"Fear the iron fist, for its grip is death."
- — Ferromort
A Skitarii Ranger of the Adeptus Mechanicus is a hunter of sentient creatures in the same way that tech-priests are hunters of knowledge -- the enemies of the Omnissiah in particular. Skitarii Rangers are the unstoppable cyborgs of the Skitarii Legions that do not rest until the bloody deed is done, for they are driven ever onward by the imperative to locate their foes and ensure their destruction.
They do this not by Drop Pod strikes launched from above, nor by sudden teleportation into the midst of the enemy, but by stalking their quarry over the course of solar weeks or even months until it can run no more. Once the designated target is in their crosshairs, the air fills with the thump and crackle of Galvanic Weaponry, even as the Skitarii continue their restless advance. The stink of electrocuted corpses is never far behind.
As with so much of the Cult Mechanicus' business, the truths of the Skitarii's creation are kept a close secret. Some are vat-grown or cloned, whilst others are repurposed from mind-wiped convicts or warriors handed over as punishment for failure or desertion. Regardless of origin, all find a fanatical faith in the Omnissiah soon after their inception. It is then that their true transformation begins.
Without exception the Skitarii have pallid bodies of puckered flesh and sutured cybernetics. Ceramic valves and adamantium sockets stud hard knots of translucent muscle. In imitation of the ancestor cohorts that first ground their limbs to stumps upon the dunes of Mars, the Skitarii cut off their lower legs and replace them with prostheses of inviolate alloy. Even the brains of these warriors are grotesque hybrids of grey matter and twisting neurocircuitry.
One who looked for consistency in Skitarii augmentations would be sorely disappointed. A soldier of the Mechanicus may have a punchcard skullslot and leather bellows for lungs, whilst at the same time housing quantum bioware in his brain.
It is often said that were one of these enhanced warriors to be rendered down, traces of nearly every element known to Humanity could be found somewhere in the remains. The tech-priests know this to be no exaggeration, for dissection is but one of the dark fates a Skitarius might undergo in order to satisfy his masters' predatory curiosity.
The most blessed of Skitarii pass a point called the "Crux Mechanicus," their body more machine than flesh. Those that reach this stage of mechamorphosis are known as "Skitarii Alphas."
Some go on to attain the rank of "Alpha Primus" -- overseers who can operate independently for standard years if necessary, as solid and reliable as the titanium, steel and iron that replaces their flesh.
To fight the foot soldiers of the Cult Mechanicus is to kill or be killed, for the Skitarii Rangers never give up when hunting down their foes and their stamina is legendary.
In the lean and hungry days of Mankind's hominid ancestry, a hunter would kill far larger prey by tracking it to the point of exhaustion. It is by this principle that Skitarii Rangers hunt the reaches of the galaxy -- once the Rangers have been despatched, they will home in on their quarry at a slow but relentless pace.
At first their victims, ranging from pirate warbands to xenos warhosts, can slip the net of Skitarii gunfire easily enough. If they flee far enough, solar months will pass, even standard years -- long enough that the terror of the initial engagement is all but forgotten.
All the while Skitarii Rangers march in silent, unstoppable lockstep through trenches and ruins, their noose closing a little tighter with every passing night. Just when their quarry assumes itself safe, a constellation of blue will-o-the-wisps will appear on the horizon.
Almost imperceptibly, it grows closer and closer -- and then the darkness lights up with the blazing of gunfire. The Skitarii, for whom the original engagement never ended, close in again and again until the deed is done. Whatever perils they face, the Skitarii march falters not.
- 4-9 Skitarii Rangers
- 1 Skitarii Ranger Alpha
As standard, all Skitarii Rangers are armed with:
- Skitarii War Plate - Skitarii warriors are protected by armoured war plates designed to be worn for several standard years at a time. Secreted under a superdermal layer of ceramite alloy are recombinant cells that harness moisture from the wearer and recycle it. This liquid is transmuted into a gelatinous unguent that coats the inside of the suit, preventing the slow abrasion of the wearer's body whilst affording a measure of protection from the harmful emanations of their own weaponry.
- Galvanic Rifle - Modelled after the hunting flintlocks of Mars' past, the Mark IV Arkhan Galvanic Rifle is a precision tool in the hands of a Skitarii Ranger. Its bodywork is that of an antique, with a polished wooden stock and curlicues that echo the sandy seas of Mars' desert. Yet the Galvanic Servitor bullets inside are incredibly advanced. When such a bullet strikes home it causes all the potential energy of the target to burn out in a killing blast of electric force.
Up to two members in a five man squad, or three members in a ten man squad, can replace their Galvanic Rifles with:
- Arc Rifle - Arc Weapons are powered by bulky perma-capacitors shipped from Mars' great repositorum. Some of these zinc-plated blocks store energy from the days when the Imperium was young. Arc Weapons discharge energy with a loud crack, firing blots of blue-white electricity that can fry a man's brain or overload a war machine's data-cortex in a second.
- Plasma Caliver - As volatile as it is deadly, a Plasma Caliver exchanges range for a truly terrifying rate of fire. A squad of Skitarii armed with several Plasma Calivers can light up a night with each volley. To say their users risk life and limb in the process is a grave understatement, yet to their Tech-priest masters, such collateral damage matters not at all.
- Transuranic Arquebus - The precision and inhuman efficiency that typify the Skitarii Legions are epitomised by these long-barrelled heavy weapons. Firing a shell of depleted transuranium, a Transuranic Arquebus can puncture a tank from one side to the other, the resultant pressure wave also pulping any biological creatures that may be sheltering inside.
One Skitarii Ranger in a squad may take one of the following:
- Enhanced Data-Tether - Seen as mouthpieces of the Tech-priests, who in turn are prophets of the machine God himself, those honoured with carrying an Enhanced Data-Tether are obeyed without hesitation by their reverent Skitarii comrades.
- Omnispex - An Omnispex carries a raptor-class machine spirit that can read heat emissions, data signatures, and biological waveforms even at extreme range. Should it be kept focussed for an extended period of time, it will determine the weak points of those it scrutinises and pass them on to its master.
Optional wargear a Ranger Alpha can take include:
- Melee Weapons - Weapons for use in close combat such as a Power Sword, Taser Goad or Arc Maul.
- Ranged Weapons - A pistol or other such sidearm such as a Phosphor Blast Pistol, Radium Pistol or Arc Pistol.
- 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. 48-49, 75
- Codex Adeptus Mechanicus - Skitarii (7th Edition), pp. 9, 26, 32, 34-39, 58