Arms of Asura
This page is a work in progress, part of the Imperium Asunder project, a fan remake of the warhammer 40 000 history.
The Arms of Asura had a less aggressive role in the Crusade than many of their fellows, both because of its smaller size as well as its less martial bent once it's Primarch was recovered. The patient and kind disposition of their Primarch, as well as the drive toward scholarly arts and the fact that much of the Legion's number was drawn from the downtrodden of their homeworld, made the Arms of Asura primary suited to peacekeeping and defense. Anshul and his sons spent much of their time ensuring that the planets within the Emperor's growing sphere of influence were transitioned into blessed service as painlessly as possible, crushing or negotiating a pre-emptive end to revolts that threatened to disrupt this process. They were often seen as guardians and counselors, and in many instances sought to enrich the cultures of annexed planets that were considered barbaric or backward, bringing them into the fold of civilization. To this purpose, the Arms of Asura employed a much higher level of chapter serfs who would act as missionaries and ‘spiritual healers’, the precursors to their endless drove of fanatical chaos cultists.
Instrumental in this process and this ethos in general was the Asuran philosophy. Anshul was steeped in the mysticism of his home planet, and he never truly abandoned his religious roots, merely adapting the Asuran Temple and its teachings to suit the needs of the Imperial Truth. The religion was taught among his Astartes as parable, a means of enshrining the importance of wisdom and tradition, and instilling values which Anshul believed necessary for the future of the burgeoning Imperium. As the Crusade progressed, however, and the vast sea of stars between Anshul, out on the fringes of Imperial influence, and the Emperor, cloistered in his laboratory on Terra, widened, Anshul found himself becoming ever more literal with his teachings. It was during this time that Anshul, his Legion alongside him, began to weave the rituals of his home planet not only into their mindset, but into their practices.
It was on the distant world of Komarl, far from the Emperor's light, that Anshul and his Legion would begin their fall from grace.
A sparsely-populated Feral World, Komarl was almost entirely oceanic, its sparse tracts of hot, dry land housing minor tribes of roaming human savages. As the Arms of Asura went about the process of bringing the world into the embrace of the Imperial Truth, they were quick to notice that mutation was unusually rampant throughout the planet's small population. Upon further investigation, Anshul was astounded to find the world's oceans littered with ruins and relics almost eerily similar to those found on Ravana - including the mighty flying cities known as Vimanas. Overcome by curiosity, the Arms of Asura began a great excavation, putting the planet's population to work at the endeavor of unearthing and renovating these ancient artifacts. Eventually they managed to draw even the greatest of these constructs, vast Vimanas far larger than any of those found on Ravana, from the depths of the world's seas, finding that these ancient cities were designed to sail the void between stars. Impelling them into orbit around Komarl, the Arms of Asura began to operate in secret from these massive ships, reporting themselves fleetbound while they continued to pick the planet clean of its secrets. Anshul and his sons delved deeper and deeper into the arcane lore from which the Asuran Temple on his homeworld had derived its practices, finding themselves enthralled by this relic of their shared past. The more they studied and further they delved, the clearer it became to Anshul that truth - real truth - and the Imperial Truth were simply incompatible, and his father's efforts were miring the galaxy in a great lie.
Torn and confused, Anshul meditated upon the issue in the heart of one of the vast Vimanas, hoping to find some form of reconciliation between the things he had learned and the laws of his father. Instead, out in the dark of his own mind, he touched the surface of something great and terrible. He felt it strike through him like a lance, cleaving to his very core, and in that instant, he knew that the Asura was the only truth in the universe, and that he could no longer tolerate the Emperor's grand illusion. Eyes blazing with revelation, he announced to his sons that things would have to change, the words flowing from him as though guided by the hand of some vast presence. The time of the Emperor would soon end. The time of the lie was over, and it was their responsibility, as the pious of the Asura, to spread the truth.
The Arms of Asura are cultists first and foremost, viewing themselves as a religious institution first and a military force second. Their enemies are not mankind, nor xenos, nor any individual power - Anshul's sons battle against the Great Illusion, the denial of Chaos and its inherent truth. Those who would prop up the Illusion are merely instruments of its deception, characterized in Legion mythology as frail, insubstantial shadows that believe themselves solid. Military terms have long since been discarded by the Legion. Captains have been replaced by Magisters and Chapter Commanders by Arch-Magisters, along with a dozen other more specific, esoteric designations that make the Legion's hierarchy resemble something more akin to a pentagram than a more typical pyramid structure. At the center of this convoluted pattern is Anshul, the Legion's Primarch, regarded by his devotees as the sole source of light and truth in a universe obfuscated from itself.
More than most Astartes Legions, the Arms of Asura heavily changed following the discovery of their Primarch. How much of it is true and how much is nothing but their own twisted belief is open to interpretation.
- Cultivation of the Body and Mind: Heavily spiritual people, the inhabitants of Ravana were known for a wide variety of practice to master one’s body and mind, ranging from spiritual teaching to acupuncture to martial arts as well as complex (and dangerous) rituals using hallucinatory substances. This is how, according to legends, mythical holy men could separate their minds from their bodies, walk through fire unscathed or survive a year on a single bean. Even after their fall to Chaos, the Arms of Asura maintain such practices to hone their bodies and minds. Such discipline might seem paradoxical, but the paradox itself is an intrinsic part of their doctrine and belief.
- Meditation: Perhaps one of the most important practice of the Legion and certainly one of its more mundane. The Arms of Asura were well-known for their long, controlled trances. Most members of the Legion, when not in prayer or actively campaigning to convert the universe to chaos, spend their time in ascetic meditation, which is rather different from the typical image of a rampaging, frenzied servant of chaos. Legend hold that masters of meditation are able to learn directly from the warp itself or even tap into the collective memories of the Legion but as with anything involving this Legion, separating fact from their belief and the rumours is difficult.
- Psychic Choirs: Few in numbers, the Arms of Asura fuel their warp practices through massive rituals of meditation involving hundred of cultists. These complex rituals use prayer, geometry and dangerous substances alike. While a comparatively slow process compared to unleashing raw warp energy, it is much more reliable and safer.
- Warp Alchemy: One of the most dangerous craft practice by the Legion, Warp Alchemy is rooted in the ancient Ravanan study of the human body and its spiritual connection. Little is truly understood of it by outsider, but it can be best described as a mixture of surgical and genetic practices and modifications combined with warp sorcery. Through it, the Arms of Asura express the very changing nature of chaos in their flesh. Warp Alchemy is also used to create monstrous minions and battle-beasts.
Religious and spiritual practice are at the core of the Legion. Their belief is quite complex if not outright maddening. The universe is, according to them, a Great Illusion. To exist is to be in denial of the truth that is Chaos. The Warp is, to them, a greater level of existence and consciousness and while it is universal truth it is not easily attained. Some would argue that right there is a paradox: if Chaos is so universal then how come it take a lifetime to truly understand it? More verbose and willing to discuss and share their ideas via a mean other than a chainsword to the face than their fellow chaos space marines, the Arms of Asura would be quick to point out that contradiction itself is a facet of the warp and chaos.
The Arms of Asura do not worship the Chaos Gods. This, again, would seem like yet another paradox of their belief system. While they acknowledge the Chaos Gods as an essential component of Chaos and the Warp they merely see them as an ‘emanation’ of a greater, more universal chaotic truth. When true spiritual enlightenment is achieved, they claim, there will be no need for the Chaos Gods who will, in turn, not need to be bound by such names and associations. Chaos will be so absolute there will be no beginning nor end, no time or differentiation: it will be pure chaos in which even the Gods of Chaos are dissolved.
The ‘pentagram’ of the Arms of Asura represent the various ‘truths’ of Chaos, which other chaos worshipper associate in part to the Chaos Gods.
- The first Truth: Life is change. Change is chaos. Associated with Tzeentch.
- The second Truth: Life is desire. Desire is chaos. Associated with Slaanesh.
- The third Truth: Existence is life. Life is chaos. Associated with Nurgle.
- The fourth Truth: Life is savagery. Savagery is chaos. Associated with Khorne.
- The fifth Truth: Chaos is a paradox. Associated with Malal.
In addition, the center and outside of the pentagram form three more Truths:
- The central Truth: The four truths must be both denied and accepted and in their paradox, the fifth truth, become the central truth.
- The outer Truth: Truth can be taught. Chaos can become.
- The All-Truth: Chaos is. While this might seem rather simplistic to outsiders, there is a much greater meaning to be pondered in this simple statement.
Tactics & Units
Compared to the other Legions, the Arms of Asura field fewer marines, instead relying on their cultists and war-beasts.
- Cultists and Guru: A basic squad of chaos cultist led by a powerful human (or mutant) psyker.
- Possessed: The most common ‘special’ unit of the Arms of Asura.
- Possessed Terminators and Terminator Sorcerers: Terminator Armor is rare within the Legion and reserved for its greatest champions which, by the Legion’s standard, are the most spiritually-attuned
- Rakshasa: The war-beasts of the Arms of Asura, created through Warp Alchemy. No two is quite alike but most are powerful assault units with oversized maw and multiple arms. Can be considered a form of highly enhanced chaos spawn.
- Vahana Cavalry: The ‘fast attack’ of the Arms of Asura do not use jet pack or bike. Rather, these marine ride specially bred war-beasts, each attuned to its master. These chaos-infused beasts combine the trait of various animals and are fiercely loyal to their rider.
During the Great Crusade, the Legion which would become known as the Arms of Asura was known to have a rather peculiar gene seed, which most considered to be of inferior stock. The Catalepsean Node and Sus-an Membranes were known to be particularly prone to mutation when analyzed and tested for purity but during the crusade era these mutations were generally considered to be an unfortunate, but manageable, genetic drift. It is these mutated organs which allowed the Asuran to enter and exit their strange, deep meditative trances where they could seemingly commune with the Warp.
After their fall to Chaos and the omnipresent use of possession and deliberate warp taint combined with their usage of mutant stock has irredeemably damaged the gene-stock of the Arms of Asura. One strange and beneficial mutation, which seem to have been deliberately engineered are in the organs which are designed to sustain the life of the marine: members of the Legion are reported to, especially when saturated with warp energy, to be able to spontaneously regenerate as well as adapt and mutate. Their very flesh is but a canvas for the powers of the warp. The downside to this is that most Arms of Asura cannot produce viable progenoid glands, forcing the Legion to raid the stock of others, which they then warp and infuse with their own genetic stock to imbue these geneseed with their shared legion trait.
Even when not possessed or deliberately altered through their strange alchemy, Asuran are notoriously monstrous. Unnatural skin color, deformed cartilage, glowing eyes and tusks are not uncommon mutations even amongst those Astartes not from heavily mutated stock. Prior to the fall to chaos, these mutations were virtually inexistent.
Anshul the Resplendent
Also known as The Wise One, or the Prince of Four Crowns, Anshul was cast far from the Emperor's light, his drop pod landing on the distant world of Ravana, found in the furthest reaches of what would later become the Jade Empire. Ravana was a brutal Death World, its surface smothered by steaming, primordial jungles and immense rivers, and prowled by all manner of vicious alien predators. The ruins of a lost, Golden Age civilization lie strewn across the landscape, emanating a baleful radiation that twisted much of Ravana's fauna and flora.
In the distant past, the ruling castes of Ravana unearthed the greatest of these constructs, the Vimanas, and used them as vast, flying cities, securing them from the dangers of the lands below. The cost of maintaining these massive artifacts was great, however, and they demanded constant refueling. So it was that the lowest of servant castes was condemned to live a life of peril upon the surface of Ravana, their culture molded around the refueling and maintenance of the mighty Vimanas, which eventually came to be bestowed with a religious significance as the dwelling places of those chosen by heaven. In time, the close proximity of the Vimanic castes to the radioactive technologies of the constructs turned them into a set of disparate abhuman species, and so the world of Ravana came to be ruled by mutants.
Anshul landed amidst the steaming jungles, and for a while knew only the law of the wild. He had been wracked by the Warp, and emerged from his stasis pod with six unnaturally dexterous arms. When eventually found by the lowly workers of Ravana, they revered him as one chosen by the heavens, and showed him their utmost hospitality.
Soon taken in by one of the noble Vimanic Houses, who recognized his mutations as an auspicious sign, he grew to adulthood in the lap of luxury, afforded an extensive education in a great many fields, from the scientific to the spiritual. Anshul developed a deep-seated love of art and poetry, as well as a scholarly nature that eventually drove him to delve deeply into the mystic religion of Ravana, a cult devoted to the reverence of a twisting, all-changing force known as the Asura. He quickly rose to a position of high influence within the Asuran Temple, becoming renowned for his wisdom and kindness, showing an unprecedented level of mercy and restraint when dealing with the lesser castes.
By the time Anshul was discovered by Imperial forces, the Great Crusade was well underway, and the Emperor had little time for his son. The forces that encountered Anshul were astounded by the deplorable society of Ravana, viewing abhuman supremacy as a subversion of the natural order, but the Emperor could not afford to utterly disown his son. Instead, his discourse with Anshul ensured a slow process of social reformation upon Ravana, where the oppressed non-mutated castes would be gradually uplifted, starting with the decree that, being innocent in their simplicity, only they could be initiated into the greatest of castes - the Arms of Asura Legion.
Lord Commander Farjad
A Terran Legionnaire native to the Achaemenid Empire and the Lord Commander of the First Chapter at the time of the Legion's reorganization. A staunch and loyal supporter of the Emperor of Mankind, Farjad was a no-nonsense and honest man used to leading the 15th Legion in the absence of their missing Primarch.
"The Arms of Asura is an unfurling lotus, its petals blooming in resplendent flame." - Lightbringer Madhukant of the First Choir
Little remains of the Arms of Asura's standard Legion hierarchy from prior to the Heresy, the Legion entirely enveloped and transformed by its gradual shift toward mysticism and Chaos-worship. Devoted to the exploration of the divine and the proliferation of truth, the Legion's structure is built around that of a religious organization rather than a military one, its Astartes primarily devoted to spiritualism before war, their martial practices more a means than an end, and in some cases merely incidental to certain ranks. The leadership of the Legion is arcane, steeped in nuance and debate even internally, for Anshul teaches that truth is ever-changing and one's understanding of it must constantly be renewed, but there are certain recognizable patterns in its the Legion's hierarchy that can generally hold true.
The usage of battalions and companies has been dropped entirely. Instead, each functional limb of the Arms of Asura - generally just over a thousand Astartes in number, with a massive support structure of cultists and supplicants - is referred to as a Choir. Each Choir is headed by a Lightbringer, a venerable scholar and warrior of the Legion, formidable in both wisdom and in battlefield prowess. The Choirs are divided into Orders - specifically, the Orders Epistemos, the Orders Aesthetemos, the Orders Homilos, the Orders Theologos, and the Orders Ethos. Governed by a religious leader with titles unique to each Order (i.e. Epistemagos, Aesthetemagos, etc), these organizations are devoted primarily to their associated religious studies, and are further divided on the basis of doctrinal and martial differences into Covens, each one lead by an Arch-Magister (and, below him, several Magisters).