An additional background for LL's Shape of the Nightmare to Come/Age of Dusk piece. You might want to read the short piece of background I put up concerning the Sons in order to get a clearer picture of their background/history, which is available hereScions of Polyphemus: The Sons of Thunder during the Second Age of Strife“Sons of Thunder! Your home calls you! Return! In the Emperor’s name, return before it is too late!”
-Emergency Astropathic transmission received by all Sons of Thunder vessels 002.M42
It is said that, in those tumultuous days of Terra’s death throes, and the end of the Astronomican, that every sector, every system, every world and every man, woman and child had their story. Each is one of terror, of heroism, of madness or of courage, of simple acts of saving those few souls that could be saved or simply leaving to preserve one’s own life. Every person who lived through the great cataclysm that befell the Imperium of Man, it is said, was able to recall that time, the death of a god, of Terra, the rending apart of humankind’s greatest, longest lasting empire. And this is true indeed of the Sons of Thunder.
The Sons’ undoing turned out, somewhat ironically, to be one of their most useful tools, the troglodytes. For thousands of years, they had been using the degenerate breed of feral Orks as a selection method for recruits, taking those that were brave and strong enough to fight off their regular attacks on Polyphemus’ many mines and arcologies for the chapter. Indeed many of the greatest heroes of the Sons of Thunder have been found this way; Knight Lord Crowlin, commander of the First Company, was the sole survivor of an attack on his mine, and was famously found by the battle brothers of the Sons standing atop a mound of dead troglodytes, the mining saw he had used to defend himself slick with grey-green blood; throughout his career in the Astartes he wielded the weapon, improving it with power fields and reinforced blades, even going so far as to integrate it into his terminator armour. Never before, or since, had one simple mining tool reaped such a bloody toll upon the heretic, the mutant, and the traitor.
The troglodytes, creatures somewhere between a grot and a fully fledged ork in terms of stature, and an ork and grox in wit, were hardly a threat to Polyphemus as a whole, unable to organise in sufficient numbers to do more than raid many of the tunnel cities, or maybe overwhelm some of the smaller ones. But something changed them; whether it was accident, or some insane design, the troglodytes discovered the means to make light, and thus regained the factor that had denied them their strength.
From nowhere, a full Waaaagh erupted out of the tunnels at Polyphemus’ southern pole, overwhelming the planet’s southernmost city. Thousands of fully grown orks, armed with weapons improvised from mining stolen machinery, stormed the city and burned it to ashes, slaughtering its people. The Third Company of the Sons, along with Chapter Master Kelgin and Ancient Lo’Shan, responded immediately, launching a counter-assault upon the Orks. White armoured giants fell upon the Orks with righteous wrath, accompanied by thousands of PDF soldiers determined to defend their homeworld, but the Orks were too many, multiplying too quickly as nefarious meks used the arcologies that weren’t destroyed to harvest and grow more and more Orks to reinforce their ever swelling horde.
The battle was ferocious, and while the Second fought like madmen to keep the Orks from advancing any further, the greenskins were too many. Unable to bring their tanks to bear in the cramped tunnels of Polyphemus, the Sons were pushed back. Distress signals were sent to their brothers scattered across the galaxy, and as one they answered, breaking off from campaigns and engagements as they set their courses for Polyphemus.
It is strangely ironic that, upon reflection, the doom of Polyphemus was what saved the Sons from becoming but one more band of power armoured, psychotic thugs that made up the free companies, and preserved their honour.
The Astronomican collapsed only a few weeks after the signal was sent off, weeks perpetuated with bizarre and worrying visions from psykers across the galaxy, but the Sons had already arrived; the Angelum Imritus
was the last to come, fresh from a series of engagements against the Tau on the Eastern Fringe, breaking free of the Warp on a tumultuous wash of Empyreal energy, Brother Captain Almorris ordering his ship forwards at full speed despite the Warp Storms already rumbling around it.
With orbital support and nearly one thousand marines present, along with two hundred thousand PDF soldiers, it seemed to Chapter Master Kelgin that victory was inevitable. The Sons renewed their assault upon the Orks, but the numbers of the xenos kept swelling with more and more combat, the sheer tenacity of their opponents fuelling the Waaaagh energy that bore them into combat.
For months, the Sons and the Orks ground against each other, the greenskins slowly pushing forwards despite the ferocious tenacity of the Astartes and soldiers they fought, the ranks of the xenos constantly swelling as more and more were birthed, grown within the arcologies that had once fed Polyphemus’ people. Slowly the Sons were forced back, fighting bitter battles that simply ended as retreats as more and more Orks poured into combat. Despite a thousand and one acts of heroism and courage; Brother-Sergeant Malachai’s single-handed holding of a tunnel against nearly two hundred orks for three hours before relief arrived, Chaplain Omirris’ aerial duel fought against a band of Stormboyz in the midst of one of Polyphemus’ raging hypercanes; the Sons were on the retreat.
They fell back to the Citadel of Storms, the great adamantium bastion enough, they were sure, to hold back Orks long enough for them to marshal a counterattack. For many months more the Orks lay siege to the gates of the Sons, pounding them with great guns cobbled together from scrap, while the magma cannons, turbo lasers and artillery of the Sons blasted thousands of Orks apart. The great caverns around the Citadel of Storms became a charnel field, with xenos slaughtered in droves, but despite this the Orks kept coming.
The warboss that had risen to the head of the Waaaagh was a cunning creature, though, and while he threw his warriors at the gates of the Sons’ bastion, he had constructed for him great drilling machines from the mining machinery that littered Polyphemus’ now abandoned tunnel cities. So it was, with the Sons distracted by the horde of greenskins encamped before their gates, that the warboss’ looted mining devices burst from the ground behind their walls, pouring an army of Orks right behind their fortifications.
Through the many tunnels and corridors of the Citadel of Storms, the Sons and their mortal allies fought protracted, bitter battles against the invaders, repeatedly ambushing greenskins in brutal, close range firefights, using gun servitors, murder holes, even traps as simple as grenade bundles and spiked pits, anything that would slow the Orks.
The storming of the Citadel of Storms was a blood-soaked, murderous battle, the Sons of Thunder slowly being pushed back but making the greenskins pay for every step forward they took. But despite their stubbornness, the efforts of the Sons were futile, the Orks storming forward regardless.
Finally, the remaining civilian population of Polyphemus evacuated to the fleet above their heads, Denius Kelgin gave the order to retreat to their fleet. Squadrons of thunderhawks aided the Sons of Thunder in their escape even as the Orks stormed forwards. Astartes and PDF troopers fought to keep a hold upon hangars and drop zones where they could retreat, and chapter master Kelgin was the last to leave the Citadel of Storms by Thunderhawk.
But the misfortunes of the Sons did not end there. Despite having a full fleet of ships at their disposal, orbital superiority afforded the Son no tactical advantage due to the subterranean nature of their homeworld. Not only this, but with the Orks now commandeering the orbital defense network controlled from the Citadel of Storms, the Sons were in danger of being shot down. With only six hundred marines remaining from the bitter battles that had been fought for their homeworld, the Imperium already beginning to shudder apart around them, with Warp storms raging across the galaxy and the astronomican gone, the Sons had no means to call for reinforcements to help take back their home. Instead, they went to the only allies that they knew they could rely on for help; the tech-magi of Lusita, the Forge-World their closest ally.
And so began a slow, perilous journey through the warp; in normal conditions, the journey to Lusita should have only taken a month, but instead it took them nearly two years. It was a hazardous journey, fraught with peril and treacherous Warp currents, and it was a credit to the chapter’s captains that only a small frigate, Storm of Fury
, was lost to the maw of the Warp, while the Chapter’s other ships escaped largely unscathed. It was a dangerous journey, the ships coming under attack from pirates or rogue naval fleets whenever they were forced out of the Warp, launching desperate raids on worlds for spare parts and ammunition. But eventually, they broke free of the Empyrean’s bounds into the Alpis system, where Lusita hung in the void.
The senior Magi of Lusita greeted the Sons with open arms, grateful for the presence of Astartes in these troubled times. For a long while, using the stores of geneseed that they had saved from the Orks on Polyphemus, the Sons rebuilt their numbers, taking recruits from the harsh foundries of Lusita. The ranks of the Sons’ began to regain their former strength as companies reinforced, as new suits of power-armour and new tanks were forged upon the world. Adamantium was mined from the asteroids in the Alpis system’s asteroid belt using the expertise of the now displaced Polypheman people, and Lusita became largely self-sufficient.
However, after several centuries of rebuilding and rearmament, the system’s supplies of metal ores began to run dry, and the Sons realised that their key to survival was expansion. Thus it was the Sons began a war of conquest.
Largely undisturbed by the Petty Imperiums that had sprung up around it, the chapter split its companies and jumped between charted, inhabited systems. Some had been lost to xenos or Chaotic corruption, and where these worlds were found the Sons purged all they found with righteous fury. Those worlds that had remained untainted however, were often swift to capitulate to the Sons, unwilling to face the fury of the Astartes.
The Halovar Imperium, however, was not so willing to bow down. After having several of his worlds surrender bloodlessly to the Sons, Emperor Halovar VII gave the order that no more planets within his demesne would give in to the Astartes. The Sixth Company of the Sons of Thunder, supported by assault marines from the Ninth and a squad of Terminators from the First, launched an assault on Ioc, the central world of Halovar Imperium. The captain of the Sixth, Brother-Captain Solomon, expected a relatively bloodless victory, but unfortunately for him, Halovar had purchased the services of a free company of assault marines of the Doom Eagles.
Against both the planet’s defence forces, and nearly eighty dispossessed Astartes, the Sons began to struggle, forced against mortal soldiers while the Doom Eagles bit at their flanks. Eventually, Solomon overcame the enemy’s orbital defenses, and accompanied by the Terminators of first company, drew his strike cruiser over the Halovar’s palace and teleported in, shooting the would-be emperor upon his throne and slaughtering the planet’s aristocracy. Ioc and the Halovar Imperium capitulated within hours, with the Doom Eagles surrendering. The Astartes were offered a choice; either leave and never return, or recoup some of their old honour and join their ranks. The Doom Eagles agreed to join the Sons, and the ranks of the Ninth Company increased by fifty marines. The Eagles sported the colours of the Sons by now, but had their armour trimmed with silver instead of gold; to this day, the Ninth Company have been known as the ‘Argent Doom,’ due to this tradition, taken up by the other members of the company over time.
With the Halovar Imperium under their control, Lusita was able to renew its supplies of raw materials, and the Sons acted as guardians and enforcers for their new realm, holding its borders against the pirates and raiders that were a constant threat. The Sons and their Mechanicum allies kept control with an iron fist, ever diligent for any internal threats such as rogue psykers, chaotic agents or Dragon Cults that seemed to be forming with almost alarming regularity upon Lusita; any and all dissidence was crushed swiftly and ruthlessly. During this time, the Sons and the Tech-Priests of Lusita became closer, and many Astartes sported augmentations taken voluntarily to improve their already superhuman physiques, while the numbers of Forge Priests within their ranks swelled. Technological innovation began to take flight once more as the dictates of the Mechanicum were slowly forgotten, and newer, more powerful weapons were created; a lone Knight sub-titan was found in the depths of Lusita’s vaults, and was recreated to create an entire brigade to be used by the Sons. Even geneseed, through a process of careful experimentation and rigorous checks, was cloned, and the Sons managed to increase their numbers to a good twelve hundred marines.
It was in 385.M51 that the Sons’ miniature empire came under its first tangible threat. Within just a few weeks of each other, several worlds went silent, and not long after refugees arrived at their inner worlds telling terrible stories of a vast Obliterator warband attacking the worlds, led by an insane Magos, part man, part machine and part daemon, the dread Lomoch Achmalin, leading these assaults atop an immense, eight-armed Imperator Titan. Just over ten millennia earlier, the Sons had engaged the corrupted Magos when he had attempted to take Lusita, and had repelled him, and now it seemed he had returned to finish what he had started.
Knowing that Lusita would be Achmalin’s target, the Sons’ chapter master, Abramis Kasaya, dispatched the Argent Doom to harass and harry Achamalin’ fleet of corrupted vessels, buying the Sons time to dig in and prepare. The Argent, resplendent in white and silver, angelic in aspect with their finely crafted jump packs, managed to distract and wear down Achmalin’s forces for a month, striking at vulnerable troop carriers and supply ships whilst avoiding his much larger vessels. But despite their heroism, the ninth company could only slow Achmalin’s forces, and, taking the most direct route, the fallen magos’ forces arrived.
Mere moments after his first ships appeared at the edge of the Alpis system, the fleet of the Sons, having lain in wait for weeks, opened fire. Corrupted frigates and cruisers were annihilated within those first few minutes of furious combat as the Sons let loose with every big gun in their ships’ arsenals, picking off enemy ships as they emerged.
But Achmalin’s larger vessels drew up against the cordon of Astartes ships, pushing them back with their greater numbers and own, fearsome firepower. The Sons drew back, launching counterassaults upon Achmalin’s fleet, wearing the daemon prince’s ships down, drawing them off and buying Lusita’s ground forces a few more precious hours to get to position. Achmalin’s ships drew closer and closer, before shuttles and landing craft broke free from his vessels to land upon Lusita. But forgeworld was not unprepared.
Anti-air batteries, crewed by veteran skitarii, opened up as soon as the shuttle broke atmosphere, with hundreds of aircraft sent tumbling from the skies as they were blasted down, but yet more landed, disgorging mobs of berserk obliterator cultists and corrupted vehicles upon the surface of Lusita. Hundreds of thousands of Skitarii, over three million auxiliary soldiers drafted in from the Lusitan Imperium, twelve hundred Astartes, over two hundred thousand armoured vehicles, and a brigade of Knights faced them. Achmalin had millions of berserk cultists at his command, along with daemon engines, corrupted tanks and even the dread daemons of the Wyrdborn Host.
For hours, the immense armies ground against each other, while ships traded blows in orbit, Achmalin’s horde forcing back a larger and larger landing zone while his lesser minions were slaughtered by the defences of the Sons. But soon it was big enough to safely land his personal superweapon; Erado Omnis.
For nearly fifteen thousand years, the corrupted Imperator Titan, Erado Omnis
, had stalked the worlds of the Galaxy, annihilating anything that stood in its way, piloted by the insane Daemon-Magos. Now he was confident that his superweapon would allow him to take Lusita in a matter of hours.
The hour after the Erado Omnis
landed was a slaughter; mortal soldier, skitarii and Astartes alike falling beneath its guns. The super-heavies and knights of the Sons attempted a daring assault, but were repelled, while nearly one hundred of the Argent Doom tried to board the great vehicle when its void shields were deactivated. Aboard, they faced monstrous creatures, bloated with hideous power, and with the aid of the daemons of the Wyrdborn Host, the defenders of the titan forced the Sons back whence they came.
It was only through the firing of the great gatling-plasma of Chapter Master Kasaya’s Doomblade tank, Pax Imperator
that Achmalin’s dread war machine was halted before it could advance further, the super-heavy’s weapon crippling the drives of the war machine long enough for the Sons and their allies to fall back and regroup. With his superweapon unable to fight for at least several more weeks, Achmalin pressed the assault against the many fortified strongpoints across Lusita.
Pitched battle became siege, both sides participating in a brutal, planet-wide struggle. Areas the size of small nations were razed by orbital bombardment, while the tanks of the Lusitans and the Sons battled the daemon engines of Achmalin’s forces on great plains of scrap metal and industrial waste. Above their heads, the fleets of Lusita and Achmalin grinding against each other as they vied for orbital superiority. No quarter was given or taken, each side determined to annihilate the other.
But soon enough, Erado Omnis
walked once more.
Brigades of Lusitan tanks were felled by its great guns, while the Third Company was wiped out almost to a man, only a single predator and five brothers escaping the wrath of the fallen God Machine. Achmalin’s forces formed up around the god machine, and moved towards the central foundry of the Forge World, an immense hammerblow force that would smash the world’s command structure apart and leave it ripe for the picking.
The Sons and their allies rallied around the great forge, preparing their to sell their lives in order to destroy Achmalin and his army of mutants and daemons. The great command tanks of the Sons, super-heavy variants that had been commanded by the many captains of the Sons for nearly fifteen thousand years, led a great armoured spearhead of more than a hundred predators and vindicators and nearly two thousand Leman Russ tanks, accompanied by the remaining knights and more than five hundred artillery pieces. The skies set aflame with ordnance, while the great guns of the Sons and their allies blazed into life and reaped a great toll upon the enemy.
The superheavies focussed their fire almost exclusively upon Erado Omnis
, even as the corrupted Titan’s immense firepower reaped a bloody toll upon the forces of the Mechanicum and the Sons. The venerable Norik Lo’Shan, founder of the Sons, having survived the passage of nearly fifteen millennia within a Dreadnought sarcophagus, finally met his end at the device of Lomoch Achmalin’s superweapon, while the Banehammer of the Seventh Company, Old Furious
was left nought but a gutted, fire-blackened shell.
But despite its powerful shields and horrifying firepower, Erado Omnis
wasn’t invulnerable. The sheer volume of firepower that was coming towards the great titan from the super-heavies was enough to overwhelm its shields, and as soon as they winked out, Master Kasaya played his hand, sending in a flight of thunderhawks. Their turbolasers scarred the machine badly, but that was not their goal; a teleport homer was launched into the great fortress that occupied its back, and as soon as it was reported to have hit home, the entire First Company teleported aboard, while assault marines of the Argent Doom disembarked from the Thunderhawks.
With more than a hundred and fifty Astartes aboard, half of which were clad in nigh-invincible terminator plate, Achmalin’s daemonic guards were not enough to halt their advance. The guns of Erado Omnis
were crippled by assault marines that flitted around the outside, planting melta-bombs even as they fought aerial duels with flocks of Furies that swarmed around the great Titan.
The guns of the Super-Heavies crippled its legs, while the remaining ancients of the chapter advanced through the horde towards it as they crushed mutants and obliterator cultists with power fists or mowed them down with assault cannons, their charge led by Ancient Almorris.
The First and the Argent fought their way through the corridors of the corrupted Titan, battling daemons and twisted crewmen every step of the way, before finally reaching the cockpit. There, Achmalin waited for them, the daemon prince’s form warping to prepare for combat against his enemies. Knight Lord Stragmar was first into the cockpit, the blade of the mining saw he wielded, traditional weapon of all captains of the First Company since the time of Knight Lord Crowlin, glowing red hot as it sliced through the door. He and Achmalin clashed almost immediately, Achmalin’s monstrous form constrasted with the shining white plate of Kloist and his elite bodyguard.
The duel was a brutal one, Achmalin outnumbered, his experience and power matched by the elite skill of each terminator veteran he fought, and when a squad of the Argent Doom’s most elite veterans, led by Brother Captain Ikulus, blasted their way through the front of Erado Omnis
’ cockpit, the fight turned against the daemon prince. One of his great, leathery pinions was sliced apart by Knight Lord Stragmar, before Ikulus gunned his jump pack and barrelled into Achmalin, sending the daemon prince tumbling down to the ground.
Achmalin lived, barely, and pulled himself to his cloven feet to see Ancient Almorris standing before him. Ten millennia earlier, the two had met in combat, and while Almorris had defeated the fallen Magos, Achmalin had sworn that he would avenge himself of such humiliation upon the Brother-Captain.
One blow from the ancient’s power fist was enough to ensure that that oath went unfulfilled. Erado Omnis
lay crippled and helpless upon the battlefield, without commander, and robbed of their most powerful weapon, Achmalin’s hordes began to crumble, while reinforcements in the form of nearly a million skitarii and auxiliaries pressed in on their flanks. Thunderbolts and Valkyries ran strafing runs across the horde, blasting thousands apart with each dive, while the tanks rumbled forwards without fear of Erado Omnis
. The First Company and the Argent Doom descended into the centre of the horde, tearing it apart from the inside out, and in minutes Achmalin’s army was in full retreat.
In the next few days, the Lusitans and the Sons’ allies hunted down an exterminated Achmalin’s army, while the war in space was finally won by the Sons, their last vessels destroyed as they tried to flee.
Rebuilding was a slow process, but gradually Lusita recovered, while once more the Sons replenished their depleted ranks. Once more, the Sons took up the task of maintaining and protecting their territory, occasionally making war upon the various Petty Imperiums or rogue free companies that threatened their borders.
It was 876.M54 that the Sons found a true calling. A patrol was sent out to investigate sightings of a dark green and crimson vessel that had been seen on the border worlds of the Lusitan Imperium. When the vessel was found by the Sons, it introduced itself as one belonging to the Fire Beasts, the sixty-fourth commanderie of the Vulkan Imperium. Ancient Almorris, stored in the hangars of the ship the Sons were using to investigate, was roused, was told that the leader of these ‘Fire Beasts’ wished to negotiate with the Chapter and that he was needed; Almorris was the most senior, and it was deemed only fitting that he would be the one to lead any talks.
The leader of the Beasts, also interred within a dreadnought, agreed to a meeting, and as the Beast’s leader stepped off the Thunderhawk into the hangar that they were to meet in, Almorris recognised the black paint that covered the armour and the name set in scrolling across its front and chuckled.
“Douglas,” he was reported to have said. “After all these millennia, all the myriad dangers and enemies, it’s just my luck that you, of all the people in the galaxy, are the one to have survived all this.”
The Lusitan Imperium became a vassal-kingdom to Vulkan’s empire, supplying its armies with tithes of materiel and soldiers. The Sons became the Seventy-Eighth Commanderie, enforcers of law and order, their attitude to any dissidence or deviance as unrelentingly merciless as it was twenty millennia beforehand. The simple threat of retribution from the Sons of Thunder is enough to quell many dissident worlds, and for those that refuse to surrender, the punishment is swift and decisive. While other commanderies expand or defend the borders of the Armageddon Imperium, the Sons look inwards, ever vigilant for signs of disobedience.
And Emperor have mercy upon those who display them.