learn to fear their golden warships, for they herald swift and unmerciful slaughter. These are heroes of fire and blade, and they will not stop until every threat to their immortal master lies slain.
"Only in Death does Duty End."
- —First Maxim of the Legio Custodes
The origins of the Custodian Guard are shrouded in myth and legend. The ancient Legio Custodes were the bodyguards and sworn protectors of the Emperor and His chosen emissaries, and when the need arose, His most deadly executioners. Genetically engineered warriors of unswerving loyalty and unshakable purpose, their might and skill-at-arms was greater even than the Space Marines of the Legiones Astartes, while their weapons and wargear were uniquely potent, representing the apex of the Imperium's technology. Their history is a long one, and for centuries they have walked in the Emperor's shadow as His praetorians and the protector of His secrets.
The Legio Custodes are by many accounts the Emperor's true firstborn, prefiguring even the gene-crafted Thunder Warriors of the Unification Wars. They are His first genetically-engineered, psycho-indoctrinated warriors, perfected weapons crafted by the Emperor's genius from the dread lore of the Dark Age of Technology. They are in almost every measurable way superhuman: stronger, faster, more acute of senses and more resilient than even the doomed Thunder Warriors or the Space Marines who would follow them, and so far beyond the limits of an unaugmented human as to be almost godlike in comparison. Indeed, only the Primarchs and above them the Emperor Himself exceeds them in corporeal might, and to meet them in open conflict is to court death for human or alien alike.
They are rare creatures, these firstborn of the Emperor's gene-craft. Such was their psycho-physical design, and the intricacy and sophistication of the gene-craft involved, that the modifications which went into their creation required such strict biological and psychological criteria that only a mere one in many thousands of potential candidates might prove suitable for the simplest of the steps involved in the Legio Custodes creation process. Even of this small pool of candidates, survival through the multiple decades of alchemical augmentation and psycho-memetic training were far from guaranteed. In this fact can be seen a pattern also replicated in the Space Marine Legions, only to a far greater degree. While the numbers of the Legiones Astartes were prevented from growing beyond perhaps a million at their greatest strength by the limitations inherent in the means of their creation -- a paltry sum compared to the billions of others who took part in the Great Crusade -- the Legio Custodes could never have operated on the scale of the Space Marine Legions, even if the attempt had been made. As a result of the inherent difficulty of their creation, the number of active Legio Custodes warriors has never, it is believed, exceeded 10,000. This figure was first attained towards the middle stages of the Great Crusade and maintained diligently enough that the "Ten Thousand" itself became a cognomen for the Custodian Guard in the works of the Remembrancers and the notaries of the Imperial Court since, whatever its literal accuracy.
Certainly no more than a thousand have ever been seen together at any one time, and then only once at the famous Battle of Gyros-Thravian, fought during the Great Crusade against the Ork Warlord Gharkhul Blackfang and his vast Greenskins horde. The Primarchs Horus, Rogal Dorn and Mortarion and their Legions were vastly outnumbered and close to defeat when the Emperor led an assault from His golden Battle Barge, the Bucephelus. At the head of a thousand Custodians, the Emperor struck at the very heart of the Ork horde, confronting Gharkhul atop a towering Gargant. As the Emperor decapitated the giant, black-skinned Ork, the Custodians laid waste to the warlord's prime warriors. It is said that within moments over a hundred thousand Greenskins died and the WAAAGH! was broken. Legend has it that only three Custodians fell at the battle, their names enshrined forever and engraved on the Emperor's armour thereafter.
Wrought by the Emperor's Hand
It is not an uncommon belief to suppose the Custodian Guard were themselves some variant of the Astartes -- if so crude a term might be applied, an "advanced" form, perhaps even a second, improved iteration. While this explanation might seem to fit the facts, particularly to those without intimate knowledge of the Imperium's birth pains during the final acts of the Unification Wars on Ancient Terra, it could not be further from the truth.
The bloody chronicles of the Unification Wars, particularly in their earliest stages when the Emperor first rose from the nightmarish bloodshed of Ancient Earth's long night to cast down the reign of the warlords and monsters that had carved Mankind's birthworld into a thousand slaughter-haunted pieces, are difficult now to comprehend. Many are rightly sealed from the Imperium's scholars and even the Terran Court, the dangerous truths within suppressed. But in those dark chronicles the Custodian Guard, in some form or shape, have their part as far back as any can record or those few souls who survive yet from those times can remember. Upon the pillars of the Black Manse of Nas'sau, capital of one of the earliest of the techno-barbarian holds to submit before He who was to be known as the Emperor, inscriptions record the "Lord of Lightning" coming before their warlord-kind flanked by His "four giants of crimson and gold," demanding surrender. Solar decades later, according to detailed extant records preserved in the Trans-Nordyc Akashic archives, a companion guard of thirty "Custodians," bearing Guardian Spears, clad in Augment-Armour and personally commanded by the Emperor, fought at the head of the newborn Thunder Legion in the assault against the formidable Maulland Sen Confederacy. One of their number is even recorded as being responsible for striking the head of the Confederation's Tyrant-Prophet from its shoulders in the aftermath of the campaign's climactic "Battle of the Red Frost."
Decades later, it would be the Custodian Guard in their hundreds, in a form akin to their most modern aspect, who would be charged with leading the cull of those same Thunder Warriors who had once served the Emperor and who had then rebelled against Him in the wake of their forcible disbandment and internment as their mental instability, metabolic collapse and anger over their shortened life spans led to violence. Only this time the Custodian Guard would be accompanied by the new gene-crafted warriors meant to replace the Thunder Warriors; the first few thousand prototype Space Marines, most of whom would go on to form the nascent I Legion, later known as the Dark Angels. The evidence then is clear; since before the first worlds were conquered as the Great Crusade left the Sol System, since before the taking of Luna and the Treaty of Olympus Mons, since before the Cataclysm of Ursh and the fall of the Yndonisic Bloc, before the Space Marines and before the Thunder Warriors, the Custodian Guard have walked at the Emperor's side.
To accomplish the ends to which the Legio Custodes were designed, not only is a Custodian's superhuman physical power honed to a razor's edge, but so also is the individual Custodian's intellect, mental fortitude and martial skill developed with ruthless application and zeal. The result is the creation not simply of a preternaturally deadly fighter or master assassin -- though they can readily serve as both -- but to create a being whose perception and apprehension of threat and how to counter it is literally beyond the natural limits of man or the powers of a machine. By means unknown and unknowable beyond the Emperor's own forbidden laboratories are the minds of the Custodians programmed and fortified, filled with an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the arts of death, deceit and destruction they might encounter in their duty, and how both to counter and employ them. Beyond even this their education is prodigious, for they are not simply the Emperor's protectors in intention. They are also made to be His companions and with Him they are armed to converse on such matters of warfare, politics and philosophy as He wished. Most importantly, their psyches are also crafted and shaped as a master gemsmith might cut and polish a perfect stone, fashioned to precise order and pattern, a pattern to which loyalty and discipline, duty and unflinching obedience to the Emperor goes deeper than blood and bone, deeper than conscious thought or unconscious desire. If at any stage in the process of Custodian augmentation the merest flaw is encountered, as with the gemsmith's search for the perfect stone, the flawed subject is discarded.
The product of these amassed arts, arcane, academic and militant, is a body of warriors who are living weapons. These make up the Legio Custodes and later the Adeptus Custodes itself, the Ten Thousand. As an organisation, it was in many ways both alike and unalike to the ancient Space Marine Legions in formation and structure, a paramilitary force unique in human history, inviolate in action and answerable only to the Emperor. While each Legion was, at least at conception, a highly stratified and self-contained military organisation designed to be the shock troops and principal agency of the Great Crusade, the Legio Custodes was similarly self-sufficient and self-contained, but was never armed or expected to prosecute a full war, but instead to utterly dominate whichever particular close battle in which they fight. Their base of operations is Terra itself and their own domains interwoven with that of the Emperor. They hold few voidships of their own, but could command by edict any such vessel of the Imperialis Armada or later Imperial Navy to their task, and in fact requisition anyone or anything within the Imperium in extremis to serve their most sacred and undaunted task; the protection of the Emperor and His works from all the foes of humanity.
Whether serving as part of a detachment acting as the destroyers of some ill-fated foe, or tasked as a bodyguard for the Emperor or some element of His household, or even where a handful of Custodians might be deployed to act as the personal protectors of an Imperial emissary or Lord Militant, they are tireless, vigilant and remorseless. They are armed, created and trained to be the match and the death of anything they might encounter face-to-face, be that human, xenos or machine, in any circumstance of single combat, counterattack to ambush or close-range assault.
Again and again has history seen the Custodian Guard stand off and defeat odds that seem beyond reason or belief. It has seen them slay monsters foul enough to have been dredged up from pure nightmare, and defeat and slay assassins born of arts both dark and subtle beyond human ken. Tested again and again, be it on alien worlds untrodden by humanity, or within the tangled under-hives of the domains of Mankind lost to the Age of Strife, or the twisted palaces of alien warlords, the Custodians proved themselves warriors of terrifying ability. Their service and their mystery saw the Legio Custodes and the later Adeptus Custodes quickly become a legend equal in wonder and terror even to those alongside whom they served and in the echoes of whispered stories in every corner of the burgeoning Imperium.
To the common soldier and Planetary Governor alike, the golden-armoured image of the Custodian Guard was a visible sign not only of the Emperor's direct protection and the embodiment of His will and agency, but also the omen of His unstoppable wrath, as personal and as terrifying in their way as the Angels of Death, His Space Marines, were impersonal and all-conquering avatars in the minds of many of the Great Crusade itself.
The Horus Heresy
After the breaking of the Orks upon Ullanor, the Emperor returned to Terra, taking His Custodian Guard with him. The seeds of doubt He left behind among the Astartes Legions soon became the roots of treachery, for there is darkness in every soul, and the Ruinous Powers have always known how to exploit it. Before a single generation had passed, the insidious taint of Chaos had infected a full half of the Emperor's Primarchs, Horus foremost amongst them. These Arch-traitors spread the moral decay to the Legiones Astartes they led, and the galaxy was lit with the fires of strife and civil war.
At the climax of the Horus Heresy, the Custodian Guard fought monstrosities without number, for those in the Traitor Legions powerful enough to reach the gates of the Imperial Palace were twisted body and soul by the baleful gifts of Chaos. A thousand victories were won by the Custodian Guard, but they all turned to ash when the Master of Mankind teleported aboard Horus' flagship, the Vengeful Spirit at the height of the Battle of Terra. There, a strike force of Legio Custodes fought the fiercest of Traitors to protect their master. They were found wanting. Though Horus was defeated by the Emperor in single combat at the last, it was at an unimaginable cost; the Warmaster cast down the angelic Primarch Sanguinius, and dealt the Emperor a mortal blow before being slain in turn. Though the Emperor's psyche remained active within His shattered body, since that day, the Custodian Guard have stood vigil over little more than a broken corpse, wizened and immobile upon a slowly failing life support system.
The Custodians have long worn the shroud of shame after that fateful day. In grave ceremony they donned black cloaks to symbolise the pall of darkness that had fallen over their order. The Emperor's realm, wracked by the tempest of heresy, was reforged by those Primarchs that survived the great upheaval. Largely through the efforts of the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman as the Lord Commander of the Imperium, the byzantine organisations of the Imperium were reordered in such a way as to ensure that no one faction or power could again threaten Terra or the rule of the Emperor. In doing so, they also relinquished some of their military strength. The Legiones Astartes were divided into Chapters of a thousand Space Marines each. The Legio Custodes, though it kept its numerical strength of ten times that number, was reforged as the Adeptus Custodes before the time of the Second Founding, becoming castellans of the Imperial Palace whose sole and solemn duty was to protect the Emperor from final death.
To the 41st Millennium
"Ours is the duty absolute. Ours is the vigil that must never end. Ours is the timeless honour, the willing sacrifice, the penitence enduring. We stand a watch that will never be relieved, and we stand it gladly out of adoration for he who gave us life, and whose life we must, in turn, preserve. We will never earn absolution, for we do not deserve it, but those who believe that would give us pause are fools."
- —Shield-Captain Tybalus Maxin
Even in the days before the Heresy, it was a rare and blessed thing to see a member of the Legio Custodes, and due to the confinement of the Emperor to the Golden Throne, it has become an almost unthinkable event for a present-day citizen of the Imperium. Even during the Battle of Terra, only a handful of Custodes joined the Emperor when He made His assault upon Horus' flagship, the Battle Barge Vengeful Spirit. Since the death of Horus and the mortal wounds he inflicted upon the Emperor, the Legio Custodes, renamed the Adeptus Custodes after the Reformation of the Imperium conducted by Guilliman in the early 31st Millennium, has taken a more limited role by acting solely as the protectors of the physical form of the Emperor on Terra and the primary providers of security for the Imperial Palace. The Adeptus Custodes are the Auric Mortalis ("The Golden Death"), the dread guardians and only living beings permitted to be in the presence of the Emperor unencumbered. Now ensconced deep within the Sanctum Imperialis on Terra, they continue their eternal watch over the recumbent form of the Emperor upon the Golden Throne.
Despite their long vigil, the Adeptus Custodes have continued to play an important role during some of the most tumultuous times in Imperial history. The Custodians were instrumental in ending the rule of the High Lord Goge Vandire during the Age of Apostasy in the 36th Millennium. It was the actions of a few members of the Adeptus Custodes, utilising secret passages within the Imperial Palace known only to themselves, that brought the Sisters of Battle, then known as the "Brides of the Emperor," to fully realise the acts of base treason perpetrated by Vandire. After their leader, Alicia Dominica, was brought before the Emperor Himself by the Custodes through the secret passages of the Palace, she returned and executed Vandire personally for his apostasy and betrayal of the Master of Mankind.
No one knows for sure how many hidden coups, secret rebellions and misguided attempts at assassination the Adeptus Custodes have foiled. That their martial skills remain so sharp after ten thousand standard years, however, is evidence that they have not stood an idle vigil. They have been called the Emperor's right hand, for they act with His authority and fight in His name. Only now, as the threat of Chaos grows ever greater and takes its dreaded toll, does that gilded hand reach out and become an eagle's claw. The Custodian Guard are the talons of the Emperor unsheathed, and they will tear the corruption of Chaos from the Imperium no matter the cost.
In the late 41st Millennium, the personal sanction of the resurrected Primarch of the Ultramarines sent shock waves through the Adeptus Custodes. After ten thousand years of mourning, the Custodian Guard have cast off their black cloaks and taken to the sea of stars once more. The fires of battle will absolve them, a baptism of blood that washes away the stain of their one great failure. Now, they crusade once more against the dying of the Emperor's light, a vengeance long-awaited finally within reach of their blades.
Into a New Age of Darkness
"The Emperor's realm is a festering ruin of overcrowded worlds drowning in their own ignorance and fear. It is a tumbledown ghetto that burns from end to end with the flames of war. They do not deserve their Emperor. They do not deserve us. None of that alters the fact that our duty must be done..."
- —Telchor, Custodian Guard
The hour of action is nigh. With the surge of Chaos activity across the galaxy in the wake of the Great Rift's birth and the threat of eternal damnation more real than ever, the Adeptus Custodes have taken their vow of protection to its logical extreme -- they will see the destruction of those forces who pose a threat to the sanctity of Terra. First amongst these are the dread hordes of Chaos.
The best form of defence is attack. It is a maxim that has survived through the millennia, and with good reason. Of late, it has become the mantra of all Adeptus Custodes commanders. In conjunction with the alpha-level Astropaths and doomscryers that dwell within the Imperial Palace, these officers launch terrifyingly effective strikes at those whom they deem a threat to the Emperor's works. More than one galactic tyrant, laying plans for a crusade that he envisages culminating on Terra itself, has found the warriors of the Emperor descending from the heavens to strike him down before he has even taken to his ships.
There are those who believe that the Adeptus Custodes stand immobilised by ritual and rote, but they are sorely mistaken. Only the Custodian Guard know what occurs behind the Sanctum Imperialis' colossal doors, and the lengths to which they have gone to keep their vigil. Their sacred task has by no means led to inactivity. Hundreds of wars have been fought by the Adeptus Custodes over the aeons -- some in Terra's defence, some in secret, and some further afield. Even when the din of war recedes, these warriors work to test and refine the protective aegis they hold before their master, sending agents into the Sol System to divine likely routes of infiltration and assassination so they can stay ahead of even the most inventive enemies. The Adeptus Custodes have long honed strategies and tactics in case they should be called upon to join the frontline fight for Humanity's survival. The day of that remit has finally arrived. The resurrected Primarch Guilliman, restored to his ancient role as the Lord Commander of the Imperium, has met alone with his father, the Master of Mankind, and emerged with a clear vision of Humanity united in battle.
Those Custodian Guard known as the Companions -- the three hundred warriors charged with the direct defence of the Emperor -- remain by His side, just as the colossal edifice of His palace continues to be bolstered by a standing army of golden heroes. The rest have taken to the stars. They have done so in no small force, for this majestic legion still numbers ten thousand blades and more. With the Sanctum Imperialis secure under the vigil of the Companions, the crusaders are free to pursue the war of aggression they have long desired, putting into place war strategies perfected over the centuries through fractal thought exercises, Cogitator-spawned algorithms, long study and even simulated conflicts waged in hallucinariums. These give the Custodians a tactical edge that allows them to counter the enemy's actions before they have begun.
Rise of the Primarch
In the last days before the gathering storm broke and the Great Rift tore the void in two, a bright light of hope was kindled within the galactic empire of Ultramar. Through great sacrifice and unnatural artifice, Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines, was restored from the brink of death. His coming would herald great changes for the Imperium. When the Traitor Legions fell upon the Imperial Palace at the culmination of the Horus Heresy, Roboute Guilliman and his Ultramarines were too far away to fight in their father's defence. Perhaps, had it been otherwise, the fate of the galaxy would have been very different.
Whatever the case, following his revival Guilliman was determined that he would not make the same mistake twice. Seeing the darkness rising to swamp the Imperium, he launched a desperate crusade across the stars that brought him by strange and bloody roads to the Throneworld itself. Guilliman was welcomed with all honour on Terra, permitted audience with the Emperor by Aquila Commander Kalim Varanor and reinstated as Lord Commander of the Imperium by an assemblage of the High Lords of Terra. Though the returned Primarch remained outwardly stern and regal, he had been shaken to the core by what had become of his father's empire. He quickly began instating changes that would permit the Imperium to fight back against the onrushing hordes of Chaos, bulldozing the bureaucratic stubbornness and hidebound pedantry of the Adeptus Terra as he went.
The Battle of Lion's Gate
Guilliman's return came not a moment too soon, for he had not been long at his labours when the cascading fury of the Great Rift washed over the Sol System. Though not directly struck by Warp Storms, Terra bore the brunt of empyric shock waves that temporarily extinguished the light of the Astronomican during what became known as the Noctis Aeterna, and wrought havoc and misery from the planet's highest spires to its deepest crypts. The Adeptus Custodes found themselves putting down riots, doomsday cult uprisings and rampaging packs of luckless petitioners driven to madness and cannibalism. Bands of Custodian Wardens stood their ground in the shadowed undervaults far beneath the palace as runic sigils burned out and timeless horrors burst from their containment cells.
Worse was to follow. Seeking to strike the decapitating blow that would bring the Imperium to ruin, a vast horde of Khornate daemons tore through the skin of reality and assaulted the Lion's Gate, initiating what became known informally as the "Second Battle of Terra." Legions of howling daemons surged towards the Emperor's palace in a crimson tidal wave, and a frenzied battle ensued. The battleship-sized gun emplacements flanking the Lion's Gate blasted glowing craters in the diabolical horde, but alone they had no hope of prevailing. Led by Roboute Guilliman and Captain-General Valoris, a combined host of the Adeptus Custodes, Ultramarines and Sisters of Silence marched out to meet the daemons before the walls of the Imperial Palace.
In scenes that echoed the horror of the Siege of Terra ten millennia before, the golden warriors of the Adeptus Custodes faced the Blood God's savage butchers blade to blade. This time, led by some of the Imperium's greatest champions and driven by a furious determination never to fail again, they prevailed. One by one, the eight Bloodthirsters that led the attack were blown apart or cut down. The cost in lives was great, with noble defenders who had stood guard over the Emperor for thousands of Terran years brought low by the brazen weapons of Khorne's hateful daemons. Yet even as the skies boiled blood-red and carmine rains slicked the ground, the legions of Khorne faded from reality with howls of frustration and rage.
Marshaling for War
The Battle of Lion's Gate proved a stark truth. While great swathes of witnesses were corralled and exterminated by the Inquisition, and efforts made to obliterate all evidence of the conflict, the masters of the Adeptus Custodes formally recognised that Terra's defence could no longer be guaranteed without greater proactive measures. The servants of the Dark Gods had bypassed the defences of the cradle of Humanity. Behind locked doors, complex wards and layers of psy-protections, Trajann Valoris and Guilliman ratified a formal amendment to the role of the Adeptus Custodes. The palace must still be guarded, of course, and the Companions' watch must continue within the Emperor's throne room. However, as a logical extension of the vows of duty they had sworn, the Adeptus Custodes committed to greatly extending their extra-solar activities.
Aided by oracular doomscryers and alpha-level astropathic intercepts, and guided in part by the continued efforts of the Eyes of the Emperor, more Custodes Shield Hosts than ever before struck out from Terra. The aim of these forces was to exterminate utterly the most deadly threats to the Emperor Himself. This mission might take them all across the galaxy, even into the shadows of the Imperium Nihilus beyond the sprawl of the Great Rift to the galactic north, but always their focus would be the sanctity of Terra. In this capacity a number of Shield Companies attached themselves to Guilliman's Indomitus Crusade, reprising the role of the Emperor's emissaries in bearing Primaris Space Marines reinforcements and technology to the beleaguered Space Marine Chapters, and ensuring they understood that this was a gift from the Master of Mankind himself. It was not to be squandered or refused.
Other Shield Companies relocated to permanently garrison the Sol System's outer defences, or travelled further afield in order to watch over the primary Warp routes that remained stable paths to the Throneworld. Others still took even more esoteric mantles, becoming hunters after arch-heretics, questors for artefacts crucial to the ongoing survival of the Imperium, or redoubling their efforts in their wars against Humanity's hidden foes. Not since the Great Crusade had so many Custodians bestrode the stars.
The Indomitus Crusade
"The hotter the forge, the finer the blade, or so they say. The forge of war in which we now find ourselves blazes hotter than anything the Imperium has seen in ten millennia. We of the Adeptus Custodes were built to endure these fires. They will not be our end. Instead, we will be honed to the finest cutting edge, that we may be the bane of even the foulest heretics."
- — Captain-General Trajann Valoris
The Adeptus Custodes, for long millennia the bodyguard of the Emperor, were charged with the unthinkable -- to leave His side and strike against those who would see the Master of Mankind dead. Just as a spring tightly wound uncoils with all the more force, the Adeptus Custodes have taken war to the enemies of the Imperium with extreme alacrity and vigour. It is tradition that when one of their number falls, Terra mourns, and the giant Bell of Lost Souls is rung in memoriam; with a new era of war upon them, that sonorous toll has been heard more frequently than ever.
They do not fall easily, however, for they have access to the finest weaponry, and the museum-arsenals of the Imperial Palace are theirs to use as they see fit. Few post-Heresy variations of tank, aircraft or weapons systems are at their disposal, but they are perhaps stronger for it -- every weapon the Custodian Guard uses to wage war has earned its place a hundred times over.
Their armoured support elements were perfected when the Imperium was still in its infancy, and they remain just as potent, their Machine Spirits more bellicose and powerful than any latter-day equivalent. The Adeptus Custodes employs squadrons of gold-hulled gunships -- some of these are the very same craft used during the Horus Heresy, painstakingly maintained and blessed each day with sacred oils and unguents.
When a direct vector of invasion is called for, the Adeptus Custodes utilise Godstrike Pattern teleportarium arrays, appearing in the midst of the fray in storms of golden light. Their starships have ancient translocation bays where blessed incense drifts in the chill air, each station permanently attended to by high-ranking Tech-priests and blessed to such a degree that even Contemptor Dreadnoughts can be teleported straight into battle. The warriors inside, their armour proof against the wrenching forces of this arcane technology, shake off their disorientation in a heartbeat before launching thunderous assaults their foes could not have seen coming.
The willpower and fortitude of the Adeptus Custodes is such that even the most fiendish Sorcerers find their mental assaults rebounding from a wall of sheer conviction. The Custodians share the blood of the Emperor, after all, and their loyalty to their primogenitor is unshakeable. If the Adeptus Custodes could be said to have a weakness, it is that they fight as individuals rather than squads of soldiers, as proud lions rather than cunning wolves.
Each wears armour crafted to his particular physique, fights in whatever style he deems most effective, and is given free rein to attack or defend as he sees fit. This makes him a terrifyingly effective combatant -- a single Custodian can break a charging horde by himself, though he may take a few good hits in the process.
To outsiders, their supreme self-confidence may seem like arrogance. They pay little heed to mortal men, and even the Adeptus Astartes are kept at spear's length for their former transgressions against the Emperor. Yet the reason is a noble one. Every act, thought and deed of a Custodian is made for the furtherance of the Emperor's cause, and therefore the survival of the Human race. Those who stand in the way of such paragons of surety do not last long.
The Tale of the Ten Thousand
From out of the mists of time stride the Adeptus Custodes. Their long path leads from the darkness of Old Night, through the fires of the Horus Heresy, and out of the shadows of ten thousand years of ignorant obfuscation into the cold light of the present. In all of those hundreds of centuries the Custodians have never faltered, and they never shall.
The Era of Glory and Shame, M30-M32
- The Unification Wars (Late M29-M30) - The bloody chronicles of the Unification Wars, particularly when the Emperor first rose from the nightmarish bloodshed of Old Earth's long night to cast down the reign of the warlords and monsters that had long lorded over the birth world of Mankind, are fragmented or have been sequestered and suppressed from the Imperium's scholars and even the Terran Court. But in those dark chronicles the Custodian Guard, in some form or shape, have their part as far back as any can record or those few souls who survive yet from those times as Venerable Dreadnoughts can remember. Various extant accounts record the Emperor being flanked by "giants of crimson and gold" during several different campaigns of the Wars of Unification demanding the surrender of a tyrant or techno-barbarian warlord. Later, these few "Custodians", now numbering in the hundreds, would later be recorded as leading the cull against the proto-Astartes of the Thunder Warriors following their revolt against the Emperor. Since before the first worlds were conquered as the Great Crusade left the Sol System, since before the taking of Luna] and the Treaty of Mars, before the Space Marines and before the Thunder Warriors, the Custodian Guard have walked at the Emperor's side.
- The Great Crusade (ca. 798.M30-005.M31) - The Emperor united all of Terra beneath his rule and struck out into the galaxy at the head of his armies of unification. The Great Crusade sweeps through the void like a tidal wave, uniting the scattered worlds of Humanity and driving the myriad xenos races into the shadows. The Emperor leads the greatest battles of this era in person, and always at His side stride the peerless warriors of the Legio Custodes. Clad in gleaming auramite, wielding blades that crackle with fell energies, the Ten Thousand cut down all that stand before them, and stamp Mankind's glorious authority upon the stars.
- The Battle of Gyros-Thravian (ca. 900s.M30) - The Battle of Gyros-Thravian was a campaign of the Great Crusade fought against the extremely powerful Ork Warlord Gharkul Blackfang, one of the most powerful Ork leaders ever encountered to that time. Three full Space Marine Legions, including the Luna Wolves, Death Guard and Imperial Fists, were deployed to face the Greenskin menace. Despite the strength arrayed against the Orks, it was the Imperial forces who were soon on the verge of defeat. It was then that the Emperor Himself, aboard His flagship Bucephelus, came to the aid of His sons. He personally led a force composed of 1,000 Legio Custodes into the heart of the mighty Ork horde. Blackfang was confronted by the Emperor and killed atop his Gargant while the Custodians proceeded to lay waste to the rest of the Greenskin horde. The Custodians accounted for the slaughter of the Orks, slaying over 100,000 of the savage xenos, with the loss of only three Custodians. Following their momentous victory, the Emperor commemorated the Custodians' sacrifice by engraving the names of the three fallen Custodians into His own personal Power Armour.
- The Burning of Prospero (734.004.M31) - After the Triumph at Ullanor, the Emperor returned to Terra to apply himself to a task of utmost secrecy and importance. The Great Crusade continued under the Warmaster Horus of the Luna Wolves, but dark powers were at work, attempting to pervert the favoured Primarch's rule and sow discord throughout the nascent Imperium. The first outward sign of the coming catastrophe was the Burning of Prospero. Magnus the Red, Primarch of the Thousand Sons, unleashes forbidden sorceries that wreak havoc upon Terra, though most will never know whether this act was one of aggression or an attempt to deliver a desperate warning of Horus' fall. In the end, the truth is immaterial; the Emperor unleashes a censure force under the command of Constantin Valdor and Primarch Leman Russ of the Space Wolves, charged with apprehending Magnus on his homeworld of Prospero and returning him to Terra to answer for his acts. Matters escalate rapidly due to Horus' malevolent intervention and the mission of capture becomes one of wholesale annihilation, Valdor and his Custodians fighting alongside the Space Wolves to overcome the sorcery of Magnus' sons.
- The Horus Heresy (005-014.M31) - The Warmaster Horus openly declares his allegiance to the Dark Gods of Chaos, leading fully half of his brother Primarchs and their Space Marine Legions in rebellion against the throne. War consumes the Imperium, a swift-spreading conflagration that threatens to turn to ash all the Emperor has built. Yet as His sons and their Legions battle across the stars, the Master of Mankind is nowhere to be seen. In truth, He and his Legio Custodes are engaged in their own desperate conflict, fighting upon a trans-dimensional battlefield within the Webway that the Emperor sought to tame for Mankind's use, thus protecting them forever from the machinations of Chaos. Tragically, this existential war keeps the Custodians from exacting the Emperor's vengeance upon His wayward sons -- the Ten Thousand do not take a major role in the battle for the Imperium until the foe is beating at the very gates of the Imperial Palace.
- Siege of Terra: An Unthinkable Cost (014.M31) - At the culmination of the Battle of Terra, the Emperor leads a last-ditch boarding action against Horus' Battle Barge, the Vengeful Spirit. He meets Horus in single combat and defeats him at last, but the cost is appalling. Though they cut down Traitors and daemons beyond count, the Legio Custodes are unable to prevent Horus from crippling the Emperor, and leaving his father's mind and soul trapped in a shattered husk of a body. Grief-stricken, the Custodians bear their master's failing body back to Terra, there to be interred forevermore within the machineries of the Golden Throne. They swear a penitent's oath and don the mourning black, consigning themselves to watching over their fallen lord for the rest of time.
- A Legend's End (ca. 014-021.M31) - The Emperor's surviving loyal sons lead a furious war of vengeance, hounding the Traitor Legions across the galaxy. This period will come to be known as the Great Scouring, and it is a time of violent catharsis and retribution. Yet the newly reorganised Adeptus Custodes takes no part in it, standing their sombre watch upon the Throneworld and contemplating their ultimate failure. Though records conflict as to how and when, it is during this period that Captain-General Constantin Valdor disappears from Imperial histories, along with his weapons and armour, which never make their way to the Custodes' Hall of Armaments within the Imperial Palace complex. The Custodians elect Valdor's successor as Captain-General and Chief Custodian from amongst their ranks and continue their watch.
- The War of the Beast (544-546.M32) - Still recovering from the events of the Horus Heresy, the Imperium is again beset. This time it is the Ork menace of a powerful Warlord, known only as The Beast, that almost overruns Mankind, bringing their war all the way to the gates of Terra itself. Bound by oath and duty, the Custodians take little part in the sprawling conflict, save to strike down a force of Aeldari who attempt to cut a path to the Emperor's throne room during the chaos and confusion.
The Era of Vigilance Unstinting, M33-M39
- Siege of the Eternity Gate (Unknown Date) - Capitalising upon contacts within the Fartraders' Guild of the Yndonesic Hives, the Cult of the Hedonic Lord seize control of much of the Eternity Gate spaceport on Terra. Repeated attempts are made by the Adeptus Arbites to break the Heretic barricades, but every attack is hurled back by tides of fanatics. Meanwhile, word escapes the space port that the cultists are re-purposing hundreds of heavy landers and atmospheric barges for an all-out attack upon the Imperial Palace. Identifying the cult activity as now posing a direct threat to the Emperor's safety, a Shield Host of the Adeptus Custodes launches a blistering attack. Land Raiders and Venerable Contemptor Dreadnoughts smash through the cult's barricades, even as sleek squadrons of Vertus Praetors strike at the Heretics from above. Bands of Custodians tear through the Chaos Cultists with merciless efficiency, driving their victims before them and trapping them in macro-hangar level 142. There the Cult of the Hedonic Lord are slaughtered to the last, and their deviant dreams of an attack upon the Golden Throne ground to dust.
- Blood Will Tell (Unknown Date) - Leotydus Dat-Hastael runs a successful Blood Game, spending over a solar decade in hiding, evading every ward and sentry to finally reach the Sanctum Imperialis with blade in hand. Precautions are put in place to seal off his route of ingress, just in time to catch the elite Drukhari killer known as the Blade of Ptesh as he attempts the very same route as Dat-Hastael in his efforts to slay the Emperor on behalf of a mysterious and exceptionally persuasive patron. The Blade's ambitions, and indeed his life, meet a merciless end, though he refuses to the end to give up the identity of the one who sent him.
- Envoys to the Omnissiah (999.M37) - During Abaddon the Despoiler's 8th Black Crusade, a combined force of Night Lords and Iron Warriors captures the Andromax System and a direct threat to Terra is identified. Initially, the notoriously insular Fabricator-General Uixot of Mars refuses to pledge his aid in eliminating the Heretic Astartes. However, when a diplomatic mission from the Adeptus Custodes attends his forge-temple in person, the Fabricator-General's ego is stroked and his mind swayed. Mere solar months later, a combined force of Minotaurs Astartes, Adeptus Mechanicus war maniples and Custodians from the Dread Host annihilates the Traitors in their captured strongholds.
- The Ominous Gift (Unknown Date) - Halo Belt Augurs surrounding the Sol System reveal the Space Hulk Ominous Gift advancing inexorably out of the dark void towards Terra. Using his status as a High Lord to overrule objections by the Imperial Navy, Captain-General Aesoth Koumadra orders a strike by several Shield Companies to gut the spacecraft from the inside and ensure its corruption is wholly purged. Those outside the Adeptus Custodes do not understand the significance, but the attack is led by the Lockwarden of the Shadowkeepers and a band of his black-armoured comrades. The Ominous Gift is destroyed -- the wider Imperium need never know any more than that.
- Guardians of Greatness (Unknown Date) - A controversial act of insubordination sees Lieutenant Nathasian of the Cadian 86th Regiment slated for execution. Yet he is spared when a band of grim-faced Custodians from the Aquilan Shield appear at his side in a blaze of golden light, and wordlessly cut down his would-be Commissariat executioners. With his remarkable bodyguards at his side, Nathasian is free to exercise his flair for unconventional tactics, which soon sees his promotion to Commander Army Group, then to Warmaster of an entire Imperial Crusade. The Shuddering Stars are swept clear of Ork tribes, stopping WAAAGH! Dakskrag in its tracks before it can descend upon the Sol System. In the wake of Nathasian's triumph over the Greenskins, his bodyguards depart as suddenly as they had arrived and -- never ones to rescind a sentence -- the Commissariat sees Warmaster Nathasian dead before the solar day is out.
The Era of Baleful Premonitions, M40-M41
- The Mind Thieves (Unknown Date.M41) - For twenty standard years, Shield-Captain Tybanus Lencilius pieces together scattered clues until at last he unearths an insidious scheme by a conclave of Radical Thorian Inquisitors to steal psykers destined for the Emperor's table and slowly starve the Master of Mankind. Sensing a deeper level still to this perfidy, Lencilius continues his investigations with cold, deliberate patience until at last he has concrete proof: the Inquisitors have struck a deal with High Lord Sennaca, who is contriving to hide their activities in exchange for being allowed to sell the stolen psykers on to wealthy Imperial nobles for exorbitant fees. At last the Shield-Captain is able to release his pent-up fury, assembling a combined force of Custodians, Sisters of Silence and Imperial Assassins to pull the corrupt operation up by its roots. Neither the Thorians nor Sennaca, nor any of his inner circle, survive the vengeful purge that follows.
- The Years of Madness (Unknown Date.M41) - A time of strange omens and ominous whispers engulfs Terra, beginning with the disappearance of the notoriously conservative Captain-General Galahoth. Battling the stagnation of Galahoth's rule, the Adeptus Custodes find themselves facing a shocking increase in cult activity -- both heretical and xenophile -- throughout the Sol System. Doomsday sects trigger queue-wars between the pilgrim tribes within the Emperor's palace itself, and the Custodians are forced to exercise their authority in the bloodiest fights they have seen in centuries. Reports from the Dark Cells cite a growing sense of agitation amongst the hidden inmates, and numerous support Servitors have to be destroyed by the Shadowkeepers after they exhibit sudden, violent madness. Worse is to follow as possession is revealed amongst a sub-sect of the doomscryers themselves, though not until the false predictions of the fallen psykers send Captain-General Andros Launceddre to his death at the Battle of the Gilded Pyre. It is amidst this climate of spiralling paranoia and danger that Captain-General Trajann Valoris is elevated to command the Ten Thousand, and he wastes no time in taking steps to regain ironclad control of Terra's defence.
- To Stand Against the Storm (999.M41) - In the wake of Valoris' rise to power, the Adeptus Custodes enjoy their most proactive century of martial and covert action since the fall of Goge Vandire. They annihilate dozens of hidden cults, purge the polar underhives of Terra, eliminate a vermillion-classified xenos threat amidst the Plutonian void-fortresses of the Sol System, and launch thirty-two separate extra-solar interdiction strikes. Several, it is rumoured, even utilise shattered spars of the Webway to reach their targets. As word reaches Terra of ever increasing Warp Storm activity, and cries for help sweep in from every corner of the galaxy, Valoris assembles the High Lords of Terra to discuss their response to this gathering storm. Yet it is at that moment that word reaches their closed session of an incredible disturbance on the surface of Luna, of demigods battling through the airless void at the head of great armies, and of a Primarch restored by the strangest of roads. Roboute Guilliman has returned on his Terran Crusade, and Valoris knows that nothing will be the same ever again...
The Era of Relentless Aggression, M41-M42
Note: All dates from this point forward are provisional due to errors in the Imperial Calendar, meaning these events could actually have occurred at any time from the early 41st Millennium to the early 42nd Millennium.
- The Battle of Lion's Gate (ca. 999.M41) - Barely has Roboute Guilliman returned to Terra when the empyric bow waves of the Great Rift sweep over the Sol System. Riding their boiling crests comes a horde of Khornate daemons, who burst through the skin of reality to assail Terra itself in what is also known as the Second Battle of Terra. Though this is the Adeptus Custodes' nightmare scenario, they enact their Catastrophe Protocols with unshakeable calm and self-assurance. Storming out to meet the invaders alongside Guilliman's Ultramarines and a sizeable complement of the Sisters of Silence, the Custodians successfully deflect the Blood God's attempt to behead the Imperium with a single strike. Victory is bought at a steep price in irreplaceable lives, but it is victory nonetheless. In the battle's aftermath, Valoris and Guilliman quickly reach an agreement: the role of the Adeptus Custodes must change, for they can no longer effectively defend the Golden Throne from behind the palace ramparts alone.
- Indomitus Crusade (ca. 999.M41) - Roboute Guilliman announces the Indomitus Crusade, a desperate and determined undertaking by a combined Imperial force to drive back the rampaging armies of Chaos. As part of this crusade, the Ultramarines Primarch intends to bear Primaris Space Marine reinforcements and the secrets behind their creation to the far-flung and hard-pressed Space Marine Chapters. On the eve of his decision, a large number of Emissaries Imperatus step forwards, compelled by the spirit of the Emperor to accompany the crusade. These will be the envoys who bring Guilliman's gift to the Adeptus Astartes; their presence will ensure that even those Chapters the Primarch does not visit in person understand the gravitas of what they are offered, and set aside whatever mistrust or conservatism they might have in order to embrace the Emperor's beneficence in their hour of need.
- Carnage on Gathalomor Prime (Unknown Date.M42) - The Gathalamor System comes under sustained attack from the Heretic Astartes of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion. As their Dark Apostles summon creatures from beyond the veil, the fight turns viciously against the Imperial defenders. The Mordian 84th Regiment and the Sisters of the Order of the Argent Shroud dig in to stage their last stand in the grim ruins of Gathalamor Prime's macro-cathedrum, their prayers for salvation ringing out to the screaming skies above. Sure enough, even as hordes of Traitors and abominations mobilise to attack, the Emperor answers the cries of his followers. Teleport flares erupt through the Heretic lines, gold and silver lightning leaping as a combined force of Custodians and Grey Knights storm into battle. Bolters roar and crackling blades tear through Heretic flesh, Trajann Valoris and Grand Master Aldrik Voldus leading an assault that sees the Traitor army shattered into battling warbands. Inspired by the sudden arrival of veritable demigods, the Mordians and Sisters of Battle advance, hymnals rising from their ranks over the roar of Flamers and the scream of massed Lasgun fire. Blood slicks the streets around the macro-cathedrum, corpses piling in gory heaps as the Word Bearers and their daemonic allies fight back furiously. Yet after three solar days and nights of unremitting savagery, the Chaos host is broken in the Battle for the Statue Steps. With fresh Imperial reinforcements flooding in to the wider Gathalamor war zone, the Custodians set course for Terra, leaving the Grey Knights to deal as they see fit with the unfortunates that they rescued from the macro-cathedrum.
- Giants and Gods (Unknown Date.M42) - Fighting alongside the Knights of House Krast, a Shield Company of the Adeptus Custodes storms the battle lines of the Necron Tomb World of Trynnect. They smash through the android xenos and obliterate the cabal of Crypteks at its heart, thus preventing the awakening of the ancient C'tan star god Zul'channec within the northern bounds of the Segmentum Solar.
- The Echovault (Unknown Date.M42) - Led by the ambitious Chaos Lord Hadrexus, a sizeable contingent of Black Legionaries fall upon the world of Dakhorth. They sweep aside the planet's defending regiments and advance to secure the ancient xenos ruin known as the Echovault. Before they can lay claim to this mysterious structure, two of the warships known as the Moiraides appear in orbit. The Custodians of the Dread Host deploy in force, securing the mountain pass that leads to the Echovault with squads of Custodian Wardens who hold firm against wave after wave of attacks. Meanwhile, multiple Shield Companies strike at the flanks of the Traitor force, pulling their formation apart and dividing their strength. Finally, a decisive force of forty Allarus Terminators teleports into the very heart of the Black Legion lines, tearing their command structure apart and slaying Lord Hadrexus and his Chosen to the last. Though dozens of Custodians fall during the fighting, they smash the Black Legion invaders utterly and send their remnants fleeing back into the Warp. As for the Echovault, it is left undisturbed, and a permanent garrison of Custodian Wardens left to watch over it.
- The Dangers of Excellence (Unknown Date.M42) - Amidst the horrors of the ongoing war against Chaos, it is deemed heresy for Administratum clerks to suggest the Adeptus Custodes could ever lose a battle, regardless of the odds. Fearing for their safety and their souls, many Adepts record campaigns as Imperial victories even before the first shots are fired, should so much as a single Custodian be reported active in that war zone. Needless to say, more than one star system is lost to subsequent disaster despite the Custodians' endeavours.
- Vadrian's Quest (Unknown Date.M42) - For millennia, the Adeptus Mechanicus has striven to maintain the esoteric technologies within the Golden Throne. Despite their best efforts, systems continue to fail, and no one still living knows how to repair them. Perceiving such dangerous ignorance as a manifest threat to the Emperor's safety -- and thus falling beneath the purview of the Adeptus Custodes -- Shield-Captain Heraclast Vadrian consults with Trajann Valoris and receives permission to seek a solution. He gathers a band of his finest warriors aboard the Cruiser Scion of Argo, and sets off following a lead that points to the lost Forge World of Morvane.
- On the Plains of Pallus (Unknown Date.M42) - Following the disastrous collapse of Lord Commander Ustrin's Victorium Crusade, Heretic forces break through the Imperial lines on a system-wide scale. Their advance is spearheaded by the Renegade armoured companies of the Vostokh 7th Regiment, led by the traitorous Marshal Griegor, whose battle tanks repel every Imperial force sent to stop them. At last, upon the rocky plains of Pallus, Griegor meets his match. Screaming into battle upon their ornate steeds come Shield-Captain Aadilus and his company of Vertus Praetors, Melta Missiles streaking from their Salvo Launchers to annihilate the lead vehicles of the Vostokh spearhead. The Traitor tanks open fire with everything they have, seeking to swat the seemingly outmatched Jetbikes from the air. Yet the Praetors weave effortlessly between the shots, weathering those blasts that do hit home and suffering only scant casualties before they split into hunting packs and begin criss-cross strafing runs over and between the enemy armour. More Renegade vehicles explode by the moment, the Vostokh gunners panicking as they find themselves unable to track their hurtling tormentors. Like a shoal of razorfish, the Custodians pick apart their enemies, losing less than a third of their number as they annihilate the enemy's numerically superior army. Marshal Griegor's Shadowsword is the last vehicle slain, its immense main gun proving worse than useless against the agile and resilient Vertus Praetors who reduce it to molten wreckage in a matter of solar minutes.
- Silent Crossing (Unknown Date.M42) - Since the inexplicable escape of Cypher, the mysterious Fallen Angel, from a high-security cell in the Imperial Palace, the Custodians charged with apprehending him have tirelessly attempted to reacquire their captive. Unable to find him on Terra, and following a trail of fading clues, Shield-Captain Daryth and his men have pressed out into the stars to continue their mission. Now they enlist the aid of the Sisters of Silence, bringing a band of the elite Witch Hunters aboard their frigate, Sol's Arrow, before making the perilous crossing of the Great Rift. The presence of the Silent Sisters seems to calm the madness of the Empyrean, at least enough to aid the Custodians in making their dangerous journey into the Imperium Nihilus. Amidst the madness, their Augurs do not detect the heavily-shielded Space Marine Strike Cruiser that follows in their wake, its hull night-black and its insignia veiled.
- The Osseus Tower Falls (Unknown Date.M42) - The Haemonculi of the Twisted Spiral raise a vast bone fortress to float amidst the gaseous atmosphere of Othana V in the Vordrast System. As their raiding skiffs strike at the planet's gas-mining platforms -- which directly serve Adeptus Custodes star keep Prescience -- it is clear the threat cannot be ignored. Several Shield Companies launch strikes against the xenos, with the Allarus Custodians of the Gilded Fist leading the attack. Teleporting into the nightmarish Osseous Tower, they overcome every fiend and abomination that assails them, before destroying the tower's gravitic membranes and sending it tumbling down to be crushed in Neptune's high-pressure depths. The surviving Drukhari flee aboard sleek warships that swiftly vanish into the Webway, while the Custodians evacuate in good order. Disquiet spreads, however, when several Custodians are found to be missing without trace at battle's end.
- The Wyrmslayers (Unknown Date.M42) - A Genestealer Cult calling themselves the Wyrms of the Ur-tendril are discovered by Ordo Xenos agents, entrenched amongst the Nordafrik under-archives on Terra. Captain-General Valoris refuses a request by the Deathwatch to send Kill-teams against this threat, instead leading the purge in person at the head of a huge Adeptus Custodes Shield Host. The Cult put up a brutal fight, their sheer numbers and fanaticism allowing them to drag down one Custodian after another and tear them limb from limb. Yet for every one of the Custodians that falls, hundreds upon hundreds of malformed cultists and Aberrants are slaughtered. At last, Valoris himself beheads the monstrous Broodlord that ruled over the cult. He orders the creature's disturbing inner sanctum burned despite the protests from the Ordo Xenos investigators -- Valoris refuses to let anyone other than his comrades witness the foul mural that decorates the sanctum's back wall, of a nest of fanged tendrils emerging from the heart of Sol itself to devour Terra whole...
- Zagstromp's Doom (Unknown Date.M42) - The Orks of WAAAGH! Zagstomp overrun the Iron Warriors' Citadel of Miseries after a gruelling three-year siege. Grown massive and powerful on a diet of constant warfare, and equipped with the looted tanks and war engines of the butchered Iron Warriors, Zagstomp's hordes board their ramshackle warships. Before they can attempt to punch their way into the Warp, Custodians of the Solar Watch materialise within the engine decks and mek bays of the Greenskins' capital ships. Guns blazing, the Custodians hold off the Orks long enough to plant vortex implosion detonators on every ship. The survivors then teleport back to their own ships and jump away into the Warp. In attempting to give chase, the Orks trigger the Vortex bombs, and their vast fleet -- which Imperial doomscryers warned would appear on the fringes of the Sol System if left unchecked -- is consumed by the ferocious energy storm that follows.
- Duty unto Death (Unknown Date.M42) - Amidst the shadows of the Imperium Nihilus, a small Imperial fleet finds itself beset by a pair of wayward Tyranid Hive Ships. The Imperial flagship, the Terra Nostra, is transporting Primaris Space Marine gene-tech under the protection of Custodian Wardens. Seeing that the fleet will soon be overrun, the guardians' Shield-Captain orders an emergency teleport to the nearby Death World of Loqe II. Pursued by Tyranid swarms, the Wardens retreat into the fume-choked volcanic highlands and prepare to defend their precious cargo to the last. Wave after wave of Tyranids surge up the perilous lava-channels, but the Custodians -- cleaving to their oaths of indomitable defence -- repulse every attack. A solar month later, a relief force of Marines Malevolent arrives in orbit and drives the Hive Ships away with thunderous firepower. On the planet below they find a single living Custodian Warden, grievously wounded yet still standing guard over the untouched boon of advanced gene-technology amidst a fortress of heaped Tyranid corpses.
- Into Shadow (Unknown Date.M42) - Upon the direct orders of Trajann Valoris, a small, fast-moving force of Custodians makes haste for the ruined remains of fallen Cadia. Details of their mission are suppressed, even amongst their comrades, but they are accompanied by a number of warriors drawn from the ranks of the Shadowkeepers.
Organisation and Structure
From outside, the organisation of the Ten Thousand seems byzantine. When they deign to account themselves at all to other Imperial bodies their ranks appear complex and highly stratified. Yet much of this is tradition, or else purposeful misdirection; in practice, the Adeptus Custodes use a robust and easily adaptable system to organise their forces.
The full details of the organisational structure, disposition and regulation of the Adeptus Custodes are shrouded in secrecy as befits an institution dedicated to ultimate security. Those outside its ranks, even though they operate close to the Senatorum Imperialis and the highest levels of the Divisio Militaris, cannot hope to know more than a degree of detail which is purely observational, and likely barely scratches the surface of the no doubt byzantine Custodes. What can be outwardly observed is contained here within this account, as are the various details and titles with which the Custodian Guard openly interacts with the other organs of the Imperium's power.
The first mystery that outsiders must cope with is that of identity. The Custodian Guard are themselves effectively ageless and as unchanging as granite, and just as impenetrable to outsiders. They each profess to a given name, often a compound drawn from the lore of Ancient Terra's roll of kings and tyrants, gods and legends. Whether or not this represents some humour or deliberate irony on the Emperor's part given the Custodian's role is something that it is perhaps unwise to speculate on. Such true names they knew as part of their birth and origin are likely obliterated by the process of their creation, but the myths that have grown up around the Adeptus Custodes have long held that each Custodian Guard garners over his centuries a long list of additional names and titles granted purely by the Emperor for their deeds, history and character. Such names are held as a secret of their Order and never betrayed to others, though some myths would have it that this roll of honour is graven in hidden fashion upon their golden armour or even etched microscopically into their very bones. It was said that Captain-General Constantin Valdor obtained 932 names prior to the assault of Horus upon Terra.
In terms of structural organisation, it is apparent that the Adeptus Custodes is unique unto itself in terms of form, offering little in common with the rest of the Imperium's agencies of warfare such as the Astra Militarum or the Adeptus Astartes. This is only fitting as the Adeptus Custodes, like other elements of the so-called "Talons of the Emperor," can be more accurately described as a paramilitary rather than a strategic force, neither geared nor equipped towards the fighting or winning of wars, but to its duties of protection and execution. The Adeptus Custodes operate as a military force, a gathering of champions each of whom possesses unassailable authority over virtually any other organisation in the Imperium. Conversely, no Imperial agent can give a Custodian orders. Even such worthies as the High Lords of Terra and Lord Commander Guilliman are able only to request -- not demand -- their aid.
Adeptus Custodes Hierarchy
As befits such a body of elite warriors, the internal hierarchy of the Adeptus Custodes is remarkably flat. The overall command of the Adeptus Custodes of course lies within the purview of the Emperor directly, but serving as the head of the Order is a single officer; the Captain-General, and due to the importance of the Adeptus Custodes in the governing of the Imperium, since they always stand the closest to the Emperor, the Captain-General often holds a position amongst the ruling High Lords of Terra on the Senatorum Imperialis. The Captain-General commands the Ten Thousand, inheriting a post that has been passed down from one gallant leader to the next ever since the mysterious disappearance of Constantin Valdor. The Captain-General has absolute authority over the Custodes, acting as the ritual proxy for the Emperor Himself and speaking with the voice of the Master of Mankind.
Immediately below the absolute authority of the Captain-General were the two Tribunes, the senior members of the Custodian Tribunate; a senior cadre of ten veteran Custodians, forming the Adeptus Custodes' council of war and policy who acted as advisors to the Captain-General. This body has the incomparable privilege of providing their services as counsel to the Emperor Himself should He so desire it, and in the matters of the security of the Imperial Palace's inner sanctums and the person of the Emperor, no higher authority exists. Membership of this body changes periodically to ensure a blend of established wisdom and fresh ideas. A Custodian must have earned at least ten names before he can serve on the Tribunate, and have led his comrades victoriously in battle on at least three occasions. Once he joins the Tribunate, a Custodian must serve for at least ten Terran years. During this time he will not see the front lines, for he is too busy bending all of his considerable intellect to supporting -- strategically and diplomatically -- the Captain-General.
Below this ruling council can be found the Custodian Prefectorate and the Shield-Captains. The distinction between the two, not apparent entirely to outsiders, is one perhaps of seniority and function, with the title of Prefect accorded as a reward of veterancy and favour in service by the Emperor, while the rank of Shield-Captain indicates an active field command over a particular detachment or deployment of the Custodes. These two ranks fulfill the roles of inspiring leaders, gifted generals and selfless champions. Their titles vary enormously, from "Supreme Castellans" and "Aquila Commanders" to "Master Guardians," often borne in accordance with the specific duties to which they have been assigned. It is Shield-Captains that take charge of the Adeptus Custodes' military engagements; one is typically afforded overall command of an operation, while several others of his rank may lend him their strength and wisdom in a supporting capacity.
The warriors of the Adeptus Custodes are a department of the Adeptus Terra, the Imperial government, but its members are answerable only to the Emperor and their own leaders. The Custodes' nerve center and headquarters is the Tower of Hegemon within the Imperial Palace, while a small elite of three hundred Custodes, known as the Companions, form the Emperor's personal bodyguard and never leave His side.
Although the Legio Custodes originally numbered ten thousand, approximately five Terran years into the War Within the Webway during the Horus Heresy they had been reduced to around only a thousand Custodians due to the incessant warfare against the entities of the Warp. However by the late 41st Millennium, the Adeptus Custodes had rebuilt their original strength of 10,000 warriors.
Below these ranks, the Custodians seem to be peers as in the manner of a warrior caste or aristocracy, rather than links in the more familiar chain of command found elsewhere in the Imperium's armed forces. Their functional titles adapt to their chosen role and panoply of war in whichever command they have been included, with the following broad distinctions applied in communication with external forces on a tactical level, their titles drawn from various ancient sources. The remainder of the Custodians possess roughly equivalent status to one another, forming loose warrior bands traditionally known as Sodalities. There are varying strategic roles within the organisation to which some Custodians find themselves better suited. However, whether this be the rapid Jetbike troops of the Vertus Praetors, the heavy assault specialists of the Allarus Custodians, or the unwavering Custodian Wardens, they still operate within a meritocracy that sees them afforded whatever honour their comrades believe them worthy of.
A singular force of the Adeptus Custodes is referred to as a Shield Company. The numbers within such a formation can vary considerably, hand-picked by their Shield-Captain for the task at hand and ranging from a small band to a sizeable army complete with Jetbikes, tanks and Dreadnoughts. Under normal circumstances, a Shield Company includes no more than one Shield-Captain and perhaps thirty to forty Custodians.
When a larger force is required, multiple Shield Companies gather into forces known as Shield Hosts. Led by conclaves of Shield-Captains and boasting tens, sometimes hundreds of Custodians, Shield Hosts have the martial strength to crush enemy armies and bring entire star systems to heel. The gathering of such might is a momentous undertaking -- a Shield Host is only assembled to accomplish those tasks that no other Imperial force could be trusted with, and its warriors march to war with a singular and implacable determination to enact the Emperor's will.
All Custodians belong to a caste or "chamber" determined by their tactical role.
"For one hundred years I stood my watch amidst the sombre shadows of the Sanctum Imperialis. I was still as a statue, but always ready, always attuned to dangers unseen. Days, months, years passed by in a frenzied blur beyond those walls, yet within, little moved and nothing changed. For one hundred years I did naught but wait, yet had any threat appeared, I would have struck it down in a heartbeat. For one hundred years I stood my watch, and as it ends I can tell you this – patience is a weapon."
- — Custodian Warden Tybaris Constor
The Companions, known in ages past as the Hetaeron Guard, are a three-hundred-strong force that forms the direct bodyguard of the Emperor while He sits upon the Golden Throne. They are hand-picked for their duties by the Captain-General, who chooses his candidates based upon painstaking assessments of each warrior's performance in training and battle, as well as their mental acuity, spiritual fortitude and countless other indicative factors. There can be no more important duty in all of the Imperium than to shield the Emperor Himself. As such, no consideration for rank or veteran status is given when appointing Custodians to the Companions, and those passed over in favour of younger or less-experienced candidates take no offence.
The vigil of the Companions is unending, and though they are of course rotated out for brief periods of rest, it is still a purgatorial duty. Arrayed in ranks around the Golden Throne, these wardens stand for incredible lengths of time, unmoving, unspeaking, poised constantly upon the cusp of battle readiness in case the slightest threat were to present itself. It is mentally and spiritually exhausting, even for the demigods of the Adeptus Custodes, and so when the Captain-General judges that a Companion has served long enough they will be rotated out with immediate effect, replaced by a fresh inductee to their ranks. Again, this is no mark of dishonour, merely a pragmatic admission that even a Custodian cannot perform such a taxing duty indefinitely. The longest any individual has stood the Companion's Watch was Astoran Kalos, who endured for a full Terran century before at last surrendering his place amongst the silent ranks.
Those who have served amongst the Companions are more likely to lend their talents to the grim bodyguards known as the Aquilan Shields. Such Custodians have protected the lives of the greatest and most august personages in the Imperium, most notably the High Lords of Terra themselves. From the Master of the Navigators' Guild to the High Logisticar of the Adeptus Administratum, the Lord Militant of the Imperium to the shadowed Grand Master of the Officio Assassinorum, former Companions have acted as guardians for them all. To the Ten Thousand such duties are simply an extension of their vows to protect the Emperor, in this case by safeguarding those assets most important to the successful running of His Imperium. Still, it is a role that has earned the Adeptus Custodes much favour in the eyes of Terra's noble elite.
The Hykanatoi caste is the main strength of the Custodian Guard, and the majority of its warriors are members of it. They are the bearers of the Guardian Spear, the bodyguard of the Emperor and the executioners of any who would offer threat or opposition to His will. They are the image of the golden-armoured warrior that is summoned in fear and awe when the Adeptus Custodes is brought to mind. Their numbers include variations of force, wargear and panoply such as the Sentinel Guard and Custodian Guard proper, as well as the elite Hetaeron Guard -- the most skilled fighters among a force of warriors whose martial skills are already well beyond human.
Though there are few opponents that the Hykanatoi cannot deal with, they are not a rounded military force in the sense that they are not configured to deal with exigencies such as siegecraft or attrition warfare that fall outside their purview. However, the Adeptus Custodes still maintains the ability to deploy its forces as heavy shock troops should the need arise, or indeed to counter a foe that directs overwhelming force against it in high-intensity warfare. These counterassault forces are known as the Tharanatoi, and encompass custom-modified suits of Terminator Armour optimised for use by the Custodian's superhuman frame, as well as vastly potent portable firepower such as carried by the Sagittarum Guard, whose weapons include those few dark relics known as Adrathic Weapons -- disintegration beams of phenomenal destructive potential, long gathered to the Emperor's household and entrusted to no other.
Long before the Emperor's retreat and seclusion on Terra after the appointment of the Warmaster Horus to command His forces, the principal role of protection and defence the Custodian Guard engaged in was a mobile one. They went wherever their master did, no matter what blasted alien world or lost cityscape of ancient glory He trod. In this the elements of speed and mobility were paramount to their success, as was reconnaissance and counterstrike in lightning response to threat. Those of the Legio Custodes who specialised in such tactics and the means of employing them were called the Kataphraktoi; they flew interceptors and gunships of sublime sophistication and power, and piloted a range of repulsor-lift grav-vehicles; tanks, transports and strike skimmers, Jetbikes and interface flyers advanced beyond anything else in the Imperium's arsenal.
The division of the Custodian Guard about which the least can be said for certain, the Ephoroi were those of the Order that were tasked with covert operations, countersurveillance and the vitally important task of simulated attack and infiltration. It was they who tested the Legio Custodes defences and preparations just as foes would, as well as conducted their own hidden missions to dispose of potential threats within the Imperium, and enact final and sometimes utterly secret justice as the Emperor's will demanded it. There are those who have posited that where the Ephoroi ended and the powers that controlled the Officio Assassinorum began at certain junctures was difficult even for the wisest of the Lords of Terra to discern, and it is certain when they wished that the Assassins of the Temples of Terra were the Legio Custodes to command.
According to ancient Imperial records it is clear from the Custodians' participation in the so-called "Blood Games" -- a series of war games in which Custodians sought to identify all of the possible ways that the Imperial Palace could be infiltrated or assaulted -- that Custodians were trained in the arts of assassination, both improvised and professional, in order to counter possible attempts on the life of the Emperor.
It was not uncommon for several Custodians to be on detached duty for these Blood Games so that the Legio Custodes remained vigilant against developing threats to the Emperor's person. Furthermore it is clear that the Custodes were also well-versed in the political etiquette of Terra, and have been known to act outside of Imperial law, to infiltrate influential Imperial noble houses and to investigate any potential threats.
This aspect of the Custodian mindset was advantageous, given that the Captain-General of the Order often shared a seat upon the War Council, the later Council of Terra and its direct descendant, the Senatorum Imperialis, which allowed him to navigate the political manoeuvring of the Imperium's various organisations while still remaining an awe-inspiring warrior.
The smallest and most singular division within the Legio Custodes was the Moritoi; the "honoured dead who walked." Just as with the Legiones Astartes, it was possible for a Custodian Guard, having suffered injuries so terrible that even they could not recover from them but within whom the vital spark of life remained, to be interred within the cybernetic life support sarcophagus of a Dreadnought.
The first of these was made while the Unification Wars were being fought, in a modified Ur-Gholem Pattern Dreadnought, the first iteration of its kind intended for use within the Thunder Legions, and as the number of Dreadnought patterns and subtypes within the Imperium's arsenal increased across the Great Crusade's decades of warfare and innovation, so too did the Legio Custodes keep pace with these developments.
Though they remained relatively rare, with less than perhaps a hundred Dreadnoughts of the Legio Custodes in service at the time of Magnus the Red's folly and the subsequent attack on Prospero, they represented a phenomenally powerful concentration of force.
Most had their chassis upgraded to the Achillus Pattern, a variant of the Contemptor Dreadnought manufactured with materials and technologies far beyond even the vaunted war machines of the Legiones Astartes.
The Dankanatoi was a chamber of the ancient Legio Custodes that was founded in the final years of the Horus Heresy. Unleashed upon the last dregs of Horus' failed rebellion as they fled Terra, these warriors proved a potent weapon for the battered Loyalist host.
Indeed, even in the long years of strife that followed the dark age of the Horus Heresy they remained active, hunting Traitors and xenos invaders alike long after the official end of the Great Scouring.
The Eyes of the Emperor
Though functionally immortal, even the warriors of the Adeptus Custodes eventually tire. Some suffer physical hurts that impact upon their ability to perform their duties, with lost limbs, artificial eyes or augmetic organs lessening their physical perfection. Others find their mental faculties beginning to erode, however slightly, acknowledging that their reaction times or mnemic awareness are not quite what they once were. For the vast majority of warriors, a tenth-of-a-second reduction in the speed at which blows are stuck or parried might be considered negligible. For a Custodian, it is error enough to necessitate that their watch come to an end.
When a Custodian judges himself no longer fit for duty he surrenders all of his equipment to the Hall of Armaments and vanishes into the void of the galaxy clad in hooded black robes. Such noble exiles still serve the Emperor, however, for wherever they travel they observe. Some work alone, dark and ominous figures slipping through the shadows of the Emperor's realm. Others cultivate networks of informants and agents, using fear and intimidation to secure compliance where loyalty and honour will not suffice.
Should they bear witness to a situation developing that they believe might threaten Terra or the Emperor, these watchers use secret channels to communicate a warning to the Captain-General. So do response forces of the Adeptus Custodes launch punitive and often pre-emptive strikes throughout the Imperium, forewarned of danger by the Eyes of the Emperor.
"We are vigilance unending. We are duty unstinting. We are punishment inescapable. We are the Adeptus Custodes, and all must fear our wrath."
- — Shield-Captain Rothrian Ganyth
There are many ranks within the Adeptus Custodes, the highest of which is that of the Captain-General. Following in the footsteps of historical titans such as Constantin Valdor, this lordly warrior is entrusted with an autonomy that eclipses that of even an Adeptus Astartes Chapter Master. Occasionally chosen to serve as one of the High Lords of Terra, the Captain-General has ruled over the Adeptus Custodes since the Order's inception, and is tasked with the solemn duty of safeguarding the Golden Throne and directing the gleaming warriors that guard it. Under his auspices are Supreme Castellans, Aquila Commanders, Shield-Captains and a dozen ranks besides.
The Custodian Guard have always fought as champions rather than soldiers. They see unthinking loyalty, such as that of a dynasty or a conventional military structure, as a weakness ripe to be exploited -- after all, it was such a culture that saw the Legiones Astartes turned against their creator. Only those who win the respect of the Adeptus Custodes can hope to command them, but should such a leader unite them, their loyalty will never fade.
- Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes - The senior-most officer within the ranks of the Adeptus Custodes, the Captain-General is the Emperor's most trusted companion and guardian, a watchman of inviolable purpose and all but unmatched fighting skill. Due to the singular importance of the Adeptus Custodes, who stand the closest to the Emperor in eternal vigil, the Captain-General holds a position amongst the ruling High Lords of Terra on the Senatorum Imperialis.
- Shield-Captain - The rank of "Shield-Captain" is a generalisation used when referring to one of the senior ranks within the Adeptus Custodes, as the upper command of this elite paramilitary organisation is far from transparent to outsiders. Within the Adeptus Custodes such senior ranks range from "Prefect" to "Lictor," "Proconsul" to "Tribune," following the ancient patterns of Terra's lost history. Elevated both through the trust held among their peers for their judgement and skill, but first and foremost advanced by the direct approval and in some cases intervention of the Emperor Himself, these are warriors not only of consummate and superhuman ability, but also rare insight, acumen and knowledge. Afforded the rarest of and finest of the Imperium's arms, each of these legendary fighters command the Adeptus Custodes against all manner of threats against the Emperor, His works and His domains.
- Tribune - During the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras, below the absolute authority of the Captain-General was the Custodian Tribunate; a senior cadre of perhaps ten in number, which formed the Legio Custodes' council of war. This body had the incomparable privilege of providing their services as counsel to the Emperor Himself should He so desire it, and in the matters of the security of the Imperial Palace's inner sanctums and the person of the Emperor, no higher authority existed. By the era of the 41st Millennium, sadly, there were only two such positions that were still maintained by the Adeptus Custodes, though the rest of the Custodian Tribunate still existed in its advisory capacity, as noted above. One of these Tribunes served as the commander of small cadres of Custodians across the wider galaxy, taking the fight to the myriad enemies of Mankind, while the other served as the master of the elite Hetaeron Guard -- the personal Companions of the Emperor -- who oversaw the security of the Sanctum Imperialis.
- Prefect - The title of Prefect is accorded as a reward of veterancy and favour in service to the Emperor.
Custodian Tactical Formations
- Custodian Warden - Custodian Wardens can be recognised by the ceremonial robes that they wear over their armour. These are a mark of their veteran status, for every Custodian Warden has seen at least five Terran centuries in the Emperor's service. Those Wardens that do not carry the iconic Guardian Spears of their order wield heavy-bladed Castellan Axes, which lend themselves to an elegant and brutal combat style. The Wardens can also fire concentrated volleys of bolt fire from the hafts of their weapons, scything down those who attempt to stay out of their blades' devastating reach. The Wardens are known amongst their comrades as level-headed and endlessly patient watchmen. Upon accepting the robes that mark their station they swear binding oaths to fight as immovable sentinels, a living fortress of auramite and sinew that no foe will ever breach. Each Warden's oaths are personal, written by the Custodian himself after a full Terran year's contemplation sat in meditation upon the precipitous ledges of the Gallowtower of the Imperial Palace. To break their vows would be worse than death to these warriors, and their determination to uphold them bolsters their already formidable wills to something of truly frightening intensity.
- Custodian Guard - When Shield Companies of the Adeptus Custodes strike out to do battle with the enemies of Mankind, it is the Custodian Guard that form their backbone. These warriors are rank-and-file infantry only insomuch as their numbers are greater than those of the other, more specialised Adeptus Custodes warriors. Even a single one of their number is a terrifying force of destruction, his every shot perfectly placed, his every cut, thrust and stab a masterclass in bladesmanship, footwork and combat awareness that sees enemy corpses fall like dead leaves at his feet. Ferociously strong, phenomenally resilient, utterly without fear or doubt, the Custodian Guard are the equal of many foes' most elite warriors. Their traditional armament is the Guardian Spear, a golden halberd so heavy it would take several men to lift it. Conversely, some Custodian Guard prefer to enter battle armed with a Sentinel Blade and Storm Shield. The Sentinel Blade is a broadsword of daunting size, so large its hilt is flanked with the double barrels of a Bolt Caster that can lay down a hail of short-range fire. It is a testament to the strength of the Custodians that they can wield these powered blades one-handed. When coupled with the armoured bulwark of the Storm Shield -- whose protective powers are augmented with a built-in energy-shield generator -- this potent combination allows the Custodian Guard to cut their foes apart while weathering even the most devastating of attacks.
- Vexilus Praetors - A Vexilus Praetor is a veteran of one of the Adeptus Custodes' Shield Companies, who bear aloft proud standards known as Vexillas, to war. More than just standards to inspire adulation or terror, their built-in technologies provide invaluable battlefield support to the Custodians fighting in their shadow. Each Vexilla is created on Terra, painstakingly fashioned over a period of one hundred standard years by the oath-sworn artisans of the Tower Aquilane. Upon their completion, these beautiful standards are borne amidst processions of craft-thralls, Adeptus Ministorum Priests and heraldic Servitors to the Auric Eyrie, where they are held upon stasis-podia until required. Each Vexilla is a towering banner topped with the Imperial Aquila, the ultimate symbol of the Emperor's authority. The Custodes alone are permitted to display it as their foremost heraldic icon, and its inspirational effect upon those around them is nothing short of electric. Hefted high above the anarchy of the battlefield, the Vexilla forms a golden beacon of truth and light that fills true servants of the Emperor with awe. Beneath the winged shadow of the Aquila, even the humblest defender of Humanity feels the touch of the Emperor upon their soul. Meanwhile, the enemies of the Imperium cower in dismay; dread clouds their minds and saps their strength at the thought that the Emperor's greatest warriors are poised to tear them apart.
- Hetaeron Guard - Part of the inner circle of the Adeptus Custodes, the Hetaeron Guard served as the Emperor's closest protectors, aides and confidants, leaving His side rarely but for the direst of circumstances during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. Selected individually for their service by the Master of Mankind, they represent some of the most potent fighters in the Imperium, almost like demigods of the battlefield. During the earlier years of the Great Crusade, when the Emperor still walked amongst Mankind, the Hetaeron were a regular feature upon the worlds deserving of His attention. Yet as His actions were turned elsewhere, His inner guard would follow too, becoming almost a myth in their absence. In the 41st Millennium, it is said that only 300 of these elite Custodes serve as the personal guard of the Emperor, now called the Emperor's Companions as noted above. They are charged with the eternal vigil over the the Emperor's Sanctum Imperialis chambers at all times and are privileged to always be in His physical presence.
- Allarus Custodians - The Allarus Custodians deploy with sudden fury to tear the throat from the enemy army. These warriors wear suits of Allarus Pattern Terminator Armour, expertly crafted battle-plate whose worth can be measured in worlds. Allarus Armour is a marvel of craftsmanship. It provides its wearer with an exceptional range of movement and near-unencumbered speed, augmented strength and resilience, and the survivability to stride unharmed from the blast of a Macrocannon shell. Coupled with the protective blessings of the Emperor, Allarus Terminator plate is arguably the most effective man-portable combat armour in the entire Imperium. Just as well, for the battles fought by Allarus Custodians demand nothing less. Their weapons, too, are formidable. They heft Guardian Spears twice the height of a man, or swing massive Castellan Axes that can bisect a Chaos Lord or lop the head from an Ork psyker with a single blow. To supplement these weapons, Allarus Custodians also wield Balistus Grenade Launchers upon their left forearms, which are capable of launching Concussion Grenades that explode amidst bursts of electro-exorcist chaff and overwhelming light and sound. Hand-picked by the Captain-General from amongst the most bellicose of the Ten Thousand, Allarus Custodians relish the chance to plunge into the most lethal battles. So aggressive and heroic are these warriors that, when the situation demands, they have been known to splinter their units entirely after the initial strike and scatter through the enemy's rear lines. Fighting as lone figures, the Allarus Custodians eliminate key targets, sow anarchy and confusion through unsuspecting forces, and completely destabilise the foe's formation before fresh Adeptus Custodes forces arrive to end the conflict. It is an effective tactic that has seen more than one Heretic fortress fall from within.
- Aquilon Terminator Sodalities - These elite warriors wear a pattern of Tactical Dreadnought Armour, known as Aquilon Pattern Terminator Armour, that was specifically developed for ancient Legio Custodes use. Advancing yet further upon the Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour, the Aquilon Pattern took into account the enhanced physique of the Custodians as being able to bear more weight and strain than even a Space Marine, and so is fitted with additional integrated power systems and capacitors which make up for some of the limitations of the origin-pattern. This enables the Aquilon Pattern to retain the Cataphractii pattern's famous durability, but allows for a higher degree of speed and manoeuvrability the former lacks. Within the ranks of the Legio Custodes, Aquilon Terminator Sodalities were only employed rarely, and only as need dictated, particularly on those rare occasions where they were required to operate under conditions designated as "Zone Mortalis" or required to storm a breach. It is unknown if these elite squadrons are still deployed by the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Sentinel Guard - Sentinel Guard Squads were the defensive formations of the Legio Custodes, designed to function as a mobile bulwark to protect emissaries on hazardous ground and hold defensive lines against the most grievous onslaught in open battle. In order to achieve this, they were equipped with energy field-reinforced Praesidium Shields -- a precursor technology to that later employed by the prototype Legiones Astartes Storm Shields -- which were able to resist the heaviest weapons fire. When deployed outside the walls of the Imperial Palace, their charge was often to protect key aspects of allied detachments and resources liberated from the enemy. However, it had been witnessed during large scale sudden assaults that their close formations also served to disrupt enemy lines. While they still retained the loose unit structures of the Legio Custodes, the Sentinel Guard by their nature utilised a greater synchronicity between warriors in service to the various phalanx formations that could be required of the squad at any given moment. It is unknown if this particular formation is still deployed by the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Vertus Praetors - Vertus Praetors are airborne warriors whom act as the eyes and ears of their Shield Companies, soaring over the battlefield and Voxing word of the enemy's movements. Squads of Vertus Praetors swoop into battle astride powerful Dawneagle Jetbikes. Veteran warriors who have seen battle on a hundred worlds, these Custodians know the true value of speed: not simply to bring the enemy to battle, but to direct their might precisely where and when it is needed most. Wherever they see their comrades hardest pressed, there the Vertus Praetors strike like golden lightning to bolster them. Each Vertus Praetor is a master combatant who has already honed his superhuman skills amongst the ranks of the Custodian Guard. They are expert marksmen, able to place perfect kill shots even while screaming at breakneck pace through tangled ruins or dense forests. Their close-quarters prowess is no less exceptional; a Vertus Praetor can open the throat of a heavily armoured foe in a single pass. They can analyse even the most chaotic conflict in a heartbeat, reacting with incredible speed to evade obstacles and run down their foes, processing battlefield developments with breathtaking rapidity. The exceptional skill of the Vertus Praetors is augmented by their superlative wargear. As well as being protected by auramite armour, these warriors wield enormous Interceptor Lances. Taller end-to-end than an Ogryn, and perfectly weighted, these fearsome weapons boast adamantium blades wreathed in disruptor fields. Vertus Praetors are masters of hit-and-run strikes, driving their lances clean through their precisely chosen targets before ripping them clear again as they speed past.
- Agamatus Squadrons - The Agamatus Squadrons were active during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras and specialised in the use of the heavy duty, plasma motor-boosted Gyrfalcon Pattern Jetbike as their steeds in battle. The increased power of the design supported not only the heavily armoured Custodian Guard, but also allowed it to mount a powerful Iliastus Bolt Cannon as its on-board armament. The Agamatus Squadrons exploited these war machines to operate both as a rapid response and suppression unit in the field. In this they operated much in the manner of the elite cavalry forces of ancient times, screening the main Legio Custodes force from potential encirclement, reacting quickly to blunt enemy attacks, and hunting down mercilessly any foe which broke and fled before the might of the Custodes, ensuring the utter extermination of the enemy. It is unknown if these squadrons are still deployed by the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Pallas Grav-Attack Squadron - Pallas Grav-Attack Squadrons of the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras specialised in the use of the Pallas Grav-Attack vehicle, utilising it as a highly manoeuvrable hunter-killer that was equivalent to the Legiones Astartes Land Speeders, and for its rapid strike capacity greater than that which could be afforded by the use of ground troops alone. These Legio Custodes squadrons often used the superior agility of these advanced vehicles to inflict devastating hit-and-run assaults on the enemy or to hunt down fleeing targets. In addition, these abilities allow the Pallas Grav-Attack Squadrons to be used as reconnaissance units or as skirmishing forces large enough to pin or delay the enemy in place as the main bulk of the Adeptus Custodes detachments are deployed. It is unknown if these squadrons are still deployed by the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Sagittarum Guard Sodalities - Though less common within the ranks of the Legio Custodes than their peers, those warriors who comprised the Sagittarum Guard Sodalities nevertheless fulfilled a number of vital roles within the Custodians' order of battle. Their art of war, in contrast to the rest of the Custodian Guard, was focussed on the slaying of the foe primarily at distance and upon the devastating application of firepower on the battlefield. In addition, the Sagittarum had entered legend as the hawk-sighted sentries of the Terran walls, charged with vigilance over the external borders of the Imperial Palace in ready anticipation of attack. Through solar decades of duty, their ability to recall movement patterns, faces and speech even years after the original incident was honed even more so than that of their peers, and as such their enhanced ability to analyse crowds for anticipated response grew in import upon the battlefields of the Great Crusade. Their skillset was cultivated so that they could precisely exercise the greatest threats of an enemy assault, annihilating it in the actinic fire of their deadly weapons. It is unknown if this particular formation is still deployed by the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Venatari Custodian Squads - The Venatori Custodians are tasked with serving as part of an airborne assault force of Custodians through the use of a sophisticated pattern of winged Jump Pack called Auramite Pinions. While Custodes Shield Companies patrol the vast hallways and cavernous rooms of the Imperial Palace on Terra, the Venatari are elevated above, making their domain among the rooftops and spires, overseeing and assessing the threat of all who enter or leave. Their predatory instincts have earned the Venatari the nickname of "the Emperor's Hunting Eagles," standing as immobile and vigilant as the birds of prey of Old Earth atop the mountain peaks before swooping into a killing dive. Veterans of the Custodes' "Blood Games" in which they test each other to penetrate the Imperial Palace's defences, their ranks contain those with the proven skill to master the rare and sophisticated flight system and archeotech weapons they use. Venatari Custodian Squads were used by both the ancient Legio Custodes and the present-day warriors of the Adeptus Custodes in the 41st Millennium.
Notable Shield Hosts and Shield Companies
The Shadowkeepers - Wardens of the Dark Cells
There are terrible things locked away beneath the Emperor's palace, eldritch terrors from the depths of Old Night that could annihilate the Imperium. To the Shadowkeepers falls the duty of standing guard over them unto the end of time. The Shadowkeepers hold the keys to the rune-locked portals hidden deep beneath the Imperial Palace. They alone know the ways by which the runic locks may be disengaged, the wards unbound and the sanctic circles breached. They alone know that these things must never happen, for the Dark Cells hold such horrors at bay that Mankind's sanity would not survive their release.
A full Shield Host is devoted to this grim responsibility, over a hundred Custodians patrolling the dark and silent corridors, vigilantly watching over the last terrors of Old Night. It is a task that would soon drive most men mad, for though neither sight nor sound can escape the forbidden cells, the air of those corridors is charged with dread.
A perpetual menace thickens the shadows and makes them crawl. Even the superhumans of the Adeptus Custodes are forever on edge in those dark oubliettes, for the sense of unspeakable threat never wanes. It is a testament to the discipline and spiritual fortitude of the Shadowkeepers that they stand their guard unflinching, sometimes for solar decades at a time.
The ranks of this shield host include many Custodian Wardens, whose oaths of protection help them to focus upon the task at hand to the exclusion of all else. The leaders of these forbidding sentries carry ancient weapons of mysterious provenance, their use intended as a last resort should anything ever break free from the Dark Cells.
For ten thousand Terran years the Shadowkeepers have performed their duty, yet the coming of the Great Rift changed everything. With the power of Chaos spilling raw and seething into the spaces between the stars, new abominations have come to light. Worse still are the cells that stand suddenly empty, the entities and artefacts once contained within spirited away by some unholy force to curse the galaxy once more. Fearing the consequences of such dread remnants of the Age of Strife falling into the wrong hands, the Shadowkeepers at last sent warriors out into the galaxy. These jailers must trammel that which should not be, slaughtering all who seek to impede them, before returning their foul prizes to the cells where they belong.
There have been many Shield-Captains charged with mastery of the Shadowkeepers. This appointment confers the title of Lockwarden, a name that is borne in perpetuity and garners solemn respect from every other member of the Ten Thousand. The Lockwarden must be the sternest of all guardians, the most unrelenting and alert gaoler on the face of Terra. Moreover, should any creature or relic escape the Dark Cells, or newly emerged threat need to be imprisoned therein, it is the duty of the Lockwarden to personally oversee the operation.
The current incumbent of this position is Shield-Captain Borsa Thursk, who has been Lockwarden for a century and a half. He is a grim and frighteningly intense warrior whose utter fearlessness and steely vigilance make him ideal for his role. It speaks volumes about the dire condition of the galaxy that Thursk left Terra but twice before the breaking of the storm, yet he has barely set foot there since the Great Rift yawned wide.
The Aquilan Shield - The Gilded Guardians
"The duty of the Emperor's defence does not end at the walls of the Imperial Palace. Our war is like an endless game of regicide, played over countless boards against infinite foes at once. In such a contest one must be constantly pre-emptive, always cunning and ever ready to seize any advantage that presents itself. Our gaze must rove far afield, and our every move must be perfectly executed. To do any less is to court final defeat."
- — Captain-General Trajann Valoris
Certain servants of the Emperor bear great responsibilities deemed directly relevant to the safety of Terra. Such esteemed figures are afforded the protection of the Aquilan Shield, at least until their usefulness is thought to be at its end. As the doomscryers of the Imperial Palace sift the tides of the empyrean for warnings of disaster, they also take note of those who -- through example, thought or deed -- are likely to avert such catastrophes before they threaten the Golden Throne. These fated individuals are honoured with the protection of the Aquilan Shield, for in this way a small band of Custodians can ensure a significant martial or spiritual asset survives to act in the Emperor's defence.
The Aquilan Shield are an informal brotherhood laced through the ranks of the Adeptus Custodes. They typically operate in small warrior bands, journeying across the stars to stand watch over their charges wherever they may be. No warning is given nor permission asked -- the warriors of the Aquilan Shield appear as if from nowhere, avatars of the Emperor's will who announce their quarry to be under the protection of the Master of Mankind. Such an honour is beyond compare, and is never refused no matter the circumstances or the individual chosen.
The Aquilan Shield have acted as bodyguards to High Lords, Sororitas Canonesses, Lord Inquisitors, Astra Militarum Generals and Space Marine Captains. They have even protected two Crusade leaders bearing the title of Warmaster, staunchly ignoring the historic associations with he who first held that rank. Yet they have also appeared amidst flares of golden light to watch over firebrand frontline preachers, bewildered militia leaders and others of apparently little import. The only unifying factor amongst them all is that, while attending their duties beneath the gimlet gaze of the Emperor's own guards, these individuals are expected to achieve incredible things in the defence of the Throneworld.
The Aquilan Shield fight to ensure such a future comes to pass, shielding their charges from harm until the exact moment the usefulness of the person under their protection is deemed spent. At that point they depart without a word, leaving those they guarded to look to their own defence. Tragedy often follows, but this is of no concern to the Aquilan Shield -- providing it does not jeopardise the safety of the Golden Throne.
The Dread Host - Instruments of the Emperor's Wrath
"Let them come, insidious monsters that they are. Let them flow like a tide into the killing zone. Await my signal to activate the teleportariums, and then let us unleash the Emperor's fury upon these abominations from every direction at once."
- — Oldorian Mefistal, Shield-Captain of the Dread Host
Fear is a familiar weapon to the Imperium, used to deter enemies and keep seething populations in line. Yet there is no terror as pure and absolute as that invoked when the Emperor's own fury is unleashed to punish his foes. The Dread Host represents a breathtaking concentration of military might. It numbers hundreds of Custodians, organised into multiple Shield Hosts and transported aboard a trio of pre-Heresy warships known as the Moiraides. The nature of this army is simple: they are the deliverers of the Emperor's judgement, his anger and his punishment made manifest.
Not for them the pinpoint rapid strike, the hidden war or the measured defensive action. Instead, the assembled Shield-Captains of the Dread Host identify the most visible and dramatic threats to the Segmentum Solar and unleash upon them such overwhelming annihilation that it sends shock waves rolling through the Warp itself. Sometimes one warship is sent, sometimes two; only a handful of times in the entire history of the Imperium have all three of the Moiraides loosed their passengers against a single foe. Yet always the effect is the same. Spearheaded by dozens of Allarus Custodians, the Dread Host fall upon their victims with unstoppable force.
They slaughter the enemy's warriors and reduce their war engines to wreckage. They cast down their false idols and set them aflame. They topple their cities, sunder their strongholds, and butcher their allies and followers. They make grisly examples of those who would dare lead such a challenge to the Emperor's dominion, ignoring all attempts at surrender and foiling all bids at flight. By the time the Dread Host are done with their war, nothing remains of their chosen victims but the gruesome tales of their brutal demise at the Emperor's hand.
The Dread Host have smashed Ork WAAAGH!s, obliterated rebellious star systems and crushed Traitor crusades. They have fought against enemies thousands of times their number and humbled them through strategy, speed and strength. With every campaign they spread the terror of the Emperor's wrath. The breathtaking bloodshed and absolute destruction they leave in their wake has dissuaded hundreds of uprisings and invasions before they could even begin.
The Solar Watch - Castellans of the Blessed Worlds
The Sol System is amongst the most heavily fortified of Mankind's stellar holdings. The Adeptus Custodes consider its worlds, star forts and space lanes to be extensions of their master's palace, and ensure they are guarded accordingly. From the vast orbital fortresses of Luna to the cloud-keeps of Jupiter and the deep-space star forts of the Halo Belt, Humanity maintains hundreds of strongholds throughout the Sol System. Billions of weapons point menacingly into the dark gulfs of space, ready to unleash spectacular devastation upon any foolish enough to threaten Mankind's seat of power. Armoured towers and gargoyle-festooned bastions loom over every approach, sanctified against the foul machinations of the Emperor's many foes. Entire fleets of Imperial Navy ships prowl the space lanes, vigilant for the slightest threat. Yet perhaps the most formidable of all Terra's outer defensive measures are the Custodians of the Solar Watch.
Consisting of several Shield Companies of varying strength, the Solar Watch swear binding oaths to keep guard over the outer bastions of the Throneworld. They see themselves as the first true line of defence for the Imperial Palace, and believe that it is their duty to ensure that no external threat ever makes it as far as Terra. To this end, they constantly patrol routes between the worlds and void structures of the Sol System, ever vigilant for danger.
Though they typically travel via naval craft and intrastellar trade ships, the Solar Watch maintain a formidable concentration of Venerable Land Raiders, and are typically able to deploy forces that are predominately, if not entirely, mechanised. This allows them to respond swiftly, and with overwhelming force, to any potentially threatening situation that may develop. While such dangers are not common within the Sol System, they are certainly not unheard of; the Solar Watch have been instrumental in bringing an end to daemon-worshipping cults, Inquisitorial coups and subtle xenos incursions on every world bar Mars. While their authority technically extends to the red planet, the Adeptus Custodes are wise enough to maintain cordial relations with the servants of the Omnissiah, and so travel to that world only occasionally, trusting the Cult Mechanicus to police its own deviants.
The more aggressive of the Captain-Generals have traditionally charged the Solar Watch with performing sporadic Talon Sorties. These involve the watch gathering Shield-Company-strength forces and launching strikes against prevailing threats in the star systems closest to Terra. The Solar Watch do not waste their resources in war zones already heavily invested in by Imperial forces. Rather, they sally out to destroy developing threats or eliminate enemies that have broken existing Imperial lines. Deploying aboard their Venerable Land Raiders, they slam into their enemies in fast-moving armoured spearheads. Prioritising the slaughter of command elements and heavy combat assets, the Solar Watch cripple their enemies' capacity to function as an army of conquest before abruptly withdrawing, leaving lesser Imperial forces to mop up what remains. After all, the duty of guarding the Sol System is a vital one, and the Solar Watch cannot leave their posts for long.
Emissaries Imperatus - Heralds of the Golden Throne
"Through the artifice of the Martian priesthood were these warriors created. By the grace of the almighty Emperor are they given now to you. Silence your questions and instead rejoice at the honour done to you this day. You are handed the gift of hope by the immortal Master of Mankind Himself, and you will accept it with sincere and solemn gratitude lest you be taken for the traitors that you profess to hate."
In the days of the Great Crusade, the Emperor often entrusted crucial messages or artefacts to be borne by his Custodians. It is a duty they still fulfil now, speaking with the authority of the Master of Mankind Himself. Though the Emperor has long been confined to the Golden Throne, there are those amongst the Ten Thousand who claim to hear their master's voice during their meditations, and to feel his hand guiding them. To their comrades there is no implication of divine intervention in this, for the Custodes have never viewed the Emperor as a god. They merely see their liege's indomitable will at work, reaching out from His shattered frame to direct His praetorians as He did when He could still walk amongst them.
Those who feel the Emperor's guidance the keenest become Emissaries Imperatus. They band together in like-minded groups and, through discussion and meditation, interpret what it is that the Master of Mankind wishes them to do. With the tacit approval of the Captain-General, they bear the Emperor's words across the Imperium to commanders who must hear them, or occasionally unlock some ancient device from the palace vaults and bequeath it to whichever champion can wield it best. Their words have redirected entire Crusades, and seen threats intercepted and archeotech riches won that might otherwise have passed the Emperor's servants by.
For thousands of Terran years the Emissaries Imperatus have been seen abroad, but rarely and in small numbers. Yet with the return of Guilliman and the commencement of the Indomitus Crusade, their activity has increased considerably. When the Primarch announced his intention to bear the secrets of the Primaris Space Marines to the Loyalist Chapters, there was some resistance from the Adeptus Custodes, who feared strengthening those who might one day rebel against the Emperor once again. Yet dozens of Emissaries Imperatus stepped forwards to intercede, stating this was the will of the Emperor. They accompanied Guilliman's Crusade, many of them taking to the air as Vertus Praetors, the quicker to deliver messages of reinforcement to the embattled Space Marines. The presence of the Adeptus Custodes also ensured that even the most traditional Chapters accepted the Primaris warriors into their ranks. One does not decline a gift from the Emperor's own hand, after all.
Custodes Creation and Training
As has been mentioned, the Custodian Guard and the Space Marines are related in form, as perhaps might be expected of works of the same creator's hand, but they are very different in function and capacity. There are of course similarities between the two. Both are physically transformed well beyond "natural" human limits in terms of strength, endurance and fortitude, and fitted for inhuman environmental adaption and resilience, though in this the Adeptus Custodes are the markedly superior of the two in might, if not in adaptability. Both are subject to extensive psychological and cognitive conditioning, and are physically and mentally reworked to render most of their baser drives inert and their beings rechannelled towards aggression, goal acquisition and the fulfillment of duty. As a further safeguard against distraction and as a biological control, both are of course incapable of procreation. In both cases all that is left are beings of singular purpose; in the case of each Astartes, what is created is a living engine of conquest that cares for little else, and in the Custodian Guard, each is created protector of unrelenting diligence and savage capability -- a watchman whose vigilance will never tire.
What also differs truly between the two, Custodian Guard and Space Marine, is not just their functional purpose, but the extent of their augmentation and the means by which it is accomplished. While the process through which the Adeptus Astartes are fabricated from a human being is well-enough documented in its outline, though its details are, of course, rightly held secret by those parties involved in the process on a Chapter by Chapter basis, genuine facts about the manner in which the Custodian Guard are created are very few, even within the hands of the Imperium's hierarchy. This is because -- as with all else about the Custodian Guard -- it is a matter for the Imperial Household alone, and that authority is one none may gainsay or question. What is known, however, marks them as different.
Firstly, there is the matter of the age of the candidacy. For a child to become one of the Adeptus Custodes, it is known that they must begin the process in their late infancy and certainly before adolescence has taken hold on their physical structure. This stands in stark contrast to the Space Marines whose implantation with the gene-seed is only possible after adolescence and best served before full physical maturity. This may link to a second of the few known facts about the creation of the Adeptus Custodes: that the gene-craft and alchemistry that transforms them is as absolute as it is subtle, and worked upon the smallest conceivable microscopic level of their genome and cellular structure. It is a process that effects such change on the mortal human form that, when complete, unless they suffer such massive bodily harm as to forcibly end their lives, they are effectively immortal, without perceptible ageing taking place after full maturity.
Not then for the Adeptus Custodes the pattern of surgical grafting and organ implantation that creates a Space Marine, no such crudities of augmentation at all mar the Custodian; what creates them is as invisible as it is potent, worked upon the core genetics and at a deep cellular level, and perhaps tailored to each specific inductee. There are those who insist that so invisible and yet so powerful this process is that it crosses over into a metaphysical realm of biomancy and psychic manipulation on a level unguessed at. Given that it is said that the Emperor Himself has overseen the creation of every single Custodian Guard who has ever lived, this may well be true. The peerless warriors who then result from this arcane process are a rare breed indeed, and not to be squandered recklessly on the battlefield. They were created with a single purpose in mind; to be the Emperor's own elite guard. They were a force created both to defend the Emperor from physical harm wherever the Great Crusade might take Him, to stand watch over His private domains and most guarded secrets, and to serve as the direct agents of His will -- as His personal emissaries -- be that will to protect, to venture, to claim, to keep secret, or to execute without remorse.
Role and Capabilities
"Rare is the battle where the Emperor's Custodians outnumber our foes. We are ever beset, surrounded upon all sides by heresy and foulness just as is Terra itself. Yet like the Throneworld we stand resolute, indefatigable, indomitable. Let the enemy come, let them darken the horizon with their numbers. Still we will prevail."
- — Allarus Custodian Harkhas Bastoris
The Custodes are warriors unmatched in the galaxy, genetically-engineered by the Emperor Himself. The Emperor engineered few of these warriors once the swifter method for creating superhuman warriors using Space Marine gene-seed became more viable. The martial capabilities of the Adeptus Custodes remain largely unknown at the present time. What is known is that they possess skill beyond even a "normal" member of the Adeptus Astartes. It has been said that the Adeptus Custodes are to the Emperor what the Space Marines are to the Primarchs; that the Emperor's own genetic matrix was used in their creation and through this their loyalty to Him is assured. Others argue that the Custodians are not like the Emperor in the way that a Space Marine is like his Primarch, and that some other source was used as a template for their physical and psychological form; a source that was lost during the anarchy of the Age of Strife. The truth will likely never be known.
The Adeptus Custodes are similar to the Grey Knights, the elite Chamber Militant of the Ordo Malleus branch of the Inquisition, in that both are elite, secret organisations with close genetic ties to the Emperor. Custodes are unique as they have neither a known Primarch nor do they use Astartes gene-seed to produce their genetic modifications. They stand a full head taller than a Space Marine and it is said that they were almost the same size as a Primarch. In fact it was said that Constantin Valdor, Captain-General of the Legio Custodes and Chief Custodian to the Emperor during the Horus Hersey, was the same size as the Traitor Primarch Alpharius of the Alpha Legion.
Only 300 Custodes serve as the actual personal guard of the Emperor, called the Hataeron Guard, the Companions of the Emperor, who guard the Emperor's chambers at all times. These are the Custodes that are privileged enough to be in the Emperor's physical presence. The Companions fall under the command of a Tribune, one of the Custodian Tribunate; a senior cadre that formerly consisted of ten in number, forming the Adeptus Custodes' council of war and policy. In the matters of the security of the Imperial Palace's inner sanctums and the person of the Emperor, no higher authority existed. In rank below the Tribune can be found the Centurions or Shield Captains. Each unit of Companions is led by a Centurion. It was one such Centurion that led a small group of Companions to meet Alicia Dominica, head of the Brides of the Emperor (later the Sisters of Battle) during Goge Vandire's Reign of Blood in the Age of Apostasy during the 36th Millennium.
One of the Companions, Constantin Valdor, was the Captain-General and Chief Custodian of the Legio Custodes during the Horus Heresy. He was the most honoured of all of the Emperor of Mankind's creations. No other being had served the Emperor for as long as he, save for the Imperial Regent of Terra, the potent psyker Malcador the Sigillite. Valdor was a proud and respectful warrior unmatched in his devotion and loyalty to the Emperor. Valdor was ever-present at the Emperor's side, always protecting Him from unseen enemies and he saved the Emperor's life innumerable times. Along with Malcador, Valdor was the Emperor's most trusted friend and advisor.
Constantin Valdor was one of the first High Lords of Terra chosen after the end of the Horus Heresy to guide the Imperium forward following the Emperor's internment within the Golden Throne. He also had a close relationship with the Primarchs Rogal Dorn and Leman Russ, although initially Russ and Valdor did not see eye to eye. Dorn was ever-present at the Imperial Palace during the Great Crusade and so Valdor and the Primarch spent much time together. On the other hand, Valdor only earned Russ' respect when the former defeated Horus in a sparring match. The two then served together in combat during the Fall of Prospero when the Custodes and the Space Wolves joined to punish the Thousand Sons Legion of Magnus the Red for his continued use of sorcery despite the edicts of the Council of Nikaea. There is no record of when or how Valdor was killed or if he was even killed at all. He eventually stepped down from the Senatorum Imperialis as a High Lord so that he could continue to devote all of his attention to protecting his beloved Emperor, now encased within the Golden Throne.
However, other accounts of the Custodians' exploits provide a different version of the relationship between the Astartes and Custodes. These records indicate that though the Custodians are slightly larger, on average, than Space Marines, their fighting skills are more or less equal. While Space Marines don their armour ritually and in the presence of their squadmates in order to focus themselves entirely on their martial calling, Custodians arm themselves alone and in silence, reflecting on the varied duties they must perform in the service of their master.
As bodyguards, the Custodes not only protect the Emperor's person but also maintain scrupulous surveillance on all the other factions of the Imperium to police their loyalty, infiltrate the households of suspicious individuals among the Imperial nobility, and enter deep cover to test the strictness of their own security within the Imperial Palace, exercises which are called Blood Games. Additionally, these records also confirm that each Custodian's name consists of numerous components typically awarded for feats of arms; Valdor's full name, for instance, is over nine hundred components long.
Magisterium and Misericordia
One of the singular features of the ancient Adeptus Custodes as an organisation, and the power of its individual Custodians, is their place in the scheme of the Imperium's law. While an accredited Imperial Planetary Governor is effectively tyrant of their own world within the edicts and parameters of wider Imperial law, and few would gainsay the Adeptus Astartes in any demands they were to make, the Adeptus Custodes are alone officially afforded the power of the Magisterium Lex Ultima in the high form, which is to say they are beyond all law and all command save for the direct authority of the Emperor Himself. In addition to this, each one is a lord of the Imperium in their own right. This fact is symbolically represented not only by the right to still carry the single-headed raptor and lightning bolt heraldry of the Unification Wars campaign, but also by the carrying of the Misericordia.
For long centuries of unbridled internecine carnage on Ancient Terra during the Age of Strife, the Blade of Mercy or Misericordia came to represent the complete power of life and death the techno-barbarian warlords held over the mass of humanity which toiled beneath their yolk and suffered at their whim. From the dust wastes of Ursh to the Manakonite Temples of the No'rad ice hive, the bearing of such a blade, usually in the form of a long dagger or short sword made to perpetrate a single, killing thrust, came to symbolise the dread authority of the executioner-judge. Beyond the power it represented, the Misericordia might also be used in practice to carry out a "clean" sentence of death on a transgressor, or to offer terminal surcease to a warrior grievously wounded in battle at their master's discretion, in either case living up to its name as an agent of mercy as well as death. When the Emperor came to mastery of Terra and ended the bloody cycle of the warlords' reign, His agents and judges, and only they, came to carry the Misericordia as His mastery eclipsed all others, and it is a tradition the Adeptus Custodes still uphold.
When an aspirant ascends to the ranks of the Adeptus Custodes, he is presented with a beautifully fashioned knife known as a Misericordia. These weapons are filigreed with gold and theldrite, their hilts moulded to the owner's unique grip and their blades imbued with micromolecular dissonator spirits that allow them to slice through the thickest armour as though it wasn't there at all.
More than a lethal sidearm, the Misericordia signifies something greater. As the Emperor led His wars of unification, his Custodians are believed to have co-opted the term for their own use. No longer would the Misericordia be a symbol of tyrannical rule. Instead, it came to represent the right of the bearer to act as the arbiter of the Emperor's judgement, and to put to death those tyrants, lunatics and demagogues who stood against Him.
The Misericordia still shows its wielder to be the Emperor's sanctioned executioner, yet since his fall these blades bear a second, grimmer meaning. They have become weapons of vengeance, to be turned upon those who betrayed the Emperor and left Him a broken shell. Every time a Misericordia is plunged into a Traitor's heart, so it is said, a minuscule measure of revenge is exacted on behalf of the Emperor Himself. Though the Custodians are typically immune to such superstition, there are those amongst their ranks who harbour the hope that if enough traitor blood is spilt with these blades, it may in some way restore their master. Another school of thought, the adherents of which are known as the Miserians, believe that through the wounds inflicted with Misericordia they will slowly bleed the great descendants of Horus, inflicting a death by a thousand cuts upon the Black Legion and their masters. Thus, though Custodians have the right to carry their Misericordia or not as they see fit, it is rare indeed that they go to battle against the Heretic Astartes without these blades at their hips.
Arms and Armour
Since ancient times, the Adeptus Custodes' panoply of arms and armour, its wargear and even the vehicles and support systems it employed are often unique to the Adeptus Custodes and them alone. Whether ancient relic or newly-made, these items were not only customised exactly to task, but were also produced without any regard to the consumption of resources or rarity of component or lore required; to arm and outfit the Legio Custodes to the optimum, nothing was spared.
This supremacy is evident from the auramite alloy-reinforced Custodian Armour the Custodian Guard wears, each a planet's ransom in worth, to the plethora of repulsor-lift grav-vehicles still under their control, most of which were derived from designs brought back by the great technoarchaeologist Arkhan Land and forbidden for use by any other. Likewise, their singular weapons, be they blade or Bolter, are masterworks, produced by entire sequestered sub-cults of the Adeptus Mechanicus and clades of hereditary artisans beholden to no other and tasked alone in the Adeptus Custodes' provision.
Entire bloodlines of exceptionally skilled artisans dwell within gilded towers on Terra, their purpose to fashion the auramite armour and perfectly balanced weapons for each new Custodian. Certain names such as the Clan Halbrinmir or the Clan Gestaxtis are renowned for their martial masterworks, and their augmetically enhanced artisan-barons are famed for the wonders they have wrought.
Even greater than these resources at their disposal is the Custodian's ability to draw upon any facet of the Imperium's war machine and uncounted hosts it needed to meet its ends, extending its potential power to unguessed-at-levels. The Adeptus Custodes have access to an incomparable armoury of technology, much of it dating back thousands of Terran years. From the sleek Dawneagle Jetbikes of the Vertus Praetors and the magnificent Allarus Pattern Terminator Armour, to Land Raiders and Contemptor Dreadnoughts that saw battle during the Great Crusade, such equipment epitomises the proven excellence of all Adeptus Custodes materiel. The tools of war wielded by the Emperor's guardians never fail or falter, for they are handmade by the Imperium's most skilled smiths and maintained to the most painstaking standards imaginable. Just as the warriors who protect the Golden Throne must be utterly without fault or weakness, so must be the equipment they rely upon to discharge their duties.
The reason for this supremacy above all in arms is a simple one, for not only are the Adeptus Custodes fitted to match any potential threat from without, but also from within, and a clear demarcation was enforced between the potency of the Custodes' arms, and those of any other Imperial forces, not least of all the Space Marines, who they already overmatched in physical might. It is perhaps one of the great questions of lost history: what might have been in the wars of the Horus Heresy had the Legio Custodes not been so heavily waylaid by the disastrous consequences of Magnus' great sin on Terra and more able to take an active hand, had not so many of them been trapped for years in a terrible parallel war all but entirely hidden from the eyes of the cosmos? But that is a darker tale yet, and the weighty duty of a different record than this to tell.
These incredible armaments, the endless training regimes that the Custodians undergo, the years-long holo-conflicts through which they battle, and the shadow-shrouded wars they fight in the Emperor's name throughout the Sol System and far beyond -- all these factors ensure that the Ten Thousand are the finest fighting force in the entire Imperium.
Before the Emperor's internment within the Golden Throne, the Custodes had access to some of the most advanced wargear within the armouries of the Imperium. However, in the years between the Horus Heresy and the birth of the Great Rift, they took a far more limited role in Imperial affairs, and almost never left Terra and only very rarely left the Imperial Palace. It is unknown how limited the Custodes' wargear choices are due to the unknown workings of this elite and reclusive paramilitary specialist force that remains an organisation apart from the rest of the Imperium.
They would also more than likely remain aloof in regards to the composition of their wargear and equipment as well as their overall tactical capabilities. Whenever the Custodians are seen outside the walls of the Imperial Palace, as rare as that was, it was in their martial aspect. Mortals would fall on their faces as if before gods. To them, these gold-clad transhuman warriors seemed as if they were wrath incarnate, created for destruction and nothing else. But this was far from the truth, for the Custodes were the Emperor's companions once, the ones in whom He confided, acting as His counsellors and His artisans.
The Custodes had been created to be the guardians of a new age and were charged to be strong enough to keep it secure. But in this sacred duty they failed. Following the internment of the Emperor into the Golden Throne after the defeat of Horus on his flagship during the Battle of Terra, the Custodes outwardly wore the mark of their failure in the black robes that covered their auramite. It was a permanent reminder, replacing the traditional cloaks of blood-red that once adorned their battleplate. It weighed heavy with every Custodian, for they knew more of the nature of the fall than most.
This bleak colour change reflected that the Custodians were in permanent mourning for failing to protect the Emperor in His hour of need. But with the return of the Avenging Son, the resurrected Primarch Roboute Guilliman, the Adeptus Custodes have cast off their black cloaks and now don their crimson cloaks of old. Taking to the sea of stars, they now bring the battle to the Great Enemy, intent on absolving themselves in the baptism of fire and blood for their failure in their duties ten millennia earlier.
In Rogue Trader (1st Edition) the Custodes were the Guardians of the Emperor and the Imperial Palace. They wore simple but effective clothing: boots, leather breeches and a black cloak, their torsos naked and corded with tattooed muscle, and they carried laser-tipped halberds said to have been built to resemble the traditional Guardian Spears. Their helms were tall and ornate works of art, giving the Custodes a threateningly impassive appearance. They were considered superior to the Astartes of the time, although not as loyal to the Emperor. Clearly, this version of the Custodes has long since been superseded in current canon.
Uniforms and Heraldry
Each Custodian's armour and weapons are crafted specifically for them by hand. Thus, each suit of Power Armour is an individual work of exceptional craftsmanship with its own unique flourishes and decorations. Yet all Custodians maintain certain standardised elements to their wargear that help them to quickly identify one another’s place both on and off the battlefield. The numbers below correspond to the image at right.
- The right shoulder guard of a Custodian's armour depicts the Imperial Aquila, a sigil of eternal vigilance and a sign of the Custodian's mandate to enact -- by force if necessary -- the will of the Emperor Himself.
- The gems set into each Custodian's armour are individually mined from deep beneath the surface of Terra and hand-cut by skilled artisans. Their colouration is flawlessly precise, an art form in its own right, not only across the Custodian's armour, but across that of his entire Shield Company. When a Custodian switches from one such organisation to another, the stones will be carefully extracted from his armour and replaced with those of an appropriate colour if needs be.
- The colour panels on the Custodian's left shoulder guard show clearly to which Shield Company or Shield Host they belong. The latter organisational tier takes precedence for these purposes. This colouration will often match the Custodian's tabard, along with any robes he may wear.
- All Adeptus Custodes armour is made from the incredibly rare substance known as auramite. Its natural colouration is a lustrous gold, a hue entirely appropriate for the Emperor's personal guardians. However, through closely-guarded alchemical processes, auramite can be tinted, or its colour changed altogether on a molecular level. It is a painstaking and costly process, but considered far more suited to the Custodians' importance than simple repainting.
- The haft or hilt of a Custodian's weapon -- in this case a Guardian Spear -- is sometimes worked -- or, in many cases, reworked -- to match the colouration of their armour. This is not standard amongst all Shield Companies, however.
Great Crusade and Horus Heresy Eras
"There are no bystanders in the war of life and death, no place the battle cannot reach; so fight it without remorse or relenting, for death will surely do the same."
- — Attributed to Captain-General Constantin Valdor
- Constantin Valdor - Constantin Valdor was the Chief Custodian and Captain-General of the Legio Custodes during the Unification Wars, the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. Just prior to the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, Valdor was charged by the Emperor to accompany the Primarch Leman Russ of the Space Wolves in bringing the Primarch Magnus the Red of the Thousand Sons to account for breaking promises he had made during the Council of Nikaea which had strictly forbidden the use of sorcery and psychic powers within the Imperium. Valdor, with a contingent of the elite Custodian Guard, fought alongside Russ and the Space Wolves during the Fall of Prospero. He and his forces were responsible for killing at least three of the greatest psykers of the Thousand Sons Legion and routing a force much more numerous than their own. He was also responsible for saving Bjorn the Fell-Handed when his arm was corrupted by the sorcerous powers of a Thousand Sons psyker. Valdor sliced Bjorn's arm off to prevent the corruption from overrunning his body. After Horus' betrayal became known to the Imperium, Valdor was present during the meetings of the Officio Assassinorum's Clade Sires and Siresses. It was Valdor who suggested that an Assassin from each Clade operate as a team to assassinate Horus, rather than act alone as was the standard mode of operation. It is said that Constantin Valdor epitomised all that it means to be one of the Adeptus Custodes. Stoic, watchful, fiercely intelligent and -- when required -- a truly inspirational leader, Valdor was a true hero of the Imperium who never once faltered in his duty. It is not recorded what became of Valdor after the Emperor's internment in the Golden Throne, but there are those who believe he serves the Emperor still...
- Mikaelor Cobernus - Cobernus was a Shield-Captain of the Legio Custodes during the 31st Millennium.
- Ra Endymion - Ra Endymion was a Tribune of the Legio Custodes during the Horus Heresy and the commander of the Custodians who fought in the Imperial War Within the Webway. He was born on Terra during the Unification Wars to Koja Zu, the Minister of the Anuatan Steppes, around the time of the Battle of Maulland Sen. Ra's mother was executed by Constantin Valdor for the high crime of stealing Terra's last remaining ocean when Ra was only four years old. He was then taken by the Legio Custodes as a potential candidate. The young boy received his name 'Ra' in honour of the ancient Gyptian sun god and eventually rose to become the leader of Squad Dynastes, who were later dubbed the Lords of Terra by the Emperor Himself. This squad was composed of twenty sons and nephews who had been taken as tributes from various defeated Terran rulers and warlords. By the opening years of the galaxy-wide conflict known as the Horus Heresy, Ra had earned eight-hundred and seventy-one names in honour of valorous deeds and was raised to the rank of Tribune. Following the Crimson King's folly, when he tried to warn the Emperor through sorcerous means, the wards placed on the Imperial Webway deep within the Imperial Palace's dungeon were breached, which allowed the legions of Chaos to encroach upon the Emperor's Palace. Five years into the war, things began to go badly for the Imperial forces, as the neverending legions of Chaos threatened to breach the sanctity of the Palace's dungeons. With the deaths of both Tribunes Kadai Vilaccan and Jasac, Ra Endymion was given sole command over the Custodians fighting the war within the Imperial Webway. When the derelict city within the webway known as Calastar (also known as the 'Impossible City') fell to the invading daemonic hordes, the Emperor finally left the Golden Throne in order to cover the retreat of the decimated Imperial forces and to confront the Daemon Drach'nyen. In a final epic confrontation, the daemon took the form of a Stone Epoch war-chief, the first human to have taken another human' life, and the Neverborn impaled the Emperor, claiming that it would be His death. But the Emperor tore the daemon, now in the form of a great daemonic sword, from His body and with armour-boosted strength and powerful telekinetic force, He hurled it from His grip at Ra. The sword impaled the Custodian causing the daemon to be bound within him. The sword quickly disappeared, for it was now bound within the Custodian's body, caged within Ra's flesh. The daemon within him could not be killed, not even by the Emperor Himself, only imprisoned. As the last remaining Imperial forces retreated from the webway, the Emperor ordered Ra to run deep within the myriad tunnels of the webway as far as possible. Ra's ultimate fate is unknown.
- Kadai Vilaccan - Kadai Vilaccan served as a Tribune of the Legio Custodes during the Horus Heresy in the 31st Millennium. He fought and eventually died five Teran years into the fighting during the War Within the Webway only two solar weeks after the death of Tribune Jasaric.
- Jasaric - Jasaric, known also as Jasac, was a Tribune of the Legio Custodes during the Horus Heresy in the 31st Millennium. He had the honour of being one of the original thirty Custodians created by the Emperor of Mankind, and had fought by his liege's side since the Terran Unification Wars, and was present during the Battle of Maulland Sen. He fought and eventually died during the fighting in the Imperial Webway War. He was succeeded by Tribune Kadai Vilaccan.
- Helios - Helios served as a Tribune of the Legio Custodes during the Horus Heresy in the 31st Millennium. He fought and eventually died during the fighting in the War Within the Webway. He was succeeded by Tribune Jasaric.
- Ixion Hale - Ixion Hale served as a Tribune of the Legio Custodes during the Horus Heresy in the 31st Millennium. Hale's ultimate fate is unknown.
- Diocletian Coros - Diocletian Coros was a Prefect of the Hykanatoi and served as a part of the Legio Custodes during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy in the 30th and 31st Millennia. He fought in the War Within the Webway under the command of Tribune Ra Endymion. He was charged with organising a fresh wave of Imperial forces to resist the encroaching Forces of Chaos, which included the condemned prisoners of the fallen Imperial Knight House Vyridion, who would aid the beleaguered Imperial forces at Calastar just as the Chaos hordes began to overrun it. During this battle, Diocletian fought at the sides of both Ra Endymion and the Emperor Himself, and eventually battled his way back to Terra and escaped the confines of the Imperial extension into the Webway just before the Emperor sealed the portal, effectively ending the War Within the Webway. Following the battle, the Emperor began to show Diocleitan visions of both His and Terra's past, much as he had once done with Ra. This could be an indication that Diocletian was raised to the status of Tribune following Ra's disappearance into the Webway. Diocletian's ultimate fate is unknown, though he was later the author of the tome known as The Master of Mankind, a description of Coros' interactions with the Emperor that would still be available to the Adeptus Custodes over 10,000 standard years later.
- Aquillion - Aquillion served as the Occuli Imperator, the "Eyes of the Emperor," the Custodian who was assigned to watch over the Primarch Lorgar and his Word Bearers Legion after they were found to have violated the Emperor's trust during the Great Crusade by spreading their belief that the Emperor was a God to newly conquered human worlds. Aquillion and a team of four other Custodians (Vendatha, Sythran, Nirllus and Kalhin) were assigned to the Word Bearers Legion after that Legion's humiliation on the world of Khur and the destruction of that planet's capital city of Monarchia by the Ultramarines Legion on the order of the Emperor. Aquillion used a two-handed Power Sword in combat rather than the standard Guardian Spear. Aquillion and his four-man-team were all eventually slain by the Word Bearers so that they could not inform the Emperor of Lorgar's betrayal. The leader of the daemon-possessed Gal Vorbak, Argel Tal, decapitated Aquillion by biting his head off.
- Zhanmadao Navenar - Zhanmadao Navenar sreved as a Prefect of the Tharanatoi of the Legio Custodes during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras in the 30th and early 31st Millennia. Navenar's ultimate fate is unknown.
- Mikaelor Cobernus - Mikaelor Cobernus served as a Shield-Captain of the Legio Custodes during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras in the 30th and early 31st Millennia. Cobernus' ultimate fate is unknown.
- Honoris - Honoris served as a Shield-Captain of the Legio Custodes during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras in the 30th and early 31st Millennia. Honoris' ultimate fate is unknown.
- Kalhin - Kalhin was one of the four other Custodians assigned to serve under the command of Aquillion to watch over Lorgar and the Word Bearers. While attempting to kill the traitor Cyrene Valantion, Kalhin was shot down by Incaradine, the mechanical Conqueror Primus of the 9th Maniple of the Carthage Cohort of the Legio Cybernetica.
- Nirallus - Nirallus was one of the four other Custodians assigned to serve under the command of Aquillion to watch over Lorgar and the Word Bearers. Amongst his fellow Custodes and the warriors of the Word Bearers, Nirallus was considered the "swordmaster" for his skill with his Custodian Spear. He used this skill to slay Malnor, one of the strongest of the daemon-possessed Gal Vorbak, but was torn apart seconds later by two other members of this warrior elite of the Word Bearers Legion.
- Sythran - Sythran was one of the four other Custodians assigned to serve under the command of Aquillion to watch over the Primarch Lorgar and the Word Bearers Legion. He was part of the elite Squad Dynastes, called the Lords of Terra by the Emperor Himself, which comprised twenty souls, each one a scion of an extinct royal Terran bloodline, taken as tribute in conquest during the Unification Wars and inducted into the Ten Thousand. Before leaving Terra to watch over the Word Bearers Legion for 50 standard years as part of the XVII Legion's punishment for violating the Imperial Truth during the Great Crusade, Sythran swore an oath that he would not speak again until he set foot on Terra once more with this duty complete. He kept this promise until the moment of his death at the hands of the Gal Vorbak, when he mocked the Word Bearers' Chaplain Xaphen just after killing him for his betrayal of the Emperor.
- Vendatha - Vendatha was one of the four other Custodians assigned to serve under the command of Aquillion to watch over Lorgar and the Word Bearers. Vendatha was used as the tenth sacrifice to summon Ingethel, the daemonic Emissary of the Chaos Gods.
- Zerin - Zerin was a participant in a "Blood Game" alongside Amon, Haedo and Brokur. Out of the four, Zerin did the worst, as he did not even make it into Imperial Territory before he was caught by his fellow Custodians in the city of Irkutsk.
- Iacus - Iacus was one of the 15 Custodes sent to watch over the Word Bearers Legion who was not assigned to watch over the Primarch Lorgar with Aquillion. Iacus and his fellow Custodes watched over First Captain Kor Phaeron and First Chaplain Erebus instead. Before the Word Bearers' treachery came to light, Iacus and all his Custodes had fallen in battle alongside the Word Bearers, never knowing of their betrayal.
- Arcatus Vindix Centurio - When on Terra the Emperor Himself imprinted the genetic knowledge of the Primarch-programme onto Corvus Corax, he also ordered a squad of his very own bodyguards to accompany the Primarch of the XIX Legion back to Deliverance to protect the sensitive knowledge. Although the knowledge imprinted into Corax's mind would slowly fade, the Custodes would continue their Emperor-given task to protect and watch over the Primarch of the Raven Guard. As leader of this new bodyguard and the man whose task it had been to watch over the Raven Guard during their stay in the Imperial Palace, Arcatus Vindix soon became a figure of influence within Corax's war council, as the Raven Lord enjoyed debating with the leader of the Custodians when not on the front lines or even in the heat of battle. Whereas Corax always marvelled at Horus' temerity to declare war on the Imperium, Arcatus had a quite different point of view -- Horus would never have turned Traitor if he hadn't been sure from the beginning that he would win. Alongside the ever-active Raven Guard, Arcatus and his brothers saw much combat, participating in the Raid on Kapel-5642A and the Day of Vengeance on Carandiru. Once the Raven Guard had sufficiently recovered from its losses in the Drop Site Massacre, Arcatus was given leave to depart and return to Terra. Accompanied by the Imperial Fists of Captain Noriz aboard their Strike Cruiser Wrathful Vanguard, Arcatus and his men reached the Sol System in the wake of the Battle of Pluto and where challenged by picket ships of Battlefleet Solar. Upon hearing a preagreed codeword, Arcatus and his men immediately turned their weapons upon one particular member of their party, the former Raven Guard Librarian Balsar Khutturi who had broken the Edict of Nikaea on the orders of Corax. Captain Noriz and every Imperial Fist on the Wrathful Vanguard chose to assist Khutturi, a fellow Space Marine alongside whom they had fought for several Terran years. While the Custodians tried not to harm the Imperial Fists, Captain Noriz's obstinacy in aiding his friend led to his unfortunate demise at the edge of Arcatus' Guardian Spear. With the blood of his friend still fresh on the Custodes' blade, Balsar Khutturi launched himself at Arcatus but ultimately refrained from using his psychic powers. Knowing he could not beat the Custodes, the Raven Guard surrendered to their will, thus passing the test set for him by Malcador the Sigilite who wished to recruit him as one of his Knight-Errants.
- Brokur - Brokur took part in a "Blood Game" alongside Amon, Haedo and Zerin. Brokur emerged as the runner-up in the contest as he made it to The Hegemon before he was caught. Valdor had not expected anyone to get closer to the Imperial Palace than Brokur, but Amon succeeded in infiltrating the Palace itself.
- Saturnalia Princeps Carthagina - Saturnalia was a member of the Legio Custodes during the Horus Heresy era. He was assigned to the Psi-Hunter Team charged with the task of capturing the Outcast Dead -- the surviving members of a small Legiones Astartes honour guard known as the Crusader Host that was stationed on Terra. The fugitive Astartes were members of the Traitor Legions that had sided with Horus in his rebellion against the Emperor during the Horus Heresy. They had been imprisoned in the maximum security prison known as The Vault since they could no longer be trusted, but they managed to stage a break-out and escape. Saturnalia became part of the hunt team led by the Seer Hunter Yasu Nagasena to track down the Outcast Dead in an attempt to regain his honour after letting the Outcast Dead take his prisoner, the Astropath Kai Zulane. During the final battle with the Outcast Dead in the Temple of Woe, Saturnalia managed to kill Subha, a World Eaters Berserker. Subbha's twin, Asubha, attacked him and drove a Custodian Guardian Spear through Saturnalia's head, just as Saturnalia managed to stab Asubha in the heart with his own Guardian Spear.
- Haedo Emankon - Haedo Emankon took part in one of the many "Blood Games" alongside Amon, Zerin and Brokur. Of the four participants in the contest, Haedo was the third most successful, as he made it to Cebu City before he was caught. Haedo Emankon was later charged by Constantin Valdor to gather incriminating evidence on a member of the government of unified Terra who was suspected of treason against the Emperor alongside Amon Tauromachian.
- Khorarinn - Khorarinn was a member of the Legio Custodes during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. Following the Istvaan III Atrocity, Khorarinn was assigned to work alongside the Knight-Errant, Agentia Primus Nathaniel Garro, a former Battle-Captain of the traitorous Death Guard in determining the loyalty of a ragtag refugee fleet that sought sanctuary within the Segmentum Solar. They were led by the loyalist World Eaters Captain Macer Varren. Khorarinn was highly suspicious of Varren's motives as well as Garro, as they were both formerly members of known Traitor Legions. Further tension was built up between Garro and the Custodian when the latter threatened to kill Tylos Rubio should he utilise his psychic powers in direct violation of the Emperor's Decree Absolute, as laid down during the Council of Nikaea. Ironically, he showed respect towards the White Scars Captain Hakeem, an unexpected member of the refugee fleet, who turned out to be a traitor who was loyal to the Warmaster. Hakeem and his traitorous White Scars would eventually go on to kill Khorarinn as those whom the Custodian accused of disloyalty attempted to save his life.
- Amon Tauromachian - Amon Tauromachian was a member of the first circle of the Legio Custodes during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy in the 30th and 31st Millennia. Amon was present during the Triumph of Ullanor, where Horus Lupercal was invested by the Emperor with the title of Imperial Warmaster and command over all the Imperium's armed forces and overseeing the final stages of the Great Crusade. When he was manning a checkpoint alongside a fellow Custodian, Haedo Venator, as well as seven Null-Maidens of the Silent Sisterhood, Primarch Magnus the Red was impressed by Amon's stoicism and dedication and predicted that there were great things ahead for him. Many years before the start of the Heresy, Amon was present at the Council of Nikaea to watch over the trial of Magnus the Red for his use of sorcery. Whilst protecting Kasper Hawser, a skjald of the Space Wolves, Amon was attacked by a minion of Chaos in the disguise of a Thousand Sons Space Marine, but managed to survive the encounter thanks to the efforts of the Astartes of the Space Wolves. Amon was later charged with protecting the Emperor when Terra began the process of fortification to withstand the coming assault by the Warmaster Horus and his Traitor Legions. After news of Horus' betrayal reached Terra, Amon was tasked with taking part in the "Blood Games", a rite all Custodians endured and one which set them against the formidable defences of the Imperial Palace in the hope of improving the Custodians' defence of the Emperor through the exposure of flaws in his protection. Following his success in the "Blood Games", Amon Tauromachian and a fellow Custodian Haedo Emankon were sent on a dangerous mission by Constantin Valdor, the Chief Custodian, to gather incriminating evidence on a member of the government of unified Terra, who was suspected of treason against the Emperor but who was in actuality a double-agent working for the Imperium. Amon would go on to be regarded as one of the greatest members of the Legio Custodes. His ultimate fate is unknown.
- Sumant Giri Phalguni Tirtha - Tirtha was a Veteran Custodian, whose name was said to bear at least seventy-six awarded titles. He was one of the gaolers at the high security Imperial prison on Terra known as The Vault. It was not known how Tirtha had come to Khangba Marwu. He bore no obvious injury and was in prime physical condition, but rumour said he had once questioned an order from the Captain-General, Constantin Valdor. Tirtha was charged with the duty of guarding an extremely dangerous group of prisoners known as the Outcast Dead, the remnants of the Astartes honour guard known as the Crusader Host that was stationed on Terra whose parent Legions had turned Traitor and sided with Horus. Tirtha was killed during the Outcast Dead's successful escape attempt from The Vault, when Atharva of the Thousand Sons took control of an elite soldier with a Plasma Gun and made him shoot Tirtha in the stomach.
- Uttam Luna Hesh Udar - During the Horus Heresy era Udar was the lead gaoler of the subterranean high security prison built to detain those individuals deemed hostile to the Emperor and isolated from the world above. Built beneath the Himalayan peak known as Rakaposhi, only the most senior Custodians bothered to use its original name, Khangba Marwu, and for those condemned to its cells, who would never again see the light of day, it had an altogether more prosaic name. They knew it simply as The Vault. Udar was removed from the fighting ranks of the Legio Custodes after being exposed to an Ork bacteriological pathogen, whose aftereffects greatly reduced his reflexive response times to a level below the minimum required for frontline service amongst the Custodians. A proud man, he took his removal from the front lines hard, but eventually adapted and took to his new role as a gaoler at The Vault with the same determination and attention to detail that had seen him come the closest to the full infiltration of the Imperial Palace in the Blood Games until his peer Amon Tauromachian Leng bested him. During his tenure, Udar was charged with watching the last remnants of The Outcast Dead -- a small group of Astartes warriors drawn from the Traitor Legions that were the last of the Crusader Host, an honour guard of Space Marines comprised of representatives from each of the 18 Space Marine Legions that served on a rotational basis within the Imperial City outside the Imperial Palace on Terra. Udar met his ultimate fate when The Outcast Dead engineered a successful escape attempt. Udar was slain when he confronted one of the berserker World Eaters Astartes in close combat. The berserker in question, Sergeant Tagore, ripped out a section of Udar's spine through his chest, just as Tagore had promised he would during his confinement.
- Sagittaras (Sagittarus Malacque) - Sagittarus was one of the first thirty Custodians created by the hand of the Emperor of Mankind and served alongside his liege as His personal Honour Guard during the Terran Wars of Unification. Choleric and wild, he was the first Custodian to be wounded unto death, and interred within the sarcophagus of the Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought as a part of the Legio Custodes Moritoi.
- Vetiranio Shapura - Shapura, once a Prefect and senior officer of the Legio Custodes, was a figure of some legend within the annals of the Great Crusade. His was the distinction of being perhaps the third or fourth of the Custodian Guard (records differ) ever to be interned within the sarcophagus of a Dreadnought. The glory of his fall was that it occurred in the act of protecting the Emperor Himself from direct bodily harm during a perfidious attack in which the Imperial flagship, the Bucephalus, was successfully boarded by the forces of the xenos Rykogene with the aim of slaying the Master of Mankind. It was an attack for which the species would ultimately pay for by its extinction. The honour of the Ferrum Aquila, seen on the shield his Dreadnought-form carries, attests to Vettranio Shapura's sacrifice still.
- Abram Hasrubal - Moritoi Excelcis Abram Hasrubal was one of several Legio Custodes Dreadnoughts who served in the forces dubbed the 'Talons of the Emperor' as a part of the Censure Host sent to Prospero, envisioned as part of a reserve in case of emergency. As matters transpired, the Dreadnoughts of the Moritoi were utilised as part of the Custodes' first wave, dispersed through mixed units of Custodian Guard and the Silent Sisterhood to strengthen them and contend with Thousand Sons heavy units when encountered. Hasrubal was one such, attached to the splinter command of Prefect Tern Lanais in the assault on the pyramid of Lhis'Ta on the northern edge of the great plaza of Tizca.
- Primarus - Primarus was a Custodian who had been interred within the adamantium sarcophagus of an unknown model of Dreadnought, to continue fighting on behalf of the Emperor during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. His ultimate fate is unknown.
- Senitorus - Senitorus was a Custodian who had been interred within the adamantium sarcophagus of an unknown model of Dreadnought, to continue fighting on behalf of the Emperor during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. His ultimate fate is unknown.
- Gathas - Gathas was a member of the elite Squad Dynastes, called the Lords of Terra by the Emperor Himself which comprised twenty souls, each one a scion of an extinct royal Terran bloodline, taken as tribute in conquest during the Unification Wars and inducted into the Ten Thousand. He fought and eventually died during the fighting in the Imperial Webway War under the command of Tribune Ra Endymion.
- Mycorian - Mycorian was part of elite Squad Dynastes, called the Lords of Terra by the Emperor Himself which comprised twenty souls, each one a scion of an extinct royal Terran bloodline, taken as tribute in conquest during the Unification Wars and inducted into the Ten Thousand. He fought and eventually died during the fighting in the Imperial Webway War under the command of Tribune Ra Endymion.
- Juhaza - Juhaza was part of elite Squad Dynastes, called the Lords of Terra by the Emperor Himself which comprised twenty souls, each one a scion of an extinct royal Terran bloodline, taken as tribute in conquest during the Unification Wars and inducted into the Ten Thousand. He fought and was badly injured during the fighting in the Imperial Webway War under the command of Tribune Ra Endymion. Juhaza's ultimate fate is unknown.
- Solon - Solon was part of elite Squad Dynastes, called the Lords of Terra by the Emperor Himself which comprised twenty souls, each one a scion of an extinct royal Terran bloodline, taken as tribute in conquest during the Unification Wars and inducted into the Ten Thousand. He fought in the Imperial Webway War under the command of Tribune Ra Endymion. Solon's ultimate fate is unknown.
- Trajann Valoris - Trajann Valoris is the current Chief Custodian and 17th Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes and perhaps the deadliest individual warrior in the entire Imperium. There are no records in the Imperial databanks on his martial conquests or his ascent into the order. For as long as any living mortal can remember, Valoris' name has been spoken of with nothing short of reverence, for many considered the Captain-General to be the personal representative of the Emperor Himself. Even the High Lords might be mocked, when in wine or in anger, but to do so with the Captain-General was simply beyond imagination. For to mock Valoris was to mock the Emperor Himself. Such blasphemy would not go unpunished, and would inevitably result in a transgressor's untimely death. While the two Tribunes of the Adeptus Custodes were generally occupied with the many ritual purposes of the order, the Captain-General had no set remit, but governed the forces under his command with complete freedom, to the extent that if the Ten Thousand had dealings with any part of the Adeptus Terra, they were carried out through him. Though the Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes traditionally served among the High Lords of Terra only under the most dire of circumstances, such as during the War of the Beast in the mid-32nd Millennium, it was only the persistence of Chancellor Lev Tieron that persuaded Valoris to assume the seat on the Senatorum Imperialis that had been left vacant for some time following the death of Lord Brach, the Chancellor of the Estate Imperium.
- Andros Launceddre - Andros Launceddre was the Chief Custodian and 16th Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes. Launceddre was also the predecessor of Trajann Valoris. During the Years of Madness, possession was revealed amongst a sub-sect of the doomscryers themselves, though not until the false predictions of the fallen psykers sent Captain-General Launceddre to his death at the Battle of the Gilded Pyre (later recounted in the Custodian's chronicles as the Battle of Black Pyre). It is amidst this climate of spiralling paranoia and danger that Captain-General Trajann Valoris is elevated to command the Ten Thousand, and he wastes no time in taking steps to regain ironclad control of Terra's defences.
- Galahoth - Galahoth was the Chief Custodian and 15th Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes. A notoriously conservative Captain-General, the Adeptus Custodes suffered stagnation under his rule. Galahoth disappeared sometime in the latter years of M40 or early M41, which heralded the so-called Years of Madness, a time of strange omens and ominous whispers that engulfed Terra. There was a study increase in cult activity -- both heretical and xenophile -- throughout the Sol System, which included the Throneworld as well. He was succeeded by Andros Launceddre.
- Aesoth Koumadra - Aesoth Koumadra was the Chief Custodian and Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes sometime between the 33rd and 39th Millennia.
- Beyreuth - Beyreuth was the Chief Custodian and Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes during the War of the Beast in the mid-32nd Millennium. During this crisis, he led the Custodian Guard in battle against the Harlequins of the Troupe of Joyful Tears, when they managed to breach the sanctity of the Imperial Palace, intent on personally delivering a message to the Master of Mankind Himself. Only Shadowseer Lhaerial Rey and Death Jester Bho reached the chamber that led to the Sanctum Imperialis, they were able to kill dozens of Custodians, all the while as the Shadowseer insisted that she had come in peace. She explained that she had been sent on behalf of Ulthwé Farseer Eldrad Ulthran to deliver an important message to the Emperor. But the Adeptus Custodes would not relent in their sworn duties, and so, pressed their attack against the xenos interlopers, killing Bho and impaling Lhaerial to the ground with a Guardian Spear. As the Shadowseer continued to insist on meeting with the Emperor, the enraged Captain-General was about to give the order to kill her, until the timely intervention of Inquisitor Lord Veritus saved the Harlequin's life. Using his position as the Inquisition's Representative to the Senatorum Imperialis, Veritus forced Beyreuth to release Lhaerial to him so that he could interrogate her. After the tragic event known as The Beheading occurred, the de facto rule of the Imperium fell to the sole remaining High Lord of Terra, the Officio Assassinorum's representative, Drakan Vangorich, who reminded Beyreuth of the fact that the Eldar nearly breached the threshold of the Eternity Gate. This argument convinced Beyreuth to join Imperial politics and to take his place amongst the esteemed ranks of the Senatorum Imperialis alongside Vangorich.
- Heracleon - Heracleon is one of two Tribunes who serves in the Adeptus Custodes of the present era. He serves as the master of the Hataeron Guard, the elite cadre of Custodians who oversees the personal security of the Emperor within the Sanctum Imperialis itself.
- Italeo - Italeo is one of two Tribunes who served in the Adeptus Custodes of the present era. He commanded the few Custodian forces that were abroad fighting the myriad foes of Mankind in holy warfare. Often, he would be impossible to reach by summons due to the inherent danger inherent in his duties. Following the destruction of Cadia, and the formation of the Great Rift, Italeo was mortally wounded during the Second Battle of Terra, while fighting against a massive incursion by the forces of the Khorne, though he managed to kill one of the Bloodthirsters who was leading them, before his death. Following his death, Italeo was succeeded by Maldovar Colquan as Tribune.
- Maldovar Colquan - Maldovar Colquan is one of two Tribunes who served in the Adeptus Custodes if the 41st Millennium. Maldovar spent many years in service, holding vigil over the Emperor as a member of the elite Hataeron Guard. Following Itaelo's death during the Battle of Lion's Gate while combating the forces of the Blood God, Maldovar was chosen to replace him as Tribune. Following the resurrection of the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman, who was later acknowledged as the acting Lord Regent of Terra, Tribune Colquan served as a liaison between the acting Lord Commander of the Imperium and Captain-General Valdoris. He later joined the assembled Terran forces and took part in Lord Guilliman's Indomitus Crusade, to take the fight to the Archenemy. Tribune Maldovar led the Custodian contingent for well over a Terran century and took part in many notable campaigns, including the Battle of Raukos, which signaled the end of the century-long Crusade. While Colquan served Guilliman faithfully, the Lord Commander could not help but take notice that the Tribune, like many Custodians, had remained superlative individual warriors. But the Adeptus Custodes had rarely served as generals since the old times, and centuries of isolation had dulled what command abilities they had once possessed. The Tribune's contempt for baseline humanity also troubled Guilliman, a sentiment that was all too often shared amongst Colquan's fellow warrior elite. The Custodians had spent their lives guarding the Emperor, yet they had forgotten who the Emperor guarded in His turn. He chastised Colquan to be more forgiving.
- Aadilus - A Shield-Captain of the Adeptus Custodes, he commanded Custodian Vertus Praetor forces against the Vostokh 7th Traitor Imperial Guard regiment during the Victorium Crusade sometime after the formation of the Great Rift.
- Adronitus - Adronitus is a Shield-Captain of the Adeptus Custodes. Following the conclusion of the Terran Crusade led by the resurrected Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman in ca. 999.M41, Adronitus confronted the Emperor's son before the Eternity Gate. He granted the Primarch permission to enter within the sacred space of the Sanctum Imperialis to commune with his father, the Emperor. Just before entering the chamber, Guilliman ordered the Custodian Guard to seize the Fallen Angel Cypher who had aided the Primarch on his journey in return for an audience with the Emperor. But Guilliman had no intention of allowing a man of uncertain intentions like Cypher to see his father. Adronitus had Cypher placed in the Custodian Guard's remit, and escorted the Fallen Angel to a prison cell located deep beneath the Imperial Palace complex. However, within only solar hours, Cypher would somehow escape his latest prison through unknown means.
- Daryth - A Shield-Captain that was charged with capturing the Fallen known as Cypher, following his escape from the prison cells deep beneath the Imperial Palace. Following a trail of fading clues, Shield-Captain Daryth and his men have pressed out into the stars to continue their mission. Now they enlist the aid of the Sisters of Silence, bringing a band of the elite witch hunters aboard their frigate, Sol's Arrow, before making the perilous crossing of the Great Rift. The presence of the Silent Sisters seems to calm the madness of the empyrean, at least enough to aid the Custodians in making their dangerous journey into the Imperium Nihilus. Amidst the madness, their augurs do not detect the heavily shielded Space Marine Strike Cruiser that follows in their wake, its hull night-black and its insignia veiled.
- Yorta'karin Desmodages - A Shield-Captain that currently serves in the modern-era Adeptus Custodes.
- Anatolyn Ganorth - A Shield-Captain of the Fury of Terra Shield Host, which defended the Imperial world of Elysia from invasion by Heretic Astartes, following the formation of the Great Rift. Led by Captain-General Trajann Valoris himself, Ganorth has been chosen to act as his naysmith and to fight valiantly at Valoris' right hand.
- Rothrian Ganyth - A Shield-Captain that currently serves in the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Tybanus Lencilus - A Shield-Captain that currently serves in the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Tybalus Maxin - A Shield-Captain that currently serves in the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Oldorian Mefistal - A Shield-Captain wko serves in the Dread Host.
- Archturus Paliades - A Shield-Captain that currently commands the Gilded Talons Shield Company.
- Nathadian Steale - A Shield-Captain of the Fury of Terra Shield Host, which defended the Imperial world of Elysia from invasion by Heretic Astartes, following the formation of the Great Rift.
- Thetus - A Shield-Captain of the Solar Watch, he led a Shield Company that purged a cabal of xenos flesh-witches on Yorlos.
- Heraclast Vadrian - Following the formation of the Great Rift, Shield-Captain Vadrian became concerned over the continual decline of the Golden Throne's functions and the threat it posed to the Emperor's safety. After bringing up his concerns to Captain-General Trajann Valoris, he was granted permission to seek out a solution. He gathers a band of his finest warriors aboard the cruiser Scion of Argo, and sets off following a lead that points to the lost Forge World of Morvane.
- Valerian - Valerian served as a Shield-Captain in the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium as a part of the Palaiologian Chamber of the Hykanatoi. While taking part in one of the Custodes' Blood Games, he was asked by Heracleon, the Tribune of the elite Hataeron Guard, to join their order. Having long striven to become a member of the Companions, Valerian eagerly accepted this great honour. Led to the Last Door of the Sanctum Imperialis, he prepared himself to face the Hataeron Guard's first trial -- to cross the threshold of the Last Door and enter the presence of the God-Emperor. But after catching a glimpse of the Master of Mankind, Valerian could not compel himself to take a step, for his body refused to obey him. Valerian felt great shame and embarrassment, having failed this first of many trials, and so, he returned to his former duties on the Outer Walls of the Imperial Palace. But he would later make up for his perceived shortcomings, when he helped to valiantly defend the Palace defences during the mayhem and madness that ensued following the aftermath of the formation of the Great Rift, and the subsequent Battle of Lion's Gate.
- Kalim Varanor - An Aquila Commander who welcomed the newly resurrected Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman upon his arrival on Terra with all honour. He eventually permitted the Primarch audience with Emperor. (Note: Conflicting accounts report that it was actually Shield-Captain Andronitus that received Primarch Guilliman and allowed him entrance. Which account is accurate is currently unknown.)
- Navradaran - An notable Custodian of the Adeptus Custodes' mysterious Ephoroi, by the time of the 13th Black Crusade, Navradaran was one of the few Custodians to venture out of the Imperial Palace and into the wider galaxy. A friend and mentor to Shield-Captain Valerian, Navradaran shared his great admiration for the human spirit and taught the Shield-Captain to learn to tolerate their presence and accept them as more than mere nuisances. Under Captain-General Trajann Valoris' orders, he helped to collect the scattered remnants of the Silent Sisterhood and brought them back to Terra, but by the time they arrived, the Second Battle of Terra was already underway.
- Hasturius Calaxor - A notable Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought who has served within the ranks of the Adeptus Custodes for millennia. When he was still living, Hasturius Calaxor originally served in the ancient Legio Custodes, and came to prominence during the Horus Heresy during the defence of the Imperial Palace during the Battle of Terra. He held the Enlightener's Stair single-handedly against the turncoat soldiers of the 9th Terran Wardens. It was he who also rallied the Gospodor Heavy Infantry with his inspiring examples of bravery, and led them to retake the Dome of the Architects from Dortha Kol's Sons of Horus Legionaries and finally driving Kol's warriors to destruction and felled the traitor Warhound Titan Warp Jackal as well. These heroics saw Calaxor promoted to the rank of Shield-Captain, after which he led three further highly successful counter-offensives before the siege's end. He went on to earn himself many more names in the centuries that followed. After many centuries of faithful service, he finally fell in battle on the Dead World of Palathrix, his sheer force of will kept him alive long enough to be interred within a Dreadnought sarcophagus. He became Venerable Ancient Calaxor, and assumed a new role within the Ten Thousand, becoming a living war engine and strategic advisor both amidst the ranks of the Adeptus Custodes.
- Darian - A notable Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought of the Adeptus Custodes who served with the Fury of Terra Shield Host, led personally by Captain-General Trajann Valoris, which fought against the massive Heretic Astartes assault against the Imperial world of Elysia following the formation of the Great Rift.
- Eratorius - A notable Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought of the Adeptus Custodes who served with the Fury of Terra Shield Host, Second Shield Company (Vanguard Detachment), led by Shield-Captain Steale, which fought against the massive Heretic Astartes assault on the world of Elysia.
- Euramedes - A notable Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought of the Adeptus Custodes who often serves with the Gilded Talons Shield Company, under the leadership of Shield-Captain Archturus Paliades, following the formation of the Great Rift.
- Talorian - A notable Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought of the Adeptus Custodes who often serves with the Gilded Talons Shield Company, under the leadership of Shield-Captain Archturus Paliades, following the formation of the Great Rift.
- Uriaxes - A notable Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought who fell atop the walls of the Emperor's Imperial Palace during the War of the Beast in the mid 32nd Millennium. Though he was broken in body, he still wished to continue to fight for the Master of Mankind. He has continued to fight on through the millennia, during several notable events in Imperial history. He fought against the Dark Mechanicus on Ghosaris during the Moirae Schism as well as against the Blood Cults of Tsydon. Uriaxes still actively serves, fighting in various campaigns throughout the galaxy following the formation of the Great Rift, in an attempt to repay the debt he owes the Master of Mankind.
- Ynnades - Ynnades was one of the Adeptus Custodes' Revered Fallen -- a mighty Contemptor-Galatus Dreadnought. The entombed warrior had been roused from his centuries-long slumber when Terra was engulfed by mayhem and chaos, following the formation of the Great Rift. He would later take part in the valiant defence of the Imperial Palace during the Second Battle of Terra against a massive incursion by the forces of the Blood God.
- Armoury Thrall - Armoury Thralls are mortals who have continued to serve as bonded servants to the Adeptus Custodes since the earliest years of the Imperium. Capable warriors in their own right, they carry extra ammunition and armour sealant for their Custodian masters while they are in battle. Following closely behind them while they perform their duties, when the Bolt Casters built into their Guardian Spears or Sentinel Blades run empty, the Custodians throws the weapon to an Armoury Thrall or casts them into the ground. The Armoury Thrall then proceeds to gather the discarded weapon and reload it and then is strong enough to throw the weapon back to the Custodian.
- Custodian Armour - The panoply of the Adeptus Custodes represents the pinnacle of the armourer's art. Far more sophisticated than production-model Space Marine Power Armour, it is fashioned with rare auramite alloy such as that used for the armour the Emperor Himself wore in battle. Each suit is unique to the Custodian Guard who wears it, and it is fitted with arrays of proximity sensors and Refraction Field generators to further enhance its defences.
- Praesidium Shield - Ornate precursors to the later Storm Shield, the Praesidium Shields of the Adeptus Custodes are forged from all but indestructible layered Ceramite and resilient alloys reinforced with built-in field generators.
- Aquilon Pattern Terminator Armour - This is a variant of Terminator Armour uniquely designed to operate in conjunction with the physiology of the Adeptus Custodes. Its origins lie with the Cataphractii suits of the Space Marine Legions, but with far greater power capacity and customised neuro-fibre uplinks, it is said, redesigned by the mind of the Emperor Himself for His elite forces.
- Teleporation Transponders - Although more often employed in the role of bodyguards and sentinels, when the Emperor was active during the Great Crusade, the Legio Custodes often made use of the teleportarium of their Imperial warships to swiftly gain planetfall. Such mechanisms employed for this were the most advanced of their kind and little was left to chance in their operation.
- Refraction Fields and Iron Halos - Although relatively rare owing to the resources and arcane lore required to construct them, a variety of personal defence energy shields are nevertheless common in the armoury of the Emperor's direct servants, serving both as a badge of office and a means of protection.
- Magisterium Vexilla - The ancient icons and standards borne by the Legio Custodes represented the inviolable and nigh-omnipotent authority of the Emperor. In particular was the Magisterium, a seal of ultimate sanction and the might of Mankind. Their mere presence on the battlefield is enough to fill those loyal with resolute zeal and wrack those who face His wrath with fear and dread. Moreover, these banners and icons were also technological artefacts containing Vox relay systems and subsonic inducers, augmenting their battlefield role far beyond the merely symbolic.
- Arae-Shrikes - Ancient devices of the Dark Age of Technology which twist and distort electromagnetic signals, these counterintelligence devices are considered blasphemous in principle and arcane function by the ancient Mechanicum, and persist only in the hands of the Emperor's retinue. By the use of malifica-djinn and hostile blight-code, they pervert the data-readouts of unshielded Cogitators and telemetry plotters with lying reports and malign falsehood, and what they cannot deceive, they simply blind and deafen with a shrieking multi-frequency cacophony.
- Misericordia - The Misericordia (High Gothic: "blade of mercy") is a bladed melee weapon in the form of a long dagger or short sword that was carried by the Custodians of first the Legio Custodes and after the Horus Heresy, the Adeptus Custodes. The blade was symbolic, intended to represent that the Custodes were beneficiaries of the Magisterium Lex Ultima which placed them above the reach of all Imperial Law save for the commandments of the Emperor of Mankind Himself. The Misericordia was designed to deliver a single, mortal blow, and despite their symbolic nature, were sometimes used by individual Custodians to carry out a death sentence or offer the Emperor's Peace to a mortally wounded and suffering warrior.
- Custodian Jump Harness (Auramite Pinions) - A form of winged Jump Pack used by the Venatari Custodians.
- Tarsus Buckler - The Tarsus Buckler is a small auramite shield used to protect a Venatari Custodian while in combat.
- Guardian Spear - The signature weapon of the Adeptus Custodes and in many ways their symbol of office is the Guardian Spear. Elegant and deadly, it is a potent and unique design incorporating a Power Blade and a highly advanced integrated Bolter weapon, and in the hands of a Custodian Guard it can strike and parry at blinding speed despite its size. More rarely, these weapons mount not Bolters but advanced specialised sub-weapons such as compact Meltas or even Adrathic Disintegration Beamers, issued against the deadliest of expected foes. The most beautifully wrought and deadly weapons of the Custodians' arsenal are the Paragon Spears, storied weapons wielded by the most noted Shield Captains and Tribunes among the Ten Thousand.
- Castellan Axe - A weapon most commonly utilised by Custodian Wardens, a Castellan Axe is a heavy-bladed weapon. These weapons lend themselves to an elegant and brutal combat style that sees the wielder use their exceptional strength in conjunction with their axe's momentum, launching thunderous sweeps that switch direction with breathtaking suddenness to cleave through their victims' guard and hack off heads and limbs. The Wardens can also fire concentrated volleys of bolt fire from the hafts of their weapons, scything down those who attempt to stay out of their blades' devastating reach.
- Sentinel Blade - This is another unique weapon of the Adeptus Custodes, brutal where the Guardian Spear is precise. The hyper-pulse disruption field generators found in the warblade are able to tear apart flesh and metal on contact, while built-in to the blade is a double-barrelled Bolter able to lay down a hail of fire at short range.
- Solerite Power Gauntlets and Power Talons - First fashioned in the pattern of ancient relics to arm the elite of the Thunder Warriors, the Solerite Power Gauntlets and their raptor-taloned variants are potent weapons. They differ from the standard Power Fists and claws utilised by the Adeptus Astartes in both the near-irreplaceable artefact power coils which energise their disruption field generators and the nigh-indestructible materials their casings and blades are fashioned from, forged as they are in furnaces recovered from the ancient Tempest galleries near Terra's molten core.
- Interceptor Lance - Am Interceptor Lance is an enormous Power Weapon with a deadly spear tip, utilised exclusively by the Jetbike-mounted Vertus Praetors. Taller end-to-end than an Ogryn, and perfectly weighted, these fearsome weapons boast adamantium blades wreathed in disruptor fields. Vertus Praetors are masters of hit-and-run strikes, driving their lances clean through their precisely chosen targets before ripping them clear again as they speed past. The result is as devastatingly effective as it is explosively gory.
- Adrathic Weapons - Relics of the Dark Age of Technology believed to be all but unique to Terra, Adrathic weaponry uses a potent but dangerously unstable energy beam to sever the internal bonds of matter, causing objects caught in their path to unravel in a spectacularly destructive manner, leaving only a flaring after-image of what was. Such weapons were legend during the Age of Strife, and devastating wars were fought on anarchic Old Terra solely over the possession of some unearthed cache of Adrathic Weapons and the promise of the power they held. When the Emperor came to dominion and ended Old Night on Ancient Terra, all Adrathic Weapons were given over to Him on pain of death, not simply to the one who retained them but to their entire land and nation such was the importance He placed on controlling this technology. These weapons have remained in His care ever since, and only His own personal weaponsmiths gained and kept the knowledge of how to replicate them in small numbers, much to the jealousy of Mars.
- Adrastus Bolt Caliver - Developed as a hybrid of later pattern Imperium Bolter weapon designs and Dark Age of Technology "Adrastite" disintegration beam weapons prohibited from general Great Crusade issue, the Adrastus Bolt Caliver is a potent shoulder arm serving as a portable heavy weapon for the Adeptus Custodes. This combination weapon is able to unleash a fusillade of explosive rounds at long range with the potency of the Heavy Bolters carried by the Adeptus Astartes, or at shorter ranges fire a disintegration beam able to rip a target apart at a molecular level, causing its victims to cease to exist in a howling flare of energy.
- Lastrum Storm Bolter and Bolt Cannon - This pattern of Bolter weapon is named for the weaponsmiths of the Lastrum Core Clan of the Appolyne workshops of Terra. Other than being exemplars of their kind in terms of skill of fabrication, they would not be remarkable save for their uniquely powerful ammunition. Rather than the usual "Kraken" type bolts utilised by the wider sweep of the Adeptus Custodes, the artisans of the Lastrum clans hand manufacture only customised mass-reactive heliothermic warheads for their bolt shells. Once within their target, these burst into brief, but sun-hot incendiary detonations, incinerating their victims from within. These shells are uncommonly dense, requiring a far stronger charge to launch than common bolt shells, and only the Lastrum's uniquely sturdy construction for a weapon of their size can withstand the stresses of their repeated firing. The sheer resources and artifice of these weapons were immense, and they could never hope to be mass produced to arm the Space Marine Legions, and even the output of entire generations of the Lastrum themselves could barely satisfy the Legio Custodes' demands.
- Archeotech Kinetic Destroyer - Kinetic Destroyers are master-crafted Archaeotech Pistols used only by the Venatari Custodians.
Adeptus Custodes Battlefield Support Weapons
As with much of their personal armoury, the weaponry of the Adeptus Custodes' unique war machines is an expression of the height of the Imperium's technological capacities. Many can be described as paragon variants of well-established Imperial patterns such as the Arachnus Blaze Cannon, which were recognisably developments of widely used Imperial las technology, but built with esoteric and powerful components which could never be replicated en masse. Others, such as the Iliastus Accelerator Cannon, were however at the cutting edge of new military developments, incorporating technologies gleaned and tested on the frontline of the Great Crusade.
- Coronus Grav-Carrier - Perhaps one of the most well-known of the vehicles used exclusively by the Adeptus Custodes, this transport was already widely utilised across the Legio Custodes in the closing decades of the Great Crusade, replacing the limited numbers of the relic Jocasta Pattern Grav-Craft that had survived the Unification Wars on Ancient Terra. The use of heavily protected grav-craft by the Legio Custodes granted their force a degree of speed and agility that could not be matched by the grinding armour of other forces of the Imperium, allowing them to deploy, redeploy and evade without the danger of being easily pinned down by enemy troops or hazardous terrain. The Coronus Pattern also served as the inspiration and technological basis for the Pallas and the Caladius grav-craft, developed to meet the specific strategic needs of rapid attack and line of battle tank, respectively. It is unknown if this unit is still deployed by the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Caladius Grav-Tank - Based upon the technology of the Coronus, the smaller Caladius grav-tank was designed to utilise the firepower afforded by the heaviest elements of the Legio Custodes' arsenal on a highly-mobile, protected platform. Given the fusion of advanced systems and weapons, the Caldius was perhaps the most powerful battleline armoured unit of its size in the Imperium's forces, utilising technologies and materials derived not only from the Dark Age of Technology, but from developments made as a result of the Great Crusade's two centuries of warfare. The principal armament of the Caladius was a double-barrelled Iliastus Accelerator Cannon, an advanced weapon which became a precursor to the more mass-produced cannon retro-developed into the armament of the Legiones Astartes Sicaran Battle Tank, which fulfilled a similar role to the Caladius as a high-speed armour destroyer. A less common variant was the "Caladius-Annihilator" which featured an enhanced capacitor-fed Arachnus Blaze Cannon that is potent enough to pose a threat even to super-heavy armoured vehicles. It is unknown if this unit is still deployed by the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Dawneagle Pattern Jetbike - These mounts are utilised exclusively by the airborne warriors known as Vertus Praetors. The Dawneagle jetbike is an incredible vehicle, a crusade-era relic wrought in auramite and adamantium. These bikes are almost as large as light fighter craft and - while they are still grav-skimmers - can deliver a near supersonic turn of speed. Their hulls are phenomenally durable, allowing their riders to slam through walls and enemy warriors without being unseated, and they react pugnaciously to the slightest touch of the controls, able to jink effortlessly through incoming fire. When armed with Hurricane Bolters, the Dawneagle can plough bloody furrows through enemy hordes. However, it is when equipped with salvo launchers that Vertus Praetors truly come into their own as lightning-fast tank hunters. They scream across the battlefield, rapidly outflanking and encircling the heaviest enemy vehicles before annihilating them with strafing runs of melta missiles. Even enemy aircraft are not safe, for by combining their fire the Vertus Praetors are able to weave airborne webs of flakk blasts into which hurtling enemy aircraft slam with terminal results.
- Gyrfalcon Pattern Jetbike - One of a number of customised Jetbike designs utilised by the Legio Custodes Agamatus Jetbike Squadrons, the heavy duty, plasma motor-boosted Gyrfalcon Pattern Jetbike served as the Custodians' steeds in battle. The increased power of the design supported not only the heavily armoured Custodian Guard, but also allowed it to mount a powerful Iliastus Bolt Cannon as its on-board armament. The Gyrfalcon was more powerful even than the Scimitar Pattern Jetbike associated with the Legiones Astartes, a heavy-design more akin to an armoured one-man speeder than a true Jetbike. In addition, it augmented its grav-repellor systems with a plasma-thrust motor for huge temporary bursts of speed. The Agamatus Squadrons of the Legio Custodes exploited these war machines to operate as both a rapid response and suppression unit in the field. It is unknown if this unit is still deployed by the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Pallas Grav-Attack - Designed, it is reported, to incorporate advanced manoeuvring and autonomous response systems recovered by the great Techno-archaeologist Arkhan Land, the Pallas Pattern grav-attack was one of the most recent designs entering service with the Legio Custodes prior to the Burning of Prospero. Clearly based upon the lineage of the Coronus and Caladius grav-vehicles, it was smaller than either, a single-seat high-speed attack skimmer analogous in role to the Land Speeder more commonly employed by the Legiones Astartes. Designed as a high-manoeuvrability hunter-killer, the Pallas Pattern grav-attack squadrons provided the Legio Custodes with a greater rapid strike capacity than could be afforded by the use of ground troops alone. In this it replaced standard pattern skimmers as well as larger war machines such as the ancient Jocasta Pattern grav-attacks, themselves relics of the Unification Wars, and considerably smaller Hermes Pattern grav-sleds, which while highly agile and swift, offered little in the way of combat survivability. It is unknown if this unit is still deployed by the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Orion Assault Dropship - Created as a dedicated super-heavy assault dropship for the Legio Custodes, the Enyalas Pattern Orion can carry a full task force of the Emperor's Talons into combat. Protected by frontal armour superior to that of the Legiones Astartes Thunderhawk gunship, its Arachnus Heavy Blaze Cannon and Heavy Bolters can swiftly clear a landing zone of hostile infantry and armour with brutal efficiency, allowing the units within to deploy before it soars back into the sky to unleash death upon any foe who dares approach. It is unknown if this unit is still deployed by the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Contemptor-Achillus Dreadnought - In those isolated cases where the body has been all but irrevocably destroyed but the Custodian's mind remains intact and their will to survive undimmed, internment within the cold and unyielding body of a cybernetic Dreadnought is the next step. To this purpose, the few Dreadnoughts of the Legio Custodes were as singularly advanced as their other wargear, outfitted with weapons and systems artificer-made by the servants of the Imperial Court. At the time of the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, the most widely employed was the Contemptor-Achillus, a general battle unit which combined phenomenal strength and speed with the echoes of the interned Custodes' own unmatched martial skill. In battle, the Contemptor-Achillus often utilised a deadly Achillus Dreadspear for close combat. These were scaled-up versions of the iconic Guardian Spear of their Legio that possessed devastating power. For fighting at range, they also often utilised a pair of wrist-mounted Storm Bolters, Infernus Incinerators or Adrathic Destructors. It is unknown if this unit is still deployed by the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Contemptor-Galatus Dreadnought - A sub-variant of the Contemptor-Achillus, the Contemptor-Galatus was designed to provide a mobile anchor point for a Legio Custodes battleline in the field. To this end, the Galatus was analogous to the specialised Sentinel Guard formations of the Legio Custodes, and was armed with a potent combination of a huge Galatus Warblade and vastly enlarged version of the Praesidium Shield. The warblade allowed the Contemptor-Galatus to swiftly and efficiently reap a murderous toll of any massed infantry assault at close quarters, or indeed hack through armoured vehicles and monstrous xenos with equal ease. It was the defensive power of the hulking Praesidium Shield, however, that was the Contemptor-Galatus' most significant feature, as with it the already durable Contemptor chassis became nigh on impregnable, even against the heaviest of heavy firepower. It is unknown if this unit is still deployed by the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Telemon Heavy Dreadnought - Fewer than a handful of Telemon Dreadnoughts were to be found within the ranks of the Legio Custodes, each intended to stand sentinel over its charges no matter the force brought against it. In part this rarity was due to the cost in labour and resources for the creation of such a superlative engine of war, for each bore at least one plate worked by the Emperor's own hand, and also the rarity of appropriate candidates to control them. The honour of interment in one of the few existing Telemon sarcophagi was awarded only to the most celebrated warriors within the sodalities of the Legio Custodes, and until a worthy candidate found his end in battle, the Dreadnoughts stood silent and empty. Despite this, the sheer power of an unleashed Telemon class Dreadnought far outweighed the trials of its construction, for few could stand against the array of esoteric, hand-crafted weapons that graced its chassis or the ferocious will and warrior skill of the master Custodian interred within. It is unknown if this unit is still deployed by the Adeptus Custodes of the 41st Millennium.
- Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought - Each Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought is an ancient war engine, a relic that incorporates wonders of technology that the Imperium can no longer replicate. Its auramite armour plates are expertly crafted and maintained. Its limbs are articulated by fibre-bundles and servo-motors that afford it immense strength. Its weapons are perfectly calibrated, while its hull is sheathed in the crackling energies of an atomantic shield that can dispel laser blasts and artillery shells amidst bright flares of energy. Auto-repair protocols allow the Dreadnought to shrug off crippling battle damage, while motive shrines and auto-sanctified backup systems stand ready to take the strain should the Contemptor undergo serious combat trauma. Yet for all this arcane technology, the most important component of the Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought is the living warrior interred in the sarcophagus at its heart. When faced with certain death, a Custodian may choose to be preserved within a Venerable Contemptor Dreadnought so that he can continue to fight for the Emperor. There should be no mistaking that this is the act of a martyr, for life within a Dreadnought sarcophagus - even one as advanced as the Venerable Contemptor - is a twilight existence at best. The pilot is shorn of all unnecessary flesh, rendered down to little more than a sack of organs and brain matter sustained within an armaglass amniotic tank. The Custodian becomes a god of war, able to stride unharmed through hails of fire and crush the Master of Mankind's foes with their hydraulic might. In return, they face an eternity cut off from the outside world, bound to mechanical systems that can never truly replicate the feel of sunlight upon their skin, or the satisfying crunch of their blade through an enemy's flesh. Despite this, there are tales of unharmed Custodians volunteering to pilot Contemptors whose previous occupants were slain in battle. Those soon to depart as Eyes of the Emperor, those who feel they have dishonoured themselves, even warriors who simply will not turn aside from what they perceive as their duty; all, it is said, have given their flesh willingly so that the Contemptor Dreadnoughts of the Custodes continue to stride to war.
Relics of Terra
"Whatever the weapons we wield, whatever the deeds we perform, they are justified. Without us, the Golden Throne would fall, and without the Emperor to guide them, Humanity would follow."
- — Ganestus Talorn, Allarus Custodian
During the Great Crusade, the Custodians hoarded some of the most powerful and esoteric weapons technology ever encountered by the Imperium. Though much of it was expended during the Horus Heresy, some of these ancient artefacts still exist, locked away in vaults deep beneath the Imperial Palace, waiting to be borne to war when the need is greatest:
- Gatekeeper - Gatekeeper is an ancient, master-crafted Guardian Spear. This potent weapon thrums with barely contained power. Its machine spirits are capable of near-prescient predictive targeting, allowing the wielder to mow down the enemy before they can come within blade's reach.
- Raiment of Sorrows - Handwoven by the sisters of the Order of Lamentations and allowed to sit in state at the foot of the Golden Throne for a full century, this shroud-like raiment is a potent reminder of the Custodians' one great defeat. Its presence fills them with a cold determination to never fail again.
- Eagle's Eye - This magnificent helm incorporates sensorium-gheists, trapped within micro-reliquaries and compelled to shriek their technomantic warnings to the wearer whenever danger threatens.
- Auric Aquilas - Incorporating forbidden secrets of ancient archeotech from the Dark Age of Technology, Auric Aquilas is a truly magnificent gravitic jetbike. Swift as thought and protected by a shimmering golden force field, it bears its rider swiftly and safely into battle.
- The Praetorian Plate - This suit of Allarus Terminator Armour - itself a hand-crafted relic of great antiquity - has been adapted to incorporate a still more ancient empyric beacon and archeotech teleport-shunter that allows its wearer to leap directly through the warp to the aid of those he is sworn to defend.
- The Veiled Blade - An ancient blade that burns with a bitterly cold and dark energy, the Veiled Blade is bestowed upon a Custodian who has vowed to recover that which should remain hidden from Humanity and return it to the Dark Cells.
- Emperor's Light - Said to have been crafted from a crystallised shard of the Emperor's glorious light, this masterwork Misericordia has been borne into battle by three separate Captain-Generals. It is said to flood the heart of its victim with holy radiance, and is an object of dread to traitors and heretics alike.
- Wrath Angelis - This ancient and expertly crafted vexilla was created for the battle against the Orks upon the world of Ullanor. During that conflict, pinpoint fire support was key to victory. Thus, this vexilla incorporates a multi-spectral targeting shrine that links to warships in orbit and guides in trans-atmospheric strikes with remarkable accuracy.
- Auric Shackles - These fetters were forged in the Dark Age of Technology, and adapt themselves to shut down the neural nets of any sentient beings, rendering even the thought of escape impossible. They are used to capture the Imperium's most dangerous foes.
- Obliteratum - This dread vambrace weapon incorporates several forbidden technologies whose possession would be death to any beyond the Adeptus Custodes. It fires concentrated antimatter, compressed within splinterglass canisters that shatter upon impact. Victims are annihilated on a molecular level by the night-black blasts caused by this weapon's fire, vanishing in terrifying eruptions of nothingness.
- Fulminaris Aggressor - This vexilla was fashioned after the fall of Goge Vandire to honour the wrath of the Emperor in punishing traitors and tyrants. Its micro-thundercoil generatorum crackles with barely restrained power that arcs out to annihilate nearby foes.
- The Castellan's Mask - This finely worked pauldron is awarded to whichever living Custodian currently holds the greatest tally of victories in the Blood Games. It is rare, of course, that even the resourceful warriors of the Adeptus Custodes succeed in these endeavours, and so to honour one who has done so more times than any other is only right. He who bears the Castellan's Mark is guaranteed to be a superlative strategic genius, an expert in spotting and exploiting weaknesses with merciless efficiency.
- Faith Absolute - This ominous vexilla was created for the infamous Witching Wars. It is able to discharge a pulse of disruptive contra-empyric energies that can unmake an onrushing psychic manifestation in a heartbeat.
The names of the five castes of the Adeptus Custodes that distinguishes their various combat roles come from ancient Terran history:
- Hykanatoi - The name of the Hykanatoi (from Greek: Ἱκανάτοι, "the Able Ones") sometimes Latinised as Hicanti, were one of the Byzantine tagmata, elite guard units based near the Eastern Roman Empire's capital of Constantinople. Founded in the early 9th Century, the Hykanatoi survived until the late 11th Century.
- Tharanatoi - The name Tharanatoi was likely derived from two sources. The first is Celtic mythology, which references Taranis, the god of thunder and Thanatos (from the Greek: Θάνατος "Death") who was the personification of death in Greek mythology.
- Kataphraktoi - The name of the Kataphraktoi was most likely derived from the word "cataphract", a form of heavy armoured cavalry used in ancient warfare by a number of peoples in Europe, East Asia and the Middle East. The English word is derived from the original Greek (κατάφρακτος Kataphraktos (plural: κατάφρακτοι Kataphraktoi), literally meaning "armoured" or "completely enclosed". An entirely appropriate name for Jetbike-mounted Custodians.
- Ephoroi - Ephoroi is a derivative of the ancient Greek "ephor". The ephors were leaders of ancient Sparta and shared power with the two Spartan kings. The word "ephors" (Greek ἔφοροι éphoroi, plural form of ἔφορος éphoros) comes from the Greek ἐπί epi, "on" or "over", and ὁράω horaō, "to see", i.e. "one who oversees" or "overseer".
- Moritoi - The name Moritoi comes from the ancient Latin word mortis, "death". An appropriate name for those Custodians who have suffered injuries so terrible that they cannot go on living without being interred within the cybernetic life support sarcophagus of a Dreadnought to sustain their biological functions.
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pg. 20
- Codex: Adeptus Custodes (8th Edition), pp. 6-43
- Codex: Adeptus Custodes (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 1-9
- Codex Imperialis (2nd Edition) by Rick Priestley, pp. 12-14
- The Horus Heresy: Collected Visions (Artbook), pp. 10, 28-31, 67, 73, 143, 148, 150-152, 239, 241, 286, 312, 322-323, 347, 350, 354-355, 366, 368, 371-373, 379, 381, 392-393, 400, 404-405, 407, 412-413
- The Horus Heresy - Book Seven: Inferno (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 20-21, 25, 28, 34, 40-41, 46-48, 50-53, 57, 59-60, 61, 63-65, 112-121, 242-246, 252, 256-257, 260-262, 264-265, 268-269, 272-275, 277-279, 282-283
- The Horus Heresy - Book Eight: Malevolence (Forge World Series) by Neil Wylie and Anuj Malhotra, pp. 257-287
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (8th Edition), pp. 27, 50-51, 53, 79, 90, 278
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 267, 275, 280, 541
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 134, 139, 403
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition), pp. 105-106
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (4th Edition), pg. 94
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pp. 133, 139
- A Thousand Sons (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Deliverance Lost (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Nemesis (Novel) by James Swallow
- Prospero Burns (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- The Outcast Dead (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Heralds of the Siege (Anthology) edited by Nick Kyme and Laurie Goulding, "The Grey Raven" by Gav Thorpe
- Tales of Heresy (Anthology) edited by Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley, "Blood Games" by Dan Abnett
- The Imperial Truth (Anthology) edited by Laurie Goulding, "Hands of the Emperor" by Rob Sanders
- Inquisitor (Novel) by Ian Watson
- Vaults of Terra: The Carrion Throne (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- Watchers of the Throne - The Emperor's Legion (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- Dark Imperium (Novel) by Guy Haley, pp. 61-62, 66-68, 152, 234, 263-264, 268-269, 273, 275, 277
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- Warhammer Community - The Golden Legion Goes Forth
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