The Petrifiers were created as part of the Fifteenth Founding, for the purpose of bolstering imperial presence in the outward reaches of the Segmentum Pacificus.
Gene material and training cadres of the new chapter were provided by the White Consuls Ultramarines successor.
At their founding, the third planet of the Pyrrhus system was given over to the Petrifiers as their homeworld and operational base.
The vicinity to the central star and the distribution of its land and water gifts Pyrrhus Tertius’ mid latitudes a warm climate, which – together with the rich soil and ample water – supports a diverse and vibrant ecosystem. The broad equatorial belt and the small polar circles, on the other hand, are only habitable to a limited degree.
The originally barbaric human population of the planet has seen a rise in civilisation, rersulting in the formation and growth of a number of city-states in the warm regions, continually warring amongst themselves or with the less developed tribes of the cold northern forests and equatorial deserts.
The Petrifiers draw their recruits from city-state and tribes alike, looking for young men who have won and survived a fight with one of the terrible basilisks – poisonous giant snakes native to Pyrrhus Tertius. Most recruits are selected this way during great festivals, when the city-states put aside their hostilities and meet in athletic competition in honour of the Emperor, their god, and his Angels. Battling against the basilisk is one of the most sacred disciplines at such festivals. However, the watchful eyes of the chapter search their planet at all times, and so even chance encounters between man and snake may often end with the marines coming to claim the human survivor for their own.
The chapter’s Fortress Monastery itself is located on Vinea, one of the two moons of their homeworld. While the second moon of Pyrrhus Tertius, Hedera, is a forbidden world upon which even the monastery’s augurs dare not turn their gaze.
The Petrifiers are a codex-adherent chapter. Due to their sacred task of acting as a reaction force for a large area of space they have seen battle on various worlds against a multitude of enemies, precluding the developmet of any operational speciality, and casting doubt on the very notion of changing the flexibility inherent in the holy texts of the Codex.
The organisation of the chapter also closely follows the Codex Astartes. The Petrifiers are lacking in much specialist and heavy arms and equipment though, and their number of fighting vehicles is woefully limited. This goes so far that by now the Petrifiers are forced to aquire many of their supplies, especially such goody as fuel and ammunition, from local manufacturers on the civilized neighbour planet Pyrrhus Quartus, trading them against ore, agricultural produce and other simple goods collected from the city-states as tithes by the Space Marines.
This decline has its roots in the Petrifiers campaigns during mid M41. When Lord Solar Macharius and his armies pushed back the Imperium’s borders in the Segmentum Pacificus, and advanced on the edge of the Astronomicon and the Halo stars beyond, the Petrifiers followed in the wake of the crusade, destroying remaining pockets of resistance and permanently pacifying worlds Macharius’ first wave had overran. In the ungodly civil wars which followed the death of the saint, the Petrifiers were amongst the many chapters of Astartes which fought for the preservation of the gains the Lord Solar had made.
These long wars had seriously depleted the ranks of the chapter and drained its resources. Many brothers lay dead and much material had been destroyed. However, the greatest calamity befell the chapter on its return to its home sector. During the Petrifiers absence in the crusades, an Ork Waaagh had descended on the forge world of Carantes, swept aside its surprised defenders and devastated or occupied large swathes of the planet. The homecoming Petrifiers joined with relief forces of the Astra Militarum and Adeptus Mechanicus skitarii, and together they dislodged the Orks from their positions and cleansed the world of the fould xenos – at high cost. Carantes lay in ruins, and with it the forges which supported much of the Petrifiers’ arms and equipment, the chapter’s own forges on Vinea being pitifully small. Even if much of the damage could be repaired given time, it was obvious that the forge world would never fully recover from this blow, too many irreplaceable machines had been destroyed, too many sacred datastacks defiled by fould xenos hands. In the eyes of many techpriests, it was the Petrifiers who were to blame for these losses by involving themselves in the Macharian Crusade and its aftermath instead of standing guard over Carantes and the other worlds of their home sector, adding obstructionism if not outright sabotage to the chapter’s difficulties in securing replacements and supplies.
Moreover, the Key to Illumination, the chapter’s flagship and spiritual heart, was reduced to a drifting hulk in the bitter orbital engagements over Carantes. While the wreckage of the ancient battle barge was towed to the Pyrrhus system at great risk and cost, it was clear that it would take centuries to restore the mighty ship, if such was possible at all. This leaves the Petrifiers with but a single battle barge and a crippled handful of strike cruisers and escorts in their fleet, as well as with the growing resentment of the Imperial Navy while the Key to Illumination takes up precious yard capacity and resources at the naval repair facility in the outer reaches of the Pyrrhus system.
Unusual for Space Marines, the Petrifiers venerate the Emperor not only as the father of mankind and leader of the Imperium, but do indeed worship him as a god.
This was not always the case. For the first centuries after their founding, the Petrifiers operated successfully as a fully codex-adherent chapter from their base of Pyrrhus Tertius in the Segmentum Pacificus. At this time, the chapter’s beliefs were still the Ultramarines’ dogma it had inherited from their predecessors, the White Consuls. The Petrifiers revered the Emperor not as a god but as a gifted man, gene-father of their primarch and founder of the Imperium.
During the the Age of Apostasy, the Petrifiers, like so many other chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, maintained their distance from the Imperium and the madness of High Lord Vandire. In these troubled times of the Reign of Blood, the chapter was confronted with an ever increasing number of rebellions, xenos attacks and raids by the servant of chaos. Stationed at the outer reaches of the Imperium, the chapter was hard pressed by these enemies.
Things came to a head in the last decades of the third century M36, when a large contingent of the chapter was lured into a trap by the forces of chaos. The cataclysmic battle went against the space marines and their forces were threatened with destruction. Their battle barge Eternal Victory had been successfully boarded by the enemy and fighting was raging throughout the ship’s compartments, when the ship managed to jump into the warp in a desparate attempt to escape the trap, but the numbers and fury of the attackers, the damage sustained in battle and the turbulence of the immaterium were about to seal the mighty vessel’s fate and the chapter’s along with it.
It was then, that a sudden bright flaring of the Astronomicon let the ship regain a safer course, and the marines, reinvigorated by this miraculous intercession, succeeded in pushing back and destroying the remaining boarders. As the Eternal Victory slipped back into real space, word of the end of the Reign of Blood reached the ship. The concurrent miracle of their rescue and the ascension of Sebastian Thor formed the foundation of the Petrifiers embracing new beliefs and leaving behind their old. In their darkest hour, they had seen the light of the Emperor, and it was the light of divinity.
The Eternal Victory was rechristened the Key to Illumination, and it was with this vessel that the Petrifiers would join the crusade fleet of Sebastian Thor when he set out from Holy Terra. The chapter master personally gave the Petrifiers pledges of faith and loyality to the new Ecclesiarch: ‘As we shield Him, we will shield you.’
Thor’s crusades stabilised the Imperium and the Petrifiers helped to return order to the sectors on the outer fringes, where they had always been stationed. The restoration was followed by a time of great prosperity for the chapter, which also saw the founding of a mighty Adeptus Ministorum cathedral and abbey on cold Pyrrhus Quartus under the shadow and protection of the marine’s monastery as a symbol of the Ecclesiarchy’s great goodwill and friendship. Chapter and Ecclesiarchy traded many oaths and gifts in these times, and the Astartes were presented with powerful blessings and holy relics, going far beyond the traditional rosarius for the marines’ chaplains.
This very intimacy, though, made the many ways in which the chapter strayed from accepted orthodoxy all the more galling to the wardens of the Imperial Creed over the long millenia and suspicion and disfavour slowly crept into the glances the imperial clerics had for the chapter’s warriors and their monastery on Vinea. Now, under a thin veneer of solidarity and tradition, the relationship between the Ecclesiarchy and the chapter have grown cold if not downright hostile.
It is an additonal thorn in the flank of Pyrrhus Quartus’ Ministrorum officials, that on their lush and beautiful neighbourworld the population has to endure the spiritual sovereignity of those Astartes deviants in ignorance of the true Imperial faith. To those adepts, the Petrifiers have become a snake cradling itself to the Imperium’s bossom.
Amongst the chapter’s unorthodox beliefs are such strange rites as the festival of the Grape Harvest. Despite their Fortress Monastery being located on Vinea, the Petrifiers maintain a sanctum on Pyrrhus Tertius’ surface, symbolising the chapter being rooted in their homeworld. This sanctum, known as the Basilik’s Grove, is a large vinyard surrounded by a cyclopean wall. Between the vines and ancient trees of the vinyard, dozens and sometime hundreds of the giant serpents nest. Once per year, the battle brothers come to the Basilisk’s Grove to harvest the grapes, which are pressed together with some of the snakes, resulting in wine mixed with the blood and poison of the basiliks. After years in the cellars of the Fortress Monastery, such Basilik’s Wine is used in many of the ceremonies and rituals of the chapter. The Grape Harvest is also the traditional time to promote scouts to full battle brother status and select new members for the first company.
The chapter’s geneseed comes from the White Consuls and thus ultimately derives from Ultramarine stock. As such, the geneseed is pure and stable, but since the chapter’s founding some irregularities have begun to slowly find their way into the Petrifiers’ genetic heritage.
A number of the Astartes implants may show heightened activity in some of the Petrifiers. This is not generally known among all the brothers, and those who do know of it are split between seeing it as a sign of the Emperor’s grace and an ill omen warning of genetic heresy. The increase in implant activity most often pertains to the Betcher’s Gland, and affected Petrifiers secrete an especially acidic and virulent saliva. The Neuroglottis and the detoxification apparatus of the Oolitic Kidney may also be stimulated to unusual levels.
The chapter’s apothecaries theorise that perhaps these changes result from some unknown mutagenic properties of the basilik’s poison wreaking havoc with the new implants in the bodies of recruits who were bitten by the snakes they vanquished.
“In acie veritas.”
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