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"Excuse me, but you must mean that it is one of the greatest deeds the Chapter has ever accomplished! And it was thanks to I, Cato Sicarius, because that is what it is! And I, Cato Sicarius, was thinking that it was the most righteous time to remind you that I, Cato Sicarius, to be your rightful heir as the new Chapter Master."
"Lead me, follow me, or get the hell out of my way."
- – George S. Patton Jr.
"Papa Smurf always says..."
- – Brainy Smurf (repeatedly, and often followed by a kicking from the others).
Cato Sicarius (Or according to Autocorrect, Catonsville Aquarius) (no relation to the Ordo Sicarius) is the leader of the Victrix Guard and formerly the Brother-Captain of the Ultramarines' Second Company. Among his titles are Master of the Watch, Knight Champion of Macragge, Grand Duke of Talassar, Cunto Shitarius, and High Shiggydiggytee of who gives a damn. A better writer than Ward recited the whole litany once (we can imagine him sighing at his keyboard), but then immediately followed up by saying, from the perspective of the fucking primarch himself, that
CunCato had "an ego to match" each of them. To those who like that particular epithet for the Ultras, he's Brainy Smurf to Marneus Calgar's Papa Smurf (for being an arrogant, smug know-it-all who gets brought down a peg whenever he gets too full of himself. Both also have a verbal tic of repeating names).
Hailing from the planet Talassar, Sicarius was Veteran Sergeant of the Second Company under Captain Severus Agemman, the Captain of the 5th Company and Master Of The Marches by the time Hive Fleet Behemoth arrived to nom on Ultramar. After the First Company was horrendously nommed to the last man during the Battle for Macragge, Agemman was promoted to First Captain and charged with filling up the First Company, with Sicarius replacing him as Captain of the Second Company, and Caito Galenus replacing Sicarius as Captain of the 5th Company. In the following two hundred and fifty some odd years, Sicarius has garnered a reputation for heroism and valiant actions surpassed only by a few others. Many within the Chapter believe that when Marneus Calgar dies, it will be Sicarius who succeeds him as Chapter Master, even though Agemman (being First Captain) is the nominally designated successor. Agemman obviously hates this, but loves bringing it up specifically to get under Cato's skin, because the two of them hate each other for a bunch of other reasons.
He's one of the many fluff-based complaints against Matt Ward, due to rather unbelievable feats such as repelling a one million Tau army with only thousand marines, which is rather unbelievable. You know, when you get outnumbered 1000 to 1, no matter how superhuman your soldiers are, they have no chances, even against grots, not to mention tough as nails angry warmonger barbarians or high-tech space communists with an unholy amount of firepower.
In the end, of course, it turned out that Shadowsun just manipulated Cato to keep the Marines together, rather than separating them to support Imperial Guard as spearhead. So while Sicarius and his ragtag band was busy liberating three (and a half!) planets, the Tau Empire conquered three dozen more, effortlessly smashing through Planetary Defence Forces and Imperial Guard. Oh yeah he also killed a Transcendent C'Tan. Without being instantly turned to dust. Though somehow he was completely outclassed by The Undying of Damnos (who was going nuts via the Destroyer madness). (If you must know, he broke his own self imposed rules and used a vortex grenade) He also has about six canon models of him (the one not shown here is the Captain form the Assault on Black Reach starter). Meanwhile, Tu'Shan is still waiting for one model and rules, while the Iron Hands have but a single special character.
Most Ultramarine armies will have his heraldry, due to it being more or less the default.
As of the latest Codex: Space Marines, he got lost in The Warp after being sent back to Macragge by Guilliman to protect it, where he spent an undisclosed amount of time murdering daemons that breached his ship while they found a way out. While Sevastus Acheran assumed his captain role, he eventually got out and joined Guilliman on the Indomitus Crusade, where Guilliman, despite fatherly sighs aplenty at Sicarius's arrogance, took a liking to him despite himself because he reminded Guilliman of Aeonid Thiel, the great hero of the war of Calth, with whom he was very close. So anyway, Bobby G wound up taking Cato under his direct tutelage to temper the dickishness and hot-headedness out of him, much to the surprise and chagrin of Papa Smurf, who's currently getting the short-end of the stick ever since Guilliman has been essentially taking over his station (although, since he knows what's at stake, he's not outright bitter (...we hope?))
Un-assholing the asshole
Nick Kyme and Graham McNeill, in the Ultramarines books they've written, have played with Sicarius' character, showing his desire for glory putting the Second Company in extreme danger, and having several of his own sergeants suspicious about his motives. Nick Kyme's Space Marine Battles novel about the fall of Damnos shows the real reason the Ultramarines lost: because Sicarius insisted on winning an actual victory instead of just blowing the planet to kingdom come, which Varro Tigurius ultimately did after Sicarius had his ass handed to him (Which didn't work at all since Damnos became a major Tomb World). Gods of Mars also noted this with one character (present during the Damnos Evacuation) saying that meeting Sicarius was the biggest anti-climax of his life because Sicarius gave every impression of feeling like he had lost personally, not the Ultramarines or the planet's population.
That said his way of thinking wasn't wrong, the Real Problem was that the Necrons outnumbered the Ultramarines 500 to one; and unlike other races they get back up, while the 2nd was mostly worn down by sheer attrition. Were any other forces present, Damnos could have been saved. In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines series, Sicarius acts as chief prosecutor (which is, technically, one of his roles as Captain of the 2nd) when Uriel Ventris and Pasanius Lysane are put on trial for violating the Codex Astartes, having such a smug attitude toward his fellow Captain that even the Eldar would think he was being rude. While there is no denying he's ambitious, Sicarius takes extreme offense at insinuations that he's gunning for Chapter Master. Which means you can just rationalize Ward's fluff as just propaganda (in fact MOST of the codex reads like what Ultramar believes their chapter is). This wouldn't be the first time 40k had an asshole glory hound painted as the greatest hero ever, they're just usually in the Imperial Guard. (Space Marines who are glory hounds and heroes in evidence aplenty, even some who are assholes, just not to the level of this motherfucker.)
That said he's been getting some character development turning him into a rather likable guy, namely in Veil of Darkness and Warzone Damnos. Such as the reason for his smugness during Uriel Ventris was because Cato was a long time friend (and Champion) of Captain Idaeus blaming Ventris for his death. On top of that, the typical Ultrasmurf Mary Sueishness aside, Sicarius is the only Ultramarines special character who regularly wears his damn helmet, and that’s gotta be worth brownie points for (un)common sense, at least. And oh Emperor, that armor looks awesome! And those who still can't get over his continual Mary Sue achievements have taken great joy in that he's been relegated from being on the front line all the time killing Necron and Tau armies with his pinky toe to guarding his resurrected primarch. This amounts to standing in front of doors while Grandpapa smurf talks to important people/sleeps/RAGES at what the Imperium became, or throwing himself into a lascannon shot pointed in Guiliman's direction. Seems the wrath of Ward can go both ways.
After the Gathering Storm and the return of Roboute Guilliman, Sicarius is appointed Captain of the Victrix Guard, Guilliman's new (old) Honour Guard, and seems to have ceded command of the 2nd Company to Captain Acheran, the Primaris Captain on the front of the Dark Imperium box set, though he seems to have kept his other titles. Seeing a little of Aeonid Thiel in Sicarius, but also recognizing that his combat prowess is equal only to his ego, Guilliman has wisely moved him out of strategic command and into a role as a guard captain, where Cato can always follow his lord into the thickest combat to fight duels and jump in front of bullets and do other brave courageous things. Guilliman also hopes to temper his personality to forge him into the leader he could be, in addition to the warrior he already is.
Early into the Indomitus Crusade, the Strike Cruiser he was on, The Emperor's Will, gets lost in the Warp when the light of the Astronomican flickers for a brief moment. For five years it finds itself adrift in the Empyrean's tides, while the crew and Astartes gradually lose section after section of the ship. After a desperate defense of the Gellar Field generators, the ship is forced out of the Warp... Unto an unknown but inhabited feudal world. In desperate need of supplies, Sicarius leads an expedition to the planet, and once there claims that he and his men were Knights from a northern country called "Macragge". He and his Marines are soon drawn into conflict with Feral Orks, who had plagued the humans of the world for centuries. While things become complicated when it was discovered that the local ruler to be controlled by Necrons, of all things, Sicarius and his Marines still aid the people in fighting off the Orks. Then they turn their attention to the Necrons there, which is impressive, considering the drubbing the Ultramarines received on Damnos. Presumably he was done with all the shit and just told the men to toss Vortex Grenades liberally. With that little issue settled, Sicarius finally makes contact again with Imperial Forces, and rejoins his Chapter.
Dark Imperium: Plague War establishes that he has gotten some pretty major PTSD from his experiences being lost in the warp. Given what we now know, it had clearly been a humbling experience for him, and filed off much of the brashness from ol' Cato.
Cato's Many Titles and Honours
Cato Sicarius is such a glory hound that he's responsible for one of the few Ultramarine's deviations from the Codex Astartes, as well as having titles that actually exceed the station of his peers.
- Master of the Watch: Firstly and perhaps least controversially Cato holds/held the position as his right as Captain of the 2nd Company. Part of the duties of Master of the Watch involve maintaining the Chapter Fortress Monastery; somewhere he hasn't been in a long time since becoming Guilliman's pet captain and bodyguard. Presumably Acheran took it when his tenure as 2nd Captain began, though as it stands, Cato still has it listed as one of his titles.
- Grand Duke of Talassar comes from his birth family as a noble from his home world and is therefore hereditary. But its rather vain that he would keep such an attachment to his former life, when most Space Marines divorce themselves from mortal affairs. It's not like he can pass it on to an heir. If it was an actual functional title with its own duties it just adds to the busywork he is no doubt neglecting by piling on his other roles.
- Knight Champion of Macragge is controversial. He gained the title some point prior to his promotion to Captain of the Fifth company, implying he was Chapter Champion but then kept it going after his promotion. For one, the whole point of having a chapter champion in the first place is so that your chapter's officers aren't risking their life in honour duels, so having an officer serve as champion is a bit self-defeating. Though it is worth noting that there was a separate Chapter Champion even after Cato took his promotion, potentially creating a duplication of roles and a deviation from the Codex. However, as Master of the Victrix Guard he is now officially the bodyguard and personal champion of his own Primarch so the title carries some level of legitimacy again, but it's not as if Guilliman really needs Cato to step in front of him when someone demands satisfaction.
- High Suzerain of Ultramar: is probably the most laughable. Because a Suzerain is the superior lord of a particular region, typically its monarch. The fact he is not merely the Suzerain but also the "High Suzerain" of Ultramar fully implies that Cato is the sovereign of the original eight systems (as it was when he was presented with the Eternium Ultra). While this might be a civilian title and would be acceptable if it stands beside his rank within the Chapter it gets even sillier when one considers that Captain Agemman of the 1st Company is merely the Regent of Ultramar, which is a lower position in peerage and really shows that the codex writers were simply throwing titles at Cato Sicarius' fluff without thought for what they actually meant. Of course, he may be a different form of "High Suezerain".
He has something of a canon conflict, as Captain Titus is Captain of the Second Company in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. According to the developers, Space Marine takes place in an alternate [read: better] universe where Titus was promoted instead of Sicarius (although they probably still know each other as Sicarius will most likely still be the 5th Captain). Though Titus might have just as well been one of the previous Captains of the 2nd Company before Severus Agemman, or it takes place sometime in early M42 and Sicarius has died and been replaced with someone much more competent, given there's no set date for the events of Space Marine. Or it could be down to the fact Sicarius is now a member of the Victrix Guard and therefore has a subordinate running his company in his stead. Or most likely Relic just went with the default Ultramarine colors and didn't care about the company colors.
Another potential canon conflict, as of the Ultramarines Supplement 2019, it states that good ol' Cunto here is still trapped in the Warp since the Indomitus Crusade. Now this isn't much of a problem, but considering that the book also claims the most recent event occurring in Ultramar is the Plague Wars, it should be noted that as of Guy Halley's Dark Imperium books Cato is actually there talking to Frater Mathieu. During the Plague Wars!
On the Tabletop
In 7th Edition
Cato Sicarius is pretty much the vanilla space marine captain in the setting. While not a unholy god of rape in combat, he's hardly weak and stands a fair chance against most nameless IC's. He's just kinda... Meh. Rules wise he has the typical ultramarine's ATSKNF and Chapter tactics, plus he has FNP, Furious Charge, Independent Character, and Surprise Attack (grants +1 to reserve rolls while Cato is alive). He also has a unique rule called Battleforged Heroes that allows him to grant one tactical squad of your choosing one of the following rules: counter attack, tank hunter, infiltrate, or scout. His wargear includes an Iron Halo, artificer armor, frag and krak grenades, a plasma pistol, and the (surprisingly not master-crafted) relic blade Talassarian Tempest Blade which is Strength user AP3 with the Coup-de-grace special rule which allows him to trade all his melee attacks for a single mighty blow with +2 strength and instant death. Which is cool I guess. Be cooler if it was AP2.
Like I said, in game Cato Sicarius is pretty vanilla. He's a bit harder than most with a 4++ and FNP and he's pretty mean on the charge, but he's also a bit pricey. He has some nice tactical bonuses with his two special rules and his warlord trait, Rites of War, which allows friendly units in his army to use his Ld for any morale-based checks. He's a pretty good all-rounder whose abilities are focused on improving his men, despite his fluff making him out to be a glory hound and a legendary single-combatant.
In 8th Edition
Now at 100 points, he is much cheaper than before. He now has 5 wounds, 4 attacks and a 4+ invulnerable save. He gives friendly Ultramarines within 6" re-roll 1s to hit (much like any Captain) and also Ultramarine Tactical Squads within 6" always fight first in melee. Not a very useful ability since it does not affect himself and Tactical Squads do not really want to be in close combat. A Power Fist always striking first can be pretty dangerous though. His Tempest Blade now has AP -3 and D3 damage. On any wound roll of 6+ it deal D3 mortal wounds. This ability is going to be used a lot, since he still strikes at strength 4. However, with only 4 attacks, you will not be rolling 6s every time.
All in all, he is a nice complementary piece. He is not very expensive and also a cheap 2+ save model (almost equal to a vanilla Terminator Captain and with much better stats). Never make the mistake of overcharging his Plasma Pistol though. he has 1/36 chance to die instantly (will you risk it?).
Possible Ancient Inspiration
In ancient Rome, Sicarius was the word for murderous street thugs, named after their sickle-like bent dagger, and the word carries on as sicario, roughly meaning hired assassin in Portuguese, Italian and Spanish. IRL you'd be most likely to hear the term in the context of Latin American narcotraficantes. In the Roman context, however, the dagger is intimately connected with thuggery and assassination as it is easily concealed under your tunic. You had better, for the law prohibited being armed in the city. Because of this, using a sica was considered having no honor, while gutting your political opponent with, lets say, a gladius was totally okay, especially if you challenge them to get down in the Colosseum with you, while the crowd goes observant cornflakes (actually, fighting in the Arena was a huge no-no for the roman upper class. Emperor Commodus (you know, the son of Marcus Aurelius and the antagonist in Gladiator) scandalized the Roman elite by fighting in the arena, for example.)
Incidentally, Sicarius is a possible origin of the unusual cognomen of Jesus's unfaithful disciple, Judas Iscariot (which would make it an English translation of a Latinatization of a Hellenization of an Aramaic rendering of a Greek word loaned from Latin via Greek again, just so we're all clear...) The meaning would have carried very clear and appropriate connotation of betrayal and cowardice to the readers of the Gospels, Hellenized Jews and early Gentile Christians. That said this is only one possibility, as while the idea of a Sicarius thug was common in Rome there's no evidence the term was applied to Jewish rebels until 30 years after Judas died.
One should wonder, what does all this say about our smurf guy here? Considering GW usually picking telling names when speaking Latin? And Cato's visual appearance so clearly being that of a Roman centurion? Those connections make sense, as there are two renowned Roman Republic traditionalist senators (who also served as generals without any formal training) by the name of Cato, Cato the Elder and Cato the Younger， great-grandfather and great-grandson respectively, and they generally make the High Lords of Terra look like very nice people, like all ancient Roman politicians we have record of, and were also considered by their people as morally upright and incorruptible since they refused bribes and followed traditional virtues, because that's totally all the credibility you need to be a good person.
Thought to think upon: More than once in ancient Rome, either Cato the Elder or Cato the Younger was mostly likely referred to, at least once, as "Cato Sicarius". A more grievous insult than what was meant indeed.
Or maybe we're just overthinking things, since GW has been known from time to time to give historically resonant names that sound cool but make no sense for their owners, after all, but that's usually a thing for legions that are named "Angels." So maybe. But given Cato's penchant for self-promotion and the weird vibes and post-Gathering Storm dynamics building between him, his brother smurfs, Papa Smurf, and the returned Primarch, there's some potential for some sicarius-swinging. But not too likely given the Ultramarines' image as the (relatively) good guys and poster boys of the Space Marines.
Cat-O Sicarius, the most glorious of all house pets. (For extra laughs, read all the lines using this voice.)
The continued adventures of Cat-O Sicarius (with guest appearance by Aragrowl).
Cato Sicarius knows how to deal with Tau women.