Arkhan Land was a famed Techno-archaeologist of the Mechanicum who led an expedition into the massive ruins of the Librarius Omnis on Mars in the early days of the Imperium of Man during the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium.
He rediscovered the lost Standard Template Construct (STC) template for the heavy armoured battle tank that would become the Land Raider (originally known as "Land's Raider"), the anti-gravitic Land Speeder ("Land's Speeder") and the Land Crawler ("Land's Crawler"), a widely-used civilian vehicle employed on most of the Imperium's Agri-worlds. Tragically, Land met his end leading a second expedition into the Librarius Omnis in search of lost knowledge.
Little is known about the great Magos and Techno-archaeologist who is remembered in history as Arkhan Land. His birthplace remains a mystery, although it seems likely he was raised on Mars itself. That he was gifted with extraordinary perceptive abilities from an early age remains unquestioned, though most surviving accounts of the man seem to dwell more on his eccentric lifestyle and peculiar personal habits than his intellectual gifts. For example, one particular marble etching on Mars shows the great Tech-priest on his daily walk amongst the great sky vaults of the Sierra Planum with his pet psyber-monkey, while an account in Geronimus' Citations makes frequent reference to his affection for highly ostentatious wigs to obscure the baldness that afflicted him from an early age.
Whatever his idiosyncratic personal behaviour may have been, it was Arkhan Land who led the greatest expedition into the ruins of the Librarius Omnis on Mars. For three standard years he searched the labyrinthine catacombs of that deserted, continent-spanning edifice in search of functioning STC databases. In this he failed, but three other discoveries were made which revolutionised technical thinking for millennia to come.
Land's first major contribution was a near-complete dataslab image of STC information about a heavily armoured main battle tank which would become the Land Raider Proteus, originally known as "Land's Raider". This flexible vehicle would serve as the Legiones Astartes main battle tank at the start of the Great Crusade, but internal storage inefficiency and the rear-mounted entry hatch limited the vehicle's usefulness in the field, and over the course of the Great Crusade and subsequent Horus Heresy the design would evolve, first in the Spartan Assault Tank, and later in the Land Raider Phobos that is still in use in the late 41st Millennium.
Land's second discovery unearthed information on rare anti-gravitic plates, and theories on their uses, which eventually would lead to the construction of the first "Land's Speeder" (later known as the Land Speeder). Without Land's discovery it is likely that there would be no anti-gravitic vehicles remaining in use by the Imperium at all. Unfortunately, Land would not live long enough to see the Adeptus Mechanicus begin regular production of the Land Speeder for the Imperial military forces of the Great Crusade.
Land's third great gift to Imperial civilisation was the Land Crawler, another of the STC constructs re-discovered by him at the birth of the Imperium. Unlike the more famous Land Raider and Land Speeder, the Land Crawler is not a military vehicle but an agricultural one, although it has over the millennia often been pressed into service as an infantry support vehicle, artillery tow vehicle, ammunition tractor, ambulance and transport vehicle. Countless billions of Land Crawlers are used on Agri-worlds across the Imperium, where its versatility, ease of maintenance, and forgiving driving characteristics make it hugely popular as Imperial farmers' primary source of transport and motive power in their fields. It has been argued by more than one Imperial historian that the humble Land Crawler is by far the single most important STC construct discovered by Arkhan Land; after all, even Space Marines need to eat.
The walker-engine known as the Onager Dunecrawler owes its origins to the Mars Universal Land Engine. Fashioned by Arkhan Land, the original M.U.L.E was inspired by the bad-tempered, insectile beast of burden that its maker believed walked Holy Terra in aeons long past. Intended as a workhorse that could escort its masters across the wastes of Mars in relative safety, the machine proved so successful it was soon rebuilt as a weapon of war. It was renamed, outfitted with Emanatus force shielding, replicated by the millions, and sent to the front lines.
Angron and the Butcher's Nails
After the Primarch Angron's rediscovery during the Great Crusade, the Emperor noted that his genetic son had been altered by the cybernetic implants known as the Butcher's Nails that had been implanted in his mind by the gladiatorial slave lords of Nuceria. Arkhan Land aided the Emperor in investigating the nature of this terrible technology intended to increase aggression and rage.
In the course of his investigation, the Emperor explained to Land that, in truth, he had no emotional attachment to the Primarchs because they were simply tools and weapons. When asked why the Emperor had allowed the Primarchs to call him "father" although he felt no such filial attachment, the Emperor told the ancient story of the puppet named Pinnochio who had sought to become a real boy and explained that it was simply natural for any creation to refer to its creator as father.
During the Horus Heresy, Arkhan Land was a busy man. As the galaxy was riven by terrible conflict, he proved instrumental in designing the gravitic suspensor plates used by the Legio Custodes ' Caladius Grav-Tank, as well as their -- rather beautiful, in his opinion -- Paragon Pattern Jetbikes.
Land eventually met his fate leading a second expedition into the Librarius Omnis; his Vox diary was discovered two Terran centuries later by one of a number of rescue teams. It is believed that he and his party were picked off one by one by some mysterious predator, although it is still a matter of much controversial debate whether this predator was some kind of living beast, a psychic entity or perhaps even a sentient virus. For most it is simply proof that the secrets of the Dark Age of Technology are best left to the shadows of mystery and prehistory.
The Land Enigma
Disciples of the venerated Machine-Archaeologist Arkhan Land, discoverer of the Land's Raider and Land's Speeder STC pattern, form their own sub-cult within the Adeptus Mechanicus, called Landites or Landists. They continue their founder's work and research the many potential STC variants of Land's discoveries. This has led to a number of innovations, such as the Land Raider Prometheus variant. The inner circle of the Landist cult, which includes some very senior Adeptus Mechanicus Artisans, is rumoured to have evidence of a new vehicle, but to be keeping their discovery a secret.
The cult's esoteric research has revealed that once, during the Great Crusade, there was an armoured vehicle which was heavier than the Predator, but lighter than the heavy assault transport of the Land Raider, and that within the blueprints of this revered war machine exist system compatibilities and redundancies, down to a microscopic level, that could help reconstruct the missing tank. Others within the Adeptus Mechanicus dispute this, and in the 39th Millennium several members of the Landist cult were tried as Hereteks and condemned to Arco-flagellation for their crimes, meaning that ever since, the Landists have been highly secretive about their work. Many Tech-priest disciples of Land have become obsessed with hunting down this pattern, but it seems that ultimate success has continually eluded them and the mythical tank remains an enigma to this day.
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pg. 90
- Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus - Skitarii (7th Edition), pg. 53
- Epic Armageddon Swordwind (Supplement), pp. 33-35
- Imperial Armour Volume Two - Space Marines and the Forces of the Inquisition, pp. 83, 117
- Imperial Armour Volume Two (Second Edition) - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, "Adeptus Astartes Land Raiders", pp. 27-29, 37, 50-51
- White Dwarf 246 (UK), "Steel Chariots - The Space Marine Land Raider"
- The Master of Mankind (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Ch. 7, pp. 75-76