A Deathwatch Apothecary is a specialist Space Marine officer who possesses advanced biomedical and scientific training and who are charged with maintaining the bodily health of their Battle-Brothers, whether it be routine monitoring of their advanced genetically engineered implants or administering emergency medical attention on the field of battle. Only emergency medical attention on the field of battle. Only the bravest of warriors are chosen for this honoured duty, for each must look first and foremost to the health of his companions, and consider his own life as secondary. Apothecaries are at once mighty warriors and selfless servants, and each would fight their way through hordes of vile enemies to reach a fallen Battle-Brother and then transfuse the very last drop of his own blood to save the life of the wounded.
Many Apothecaries are known to perform the Long Watch with the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Xenos, better known as the Deathwatch. Deathwatch Apothecaries take on a number of additional duties over those performed in their parent Chapter. For a start, they must master the genetic inheritance not only of their own gene-seed, but of a myriad of other Chapters too, so that they might monitor and maintain the implants of all their fellow Space Marines, each of which may be drawn from a different Chapter. In this matter, Deathwatch Apothecaries occupy a uniquely trusted position. Space Marine Chapters do not lightly share the details of their gene-seed, with its associated traits, variations, and even mutations. Deathwatch Apothecaries are sworn to maintain the secrets of each of the Chapters from which their fellows are drawn, an oath that carries the harshest of penalties should it ever be broken.
Aside from monitoring the state of the Space Marines’ implants and altered metabolisms, the Apothecaries must also be ever alert to the risk of alien contamination. Whilst undertaking their missions, Deathwatch Kill-teams are likely to come into contact not only with creatures of utterly alien biology, but with all the bacterial life that accompanies them. While the Space Marines are blessed with the very strongest of human immune systems, it is known that the spores of some alien life forms can cause mutation or death even in the Adeptus Astartes. There are some xenos that actually reproduce in this vile manner, their seed infecting the victim and slowly mutating him into the original life form. Such blasphemy must be guarded against, and the Apothecaries administer an entire bank of metabolic and genetic tests on every member of a Kill-team before and after every mission.
Another area in which the Deathwatch Apothecaries are highly involved is that of training. Deathwatch Kill-teams push their bodies to, and beyond, the limits of even their unique superhuman physiology, and the Apothecaries must monitor this process closely. But they are a part of the training too, for the Apothecaries often aid the Watch Captains in formulating the most arduous of training regimens. Using his unique knowledge of his charges, the Apothecary can induce various states in his Battle-Brothers, under which their skills and strengths will be tested all the further. Interfacing remotely with a Battle-Brother’s armour systems, the Apothecary might disable a limb, limit blood oxygen levels or simulate the effects of any number of poisons, all in the cause of maintaining combat readiness. In battle, an Apothecary carries a number of specialised items of equipment, integrating a variety of tools into a single, wrist-mounted unit. The Apothecary may have crafted many of these himself according to his own needs. He uses a high-powered laser scalpel or an adamantine-toothed chainsaw to cut away ruined armour so that he can treat a Battle-Brother’s wounds, and he administers the panacea of drugs stored within the unit using long syringes.
One of the most arduous duties they must perform is to end the life and the suffering of a Battle-Brother wounded unto death. Space Marines’ bodies are such a feat of genetic engineering that they are able to sustain horrific injuries and live on. However, there are some wounds that not even an Adeptus Astartes can survive, even though he may remain conscious for some time. The Apothecary must offer the fallen Battle-Brother such words as will ease his passage to the afterlife, where it is believed he will sit at the right hand of his Primarch, or even the Emperor himself. Once the Apothecary has spoken such words, offering the dying Space Marine final unction, he will administer a final act of mercy known as the 'Emperor's Peace'.
The greatest duty that a Deathwatch Apothecary must perform is to recover the gene-seed of a fallen Battle-Brother, so that it may be returned to his parent Chapter, and he may live on through the creation of future generations of Space Marines. This is a solemn enough task in a normal Chapter, but takes on an additional weight in the Deathwatch. No Chapter would agree to despatch its sons across the galaxy to fight at the behest of the Inquisition and other Chapters (some of whom may be ancient rivals), were it not for the certain knowledge that their gene-seed will be returned should they fall. It has been known for a Chapter to temporarily withhold its honour service to the Deathwatch if too many of its Space Marines serving with the Ordo Xenos have been killed and their precious gene-seed irretrievably lost. Thus, the survival of a Space Marine’s parent Chapter and the reputation of the Deathwatch itself relies on the action of the Apothecaries.
- Power Armour
- Diagnostor Helmet - Apothecaries often replace their usual helmet with a Diagnostor Helmet, which contains upgraded Auto-senses and readouts to assist with their charge of treating the injured and maintaining their Battle-Brothers’ physical combat readiness.
- Bolt Pistol
- Frag and Krak Grenades
- Narthecium - The tool of an Apothecary’s trade, a Narthecium contains implements specially designed for Space Marine physiology and for performing first aid without having to remove the patient’s Power Armour. It also comprises various counterseptics, skin patches, transfusions and other compounds engineered for the Space Marines’ physiology, and several stasis tubes for storing recovered gene-seed.
- Reductor - Retrieval and storage of a fallen Battle-Brother’s gene-seed is so critical that Apothecaries carry a special tool for this operation. While a Reductor is not required for Progenoid removal, it significantly reduces the time. This surgical implement fastens under the wrist. It includes a monomolecular saw for penetrating Power Armour and Ossmodula-enhanced rib cages, and a diamantine-tipped extractor drill.
Notable Deathwatch Apothecaries
- Master Apothecary Kregor Thann - A senior Apothecary of the Red Scorpions Chapter, Kregor Thann is currently seconded to the Deathwatch. He is currently serving his Vigil within the Jericho Reach. A veteran of countless warzones and a master of biological weaponry, Thann gained renown as the mastermind behind the geno-tailored toxins that made the Purging of Castillium possible, defeating the horrific Thazeme xenos when no other weapon could slay them. In the aftermath of the Purge, Commander Antir petitioned Lord High Commander Ortys to consider Thann for Deathwatch service. Thann arrived at Watch Fortress Erioch in 815.M41, and has served ever since. Thann was not assigned to a Kill-team, but rather remains as part of Watch Commander Mordigael’s command staff, tasked with engineering a virus or toxin that could be used to combat the Tyranid menace. Like many Apothecaries in the Red Scorpions Chapter, Thann had served as a Sergeant as well as in his role as a medic, which is quite useful to less-experienced Kill-teams deployed to the Orpheus Salient of the Achilus Crusade. Operating at the edge of the Orpheus Salient, pushing deep into the heart of the Tyranid advance, Thann continues to coordinate with each Kill-team that is operating deep behind enemy lines in order to gather samples and deploy newly developed bio-weapons.
- Deathwatch Apothecary Septimus - Septimus is an Apothecary of the Angels of Absolution who is currently seconded to the Deathwatch. He has sworn to travel the void on secret missions without hope of help or succour from the Chapter. He arrived at Watch Fortress Erioch in the Jericho Reach on the heels of the Achilus Crusade in the entourage of Rogue Trader Diaz Lian, although it is unclear whether he came aboard a ship that traversed the Warp Gate from the Calixis Sector or was already present in the Jericho Reach. Though Septimus originates from the Angels of Absolution, he has not stood shoulder-to-shoulder with his Battle-Brothers in many years. He is a highly skilled Apothecary with experience with a wide variety of gene-seed through his duties within the Deathwatch. He is known to be unusual amongst his Battle-Brothers for he is carefree and charismatic, even partial to the occasional joke. He's always willing to don his battle-plate and enter battle to assist his brothers, although his seemingly-friendly offer may hide a secret agenda of its own. What mission brought Septimus across the stars to Erioch remains unknown. Upon his arrive he expected to find Watch Captain Ramiel at Erioch and in his absence has remained to investigate the captain’s disappearance at Watch Station Midael.
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 68-71, 165, 173, 175
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 236-237