The Ultramarines Honour Company is an elite formation of approximately 100 Space Marines that was created ten millennia ago, following the devastation caused by the Horus Heresy. The Honour Company is composed of rotating Astartes officers and squads of Space Marines drawn from the Ultramarines Chapter, their many Successor Chapters who are tasked with bolstering the defences of the Cadian Gate. The Ultramarines Honour Company is currently commanded by Captain Echion of the Patriarchs of Ulixis Chapter.
Ten thousand standard years ago, in the immediate aftermath of the Horus Heresy, Roboute Guilliman, the Primarch of the Ultramarines Legion, decreed that his XIII Legion would stand ready to oppose the Traitors who had fled into the Eye of Terror should they ever return to plague the Imperium. The Ultramarines had taken no part in the Battle of Terra, as they had been bogged down fighting aganst the Word Bearers Traitor Legion half a galaxy away. But Guilliman was determined that his Legion would never again find itself unable to respond to the more pressing threat. The solution was to ensure a continuous Ultramarines presence in the vicinity of the Eye of Terror, by maintaining an honour guard within the region made up of individual squads from different companies. In time, after the Second Founding split the Ultramarines Legion up into many different Successor Chapters scattered across the Imperium, this honour guard was supplied with squads and officers drawn from all of the Ultramarines' Successors.
For the last ten thousand Terran years this honour guard has maintained a presence at the Cadian Gate, standing firm alongside the other Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes stationed there to challenge any Black Crusade that threatens Cadia's defences. At the outset of the 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41, this elite force was comprised almost entirely of squads drawn from the companies of the Ultramarines Chapter, alongside which stood a number of detachments from the Chapter's Successors. The Honour Company had already seen action in a number of engagements, notably the Defence of Narsine and the Sarlax Reprisals, lending the legendary courage and honour of the Ultramarines and their kin to the defence of the Cadian Gate.
The current commander of the Honour Guard is Captain Echion of the Patriarchs of Ulixis Chapter, a veteran Astartes commander of many centuries of service fighting the servants of the Ruinous Powers. It is unusual, though far from unheard of, for an officer not of the Ultramarines Chapter to lead the company, though with that Chapter's resources stretched by Tyranid incursions on the Eastern Fringe such a situation is set to become more common.
13th Black Crusade
The Ultramarines Honour Company distinguished itself early in the 13th Black Crusade, its first action being a bold, space-borne counter-assault against Abaddon's fleet as the deadly Planet Killer closed on the Agri-World of Lortox on the outskirts of the Agripinaa Sector. The action bought the world's Planetary Defence Force time to evacuate a significant proportion of the population before the planet was destroyed by the Despoiler's horrific weapon of planetary destruction.
In the aftermath of the Lortox Evacuations, the Honour Company redeployed to Cadia and the surrounding star systems, launching a series of operations to hinder Abaddon's forces as they assaulted the Fortress World. These attacks included a series of highly successful boarding actions against the lumbering Space Hulks being used to transport vast hordes of the Lost and the Damned to reinforce Abaddon's siege of Cadia. In total, three Hulks were disabled on the outskirts of the Cadian System, stranding an estimated 600,000 Traitors, mutants and Chaos Cultists to freeze in the cold depths of interstellar space. A fourth Space Hulk, codified the Herald of Grief, was destroyed as an Honour Company boarding force succeeded in activating a seismic detonator deep within its core, causing the Hulk to splinter into a hundred fragments and killing every one of the estimated 200,000 enemy warriors on board.
- The Thirteenth Black Crusade (Background Book) by Andy Hoare
- White Dwarf 286 (UK), "The Eye of the Storm: Space Marine Chapters fighting in the Eye of Terror"
- White Dwarf 284 (UK), "Humanity's Shield: Chapters involved in the defence of Cadia"