Talons of The Emperor

   Games Workshop recently released two new books. However, each one represents only one unit. Not a good tendency, but it lets you take Adeptus Custodes and Sisters of Silence into any army. What's so interesting about them?

   Custodes haven't changed since the dataslate. But now they can take dedicated Venerable(!) Land Raider with 5++ and ignore first results from Vehicle Damage Table. For 275 pts. Also, there's a poor Contemptor in this codex, who is also Venerable and has Deep Strike. Considering poor weapon choice, 200 pts is too much for this guy. The detachment gives you re-roll of 1s for invulnerable save if you've taken 3 Custodes squads and Contemptor. Well, the book is really strange. Especially if you take the new Forgeworld book into account, where CUstodes have a lot of units and interesting rules. All these units are too expensive and not really effective. Perhaps, we'll see separate CUstodes squads as bodyguards for some characters, but nobody will play it as a normal codex.

   The Adeptus Custodes. It is a name spoken in reverent whispers, for these warriors have stood in the presence of the immortal Emperor of Mankind, and are charged with his protection. His greatness runs in their veins, undiluted by the passage of aeons. They have been called the Emperor's right hand, for they act with his authority and fight in his name. Only now, as the threat of Chaos grows ever greater and takes its dreaded toll, does that gilded hand reach out and become an eagle’s claw. The Custodian Guard are the talons of the Emperor unsheathed, and they will tear the corruption of Chaos from the Imperium no matter the cost.

   Near immortal are the Adeptus Custodes, for the golden elixir of the Emperor's own blood runs in their veins. Though outwardly resplendent, there is a scar upon the soul of the Custodian Guard, an inescapable disgrace that has tainted their history and lives in the heart of every warrior, from fresh inductees to veterans over a thousand years old. Clad in baroque, golden artificer armour and armed with priceless relic weaponry, the Adeptus Custodes make for a magnificent sight. They tower over mortal men; each has the statuesque physique of an ancient hero, close to nine feet in height even without his scarlet-crested helm. Yet for all their might, for all their bravery, the Custodians were unable to prevent the Emperor from falling to his traitorous son, the Primarch Horus.

   For millennia, the Adeptus Custodes have formed the unyielding core of the Emperor’s multi-layered defences. Those Custodian Guard charged with the physical protection of the Master of Mankind spend every waking second devoted to their task, refining their warrior skills and constantly testing and updating their own strategies to ensure the sanctity of the Emperor's throne. They are his last line of defence against a hostile galaxy hell-bent on Humanity's destruction. If they fail in their task, the Imperium will collapse from the inside out. Their duty is so sacred, their reputation so profound, that even Space Marines and Inquisitors kneel before them.

   Though few truly realise it, Humanity teeters upon the precipice. Aliens and fiends hurl themselves against the Imperium's borders even as the rot of treachery and the mutating curse of Chaos gnaw at it from within. Under such impossible duress, Mankind cannot endure. Once, the most part of the Adeptus Custodes would have stood stoically by as the Emperor’s foes advanced upon Terra, each lordly champion stern and immobile until the foe crossed the pitch-black moat of the Sol System and hammered upon the palace walls themselves. After all, to keep vigil is the oath they swore to fulfil, and they have never abandoned it, even as thousands of worlds have burned. Now that sovereign duty has changed. In Mankind's darkest hour, a legend has emerged from the annals of history -- the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman, an icon of authority. The coming of this legendary High Lord has galvanised the Adeptus Custodes, and after long consultation, seen them reorganised and given new life. The golden brotherhood now numbers not only guardians, but also crusaders. Alongside the anti-psykers known as the Sisters of Silence, the Adeptus Custodes bring war anew to the enemies of the Imperium. All shall learn to fear their golden warships, for they herald swift and unmerciful slaughter. These are heroes of fire and blade, and they will not stop until every threat to their immortal master lies slain.

   Only 300 Custodes serve as the actual personal guard of the Emperor, called the Emperor's Companions, who guard the Emperor's chambers at all times. These are those Custodes that are privileged enough to be in the Emperor's physical presence. Each unit of Companions is led by a Centurion. It was one such Centurion that led a small group of Companions to meet Alicia Dominica, head of the Brides of the Emperor (later the Sisters of Battle) during Goge Vandire's Reign of Blood in the Age of Apostasy during the 36th Millennium.

   One of the Companions, Constantin Valdor, was the Captain-General and Chief Custodian of the Legio Custodes during the Horus Heresy. He was the most honoured of all of the Emperor of Mankind's creations. No other being had served the Emperor for as long as he, save for the Imperial Regent of Terra, the potent psyker Malcador the Sigillite. Valdor was a proud and respectful warrior unmatched in his devotion and loyalty to the Emperor. Valdor was ever-present at the Emperor's side, always protecting Him from unseen enemies and he saved the Emperor's life innumerable times. Along with Malcador, Valdor was the Emperor's most trusted friend and advisor.

   Custodes got a dreadnaught. Sisters of Silence don't have any new units at all. The unit we saw in dataslate was separated into three different, in accordance with their wargear. Sword version is still the cheapest (65pts!) and the best one.Usefulness of AP2 in close combat is still undeniable. They've got a Rhino as dedicated transport - 10pts more expensive, but with the same non-magical aura, like the sisters themselves. The detachment includes 1-3 units and improves the aura by 3 inches for every unit on the battlefield. There can be 6 units (with transports) only for 330 pts! So, add this to standard 12 inches and you'll get almost the whole table in this bubble of silence. Luckily, sisters are easy to kill, otherwise it would totally ruin the balance. Sure, they will be useful for everyone, who has problems with enemy psykers.

   Of all the Emperor of Mankind's servants, the Sisters of Silence were perhaps the most secretive and mysterious of all the Orders of the Emperor's servants. They are a covert organisation that had served as the militant arm of the Divisio and Adeptus of the Astra Telepathica since its foundation, and within whose ranks and titles they are known, at least in formal documentation, as the 'Divisio lnvestigates' -- a rather obscure phrase which covers up a shrouded world into which very few have ever had the power or the authority to look within. The duties of the Silent Sisterhood were complex and manifold, but at their core they were warrior-investigators, hunters and gaolers. Their charge was to seek out, apprehend and process psykers from the human population of the ever-expanding Imperium, and return them to the Divisio Astra Telepathica for assessment and disposition. As part of this never-ending task, their duty was also to hunt down renegade psykers and destroy those who are deemed too dangerous to live. This was a perilous task well beyond the abilities of any merely human law enforcement or military force, but it is made possible, indeed in some cases seamless, in its execution not simply by the martial prowess of the Sisterhood itself, but crucially by their fundamental nature as Psychic Nulls.

   Secrecy was more than just the watchword and the method of the Silent Sisterhood; it was core to their very being. After their training was complete and their induction to the Sisterhood was confirmed, a process which began when they were taken up in childhood, the final step on the path of the Order was the Vow of Tranquility; a solemn dedication to their duty unto death which manifested outwardly as the vow of silence which gave the Divisio Investigates its more common title. From this point onwards no Sister of Silence utters a single spoken word for the rest of their lives, not even under the duress of pain, be it the stroke of blade or impact of a bullet, such was their stoic resolve. No secret could or ever shall pass from the keeping of the Sisters of Silence, and no word of remission or clemency from the was ever given. Further symbolic of this absolute vow was the portcullis-style armoured gorget they wore as part of their panoply of war, which, often in combination with a death's-head skull, had become identified with the Order in the iconography of the Imperium.

   Communication within the Sisters of Silence took the medium of a complex series of physical sign language forms, ranging from highly efficient and abrupt tactical cants designed for the battlefield, detailed forms geared to the ready and precise expression of strategic concepts and actions, to hugely complex and mimetically sophisticated systems intended to deal with philosophical and technical abstracts. This latter range was needed because the Sisters of Silence remained an organisation dedicated not only to the ministration of the Great Tithe but also to investigation, pursuit, inquiry and judgement. They also possessed and had to express when needed an unmatched and encyclopedic knowledge of the psyker and the Empyrean, which they alone, owing to their Psyker Null status, were uniquely safe in keeping.

Photos by John Moggy Mcgee