Equipped with pack generators that bleed potent radioactive by-products, these Omnissian martyrs are so saturated with radiation that even to approach them is to succumb to their peculiar curse. Their baroque carbines fill the air around their foe with harmful emanations, corrupting the atmosphere itself even as they punch hyper-irradiated shot into the flesh of their victims.
Should their foes survive the worst of the shooting, critical levels of rad-poisoning may still be achieved by the very proximity of the Skitarii Vanguard, who will look on in silent interest as an enemy that thought the worst was over stumbles, chokes, and dies of radiation poisoning.
Over the many civil wars waged by the Cult Mechanicus, the Vanguard have learned to endure and weaponise their lethal radioactive emissions. So much radiation bleeds out from a Skitarii Vanguard's wargear that foes in close proximity become weakened and fatigued; for non-Skitarii to be stationed in the same barracks is a death sentence.
The Vanguard themselves are theoretically safe inside their war plate, but on the rare occasions these warriors unscrew their helmets, the sight of their missing teeth and hairless, sore-pocked skin tells the awful truth. It is a price they willingly pay, for their devotion to the Machine God is absolute.
The Vanguard troopers' signature Radium Carbines unleash volleys of hyper-irradiated shot that can fell any target. Even if foes survive the glowing cavalcade, the rad-poisoning of the shells contaminates the air and ground.
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.
Though the Vanguard troopers' signature Radium Carbines slowly kill their wielders, their effect upon those struck by their bullets is a hundred times worse. Should enough hyper-irradiated shot penetrate its target, the secondary effects of the rad-volley become amplified to the point where not even a Tyranid could possibly survive.
Because of this, Skitarii Vanguard are assigned to the most hazardous warzones the galaxy can offer. They bear this duty stoically and in solemn silence, fighting to the last in the name of their inhuman god.
- 4-9 Skitarii Vanguard
- 1 Skitarii Vanguard Alpha
All standard Skitarii Vanguards 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.
- Radium Carbine - Radium Weapons are so volatile that they eventually kill their wielders. Their baroque beauty belies a singularly vile function -- not only to strike, but to render the battlefield as deadly as the rad-wastes of Mars. Each weapon's bullet cylinder is so thoroughly bathed in radium that a volley can cause a localised rad-storm. Those inside such a storm soon find their flesh blackening and sloughing away.
Up to two members in a five-person squad, or three members in a ten-person squad, can replace their Radium Carbines with one of the following:
- Arc Rifle - Arc Weapons are powered by bulky perma-capacitors shipped from Mars' great repositorum. Some of these zinc-plated blocks store energy from 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 Vanguard 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 Skitarii honoured with carrying an Enhanced Data-Tether have their digitally-relayed commands obeyed without hesitation by their reverent Skitarii comrades.
- Omnispex - An Omnispex carries a Raptor-class Machine Spirit (artificial intelligence) 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 Vanguard Alpha can take include:
- Melee Weapons - Weapons for use in 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. 49, 76
- Codex Adeptus Mechanicus - Skitarii (7th Edition), pp. 24-25, 32, 34-39, 57