Imperial Archive Item 978-2-9002999818-1.
Excerpt from Prime Austerean Hercanius’s Treatis on the History and Culture of the Star Marines
Transcript of videolog 17… Dated 9th of Azzigas Vorpal, in the Year of our Empress Ompheria 2013
Marker 1. Origins and Legends of the Star Marines
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Sol Prime Institute of Philosophy: Department of Reasonist History: Chair Ameritus, Master of Reason, Physician of Imperial History, First Duke of Io, the Lourde Prime Austerean Hercanius of the Noble House Thormalian by way of House Xaratian
… to best understand the nature of the Star Marines one must understand the anvil upon which they were forged.
Officially the Star Marines are comprised of those noble households who carry the title of Knight of Stars in Service to the Empress. However this was not always the case. In the early days of colonial expansion before the formation of the Empire Solus Humanity was ruled by various competing religious organizations known as Corporations. It is believed that this early colonization effort was done in effort to seek freedom from religious censure. As such these Corporations lead the people’s spiritual journey even as they funded their physical migration across the stars.
For several hundred years mankind expanded across the Orion Spur. During this period humanity encountered countless worlds teaming with life however sentient life proved elusive. It was eventually hypothesized by Reasonists that while life was common sentience was a cosmic rarity reserved for only a handful of species throughout the galaxy, possibly the universe. This lead humanity to define the “Mandate of the Heavens”. The mandate was a political and social doctrine expounded as part of the Corporate religions of the day. It stated that humanity, due to its intelligence, was entitled to colonize the galaxy without end.
Without external conflict it was inevitable that humanity created conflict from within. The Corporations divided humanity along lines of their particular faiths. Coupled with the relative isolation of early colonies due to the primitive nature of spacial travel the result was drastic cultural drift between colonies. Social, economic, and political rifts between the colonies and their governments resulted in war.
A group of colonies petitioned to secede from the colonial government. What followed has variously been called the Civil War II, the War of 10 Corporations, and the First Imperial War. Lasting 14 years various Corporations formed military organizations and swallowed other colonies. Secessionists fighting for freedom from the oppressive theocracy of monetization formed a new organization. A culture of merit based on nobility and coherent family social structures was formed. Nearly 2000 years ago the outmoded religious worship of wealth was swept away and the First Emperor Volcunas The First united the colonies under the banner of the Empire Solus.
In their earliest inception the Star Marines functioned as a militant arm for one of the many Corporation Theocracies. They proved themselves to be highly skilled and honorable warriors during the war. Thus Emperor Volcunas took them into his service and granted them title of nobility within the empire in return for their fealty.
The Star Marines and their households were integrated into the structure of the nobility and ordered by Emperor Volcunas to toil in service to the Skylourde. For much of the life span of the Empire they did just that. The Star Marines became feared acting in the name of the Skylourdes in service of the Emperor. But this was not to be their destiny for as we know we are not alone in the galaxy.
In 1818 of the new imperial calendar the outer colonies were struck by a powerful imminent threat. The Aether invaded human space to “cleans” planets of human “infestation”. Though it would take the empire much time to know the Aether’s intent it was immediately clear they were a technologically superior malignant force.
Perhaps most tragically humanity’s only saving grace was the thorough and methodical nature of the Aether’s attempted Genocide. Colony by colony the Aether deployed their fleets in blockade systematically hunting and eradicating humans regardless of their age, race, or affiliations. Emperor Tricerras and the Conclave of Noble Houses proposed diplomatic solutions and refused to hear propositions to the contrary.
Then Skylourde Daltrian made a pact with the crown prince Voldayaas to assassinate the Emperor. Prince Trivoltas, second in line to the throne, discovered the plot and called his brother out in council. But by then it was too late Emperor Tricerras died by heart failure attributed to pulmonary micro fissures likely caused by nano-explosives inside the heart wall. Voldayaas and Trivoltas both declared themselves Emperor before the funeral rights were complete and the War of Succession began.
During this time the Aether had the run of the outer colonies. It was widely claimed that the Imperial Core Provinces were better protected. And with good reason, many sectors included both Provincial Defense Fleets as peace keeping and humanitarian forces as well as the Independent Noble Fleets used to protect the shipping interests of the Nobility. During the War of Succession these fleets were mobilized by various groups to fight for various governmental factions. Initially it was merely a quarrel between bothers as Voldayaas and Trivoltas fought for the throne. However other factions appeared and vied for political or economic superiority.
With the war taking its toll in the Provinces the Colonies were left to fend for themselves. Less wealthy, and often with limited military and technological resources the Colonies stood little chance against the Aether. Refugee fleets migrated core ward with each newly decimated colony. Survivors of the atrocities were rare but other colonies were easily inspired to evacuate. In the provinces the refugees found little respite as military forces were often used to blockade their entry or otherwise engaged in military actions of their own.
For their part the Star Marines refused deployment until the Empire was stable again. Skylourde Daltrian ordered the household lands of the Star Marines ceased claiming they were in violation of their oaths. In response the Star Marines declared then 3rd princess Collianna the rightful heir of the throne. As the princess was merely 13 and no female had inherited the throne in a thousand years the Star Marines were publicly mocked for their allegiance. But that mocking ended following the summary execution of Skylourde Daltrian.
Claiming orders from the Empress the Star Marines publically forsook their homes. In a broad public show they burned their ancestral homes and joined into a single fleet. While vastly outnumbered the Star Marines were quite a fighting force and dispatched any forces that stood in their way. They didn’t bother attempting to capture strategic systems instead battling their way to Sol where they enthroned the Empress. One there they left a small but well-armed honor guard and took the primary fleet into the Colonies.
For many among the nobility it became a simple choice, support one of the brothers who had been fighting a bloody war across the Provinces or accept the arguably illegitimate rule of their younger sister who willingly sacrificed her own safety to protect the Colonies. For the people the choice was much simpler. After two years of war and the constant threat of annihilation from the Aether the Empress was a sign of change and hope, a fresh beginning.
Initially perceived as a week monarch the Empress changed such perceptions by her first declarations in office. Only days after the Conclave of Noble Houses ratified her coronation the Empress declared the Matriarchy. The Empire Solus would be ruled by an Empress, the eldest daughter of the ruling house. The eldest son would become Regent of the Empire and master of the ruling house in absence of the Empress. The second eldest daughter would be the Duchess of Blades, a rank formerly titled Blade Lourde colloquially known as the master of assassins. The second eldest son would inherit the title of Lourde of the Watch, charged with enforcing the succession and counting the genealogy of the noble houses.
Some noble houses challenged the decree at first but these challenges were swiftly dealt with by force and often lost in the wash of political intrigue of the day. Her second decree was even more controversial declaring the War in the Heavens. The Aether’s action had declared war on all of humanity, and so all of humanity would face them. The Empire Solus was henceforth at war with the Aether and all production and technology in the Empire would be used, first and foremost, to fight the Aether. In short order a new Skylourde was appointed and each house of noble birth was ordered to appoint a Skymarshal that would oversee their fleet. The Noble fleets were distributed across the empire with the responsibility of engaging Aether forces where ever they appeared. At the same time the Homeguard Fleets were to be convert for military use and production of ships and munitions was to be increased. In the colonies the Star Marines had one task, delay the Aether, the longer they held the more time the Empire had to prepare.
The Star Marines held the Aether in the colonies for 26 years. Early engagements didn’t bode well for the Star Marines as Aether forces were clearly superior in technology and number. They soon adopted an ambush strategy. Operating behind Aether lines the Star Marines fractured into Cavalier Fleets, small rag tag forces mixing elements of Star Marine forces with remnants of colonial militias. These smaller battle groups could react faster and assault Aether forces with greater haste. Often breaking Aether blockades and freeing civilians and military forces trapped by them.
For several years the Aether showed no measurable response to the Star Marine’s tactics. They continued their systematic approach without change. It wasn’t until the battle of Caldinocht that the Aether changed their tactics. Caldinocht was a Colonial shipping hub in the Caldaros sector. The Aether set upon it with only minor warning but instead of their normal tactic of besieging the planet they pyroformed the planet from orbit. Their biochemical weapons igniting the planet’s atmosphere and turning all life to ash. This rightly provoked the Star Marines into open conflict with the Aether.
As Caldinocht burned the Star Marines descended upon the massed Aether fleet. For days the Aether held ground as the Star Marines and the Cavalier fleets hurled themselves against their enemy. With the death toll in the billions from the one engagement the Aether finally retreated on the 12th day.
Both sides learned much from the conflict. Alongside their standard battle tactics the Aether began baiting traps to draw the enemy in. For their part the Star Marines began using outriders forming a loose network of warning systems to inform other fleets and colonies of Aether were movements. They also learned that while technologically advanced and extremely powerful Aether vessels were cumbersome and impossibly difficult to maneuver. Soon after Aether ships began being drawn into Star Marine traps.
Thereafter the war became a great game of cat and mouse. The Aether and the Star Marines fighting to take and keep ground respectively. The greatest commanders among the Star Marines were able to make the Aether spend a hundred ships to take a single colony. But for every Aether fleet removed from the game the Star Marines lost a dozen or more. Each loss meant the Star Marines took another step towards Sol and the eventual extinction of the human race. Each ship downed was a resource that couldn’t be replaced with ease.
For 26 years they held against a superior foe. Early on it was believed that the Aether could be stopped simply by attrition but 26 years of attrition proved that wrong. One thousand three hundred and sixty-two star systems fell to the Aether in those 26 years. An estimated 42 trillion souls taken, and for each one the Star Marines made the Aether pay dearly. On the 5th of Azzigas Nol, 1846 nec the Aetherian 1st fleet entered the Noridian Province at around 1:42 am local standard time. They were met by the Veridian and Ordanian Home Fleets and engaged seven minutes later. The battle would last for 21 days and the Alcarian, Boromian, and 5 other Home Fleets would join the battle before the Aether would retreat. This was the first true victory of the war.
It is unknown if the Aether can understand any of the many human tongues. It is known they can recognize the Banner of the Stars. Icon of the Star Marines, a cascade of gold and crimson freckled with 1362 stars. Raised high upon the bows of the Cavalier fleets that precede the counter strike. On that day the Aether turned tail and fled before it and they have run from it ever sense.
We have been at war for two hundred years. Five generations have faced the Aether and pushed them back into the abyss. The Star Marines, her royal highness’ Knights of the Stars have lead that charge. They have held the line. They have given more fought harder than any human might in the face of such odds. Thus you must understand that in the forge of battle and against the anvil of sacrifice and adversity they have been wrought. Nobility, courage, and sacrifice, the shining light of a star guiding for the sake of all humanity. As they pledge before the Empress herself, “the War in the Heavens began with an act of Genocide it will end with the very stars quaking at our wrath”.