- "Let my epitaph be this; I was born nameless and abandoned in the gutter of a sunless pit, but I have died a conqueror of worlds."
- — Reputed last words of Lord Militant Erais Slaithe, Commander 74th Expeditionary Fleet, The Fall of Golgothea Terax, 0322.884.M30
Of the myriad regiments and battalions of the Excertus Imperialis, more commonly referred to as the Imperial Army, the Solar Auxilia were among the most elite, disciplined and well-equipped fighting forces of the burgeoning Imperium of Man during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras in the late 30th and early 31st Millennia.
They were widely considered by many second only to the superhuman Legiones Astartes in their military effectiveness in battle. While some observers may point to singular units and individual regiments whose skill, power and reputation may arguably exceed that of the Solar Auxilia, such as the legendary Lucifer Blacks or the gene-wrought Marnean Armsmen, what marks the Solar Auxilia apart is the fact that they are not simply a single regiment raised from a particular culture or displaced from a warlike Compliant world to serve the Imperium. They were a pattern; a culture of warfare and an order of battle which was successfully replicated on hundreds of worlds.
As a result, the Solar Auxilia Cohorts and regiments formed the backbone of the Imperium's military forces after the dawning of the Great Crusade. While the Space Marines of the Legiones Astartes have been both the standard-bearers of the Great Crusade, and without doubt its principal and unstoppable strength, the Solar Auxilia were often its indispensable pathfinders and its most reliable foot soldiers. And, as the Imperium expanded to encompass thousands of worlds, the Solar Auxilia were its first line of protection against those who would destroy it from without or disturb its peace from within.
The Origins of the Solar Auxilia
- "Fear not death, for it is nature's sole intent. Fear instead a death devoid of meaning."
- — Ancient Terran proverb
As their name might suggest, the origins of the Solar Auxilia lie in the Sol System and on Terra in the earliest days of the Great Crusade. No doubt from the very beginning, the Emperor realised that while His Legiones Astartes would be His foremost agency of war and conquest, the sheer scope of the undertaking of the Great Crusade -- no less than the liberation of the entire galaxy -- would require far more manpower, spread over a wider area, than even hundreds of thousands of Space Marines could hope to achieve. They simply could not be everywhere at once, nor would they be utilised best by undertaking roles ably filled by ordinary humanity.
From this reality the Excertus Imperialis or Imperial Army was born; billions of second line and support troops, functionaries, labourers, void crew, logisticians, almoners, adepts and staff officers, and the countless quantities of weapons, equipment and war machines, void conveyances and warships they needed; all to make the Great Crusade a reality. Within this vast body of men and women under arms, organised and formulated by the Emperor's own transhuman intelligence, were many highly specialised divisions, each created to serve a singular purpose, each a vital cog in the vast Imperial war machine. The Solar Auxilia was one such purpose-created division.
The parameters of this creation were exact; the raising of a large body of frontline soldiers whose principal theatre of war would be the void and hostile environments of all kinds, both to support the Legiones Astartes in battle, and by deployment free them for concentrated frontline operations. Where the Space Marines were to be foremost the hammer of the Great Crusade, the Solar Auxilia were to be its pathfinders and its watchmen.
They were to garrison the great warships and frontier outposts; they were to serve alongside the Rogue Traders and in the Expeditionary Fleets both as aggressors and as explorers, and as such they would need to be disciplined, trained and well-equipped considerably beyond the level of the average militia soldier. Once Compliance over an area of space had been achieved, and the battlefronts of the Great Crusade had moved on, it was also to be the Solar Auxilia, with their own fleets and assigned warships, that would guard those worlds and star systems that were now part of the growing Imperium from marauders from without and rebellion from within.
While a Solar Auxilia taskforce would not, indeed could not, match the power and force of the Legiones Astartes, these compact fleet-based armies of colonial control were more than capable of dealing with most "petty wars" and local conflicts that might occur on their own. Where a threat proved stronger than a Solar Auxilia taskforce could match alone, they were conditioned and equipped to stalwartly hold the line no matter the odds, until aid could be summoned and the Emperor's Angels of Death unleashed on the transgressors.
The Saturnyne Ordo
In laying out the strategic formulation and pattern of organisation for the Solar Auxilia, the Emperor, in His wisdom, appears to have drawn on two principal sources: the great military forces of the Unification Wars of Terra and the Saturnyne Ordo. Warfare had been the general condition on Terra and its star system for thousands of standard years, and the homeworld of humanity had seen many great empires rise and fall, and with them great armies and warrior cultures form and meet their destruction.
From this crucible of battle, the Emperor drew much that would inform the structure and tactics of all of His armies, and the Solar Auxilia would be no different in this, but it was the highly militarised tech-enclaves of Saturn, whose expertise in void warfare was of peerless temper, that would most greatly inform the nature of the Solar Auxilia.
The Polities of Saturn had formed during the Age of Strife; they were a disparate league of independent domains and kingdoms formed from scores of asteroid-enclaves, orbital arcologies and lunar colonies around the gas giant which gave them their name. Over time they had established a common technologically advanced culture, and although inter-state conflict, competition and vendetta was rife among them, spurred on by survival, they quickly banded together in the face of outside threat, be it the baleful influence of Mars, or the horrific privations of xenos and mutant raiders come to plunder the wealth and resources they had so long sought.
Their military, combining by far the most powerful fleet in the Sol System prior to Unification and elite armed forces known as the Saturnyne Ordo, had honed the weapons and tactics of void warfare for centuries, and until the coming of the Legiones Astartes, in such techniques they were unsurpassed. Many have argued that it was only after the Polities of Saturn joined voluntarily with the Imperium that the Great Crusade truly began, their fleets, orbital shipyards and void expertise fundamental to the speed and scale of the early years of Imperial expansion.
The Solar Auxilia were also born in this moment, and the first ten regiments raised, known collectively as the "Saturnyne Rams," were no more or less the Void Hoplites of the Saturnyne Order, reorganised and expanded -- their arms and armament all but unchanged -- and sent out with the first deployments of the as-then only numbered Space Marine Legions to conquer the stars.
Soon, more regimental raisings were to follow, with Terra and Luna both providing many newly raised regiments in the same pattern as those of Saturn to meet the strategic demand. These regiments were deployed with the same proven types of weaponry and equipment taken from the Saturnyne prototypes and rendered to the Mechanicum for approval, modification and mass production, including the highly effective and robust Saturnyne void armour, which would serve to single out the Solar Auxilia's particular appearance throughout the Great Crusade.
This wargear was supplemented with additional variant weapons and equipment designed with hazardous environment and void use by an unaugmented human in mind; these became known as "Solar" Pattern, a designation provided by the Mechanicum in keeping with the "Solar" Auxilia forces for which they were intended.
Liberation and Conquest
- "Battles are won by courage, by standing firm in the face of overwhelming adversity, by advancing to certain death when every instinct is screaming at you to turn. When you land on a world where every life form is determined to kill, eat or enslave you, and there's nowhere to run because the drop ships have already lifted, you don't have much choice but to fight, to advance and to stand firm. Everyone's a hero when there's nowhere left to run."
- —Auxiliary Skarn, 2333rd Cohort (the "Iron Hearts")
As the Great Crusade progressed, the effectiveness of the Solar Auxilia as a distinct military concept and coherent fighting force was proved time and again, and the strategic demands of the ever-expanding Expeditionary Fleets and the galactic territory they conquered demanded that Solar Auxilia regiments be raised in increasing numbers. The Sol System alone could not meet this growing demand and so the Solar Auxilia Pattern was used as an imprint elsewhere, and soon regiments and larger cohort formations were being raised across the Imperium.
They were often set up around corps of experienced junior officers and non-commissioned ranks from existing regiments. These raisings were most common in star systems with an established tradition of void-capable military and privateer forces, and in many cases served to absorb such a culture more readily into the Imperium, particularly if armed struggle had been needed to subdue it into Imperial Compliance.
Such Solar Auxilia Cohorts were normally then sent far from their origin stars, thus severing ties with their homeworlds and reducing any potential for later rebellion there. This was not, however, a unique practice, and with the introduction of mental and physical aptitude tests to a wider intake of recruits, Solar Auxilia regiments were also raised successfully from Feral Worlds and Feudal Worlds without an overall high technological sophistication or void-operable tradition, often alongside more conventional regimental raisings.
The most successful of these cohorts combined the savagery and élan often found on such warlike worlds with the discipline and firepower the Solar Auxilia was rightly famed for, forming a truly deadly combination. Famous incidences of this include both the Cthonian Headhunters which were to accompany the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet of Warmaster Horus, and the Carak'tal Scarborn who entered into legend as the only non-Legiones Astartes force to survive the Khrave onslaught at Perdition's Gate.
A Tradition of Service
- "I care not if my troops consider me a tyrant or a saint; I care only that they obey my orders."
- —Lord Marshal Konstin Shillesse, Legate Commander of the 187th Cohort (the "Death's Heads")
By the second century of the Great Crusade, Solar Auxilia Pattern forces formed perhaps 20%-25% of the overall human strength of the Imperialis Auxilia 's void-faring first-line armies, with numbers ranging into the tens of millions.
By the time of the Horus Heresy, in terms of deployment, this force was split, with about two-thirds of the Solar Auxilia Cohorts stationed permanently within the Imperium's boundaries divided into taskforce and garrison commands, and the other third separated out into various Expeditionary Fleets, Rogue Trader detachments and deep-range pathfinder ships on the ever-expanding and increasingly remote frontier.
As they were particularly suited and organised so that they had few ties to home and could easily operate as detached commands, it became common for many smaller-scale Expeditionary Fleets which did not feature any substantial Legiones Astartes presence to be led by a core of Solar Auxilia under the particular authority of a general officer with the rank of Lord Marshal appointed by the Imperial War Council. The temporal power and authority of these Lords Marshal (and the most senior among them, the Lords Militant Imperialis) were formidable in their own right. It was from them and the ranks of their subordinate staff and warship captains that future colony Imperial Commanders were often drawn, and new Rogue Traders granted their Warrants of Trade.
With the potential prize of absolute power under the Aquila over whole worlds as a draw, it is then unsurprising that commissions of rank within Solar Auxilia Cohorts destined for the frontier became a thing sought after by ambitious officers, petty nobles and the scions of great houses of Terra alike. Some such commissions were earned and others acquired by more direct means, but fate and the limitless dangers of battle and alien worlds unnumbered served in most cases to weed out those whose ambition outweighed their aptitude swiftly enough.
Regardless of this, it is the salutary truth that the pursuit of plunder as well as the quest for personal wealth and power were motivations that often served the Great Crusade just as well as duty and the desire for glory and belief in the unification of humanity.
For those of the lower ranks, the lure of service ultimately may have been more prosaic, but no less valuable; fine living standards, pay and the respect of the Imperium for their life's blood. And if they desired it, upon retirement after serving a minimum tour of thirty standard years' service, they received full citizenship and commensurate land, money and position in a newly founded or newly Compliant colony world.
For the many that chose to serve several tours and for whom the Solar Auxilia became a consuming way of life, the eventual reward was greater, and they were furnished with basic anti-agathic and medicae treatments to extend their lifespans and military usefulness accordingly.
At its core, the Solar Auxilia became and remained a hardened body of professional soldiery, equipped and trained to the highest standards of the Imperium's human forces, and a keystone of the Great Crusade's tremendous progress.
Notable Solar Auxilia Cohorts
- 1st to 10th Solar Auxilia Cohorts (the "Saturnyne Rams") - The original Solar Auxilia Cohorts constituted from the elite Saturnyne Ordo.
- 41st Espandor Solar Auxilia Cohort ("Espandor High Guard") - A much renowned cohort that took part in the Battle of Calth.
- 178th Solar Auxilia Cohort (the "Gate-Keepers")
- 187th Solar Auxilia Cohort (the "Death's Heads")
- 204th Solar Auxilia Cohort - A notable Solar Auxilia Cohort raised from the Manachean Commonwealth.
- 216th Solar Auxilia Regiment (the "Titan-killer") - A regiment that defended Nyrcon City during the Battle of Beta-Garmon.
- 222nd Calth Solar Auxilia Cohort - A sub-cohort that defended Platform Principia-Veridia 27/K during the Battle of Calth.
- 255th Calth Solar Auxilia Cohort ("Calth High Guard") - The 255th Calth Solar Auxilia was raised in late 001.M31 primarily from the Erud Provincial Militia of the Imperialis Auxilia, the best of the province's yeomanry being converted to the "Solar" template, and trained and equipped for void and exploratory warfare. During the Calth Conjunction, the 255th was deployed across several key orbital defence platforms protecting Calth Near-Space, the Main Ward Sub-Cohort being assigned to the defence of Platform Elipsia-Veridia 09/Q. They valiantly defended these orbital defence platforms during the subsequent betrayal by the traitorous Word Bearers during the Battle of Calth.
- 322nd Nexxas Solar Auxilia Cohort - This cohort sustained heavy losses in during the failed conquest of worlds in the Xersinia Prohibited Zone.
- 905th Solar Auxilia Cohort (the "Ash Scorpions") - Veterans of a dozen ferocious war zones, the discipline of battle had turned these infamous Feral Worlders into a lethally-effective fighting force. Raised from the fearsome tribal warriors of Lethe, the 905th Cohort was known for its aggression and dedication, and earned numerous battle honours in pacification wars across the Coronid Deeps before its final, glorious sacrifice at Port Maw.
- 933rd Solar Auxilia Cohort (the "King-Makers")
- 1023rd & 2774th Obed Cohorts - The Solar Auxilia forces who valiantly defended the beleaguered world of Numinal during the initial invasion of Traitor forces of the Cyclothrathine Mechanicum. Though they ultimately failed to halt the invasion, they splintered into a resistance guerrilla force, which used their expertise in the swamps and semi-aquatic terrain that dominated Numinal to their advantage, terrain that was anathema to the Mechanicum's heaviest combat units. As a result, the Cyclothrathine forces were entangled in a continued campaign of opportunistic assaults and sabotage which required further deployments to counteract, slowing their plans of attack elsewhere in the region. This forced the recall of Archmagos Yelav Draykavac, Cyclothrathe's principal warlord, from another campaign in order to deal with the violent upswing in resistance and civil unrest. With the help of Loyalist forces from the Agathean Cohorts and Imperial Knights of Houses Orhlacc and Hermetika, the Obed Cohorts played an instrumental part in driving the invaders from their world.
- 1522nd Solar Auxilia Cohort (the "Lord Marshal's Own") - This much-honoured cohort fought at the vanguard of the 60th Expeditionary Fleet for many years, before finally breaking the stalemate at Agathon and bringing the world to Imperial Compliance. Claiming Right of Conquest, Lord Marshal MaSade occupied the world and replaced its ruling aristocracy with his own officer corps. For an entire generation, the force served as a household army to the MaSade dynasty, Iraton MaSade himself still thriving thanks to rare and costly life-prolonging treatment until the 1522nd was reconstituted to confront the forces of betrayal sweeping through the Coronid Deeps.
- 2333rd Solar Auxilia Cohort (the "Iron Hearts")
- 6629th Solar Auxilia Cohort - A notable Solar Auxilia Cohort whose elite Veletaris units retained Volkite Weapons as their preferred weapon of choice, which would prove more effective than any other tactical armament against the Traitor Legiones Astartes the Loyalists would later face during the Horus Heresy.
- 6633rd Solar Auxilia Cohort - The 6633rd was one of many Cohorts deployed at Manachea that fought in the eleven-day Battle of Hive Ilium. Anticipating the need to conduct Expeditionary warfare against xenos remnants across the region, these units were founded according to the Solar template and were granted the right to bear the blue and yellow livery of the Ultima Segmentum Armada Imperialis.
- Agathean Cohorts - Since their world of Agathon was brought into Imperial Compliance during the Great Crusade, it became a highly organised and productive Hive World, with an overriding military aesthetic to its culture. Its sizable standing military, the Agathean Cohorts, bore direct lineal descent to the Solar Auxilia, and acted to dominate the Coronid Reach region as the standing Imperial defence force.
- Arkadian Solar Auxilia Cohorts - Numerous Cohorts were raised from the trans-Solar Hive Worlds of Arkadia. The 278th Solar Auxilia Cohort is one of these notable "Head-hunter" Cohorts.
- Carak'tak "Scarborn" Cohorts - Solar Auxilia Cohorts raised from the Feral World of Carak'tak, this savage force entered into legend as the only non-Legiones Astartes force to survive the Khrave onslaught at Perdition's Gate.
- Cthonian "Headhunter" Cohorts - Solar Auxilia Cohorts raised from the savage world of Cthonia. "Headhunter" Cohorts combined the savagery and élan often found on such warlike worlds with the discipline and firepower the Solar Auxilia was rightly famed for, forming a truly deadly combination. The Cthonian Headhunters would go on to accompany the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet of the Warmaster Horus. The 142nd Solar Auxilia Cohort is one of these notable "Head-hunter" Cohorts.
- Cthonian "Jackals" Cohorts - Solar Auxilia recruited from the people of the Sons of Horus' homeworld of Cthonia, but judged unsuitable for Legiones Astartes conversion. During the opening years of the Horus Heresy, they were installed as Port Maw's garrison. Beneath this shadow, the hives of Manachea became little more than vast slave-camps run by those natives who had pledged themselves wholly to Horus and who now competed with each other to prove their loyalty by enforcing the brutal quotas demanded by their distant and merciless overlord.
- Shoar "Skull Taker" Cohorts - Raised from the Feral World of Shoar located in the Grail Abyss, its hardy and brutal native population lived lives locked in unremitting tribal warfare. Formidable physical specimens and able fighters, the Shoar were inducted in large numbers into the Imperial Auxilia, forming several "skull taker" cohorts attached to the 7th and 60th Expeditionary Fleets, and it is believed several intakes were sent to Terra to determine their suitability for Space Marine Legion recruitment with unknown outcome before civil war was to shatter the Imperium.
According to the measure of the Officio Militaris of Terra, the Solar Auxilia Cohorts are the definitive example of a heavy void infantry formation of the Excertus Imperialis. As such, they are fully trained and equipped to take on void war zones, hazardous planetary environments and operate both as "interface" troops (meaning transitioning from void to ground operations in combat conditions) and fight heavily contested boarding actions.
Early Solar Auxilia forces were ranged in the standard fashion of a Principia Belicosa -required regimental structure, comprising a nominal 5,000 soldiers-at-arms under the formal command of a Legate-Colonel and a dedicated staff and discipline cadre of around 300 officers and specialists. However, as the Great Crusade entered its expansion phase and the role of the Solar Auxilia in the wider war effort became more pronounced, and the demand for Solar Auxilia Pattern units increased, the Officio Militaris High Command reconfigured the Solar Auxilia into larger, highly autonomous cohort formations.
These "Solar Cohorts" were intended to be highly compartmental and owed something both to the structures employed by some of the elite forces of the Pan-Pacific Empire during the Wars of Unification as well as elements also used to organise the nascent Space Marine Legions.
A Solar Cohort at muster would form a nominal fighting force of 120,000 individuals, with several thousand additional support staff of various types on permanent attachment to the unit, under the command of a Marshal Solar. This would be broken down into a number of sub-cohorts, each with a nominal fighting strength of 1,200 under a Legate-Commander, Commander or Sub-Commander depending on seniority and the sub-cohort's particular type.
The fundamental building block of the Solar Cohort at the tactical level is the Tercio, a formation made up of three "sections" of Solar Auxilia, whose nature was defined by their weaponry and battlefield role. Tercios collectively could be assembled and deployed in a variety of ways and numbers to meet a particular strategic need. By far the most common Tercio formation was the Infantry Tercio, made up of three lasrifle sections; each comprising twenty void-armoured, lasrifle-equipped infantrymen, commanded by a junior officer.
Alongside these fought elite "Veletaris" Tercios, each made up of three squads of ten veteran troopers equipped with augmented short-range weapons such as Volkite Chargers or Flamer units, and Fire Support Tercios, commanding three batteries each of three crew-served infantry support weapons platforms, of which the tracked Rapier type was the most common.
Each Tercio was itself a self-contained unit, and every Auxilia within the Tercios trained not simply as a front line soldier, but also to be skilled in voidcraft, fundamental combat engineering, hostile environment survival and basic planetary exploration protocols. This particular combination of capabilities marked the Solar Auxilia out as an elite among the human soldiery of the Imperium since the early days of the Great Crusade and has always been a source of great pride within their ranks.
Strategic Disposition of an Expeditionary Fleet/Battlegroup
The following illustrates the strategic disposition of the Excertus Imperialis for a Macro-Command Level Expeditionary Fleet/Dedicated Battlegroup:
- Primary Lord Militant/Lord Solar(I) (Secondary tier by deployment type) - Individual assets of a Lord Militant of any kind will vary widely, but will commonly include personal flagship (capital class), various Escort vessels, retainer cohorts, life guard elite, specialised irregular regiments, full general staff and analytical cadres, indentured servants and hirelings, bursary and interior trains, emissaries from various potentates and divisions of the Imperium's body politic, etc.
- Lord Marshal (Expansion/Battlegroup Command)
- Lord Castellan (Garrison/Defence Command)
- Lord Admiral (Primary Fleet Command)
- Strategic Operational Command (Tribunes Gernal and Subordinate Staff Officers, Officio Locum Strategos, Senior Representatives of the Armourium, Artillerists, Munitoria, Officio Medicae, Lectato and Discipline Corps) - Centralised resource of strategic operations and general staff for the Expeditionary Fleet/Battlegroup, as distinct from private retainer counterparts operating as part of the Lord Marshal's personal retinue.
- Subordinate Office of the Admiralty & Fleet of the Armada Imperialis - Includes all detached vessels, stations, crews and assets of the Armada Imperialis under the purview of the Lord Militant, including its commensurate parallel Naval strategic command (Admiral Primaris and subordinate). Also, any attached high-ranking members of the Astra Telepathica and Navis Nobilite.
- Mechanicum Assigned Detachment - Comprising the independent command structure of permanently or semi-permanently detached Mechanicum forces, and their sub-factions. (Primary) Magos Militant, Enginseer Covenant Excertus, Emissaries Mechanicum. (Secondary) Allied Taghmata, Ordo Reductor, Legio Cybernetica, Legio Titanicus
- Cohort and Regimental Command Structure (Simplified Overview) - The bulk of the Excertus Imperialis armed forces are made up of independently operating regiments, Militia Legions Minoris and Cohort structured "sub-armies". Each of these varies by their internal structure, size, muster and strategic use (and thereby their equipment and training) as well as their world/system of raising and/or origin. These are broadly classified and ranked in order of military power and seniority by the Principia Militaris as follows:
- Cohorts and Regiments Primus(II)
- Cohorts and Regiments Secundus(III)
- Militia Legions Minoris(IV)
- Provender & Labour Auxiliaries
- Penitentiary and Punishment Cohorts and Legions Minoris
Depending on their size and deployment, battlegroups and Expeditionary Fleets may order between a dozen and over a hundred such independent formations, potentially therefore numbering in the tens of millions of men and women under arms.
- Extra-Incorporate Assigned Forces - Varied and diverse operatives, agencies and irregular forces operating under the authority of the Lord Militant, but outside the usual chain of command, are notionally located in this division of authority.
- Agents of the Imperial Court, Agents of the Assassinorum, Plenipotentiary Representatives of the Council of Terra, (prohibited)
- Assigned detachments of the Legiones Astartes, Households of the Knights Questoris
- Rogue Traders Minoris, Chartist Captains, Reflugators, Ordnancers Assay & Provender, Justicars Arbites and their respective staffs and cadres
- Deputations of the Order of Iterators, Remembrancers and Savants Logos
- Warden Charonate, (prohibited), (prohibited)
- (I)A Lord Militant ranks as one of the highest authorities in the Imperium, equal to the Imperial Commanders of major worlds, and the highest officers of the Imperial Court, in effect, subordinate only to the will of the Emperor, His personal representatives and, by extension, the Primarchs.
- (II)Primary level Cohorts and regiments are the most powerful forces within the Excertus, comprising elite formations such as the Solar Auxilia, Pioneer Regiments, Armoured Cohorts and Regiments of Renown.
- (III)Secondary level Cohorts and regiments represent a second tier of ability and force, including many indentured forces from Compliant worlds, lightly equipped "regular" forces intended for non-critical Compliance garrisons, as well as frontline auxiliaries considered to be liable in some way, such as feral worlders and abhuman regiments.
- (IV)Militia Legions Minoris are forces raised in extremis from subordinate local populations, and are often poorly equipped and poorly trained, often for the purpose of planetary defence emergencies, etc.
Strategic Disposition of a Solar Auxiliary Cohort
The following illustrates the notional organisation of a late Great Crusade era Exemplar Unit of the Solar Auxilia: the 278th Cohort "Arkadian" Muster, Solar Pattern:
- Cohort Strategic Hierarchy - Comprising the overall independent strategic and battlefield command and control functions of the Cohort, as well as its general governance and logistical directorate.
- Cohort Level Assigned Strategic Assets
- Warships of the Line (Light and Heavy Cruiser, Frigate, Bastion and Corvette classes)
- Warp-capable Troop Transport Vessels
- Boarding Craft (Shark Pattern - most common)
- Planetary Landers and Combat Drop Vessels, Orbital Lighters and Shuttle Craft
- Light Interface Gunships and Strike Fighter Wings
- Void Interceptors
- Super-heavy Tank Detachments
- Support Artillery and Ordnance Corps
- Medicae Corps
- Assigned Mechanicum Enginseer Covenants
- Cohort Supreme Command
- Cohort Marshal/Marshal Solar
- Legate Marshal/Tribune Ordinate
- Cohort Vexillarius - Core of veterans and retainers entrusted with the relics and standards of the Cohort; Standard Bearers, Signifiers, Subalterns, Bodyguards and Equerries.
- Cohort Operations Command - Cohort general staff officer and functionary cadre, also attached advisors and representatives of other arms of the Excertus Imperialis/Armada Imperialis, ect.
- Tribunes (Dictatus, Strategos or Logos)
- High Commanders
- Legate Commanders
- Officers of the Fleet - Officers and parallel command structure of any vessels of the Armada Imperialis given under the Permanent authority of the Cohort's Marshal. Commonly of no higher independent rank than Captain of the 2nd rating (Captain-Commander) operating at equivalent rank to a Cohort Tribune.
- Sub-Cohort Tactical Command
- Sub-Commander (Exp. Auxilia Tank Commander)
- Ensign/Declurion/Vexillarii (Sub-Cohort)
- Tercio Structure of Cohort's Rank and File - The bulk of the Cohort is divided up into Tercio pattern troop formations as its essential building blocks of tactical use and logistical support.
- Tercio Class: Optimate
- Veletaris Squads and other elite formations
- Veteran Infantry Units
- Dedicated Transportation Crew
- Tercio Class: Militaris
- Line Infantry Sections (Lasrifle, I-III)
- Dedicated Transportation Crew
- Pioneer Sections
- Tercio Class: Ancillary
Nominal Strength 278th Solar Auxilia Cohort
- Lasrifle Sections (70,000)
- Veletaris Sections (3,000)
- Specialist Weapons Sections (7,000)
- Crew, Ancillary, Pioneer, Labour and Support (22,000)
- Staff and Command Cadre (1,200)
- Fleet Officer Cadre and Voidsman (10,000)
- Other (5,000)
Rank Stucture of the Solar Auxiliary Cohorts
The following illustrates the principal command and core hierarchy rank structure of a Solar Auxilia Cohort, descending from the highest to lowest. Note that only primary tactical ranks are included -- considerable variation in title for specialist sub-units (Medicae, Provender, Strategium, etc.) also occurs:
- Lord Marshal (reserved for Expeditionary commanders)
- Cohort Marshal
- Legate Marshal
- High Commander
- Sub-Commander (Exp. Auxilia Tank Commander)
- Troop Master/Primus
- Void Sergeant
- "Vengeance it is said is the preserve of the gods; gods we in our folly denied ever existed."
- — Captain-General Orson Souzerin III, introit to The Last Cohort
The tactical doctrine of the Solar Auxilia had grown up organically over the operations during the Great Crusade, and was the direct result both of the unusual environments in which they commonly operate and in part the particular qualities of their arms and equipment. Each member of the Solar Auxilia must reach an expected height of skill and aptitude to bear Void Armour.
Co-ordination and discipline was to them of paramount importance; infractions of discipline and rule on a voidship can lead to swift disaster for all, and in void warfare this is doubly true. Those who failed to meet these standards in training were dismissed to serve as naval ratings or in a less selective Auxilia formation, those who failed them on active service were harshly punished, and those who failed them in battle faced summary execution by their officers.
The coherence and discipline of the Solar Auxilia was key to their principal tactics; close order formations both in open field warfare and in the confines of a Zone Mortalis, concentration of firepower and stubborn defence. Strategies of "aggressive defence" were common both at the small unit and field level. This can be typified by aggressively seizing superior defensive ground (or manufacturing it with prefabricated defence lines, etc.) and inviting enemy attack on preferred terms, feigned retreat in order to drag opponents into pre-prepared fire zones and slow "rolling" advances under cover of close armoured and air support, protected by mechanised transportation.
Also common were asymmetric "lightning" assaults which committed massed forces against a divided portion of an enemy line in order to achieve localised victory while minimising losses. These strategies were enabled by the Solar Auxilia Cohorts' discipline and the sophistication of their armaments, and born primarily from the Solar Auxilia Cohorts' use as long-range pathfinder units for Explorator and Expeditionary forces, as well as rapid-response forces.
In such roles the Solar Auxilia often expected to fight alone and outnumbered, and faced unknown terrain as well as potentially unknown enemies. The famed discipline and ability to "hold the line" of the Solar Auxilia in such circumstances can be seen not simply as a matter of martial ability, but as a simple survival trait; on an alien world or within the hull of an enemy warship, breaking and fleeing is pointless when there is no safe haven to flee to, and doing so dooms oneself as surely as it does one's comrades.
One of the most clearly defining features of the Solar Auxilia was their unique panoply of war, which set them aside from the myriad different forces within the wider Excertus Imperialis and Imperialis Auxilia, and was informed both by their history and their particular role in the Imperium's vast war machine.
The most singular and perhaps iconic piece of wargear utilised by a member of the Solar Auxilia is their Void Armour; a carapace-reinforced, full environmental combat body armour with a fully integrated life support unit. The Void Armour worn by the Solar Auxilia, eponymously classified as "Solar Pattern", is itself a mass-produced modification of the ancient Void Armour worn by the Void Hoplites of the Saturnyne Ordo.
The armour is fully sealed and capable of resisting small arms fire, ballistic impacts and shock trauma, is self-healing against minor penetrations and lacerations, and is particularly resilient against radiation and thermal effects, making it highly effective for combat operations in hostile environments of many kinds, not simply the open void. Although efficient and resilient, Void Armour should not, however, be considered to be a match in regards to durability or sophistication to Legiones Astartes Power Armour, which operates at a greater order of magnitude in terms of defence and endurance.
Just as the Void Armour worn by the Solar Auxilia is greater in terms of sophistication and material cost, so is its small arms weaponry, the most common of which was the Kalibrax V-I Pattern Lasrifle. The Kalibrax operates within the standard assigned power ranges set down by the Officio Militaris for Imperialis Auxilia weaponry, but was notable both for its heavily reinforced energy transfer capacitors, overall durability and superior heat dissipation qualities over more common patterns such as the Mars Mark II Lasgun or the Ursh-Vantovka Lascarbine.
These factors made it highly desirable for the hazards of void warfare and also easily able to handle a variety of modifications and augmentative systems, such as bolt-collimator arrays and induction blast-chargers, without the fatal strain such devices might impose on lesser weapons.
Historically, in terms of light support and specialised weaponry, the Solar Auxilia always favoured various forms of directed energy weapons, including Flamers, Meltas, Multi-Lasers and Lascannons, particularly for their suitability to void combat and to simplify maintenance and munitions supply, although bolt and rotor cannon-type weapons were far from unknown in the cohorts, particularly when a Solar Auxilia Cohort had operated for long periods alongside other Imperial forces.
Once the standard armament of a significant number of infantry sections, Volkite Weapons became increasingly rare as the Great Crusade wore on, and by the Horus Heresy became the preserve only of the most elite of their Veletaris units. To carry such a weapon became a thing of great distinction in the ranks of the Solar Auxilia, the weapons themselves passing from soldier to soldier as time went on.
The weapons of the Solar Auxilia's officer class had a tendency to be highly idiosyncratic in nature, with each officer allowed to furnish their own personal arms, allowing for considerable variation and indeed competition between them, with the sword of various forms being held commonly as the mark of an officer.
Duelling between officers of similar rank outside of active war has always been permitted within certain parameters within the Solar Auxilia, both as sport and more lethally over matters of honour (with a commanding officer's permission). For this the Terran Charnabal Sabre is the most common implement, and the training and skill this encourages is seen as being purely beneficial to those involved and the cohorts they serve.
Every Solar Auxilia Cohort was intended to operate as a self-contained force, and it was organised and supplied with additional infrastructural support based on its assigned role. For example, if on exploration duty or in open warfare, the cohorts almost always operated as a mechanised force, utilising large numbers of heavy, all-environment armoured transports as mounts and rally points for their troops.
Most common of these was the Dracosan Armoured Transport, which possessed both the transport capacity to carry entire lasrifle sections in a single vehicle and had both considerably more armour and inherent rad/alchemical protection than the ubiquitous Rhino, as well as a life support system of greater endurance.
Alongside this primary ground vehicle, a specific armoured and often armed variant of the Arvus Lighter served as the Solar Auxilia's most numerous support transport. This STC pattern is a robust and reliable orbital interface craft whose trusted design predated the Imperium's founding by unknown centuries, and was used in a variety of roles from troop transport, to reconnaissance craft, to supply conveyor and even as an impromptu gunship.
As might be expected given the Solar Auxilia's close relation to void warfare and orbital assault, additional naval support by fighter craft, heavy gunships and orbital landers was also very closely factored into the Solar Auxilia Cohorts' sphere of operations, with the Auxilia possessing its own cadres of pilots and void ratings integrated into a given cohort's own chain of command to facilitate its operation.
Almost uniquely among the Excertus Imperialis, Solar Auxilia Cohorts stationed upon ships of the line also make use of specially modified Shark Pattern Boarding Rams for void assault actions, a deadly form of engagement usually assumed to be the sole province of the mighty Legiones Astartes.
Heavy Armour and Ordnance
The Solar Auxilia Cohorts made extensive use of support armour and mobile artillery units in open battle, and unlike the forces of the wider Imperialis Auxilia, these were invariably patterns designed and proofed against void and hostile environment operation, including radiological shielding and internal life support systems.
These included the notably advanced Mars-Solar Pattern Leman Russ battle tanks, created specifically to the Auxilia's specifications by the Tech-lords of the Red Planet -- both swifter and more sophisticated than their more commonly encountered counterparts -- as well as semi-automata variant Basilisk and Medusa artillery tanks mounted on those same environmentally-sealed Leman Russ chassis.
Solar Auxilia Cohorts are also renowned for their routine deployment of prefabricated defence works, fortifying any encampment they make or outpost they construct, however temporary; a standard operating procedure born of extensive deployments on unknown worlds far from ready aid.
Most Solar Auxilia Cohorts also feature at least one fully equipped super-heavy armour sub-cohort within its ranks, whose armoury contains numerous types of general battle units such as the Malcador and the Baneblade, as well as vehicles reserved for more specialised roles such as the Shadowsword and Stormhammer. It is notable, however, that more specialised siege formations, such as static artillery batteries, are rarely included within a cohort's regular order of battle, as siege duty and attrition warfare was largely considered a waste of the Solar Auxilia's particular capabilities by strategic command during the Great Crusade, and left to other, more specialised formations of the Excertus Imperialis.
Solar Auxilia Wargear
- Archaeotech Pistol - Despite the renaissance of human power in the galaxy that the Great Crusade has created, there remains much of Mankind's ancient might and arts that is lost to myth and legend, save for a few relics that have survived Old Night. One of the more common types found are sidearms of surpassing firepower and elegance. Be they bespoke slug throwers utilising micro-atomic munitions or searing kill-rays that draw power from a planet's ambient magnetosphere, such priceless archaeotech artefacts of war find their way into the hands of the Emperor's chosen agents and the most senior officers of the Solar Auxilia.
- Demolisher Cannon - A short-ranged but destructive weapon designed for line-breaking and smashing enemy fortifications, the huge rocket-propelled shell fired by the Demolisher Cannon is enough to pulverise bunkers and collapse buildings around their defenders in a tide of rubble and dust.
- Solar Auxilia Support Weapons - The Solar Auxilia utilise a variety of support weapons as needed, including shell-firing heavy guns of different calibres, directed energy weapons and missile launch systems.
- Graviton Weapons - Little understood even by the Tech-priests of Mars, the term "Graviton Gun" refers to a group of gravity projector devices whose sophistication is such that the few that now remain are relics of a lost age. Such weapons prove extremely useful when fighting on a starship or in a null gravity environment. The power of the Graviton Gun's highest settings is sufficient to rupture organs and crack bones even inside armour, but its primary use is to impede the enemy and damage machinery without the risk of secondary explosions.
- Irradiation Projectors - "Irad" or "Rad" Projectors are potent anti-personnel weapons and relics of the Dark Age of Technology used exclusively by the militant forces of the Mechanicum. They commonly comprise a bulky generator unit terminating in a dish-like projector that unleashes a powerful blast of deadly cross-spectrum radiations. Victims caught in the blast of such a weapon suffer an appalling death as they are boiled alive from within -- their tissues blasted apart on a cellular level. Thick barriers of solid matter between the beam and the target provide some protection from this effect, though victims who survive the initial blast will often die later of extreme radioactive contamination.
- Lightning Gun - This aptly named weapon takes the form of a baroquely designed carbine either connected to a micro-reactor or, in the case of an Ordo Reductor Thallax, their firer's own cybernetic power core. It fires an ionizing las-beam down which a powerful phased discharge of electromagnetic force is unleashed, and is equally effective at slaughtering the living and overloading machine targets.
- Mauler Pattern Bolt Cannon - A field-support weapon found within Skitarii Tech Guard formations and mounted on certain Battle-automata, these baroque and bulky automatic cannons differ from the more common Heavy Bolter only in calibre, with the Mauler using substantially larger and denser shells, with a proportionally larger and stronger gun-frame needed to handle the firing stresses involved. These are powerful weapons whose secrets are jealously guarded by the Mechanicum.
- Needle Pistol - A favoured weapon of the assassins of the Terran Courts during the days before Unification, Needle Pistols are sophisticated and elegant handguns whose operation is silent, invisible and deadly. The finest examples use a combination of a flashless laser to pierce flesh, followed by an impellor-shot of virulent poisons delivered instantaneously into the open wound. This combination can lay low the toughest foe with ruthless efficiency.
- Photon Thruster Weapons - The arcane secrets of these deadly but unstable beam weapons are jealously guarded by the adepts who hold them, leading some to believe the technology is xenos in origin. When fired they unleash howling, needle-thin beams of utter blackness able to pierce the densest matter, slashing and slicing armoured men and machinery apart like razors, leaving pulsing waves of darkness in their wake. The exotic power sources of these unearthly weapons are extremely unstable, and catastrophic failure can lead to their firers being consumed by raging black flames until only dust remains.
- Plasma Weaponry - Such technology was far better understood during the dawning age of the Imperium, if still somewhat unsafe. As a result, three additional rarer types of sophisticated plasma weapons, such as the Plasma Blaster, Phased Plasma-Fusil, and Executioner Cannon, would become all but unknown in later ages.
- Rotor Cannon - Favoured by many Imperial Army formations, Rotor Cannons are multi-barrelled Stubbers, using electric motors to maintain an extraordinary rate of fire from their spinning barrels. The simple, medium-calibre solid slug projectiles they fire lack the power of bolt shells, but the hail of shots they unleash can be particularly useful against unarmoured hordes of foes and fleshy xenoforms. The newly prototyped Assault Cannon technology represents a more effective and powerful implementation of this principle.
- Volkite Weapons - "Volkite" is an arcane Martian term for a variety of powerful ray weapons whose origins date back to the Age of Strife. Possessed of considerable killing power surpassing most armaments of their size, Volkites were difficult to manufacture, even for the most able of the Mechanicum's forges, and the demands of the expanding Great Crusade swiftly overwhelmed the supply of these relic guns. Once relatively common within the fledgling Legions, they had fallen largely from favour by the time of the Horus Heresy, and had been superseded in the Space Marine Legions by the far more flexible and utilitarian Terran Bolter. Those few that remained in service were the purview of only a few specialised units at the outbreak of the conflict that rent the Imperium asunder.
- Grenade Launcher - The Grenade Launchers used by the Solar Auxilia are advanced, selective fire weapons proofed for use in void conditions and able to deploy a variety of munitions types not normally encountered in the Excertus Imperialis.
Solar Auxilia Las Weaponry
While first the dreaded Volkite, and later the powerful Bolter, were the standard tactical armaments favoured by the Space Marine Legions, the serried ranks of the Imperialis Auxilia from the beginning favoured Laser Weapons as the pattern for their standard small arms. Adaptable, environmentally resilient, readily manufactured and, given their technological basis, extremely readily supplied and maintained by Great Crusade forces as they expanded out from Terra, las weapons were patterned to fit every conceivable need, from officer's sidearms to tactical rifles to armour-breaching heavy weapons.
Within these broad categories were innumerable variations in patterns and models, from the Mars-Luminal, whose core design predated even the Age of Strife and was replicated to exacting tolerances by the priesthood of the Machine God, who considered it a prayer made solid, to the crude Gethrik "Fireshot" Lascarbine, lacking even the most basic of safety functions or fire selector modes, and furnished in local stonewood for the use of the deeply superstitious and feral savages of Jub'bala after their induction into the Imperial war machine.
The Solar Auxilia, in particular, favoured the use of some of the most advanced and adaptable las weapon designs in mass-produced Imperial service, usually sourcing their arms directly from Terra, Mars and latterly also from Voss, Telastoria and Triplex Phall when possible. Such was the elite status of the Solar Auxilia within the wider Excertus Imperialis, and indeed often the personal wealth and political power of their commanders, that the Solar Auxilia commonly employed additional modifications to improve the overall firepower and capability of their standard-issue weaponry.
These included, most commonly, Lasrifles fitted with advanced beam collimators to increase their effective range and accuracy, while many Solar Auxilia regiments sanctioned the use of forced-chamber over-compression cells, more commonly known as "blast-chargers".
These devices imposed a kind of contained overload on a las gun's firing chamber, resulting in the expulsion of an unstable pulse of energy far more powerful than that of a standard las-discharge. Crude jury-rigged modifications fashioned for this effect had always been known, but at the Lords Solar's request, refined mechanisms of this type were put into production for special issue, particularly where large and deadly xenos species such as the Orks were expected to be encountered.
Even so, such a massive increase in firepower on even the best manufactured las gun frame was not without a price and every time it was used, the weapon risked catastrophic overheating, and in the worst case, the total burnout of the weapon. Such risks meant that, in practice, blast-chargers were employed only by express order and in the direst of situations.
A similar technology was employed far more reliably in a range of artisan-produced las weapons known commonly as "Blast Pistols." These bespoke weapons were able to fire only a handful of shots before reloading, but their damage output rivalled that of arcane Volkite Weaponry.
Produced in the main by master weaponsmiths for the officer class and the Imperial colonial nobility, they promised extreme lethality at short range should the life of their bearer be threatened, either by an enraged predator during a beast hunt in some far-flung alien jungle or by a hulking Ork Skarboy breaking the defensive line amid a pitched battle.
Blast Pistols were seen as an emblem of wealth and prestige, and many were works of art in their own right, and thus they also became a widely used form of decoration and reward for extreme gallantry and commendation within the Solar Auxilia regiments.
Close Combat Weapons
- Battle-Automata Power Blades - Fitted to the primary weapon-limbs of some robotic Battle-automata, these sabre-like bladed weapons use molecular disruption fields supercharged with power from the Battle-automata's core.
- Charnabal Sabre - With their origins tracing back to the ancient duelling societies, assassin cults and bloody vendettas of the Terran Courts during the Age of Strife, these elegant and deadly weapons rely on speed and dexterity rather than brute force for their lethality. The pure metal of their blades is press-folded and stamped scores of times over before being micro-serrated with a fractal-sharp edge. The master swordsmiths of Terra are each said to have their own rituals of forging, impressing a distinct pattern in each bespoke blade as legible as a signature to those with the wit to read them. As well as the nobles of the Terran Court, certain senior officers of the Solar Auxilia favour the Charnabal Sabre over more "clumsy" Power Weapons as they see them as being more responsive to true martial skill, while others think them effete and decadent weapons.
- Digital Lasers - Incredibly sophisticated miniaturised weapons of xenos origin, these devices are extremely short-ranged but potent enough to kill despite being small enough to be concealed in a ring, gauntlet, sword hilt or helm. With a skilled user they are particularly effective in close combat, where they can be used to deliver a deadly strike to a foe already occupied in fending off the fighter's blows.
- Paragon Blade - Weapons forged of consummate artistry or irreplaceable relics of the ancient might of the Dark Age of Technology, Paragon Blades are few in number and may take many forms. The most common Paragon Blades are two-handed Power Weapons of extraordinary balance and durability, although even more rare and unique Chain Weapons wrought from the teeth of terrifying xenos beasts and certain night-black sickle swords found on remote Death Worlds on the edges of the Halo Stars have been known to hold similar phenomenal killing power. Regardless of their form, Paragon Blades are valued beyond price by the Imperium's warriors.
- Shock Chargers - Used to augment the combat power of Legio Cybernetica Battle-automata, these amplify the force of the Battle-automata's blows with powerful electrostatic discharges which detonate like thunderclaps when striking their target.
- Armoured Ceramite - Additional heavy ceramite plating fitted to a vehicle allows it to withstand extremes of heat and radiation. Plating of this kind is commonly fitted to orbital strike craft to enable them to withstand the rigours of "crash" re-entry from space into a planet's atmosphere, and also to certain siege vehicles to protect them from thermal energy weapons.
- Armoured Cockpit (Flyers) - A reinforced armoured cockpit utilised by Solar Auxilia orbital strikecraft to enable them to withstand the rigours of "crash" re-entry from space into a planet's atmosphere.
- Augury Scanner - This energy scanning device has the effect of alerting the user to the concealed presence or imminent arrival of enemy troops in the vicinity, even if concealed, and can detect the tell-tale electro-gravitic disruption effect on local space that presages teleport transfers.
- Auxiliary Drive - The standard patterns of Imperial vehicles are often customised by the regiments that field them, and in some cases are test beds for technology either designed or recovered in the field by the Magos and crew that maintain them. One common form of such customisation is the fitting of back-up and auxiliary drive systems, such as secondary galvanic motors or outrigger thrusters, to keep a vehicle mobile for short periods even if its main motive drive becomes damaged.
- Cognis-Signum - An advanced array of sensory devices, Cogitator-assisted communications and telemetry arrays, the Cognis-Signum enables the wearer to co-ordinate battlefield data with blinding speed.
- Cortex Controller - This control and signalling device uses data-djinn to command Battle-automata fitted with cybernetica cortex systems, allowing the wielder to witness the battlefield through the automata's own senses, as well as monitor their status and exact precise control over their actions. Only the most highly experienced and specifically augmented adepts of the Mechanicum and the Forge Lords of the Legiones Astartes can hope to fathom the use of these fractious devices and successfully interpret the storm of data streaming from their un-living minions.
- Cyber-familiar - Utilised by Techmarines and the Adepts of the Mechanicum, cyberfamiliar is a term that encompasses a variety of semi-autonomous devices such as Servo-Skulls, Mek-Spiders and other smaller drone units and lesser robotic haemonculites tied into the direct neural control of their operator. These minion-drones are an extension of their master's will and provide them with a host of additional senses and capabilities.
- Displacer Matrix - These relics of xenos technology are one of a number of arcane "displacer" devices known to exist. These particular matrices, taking the shape of glassy black amulets, are found in the hands of certain Rogue Traders and are said to pre-date even the Eldar, being found sometimes on Dead Worlds far out on the edge of explored space. They incorporate a shield generator system which uses a teleportation effect to protect the bearer from harm, displacing the energy of any impact into the void beyond or, if this fails, serves to remove the bearer from harm instead, returning them nearby some moments later...hopefully! Such devices are, it must be said, shunned and considered anathema by the Machine Cult of Mars for being flawed and dangerous to their users, but for some, this is a risk well worth taking.
- Djinn-skein - An Archmagos Prime operating as a battlefield commander is not simply a general whose orders are carried out, but the governing will of the Taghmata; a spider at the centre of a web of data-djinn and stolen perceptions from across the battlefield that enables them to make tactical predictions based on inhumanly swift calculation and accuracy.
- Enhanced Targeting Array - Certain robotic Battle-automata are fitted with additional slaved Cogitators and sub-incunabula Machine Spirits devoted to relentlessly tracking and targeting any and all potential threats in range.
- Flare or Chaff Launchers (Flyers) - A radar countermeasure utilised by Solar Auxilia aircraft which spreads a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminium, metallised glass fibre or plastic, which distracts radar-guided missiles from their targets, causing them to detonate prematurely.
- Flare Shield - A flare shield operates against shooting attacks that strike the vehicle's front arc.
- Grav-wave Generator - A strange archeotech device found in the plundered inventories of certain ancient pre-Imperial voidcraft, these small portable gravitational wave generators send out pulses of force from a field that coheres several metres away from the bearer. This has an effect akin to any moving object striking the field as if hitting an invisible sandbag wall. The field collapses temporarily when struck by any object with sizable mass, but by then it has usually served its defensive purpose.
- Illum Flares (Flyers) - An illum flare marks a ground target, enabling Solar Auxilia ground units equipped with night vision equipment to better see their intended targets.
- Imperialis Vexillas - The Vexillas -- the banners, icons and standards of the Solar Auxilia -- serve as a focal point on the battlefield, both for the fighting troops' morale and as a reminder of their oaths of duty and service. Whether a Troop Vexilla represents a single fighting section or one of the elaborate company banners bedecked in the names of past worlds fought for and conquered during the Great Crusade, it is a point of bloody tradition and pride that the colours and icons of the regiment never fall.
- Infravisor - A night vision device utilised by Solar Auxilia troops that allows images to be produced in levels of light approaching total darkness. The image may be a conversion to visible light of both visible light and near-infrared.
- Lorica Thallax - Thallax Armour that is permanently, surgically bonded to the body of the wearer.
- Mechanicum Protectiva - This term covers a variety of energy field and defensive shield projectors devised by the Magi of the Mechanicum to protect themselves both on the battlefield and from assassination by their rivals. For this reason, the frequency and modulation of each device is a closely guarded secret.
- Nuncio-Vox - A radio-frequrncy-based communications device.
- Psi-jammer - Often either examples of prohibited and little understood technology, or even xenos artefacts, these devices generate a passive field which impedes psychic energy directed at the wearer and hides their mind from telepathic contact.
- Refractor Field & Iron Halos - These devices are defensive field generators designed for personal protection. They encompass the wearer in an energy field or force barrier which serves to refract or deflect impacts and energy discharges, although the need for the wearer to move and fight, as well as their power consumption, prevents them from being anywhere near inviolable to attack. Devices of this nature are relatively rare, and are the province of commanding officers and honoured champions, where they are often incorporated into armour or amulets and gifted as a mark of favour and rank.
- Servo-Arm - Servo-arms are powerful manipulators tipped with crushing pincers, useful for field repairs and punishing enemies. Ports for these detachable appendages are installed at the shoulder, and the Battlesmith's armour must also be upgraded with more powerful gyro-stabilisers to use one effectively. A Servo-arm can lift one side of a Rhino APC to repair a broken tread link. A Servo-arm can extend up to 1.5 metres. The limb's gripping mandibles allow the Techmarine to lift heavy objects or anchor himself in an emergency.
- Shroud Bombs - These canister bombs unleash a shimmering grey fog of dense smoke and multi-spectrum electromagnetic charge that foils scanners and surveyors just as easily as it does vision.
- Siege Wrecker - This is a general term given to a specialised form of massive close combat weapons intended for Legion Dreadnoughts and Mechanicum Battle-automata. Wreckers are designed to enable these heavy assault units to smash through fortifications and easily crush armoured barricades and defences in siege warfare. The most common form of this weapon is a hydraulic ram or massive disruption field-augmented hammer, although specialised forms of heavy claw or drill systems are also used.
- Void Armour/Reinforced Void Armour - Based on designs ceded to the Imperium by the Saturnyne Domains during the unification of the Sol System, the Void Armour of the Solar Auxilia regiments has become largely synonymous with the fighting force itself Offering a degree of environmental and combat protection exceeded only by the Power Armour of the Legiones Astartes, Void Armour, as its name implies, is intended to enable a human soldier to survive the deadly travails of space battle and the harshest of exo-planetary conditions.
- Automated Artillery - Unlike standard artillery, automated artillery does not require crew in order to function. It is not removed from combat due to a lack of crew and each gun must be destroyed normally before it is removed. Automated Artillery cannot move and cannot charge.
- Battlesmith - Those versed in the secret arts and teachings of the Mechanicum, whether Techmarine, Forge Lord or Magos, have the skill and ability to reconstruct and effect field repairs to war machinery in the very heat of battle.
- Explorator Adaption - Many of the combat vehicles of the Solar Auxilia are modified during construction to operate freely in the most dangerous alien environments, providing fully-sealed life support systems and are fabricated with materials and component systems far superior in the quality of their materials than those commonly possessed by the Excertus Imperialis.
- Cybernetic Cortex - Comprising a synthetic "brain" of sorts of the most advanced robotic Battle-automata, a Cybernetic Cortex consists of an armoured casing containing a complex bio-plastic mass which extrudes nerve-like grey tendrils into the body of the robotic frame into which it is housed, invigorating it with strange false-life. Far beyond a simple Cogitator in capacity, it is neither truly alive nor sapient like the dread and inhuman "Silica Animus" feared of old. Instead, it is akin to a primal web of bellicose instinct, guided not by self-awareness and reason, but by a programmed framework of encoded behaviour, comprising simple and exacting instructions and commands. The result is a superior, self-guided weapon; a machine-predator that will actively and instinctively pursue its foes as well as act with a degree of tactical sense and self-preservation beyond anything a Servitor is capable of, but without the dangers of revolt and the development of blasphemous intelligence -- or so the Legio Cybernetica claim.
Solar Auxilia Appearance
Solar Auxilia Colours
Each Solar Auxilia Cohort commonly bears the colours of their particular cohort's livery. The colours are those by which the cohort is known, and may be drawn from the culture of the world from which it was raised, or earned throughout its years of service to the Imperium. They appear on banners and uniforms, and the warriors of the cohort derive enormous pride from bearing them into battle.
Solar Auxilia Heraldry
The Cohorts of the Solar Auxilia are known by a combination of heraldry and a numeral that, in theory at least, is in use by only a small family of Cohorts at a time -- names such as the "Lord Marshal's Own", the "Ash Scorpions" or the "Gate Keepers". Where a Cohort has strong associations with a particular world -- either that from which it was raised or one it is tasked with guarding -- it may also carry the name and other icons of that world.
Solar Auxilia War Machine Appearance
The Greater Orders of Battle of the Solar Auxilia make provisions for a wide range of force types, most describing a cohort built around a core of infantry supplemented to varying degrees by armoured units, from self-propelled artillery to super-heavy tanks. These documents are nothing if not extensive in their addressing of every possible contingency the Solar Auxilia might face in war, and even go so far as to stipulate the livery they should bear.
The armoured vehicles of the Solar Auxilia were mainly liveried in a utilitarian white-grey, the same surface coating applied to the armoured flanks of the mighty warships of theArmada Imperialis Ultima. Unlike the mass-produced war machines of the majority of the Imperial Army, however, those of the Solar Auxilia were not only constructed from superior quality materials usually reserved for Space Marine Legion war machines, and also lavished with fittings and details of semi-precious metals, such as brass, bronze or copper which, even when the bulk of the vehicle accumulates dirt and wear, are kept shining as a matter of pride.
Solar Auxilia tank crews were known for their attention to detail in this regard, and it was common for them to spend long solar hours in between other duties fastidiously maintaining their war machines; a practice that also revealed any micro-fractures or hidden damage that might compromise the vehicle in hostile environments. This tradition is derived from the pre- and post-battle protocols of the Saturnyne Ordo, where warriors would be detailed to perform such repetitive tasks in order to focus minds, dissipate tension and maintain discipline.
In addition to their basic panoply, Solar Auxilia armoured vehicles commonly also bear the colours of their particular cohort's livery, applied in bands of varying configurations across the sides, prow or turret.
Solar Auxiliary Vehicle Iconography
An axe icon indicates that a vehicle belongs to a dedicated armoured unit (rather than being individually assigned to support another formation, and the wreath and cruciform veterancy symbol marks it as a command vehicle bearing a senior Solar Auxilia tank commander of the cohort. An icon of a lion with a spear, mounted on a shield, indicates that a vehicle is permanently attached as armoured support to an elite Veletaris formation.
- Adeptus Titanicus - The Horus Heresy: Titandeath (Specialty Game), pg. 72
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest by Alan Bligh, pp. 19, 29, 38, 42, 47-51, 54, 57, 60, 69, 72, 74-75, 79-95, 146-147, 196, 200, 239-291
- The Horus Heresy - Book Five: Tempest by Alan Bligh, pp. 18, 22-23, 30-31, 39, 41, 46-47, 50, 55, 61, 65, 71, 124, 140, 152
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Tactical Command
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Veletaris Storm Section
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Lasrifle Section
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Flamer Section
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Infantry Tercio
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Tank Crew
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Ogryn Charonite Squad
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Rapier Squad Multi-Laser
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Rapier Quad Mortar
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Stormhammer
- Forge World - Leman Russ Incinerator
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Basilisk/Medusa
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Basilisk/Medusa Battery
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Dracosan Armoured Transport
- Forge World - Solar Auxilia Mechanised Storm Section