Darmine is a Penal and Mining world. It is a dusty, dry planet rich in minerals and lying in the Eastern Ultima Segmentum, currently just within Imperial territory and resting precariously on the border of the Tau Empire and the neighbouring Farsight Enclaves within the Damocles Gulf.
Its population is 16.5 billion, spread across the planet into dedicated mining communities and with an estimated further 30 billion convicts. Darmine's population are mostly the descendants of ex-criminals and are notorious for being tough as nails. They are extremely xenophobic to foreigners to their home planet (especially those from fortress or Hive Worlds), deeming them "city-folk". Despite its hellish climate and vast, unforgiving deserts, its populace often refer to it as "Darm" or "Good ol' Darm". It is a large planet, and despite its massive population settlements are often few and far between. Routes between cities can become unusable at any time due to sandstorms or incursions from local wildlife, forcing those brave enough to do caravan work to quickly develop a keen sense of direction. These sandstorms also make flying impractical, and vessels waiting to leave or arrive within the planet's atmosphere must have enough experience with the planet's weather to determine a reasonable take off or landing time. Many a shuttle has crashed on the planet's surface due to sand intake to the engine, a fact not quickly lost on the unfortunate souls who must ferry imported goods to the planet's surface.
Its main exports are precious and non-precious metals including gold and iron. It has scarcely any natural water sources, the few ones existing being deep underground lakes. Most essential resources are imported, though steps have been recently taken towards limited agricultural projects to increase self-sustainability so as not to be caught unprepared by any drawn-out conflict with the Tau Empire, which has met with little success upon the planet's bleached sands and inhospitable climate.
Convicts are often sent to the planet on labour detail, or fitted with explosive collars and made to serve as penal soldiers with the planet's armed forces.
Very little other life is supported by the planet. The rest of the ecosystem is mainly made up of deadly flora and fauna, including poisonous cacti and flash-swarms of small, mosquito-like bugs. Giant scorpion-like creatures are sometimes a problem, as are the equally large trapdoor spiders that can create massive sinkholes big enough to swallow tanks.
Initially, the planet was deemed useless, but scanners eventually managed to pick up potentially large mineral deposits underneath the unforgiving sands and rocky mountains.
While mining machinery was requested, it quickly broke down through heavy sandstorms and general wear-and-tear. Further requests were denied due to being uneconomical, and so prisoners were shipped in from throughout the Imperium to ensure the deposits did not go untapped.
Though there was initially little to no success, a prisoner named Weston Mills unearthed a huge gold deposit when he tripped over a rock formation on the way back to the mining camp and hit it with his pickaxe in frustration. He was the first to be granted Free Man status as a reward and an incentive for his fellow convicts to increase their efforts. Many others, spurred on by this, doubled their work in determination to also be pardoned. Though a large amount died due to exhaustion and sunstroke, many more soon joined him. Weston requested permission to start the first true free settlement of the planet and be named Mayor of it, realising he would probably be killed on the spot as a suspected informant if he returned to his old Hive World gang.
The Imperium representatives had not taken serious thought in attempting to actually populate the planet, and so were taken aback by this unusual request. Unwilling to go through the effort of processing the pardoned convicts back to their places of origin and hoping that they would stay and continue their work if they were granted this further freedom, their request was authorised. The settlement of Millstown was established, and while reportedly filled with whorehouses and harbouring several establishments suspected of contributing to the traffic of illegal drugs from off-world, it policed itself notably well and kept its streets relatively safe and patrolled by "the Marshalls". The murder rate was almost non-existent, at least by records.
These would later go on to assist the Imperium officials in pursuing convicts who escaped their work and made their way up to the mountains, convincing them to eventually make Weston Mills the planetary governor and allowing him to create more settlements. Over the next 30 years, hundreds of towns and cities had sprung up and those convicts not on mining duties were instead directed to the construction of roads and spaceports to link them together.
When Mills passed away of supposed food poisoning, his successor almost immediately entered talks with the Tau Empire. Prisoners who had heard this down the rumour mill from the Governmental Offices' employees and were looking for an easy pardon began offering information on the man's extra curricular activities, which was quickly picked up by the Marshalls. The Planetary Governor was promptly dragged from his quarters in the middle of the night by order of High Marshall Rudabagh and taken deep into the desert, where he was buried alive for his crimes against the Emperor. Rudabagh issued a report to the Administratum regarding this, who were satisfied with his judgement and issued him Planetary Governor status, ordering him to raise regiments to support the ongoing Damocles Gulf Crusade.
Rudabagh converted the Marshalls from a lawkeeping organisation into the planet's armed forces within a very short amount of time. Already used to traveling and fighting in horrific weather conditions and temperatures and against all manner of odd and deadly creatures, the Marshalls made up the elite units within each regiment. The rest of the ranks were filled with penal troopers fitted with explosive collars.
As the final stages of the army neared completion however, Rudabagh was informed that the Crusade was already over and was instead directed to help in the effort against the impending arrival of Hive Fleet Behemoth.
Though losing two entire regiments to the xenos threat over the course of their conflict, the tactics of the Marshalls was deemed an effective counter to the Tyranids. The penal legionnaires' bombs were finding themselves detonated more and more frequently, with the commanders in charge by the end of the conflict seeing them as little more than glorified suicide bomber squads against any Tyranids that managed to get into range. Those that proved themselves useful however, were reluctantly inducted into the regiment and used to shore up the heavy casualties taken from the creatures. This was a tradition that would continue on until the present day.
As the Hive Fleet was halted and defeated in Ultramar by the Ultramarines, the Marshalls were commended on their service and ordered to return home and raise new regiments to cover the loss of their old ones.
Presently, Darmine is in a state of "controlled chaos", many of the numerous settlements containing street crime and smuggling activity, as well as other minor illegalities. The Marshalls keep a close eye on all of this, knowing much more than they let on in every operation and keeping the ringleaders wrapped around their little fingers. Any smuggling of xeno technology or slaves is immediately shut down, with its conspirators finding themselves "taking a trip to the desert".
Though proposed several times, Planetary Governor Rudabagh has seemingly managed to block the construction of Adeptus Arbites Precincts whenever they have been suggested, finding some reason or another why it would be inappropriate. His motive for doing so is unknown, but it would be suspected that he would not want the law-enforcing diminished or taken from his Marshalls, who still take up an active role in policing the populace and keeping things "as they should be".
Tau interest in Darmine has remained almost constant, traders sometimes acting as intermediaries and making their will known. The Planetary Governor has not budged on this issue however, and thus far the Tau Empire have found little success in sewing dissent amongst the planet's xenophobic populace. They remain on constant vigil however, should Commander Farsight and his Tau Renegades seek to expand their network of fortified worlds.
Other than these discrepancies, Darmine is noted to have extremely high productivity with regards to its mining activities, and keeps its regimental tithes crisply punctual. This has resulted in the Ministorum finding very little of interest in terms of the population's numerous "extra curricular activities", and anything that would be seen as to grab their attention is usually kicked under the carpet by the currently stationed forces on the planet.
The Darmine Marshalls refers to the elite troopers and veterans of Darmine's armed forces, forming the backbone of the army structure. The rest is filled out with penal legionnaires.
The Marshalls themselves are fitted for desert environments and rough terrain, experienced in both. Every Marshall has a wide-brimmed heat-repellant hat and longcoat issued to them, a luxury the legionnaires are not granted. They also employ widespread use of heavy-duty goggles in order to combat the effects of sandstorms and other harsh weather conditions. They are renowned as crack-shots and serve as an additional constant motivation for the convicts within the army to do their jobs.
The convicts are issued bright orange Flak Armor to go over their standard jumpsuits. They are then fitted with explosive collars and issued lasrifles, being told that they will be pardoned if they perform exceptional service to the Emperor.
The Marshalls employ mass infantry tactics, using the convicts as shields to take enemy fire while supporting and shoring up the line with their Marshalls, which are efficient and trusted veterans who have earned their salvation the hard way.
Use of Chimera transports is generally reserved for the Marshalls themselves, with the convicts within regiments being forced to march en masse. When unavailable, many of the Marshalls make use of horses specially bred within the Equestrarium on Ferdain as their mounts. They are most often used those driving chain gangs of mining teams deep within Ferdain's deserts, however.
Even among the elite Marshalls, there are those who stand head and shoulders above the rest. These are fitted with specialised Carapace Armor and filtration helmets (still topped with their signature wide-brimmed hats) and dubbed "Rangers". The Rangers are the most elite of the planet's forces, excelling in most forms of combat. They have taken to the phasing-out of the Hellgun (and its subsequent replacement with the Hotshot Lasgun) extremely well, utilising these new powerful weapons with their own sharpshooting nature and making short work of even the most heavily armoured foes. The Departmento Munitorum usually keeps a rather firm grip on these weapons being released beyond the rank and file Stormtrooper regiments, and one would think that their mildly soured relationship with Darmine would make this arrangement seem a further impossibility. However, the planet's strategic placement alongside the border of both the Tau Empire and the Farsight Enclaves means that they are likely the first response to any Tau-originated disturbance or invasion, forcing the Munitorum to reluctantly issue this high quality gear to Darmine's greatest marksmen.
As with many unorthodox Imperial Guard forces (such as the Catachan Jungle Fighters), the Commissariat occasionally experience resistance when asserting their authority within a Marshall regiment. Often this simply means excuses being made to keep them away from the troops, many of them being composed of the most murderous scumbags in the galaxy that have gone on to win their freedom through fierce fighting under the only officers they trust and respect as being tougher and meaner than even themselves, and who don't take kindly to "fancy-dressed folk pokin' their pointy caps" in their business.
Notable Regiments of Darmine Marshalls
5th Darmine Marshalls: The entire regiment wears black hats, the origination of their rather imaginative name of "The Blackhats". The majority of its membership are "reformed" cold-blooded serial killers and psychopaths. Even other regiments tend to avoid them, resulting in a stigma about the "Black Fifth" among the other regiments. Any convicts that survive their treatment (as well as the enemies they would normally be fighting) often end up as bad as they are, with civilians brought in on menial charges ending up vicious war machines after years of killing and torment.
10th Darmine Marshalls: With a high concentration of Rangers, the 10th is regarded with both respect and jealousy from the other regiments. They are men of little words, quietly disembarking from their Chimeras before eliminating a threat and then leaving the mop-up to their penal legion and Marshall support. Convicts who show particular promise in proving themselves useful are often drafted to this regiment, making them to be the next generation of Ranger hopefuls, with many hoping to get assigned to the regiment for the extra status and protection the title would earn them. This has been exploited numerous times by the 10th's command, who will often take a large amount of convicts before a major battle and use the morale boost to change the tide of the conflict.
17th Darmine Marshalls: The 17th is made up of the remnants of the destroyed 9th and 62nd regiments, which were devastated in their contributions in stamping out splinter fleets of Hive Fleet Behemoth. They are battle scarred veterans, renowned for their dark sense of humour. Many still harbour a hatred of "the throne-damned bugs", and it is said that due to their experience a veteran could tell you how to fillet a 'gaunt without burning yourself on its blood using a standard trench knife.
27th Darmine Mounted Marshalls: A cavalry regiment, the 37th Mounted use hit-and-run tactics with quick use of pinpoint laspistol marksmanship to ruin the enemies' advance by harassing their flanks in a terrifying synchronised manner. This regiment is one of the rare few to make no use of penal troops, instead picking out those with riding experience when they earn their freedom and testing to see if they are worthy enough to join their ranks. They employ mounts bred originally in the Equestrarium facilities on Ferdain, generally employing a middle-of-the-road horse with high endurance and light sub-dermal armour implants as their stock genetic template.
40th Darmine Artillery: Those expecting safe treatment at the back of the fighting with an artillery regiment usually see the error of their thought process when they are being worked to death to save on transport and prometheum costs. The 40th utilise a supply line of chained convicts passing heavy munitions up the line up to the artillery vehicles the regiment fields, overseen by the Marshalls. While this is fairly commonplace within the artillery regiments, the 40th are notorious for working their charges to death on a consistent basis. The convicts operate on the hope that it is they that will be giving the orders one day.