House Taranis is an Imperial Knight house of the Questor Mechanicus that has sworn direct fealty to the Adeptus Mechanicus. The first of the knightly houses to be established in the galaxy was that of House Taranis.
This truly ancient house predates any other by many hundreds of Terran years, for it was first founded on Mars during the Age of Technology alongside the Knight suit itself. As the industries of the Red Planet developed into a vast metropolis of technological mastery, so too did it evolve to become the first and foremost of the Forge Worlds, and the Knights of House Taranis were its guardians.
The STC technology supplied to many of the expeditionary fleets during Mankind's first expansion across the stars included designs for armoured suits of exo-armour based on those first developed to be used by the Knights of Taranis. When the Knight Worlds were first rediscovered during the Imperium's Great Crusade many thousands of standard years later, it is likely that the Mechanicum used their intimate knowledge of the Knight suits worn by House Taranis to help win the loyalty of those worlds.
House Taranis was the first of the knightly houses to join the nascent Imperium. Having never been forced to survive on a frontier or build keeps against the dark void, they were more akin to the Legio Titanicus than their peers from the feudal Knight Worlds. However, the civil war that erupted on Mars during the Horus Heresy saw House Taranis suffer near-total losses.
As the internecine conflict drew to a close, only two Knights remained. Only incredible commitment, and the skill of Mars' Tech-priests, saw House Taranis survive its darkest hour, and rebuild to be stronger than ever before. This experience has stayed with the Knights of House Taranis; they believe the Omnissiah will always protect them, no matter how dark the hour, and it is this faith that has so emboldened them since the Great Rift yawned wide.
The motto of House Taranis is, "Honour thy Forge, Honour the Primus Ordinus."
Centuries before the Emperor conquered the warrior tribes of Terra during the Unification Wars of the late 30th Millennium, Mars was the centre for Mankind's mastery of technology. Among the wonders born from the forges of the Red Planet was the Knight suit, a weapon of such fearsome power as the mysteries of the Titans themselves.
House Taranis can trace its ancestry back to these times; its ancestors were the first to pilot the new and deadly Knight war machine, thousands of Terran years before the establishment of the Knight Worlds. In a time before the Throne Mechanicum contained the neural conditioning to create a Noble's sense of honour, loyalty and tradition, the pilots gave their allegiance to the Machine God and the Mechanicum. It was only in the centuries after the bloody events of the Horus Heresy and the civil war on Mars (known as the Schism of Mars) that House Taranis rose to power.
It alone remained from the Knights of Mars in the wake of that terrible civil war, and the house would go on to form a core part of the armies of the Adeptus Mechanicus and dedicate themselves completely to the worship of the Machine God during the Age of the Imperium. It was a path that would set them apart from the other knightly houses of the Imperium, even those dedicated to Forge Worlds or in sacred alliance with the Adeptus Mechanicus. The Knights of House Taranis stand among the forces of Mars, true servants of the Machine God.
Genesis of the Knight Suits
The first Knight suit was one of the countless technological wonders created on Mars during the Age of Technology. The pioneering Nobles of House Taranis became the original Imperial Knights, and piloted the very first prototypes, fresh from the forges of Mars' industrial heart. Uniquely amongst the Nobles of the other knightly houses, however, the subtle mind-altering technology was noticeably absent from the Thrones Mechanicum of Taranis' Knights.
This was in part due to the fact that the Martian Nobles who became the first Knights were already fiercely loyal to their Mechanicum overseers and House Taranis was an integral part of Mars' military infrastructure. The Imperial Knight Standard Template Construct (STC)s were upgraded to include the subliminal stimuli in preparation for Mankind's exodus across the stars, the better to prepare the Nobles who would be responsible for the protection of others.
Many of the Knight suits piloted by the Nobles of House Taranis were archaic compared to those of the "younger" houses, for they included the very earliest patterns and marks of Knight armour amongst their number. The destruction of so many Knights during the Horus Heresy saw this balance redressed, however, and the house was ultimately to be reborn with the very finest Knight suits at its disposal, as befitted the first of the knightly houses.
Many of the Imperial Knights of House Taranis date back to the time of Taranis' renewal, each proudly emblazoned with the amended heraldry of their house. Never again has the strength of House Taranis been so sorely tested, for it returned from the precipice of annihilation greater than ever before.
Mars, Cradle of the Mechanicum
Located in the beating heart of the Imperium, Mars is the centre of the Adeptus Mechanicus and the first and greatest of its Forge Worlds. A sprawling world of ancient factories, towering hive cities and maze-like mines, it is home to billions of Tech-priests and Servitors. In the skies above the planet, gigantic orbiting manufactoria burn bright with the fires of industry, void-lifts ferrying trillions of tonnes of cargo every solar day down to the surface or up into space.
Mars is also the port of the Battlefleet Solar, the largest of the Emperor's warship armadas, numbering thousands of vast and ancient Battleships, each with the power to kill a world. In the centre of this teeming industrial planet, the Nobles of House Taranis hold council in spire palaces and void-station keeps. Unlike the Nobles of other worlds, those of House Taranis do not slavishly follow the ancient feudal traditions so common to those who sit on the Throne Mechanicum. Instead they are devotees of the Omnissiah, as much followers of the Machine God as the Tech-priests they call allies.
The root of this difference comes from their unique past, and the role they have played as part of the Adeptus Mechanicus for hundreds of centuries. The first Nobles of Mars were skilled pilots and favoured Enginseers, who understood their machines in ways their contemporaries could only hope to achieve. As the Knight suits developed, so too did the Nobles, their personalities subtly changed by extensive neural connection to the Thrones Mechanicum. In time the growing sophistication of the Thrones and the Knights themselves meant that only those with a certain genetic makeup or biological heritage would make the best pilots. This led to the formation of knightly houses on Mars and preferential treatment for these special servants of the Machine God.
Up until the time of the Horus Heresy and the civil war on Mars these knightly houses had remained wholly part of the Adeptus Mechanicus, ranked alongside the high Magi of each of the tech-disciplines. They would march to war beside the armies of the Mechanicum, their own livery dwarfed by the cog-skull of their tech-lords. Though the first signs of division between the houses and Mars were beginning to show, even in those early days, it would take a climatic event to throw it into stark relief.
When the Great Betrayal tore Mars in two, many Knights sided with the Dark Mechanicum, falling to the whispered promises of the Chaos Gods. It was a war that devastated the Red Planet as Titans and Knights fought each other like vengeful gods over cities turned to flame and blood. In the end, only House Taranis Loyalists survived from among the Knights, its leaders swearing their fealty anew to the God-Emperor and the Fabricator-General of Mars. Since that time, House Taranis have been the favoured servants of the Machine God, never wavering in their loyalty or their dedication to its cause.
Knights of Mars
Though they bear the name of Noble and Knight, those of House Taranis do not follow the feudal ways of their kin. Having never been forced to survive on a Frontier World or build keeps against the dark void, they remain more akin to the Collegia Titanica than their peers from the Knight Worlds. Equally, they are not in thrall to the Throne Mechanicum like other Nobles, the subliminal neural conditioning that creates rigid traditions of the Knights absent from their own Thrones.
The Nobles of House Taranis do not share this secret with their brothers -- in their arrogance as the first and greatest of the knightly houses, they see their lack of conditioning as another hallmark of the Imperium's preeminent Knights. With the might of Mars behind them, the Taranis Nobles have some of the finest examples of the Knight suit at their command, including large numbers of rarer configurations like the heavy Knight Crusader and Knight Castellan patterns, each one tended to by scores of Sacristan-priests of unequalled skill. While they might not share the feudal and hidebound lives of other Nobles, they too understand that martial prowess, and oneness with their machines, can come only through constantly developing and honing their skills in endless practice in their Knight suits.
Across the ancient artificial landscapes and void gantries that cocoon the tiny Martian moon of Phobos, the Knights of House Taranis train alongside the Titan Legions in the specially crafted proving grounds. Above the duelling war machines, the midnight sky is dominated by the huge red orb of Mars, the Forge World's millions of manufactoria and hive cities covering its surface in a burning spider's web of light.
Unequalled in the Imperium, the Adeptus Mechanicus' proving grounds use holo-arrays, Augur echo masts and transmorphic terrain fields to replicate any kind of environment a Knight might have to fight in. Across battlefields choked in luminous mist, hard solar rain or coiling lightning wind, the Nobles pit their Knights against diverse enemy-constructs armed with an array of lethal weaponry.
Those Nobles that survive the proving grounds become the best of their kind, familiar with a wide range of the Imperium's myriad foes, from the cursed Warp constructs of the Traitor Legions to the living Bio-Titans of the Tyranid Hive Fleets. A master of countless kinds of warfare, a House Taranis Noble knows every potential limitation, strength and weakness of his Knight, eventually commanding the vast machines as if it were a second skin.
The Ritual of Becoming is a hazardous process. Many of those who undertake its stresses do not survive, or if they do are rendered insensate. For the Knight houses of most worlds these damaged family members are an embarrassment to be hidden away, the only hint of their existence the shuffling in a manor house attic or the rattling of chains from a castle dungeon. House Taranis, gifted with the learned presence of the Adeptus Mechanicus and an understanding of the Throne Mechanicum like no other, has a much more practical use for those incompatible with the device's delicate neural matrixes.
Known to the Tech-priests of Mars as the Psychosis-Neuracanium, Nobles that have failed the Ritual of Becoming and survived are still a valuable resource. They are highly trained warriors with an affinity for technology bred into them from birth. Their genetic make-up renders them natural leaders and perfect stock for the bionic enhancements of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Their flesh takes to metal and mechanical devices with an instinctive ease. That their minds have been ravaged by the Machine Spirits (artificial intelligences) of the Throne Mechanicum is of little consequence for their new roles.
Primarily, the Psychosis-Neuracanium are adapted for use as Skitarii captain-overseers. Their forebrains are implanted with emotive-selectors and memory-catheters to keep their rages and madness in check. Skull-plugs and flesh-connectors are then fused with weapon implants or auxiliary Augur spines, further enhancing the Psychosis-Neuracanium's ability to perform a battlefield role.
The remains of their personalities are still present in their minds, even if it is only as a mere shadow of their former selves. The natural leadership instilled in them as Nobles makes them ideal candidates to become able commanders. A Skitarii's own machine brain and augmented psyche respond instinctively to the presence of a Psychosis-Neuracanium, their base Mechanicus indoctrination making them react swiftly and without question.
The families of House Taranis willingly give these broken sons and daughters to the attentions of the Mechanicus, on the promise that the regiments they lead, and the formations they fight in, will find a place at the side of the household Knights. Though the honour of commanding a Knight is denied to them, these damaged Nobles might still march with their brothers to war.
- The Emperor Arrives on Mars (ca. M30) - Knight Taymon Verticorda, of House Taranis, is the first to encounter the Emperor of Mankind on his arrival at Mars. In his guise as the Omnissiah, the Emperor forges an auspicious alliance between Mars and the newly unified Terra in the Treaty of Mars that forms the backbone of his fledgling Imperium. Preparations are made for a great undertaking, the Great Crusade, to reunite the lost worlds of Mankind.
- Schism of Mars (ca. 007.M31) - When open war erupted all over the Red Planet as the civil war within the Mechanicum known as the Schism of Mars began, House Taranis vowed to defend their world against the growing faction of traitorous Dark Mechanicum forces commanded by the Traitor Fabricator-General Kelbor-Hal. Though House Taranis suffered terribly during this lamentable conflict, they arose from the ashes -- the lone Loyalist knightly house to survive the horrors of the Great Betrayal. Supported by the Adeptus Mechanicus, House Taranis became the favoured servants of the Machine God.
- The Tarsok Incursion (230.M41) - Knights of House Taranis battle a daemonic incursion on the world of Tarsok V, taking the fight to the towering Great Unclean One that leads the daemonic horde. Wading through a tide of Plaguebearers, Seneschal Halver's Knights advance on the corpulent horror while billowing clouds of flies sizzle against their Ion Shields and form drifts about their feet. The daemonic lord drowns one Knight in a tide of bile, and crushes two more beneath its weeping bulk. Yet the Knights' Reaper Chainswords carve through its rancid flesh and with a final, gurgling roar the Great Unclean One is banished. The remaining daemons fade slowly from view, leaving the planet's surviving defenders to count the cost.
Notable House Taranis Knights
- Ares Lictor - Questoris Knight Paladin of Lord Commander Taymon Verticorda, the co-commander of House Taranis, during the Great Crusade and the opening days of the Horus Heresy.
- Gladius Fulmen - Questoris Knight Paladin of Lord Commander Caturix, the co-commander of House Taranis alongside Lord Commander Verticorda, during the Great Crusade and the opening days of the Horus Heresy.
- Fortis Metallum - Questoris Knight Paladin of Preceptor Stator during the Great Crusade and the opening days of the Horus Heresy.
- Equitos Bellum - Questoris Knight Paladin of Rav Maven during the Great Crusade and the opening days of the Horus Heresy. This honourable mount had a host of battle honours earned in the earliest days of the Great Crusade. It had fought the enemies of the newborn Imperium beneath a dozen different skies, and even marched alongside the Salamanders Legion of Primarch Vulkan. The design of a firedrake carved into the skull-cockpit of the Knight recalled that campaign, and Maven never tired of telling the stories of that glorious ride into battle.
- Pax Mortis - Questoris Knight Paladin of Leopold Cronus during the Great Crusade and the opening days of the Horus Heresy.
- Blade of Mars - Knight Errant of Sir Xantek.
- Giant-Killer - Knight Errant of Sir Vagoran.
- Omnissiah's Fury - Knight Paladin of Sir Soberan.
- The Red Doom - Knight Paladin of Sir Ulantor.
- Red Might - Knight Crusader of Sir Drantar.
- Devastation Unbridled - Knight Castellan of Sir Archimaxes.
- Red Jackal - An Armiger Warglaive piloted by Sir Thassor.
Notable Taranis Personnel
- Cheops Taranis - Cheops Taranis was the founder of House Taranis, who united the two largest Knight spearhead formations on Mars in the 25th Millennium by besting his rivals.
- Chefren Taranis - In 199.M32, Chefren Taranis led the charge in his Knight suit against an invading Ork horde. He single-handedly decimated the warlord's bodyguard of Ork Nobz and killed the Greenskin leader. The Taranis coat of arms was changed at this time in recognition of such a valorous deed.
- Ankenaten Taranis - In 523.M35 the rule of the Princeps Ankenaten Taranis marked a new age of independence for his house. He forged an alliance with the Fabricator-General of the Mechanicus that saw House Taranis gain rights of authority within the armies of Mars.
- Lord Commander Taymon Verticorda - Pilot of the Questoris Knight Paladin Ares Lictor, Lord Commander Taymon Verticorda was the first to encounter the Emperor after on His arrival on Mars in the late 30th Millennium. After Verticorda bent his knee to the Emperor over two hundred Terran years before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, the joint commanders of the Knights of Taranis served as the Princeps Conciliatus between the warrior orders of Mars. It was their job to ensure that gatherings were conducted in a manner befitting the most ancient warrior guilds, that tradition was upheld and honourable discourse permitted. A hunched and ancient warrior, Verticorda was aged and revered for his wisdom. Alongside his fellow master of the Knights of Taranis, Lord Commander Caturix, during the Great Crusade and the early days of the Horus Heresy the twin commanders complemented one another's tactics and leadership styles.
- Lord Commander Caturix - Caturix was the pilot of the Questoris Knight Paladin Gladius Fulmen. Alongside his fellow Lord Commander, Taymon Verticorda, Caturix and his counterpart were known as leaders whose shared command blended the warrior's heart with the diplomat's cool. He was the fellow master of the Knights of Taranis during the Great Crusade and the opening days of the Horus Heresy. Caturix was beloved for his fiery passion, which complemented his fellow commander's more cautious temperament.
- Preceptor Stator - Stator was the pilot of the Questoris Knight Paladin Fortis Metallum during the Great Crusade and the opening days of the Horus Heresy. Stator died at the defence of Magma City during the Schism of Mars.
- Raf Maven - Maven was the pilot of the Questoris Knight Paladin Equitos Bellum during the Great Crusade and the opening days of the Horus Heresy. Maven was a valiant Knight who not only survived the tragic events of the Schism of Mars, but went on to rebuild and rule House Taranis as the new Lord Commander of the house after the disastrous civil war on Mars and the deaths of Verticorda and Caturix.
- Leopold Cronus - Cronus was the pilot of the Questoris Knight Paladin Pax Mortis during the Great Crusade and the opening days of the Horus Heresy.
- Soberan - Soberan was the pilot of the Knight Paladin Omnissiah's Fury. Soberan is remembered on Mars for the service he rendered to Magos Explorator Gaeren and the Veiled Fleet. He followed the magos on his journey through the Veiled Region, defending his dig sites from hostile natives and Eldar raiders.
- Ulantor - Notable pilot of the Knight Paladin The Red Doom, Ulantor is renowned for his great victory against the armies of the Dark Mechanicum on the planet of Hyperior III.
- Vagoran - Notable pilot of the Knight Errant Giant-Killer, Vagoran is remembered by his house for his valorous actions during the Battle of Dusken V, where he gained his first laurel-cog in recognition of his heroic deeds. Fighting against an army of Chaos Cultists and their daemonic allies, Vagoran fought against a Greater Daemon, and managed to fire his Thermal Cannon point-blank into the daemon's chest, sending it screaming back into the Warp with its many daemonic children banished along with it.
- Xantek - Notable pilot of the Knight Errant Blade of Mars, Sir Xantek is one of the Phobos proving grounds' combat instructors. This Noble understands his Knight like few others, and works closely with the Sacristans to ensure it remains in perfect fighting form. On the fields of Gorgoth, a world that had been forsaken long ago by humanity, Xantek was sent by the Adeptus Mechanicus to help in the recovery of ancient components from an ancient Legio Titanicus manufactorum. When the Adeptus Mechanicus reclamation force arrived, they encountered the Legio Mortis Traitor Titan Legion and their Chaos allies. In the ensuing conflict, though Xantek and his lance-brothers fought with valour, they were outmatched. Xantek had suffered grievous wounds and was considered no longer fit to serve within the Legio Titanicus. Through years of pain and training, Xantek risked death and madness and had his neural plugs removed. After he allowed his ravaged brain time to heal over a number of years, he underwent the process of implantation once more. One of the few Nobles to ever undertake the Ritual of Becoming a second time, Xantek faced his nightmares as he returned to the Throne Mechanicum. When he emerged from the ritual it was as the Noble he had once been, his honour and skills at long last restored. He believes himself the embodiment of his house's ability to rise again from darkness, and his faith is fervent indeed.
- Drantar - Notable pilot of the Knight Crusader Red Might which has been assigned as support to the Skitarii of Mars. Throughout a solar decade-long search for archeotech, Sir Drantar has travelled to distant stars and fought alongside his Adeptus Mechanicus allies, according to their demands. Under Drantar's guidance, Red Might has ploughed through Greenskins, fended off Aeldari raiders and provided both covering fire and anti-armour support for Mars' Skitarii Legion. Drantar's secondment to the Skitarii has been lengthy, but is not considered permanent.
- Archimaxes - Sir Archimaxes rules over Hydraulach Point. This armoured keep overlooks the southern reaches of the Mare Erythraeum on Mars, and is intended as a shield against the predatory Battle-Servitors that periodically range out of their hunting grounds to threaten the manufactoria beyond. Archimaxes stands his vigil alone, and is happy to do so, for he is a solitary being who prefers the company of machines to that of living creatures. Archimaxes is only truly content when enthroned within his mighty Knight Castellan, Devastation Unbridled, hunting down and eliminating corrupted, ancient Servitor-monsters the size of dropships. When he is called to war by the Princeps of House Taranis, Archimaxes speaks little to his comrades. Yet they are ever grateful for his taciturn presence, for he is diligent in his efforts to shield them from harm, and merciless in his persecution of the enemy's largest and most monstrous beasts.
- Thassor - Sir Thassor considers himself an exterminator of unclean engines. His Armiger Warglaive, Red Jackal, has a predatory Machine Spirit, and together the two of them run down and execute Traitor tanks without mercy.
The name of House Taranis is heavy with the weight of deeds performed in an ancient time steeped in infamy. Yet even before the dark days of the Horus Heresy, House Taranis bore the honour of being the first knightly house ever raised. In the 25th Millennium, Cheops Taranis, the House founder, united the two largest Knight spearhead formations on Mars by besting his rivals.
The House emblem at this time was two spearheads on a red field. In 199.M32, Chefren Taranis led the charge in his Knight suit against an invading Ork horde. He single-handedly decimated the Warlord's bodyguard of Ork Nobz and killed the Greenskin leader. The Taranis coat of arms was changed at this time in recognition of such a valorous deed, which now included the House's name on a scroll centred below the shield, and three swords behind the shield.
In 523.M35 the rule of Ankenaten Taranis marked a new age of independence for his house. He forged an alliance with the Fabricator-General that saw House Taranis gain rights of authority within and over the military forces of Mars. Indeed, the crest of House Taranis bears the stylised Cog Mechanicum of Mars at its centre, for the Red Planet of the Adeptus Mechanicus is its homeworld –- a fact that grants it peerless status amongst the other knightly houses of the Imperium.
House Taranis has ever proudly borne the red of Mars as its livery, though this symbolic field has since been adopted by many of the other knightly houses that are directly aligned to the Adeptus Mechanicus as members of the Questor Mechanicus.
The sword that divides the crest of House Taranis from the demi-cog symbol of the reformed Adeptus Mechanicus was added in the wake of the Horus Heresy. Raf Maven, a valiant Knight who not only survived, but went on to rebuild and rule House Taranis after the disastrous civil war on Mars, insisted on adding the emblem in honour of his kinsmen who died in the bitter fighting. This legacy combined with its illustrious homeworld ensures that Taranis is the foremost of the knightly houses.
Livery and Honour Markings
Questor Mechanicus knightly houses dedicated to the Machine God are less predisposed to tolerate personal heraldry; this does not, however, preclude individual differences. These knightly houses often use white and black on their Knight's main carapace. Also of note is the common black-and-white half toning of the Knight's faceplate, an homage to the Opus Machina of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
House Taranis follows standard knightly convention for the design of its banners. Of note is their use of the cog symbol that sits between the full house crest and their honour markings. These large icons are highly formalised. The exact composition has meaning and can denote rank. On the left is the banner of Sir Xantek. His recognition numbers (two of five) are ensconced within the test-pattern layout of the techno-magi. Sir Soberan, whose icon is on the right, has a double cog. This represents his Knight suit's initiation into the Cult Mechanicus to the second degree.
- Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus (8th Edition), pp. 30, 57
- Codex: Imperial Knights (8th Edition), pp. 44-45
- Codex: Imperial Knights (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 58-59
- Codex: Imperial Knights (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 41, 72, 76-81, 102, 105
- The Imperial Knights Companion (6th Edition), pp. 15, 17, 23, 80-89
- Mechanicum (Novel) by Graham McNeill