Known colloquially as "shivs" to the soldiers of the Astra Militarum due to the shivering, blurring appearance of their Transonic Weapons, Ruststalkers can dart across a battlefield with daunting speed and fight with a frantic energy.
A few heartbeats later, their enemies suddenly seem to disintegrate -- hacked limb from limb in showers of blood as the keening blades of the Ruststalkers locate the armour's resonant frequency and their wielders howl in triumph.
Sicarian Ruststalkers were originally devised as cybernetic assassins, sent into the Red Planet's wastes to hunt down feral servitors and other undesirables excommunicated from the Cult Mechanicus. They proved so effective at their task they were repurposed and militarised into groups known as "killclades."
Since that day Ruststalker manufacturing has spread to every Forge World and the troops have fought on the front line of the Cult Mechanicus' many wars.
The Ruststalkers of the Skitarii Legions fall upon their foes in a slashing, stabbing frenzy. Their transonic blades blur as they dart and cut like the weapons of gladiatorial knife-fighters, the deadly resonances they transmit bypassing armour as if it offered no more resistance than a hologram.
The weapons of the Ruststalkers are sinister examples of the Adeptus Mechanicus' mastery over the laws of physics; they emanate a strong, sick hum that plays on the soul. When these horrible devices are put to use, their sonic field swoops across a variety of wavelengths until it finds the exact molecular frequency to simply pass through whatever armour their foes are wearing.
The gory results, though they take a second or two to manifest, are considered by tech-priests to be well worth the wait. So lethal is this offshoot of sonic technology that the Tech-priests have refined it into many forms. These range from stiletto-swift razors to the much-feared Chordclaw, a needle-fingered gauntlet capable of turning a man's flesh to quivering mulch.
The tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus revere ancient technology such as the robots of the Legio Cybernetica, which are held in greatest regard, but the same cannot be said for the troops of the Skitarii Legions, who are churned out on uncaring production lines.
The Skitarii are functional and effective en masse, but are never treasured as individuals, even by the tech-priests that fix them, often using whatever spare parts are at hand. However, this has not stopped a few clades from distinguishing themselves, and if their deeds and heroic efforts are not recognised by their masters, they are at least made note of by their foes.
During their invasion of Ryza, the Orks of WAAAGH! Rarguts learned to fear one particular unit of Ruststalkers more than any other. Clade R2-111 attacked during the acid rain season, using the deluges to cover their infiltration. They developed distinctive dripping rust patterns that the Greenskins grew to fear, naming them the "Rust-rippers."
Several clades from Stygies VIII have earned similar infamy amongst their foes, including those clades known as the "Crimson Blades" and the "Skullmarks." These units seem to have gone rogue, often bearing unusual markings and appearing unbidden amongst other legions that have been summoned to battle.
As all their acts have been in aid of their Forge World, little effort has been expended to track them down for reprogramming.
- Sicarian Killclade - The vile hissing that accompanies a Sicarian Killclade on the hunt gnaws at the mind. When the stomach-churning hum of Transonic Weapons mingles with the mind-numbing aura of a Sicarian Infiltrator assault, its effect can be magnified, leaving those brave or foolish enough to stand their ground all but crippled. The sight of their foes reeling from their approach fills the Sicarians with righteous faith, readying them for the hyperaction imperatives their masters inload as they near the foe. At an unspoken command, the Sicarian Ruststalkers of the Killclade will burst from concealment like hunter-arachnids. Their Transonic Weapons flash azure as they plunge headlong into the foe with reckless haste, then gory red as the butchery begins. A Sicarian Killclade typically consists of three squads of Sicarian Ruststalkers accompanied by a single squad of Sicarian Infiltrators.
- 4-9 Sicarian Ruststalkers
- 1 Ruststalker Princeps
As standard, Sicarian Ruststalkers are armed with:
- Sicarian Battle Armour - As agility is of paramount importance to the long-limbed killers of the Sicarian brotherhood, Sicarian Ruststalkers go to war clad in Sicarian Battle Armour. This is made up of a multi-layered alloy that, though thin and flexible, provides admirable physical protection. This alloy, informally known as aegium, acts as a capacitor that harnesses the energy of incoming attacks and disperses it harmlessly across the wearers bionic frame.
- Transonic Razor - A Transonic Razor emits a low, insistent buzz that makes stomachs turn and eyes vibrate in their sockets. When they strike armour, these weapons will adjust their hostile sonic field to match the armour's resonant frequency, quickly slicing right through it
- Chordclaw - A Transonic Weapon in the form of a needle-fingered gauntlet capable of turning a man's muscle, bone and fat to jelly.
- Mindscrambler Grenades - Mindscrambler Grenades harbour the egg-sac of a Cthellan electrogenesis squid. When detonated, the resultant surge of bio-electricity causes heavy neural trauma in living creatures and artificial sentiences alike.
All members of a Sicarian Ruststalker squad can choose to replace their Transonic Razor, Chordclaw, and Mindscrambler Grenades with:
- Twin Transonic Blades - Stiletto-swift weapons wielded in pairs, Transonic Blades are a form of Transonic Weapon that augments the user's own strength to devastating effect.
Optional wargear that a Ruststalker Princeps can take include:
- Chordclaw - A Chordclaw can be taken if the Ruststalker Princeps chooses to wield twin Transonic Blades.
- Prehensile Dataspike - Usually mounted on a tail-like Mechadendrite, the dataspikes favoured by the agents of the Adeptus Mechanicus can stab into the cortex of enemy machines and steal their secrets within a couple of heartbeats.
- Relics of Mars - Relics of Mars are items of terrifying power that are sometimes bestowed upon a Skitarii Alpha or Sicarian Princeps by a senior tech-priest for them to field test.
- Special Issue Wargear - Elite Skitarii warriors have the right to bear special issue wargear into battle, which can include either a Conversion Field or Refractor Field, and Digital Weapons.
- Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus (8th Edition), pp. 50, 79
- Codex: Adeptus Mechanicus - Skitarii (7th Edition), pp. 27, 32, 34-39, 59, 66, 75-78