|Strength||120,000 at the beginning of the Heresy.|
|Colours||Ice and Ivory|
This page details people, events, and organisations from the /tg/ Heresy, a fan re-working of the Warhammer 40,000 Universe. See the /tg/ Heresy Timeline and Galaxy pages for more information on the Alternate Universe.
The Mastodontii were the Eighth of the Space Marine Legions. Led by Tollund Ötztal, they were once beloved defenders of Mankind, a band of gentle warriors who did not hesitate to shoulder the risks of warfare so that innocents could be kept safe. But the schemes of the Ruinous Powers thoroughly corrupted the Mastodontii, turning them into a sadistic brotherhood who lived to see terror in their victim's eyes.
History of the Mastodontii
It is easy, in hindsight, to see the seeds of the Eighth Legion's downfall. But to look back at history and ask how the leaders of the Imperium could have been so foolish as to rely on the Mastodontii is the greatest of follies. Only those anxious to repeat the mistakes of the past declare that their forebearers are their inferiors in reason or perception. What seems obvious to those who know how the story plays out was once nothing but a suspicion and had to be weighed against repeated demonstrations of faithful service.
Among the Sacred Band of Hektor Cincinnatus, the Eighth Squad were ten brave soldiers among a brotherhood of two hundred heroes. They served well enough in the Dust Bowl Clash, where Space Marines boarded and seized the war-trakks of the Merican steppe. They shed their blood at Junkers to stop a mad plan to open up the magma locks and turn geothermal power into searing death to warrior and civilian alike. But the half-dozen Eighth Squad warriors who survived the blooding of the Band received no special commendation and their part in the creation of the great Eighth Legion is largely obscure.
Similarly, the Eighth did not play a leading role in the Imperium's initial expansion from Terra in the early days of the Great Crusade. A rare exception to their anonymity came at the Battle of Five Legions. Decimus Vax led their contingent under the command of the great Roman Albrecht and gave his life to assure the Imperial victory on that famous day.
All of the Space Marine Legions were greatly affected by the rediscovery of their Primarchs. The Legion's sire was a source of fresh genetic material that improved their gene-seed and invariably was a mighty warrior and formidable leader. In the case of Tollund Ötztal, who led more by example than by command, he was not merely a tremendous asset to the Eighth Legion but a beloved father-figure to his men. The Primarch rarely sent orders of the day, preferring to express himself in personal missives. He was especially known for the messages of condolence and encouragement he sent to commands that had suffered casualties.
Even the renaming of the Legion to the Mastodontii did not come about through Tollund Ötztal's direct command. The Primarch saw the Legion's transports, especially the Rhino, as particularly important to his way of war. He also identified them with his spirit guide, the Mastodon Sabaka, and explained to his TechMarines that inscribing the Rhino vehicles with the likeness of Sabaka would please the spirits. Although these scions of Mars were not well-accustomed to taking advice on pleasing the Machine Spirits, they were also the sons of Ötztal and followed his instructions. It is unknown whether the images of Sabaka or the skill of Eighth Legion TechMarines was more responsible for the excellent operating qualities of their Rhino park, but other warriors certainly took notice. As was so often the case in the Great Crusade, a chance remark by Hektor Cincinnatus that the Eighth's Rhinos seemed so much better than those of other Legions that it would be better to call them Mastodontii dictated fashion, and the Eighth Legion soon became synonymous with their trademark vehicle.
Among the warriors of the Imperium, the Mastodontii were generally well-regarded for passing lightly over the worlds they conquered. They became bitter rivals of the Stone Men in part due to opposing philosphies, but also due to the personal enmity felt between Onyx the Indestructible and Tollund Ötztal. The Eighth were also drawn into politics, against their natural inclination, by the atrocities carried out by their brother Legions. Tollund Ötztal intervened at the Council of Nikaea and instigated the Ussur Tribunal in an attempt to protect the people of the Galaxy from the worst excesses of the Great Crusade. In hindsight, he need not have worried. The Crusade was soon to end in slaughter and unimaginable horror.
The fall of the Mastodontii did not come because they were eager to join Hektor's revolt. On the contrary, Tollund Ötztal's first order on hearing of the civil war was to forbid his men from taking sides. Forces that were not already refitting at Tisenjoch were commanded to return home to prevent them from being drawn into the fray. Unfortunately, Ötztal's good intentions were not enough to keep his Legion out of the war. Tisenjoch's strategic location within the Loyalist cordon about Terra made its stated neutrality a matter of great concern to Alexandri of Rosskar and as the Silver Cataphracts Primarch was at full stretch overseeing the construction of defences, he asked Onyx the Indestructible to call on the Mastodontii to aid the Loyalists or - if necessary - eliminate the threat they posed.
It has often been speculated that Alexandri believed the latter possibility to be the most likely. Certainly, sending Onyx to negotiate with Ötztal was a curious decision given the bad blood between the two if the Lord of Rosskar truly felt that the Mastodontii were a possible asset. On the other hand, Alexandri may have simply felt that the Stone Men were too squeamish about the ruthless measures he was imposing in order to prepare his defence and just wanted them out of the way. Regardless, Onyx's demands were not met to his satisfaction and the Stone Men began to attack Tisenjoch.
Initially, the Mastodontii were paralysed by indecision, especially at the highest levels. Tollund Ötztal himself remained sequestered for some time, before meeting with his commanders and giving a short, chilling speech in which he declared that he was ready to take his brother's blood but that the Mastodontii would have to pay the price. Though the Primarch's advisors were deeply unsettled by their lord's change in attitude, they could not deny that the time had come for decisive action or that the situation called for blood. By using the most vicious tactics, the Mastodontii dispirited Onyx's men and saw them from the soil of Tisenjoch. Once the defence was won, Tollund set to rebuilding his Legion, culling those who had hesitated to carry out his sadistic orders and forming the remainder into "hunting groups". The new Mastodontii's first task was to exterminate the population of Tisenjoch and they excelled in this terrible duty.
Feudal World/Space Marine Legion Homeworld
1.58AU ± 0.12AU
Even before being reunited with their sire, the Legion was prone to acts of ritual self-mutilation. From their beginning on Terra, the Eighth would render their faces terrible with great scars. As the Eighth Legion expanded, squads of battle-brothers used common patterns of scarification to show their identity. Replacements would take on the ritual marks of their new squadmates, obscuring but never totally erasing any scars they had already earned. By the second century of the Great Crusade, it was possible to read the battle history of a Mastodontii marine on his face.
Self-injury also played a role in the discipline of the Legion. Minor wrong-doing in the ranks would be punished by the offender themselves, with the guilty party engaging in self-flagellation until the mortification of the flesh assuaged their guilt. After the Mastodontii were reunited with their gene-sire, these tendencies became even more manifest. In order to wash away the blood guilt of violence, Legionnaires would mark their victories by taking the whip to their own backs. In many Chapters, it was customary to use barbed whips in order that the blood of the Legion would be join that of the enemy and innocent dead.
The introduction of recruits drawn from Tisenjoch brought new symbolism into the rites and heraldry of the Legion. Representations of great beasts, especially the Mamutoi's mammoth-totem Sabaka, became common. Although the veneration of Sabaka is little-known to the scholars of the Imperium, the image of the mammoth became synonymous with the Eigth Legion and gave them their common sobriquet.
Recruitment and Training
Though Tisenjoch was not a vastly populated world, its people were uniquely suited to the implantation of the Mastodontii gene-seed. This genetic quirk encouraged the export of the Legion's headquarters from Titan to Ötztal's homeworld sometime in the fifth decade of the Great Crusade. As in other Legions, the Eighth carried out semi-ritualised trials to determine the fitness of their Aspirants. At first, these trials were in common with the traditions of old Terra, but over time the standard became the Test of Four Seasons. Uniquely, Aspirants were paired together and succeeded or failed along with their partner. It is believed that the Test re-enacted the hunting of Andugu, Orgolesh, and Huwadu by the Legion's Primarch, although the precise details were never disclosed to outsiders.
Another idiosyncracy of the Mastodontii training was special instruction in wrestling. Their Primarch was a remarkable grappler and his gene-sons proved worthy heirs. These skills were rarely used in field warfare but often helped the Mastodontii in tight environments, such as tunnel fighting or boarding operations.
The heart of the Eighth Legion was Tisenjoch, the feudal world that had been home to their Primarch. From this rugged planet came many of the Legion's recruits and much of its distinctive culture. The Mastodontii also recruited from a handful of other wild worlds scattered throughout the Segmentum Pacificus, bringing the sons of hardy nomads to Tisenjoch to face the Test of Four Seasons.
- Culayne Kardynat, Legion Master
- Centurion Aglukkaq
- Venerable Dreadnought Kumaglak
Organisation and Doctrine
Tollund Ötztal saw his men as the most precise instrument of warfare. During the Great Crusade, he sought to bring his warriors close to the enemy, so that collateral damage would be kept to a minimum. However, the Primarch also valued his own men's lives and had little desire to squander them. In pursuit of these goals, the Mastodontii became highly adept at mechanized warfare and established a great motor pool of infantry transports. The Rhino and Land Raider became the Legion's icons, but the Eighth were also highly skilled in the deployment of drop pods, assault rams, and boarding torpedoes. The jump pack was never popular among the Mastodontii, as its users were extremely vulnerable when not on the move. Other vehicles and war engines were deployed sparingly. The Mastodontii regarded tank destroyers and anti-aircraft weapons as the shield of the Legion and employed these arms in all of their campaigns. By comparison, staples of warfare such as tanks, bombers, and artillery were reserved for the most grueling campaigns. The Legion's Titan allies were only called on to face terrible or utterly inhuman foes.
The risks that the ordinary battle brothers of the Legion were asked to endure were matched by their officers. Ötztal himself followed the Terran tradition leading from the front and leaving his armies in command of a trusted subordinate. Commanders of Expedition Fleets and smaller detachments of Mastodontii followed their gene-father's example. Although this method cost the Eighth more officers than more cautious Legions, it also maintained their morale in the most trying conditions.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Mastodontii barely altered their way of war after they swore fealty to Hektor and the Chaos Gods. Where once they had come close to the enemy so that incidental damage might be averted, as Traitors the Eighth Legion longed to kill slow and close, relishing the fear that they induced. Heavy bombardment and rampant destruction were no longer a sin to be avoided, but a wasted opportunity to cultivate the dread of the Ruinous Powers in the fragile hearts of men.
Tollund Ötztal's bodyguard were known as the Skyguard. Every deployment of these elite warriors was a ritual re-enactment of the coming of Ötztal to Tisenjoch, for the Skyborn were specialists in drop warfare. As the cream of the Legion, they had access to powerful Terminator armour and typically armed themselves with lightning claws or other weapons suited to close-quarters fighting.
No other arm of the Legion was honoured so greatly or so completely. Indeed, the Eighth quietly believed that they, not the Eternal Zealots or the Life Bringers, were the only Marines who fully understood the value of their Apothecaries. Among the Mastodontii, the Apothecarion was revered as the font of life and its protector. Without new Marines, the Eighth's mission could not be completed, but it was equally good to preserve the life of veteran Battle Brothers so that they could continue their own work.
It is said that when Tollund Ötztal first laid eyes on a Rhino transport, he smiled and gently stroked the machine's hull. The war spirit within purred at his touch, for it was kin to the Mamutoi's ally Sabaka and knew Ötztal as a friend. For this reason, the TechMarines of the Mastodontii are known as the Sons of Sabaka by their brother marines. In truth, these mysterious figures owe more to Mars than Tisenjoch when it comes to their spiritual beliefs, but the path of the TechMarine is always one of balancing the twin mysteries that they embrace.
Perhaps the most eccentric of the Legion's support arms, the Mastodontii Castra refused to fortify cities. They believed that by making population centers defensible, they encouraged brutal and indiscriminate city-fighting. Instead, the Eighth Legion's engineers focused their skills on fortified lines and stations to help prevent civilian areas being threatened in the first place.
Tollund Ötztal's gene-seed proved especially difficult to implant into psykers. All those who see the Warp risk mental instability, but the would-be Librarians of the Eighth Legion were particularly prone to madness. While this genetic flaw left the Legion's Librarus under-staffed, those few who withstood the trial of the gene-seed were invariably strong-willed and capable. The Mastodontii Librarus was headed by Erlik, an unusually ugly marine whose facial scars made him seem more like a monster than a man.
Though capable enough as a logistical centre, the Eighth Legion's Victualary never developed the intelligence-gathering capabilities found in other Legions. The Mastodontii did not even issue Warrants of Trade in any great quantity, being content to simply take what information came to them. Such complacency sometimes led the Legion into difficult situations, but Tollund Ötztal firmly believed that his men were warriors and should not find excuses to absentee themselves from the battlefield.
While acknowledging the necessity of their warfleet, the Eighth Legion did not hold it in high regard. They were loathe to call on the guns of the fleet to provide support from orbit. Even when engaging other void ships, the Mastodontii generally trusted to their skill at boarding actions. Boarding torpedoes were an especially popular method of delivering boarders, as the speed of these small vessels offered their passengers considerable protection. In line with this philosophy, Tollund Ötztal's flagship, the Gloriana-class Battleship Starspear was as much macro-transporter as warship.
Auxilia and Allies
The Mastodontii attempted to keep their Auxilia from front-line service throughout the Great Crusade. This decision was not underscored by chauvinism, as some suggested, but by the belief that mortal soldiers were vulnerable - and worse, reliant on imprecise, destructive weapons. For these reasons, Tollund Ötztal and his captains kept the Auxilia to the back areas. The Eighth's attached formations became adept at pacification efforts and policing operations. It was once a point of pride for the Legion that their auxilia rarely had to resort to lethal force in carrying out their duties.
Due to their unique skills and complementary mindset, the Motroit Enforcers were particularly valued by the Mastodontii. Motroit regiments under the Legion's command were typically assigned to Expeditionary Fleets as their role was to spearhead pacification efforts on particularly unruly planets rather than to engage in frontline combat. Once a world was brought to heel, less formidable security personnel would be rotated in to allow the Enforcers to rejoin the leading edge of the Great Crusade.
Tollund Ötztal's gene-seed was of fair quality but still held several defects. The tendency towards self-harming expressed as ritual scarification and mortification in successful Neophytes often caused failed candidates to cripple themselves. Recruits with psychic potential also appear to succumb to madness at a higher rate than in other Legions.
|The Space Marine Legions of the /tg/ Heresy|
|Loyalist:||The Entombed - Eyes of the Emperor - Scale Bearers - Silver Cataphracts |
Steel Marshals - Stone Men - Thunder Kings - Void Angels - War Scribes
|Traitor:||Black Augurs - The Justiciars - Eternal Zealots - Heralds of Hektor |
Iron Rangers - Life Bringers - Lions Rampant - Mastodontii - Sons of Fire