"While vile mutants still draw breath, there can be no peace. While obscene heretics' hearts still beat, there can be no respite. While faithless traitors still live, there can be no forgiveness."
- — Silver Skulls, Catechism of Hate, Verse I of XXV
The Chapter has been at the forefront of the Emperor's wars since its birth, and fought alongside others of the Ultramarines' so-called Primogenitor Successor Chapters on numerous occasions as if they were kin.
For many Terran years the Silver Skulls believed themselves to be proud Ultramarine Successors of the Second Founding but the passage of time had eroded all record of their true origins.
But after the 13th Black Crusade their beliefs were confirmed to be true when the Primarch Roboute Guilliman was resurrected and the Chapter was officially recognised as one of the Avenging Son's own and received an infusion of Primaris Space Marines drawn from his lineage.
The Silver Skulls have earned a reputation for achieving victory for the Imperium of Man no matter the odds stacked against them.
Of course, this reputation has been earned because the Silver Skulls will only take to the battlefield when the psychic portents that their specialist Librarians known as Prognosticators receive from the Emperor indicate that the outcome of the combat will be favourable for the Chapter.
Though this limits when the Silver Skulls will seek out battle, it also leads them to fight with the absolute conviction of fanatics, which does not sit well with some Imperial commanders.
The Silver Skulls' homeworld is the Feral World of Varsavia, which lies on the edge of the region of the galaxy known as the Gildar Rift, a stellar body located within the Segmentum Obscurus to the galactic southwest of the Storm of the Emperor's Wrath and a short distance from the Varsavia System.
This thinly settled area is known to be haunted by numerous xenos species. Varsavia's barbaric human tribes form the primary source of Aspirants for the Silver Skulls. The Chapter must regularly face all manner of threats, and in recent times has fought significant and costly battles against the Drukhari and the resurgent Necrons.
The Silver Skulls adhere broadly to the letter and intent of the Codex Astartes, only diverging from their presumed genetic inheritance in the details of their Chapter cult. The Silver Skulls engage in a number of barbaric rites that are likely to have emanated from the cultures from which they recruit.
Notable amongst these is the practise of head taking, whereby especially potent enemies are beheaded during battle, their decapitated heads borne as trophies until victory is won. As part of its post-battle celebrations, the Chapter selects the heads of the most powerful enemies, flense flesh from bone and layer the skulls in a coat of silver.
Another characteristic feature of the Silver Skulls' character is to be witnessed in their use of various precognitive disciplines. While some would label them overly superstitious, the Silver Skulls believe that by consulting the Emperor's Tarot, the Chapter's Librarians -- referred to as Prognosticators -- seek to decipher the Emperor's will and commit their strength as best suits His otherwise unknowable scheme. Because of this enhanced role within the Chapter's traditions, the Prognosticators work closely with the Silver Skulls' Chaplains.
On some occasions, the Prognosticators have counselled against the Chapter becoming embroiled in a particular war, though honour has often dictated that it does so regardless.
To fight knowing that defeat is inevitable is perhaps a curse the Chapter must bear, the price of the wisdom the Prognosticators are undoubtedly party to. Despite their seemingly mercurial nature, the Silver Skulls are known to fight with honour the length and breadth of the Imperium.
Although there was little information available on the Chapter in Imperial records, several references indicated that the Silver Skulls were amongst the most renowned and honoured Chapters of the Second Founding's ranks.
Whatever the truth of their heritage, the Silver Skulls have earned a reputation for victory, no matter the odds.
The Silver Skulls rely upon their Librarians to keep up this reputation; the Chapter never deploys without consulting a Librarian's augury, and consider such utterances as the word of the Emperor Himself.
This is because the Silver Skulls believe that the Emperor guides their purpose and they choose to take to the battlefield only when portents demand it. Such mercurial behaviour does not sit well with some Imperial commanders, but victory is seen as ample compensation by most of the Silver Skulls' allies.
Their homeworld is the Feral World of Varsavia but they do not seem to solely recruit from there. The Chapter also finds its Aspirants on a world called Garanda II, recruiting the feral tribesmen from that planet's Ash Wastes. Varsavia and Garanda II are only two of many recruitment planets used by the Silver Skulls.
The Gildar Rift
The Silver Skulls' Chapter homeworld of Varsavia hugs the outer rim of the region of the galaxy known as the Gildar Rift. In this far-flung, oft-neglected area of the Imperium, the Silver Skulls represent the closest Astartes response force.
With increasing raids by the Renegade forces of the Maelstrom threatening the region, Lord Commander Argentius agreed to the region's need for semi-permanent protection provided by the Silver Skulls. Regular patrols were provided from the Chapter Fleet, a rotating duty for those battle-brothers who are not deployed on the field of battle elsewhere.
Ever since piratical raiders had first assaulted the Gildar System, the Silver Skulls had established their patrols across the rift. From the moment they had responded to the first attack of the Renegades from the Maelstrom, any further such incursions that had been attempted had been met with swift justice, delivered by a Chapter of Space Marines who were not known for their patience.
The Silver Skulls delivered their judgement on transgressors with the minimum of preamble, and such judgement was invariably punctuated with a punishing and ultimately terminal salvo from a bombardment cannon.
Relishing the challenges that maintaining peace in the sector offered, the Silver Skulls had set themselves to the task of regularly patrolling the Gildar Rift. Other Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes would rarely volunteer themselves for such an inglorious duty. But the Silver Skulls considered the sector to be a part of their Chapter territory.
Over the years, the Silver Skulls and the infamous Chaos Space Marines of the Red Corsairs who dwelled within the permanent Warp rift that was the Maelstrom had shared many encounters. The Gildar Rift has seen incursions from these would-be raiders many times but each had been successfully thwarted.
During the recent events of Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade, the long-standing Fortress World of Cadia was destroyed. With Cadia's fall and the loss of the network of Necron-built Cadian Pylons that had long prevented the Eye of Terror from naturally expanding into the Materium, the Warp rift began to expand exponentially across the width of the known galaxy. This tear in reality, known as the Great Rift, effectively rent the Imperium in half.
The beleaguered forces of the Imperium increasingly found themselves overwhelmed as the power of Chaos and the xenos hordes grew unstoppable. Whole sectors of the Imperium lost contact with Terra, while others reported the onslaught of rabid greenskin hordes, aggressive T'au fleets or undying Necron hosts, seemingly driven to conquest in the face of the expanding Warp Storm fronts. Heretic Chaos Cults and rogue psykers rose up in the billions, and every Imperial world now seemed set to burn in the fires of unending war.
But all was not lost, for upon the Ultramarines' homeworld of Macragge during the Ultramar Campaign of 999.M41, the genius of Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl combined with the power of Ynnead, the Aeldari god of the dead, to resurrect the Primarch Roboute Guilliman from his millennia-long, deathless slumber.
Guilliman had anticipated the need for a new breed of hero for this, the darkest age in the Imperium's history. He knew that the galaxy would need warriors resilient enough to stand against the Forces of Chaos as the Imperium found itself poised on the brink of annihilation.
To that end, for 10,000 standard years, Archmagos Cawl had been working upon improving the Adeptus Astartes themselves. The result were the Primaris Space Marines of the Ultima Founding, a more powerful corps of transhuman warriors, more potent than even the original Astartes.
New armies were raised in breathtaking numbers and new and terrible weapons were developed whose fury even the worshippers of the Dark Gods would be unable to withstand. Gathering a great new armada, composed of elements of the Adeptus Custodes, the Silent Sisterhood and a vast war host of Primaris Space Marines from many newly founded Chapters, the Lord Commander of the Imperium launched his Indomitus Crusade.
With the resurrected primarch's assurance of their lineage as descendants of the Ultramarines Legion confirmed, the Silver Skulls was also one of the first Chapters to receive the genetically-enhanced Primaris Space Marines within its ranks.
Despite their rigid adherence to their superstitious beliefs in prognostication and portents, since the opening of the Great Rift, the Silver Skulls have been amongst the most active of all Chapters, fighting on many fronts.
- The Red Heresy (290-310.M36) - During the Age of Apostasy, the Red Heresy Plague erupted across the Don'lorth Sector, a foreshadowing of the later battles that would become known as The Plague of Unbelief. It was here that the Cult of the Old Gods rose. Agitators and anarchists stired up the hives into open rebellion. Workers in their untold billions were urged by red-robed priests to cast off their shackles, to reject the corpse-god Emperor. The horrific slaughter of all agents of the Adeptus Administratum and Adeptus Ministorum was enough to draw in vast fleets of Imperial armed forces. Seeking a quick way to end the rebellion, the Silver Skulls Chapter deployed en masse in a desperate attempt to kill the leaders behind the rising cult. The hunt was disastrous -- with Drop Pod assaults ambushed and multiple Thunderhawks brought down en route to their objectives. Only the arrival of the Dark Angels Deathwing and Ravenwing forces, along with the 3rd Company of the Angels of Vengeance, staved off certain defeat. However, the Silver Skulls observed the Deathwing forsaking the battle in pursuit of a mysterious robed Space Marine, who turned out to be the notorious Fallen known as Cypher. Before Cypher escaped, an Angels of Vengeance Librarian detected several Fallen ensconced within the red-robed hierarchy of the Red Heresy. The Silver Skulls were left to dig themselves out of their own predicament. They did so, but openly condemned the Dark Angels; another formal protest was filed to the High Lords of Terra.
- Expedition to Beta-Garmon IV (679.M36) - When the Rogue Trader Lord-Admiral Khorlu was tasked by the High Lords of Terra themselves with penetrating the benighted Veil of Kanth in search of the fabled Beta-Garmon System, he invoked ancient familial bonds and secured a demi-company of the Silver Skulls Chapter's 7th Company to aid him in this perilous quest. With the Chapter ever at the spearhead of the expedition, the system was rediscovered. However, the battle to take the glittering jewel that is Beta-Garmon IV proved bloody and at its successful conclusion, Lord-Admiral Khorlu ceded the world to the Silver Skulls in honour of their services.
- Great Malagantine Purge (770.M38-791.M38) - The Great Malagantine Purge was an Imperial military operation carried out in the years 770-791.M38 by 5 Space Marine Chapters collectively termed the Manus Irae who unleashed the Emperor of Mankind's wrath upon the heretical Malagant Sector in the Segmentum Tempestus. The details of this operation have been kept secret from the Imperial Adepta, including the Inquisition, with the records of the campaign sealed deep within the Celarno Vaults on Terra. What is recorded in fragmentary Imperial records is that the Manus Irae were charged by the High Lords of Terra of that era to "spare none and set a bloody, fearful example to the realm of Mankind." The death toll unleashed by the Manus Irae during the course of this 21-year long campaign is believed to have been enormous and to have cost hundreds of billions of lives. Whole worlds were put to the sword by the Astartes or were wiped clean of all life by Exterminatus orders that unleashed a hideous, flesh-dissolving virus upon their inhabitants. In recognition of their successful participation in this campaign, the Fire Hawks Chapter was granted the Feudal World of Costeau XI as their demesne by the High Lords. However, due to their willingness to carry out such merciless exterminations of civilian populations whose guilt was not clear, the Fire Hawks would be shunned by many of their fellow Astartes Chapters. The Black Fragments of Cardinal Bloch the Reviled, one of the few remaining heretical sources which contain information concerning the Purge of Malagant, explains that the Manus Irae consisted of 5 Chapters, but listed only three by name, including the Fire Hawks, the Silver Skulls and the Charnel Guard.
- The Corinth Crusade (698.M41-705.M41) - The Silver Skulls participated in the Corinth Crusade that fought under the command of the famous Chapter Master Marneus Calgar alongside elements of the Ultramarines, the Angels of Absolution, the Lamenters, Scythes of the Emperor and Marines Errant Chapters, supported by 50 Imperial Guard regiments against the Ork WAAAGH! Skargor. The Crusade drove WAAAGH! Skargor back to the world of Corinth and ultimately Warlord Skargor was slain. This Crusade pushed back the later invasion of Imperial space by the Charadon Orks' WAAAGH! Argluk by 30 standard years.
- Lazar System Blockade (857.M41) - The Silver Skulls' Chapter fleet blockaded the Dead Worlds of the Lazar System for three years in 857.M41. Nothing got in or out, and no explanation for the blockade of this empty system was ever provided by the Silver Skulls. In truth, the Silver Skulls had been engaged in a campaign against the Necrons to purge them from the system's worlds in vengeance for the destruction wrought by the Necrons upon the Silver Skulls' 4th Company. Though the main Tomb World in the system was overwhelmed and obliterated by the Astartes, the Silver Skulls soon regretted their hasty assault, as secondary Necron bases throughout the Lazar System were awakened to life following the destruction of the Tomb World. Unable to admit defeat, the Silver Skulls chose to dig in, and what should have been a simple reciprocal assault transformed into a grueling military campaign involving the entire Chapter. To this day, no outsider has ever learned the truth of what happened in the Lazar System.
- The Traveller Has Come (859.M41) - The nomadic Necron Overlord Anrakyr the Traveller arrived in the embattled Lazar System and immediately joined his forces to those defending against the Silver Skulls' onslaught. Necron victory was finally assured at the Battle of Dreadpeak, when Anrakyr's Pyrrhian Eternals spearheaded an assault on the Silver Skulls' downed Battle Barge Argent Hammer. Though the Space Marines battled hard against the veterans of Pyrrhia, their efforts were undone when Anrakyr seized control over the Battle Barge's still-functioning weapon batteries and turned their fury on the Imperial defenders. With their Chapter Master slain and their forces in disarray, the Silver Skulls were forced to withdraw their blockade of Lazar -- though they took great care to ensure that word of their defeat did not spread. His duty done, Anrakyr took ship and headed out into the galaxy once more to aid the Necron cause.
- Scouring of Ammas (892.M40) - During the Scouring of Ammas, Space Marines of the Silver Skulls Chapter first encountered the daemonic warband known as "The Soulmaw". Their champion was apparently destroyed by the Librarian Lucius Clave.
- The Soulmaw Assault Aragave (954.M41) - Having survived the horrors of the Black Night, the citizens of Aragave, a vassal world of the Silver Skulls, were further tormented by an unidentified daemonic warband. When the Silver Skulls Chapter responded to the distress call, the Daemons quickly vanished. These entities were suspected to be the daemonic warband called "The Soulmaw".
- Soulmaw Assault on Varsavia (955.M41) - With much of the Silver Skulls Chapter absent, the daemonic warband known as "The Soulmaw" struck against several worlds close to the Chapter's homeworld of Varsavia. The Silver Skulls' Chapter Librarians suspected a daemonic attack on their homeworld was imminent. They barely managed to resist the Chaos attack.
- Battle of Valoria Quintus (Unknown Date.M41) - The Oracles of Change Heretic Astartes, led by the Chaos Sorcerer Karteitja, assault the Imperial world of Valoria Quintus. Their goal is to transform the planet into a new Daemon World dedicated to Tzeentch. The Oracles prove successful in capturing the Governor's Palace at the heart of the world's capital city and corrupting the city's population to the service of Chaos. However, the arrival of a force of Silver Skulls Space Marines disrupts the Oracles' ritual and causes the plan to fail. As the Silver Skulls reclaim the world in the name of the Emperor, Karteitja was abandoned by his comrades and slain by a Silver Skulls Terminator.
- Third War for Armageddon (998.M41) - The Silver Skulls participated in the Third War for Armageddon, deploying 7 companies. The ruins of Hades Hive, badly damaged during the Second War for Armageddon, were once again the scene of heavy fighting during this conflict. Space Marines from the Silver Skulls Chapter were engaged in fierce battles in an attempt to prevent the Orks from looting valuable metals from the shattered hive city for use in the construction of the gargantuan Greenskin war machines known as Gargants. The five companies of the Silver Skulls at Hades Hive had to fall back from Yarrick's Hope Harbour after a tanker full of Orks and explosives rammed the docks. However, the Silver Skulls struck back at the foul xenos, having shown exemplary skill in infiltrating one of the Ork Roks to the southeast of the hive, fighting their way into the core of the fortress and using the Orks' own teleporter arrays to send thermic charges into the orbiting Space Hulks that had previously provided the Orks with a continual stream of troops and war machines.
- The Gildar Rift (998.M41) - The Silver Skulls Chapter fleet encountered and destroyed a Red Corsairs strike force comprising several Executor-class Grand Cruisers. The surviving Renegades made planetfall on several planets in the Gildar System including its primary world, Gildar Secundus, but the Silver Skulls were not to be thwarted so easily. Captain Daerys Arrun, the Master of the Fleet for the Silver Skulls and commander of the 4th Battle Company, ordered his Astartes to track down the Red Corsairs and launch a planetary assault on the world of Gildar Secundus where they had gone to ground. In a matter of weeks, the Gildar System was declared free of the Red Corsairs' influence, though the price proved high for the Silver Skulls -- Captain Arrun was slain in single combat with Huron Blackheart, the Tyrant of Badab, the infamous Chaos Lord who leads the Red Corsairs. Blackheart and many of his Renegades escaped from Gildar Secundus to plague the Imperium at a later date, but the people of the Gildar Rift were kept in the Emperor's light through the sacrifice of Daerys Arrun.
- Zeist Campaign (999.M41) - The Silver Skulls participated in the Zeist Campaign, heeding the call of the Lord Macragge, Marneus Calgar, the Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, who tasked Captain Cato Sicarius of the 2nd Company to lead the Imperial forces in containing the T'au expansion in the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy. The Silver Skulls contributed several Tactical Squads that were instrumental in the successful assault and liberation of the world of Augura, which had served as a primary forward base of operations for the T'au Empire's forces during its Third Sphere Expansion.
- Second Relief of Mordian (Iron Crusade) (Unknown Date.M42) - As Imperial forces withdrew from the Stygius Sector during the Invasion of the Stygius Sector, the Iron Hands refused to retreat and instead gathered on Mordian, itself under siege from Chaos forces. Alongside a mere dozen or so regiments of the Mordian Iron Guard, the Iron Hands sought to reforge themselves and purge the weakness they had displayed earlier in the campaign. During the siege the Iron Hands were joined by allies enraged by the defeatism of the Imperial forces, among them the Brazen Claws, Fire Lords, Silver Skulls, Sons of Medusa, and Iron Lords in what became known as the "Iron Crusade." They arrived on Mordian to find the planet terrorised by a Night Lords warband under the command of Ahrak Deathshriek and his Raptor hordes. Deathshriek planned to use the terror his Heretic Astartes created in the Mordian population to power a Chaos ritual that would plunge the entire world into the Warp. The Iron Hands and their allies struck with customary bluntness, emerging without warning from the Warp and engaging the Traitor fleet in orbit and launching a Drop Pod assault on Mordian's capital. Clan Avernii under [[[Captain|Iron Captain]] Caanok Var led the charge and Deathshriek drove his Chaos Cultists into the Iron Hands' guns. One by one, the remaining Iron Hands Clan Companies joined the battle and Deathshriek was wounded in single combat by Var. Even as the Iron Hands' drop zone came under fresh assault from the Benedictian Guard and the Cult of the Whispered Word, Renegade warlords from across the sector united in their realisation that the Iron Hands could be wholly destroyed. With the Loyalist assault faltering, Deathshriek claimed victory as he led his fleet against the Iron Hands in space, outnumbering their warships three to one. It was at this point that the Iron Hands Successor Chapters arrived. Deathshriek's armada was caught in disarray by the Loyalist reinforcements and crushed. The newly-arrived Loyalist warships rained obliteration below on the Mordian populace. The orbital bombardment seemed indiscriminate, but nothing could have been further from the truth. The tactical doctrine known as "Hammer and the Storm" had been pursued planetside as well as in the trackless void, the Iron Hands' assault calculated to stir the Renegades and Traitors into reckless deeds. What had seemed a faltering Loyalist advance had merely paused while the Iron Hands Techmarines laboured to erect void shields and reinforce the capital city's surviving bunkers. Thus the Iron Hands and those portions of the Mordian populace they deemed worthy of survival endured the orbital firestorm. Their foes, caught in the open and drunk on the prospect of their imminent victory, were not so fortunate. In a little over one solar hour's bombardment, the Chaos hold on Mordian was broken for the second time. Eventually other Imperial reinforcements arrived from Cypra Mundi and the Iron Crusade was able to not only push the Chaos forces off Mordian, but to counterattack Chaos garrisons on nearby worlds. The Iron Hands' governing Iron Council then unleashed a second phase of the campaign, with a plan to scour the surviving worlds of the Mordian System of their Chaos presence and wrest the refineries and orbital shipyards of the neighbouring Kharvos System from Chaos. At present, the campaign is ongoing.
Since Roboute Guilliman laid down the organisational dictates for the Space Marines in the Codex Astartes, it has become the prescription for the military organisation and order of battle for almost every Space Marine Chapter in the Imperium. Believing themselves to be Scions of Guilliman, the Silver Skulls strive to emulate their forebears' example and do their primarch proud.
However, the Silver Skulls have strayed from the precise structure laid out in the Codex, though the Chapter remains faithful to the spirit of the Codex' teachings. Their main difference from Codex-compliant Chapters is that the Silver Skulls possess a specialist rank known as a "Prognosticator."
The Prognosticators are those Chapter Librarians who also serve as the Silver Skulls' spiritual advisers, akin to the Chaplains of other Chapters. These devout individuals not only provide spiritual guidance for their fellow battle-brothers but use their powerful psychic abilities to perform the sacred duty of reading the signs and portents, particularly the Emperor's Tarot, to determine whether or not their Chapter's might is needed in accordance with the Emperor's divine will.
It was the custom of the Silver Skulls' Chapter Master to take the name of Argentius upon his ascension to the chief rank of Lord Commander, to honour the first Chapter Master of the Silver Skulls, who had also been known as Argentius.
The 10 squads within each company of the Chapter were named after a type of gemstone. The eyes of the Chapter badge on every Silver Skulls Astartes contained gemstones of the same type as his squad name.
The Silver Skulls are known to acquit themselves with honour on the field of battle -- brutal and effective, they are perfect examples of the Emperor's maxim that "they shall know no fear." Yet for all the positive information that has been gathered on the Silver Skulls, one thing continues to cause concern amongst certain Imperial organisations, such as the Inquisition.
Perhaps in part because of their tribal nature, the Silver Skulls hold fast to potentially deviant superstition. Their Librarium is not arranged according to the Codex Astartes. Instead, they utilise a body known as the Prognosticatum. This body is comprised of the Chapter's elite Librarian-Chaplains known as Prognosticators and the handful of Chaplains who serve the Chapter.
These are the Chapter's champions; its greatest heroes. None dispute the fact that the Prognosticatum is the true ruling power within the Silver Skulls. Inspirational and powerful, this elite unit is formed of psychic battle-brothers whose prowess on the frontlines is second to none.
Frequently, these Astartes are psykers whose gifts lie in a different direction from the esoteric divination and precognitive abilities that are so crucial to the functioning of the Chapter and lean towards the more destructive, though this fact is not widely known among the Silver Skulls.
Some Prognosticators possess psychic abilities that are not always potent enough to provide a clear picture of the future for the Chapter, but this fact is also never advertised outside of the Prognosticatum, as the Chapter's morale is intimately bound up with its faith in its Prognosticators' precognitive pronouncements.
A Prognosticator's role, when he is assigned to a company, is not only to advise the company's Captain, but also to provide spiritual guidance to its battle-brothers in accordance with his position as a Chaplain-Librarian. Not all companies within the Silver Skulls have their own Prognosticator; they are a rare breed. Chaplains within the Chapter are no less valuable or less-respected, but it is undeniable that the Prognosticators and the rest of the Prognosticatum steer the Chapter's course.
The most important decisions required by the Chapter were ultimately left to the Prognosticatum and its governing council which is overseen by the Chapter Master's Equerry and chief adviser, Vashiro (another affected title), the Chapter's Chief Prognosticator. No decision that directly affects the entire Chapter is ever settled without the Prognosticatum first casting the auguries.
Within the Silver Skulls Chapter, those who represented the council of the Prognosticatum are revered second only to Lord Commander Argentius himself. The Silver Skulls are a deeply superstitious Chapter and never deploy for battle without first waiting for the Prognosticators to consult the auguries.
The entire Silver Skulls Chapter has been known to refuse to take the field of battle when a Prognosticator has said that the omens were poor. Moreover, and more worryingly (to organisations such as the Ecclesiarchy and the Inquisition), there is evidence that they claim these visions are delivered to them by the voice of the most glorious God-Emperor of Mankind.
Within the Chapter's Librarium lies a large number of tomes collectively known as the Orthodoxy. These are the books of the Prognosticator's creed, a compilation of volumes of the collected wisdom and prophecies of each individual Prognosticator down through the millennia. Through the Orthodoxy, the Prognosticators gain access to that knowledge.
They capture their dreams and visions and contained them for eternity within the pages of a book. In this way, the Orthodoxy ensured the knowledge and foresight of the ages is passed down to all the Silver Skulls. The Orthodoxy contains many predictions that may not come to fruition for many centuries, if ever. Within the pages of each tome are many recollections and unexplained dreams. Those that have not yet come to pass are considered by the Prognosticatum and judged for their veracity as true prophecy. Those judged unworthy are struck from the pages of the sacred tomes.
For what is tantamount to a Death World, there is a considerable array of indigenous life, much of it hostile in the extreme. This is a marvel, given the natural disaster that saw most of the planet locked in permafrost and an erratic orbit between the binary stars of its system.
What is even more unexpected is that humanity survives here, as humanity is wont to do. Varsavia, the only inhabited planet in the system, has three volcanoes, each one known to be active. A check of historical records suggests that there have been no logged eruptions for several hundred Terran standard years.
There are three continental land masses, but only one sustains Human life and it is split approximately in half by a landlocked sea. The southern lands are inhabited almost exclusively by the tribal people who are descended from the planet's original Human settlers. It remains a mystery as to how they endured the series of volcanic eruptions and subsequent disruption of the planet's weather system.
Nonetheless, these tribes now thrive. They are considered primitive in nature and the creed of the God-Emperor has been slowly introduced to them, one tribe at a time. Most have embraced these teachings and whilst they have eschewed the opportunity of moving to the civilised north, nonetheless they show their fealty to the Emperor and His Imperium.
A number of Silver Skulls Astartes are drawn from these peoples and they make tenacious warriors. A few isolated tribes have remained resistant to Ecclesiarchy missionary efforts, but in due course the Imperium will address this issue. They are made up of hardy stock that provides an excellent recruiting ground for the Adeptus Astartes, and may yet provide a founding for a regiment of the Astra Militarum.
The fortress-monastery of the Silver Skulls Chapter, the Argent Mons, is situated in the far north of the only settled Varsavian continent, built into the side of the largest mountain in a great range.
Silver veins run through the rocks here and it is believed this is why the Silver Skulls selected Varsavia as their new homeworld when the unfortunate events of Lyria pushed them from their original Chapter planet.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
The Silver Skulls have a reputation for being fierce fighters, warriors who have acquitted themselves on the field of battle with almost legendary savagery.
They prefer to deploy more as skirmishers than line troops, unleashing their strength where it will make the most difference when fighting alongside other Imperial military forces. Their refusal to give ground during combat is a defining trait of the Chapter.
In training, Silver Skulls battle-brothers perform their daily exercises in the half-light of the training cages. The lighting in these areas is intentionally dull, the lumen-sconces embedded in the walls giving off little more than a perfunctory glow. It is a habit of the Silver Skulls to train in varying levels of light since such practice better prepares them to face combat in any conditions and helps maintain their ability to control their enhanced eyesight.
A Chapter with a well-established reputation for victory, even in the face of overwhelming odds, the Silver Skulls never deploy for battle without consulting the portents. They rely on their Prognosticators for such auguries, and consider the prophecies that they deliver as the word of the Emperor.
The Silver Skulls follow the precepts of the Varsavian Orthodoxy, a variation of the standard creed of the Imperial Cult. Unusually devout for Space Marines, Silver Skulls Astartes are known to make the sign of the Aquila at the mere mention of an evil individual or before facing a deadly opponent.
As the Silver Skulls are also unusually superstitious Astartes, they believe that this gesture can ward off evil. When a battle-brother prays before going into battle he will speak his own personal litany, often in the tribal dialect of his birth.
Such connections to their prior lives as mortals before ascension to the ranks of the Astartes is actively encouraged. The Silver Skulls are proud of their heritage and those who have come from the Chapter's homeworld tend to stoically hold onto the traditions and practices of their upbringing.
The fortress-monastery of the Silver Skulls is located deep in the heart of Varsavia's northern mountain range. It is a harsh, inhospitable place that only the most tenacious and hardy souls brave. Most of the Chapter's young aspirants and novitiates see their first view of the fortress-monastery from the window of the transport that has carried them there. A select few have climbed their way to the top of the mountains alone.
This is an impressive feat even for an Astartes, let alone the handful of mortal children who accomplish it. Before becoming a full-fledged Space Marine, a Silver Skulls neophyte is required to undergo a ceremonial ritual known as the "Fast of the Ascension" -- a trial of the spirit. What this exactly entails is unclear to outsiders.
The neophyte must also undergo a final test of endurance known as the "Long Patrol." Forming part of the final stage of a recruit's initiation, the Long Patrol sees the aspirants sent out into the feral wilds of the Varsavian tundra with no more than a Combat Knife to defend themselves with. Those who survive remain with the Chapter and ascend into its ranks. Those who died during the Long Patrol are remembered with honour.
Only those worthy enough to have reached the final stages of the process are permitted to walk the Long Patrol. It is considered better by far to die on the Long Patrol than to fail and become a Chapter serf, the most common fate for failed Silver Skulls aspirants.
Every recruit, alongside his rigorous physical training regime and hypno-doctrination sessions, is required to divine his future path at some point with a Prognosticator. All of the Silver Skulls are required to undertake a pilgrimage prior to their final conversion and deployment into the Scout Company.
The long, lonely trip to the far-flung Prognosticator Temple where the individual auguries are cast requires travelling through mountains that are rugged in the extreme.
This pilgrimage traditionally occurs prior to the insertion of the Progenoid Glands. The most sacred of the Astartes gene-seed implants, to receive the Quintessence Sacred is considered the pinnacle of achievement.
If successful in their pilgrimage and having received the approval of the Prognosticators, the Neophytes must then pass one final thorough medical examination by the Chapter's Apothecaries to be welcomed and initiated fully into the Chapter.
Every battle-brother of the Silver Skulls who ascends into the full ranks of the Chapter is granted a personal audience in the Chief Prognosticator's presence. Each battle-brother receives a private blessing from the Chapter's greatest seer. No Silver Skull ever speaks of the deeply personal words or portents provided by the Chief Prognosticator during these private sessions in front of any other.
Each battle-brother's possible future is spelled out in that meeting and it is understood that it is improper to speak of such things openly. Of course, that future is often presented as a riddle or a parable of some kind and its import is rarely immediately clear.
Silver Skulls are known to use little to no ostentation, apart from the rich displays of the company trophies that are located in their company chapels. The Chapter is not aesthetically handicapped; they take great pride in their body art and their tattoo artists, the Custodes Cruor (Chapter Artisans), are highly regarded.
Many of the Silver Skulls design their own tattoos and a number of them are genuinely talented artists. The ancient Varsavian tribal tradition of marking the body is considered the ultimate battle honour and every battle-brother of the Silver Skulls boasts designs that are completely unique to the individual, some choosing representations of great battles that are breathtaking in their detail.
In all cases, the last part of a Silver Skull's body to receive such markings is his face. Only on ascension to the rank of captain is a Silver Skulls Astartes allowed to receive that honour.
The Silver Skulls' funeral world of Pax Argentius is one of the three small moons that orbit their homeworld of Varsavia. In accordance with the Chapter's deeply rooted superstitions, they believe categorically that the spirits of the dead and the souls of their ancestors look down on them from the moon, watching over them and guiding them forwards.
It is an extraordinary place, with mausoleums and memorials that have been lovingly hand-crafted and engraved by the brothers of the Custodes Cruor meandering across its surface. The entirety of the moon is maintained with pride by a veritable army of Chapter serfs.
So many memorials and monuments are especially unusual given that the Chapter's choice of burial for its Astartes is cremation. Whenever possible, the ashes of the honoured dead are placed in an urn that is ornately carved and fashioned from the skull of the enemy who had taken the life of that battle-brother.
If this is not possible, then the Custodes Cruor fashion a passable substitute from the finest materials. If opinion concerning the contradictory nature of cremating and yet honouring their dead with funerary monuments bother the Silver Skulls, they never acknowledge it.
Pax Argentius, the funerary moon, is a place where the last divide between the Astartes of the Chapter and the mortals who serve alongside them is rubbed away. Here, Artificers are buried alongside their masters. All those who swore fealty to the battle-brothers of Varsavia are, in death, ultimately treated as the equals they could never have been in life. It is a devoutly spiritual place, and one which frequently draws young warriors to its calming presence.
Every battle-brother of the Chapter seeks his own manner of quelling the furious Varsavian fires that rage in his belly at the time of his ascension. This sense of peace can often be found amongst the walkways and corridors of the dead. This, along with the sacred, hallowed monument to the first Argentius have given the moon its name.
Pax Argentius is also where the battle-brothers who train as Chaplains go to study the texts and tomes of their calling. Only there, amidst the spirits of the fallen, do these Chaplains-in-training feel that they can truly understand the lessons of the past. Like the more numerous psychic Prognosticators, the Chapter's Chaplains are deeply superstitious and fanatical in the discharge of their duties.
The Silver Skulls are also known to perform a service for the dead during which prayers are intoned for the dead with respect and reverence. This is known as the Varsavian Prayer to the Departed, a Silver Skulls tradition that had come to the Chapter from the tribal shamans of Varsavia. The seemingly endless list of names recited from memory during the prayer represents all those departed battle-brothers who the prayer's reciter had fought alongside.
Just as some battle-brothers carry the names of the fallen in High Gothic copperplate script in the tattoos they placed on their bodies, others carry the names of the honoured dead within their minds.
The Silver Skulls also have a brutal reputation as headhunters, for Silver Skulls Astartes are known for wearing the decapitated heads and skulls of their enemies as trophies on their power armour. The reasons for this unusually barbaric custom remain unclear, though it was likely derived from the original customs of the Silver Skulls Astartes recruited as feral tribesmen from Garanda II.
Within the darkened recesses of a Silver Skulls chapel are kept a number of silver-coated skulls standing on plinths. Each is adorned with a plaque detailing the name of the battle-brother who had taken the trophy and the date of the victory. Collecting the skulls of mighty enemies is more than just a case of ostentation and pride. It is considered a measure of a company's strength and honour.
The Custodes Cruor, the Chapter's artisans, extract the skulls from their former owners and coat them in molten silver. Each one is an exquisitely-wrought work of art, covered in spirals and whorls.
Tribal markings, sometimes matching the tattoos of the battle-brother who had slain the fallen enemy, are embossed on the surface, marking each trophy as the rightful property of that Astartes' original tribe. Every skull is another mark of honour for the battle-brother who has taken it. Each one represents another vanquished foe.
For every skull there is a singularly unique memory. From the massive skull of an Ork Warboss to the slender, elongated skull that still has part of its spine attached that had once belonged to a Tyranid Genestealer. Every trophy comes with its own story.
When not deployed on manoeuvres, or during the long periods of space travel that carry them to their next battlefield, the Silver Skulls regularly gather to tell the stories of their conquests. Those with a flair for the dramatic can hold their battle-brothers captivated, regardless of how many times the story has already been told.
Unlike many other Chapters, the Silver Skulls long remained ignorant as to the truth of their genetic heritage. The name of their primogenitor, the primarch whose genetic material first formed their Chapter, was unknown to them, as the records had been lost.
However, some fragmentary references in Imperial records indicated that the Silver Skulls had been one of the more famed Chapters to have been formed during the Second Founding after the end of the Horus Heresy. Several centuries previously, the Chapter's Apothecaries have performed countless genetic tests on the Silver Skulls' gene-seed which suggest that the Silver Skulls are most likely a Successor Chapter of the Ultramarines and the great Primarch Roboute Guilliman who reformed the Imperium after the Emperor's interment within the Golden Throne.
After Guilliman's resurrection following the Ultramar Campaign of the 13th Black Crusade, the Silver Skulls' long-held beliefs about their lineage were finally confirmed when they received an influx of Primaris Marines derived from the Avenging Son's own genetic line.
But the truth of the Chapter's heritage ultimately mattered little to the Silver Skulls. The simple fact is, they do exist and despite many great hardships, have thrived and prospered in the pursuit of the Emperor's will.
Notable Silver Skulls
- Lord Commander Argentius - The Silver Skulls Chapter is presently led by Lord Commander Argentius, the twenty-seventh incumbent to hold the title. It is the custom of the Silver Skulls Chapter Master to always take the name of Argentius, the name of the first Lord Commander of the Silver Skulls, when he ascends to become the new Master of the Chapter. The present Argentius is believed to have formerly been Captain Artreus, commander of the 6th Company, whose battle record was outstanding.
- First Captain Kerelan - First Captain Kerelan is the commander of the elite 1st Company.
- Captain Eddan Bourne - Captain Eddan Bourne is the commander of the 2nd Assault Company.
- Captain Daerys Arrun - Daerys Arrun was the Master of the Fleet of the Silver Skulls and Captain of that Chapter's 4th Battle Company. Arrun possessed a closely shaved head which did nothing to hide the mass of scar tissue on his skull; these scars might have been considered disfiguring on anyone else, but on a Space Marine they served as a mark of honour. His face was also covered in swirling whorls of dark ink that all but obscured his flesh; these were the battle tattoos that all the captains of the Silver Skulls earned the right to wear when they assumed their commands. This is a custom that the Chapter's Astartes had taken from the tribes of Varsavia. If his sheer size and forcible presence were not enough to provoke fear in Arrun's foes, his tribal brandings did the job admirably. Daerys Arrun also possessed piercing blue eyes which could freeze the heart of nearly any foe. From the Command Pulpit of the Battle Barge Manifest Destiny, one of two Battle Barges in the Silver Skulls' Chapter Fleet, Arrun patrolled the sector of space near the Silver Skulls' homeworld of Varsavia known as the Gildar Rift. Arrun led the Silver Skulls' assault on the world of Gildar Secundus in the Gildar System to free that planet from the savage grip of the piratical Red Corsairs Chaos Space Marines. Though the Silver Skulls proved victorious in defeating the Renegades, Arrun was slain by their leader, the infamous Chaos Lord Huron Blackheart, the Tyrant of Badab.
- Captain Sinopa - Captain Sinopa is a long-time friend of Captain Arrun of the 4th Company. He took over assigned duties as the commander of the Battle Barge Manifest Destiny in Arrun's absence, as he oversaw the Resurgent Project aboard the Strike Cruiser Dread Argent.
- Captain Kyaerus - Kyaerus is the current Captain of the 8th Assault Company.
- Captain Keile Meyoran - Keile Meyoran was the Captain of the 8th Assault Company.
- Siege Captain Rasheke Daviks - Rasheke Daviks is the commander of the Silver Skulls 9th Company and the Strike Cruiser Quicksilver. Physically, he is always grim of face and solid of build and has looping whorls of red ink marking his face and neck, visible above the bulk of his wargear. The Siege Captain has always been able to predict the needs of a given mission with almost preternatural accuracy. He demonstrates such a propensity for this that the Prognosticatum had tested his skills on more than one occasion, suspicious that he might possess a latent psychic ability. Of all his battle-brothers amongst the other company captains, the 4th Battle Company's Captain Arrun had always found Daviks to be the most serious and earnest. Nobody could ever recall seeing the 9th Company's captain at ease. Daviks always seems to be in a perpetual state of tense readiness; a spring coiled and ready to strike at a word. Solid and dependable, nigh on as impregnable as the defences he had designed during his tenure, Daviks is frequently deployed as the diplomatic face of the Chapter. His earnest brand of solidity granted an aspect of seriousness to the Silver Skulls that Lord Commander Argentius likes to present to the universe beyond the borders of Varsavia.
- Scout Captain Attellus - Scout Captain Attellus is the commander of the 10th Scout Company.
- Captain Sephera - Captain Sephera is the Chief of Recruits for the Chapter.
- Chief Prognosticator Vashiro (Formerly Aerus) - The Vashiro is the Chief Prognosticator of the Silver Skulls Chapter. "Vashiro" is not a true name but simply the title always taken by the Chief Prognosticator of the Silver Skulls. It translates into Low Gothic as "The One Who Sees". This Vashiro has held the title for over 500 standard years and was formerly named Aerus before taking up the title. The most important decisions faced by the Chapter are ultimately handed over to the Prognosticatum and its governing council is overseen by the Vashiro. Nothing involving a choice that directly affects the entire Chapter is ever settled without the Prognosticatum first casting the auguries. Vashiro is said to possess powerful psychic abilities of foresight and prognostication that are nearly unsurpassed by the other psykers within the Prognosticatum. In Vashiro's possession is one of the Chapter's most valued treasures and only the Vashiro, or his elected lieutenant, has the right to cast the auguries with them. These are silver runes carved from the skull of the Silver Skulls' very first Lord Commander Argentius.
- Prognosticator Bast - Bast is a Prognosticator who served in the Chapter's 8th Company. As a powerful psyker, Bast has an affinity with the basic elements of nature that was unsurpassed.
- Prognosticator Bhehan - Bhehan is a young Prognosticator who also served in the Chapter's 8th Company. As a powerful psyker, Bhehan was said to possess the abilities of foresight and prognostication.
- Prognosticator Brand - Brand served as the commander of the 4th Battle Company's principal adviser and Prognosticator. Though aging, his long hair threaded through with silver and his tattooed face lined and wise, his acuity was as sharp as it had ever been. His not inconsiderable psychic abilities went a very long way towards ensuring that no secrets were ever kept from him. Brand had served alongside Daerys Arrun for a long time and the two had always been polar opposites. Where Arrun was spontaneous and rash, Brand had been consistently level and measured in his approach. For the most part, they complemented one another well. The basic differences in their personalities brought out the best in both of them. He was seriously wounded defending the bridge of the Strike Cruiser Dread Argent when he fought and killed the Red Corsairs Chaos Sorcerer Taemar.
- Prognosticator Chaereus - Chaereus is the tribal blood brother of Apothecary Ryarus of the 4th Battle Company. He claimed the ability to read the psychic auras of others. Chaereus always maintained that Ryarus' aura was that of a protector. He died torn to shreds by rampaging orks.
- Prognosticator Lucius Clave - Lucius Clave was a Prognosticator of the Silver Skulls. When the Chapter first encountered the daemonic warband known as the Soulmaw, it was Clave who confronted the warband's champion and destroyed him utterly.
- Prognosticator Deiad - Deiad was a Prognosticator of the Silver Skulls.
- Prognosticator Ikek - Ikek was a Prognosticator assigned to Captain Sinopa, aboard the Battle Barge Manifest Destiny.
- Prognosticator Inteus - Inteus was a young Prognosticator assigned to advise Siege Captain Daviks of the 9th Company aboard the Strike Cruiser Quicksilver.
- Prognosticator Rennin Tri'el - Rennin Tri'el is a Prognosticator of the Silver Skulls who is currently seconded to the Deathwatch and has served for nearly a standard century. He joined a handful of like-minded, inquisitive Deathwatch Space Marines that have been drawn back to the study of nearly-deserted Watch Stations, now known as the Dead Stations, and the ancient traces of knowledge and prophecy they contained. These few members have since dedicated their lives to finally unravelling the enigma of the Jericho Reach known as the Dark Pattern -- a series of mysterious events that continue to unfold, presaged in numerous ancient prophecies foretelling of great strife and darkness as coming to pass in this area of space. Thanks to their interest in the Dead Stations, their peers refer to them as the "Dead Cabal". Rennin Tri'el stands out as the foremost authority on the Eldar. His knowledge on those xenos' culture and technology is unmatched by anyone else in the Jericho Reach and he has dedicated his life to understanding and defeating this ancient menace. He has been a member of the Dead Cabal for more than five decades. Rennin formerly served with the Silver Skulls 3rd Company on a long-term campaign against the Tau. When they investigated a mysterious world that was given a wide berth by the Tau, they were beset upon by a large force of Eldar raiders. The battle resulted in the loss of nearly two-thirds of their forces. After this encounter, Tri'el became obsessed with unlocking any and all knowledge about the Eldar. Since joining the Dead Cabal, Rennin Tri'el has established himself as the foremost authority on the Dark Eldar and his insights into their movements, battle tactics, and weaknesses have proved invaluable to the Deathwatch.
- Prognosticator Simeon - Simeon was a Prognosticator of the Silver Skulls Chapter who served with the 4th Battle Company's Squad Carnelian. He died in battle with the Red Corsairs on Gildar Secundus when their Thunderhawk was shot down by Red Corsairs sympathisers.
- Prognosticator Trophonius - A master of the oracular arts, Trophonius was a Prognosticator of the Silver Skulls Chapter who served with the xenos-hunting Deathwatch for a time. He gifted the Deathwatch the Argent Guide which served other Prognosticators within the Deathwatch well.
- Prognosticator Vorxec Calvarius (Renegade) - Vorxec Calvarius was a former Silver Skulls Prognosticator who went Renegade and became corrupted by Chaos during his second standard century of service after participating in the purging of the Plague World of Horestis. Commanding a half-company of Silver Skulls battle-brothers, Calvarius fought against the legions of Nurgle across the corroded spires and fungal-ridden Rot Fields of the planet, until only he remained. Standing alone, Calvarius signalled the Silver Skulls warship in orbit to launch a brutal orbital strike on his position, each missile's warhead containing the dreaded Life-Eater virus, the dread tool of Exterminatus. Somehow, he miraculously survived the orbital barrage and was left for dead by his Chapter. For 49 days, the mortally wounded Prognosticator lay crippled and near death, but some dark force would not let him die. Calvarius was overcome by a dark revelation that all life in the galaxy ultimately died, serving the Lord of Decay. If bringing death was his sacred calling, he figured it made sense to become the instrument of Nurgle, and thus become responsible for the ultimate death of all. Since that time, Vorxec Calvarius and his zealous followers have plied the stars, from world to world and star system to star system, spreading vicious epidemics and bringing death to the galaxy.
- Chief Apothecary Malus - Malus is the highly respected and venerable Chief Apothecary of the Silver Skulls and is known to take personal pride and interest in all those battle-brothers who followed their own calling. When Inquisitor Thraxx came to Varsavia to investigate the purity of the Silver Skulls' gene-seed it was Chief Apothecary Malus who showed the Inquisitor the Silver Skulls' Apothecarion, and the massive reinforced door that protected the Chapter's gene-seed storage. Thraxx was amazed by the level of protection the Chapter provided for its gene-seed and some Imperial savants have suggested that, as a result, the Silver Skulls are obsessed with gene-seed purity. Yet the particulars of gene-seed storage in other Astartes Chapters are not generally known and so this belief concerning the Silver Skulls' obsession is just pure speculation.
- Apothecary Naryn - Naryn was an Apothecary assigned to the 4th Battle Company. He took over the duties of Company Apothecary when Ryarus was captured by the Red Corsairs aboard the derelict Wolf of Fenris. He was known to have an impeccable record as both a warrior and an Apothecary. Like many of the Silver Skulls, Naryn favoured wearing his hair shoulder length. Unlike many of the Chapter, his hair was a deep, burnished copper colour. It had always marked him out amongst the largely blonde or dark-haired Silver Skulls and indicated his origin from one of the non-Varsavian recruiting worlds that the Chapter had begun to use. With that colouring, he was likely from the ash wastes of Garanda II. He had an expressive and intelligent face with large, inquisitive eyes and always exuded an air of great enthusiasm.
- Apothecary Ryarus - Ryarus was an Apothecary assigned to the 4th Battle Company. He is a taciturn, stoic Apothecary, known to speak only when the situation warrants it. Ryarus was friends with Techmarine Correlan. He liked the younger warrior's honesty and blunt nature and had taken Correlan under his wing in some respects. Ryarus' cool level-headedness was the perfect counterpoint to Correlan's fire. For the better part of two hundred Terran years, his role had always focused far more on reducing the suffering of mortally wounded battle-brothers by sending them into the arms of the Emperor swiftly and cleanly. He recovered the Chapter's legacy from the fallen so that future generations might strengthen its numbers. There was a need for emotional detachment of course, yet the loss of each of his battle-brothers cut him keenly. His own honour tattoos were simple and deeply reflective of the soul beneath the skin, listing the name of every Silver Skulls warrior whose Quintessence Sacred (gene-seed) he had reclaimed with his Reductor. They would not be forgotten, at least not by him. Ryarus was a tribal blood brother to Prognosticator Chaereus, who died in a most sorrowful way after being torn to shreds by rampaging Orks, which fueled the Apothecary's own battle rage. Ryarus had cut down dozens of the Greenskins single-handedly before a near-fatal shot to the chest had incapacitated him. Even then, his fading fury had kept him struggling to bring his Bolt Pistol to bear on the xenos. It was only because he had slipped into unconsciousness that he had stopped fighting at all. Apothecary Malus had overseen his subordinate's recovery. Ryarus was greatly respected and admired amongst not only the Astartes of the 4th Battle Company, but throughout the entire Chapter for his forthright nature and that legendary display of fearless tenacity against the Orks -- a story that was told over and over again.
- Deathwatch Techmarine Nodens - The Techmarine Brother Nodens was called to the Long Watch a mere two decades after he was initiated into the ranks of the battle-brothers of his own Chapter, making him highly unusual in that he served for the Deathwatch far longer than he served with his own brethren. Brother Nodens was called to take the Apocryphon Oath having defeated a fearsome overlord of the xenos Cumbro Huth in hand to hand combat, a feat so unheard of that it came to the attention of members of the Ordo Xenos. The Inquisitors requested a council with the young Techmarine, and having heard his account of the action, formally petitioned the Silver Skulls Chapter Master to allow Nodens to take up the Long Watch. The Chapter Master agreed, and Nodens began his service in the Jericho Reach. Nodens was something of an orphan, honouring his Chapter and its traditions yet growing ever more bound to those of the Deathwatch. It is unusual, though not unheard of, for battle-brothers to come to regard the Deathwatch as their true home, and those that do must struggle against a gnawing sense of abandonment and guilt, existing fully in neither Chapter and only able to draw spiritual sustenance from the companionship of their fellow Kill-team members.
- Techmarine Correlan - Correlan was a Techmarine assigned to the 4th Battle Company. A sullen battle-brother, Correlan was not known for his subtlety. In his life before his ascension to the ranks of the Astartes, he had been one of the few Silver Skulls raised to adolescence amongst one of the semi-feral, aggressive tribes of the southern Varsavian steppes. Some habits and mannerisms took longer to overwrite than others and a tendency to fall prey to a hair-trigger temper was one. In matters of the technological however, Correlan was an enthusiastic and energetic follower of the Omnissiah. As an Aspirant, Correlan had demonstrated a remarkable talent with machines and an unerring ability to soothe troubled Machine Spirits. At times it was hard to believe that an individual in possession of such a fiery soul could demonstrate such patience with the stubborn servants of the Omnissiah. His training with the Adeptus Mechanicus on Mars had ended some five Terran years previously and he had served under Captain Arrun for the entire time since his return from the Red Planet. He worked hard and with great diligence and his prowess on the battlefield was executed with the same intensity that he delivered to everything. Correlan was in possession of an honest, open personality and his emotions were always writ large in an unscarred, boyish face. His humours were often unpredictable but his abilities were without question. He had a tendency to insubordination and bad moods that made him tricky to handle; a trait which the Chapter's Master of the Forge had frequently lamented. He also had several bionic prosthetics from old war wounds, including an augmetic right eye and a synthetic hand.
- Sergeant Atellus - Atellus is a sergeant assigned to the 10th Scout Company. He trained the aspirant Volker Straub, knowing early on that he was destined for greatness within the annals of the Chapter's history.
- Sergeant Baeus - Baeus is one of the Squad Sergeants assigned to the 4th Company.
- Sergeant Dasan - Dasan is one of the young Squad Sergeants assigned to the 4th Company, Squad Mohave. Dasan was a reticent soul. Like many of the Silver Skulls, he had grown to young manhood amongst a nomadic tribe. Many of these tribes had their own traditions and customs. In Dasan's tribe, unnecessary speaking before battle was considered borderline blasphemy. As such, he had a tendency to be serious and silent, speaking only when necessary. It was the way of his people. Dasan often found himself irritated by the confident, outgoing Sergeant Matteus.
- Sergeant Dyami - Dyami is a Squad Sergeant assigned to the 4th Company, Squad Garnet.
- Sergeant Emareas - Emareas is a Squad Sergeant assigned to the 4th Company, Squad Onyx. His squad was composed entirely of Assault Marines. The Chapter's Assault Marines best represent the sheer ruthlessness and savagery that the Silver Skulls are famed for.
- Sergeant Hakan - Hakan is one of the young Squad Sergeants assigned to the 4th Company.
- Sergeant Matteus - Matteus is one of the young Squad Sergeants assigned to the 4th Company, Squad Kyanite. Matteus was considered by his fellow battle-brothers to be very loquacious. When he came of age he arrived at the fortress-monastery at Varsavia within a few years of Sergent Dasan. They had trained together and received their promotions almost simultaneously. There was an old rivalry between them, but it was not malicious. It was the sort of rivalry that was encouraged by their superiors. A never-ending urge to be better than one's peers could drive an Astartes to greater and greater feats of strength and courage. Matteus had a tendency to fill the silence between conversation with unnecessary observations or words of self-perceived wisdom. Matteus died in glorious combat on the surface of Gildar Secundus, fighting against the vile forces of the Arch-Traitor Huron Blackheart.
- Sergeant Porteus - Porteus is one of the Squad Sergeants assigned to the 4th Company, Squad Carnelian.
- Company Champion Djul - Djul is a Champion of the 1st Company.
- Resurgent Volker Straub - Volker Straub was a promising aspirant of the Silver Skulls Space Marine Chapter. A prodigy in every regard, he was destined to become a future Chapter hero. But just before he was scheduled to undergo the implantation of his Progenoid Gland and become a fully-fledged battle-brother, the Chapter's Prognosticatum intervened. Volker was selected to become a part of an audacious experiment known as the Resurgent Project -- Volker's body was integrated with the Machine Spirit (artificial intelligence) of the Strike Cruiser Dread Argent, becoming a perfect amalgamation of the mechanical and the biological -- a fusion of man and machine not dissimilar to a Dreadnought. Representing the hopes and future of his Chapter, the Resurgent was able to utilise lightning-fast reactions and channel orders directly to the Machine Spirit of the mighty vessel without the necessary intervention of third parties.
- Aviaq - A battle-brother assigned to the 9th Company, Squad Malachite.
- Curis - A battle-brother assigned to the 4th Company, Squad Carnelian.
- Emetrius - A battle-brother assigned to the 4th Company, Squad Carnelian.
- Eryk - A battle-brother assigned to the 4th Company and Thunderhawk helmsman.
- Ignus - A battle-brother assigned to the 4th Company, Squad Carnelian.
- Keyle - A battle-brother assigned to the 4th Company, Squad Carnelian.
- Nakos - A battle-brother assigned to the 4th Company. He was killed on the world of Gildar Secundus when he attempted to intervene in a duel between a severely wounded Captain Arrun and Huron Blackheart.
- Tayln - Talyn is assigned to the 4th Company, Squad Mohave. As a potential Techmarine, he had not yet been despatched to Mars for his formal induction into the ways of the Mechanicus. As such, he had undergone his initial training at the hands of the existing Chapter Techmarines.
- Temerus - Termerus is assigned to the 4th Company, Squad Mohave.
- Brother Apenimon - Brother Apenimon was a Venerable Dreadnought assigned to the 9th Battle Company.
- Brother Pallaton - Brother Pallaton was a Venerable Dreadnought assigned to the 9th Battle Company.
- Pilot Berem - Berem was an augmented human who had served Squad Carnelian as a Thunderhawk pilot for many years.
- Navigator Jeremiah - Jeremiah is the chief Navigator of the Strike Cruiser Dread Argent. The young man who guided the Dread Argent through the Warp had been brought into the employ of the Silver Skulls by way of a Hive World where he had been running the streets, fighting for his own survival. Born into a family of the Navis Nobilite that had fallen far from grace, his parents had effectively sold him to the employ of the Imperium in an attempt to regain some sort of standing. They had sold him as a commodity and the insult still smarted deeply.
- Chapter Serf Jordan Salvus - Jordan Salvus was a Chapter serf who loyally served as the Lord of the Household (Quartermaster) for the Silver Skulls' Fortress-Monastery.
- Bridge Officer Eduar Yanus - Yanus was Captain Arrun's bridge officer aboard the Dread Argent. When there was a need for a strong commanding presence amongst the bridge crew and Arrun could not fulfill that role due to his duties as the commander of the 4th Battle Company, the officer had commanded his lord's flagship several times before in his absence. The bridge crew liked and respected Yanus. He had been born into one of the Silver Skulls vassal families. When he came of age, he made his way to the fortress-monastery to present himself as a potential Neophyte. The officer, a failed Aspirant of many years past, had dedicated his life to gladly serving alongside the Silver Skulls in whatever capacity he could manage when he had not merited being raised to become a Space Marine. He was every bit as fierce and loyal as one of the Chapter's Astartes. This had not gone unnoticed as was evidenced by the fact he could stand in command of an entire Astartes Strike Cruiser.
Only two of the Silver Skulls Strike Cruisers listed here particpated in the defence of the Gildar Rift, the others in the Silver Skulls fleet are all presently deployed elsewhere throughout the Segmentum and beyond. Most of the Silver Skulls' fleet is composed of Escort vessels like Gladius-class Frigates, which are crewed primarily by Chapter serfs. The Silver Skulls' Chapter Fleet is known to possess the following starships:
- Manifest Destiny (Battle Barge) - The Manifest Destiny was one of two Battle Barges that the Silver Skulls maintained in their Chapter fleet. It was normally under the command of Captain Daerys Arrun of the 4th Battle Company, who also served as the Chapter's Master of the Fleet.
- Dread Argent (Strike Cruiser) - Assigned to the 4th Battle Company, the Dread Argent served as a test-bed warship for the Silver Skulls' Resurgent Project in which the Aspirant Volker Straub was cybernetically linked with the Strike Cruiser to provide more advanced forms of command and control. The Dread Argent served as Captain Daerys Arrun's temporary flagship during the Silver Skulls' campaign on Gildar Secundus against the Red Corsairs.
- Silver Arrow (Strike Cruiser) - Assigned to the 8th Assault Company, the Silver Arrow served the 8th Company in the war against the Dark Eldar in the Virilian system, as well as during their deployment to the Hive World of Valoris as a relief force for their Chapter.
- Quicksilver (Strike Cruiser) - Assigned to the 9th Company.
- Argent Guide - A rare psycho-crystalline lattice is woven throughout the faces of this set of divinatory cards of the Emperor's Tarot. These intricate cards were gifted to Watch Fortress Erioch by the Silver Skulls Prognosticator Trophonius, a master of the Chapter's oracular arts. Silver Skulls who have been seconded to the Deathwatch are grateful to be able to seek its guidance, as its unusual construction allows anyone familiar with their Chapter mysteries to utilise the diviner's arts.
The Silver Skulls primarily wear metallic silver power armour with the exception of the insets of the shoulder guards, which are black. The Apothecaries of the Silver Skulls have both shoulder plates painted white and have a black vertical stripe painted down the centre of their helm.
The colour of the squad specialty symbol indicates company number in accordance with the dictates of the Codex Astartes -- i.e. White (1st Company), Yellow (2nd Company), Red (3rd Company), Green (4th Company), etc.
Squad allegiance is indicated on the right knee plate by a white Low Gothic numeral stenciled on it.
The Silver Skulls' Chapter badge is a large stylised silver skull, centred on a field of black. Ironically, their Chapter icon is eerily similar to the pre-Horus Heresy Legion badge of the Iron Warriors.
The Chapter denotes an Astartes' company by the colour of the squad badge on his right shoulder plate. On their left shoulder plate is the emblem of their Chapter, a stylised skull cast in silver.
Each squad's emblem has the skull's eyes picked out in a gemstone that provides them with their name.
There are conflicting sources about how the Silver Skulls display their company colours on their battle-plate. Some say that the heraldic colour is displayed as the shoulder plates' trim, with the 1st Company using silver.
Still others indicate that the right shoulder pauldrons are shaded in the colour of a Silver Skulls' company allegiance.
The issue was settled with the release of the 8th Edition Codex Adeptus Astartes, which definitively explained that the Silver Skulls display their company allegiance with the colour of their squad operational specialty marking on the right shoulder plate.
- Black Crusade Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 342-343
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pg. 31
- Codex: Armageddon (3rd Edition), pg. 30
- Codex: Dark Eldar (5th Edition), pg. 14
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pg. 26
- Codex: Space Marines (9th Edition), pg. 46
- Codex: Space Marines (8th Edition) (Revised Codex), pg. 27
- Codex: Space Marines (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 112
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 8, 16, 19, 141
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 48-49
- Codex: Ultramarines (2nd Edition), pg. 42
- Codex Supplement: Iron Hands (8th Edition), pp. 32-33
- Dataslate: Cypher - Lord of the Fallen, pg. 29
- Deathwatch: Honour the Chapter (RPG), pp. 111, 125
- Deathwatch: The Emperor's Chosen (RPG), pg. 69
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 22-23
- Imperial Armour Volume Two - Space Marines and Forces of the Inquisition, pg. 80
- Imperial Armour Volume Two, Second Edition - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, pg. 17
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, pg. 77
- White Dwarf 284 (US), "Humanity's Shield: Chapters involved in the defence of Cadia", pg. 89-91
- Victories of the Space Marines (Anthology), "Primary Instinct" (Short Story) by Sarah Cawkwell
- The Gildar Rift (Novel) by Sarah Cawkwell, Chs. 2, 5-6, 10-15, 18
- Silver Skulls: Portents (Novel) by Sarah Cawkwell, Chs. 1, 3, 9, 12, 21
- Primary Instinct (Short Story) by Sarah Cawkwell
- Action and Consequence (Short Story) by Sarah Cawkwell
- Cause and Effect (Short Story) by Sarah Cawkwell
- The Pact (Short Story) by Sarah Cawkwell
- Twisted Runes (Short Story) by Matt Smith