"Strength is greatest when focussed into an unyielding fist."
- — Obsidian Glaives 1st Captain Dynares
The Obsidian Glaives were recorded as having been annihilated when their Chapter Homeworld of Obstiria was invaded in 998.M41 by the vast Greenskin hordes of the infamous Ork Warlord Grukk Face-rippa and his Red WAAAGH!.
The Obsidian Glaives was a Successor Chapter of the Ultramarines. Founded in the dark days following the Horus Heresy, the Obsidian Glaives was a Primogenitor or First Born Chapter, created during the Second Founding. Like their forebears, the Obsidian Glaives were composed of highly disciplined and courageous warriors. The Chapter continued to remain true to the teachings of the Codex Astartes penned by their Primarch, Roboute Guilliman, for nearly ten millennia. In 998.M41, the Ork Warlord Grukk Face-rippa and his Red WAAAGH! ploughed into the densely populated Sanctus Reach Sub-sector. By the time Grukk reached the Sanctus Reach he had billions of Orks following in his wake. Only a few obstacles remained in the Orks' way, most notably the world of Obstiria, home to the Obsidian Glaives Chapter.
Five companies of the Chapter defended their planet, led by their Chapter Master Midnias, a scarred veteran of countless wars against the Greenskins. Despite Grukk's numbers, Midnias had assured the Imperial Sector Lord that he could halt the Ork incursion before it plunged even deeper into the sub-sector. Even before Grukk reached Obstiria, Freebooterz and mobs of Evil Sunz raced ahead to be the first ones to attack the Space Marines. Kaptin Dakbad Flamegut was the first to descend upon the planet, his Kill Kroozers charging at the Obsidian Glaives' orbital defences. Hundreds of thousands of Orks reached the surface of Obstiria through a hail of anti-aircraft fire, and laid siege to the Penumbral Spike, the fortress-monastery of the Obsidian Glaives. In the ten millennia since the Founding of the Chapter, it had never fallen to a foe. Soon Orks scaled the fortress walls, bellowing war cries while the Space Marines blasted at them from above.
Numerous times the Orks bludgeoned or shot their way into the fortress, Midnias personally leading counterattacks to throw them back, and for seven solar days and nights the Obsidian Glaives held back the Orks, the loss of each fallen Space Marine keenly felt, each section of their fortress defiled a stain upon their honour. In a desperate ploy, Chapter Master Midnias brought with him the final weapon to be deployed from the Chapter's arsenal -– the ancients of the vault, the Dreadnoughts, eleven of them storming onto the battlements in a tide of ruthless steel. During this epic battle, Midnias faced Flamegut himself and managed to kill him. This shattered the morale of Flamegut's forces. By the dawn of the eighth day, the tide of Orks seemed to slacken, leaving the Space Marines to count their dead, which included all but one of their Dreadnoughts, most of which had succumbed to the intense radiation of their homeworld. The Ork onslaught had been temporarily halted. But the Chapter Master knew this was only a temporary respite. Then Grukk arrived.
At the Slaughter of Black Gulch, Grukk famously tore open a malfunctioning Drop Pod to get at the Space Marines inside. He then cut all ten of the Astartes into pieces, one by one, in a series of increasingly violent kills. It was such an ignoble fate that the commanders of the Obsidian Glaives' Battle Company, with the assent of Chapter Master Midnias, authorised a revenge strike upon Grukk himself. Despite inflicting severe damage, the Space Marines were unable to complete their mission.
The battle at Black Gulch was Midnias' final attempt to kill Grukk. At first, the Space Marines caught the Orks by surprise, slaying thousands as they fell upon the horde, but then the Orks' numbers started to come to bear. Into their midst Midnias soared, roaring across the battlefield on his Jump Pack to engage Grukk, his blade moving in a blurr to hack off the Ork's head. Grukk turned at the last moment, taking the blow on his thickly muscled shoulder, roaring in pain. As Midnias raised his blade for another strike, Grukk lashed out and wrapped a meaty fist around the blade. The Chapter Master strained with his considerable strength against the Ork to free his sword, but Grukk pivoted against the Space Marine's weight and delivered a thunderous uppercut that tore Midnias' helm from his head. Grukk wrapped a massive hand around Midnias' body, pinning his arms to his sides. The massive Ork's mouth yawned open, revealing rows of gory fangs leading to a hungry black throat. The Ork Warlord closed his massive maw, severing the Chapter Master's head from his body. Thus ended the Obsidian Glaives. Their commander dead, the Space Marines valiantly attempted to defend their world for a further three solar days, fighting a battle they could not hope to win against the overwhelming numbers of Grukk's Greenskin hordes. With Obstiria crushed and the Sanctus Reach aflame, only the Knight World of Alaric Prime remained defiant, and the Red WAAAGH! gathered once more for war.
- Helrak Incursion (548.M41) - At the height of this campaign, it was First Captain Dynares who first utilised the Land Raider's capabilities in the deployment of an elite Strike Force Ultra formation to cleanse the Space Hulk Mote of Darkness of piratical Eldar Corsairs. The cavernous tunnels and chambers of the Space Hulk, apparently crafted by some gigantic xenos race, would have quickly swallowed a squad of Terminators on foot, but were still too confined to allow effective use of a Stormraven. Valour Maximal was the perfect size to thunder through the vessel, and the Obsidian Glaives Captain used it to tear one ragged path after another through the interior of the hulk, using shock tactics and the imposing bulk of the tank itself to flush out and destroy every last xenos brigand.
- Well of Time (987.M41) - The Necron Cryptek, Orikan the Diviner, devised a way to better study his enemies. Trapping the Obsidian Glaives 7th Company in a chrono-loop, the Cryptek send warriors against them and observed the results with curiosity. For the Space Marines, it was a battle that raged on in a day that neither began nor ended.
- Defence of Obstiria (998.M41) - The Obsidian Glaives valiantly tried to defend their homeworld of Obstiria against the Ork Warlord Grukk Face-rippa and his Red WAAAGH! but were woefully outnumbered in the face of the Greenskin tide and eventually destroyed.
The Obsidian Glaives were organised along the strict guidelines provided by the Codex Astartes. The Chapter saw this tome not as holy writ -- simply the finest military treatise ever written. Its tactics were in keeping with those prescribed in the Codex and only wavered in situations where Roboute Guilliman's doctrine encourages innovation.
The Chapter recruited its Neophytes from criminal youths who had been sentenced to death. A youth would be brought to the Chapter's fortress-monastery and placed within a dimly lit cell, shackled with manacles on their wrists, ankles and throats. Prayers of admonition and penance were inscribed on the cell's steel walls. Brig Chaplains would preach hourly sermons to the damned youths. Finally, one of the Chaplains would offer the youth a chance to be punished appropriately in proportion to their heinous crimes. They would not be executed, but would go on to live an entire life of punishment. It would not be a punishment through pain, for pain could be adapted to and ignored. It would be a punishment of service that would never end. Even at death it would not be finished. It was a true punishment as befitted the crime the youth had committed against the Imperium of Man. If the youth showed general remorse and a willingness to accept his punishment, the Chaplain would then take him from his cell, to be ground down and broken, and rebuilt into something worthy. Something to stand among the heroes of the Imperium -- a Space Marine.
Once the youth had accepted his fate, he would be given over to the Chapter's Apothecaries and receive the first of the gene-seed organ implants of the Chapter, which are inserted into the body of each Aspirant. Following the first of many painful surgeries, if the Aspirant's body accepted the implants, he would then be taken to face his final trial. The Aspirant would be transported to Black Gulch, one of the few routes by foot into the foothills around the Chapter's fortress-monastery, the Penumbral Spike -- a bleak and brutal path, but one that a Space Marine could weather. For someone without the genetic augmentations of an Obsidian Glaive, or whose augmentations had not yet begun to fully function, it was little better than a death sentence. Exposed to the harsh radiation of their world, most recruits would walk the path in the night when the radiation was less severe. Even so, their bodies would be saturated by it, covering their backs, shoulders and newly-shaven scalp with burns that wept and cracked as dawn rose over the mountain.
If a recruit could not find shade from the radioactive sun, he would die. It was that simple. The Obsidian Glaives did not welcome new recruits who were willing to lie down on the scalding rocks and accept death. Seeking shelter, a recruit would attempt to find some sort of a hiding place beneath some of the surrounding peaks' stone overheads. If they were fortunate enough to find such a refuge, and found it occupied by another recruit, often they were forced to fight to the death for it. Those that survived and arrived at the gates of the Penumbral Spike would go on to continue living a life of unending punishment. The Chapter felt that those Aspirants who fell by the wayside deserved only death, as had been their original sentence.
The Obsidian Glaives' Chapter homeworld was the deadly irradiated world of Obstiria, located within the Sanctus System of the Sanctus Reach Sub-sector. Though an Imperial world, due to Obstiria's harsh conditions this inhospitable planet was never successfully settled by human settlers. Instead, the planet was given to the Obsidian Glaives as their Chapter homeworld and personal demesne. The harsh radiation of Obstiria was known to greatly affect the Dreadnoughts of the Chapter. Space Marine flesh was proof against Obstiria's radiation. But the same could not be said about their antiquated technology. The connection between the sarcophagus of a Dreadnought and its pilot used technology that could not be replicated. But those connections degraded with exposure to their homeworld's radiation, and with them the faculties of the pilot's mind.
Due to this degradation, many of the Obsidian Glaive Dreadnought pilots' minds had been slowly poisoned, affecting their hold on reality. Often times this would cause the Dreadnoughts to believe that they were reliving events from centuries or even millennia earlier, when they still walked amongst their Battle-Brothers as regular Astartes. The Codex Astartes demanded that one of their Chapter's Dreadnoughts stood guard over their fortress-monastery but each solar hour of such exposure shortened a Dreadnought's life. Within their stasis vault, asleep, they were protected. When active on the surface of Obstiria, the degradation continued, and as it worsened the speed of decay accelerated.
In order to preserve their honoured Ancients, the Chapter's Techmarines kept the Dreadnoughts secured in a stasis vault deep within the bowels of their fortress-monastery. Very few had ever seen the inside of this vault except the highest–ranked of the Chapter and the Techmarines who maintained it. The vault was clad in cold steel, the only chamber in the Spike not to be walled with the living rock of the mountain. Here, twelve enormous pedestals stood, each one topped by a cradle of archaic machinery and wreathed in cold vapour. In eleven of these cradles stood a Dreadnought, the black armour of each covered in heraldry and battle-honours spanning thousands of standard years of the Obsidian Glaives' history. A series of marks in High Gothic numerals were scrawled on the Dreadnought's sarcophagus. These marks were a means for the attending Techmarines to determine how long each Dreadnought had until he ceased to function. The Dreadnoughts were rotated out of honour guard duty as they degraded and their duty was to last a standard year or more. After that they would be sent back to the vault to await their rotation again. Each time would be shorter as their connections were corroded away, but the Codex demanded it of the Chapter, for the word of Guilliman had to be honoured.
The Penumbral Spike was the mighty fortress-monastery of the Obsidian Glaives Chapter. Forged from the tallest peak of Obstiria's mountains, the Spike was an impressive fortification, rising hundreds of metres above the radiation-washed plains of Obstiria's polar continent, its spire permanently cloaked in thick cloud. In the ten millennia since the creation of the Chapter, it had never fallen to a foe. The fortress-monastery was riddled with chambers, some of them enormous assembly grounds and sparring arenas, others tiny cells or shrines to heroes whose inscriptions were all that remained of them in the Chapter's memory. Natural volcanic tunnels had been enlarged to form the interior of the fortress, each constructed with a mind towards defending against an invader -- dead ends, switchbacks, false gateways leading to killing zones. Notable areas of the Penumbral Spike included:
- Cloisters of the Bold – The Cloisters of the Bold was where the cold earth met the heat of Obstiria's core. Below were the fortress-monastery's generatoria and forges, and above were the sparring halls and cell blocks.
- The Cathedral of Victory – An ornate chapel dedicated to the worship of the Emperor and the Obsidian Glaives' Primarch Roboute Guilliman. A large statue of the Primarch stood at the rear of the chapel, depicting Guilliman poring over the Codex Astartes.
- Vaevictis Monument – The monument chamber had been enlarged many times to contain the stasis chambers in which were displayed arms and armour captured from fallen enemies. One contained a slender crystalline rifle of Eldar design, another the crested skull of an enormous war-beast fielded by the Tau. Some held fragments of armour carefully suspended in psychic wards, taken from Warp-corrupted foes.
- Quartermaster's Cloisters – The Quartermaster's Cloisters was the office of the Master of the Marches whose duty it was to oversee the deployment of the Chapter's fighting strength. It was his knowledge of Chapter dispositions the Chapter Master turned to when readying for war. This area was decorated with carvings which depicted the fall of the Beast of Vengor to the Obsidian Glaives.
- Duelling Hall – A chamber that served as a place for close combat training for the Chapter's Neophytes, conducting drills and sometimes as a formal meeting place. Sculpted panels within the hall showed scenes from the life of Roboute Guilliman.
- Shrine of the Ancestors – A sacred place of reflection, where the greatsword of Chapter Master Erberan lay on an altar.
- The Dawn Bastion – This area of the Penumbral Spike housed one of the anti-aircraft batteries and led to the battlements around the upper slopes.
- Malikan Gate – The primary entry point of the pass that led to the Penumbral Spike.
The Obsidian Glaives' culture was centred around punishment. While other Chapters considered their service to the Emperor and His Imperium their sacred duty, the Obsidian Glaives saw it as a form of never-ending punishment for their sins and failures, both self-appointed and perceived. They would seek to offer penance for such shortcomings through the continuation of their service as a Space Marine. It was not uncommon for Battle-Brothers of this morose Chapter to punish themselves through self-mortification of the flesh or by exposing themselves, unarmoured, to the deadly radiation of their planet's sun.
Notable Obsidian Glaives
- Chapter Master Midnias - Final Chapter Master of the Obsidian Glaives.
- Chapter Master Lukal - Former Chapter Master and Midnias' predecessor. During the Battle for Hargraven Basilica, Lukal was killed by a stray Bolter round from a Chaos Space Marine.
- Chapter Master Tekelon - Previous Chapter Master of the Obsidian Glaives.
- Chapter Master Fulminos (Dreadnought) - Fulminos was the first and greatest Chapter Master of the Obsidian Glaives. In life, Fulminos was once handsome where a Space Marine was usually battle-scarred and ugly, with an aquiline nose, bright blue eyes and flowing hair. If a sculptor had created an icon for a fellow Space Marine to follow in battle, it would have looked like Fulminos. He was the greatest warrior who had ever worn the glossy black colours of Obstiria. He was a master duelist who had sought out and faced in single combat every enemy champion who had ever stood opposite him on a battlefield. But he had been mortally wounded and was later interred within the sarcophagus of a Dreadnought. His ancient shell appeared tarnished and inlaid with gilded eagle's wings and hung with spiked chains. Its Power Fist had been modified to carry a hugely oversized Power Sword and its gun arm carried a heavy Plasma Weapon. From one shoulder hung a banner with his Chapter's heraldry. He appeared magnificent, his armour encrusted with ornamentation earned with hundreds of notable kills, his glassy sword a relic of the ages before the Horus Heresy.
- Captain Dynares - First Captain, commander of the elite 1st Company.
- Captain Draegan - Captain of the 2nd Company and Master of the Fleet. Commander of the Strike Cruiser Darkest Hour.
- Captain Seharra - Captain of the 4th Company.
- Captain Elhalil - Captain of the 6th Company.
- Captain Keshuma - Captain of the 9th Company. A veteran of the Devastator heavy weapons formations.
- Captain Terundel - Captain and Master of Novices, commander of the 10th Company. He wore an ornate version of the Scout Armour used by the recruits who fought beneath him.
- Captain Hurlikan - A Captain of the Chapter, he had suffered the torments of the Dark Eldar and escaped with the rest of the Chapter to burn their flagship.
- Reclusiarch Vengis - Former Reclusiarch of the Chapter, dead four centuries before the final destruction of his Chapter. It was he who had pulled Karulak from the fires of Kephalon Vale. Karulak owed Vengis his life.
- Apothecary Kess - 1st Company Apothecary.
- Master of the Forge Javan - Master of the Forge of the Obsidian Glaives.
- Standard Bearer Gidnaron - Chapter Standard Bearer. He had the honour of carrying the Standard of Obstiria for all to see. It was embroidered with threads taken from tapestries in the Imperial Palace burned during the Siege of Terra, and depicted Roboute Guilliman granting the lordship of Obstiria to the first Obsidian Glaives.
- Varas - A Veteran Battle-Brother who served as one of former Chapter Master Lukal's Honour Guard.
- Scout Marine Desaan - Scout Marine of the 10th Company.
- Dreadnought Bayelor - Bayelor was a former Assault Captain.
- Dreadnought Dagguron - Known as "Dagguron the Brute", he was the tallest and broadest of all the Obsidian Glaives, whose oversized Power Armour was displayed in the Chapter armoury long after his fall at Urakan.
- Dreadnought Drekal - Known as "Drekal the Martyr", Molkis was but a newly elevated Scout Marine when he had witnessed the Veteran Battle-Brother fall single-handedly holding a mountain pass against a tribe of savage Kroot. As a Dreadnought, he fought with a massive Chainsword.
- Dreadnought Karulak - Hero of Axian Ridge, he fought with a Storm Bolter.
- Dreadnought Lukanas - Known as "Lukanas the Penitent", who had turned himself into a mass of scar tissue and scabs with self-inflicted punishments for every imagined sin. Even as a Dreadnought, he still fought with his characteristic barbed power-scourge.
- Dreadnought Molkis - Formerly a Veteran Sergeant of the 4th Company, Molkis fell to the Tyranids of Hive Fleet Kraken at Devilin Reach. Mortally wounded, the Chapter's Apothecaries stayed his death, and he was mounted within the adamantium sarcophagus of a Dreadnought.
- Dreadnought Morvern - Known as "Morvern the Grim", he was a former Reclusiarch of the Chapter.
- Dreadnought Silias - Known as "Silias the Cunning", he had previously worn the polished silver and black of a Chapter Champion. Later on, he was laid low by a lung-destroying disease, but despite his condition, he had continued to create battle plans of unprecedented complexity for decades.
- Dreadnought Vorkias - Lord Vorkias was a former Chapter Master who had been crippled on board the Space Hulk Icon of Debauchery.
- Crown of Obstiria - The crown was a simple spiked band that symbolised how the Chapter Master was both the Imperial Commander of the Obsidian Glaives and the Planetary Governor of Obstiria -- not that the Chapter Master ruled anything beyond his Chapter -- the planet had seen off every attempt to settle it except for the Glaives themselves.
The Obsidian Glaives wore glossy black and bone Power Armour.
The Obsidian Glaives' Chapter badge is not listed in current Imperial records.
- Codex: Necrons (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 65
- Codex: Orks (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 65
- Dataslate: Space Marines Strike Force Ultra (7th Edition), pp. 4, 8
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 472
- Sanctus Reach: Black Gulch (Short Story) by Ben Counter
- Sanctus Reach: Penumbral Spike (Short Story) by Ben Counter
- Sanctus Reach: Evil Sun Rising (Novel) by Guy Haley