"We go where we wilt. We slay who we wilt. Let the Emperor judge the righteousness of our deeds." -- Sergeant D'Kestrel, 1st Company, Raven Guard
Vanguard Veterans are Veteran Space Marines of the elite 1st Company in Codex Astartes-compliant Chapters who specialise in close combat. Of all the fighting formations that make up a Codex-compliant Space Marine Chapter, it is the 1st Company which is most feared. For an Astartes to join the 1st Company is for him to have won renown on battlefields uncounted and to have earned the respect of his Battle-Brothers through deeds of blood and honour. Most such Veterans have served as Sergeants elsewhere in the Chapter -- sometimes for centuries -- before being accepted into the 1st Company, but a notable few are elevated after performing insane acts of heroism. Every member of the 1st Company is proficient in all manner of Astartes weaponry and stands as a living exemplar of the ideals and purpose of the Chapter. With such status comes the right to select weapons of choice from the Chapter's Armoury and, as a result, Veterans Squads are much less rigid in composition and doctrine than other Space Marine formations. They are often equipped and ordered to undertake highly specialised missions that can prove to be force multipliers, such as slaying an Ork Warboss and his bodyguard of Nobs or preventing a wave of Eldar Aspect Warriors from joining the main body of an enemy Eldar force. Vanguard Squads are formed from those members of the 1st Company that completely immerse themselves in the art of close-quarter combat. Most have completed lengthy service rotations in their Chapter's Assault Squad, their skills tested and honed in the crucible of bloody melee on a thousand thousand worlds. Power Swords, Plasma Pistols and Power Fists are all common sights in Vanguard Veteran Squads, and Thunder Hammers, Lightning Claws and rarer weaponry are also employed as the engagement requires. These weapons are not employed lightly, for they are without exception ancient and revered artefacts of the Chapter. A Vanguard Veteran who returns from the field of battle without his armament is subject to the Chapter's gruelling rites of penance. Whilst they can be deployed at the forefront of an assault, most Chapters employ their Vanguard Veterans as rapid-response forces, using Jump Pack or Rhino transport to apply crucial pressure to an already over-taxed enemy defence, or to reinforce overmatched allies. Often referred to as a Captain's "Iron Fist," Vanguard Veterans are constantly in motion.