"They were forged for Mankind's darkest hour -- and that hour is upon us."
The Primaris Space Marines are a new breed of transhuman warriors developed across the span of ten thousand standard years by Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl. Their creation was initiated on Mars on the order of Primarch Roboute Guilliman in the days immediately after the Second Founding in the early 31st Millennium.
However, Primaris Space Marines are bigger -- standing nearly 10 feet tall in their armour in some cases -- more resilient, physically more powerful and possess faster reaction times than their original Astartes counterparts, now often referred to as the "Firstborn."
Primaris Astartes are also implanted with 22 rather than 19 gene-seed organs, and their gene-seed is more resistant to mutation than that of their predecessors. These organs enhance their physiology to an even greater degree than the Firstborn, making them yet stronger and tougher.
It was only thanks to the Sangprimus Portum -- a device that held potent genetic material originally harvested from the primarchs themselves -- that Archmagos Cawl was able to create these biotechnical miracles.
Raised in what became known as the Ultima Founding, the Primaris Marines were deployed across the galaxy during the Indomitus Crusade by Guilliman and Cawl after the opening of the Great Rift. They were used as reinforcements for existing Chapters of Astartes or to found all-new Chapters comprised solely of Primaris Marines.
Since then, many Chapters have used these technologies to develop their recruits into Primaris Space Marines.
The biggest breakthroughs of all, however, were the surgeries that allowed Firstborn Space Marines not matured with the three Primaris organs to be implanted with them. Arguably first braved by Marneus Calgar, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, this extremely dangerous set of surgical and genetic enhancement procedures known as crossing the "Rubicon Primaris" lasts for solar days.
Many others among the Firstborn have since risked their lives in such a way after witnessing the undeniable battlefield capabilities of the Primaris Space Marines in action.
At present in the Era Indomitus, most Chapters have either received an influx of Primaris Marines created during the original Ultima Founding; have gained access to the technology and Adeptus Mechanicus experts from the Indomitus Crusade needed to begin recruiting and raising their own Primaris battle-brothers; have selected certain Firstborn warriors to ascend to the status of Primaris Marine by crossing the Rubicon Primaris or were comprised entirely of Primaris Marines from their inception.
"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."
For ten millennia, Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl has been working on a task set for him by the Primarch Roboute Guilliman before he was mortally wounded by the Daemon Primarch Fulgrim in the days after the Horus Heresy: a new legion of transhuman warriors.
As an optimist, but never a fool, Guilliman learned from the mistakes of the Horus Heresy, and he foresaw that the forces of Chaos would never relent in their aim to bring the Imperium low. He anticipated that devastating times would once again engulf the galaxy and knew that warriors resilient enough to stand against them would be needed as never before.
The Primaris Space Marine is a new generation of hero for this, the darkest age in the Imperium's history. These warriors are the next step in the evolution of the Emperor's Angels of Death -- genetically altered from their brethren to be bigger, stronger and faster -- timely reinforcements for the Imperium's armies as their enemies close in for the kill in the wake of Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade and the birth of the Great Rift dividing the Imperium in two.
To aid them in battle, these gene-forged warriors are equipped with new arms and armour forged on Mars itself, such as the Mark X Tacticus Pattern Power Armour worn by the Primaris Space Marine Intercessors, which combines the most effective elements of ancestral Horus Heresy patterns of battle-plate with more recent developments in power armour technology; the Mark II Cawl Pattern Bolt Rifle, the archetypal firearm of the Adeptus Astartes, now re-engineered, re-crafted and perfected; the Mark III Belisarius Pattern Plasma Incinerator, a new refined Plasma Gun; Redemptor Dreadnoughts, the Overlord gunship, and Repulsor grav-tanks.
At the dawn of the Indomitus Crusade to retake the Imperium from the advancing armies of Chaos and xenos alike, Lord Commander of the Imperium Roboute Guilliman gathered his new armada, along with elements of the Adeptus Custodes, a small contingent of the Silent Sisterhood and a vast war host of Primaris Space Marines as he fought to liberate the scattered bastions of the Imperium.
Some, Guilliman had forged into new Space Marine Chapters, whole brotherhoods comprised only of these new transhuman warriors. Others he offered to the existing Space Marine Chapters. Many Chapter Masters welcomed their Primaris brethren into their ranks, accepting the new reinforcements gladly. Others, though, viewed these new creations with suspicion or outright hostility, claiming that the Emperor's work should never have been meddled with by mere mortals.
Fortunately, the Emissaries Imperatus, a Shield Host of the Adeptus Custodes, the elite bodyguard of the Master of Mankind, stepped forward to intercede, stating that the gift that was the Primaris Marines was the will of the Emperor.
As "Heralds of the Golden Throne," 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.
The newly reinstated lord commander of the Imperium decreed that those Chapters most devastated by the ongoing wars should be amongst the first to be reinforced with this new breed of transhuman warrior. Starting with the Ultramarines, but also deploying these new Space Marines to every other Chapter in need, Guilliman aimed to reinforce the Imperium's scattered defenders across the galaxy.
It was not just as reinforcements to existing Chapters though. Guilliman also ordered the creation of a host of new Chapters, the so-called "Ultima Founding," composed entirely of Primaris Space Marines.
The warriors of these new Chapters were created entirely using the new processes discovered by Archmagos Belisarius Cawl and established with all the necessary weapons, armour and equipment that they will need to conduct their defence of the Imperium.
These Chapters still trace their genetic lineage back to the gene-seed of the First Founding, and scions of all nine Loyalist Space Marine Legions emerged from the vaults beneath the Red Planet. They benefit from three additional gene-seed organs and larger size, but it still remains to be seen if Cawl was able to successfully stabilise any of the known genetic deviations or impart any additional resistance to the effects of Chaos.
Many of these new Chapters have been assigned homeworlds on the edge of the Great Rift, the Imperium's new frontline in the war against Chaos, though some have inherited the empty fortress-monasteries of Chapters that had been lost to the attrition of constant war. Many of these worlds face a continuous battle against the Daemons of the Warp, as well as an unpredictable mix of xenos raiders, pirates and invaders.
During the Indomitus Crusade, Cawl's own ﬂeet joined the primarch, headed by his freighter-hulk, Zar-Quaesitor, a mech-ark class ship that carried within its massive hull a vast number of Primaris Marines still in stasis hibernation.
As the Indomitus Crusade penetrated deeper into the galaxy during the early 42nd Millennium of the original Imperial Calendar, Archmagos Cawl kept his automaton workers on overdrive, risking meltdowns with their accelerated speeds. Locked deep in the labyrinthine holds of Zar-Quaesitor, thousands of Primaris Space Marines -- some comprising entirely new Chapters and others designated as reinforcements for existing ones -- were awakened out of stasis and made ready to join the fray.
On battle-scarred Rynn's World, the arrival of the Indomitus Crusade broke the daemonic legions of the Daemon Prince Rhaxor. After the fighting was done, the Crimson Fists marvelled at the return of Roboute Guilliman, but were even more grateful for the arrival of Primaris Space Marines bearing their own heraldry.
Here were warriors whose genetic composition was closer to their own primarch, Rogal Dorn, than had ever before existed. For his raw material, Cawl had selected warriors of Terra, and had taken them only a few generations after the original Imperial Fists had been created by the Emperor. Indeed, some had been held in stasis since the days of the Great Crusade; a few of the Primaris Space Marines could recall having seen Rogal Dorn himself.
Again and again the Crusaders watched the same tale unfold. When those of the Ultima Founding were brought before their Chapters, it was like a meeting of brothers separated at birth. Arriving at a time of great darkness and upheaval, the new transhuman warriors' strength was welcomed.
Such unusual reunions were repeated on many Astartes worlds, including Chogoris, Ultramar and Baal, where the crusade arrived even as the proud Sons of Sanguinius were making what they thought would be their last stand against the Tyranids of Hive Fleet Leviathan during what became known as the Devastation of Baal.
Despite cleaving a wide path through the darkness that beset the Imperium, the Indomitus Crusade began to break down. When the vast holds of the Zar-Quaesitor were at last emptied, Archmagos Cawl departed, for he had many more secret vaults to activate in order to complete the Ultima Founding.
Once deployed, the new Primaris Chapters -- such as the Rift Stalkers or the Umbral Knights -- remained after the initial conﬂicts were won, seeking to consolidate the Crusade's gains; in many cases, they did this by establishing their own new Chapter planets. In this way, the Crusade not only freed worlds from the tyranny of the Dark Gods, but also strengthened their defences against further attacks that were sure to come.
Though they are a step removed from their brothers, the Primaris Space Marines still bear the gene-seed of their primarchs, and some dissenting voices worry how this new type of warrior will react with the known genetic quirks and flaws of some of the more unusual Chapters, such as the Blood Angels and the Space Wolves. The Primaris Space Marines offer new hope to a besieged Imperium, but the future remains a dark and uncertain place...
The Unnumbered Sons, officially known as the Unnumbered Sons of the Primarchs, and unofficially among themselves as the "Greyshields," were nine special formations of Primaris Space Marines created by Lord Commander of the Imperium Roboute Guilliman for service in the Indomitus Crusade.
Active for over a standard century well into the 42nd Millennium, they were comprised of nine Space Marine Legion-sized armies of Primaris Marines, all drawn from the lineage of one of the 9 primarchs who had led the Loyalist Space Marine Legions during the Horus Heresy.
Approximately half of the Primaris Space Marines created by Belisarius Cawl during the Ultima Founding were formed into entirely new Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, while the remaining half were placed within the Legion-sized armies of the Unnumbered Sons.
However, Guilliman forced these armies to fight using squads that contained Primaris Astartes from multiple different gene-lines to better forge cooperation between the different genetic lineages.
The Unnumbered Sons served as a reserve force for Guilliman during the Indomitus Crusade, their ranks slowly reduced by attrition and the need to replenish already-extant Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes with the new class of Primaris Space Marines. Other members of the Unnumbered Sons were eventually integrated into whole new Chapters comprised only of Primaris Astartes like their brethren.
By the end of the Indomitus Crusade at the Battle of Raukos, over a Terran century into the 42nd Millennium, the armies of the Unnumbered Sons had been reduced to approximately 20,000 Primaris Astartes, who were ultimately disbanded and divided up into a final group of new Primaris Chapters on the orders of Guilliman before his intervention in the Plague Wars of Ultramar.
"(They are...) a perversion of the Emperor's work. He may be a rotting corpse, but he created perfection in the Legiones Astartes. I cannot imagine for a moment that some arrogant Magos Biologis will have done anything but flaw that work beyond redemption."
Though they now stand a step above their Firstborn Astartes brethren, all Primaris Space Marines are still created using the original gene-seed of one of the Loyalist primarchs, like all other members of the Adeptus Astartes.
Some voices within the Imperium now worry how this new type of transhuman warrior will react to the many genetic quirks and flaws found in the gene-seed of some of the more unusual Chapters, particularly given the long history of fiascoes that have resulted from attempts to alter the Emperor's original work.
In the pursuit of his attempt to improve upon the original Space Marine template, Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl collected samples of the genomes of all twenty of the original primarchs, including those deemed Lost or Traitors, though Roboute Guilliman made clear to his overeager servant that Primaris Astartes were to be created only from one of the lines of those of his brothers who led the nine Loyalist Space Marine Legions.
It is known that in addition to the general advancements in their gene-seed, Primaris Space Marines possess three additional gene-seed implant organs compared to their standard brethren and that their gene-seed is far more genetically stable than that of their forerunners.
Primaris Space Marine gene-seed has only a .001% chance of genetic deviancy from the original baseline with the passage of each generation, which makes it nearly immune to the severe genetic instability suffered by Chapters such as the Blood Angels and Space Wolves over the course of their existence.
Nearly every Space Marine created since the First Founding possesses nineteen specialised organs derived from this gene-seed. The Primaris Marines, however, are implanted with a further three additional organs. It was the Sangprimus Portum, a device containing potent genetic material harvested from the primarchs, that allowed for this breakthrough.
Entrusted to Cawl by Guilliman shortly after the Second Founding in the early 31st Millennium, this device resulted in a new breed of Adeptus Astartes that were deployed en masse in the Ultima Founding.
Due to Cawl's interpretation of his orders and the millennia-spanning labour of his task -- during which Guilliman was injured and suspended in stasis -- the secrets of these new Primaris organs were not released until late in the 41st Millennium.
The Primaris Space Marines possess all of the nineteen gene-seed implant organs that have been gifted to their original Astartes brothers, as well as three more that only they possess, for a total of twenty-two.
These new gifts of Belisarius Cawl's genius further enhance their transhuman status and ability to bring the Emperor's justice to a galaxy shrouded in darkness and despair. These additional implanted organs include:
- Sinew Coils (The Steel Within) - The Primaris Space Marine's sinews are reinforced with durametallic coil-cables that can contract with incredible force, magnifying his strength as well as giving his body another layer of defence. A Primaris Space Marine can crush a man's skull in his hand, break Flak Armour to flinders, or even bite through a metal cable should the need arise.
- Magnificat (The Amplifier) - A small, thumbnail-sized lobe that is inserted into the brain's cortex. The Magnificat secretes hormones that increase the body's growth functions whilst also intensifying the function of its other transhuman implants, especially those of the Biscopea and the Ossmodula. In truth, the Magnificat is but half of the true, dual-valve Immortis Gland (the so-called God-Maker) that the Emperor created for His primarchs. However, Archmagos Cawl could only find materials and genetic blueprints to build the Dextrophic Lobe (the right half of the Immortis Gland), while plans for the Sintarius (the left half) that would complete the original super-organ had been wholly eradicated from Imperial records of the Primarch Project. Whether this was done by the Emperor's own hand or by some nefarious source, Cawl could not tell.
- Belisarian Furnace (The Revitaliser) - This is a dormant organ that connects to both Astartes hearts. In times of extreme stress, or should the warrior's body undergo violent, damaging trauma, it expels great blurts of self-synthesised chemicals -- a hyper-cocktail that simulates the biological action of combat stimms while also aiding in the rapid regrowth of tissue, bone and muscle. The gland then falls dormant again, and takes some time to metabolically build itself up once more for the next usage.
These procedures are known as the "Primaris Alpha" and "Primaris Beta" phases of the gene-seed organ implantation process. Both phases can be introduced simultaneously.
The induction of the Primaris Marines into the Adeptus Astartes was not an easy process by any means. The Chapters of the Space Marines are generally arch-traditionalists, and some are conservative in the extreme, having upheld the same warrior traditions for thousands of Terran years.
For the Ultramarines and the vast majority of their Successor Chapters, the word of their risen primarch was good enough, and many Chapters welcomed the Primaris battle-brothers gladly.
But there were those especially secretive or willful Chapters who saw the incorporation of the Primaris Marines into their ranks as a dilution of their gene-stock and a betrayal of their long-held culture.
Some amongst the Adeptus Astartes suspected that the Primaris Marines, being stronger, more durable and closer in blood to the primarchs themselves, represented the obsolescence of the Firstborn Astartes.
No amount of reason -- of pointing out that what the Primaris offered in raw ability, they lacked in experience and versatility -- could salve the spiritual wound dealt by the sight of the newcomers wearing their Chapter heraldry.
The Primaris Marines of the Ultima Founding had been swiftly inducted into brotherhoods that the incepted aspirants of yesteryear had given everything they had to join. Questions, heavy with the weight of Mankind's destiny, hung in the air.
Would the Primaris Marines ultimately render the traditional Firstborn Space Marines extinct? Would the identity of each Chapter's homeworld be diluted, with so many thousands of new recruits sourced from the stasis vaults of Mars?
And was it possible for a Firstborn Space Marine to be transformed into a Primaris, inheriting the benefits of Adeptus Mechanicus arcanoscience whilst retaining his personality and experience?
This last question had been raised in Adeptus Astartes Chapters across the galaxy. It was a query Marneus Calgar, Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, had asked of Belisarius Cawl himself, and had discussed with those of his fellow Chapter Masters he was able to meet in person.
Debate raged as to whether such an act was even possible without having deadly consequences for the recipient -- for data that Archmagos Cawl had already amassed on the subject suggested there would be a 61.6% failure rate at such a transformation until the process could be perfected, which would take time. Then there was the moral concern of whether the process should be attempted at all.
The dilemma proved divisive. There were those who claimed that this was the ultimate destiny of all Adeptus Astartes, while from other quarters came whispers of rejection, even mutiny, at the prospect.
The lords of the Ultramarines came to the conclusion that to ease the transition from centuries of Imperial tradition to a new order, the theoreticals of that raging debate needed to be put into practice. It was Marneus Calgar who stepped forward as the first test subject from the ranks of his storied Chapter. It was a process he did not survive -- though like his primarch before him, he was to rise from the threshold of death once more.
The operation to transform Calgar from a traditional Space Marine into a Primaris Marine was conducted in an auto-sterilised med vault. Thick with the tang of counterseptic and crowded with elaborate medical servitors, the room was dominated by the great marble slab at its centre, artfully carved with runnels to collect the copious streams of blood that would result from the procedure. The surgery was to be extensive and agonising, a fact Marneus knew well from Cawl's tediously thorough descriptions of the process.
A Primaris Marine is gifted three new gene-seed organs in addition to the nineteen originally grafted, sutured and chemically implanted into an aspirant Space Marine.
These are the Magnificat, which is buried deep in the brain to stimulate growth and to intensify other organ functions; the Belisarian Furnace, which releases a burst of synthesized hypersteroids and corticostimulants when a mortal blow is dealt so the Primaris Marine may fight on; and the Sinew Coils, cable-like lengths of durasteel that encase every tendon and sinew in a metallic sheath that gives tremendous resilience and strength.
During the implantation of the Primaris organs, Marneus Calgar was cut open from crown to heel. His ribcage was cracked apart and -- at the climax of the procedure -- his physiology suppressed to the point that his life slipped away. Choirs of cyber-cherubs sang blissful, overlapping requiems, swaying their aspergillums so that sacred incense might guide Calgar's soul back to his body.
The corpse lay in state, its flesh rent and open to the air, for what seemed to those watching like an age. Ten long solar minutes ticked past, then twenty. Skull-faced surgeons clicked and muttered and stabbed at the Chapter Master's tortured flesh. Those around the periphery of the Apothecarium theatre held their breath in dread.
Then, with his wounds stitched closed by a thousand jabbing needles and his mighty hearts electrified to beat once more, the newly forged Marneus Calgar was brought back to life. He broke his bonds with a strangulated, blood-flecked roar, stumbling to life as his newly-implanted Belisarian Furnace brought him to instant battle readiness.
Calgar had clawed his way back from beyond the brink of death, and in doing so, he had shown his Chapter and all Space Marines that the transformation was possible.
The Rubicon Primaris had been crossed, and a new path opened for the Space Marines.
Beyond the Ultima Founding
The Ultima Founding in ca. 999.M41 was the largest mobilisation of newly-created Space Marines in centuries. It saw thousands of Primaris Space Marines woken from stasis beneath the surface of Mars and hurled into the forefront of Mankind's galactic war.
Yet this was not the only route by which the Primaris Marines joined the fight for the Emperor's realm.
From beneath the sands of Mars came the Primaris warriors of the original Ultima Founding. They were lights against a tide of darkness, their advent key to the survival of Mankind after the birth of the Great Rift -- but not to securing its future.
The first Primaris Space Marines to march to war were those from Archmagos Belisarius Cawl's laboratories on Mars. Upon Roboute Guilliman's belated return to Terra during the Terran Crusade, the resurrected primarch ordered the fruits of Cawl's long labour unleashed.
This initial wave of Primaris Space Marines emerged from over 10,000 standard years of stasis fully psychologically indoctrinated to each fulfil a single strategic role. Some were Intercessors, some Aggressors and so forth, and almost all specialised only in that one area of combat.
These warriors were able to immediately take up their front-line combat duties with the expertise of veterans, and all possessed a modicum of additional skill with Machine Spirits thanks to their Martian heritage.
Yet ultimately they were somewhat strategically inflexible, for they had not undergone the gruelling progression through their existing Chapters' companies or gained the wealth of experience that progress bestowed. Some of these Martian Primaris Marines formed entirely new Chapters such as the Rift Stalkers or the Silver Templars.
The rest joined the Indomitus Crusade as "Greyshields," fighting together with the scions of other Chapters and primarchs as part of the force known as the Unnumbered Sons until the Indomitus Crusade fleets reached their adoptive homeworld or the fleet of the Firstborn Chapters they were destined to join.
Each time such a momentous occasion came, another cadre of battle-brothers would peel off and reinforce the Chapter whose colours they wore and whose genetic heritage they shared. Not all of these Primaris reinforcements had an easy time integrating with their erstwhile Firstborn brothers, but ultimately all brought fresh strength to the Space Marine Chapters fighting furiously against the tide of horrors vomited from the Great Rift.
In every fortress-monastery and upon every fleet-based Chapter's flagship, the machineries of a grim and bloody future were installed and awoken. From these engines of genesis would fresh waves of Primaris initiates arise, their task to fight for the Emperor's realm.
The first wave of Ultima Founding Primaris Space Marines proved invaluable reinforcements for their parent Chapters. Yet in the ongoing war for Humanity's survival in the Era Indomitus, a single influx of fresh strength would never be enough.
This is why, along with warriors, the Indomitus Crusade fleets included Adeptus Mechanicus Genetor acolytes who integrated themselves with each already existing Chapter's Apothecarion. It was these acolytes and their arcane machines and genetic enhancement techniques that enabled the Adeptus Astartes to recruit and train new Primaris Space Marines within their existing Chapters.
Early during the muster of the Indomitus Crusade, specialised task forces had been assembled and sent racing out into the galaxy. Known as "Torchbearers," they were tasked to make contact with specific Firstborn Space Marine Chapters and to furnish them with the "Primarch's Gift" -- the name given to the genetic technologies and Magi Biologis experts required for those Chapters to create their own Primaris Marine battle-brothers.
Torchbearer task forces typically comprised small, fast, heavily armed craft and were garrisoned with a mixture of Sisters of Silence, Adeptus Custodes of the Emissaries Imperatus, and Greyshield Primaris battle-brothers of the same genetic line as the chosen Chapter to be reinforced. These escorts ensured that their precious cargo reached its destination regardless of threats and impediments and was put swiftly to use by its recipients.
Not every Chapter of Firstborn Marines welcomed these new arrivals; the Adeptus Mechanicus is an acquisitive and controlling organisation, known to be unscrupulous in its pursuit of power. Chapters such as the Dark Angels, the Space Wolves and the Mortifactors are notoriously insular of culture, and some guard dark secrets they would risk much to keep out of the manipulative Tech-priests' databanks.
However, none could deny that being able to recruit and train fresh waves of Primaris Space Marines provided the Adeptus Astartes with a long-term, sustainable wellspring of martial might.
So the process began. Some Chapters implanted all of their aspirants with the full suite of Primaris organs, while others gifted only a proportion of their novitiates in this fashion, leaving the others to develop as traditional Firstborn Astartes.
These newly conditioned battle-brothers benefitted not only from the strength of their Primaris enhancement, but also from the tactical versatility imparted by a full and rounded progression through their Chapter's ranks, coupled with all of the cultural and spiritual indoctrination required to properly initiate the neophytes into their Chapter.
No true son of the primarchs could long look upon the increased might of the new Primaris brothers and not wish to take up that mantle of power for themselves. They sought this agonising apotheosis not for personal glory, but because no true Space Marine would refuse greater strength, resilience and weaponry with which to protect the Imperium and slaughter their many foes.
The warriors of the Ultima Founding had joined their parent Chapters. The machineries and apparartus of the Primarch's Gift developed by Belisarius Cawl and sent out into the galaxy with the Torchbearer task forces had provided those Chapters with waves of new Primaris recruits who had integrated into every level of the Chapters' organisation.
For the Primaris-only Chapters, this was an end to the matter; they stood proudly as defenders of the Imperium, recruiting from their own conquered fiefdoms and forging their own rolls of honour as the years passed.
Yet for those Chapters who had come before, questions remained to be answered. Could a Firstborn Marine who had not been created Primaris undergo the necessary gene-therapies and invasive surgeries required to elevate him to that status? Could he gain the benefits of the enhanced Primaris physique, and access the potent new wargear that was theirs to wield?
In short, could he cross the so-called "Rubicon Primaris" to become a yet-greater living weapon in the Emperor's service, or would attempts to do so simply waste priceless Astartes lives at a time when the Imperium could ill-afford to sacrifice its greatest defenders?
Records now differ as to who were the first Space Marines to take this perilous leap of faith. Some say it was Marneus Calgar of the Ultramarines, or that it was Kor'sarro Khan, the White Scars' ferocious Master of the Hunt, who first made this painful transition.
Other Chapters make their own claims, or else lament the tragic loss of those who tried and failed to ascend. Yet despite the losses suffered and the unspeakable agonies of undertaking the Primaris ascension, more Firstborn battle-brothers crossed the Rubicon with every passing day.
Notable Ascended Primaris Marines
- Marneus Calgar - Ultramarines Chapter Master
- Varro Tigurius - Ultramarines Chief Librarian
- Uriel Ventris - Ultramarines 4th Company captain
- Maximus Epathus - Ultramarines 6th Company captain
- Malkaan Feirros - Iron Hands Iron Father and Master of the Forge
- Kor'sarro Khan - White Scars Master of the Hunt and Khan of the 3rd Brotherhood
- Kayvaan Shrike - Raven Guard Chapter Master
- Adrax Agatone - Salamanders 3rd Company captain
- Tor Garadon - Imperial Fists 3rd Company captain
- Lazarus - Dark Angels 5th Company master
- Xerophus - Dark Angels 9th Company master and Master of Relics
- Mephiston - Blood Angels Chief Librarian
- Amadeus Kaias Incarius - Mentors Lieutenant Commander
- Ragnar Blackmane - Space Wolves Wolf Lord of the Blackmanes Great Company
- Brega Ironfist - First Space Wolves Firstborn to cross the Rubicon Primaris.
- Nasiem Bal Tergu - Tome Keepers' 3rd Company captain
- Kae bal Zhune - Tome Keepers' 3rd Company Ancient
- Julianus Theldor - Ultramarines 1st Company, 10th Squad
- Aymir Vasaphon - Exorcists Chapter Master
- Morn Graevarr - Iron Thane of the Atropos War Clan of the Sons of Medusa Chapter
- Vaylund Cal - Iron Thane of the Atropos War Clan, High Artificer of the Sons of Medusa Chapter
- Helbrecht - High Marshal of the Black Templars
- Merek Grimaldus - Reclusiarch of the Black Templars
Primaris Space Marine Organisation
Space Marine Chapter organisation has been revised in the years since the birth of the Great Rift and the start of the Era Indomitus, the revisions made to the Codex Astartes by the Primarch Roboute Guilliman after his resurrection and the introduction of the Primaris Space Marines into the Adeptus Astartes.
As before, the organisation of a Space Marine Chapter in the wake of the Ultima Founding of the Primaris Marines comprises 1,000 battle-brothers.
In comparison to the teeming multitudes of the Emperor's ancient Firstborn Space Marine Legions this is few indeed, yet history has proven time and time again that such an elite gathering of martial strength can conquer star systems and even alter the fate of the galaxy itself.
After the resurrection of Roboute Guilliman in ca. 999.M41 and his restoration as the ruling lord commander of the Imperium, the Codex Astartes was revised for the new era that began with the birth of the Great Rift and the demands of the Indomitus Crusade.
Under the revised organisational scheme, each of the ten companies of a Chapter still boasts one hundred warriors, led by a captain -- a veteran of countless wars -- and now often two lieutenants as sub-company leaders. A company is still organised into ten squads of ten Space Marines, each led by a sergeant.
However, the guidelines in Guilliman's updated Codex provide for up to twenty squads of five battle-brothers. Furthermore, recent precepts allow for each Battle Company to be reinforced with auxiliary warriors. These additional squads are reassigned from the Reserve Companies.
Of the ten companies, the 1st still consists of the Chapter's most experienced Veterans, and is therefore the most powerful. The Veterans of the 1st Company are still trained to fight in Terminator Armour. It is extremely rare for the Veteran Company to be deployed en masse -- its units normally take to the field alongside the Chapter's Battle Companies.
Whether they be Primaris Marine Intercessors, Vanguard Marine jump troops or Terminator-armoured strike squads, they are often denoted as the Chapter's pre-eminent warriors by their white helms.
The revised Codex Astartes decrees that the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Companies are designated Battle Companies, each nominally broken into two demi-companies of roughly equal size and composition. These generally carry the weight of a Chapter's combat duties. Battle Companies consist of at least six battleline squads, two close support squads and two fire support squads.
Battle Companies provide their commanding officers with a flexible force that can respond to rapidly shifting tactical objectives at a moment's notice.
Squads within Battle Companies may be broken down and deployed across a variety of roles should it be required; for example, were six battle-brothers to take to the field as Aggressors, the remaining four warriors of their squad might find roles piloting Invictor warsuits, driving the strike force's Rhino APCs and the like.
Or Assault Squads, a type of close support squad, may be deployed as Bike Squads or Land Speeder crews and, just as with their fire support brethren known as Devastators, may take to battle as Centurion warsuit pilots.
Many Space Marine strike forces are constructed around squads from a single Battle Company, heavily reinforced by elements of the Veteran, Scout and Reserve Companies.
The Reserve Companies are entirely composed of squads of the same designation. They normally act in support of the Battle Companies and provide a source of replacements for any casualties suffered by the frontline formations.
Their main function is to reinforce the Battle Companies, providing a source of replacements for any casualties suffered on the front line and thus ensuring the Adeptus Astartes retain their effectiveness in protracted or bloody campaigns.
Furthermore, the Codex allows for each Battle Company to be bolstered with additional squads reassigned from the Reserve Companies; the presence of these warriors can take a company's numbers temporarily above the traditional limit of 100 Astartes, lending them the additional strength to overcome especially challenging foes.
Similarly, squads of the 7th Company are trained to fight with Land Speeders and Stormtalons, often acting as a light vehicle reserve formation.
The 8th Company is the Close Support Company and is most often used in an invasion role, or wherever a strong hand-to-hand fighting force is needed.
The 9th Company is the Fire Support Company and is the most heavily equipped company in the Chapter, and its heavy cannon-toting Astartes provide unparalleled fire support to their more lightly-equipped comrades.
It is also not uncommon for the Reserve Companies to form hard-hitting, specialised forces in their own right. They may be deployed to seize or defend important objectives in larger conflicts, the concentrated firepower of so many fire support battle-brothers or the line-breaking fury of massed close support warriors proving the decisive factor in many such engagements.
The specialised nature of each of the Reserve Companies sees them deployed in quite specific circumstances. The battleline warriors of the 6th and 7th Companies will often act as crews for large, independent formations of the various armoured vehicles deployed by the Chapter, allowing commanders to field entire companies of skimmers, battle tanks or other swift assault vehicles.
The highly mobile nature of the 8th Company's close support squads -- often equipped with Jump Packs or embarked aboard transport vehicles -- sees them used in a rapid assault role, as well as wherever a strong hand-to-hand fighting force is needed.
The 9th Company, being the most heavily equipped in the Chapter, is used to bolster defensive lines and strongholds, as well as provide long-range support.
In most Chapters, Space Marines progress through the Reserve Companies -- from the 9th through to the 6th. During his time in the Reserve Companies, a battle-brother will prove his mettle while learning new methods of warfare.
The Chapter's 10th Company is its Scout Company. The majority of its members are neophyte Scout Marines -- those whose combat training, physical transformation and cultural indoctrination into the Chapter is still incomplete -- but the company also contains a standing force of ten Vanguard Space Marine squads.
These warriors can be called upon to conduct a variety of stealth operations behind enemy lines.
The Codex Astartes dictates no formal size for a Scout Company as the rate of recruitment is not fixed, meaning that some Chapters will be able to field comparatively large 10th Company formations while others must husband their limited resources carefully.
All companies, except the Scout Company, maintain a small fleet of Rhino, Razorback and Repulsor armoured transports. The Veteran Company also has a permanent complement of Land Raiders of different patterns and Stormraven gunships for carrying Terminators into the heart of battle.
A Chapter's other armoured vehicles form a pool, maintained by the Armoury, that Captains can draw upon. Many companies also include a number of Dreadnoughts of different patterns, including the Primaris Redemptor Dreadnought.
Every company has its own Dreadnoughts; after being interred in the metal sarcophagus, it is customary for a fallen Space Marine to fall under the care and maintenance of the Chapter Armoury, but to remain a part of the company in which he served.
Not only are these venerable and mighty warriors valuable battlefield assets for the devastation they can wreak upon the foe, but they are also the living embodiment of their company's history and traditions.
Each Dreadnought has its battle honours inscribed into the very metal of its encasement by the Chapter's artificers to celebrate the many brave actions in which it took part.
Whilst each company has a number of its own transport vehicles, the majority of vehicles in a Chapter are maintained by its Armoury. When the need arises these armoured fighting vehicles are deployed as massed spearheads -- wholly independent from the companies and commanded by a senior officer -- or requisitioned individually by a Captain to support their company.
In the latter case, the vehicles are given badges appropriate to the company they will serve and are assigned a simple numerical designator. This number is repeated on the crews' badges, if the vehicle is not manned by a Techmarine novitiate from the Armoury.
Upon its creation, a Space Marine battle tank is given a name that reflects its role as a protector of the Chapter's brethren. From that point onwards, the vehicle is as much a part of the Chapter as the Space Marines themselves, and over the years its many deeds will be celebrated as greatly as those of the Chapter's flesh and blood heroes.
A Chapter also includes a number of officers and specialists who exist outside of the formal organisation of the companies. These individuals are known as the headquarters staff, and they will often stride out to lead a strike force in battle, or provide essential battlefield support, spiritual leadership, psychic capability and destructive combat prowess.
Included amongst their rarefied ranks are the psychically empowered Librarians of the Librarius, the bellicose Chaplains of the Reclusiam, Apothecaries from the Apothecarion, standard-bearing Ancients and the mechanically adept Techmarines and their Servitors.
Although the Codex Astartes describes a number of ranks and responsibilities held by the headquarters staff, only those officers with an active martial role actually accompany the Chapter to war.
There are relatively few senior officers with noncombatant roles -- such as recruiting and training new members or administrating the Chapter -- as most of these types of duties are performed by human Chapter Serfs.
In addition to their rank, captains of the Chapter are still often assigned Space Marine Master titles which include other functional responsibilities. These include such positions as the Lord of the Household, the Chapter Master's Secretarius, the Master of the Fleet, the Chief Victualler, the Master of the Arsenal, the Master of Recruits and the Master of the Watch.
Over all of these mighty warriors still presides the Chapter Master, elevated from the greatest of the Chapter's captains. He alone is responsible for the deeds of the Chapter, and answers directly to the Administratum.
Chapter Masters may select an Honour Guard that are in addition to the company roll, although not all Chapter Masters choose to do so.
Vanguard Space Marines are Primaris Marine reconnaissance and infiltration experts, equipped to operate alone in enemy territory for extended periods of time and intensively trained in shadow warfare tactics and sabotage techniques. Vanguard strike forces are tasked with achieving full-spectrum superiority over the foe.
Every facet of the opposition's war machine must be dismantled, from supply routes and infrastructure to communications and logistics. Morale must be utterly sapped through non-stop harassment by terror troops and assassination of key individuals.
The ultimate goal of this relentless campaign is to leave the foe crippled and helpless before the advance of the main Space Marine battle line.
Every newly recruited and created Primaris Space Marine spends time in the 10th Company learning the full range of Vanguard combat techniques, from the mobile fire support duties of the Suppressors and the expert sniper-combat of the Eliminators, to the terror raids of the Reivers and the point-blank gunfighting of the Incursors.
The Primaris battle-brothers keep their Vanguard skills honed even after they move on to other companies, meaning that at a moment's notice they can don any of the various types of Mark X Phobos Power Armour and go to battle as Vanguard Space Marines.
Even Veterans of the 1st Company can swiftly reprise such duties, combining the benefits of their vast wealth of combat experience with the specialised and wholly lethal infiltration-and-sabotage tools of the Vanguard.
When a full-sized Vanguard force deploys into battle they often do so with armoured support from Invictor Tactical Warsuits and Impulsor transports, not to mention the leadership of captains, Librarians and the like also armed and armoured for stealth warfare.
An elite, fast-moving, silent-striking force of this sort can secure victories through ambush, sabotage and assassination that a far larger army could never achieve through brute force alone.
Terminator Strike Forces
Individual squads of Terminators are most often deployed as ultra-elite support for the Battle Companies. However, there are times when a Chapter will mass the majority -- and in exceptionally rare cases, even the entirety -- of its Terminator-armoured brethren and send them into battle as an utterly devastating strike force.
This occurs most commonly when an infantry assault is required against a confined and inimical location. Clearing xenos infestations out of vast Space Hulks, striking at the heart of heretical fortresses and staging boarding actions against super-heavy enemy war engines are all examples of duties that Terminator forces excel at.
Equally, some Chapters may furnish their Terminator Squads with transport in the form of gunships and battle tanks, and field them as swift and utterly unstoppable assault forces. The risks involved in such an action are high, for every suit of Terminator battle-plate is an irreplaceable relic, and those who wear it to battle are scarcely less valuable -- should such a force suffer heavy losses or, worse, be annihilated, their Chapter may never truly recover.
Yet it is a risk often worth taking; a hundred Terminator-armoured Space Marines supported by Land Raiders and Stormravens possess more than enough martial might to lay low the most monstrous of foes, or conquer an entire world in the Emperor's name.
The Codex Astartes makes provision for every Space Marine Chapter to maintain its own combat-capable fleet. Indeed, some Chapters are entirely fleet-based, roaming the galaxy aboard armadas of voidcraft that between them serve the same functions as other Chapters fortress-monasteries.
Many Chapters, especially the older and more established amongst them, also retain a handful of Battle Barges; these potent craft are every bit as formidable as Imperial Navy battleships, and often serve as the storied flagships of each Chapter's fleet.
It is in the launch bays of such warships that the Chapter's Drop Pods and Boarding Torpedoes wait to bear the warriors of the Chapter into war. Their launch decks, meanwhile, house squadron after squadron of fightercraft and gunships ready to swarm out and defend their parent craft or support ground forces in battle.
Primaris Officers and Specialists
|Primaris Captain||The Primaris Captain is a stoic, indomitable commander. He is as much a strategist and tactician as he is a warrior, possessing masteries in both ranged and close quarter combat. The Primaris Astartes Captain is identical in function to the standard Space Marine rank and commands a full company of 100 Primaris Space Marines.|
|Primaris Chaplain||The Primaris Chaplain is the latest imposing iteration of a classic Space Marine hero. His Mark X Power Armour has been decorated with the symbols of his office, including a grim skull mask and Iron Halo. In one hand, he carries his signature Crozius Arcanum, while the other wields a high-calibre Absolvor Bolt Pistol. The Primaris Chaplain is a brutal melee combatant and can drive his fellow Primaris Astartes into a killing frenzy.|
|Primaris Apothecary||The Primaris Space Marine Apothecary serves as combat medic, physician and biomedical researcher; identical in function to standard Space Marine rank though better armed with an Absolvor Bolt Pistol and a Reductor Pistol to aid in the extraction of gene-seed from mortally wounded Astartes.|
|Primaris Librarian||The Primaris Librarian blends the noble bearing of the Primaris Captain with a wealth of occult detail and baroque cybernetics indicative of a darker, more mysterious kind of warrior. He serves as both a combat psyker and Chapter lorekeeper and is identical in function to the standard Space Marine rank.|
|Primaris Lieutenant||Serves as a sub-company leader with two assigned per company of 100 Primaris Space Marines; this new rank has now been introduced to all Adeptus Astartes formations as Roboute Guilliman begins revisions to the Codex Astartes.|
|Primaris Ancient||The Ancient serves as a Standard Bearer for a company or full Chapter of Primaris Space Marines.|
|Vanguard Lieutenant||Primaris Lieutenants of the Vanguard Space Marine formations provide support and tactical flexibility for their Captain. Often, when a strike team is engaged in a complex, multi-faceted operation, a Lieutenant will be assigned to oversee one or more critical aspects.|
|Vanguard Librarian||Librarians chosen for Vanguard service have mastered unique battle-disciplines that focus on obscuring the passage of their comrades and wrong-footing the opponent with illusions and hallucinations.|
Primaris Tactical Roles
|Intercessors||An Intercessor is the standard multirole battleline heavy infantry of the Primaris Space Marines and is similar in combat function to a Tactical Squad of standard Astartes or a Legion Tactical Squad of ancient Astartes Legionaries.|
|Inceptors||An Inceptor is the standard Jump Pack-equipped fire support unit of the Primaris Space Marines who wear the Mark X Gravis variant of Mark X Power Armour; Inceptors are similar in combat function to an Assault Squad of standard Astartes.|
|Hellblasters||Hellblasters are fire support Primaris Marines who are intended to serve in the role of heavy fire support and are armed with Mark III Belisarius Pattern Plasma Incinerators. They serve a similar combat function as the ancient Legion Tactical Support Squads and to present-day Devastator Squads found among Firstborn Astartes.|
|Reivers||Reivers are a new type of close support Astartes combat specialist unique to formations of Primaris Space Marines who are tasked for close-combat stealth operations. Their Mark X Tacticus Power Armour has been modified to display a skull-faced helm, to possess enlarged left-side pauldrons and to run completely silently. Reivers can deploy deep behind hostile lines via Grapnel Launcher or Grav-Chutes.|
|Aggressors||The Aggressors are a new type of Astartes fire support specialists unique to formations of Primaris Space Marines. They are tasked with heavy long-range fire support and have been outfitted with modified suits of Mark X Gravis Power Armour refitted to carry shoulder-mounted missile launchers that can be automatically reloaded from internal stores within their battle-plate. They also wield Flame Gauntlets that unleashing blazing streams of Promethium upon any foes that get in close.|
|Incursors||An Incursor is a close support Primaris Space Marine unit that fulfils an aggressive, close-quarters gun-fighting role within Adeptus Astartes forces. Their missions typically see them storming defended positions, sweeping the flanks of spearhead advances or rapidly knocking out strategic enemy assets such as power generatorums and communication centres.|
|Vanguard Infiltrators||Vanguard Infiltrators are battleline units responsible for disrupting enemy communications and sabotaging targets of opportunity.|
|Vanguard Eliminator||Dedicated marksmen, these fire support warriors haunt the shadows of the battlefield, seeking out high-value targets and bringing them down with pinpoint volleys.|
|Vanguard Suppressor||Vanguard Suppressors are fire support units that specialise in rapid responses to heavily armoured enemy threats, entering battle either by dropping directly into the action via Grav-Chutes or in long, bounding leaps with their Jump Packs.|
Forces of the Primaris Space Marines
|Primaris Space Marine Forces|
|Command||Primaris Captain • Primaris Lieutenant • Vanguard Lieutenant • Primaris Ancient|
|Specialists||Primaris Apothecary (Helix Adept) • Primaris Librarian • Vanguard Librarian • Primaris Chaplain|
|Battleline||Intercessor • Vanguard Infiltrator|
|Close Support||Inceptor • Reiver • Incursor|
|Fire Support||Hellblaster • Aggressor • Vanguard Eliminator • Vanguard Suppressor|
|Combat Walkers and Vehicles||Astraeus • Redemptor Dreadnought • Repulsor • Repulsor Executioner • Impulsor • Gladiator • Raider (Bike) • Invader ATV • Invictor Tactical Warsuit • Stormspeeder|
|Aircraft||Overlord • Drop Pod|
- Dark Imperium (Novel) by Guy Haley, Chs. 6, 7, 12, 13, 15, 18, 20
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (8th Edition), pp. 30, 33, 40-41, 61-63
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Blood Angels (8th Edition), pp. 16, 19
- Codex Adepus Astartes - Dark Angels (8th Edition), pp. 15, 18-19
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 10-12, 14, 20-21, 68-82
- Codex: Adeptus Custodes (8th Edition), pg. 27, 32
- Codex: Space Marines (8th Edition) (Revised Codex), pp. 20-21, 70, 81, 87-88, 123
- Codex: Space Marines (9th Edition), pg. 59
- Codex: Space Marines (9th Edition), pg. 7
- Codex: Space Wolves (9th Edition), pg. 23
- Codex Supplement: Ultramarines (8th Edition), pg. 17, "The 6th Company"
- Imperium Nihilus: Vigilus Defiant (8th Edition), "The Rubicon Primaris," pg. 77
- Psychic Awakening: Saga of the Beast (8th Edition), pg. 35
- Psychic Awakening: Ritual of the Damned (8th Edition), pg. 42
- Spear of the Emperor (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Ch. 20
- The Death of Uriel Ventris (Short Story) by Graham McNeill
- Traitor by Deed (Novella) by Ben Counter, Ch. 1, Cover (Illustration)
- White Dwarf 12 (August 2017), "The Birth of Angels"
- White Dwarf 36 (September 2019), "Index Astartes: Dark Angels", pg. 28
- White Dwarf 39 (November 2019), "Dawn of the Era Indomitus," pp. 46-51
- White Dwarf 455 (July 2020), "Organisation of a Chapter," pp. 84-85
- White Dwarf 458 (November 2020),"Index Astartes: Tome Keepers" by Dan Harden & James Gallagher, pp. 46-59
- White Dwarf 460 (January 2021), "A Tale of Four Warlords," pp. 58-59
- White Dwarf 462 (March 2021), "Index Astartes: Exorcists," pg. 43-49
- White Dwarf 470 (November 2021), "A Tale of Four Warlords," pp. 48
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