An Inheritance of Stars
The Space Marines or “Adeptus Astartes” are foremost amongst the defenders of humanity, the greatest of the Emperor of Mankind’s warriors. They are barely human at all, but superhuman; having been made superior in all respects to a normal man by a harsh regime of genetic modification, psycho-conditioning and rigorous training. Space Marines are untouched by plague or any natural disease and can suffer wounds that would kill a lesser being several times over, and live to fight again. Clad in ancient Power Armour and wielding the most potent weapons known to Man, the Space Marines are terrifying foes and their devotion to the Emperor and the Imperium of Man is unyielding. They are the God-Emperor’s Angels of Death, and they know no fear.
The Astartes are physically stronger, far more resilient and often mentally far removed from the lot of most normal human beings. In the presence of the Astartes, most people feel a combination of awe and fear, and many cultures on the more primitive worlds simply worship them outright as demigods or angels of the God-Emperor made flesh. They should feel so, for many Space Marines feel little compassion for those they have sometimes termed “mortals” in comparison to themselves, seeing the very people they were created to protect as little more than obstacles to a more efficient eradication of the Imperium’s enemies. This is an attitude sometimes taken by whole Chapters. They see normal humans as frail, weak creatures given to the follies of temptation, avarice, greed, lust and cowardice — all emotions they rarely feel, if ever. Yet there are some Astartes who remember why they were created by the Emperor, who avoid the trap of hubris which the Space Marines are so prone to and which has seduced so many of their number to betray the Imperium of Man to become Heretics. They are the final guardians of Mankind, the saviours of last resort. They were intended not to lead humanity, but to defend it, sometimes even from itself. At the heart of that mission lies the limitless compassion the Emperor extended to every man and woman in the galaxy when he willingly chose to condemn himself to more than 10,000 years of imprisonment within a dying prison of flesh for their sake. Some Astartes sneer at compassion, seeing it as one more human weakness that has been purged from their superior bodies and minds. But the wisest of the Space Marines know that in the end compassion is their only salvation, as it is for all men. In that, they have proven themselves to be fully human.
Potential Space Marines are usually, but not always, recruited from the worlds where a Chapter has established its Fortress-Monastery, although some Chapters are known to recruit from a collection of different worlds in an area of space that they protect or frequent. Recruiting methods vary from Chapter to Chapter. Some select their Neophytes from feral tribes roaming the surface of inhospitable worlds, while others draw upon eager volunteers who have been groomed from birth to become an Astartes. Still others watch and kidnap potential warriors, turning them into Astartes whether they will it or not. Whatever the method, all Space Marine Chapters will only accept those who successfully pass the grueling initiation trials and prove themselves worthy of becoming a Space Marine.
When the Imperium of Man came to the Argylian Expanse, the technology for Power Armour was already used for elite troops, and the advancement of genetic research had almost penetrated to the level of augmented “super humans.” With the coming of the Imperium and with them the Gene-Seed, scientists such as Richard Marwood were able to push the existing boundaries, and to begin the creation of unique new Chapters within the Expanse