Monday, February 2, 2015

So you want to be an Astarte's: The secret hell you're wishing on yourself.

Hey everyone, Lonestarr here again with a new look into the fluffy world of 40k.
Today we're gonna look at everyone's favorite army, Space Marines! Even as a filthy xenos player  I can admit these guys are badass. Awesome toys, awesome armor, and awesome rules. Wouldn't it just be the best to be one of these powerarmor clad harbingers of the Emperor?
Wwweeellllll about that...

This is what I wanna be when I grow up.

So you want to be an Astarte's: The secret hell you're wishing on yourself.

First, you'll have to be born on a chapters recruiting world. Lets assume you haven't won the Imperial lottery and been lucky enough to be born in the Ultramar sector, or on Nocturne.
This means your life is going to be hard, brutal, and often primitive.  If you're born on Fenris for example an axe will be placed in your crib shortly after birth, if you don't wrap your little fingers around it, you'll be tossed into the ocean.
Recruitment worlds range from backwater feral worlds, to hivespires that produce large number of gangers down in the dark depths. You're going to spend most of your life fighting tooth and nail for everything that you have and to keep your family alive.
Then one day when you near the age of fourteen, you might find yourself kidnapped by hulking monsters of metal that tower above you. Congratulations, you've been chosen for the selection process!
That's right, you're still not guaranteed at this point. Potential recruits then must face trials arranged by the marines to satisfy the recruiters in that they are worthy candidates. This process varies from chapter to chapter but most of them are quite lethal to fail.
For example in the case of Black Templar, there is one recorded incident of an entire tribe taken and the men forced to fight each other to the death in a metal pit where the floor becomes slick with blood. Only once the Templar in charge is satisfied that he has weeded out the weak does he make his choices.
On Fenris, you will first have to prove yourself worthy in battle or the hunt. Or maybe a wandering giant of a man will arrive in your village and challenge you to feasting, fighting, or hunting. Then upon being collected you're injected with the Canis Helix and tossed into the wilds for a night. Whether you succumb to the mutating effects of the genetic flaw or are torn apart by those that have is wholly up to you.
On Baal, if you're one of the lucky fifty victors in the Blood Angels gladiatorial trials you will be taken to their Stronghold where you must then endure a seventy-two hour vigil. Those that falter are taken away by servitors and never seen again. Once that's all done you're given a drink from a chalice and fall into a coma. While comatose you'll be placed in a sarcophagus and periodically injected with what's called The blood of Sanguinius for a year. Provided the blood doesn't kill you, or you wake up early and go insane...
Well now, lets say you survive your recruitment, congratulations!
Remember I said you would be taken when you're around fourteen years of age? That's because its far easier for a boy experiencing puberty to survive the surgeries necessary to make him into a marine. And there is a lot of surgery.
It should be noted there are exceptions of grown men being turned into Astartes. This process however is incredibly risky and one the Apothecaries are loathe to attempt. It is usually reserved as a grand reward for someone who proves themselves to the chapter, whether they survive or not.
Now you'll undergo nineteen surgeries in all and each one carries it's own risks. While you're going under the knife and being filled with organs that allow you to go into a coma at will or gain memories by eating the flesh of your enemy, you'll also be going through indoctrination.
Your impressionable mind will be introduced to the cult of the god Emperor and your Primarch. Hypno-therapy, brainwashing, and other tactics are used to ensure you are utterly devoted to the cause of your chapter. Sometimes this can be a little much and you just might wind up being whispered too by dark voices or your brain just snaps.
 The end result is a mind that isn't completely human anymore, even the beloved Ultramarines are not quite right once their training is finished.
Well, now you've survived the surgery and you're properly screaming for the Emperor with the right amount of gusto. Get that Carapace armor on, because now you're a scout!
Well or a bloodclaw but the Space Wolves do things bass-ackwards anyway.
So now you'll just have to do recon for like a couple years and then you'll be promoted right?
Your time as a scout could be indefinite. You must first prove yourself to your Sergeant that you're a capable marine, survive countless hazardous missions behind enemy lines, and have your faith and metal tested by fire time and time again.
Any number of things could hold you back from your final implant, the Black Carapace, and your graduation to battlebrother. Maybe you just can't quite get your aim down. You haven't quite mastered 'The Knock' to unjam your weapon, or your Sergeant just doesn't like you.
You could go through countless warzones before you're finally deemed ready to join the ranks of the chapter. If you're lucky though, one day you'll be taken by the Apothecary for the final surgery and you will be gifted with a suit of power armor from the grand armory, perhaps even a suit that was worn during the days when Terra burned...
Congratulations, you made it! You're finally a full fledged Astartes!
Now what?
Well, now that's it. Sure you'll be trained in Devastator, Assault and eventually become a Tactical Marine but really this is your whole existence now.
Your days are spent in meditation, prayer and maintaining your wargear. Sure some chapters break this monotony up with arts and crafts, Blood Angels, Feasting and Fighting, Space Wolves, and community outreach, Salamanders.
For the most part though, you don't have an off switch. You are a tool of war and no matter how you dress it up, you're nothing but a sword that walks and talks.
But you might say, "What about the respect, the glory, the adulation you'll receive?"
Well that's all good if you can process it. Most marines just shut it out, becoming humble. Some walk a dangerous path and revel in it, opening themselves up to the chance of becoming corrupt.
All that respect isn't real either. Many a guardsmen will see you as a glory-hog who shows up when the real fighting is finished. Worst still, depending on the chapter you're from, you might not even be welcome.
Blood Angels have a terrible reputation of locals and guardsmen vanishing from warzones where they show up. Ultramarines are thought of as pushy and stuffy and most want to shove that codex they go on and on about somewhere unpleasant. Dark Angels are considered a liability because of their secrecy and tendency to run off at a moments notice due to rumors of Dark Angels in black armor.
But you protest "Hey come on, every woman in the guard will have the hots for you, that's gotta count for something right?"
Well, first no, you're not a walking chick magnet, close but no. And even if some conscripted ganger girl in Cadian pattern armor is making eyes at you, you're not gonna have any idea how to act.
The process of making a marine renders them sterile, not impotent but that's covered by the fact you were kidnapped around fourteen. You know, your developmental years when you learn to understand the funny feelings you have for girls.
So even though that gal is waving her liquor ration in your face wanting to celebrate the fact you just saved their garrison... You're stuck standing there trying to figure out why you feel funny in your pants. You only usually feel like that when you're killing things so it's definitely a mixed signal.
Space Marines have been described as being emotionally mature as children on occasion. It was definitely noticeable with most of the Primarchs during the Heresy and things haven't really changed, if not gotten worse since.
But hey, eventually, on some distant world you'll breathe your last. Maybe dying in a glorious last stand that saves the day on some bitter world and you breathe that last shuddering breath as a hero...
And then you wake up being wired into a Dreadnaught. The Dreadnaught is considered a true honor for a heroic marine, too grand a hero to be allowed to rest in death. You will be entombed in this walking killing machine, and then put into a coma till you're needed.
That's right, you have to be sedated when you aren't needed in combat, otherwise you'd just go berserk by the time you sang your millionth chorus of 'Bottles of Beer on the Wall'. You could be asleep for anywhere to months to centuries. Finally awoken when the need for a hero of old is dire. Your techmarine who serviced you when you went under last could be long dead and gone when you awaken, replaced by his attendant. Only you will remain.
I leave you now with a parting quote that I feel is fitting.
From Shakespears Beware the Ides of March.

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world / Like a Colossus, and we petty men / Walk under his huge legs and peep about / To find ourselves dishonorable graves.

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