"In the far future, there will be only war."
- – Sigismund to Garviel Loken, not knowing how right he would be.
"You will die as your weakling father died. Soulless. Honourless. Weeping. Ashamed."
- – Siggy's last words. Unlike other Astartes he didn't waste his dying breath recommending his soul to Big E or something, he told Abaddon of his monumental fail right to his face.
"Live by the sword; die by the sword."
- – Ancient Terran Proverb
Sigismund (also known as Siggy-diggy, Sig of the Dump, the Great Wilson, and Swagismund), is a Space Marine from Warhammer 40,000's backstory. He served as First Captain of the Imperial Fists Legion and equerry to his Primarch, Rogal Dorn. Following the Horus Heresy, he served as the first High Marshal of the Black Templars.
Sigismund was born in the slums of Terra during the Unification Wars and orphaned at an early age. He joined up with a crew of other orphans, helping to steal food and supplies for them. He and his friend Thera ultimately ran afoul of a rival orphan gang, the Corpse Kings, who came to their hideout with the intention of wiping them all out. Thera was killed fighting the Corpse Kings, and Sigismund grabbed her weapon and prepared to make a last stand. He defeated several of the Corpse Kings but was about to be overwhelmed when the Legiones Astartes came calling for new recruits. Hilariously enough, he was originally picked up by the VIII Legion, but the genetic testing revealed that he was more compatible with the VII, XII, XVI, and XIX Legions, in that order. No wonder he liked hanging out with the World Eaters. After his induction into the Imperial Fists, he fought alongside the Night Lords in his first action as a Space Marine, which made him relieved that he hadn't wound up in that legion. He was later selected to join the Templar Brethren, becoming one of the youngest Astartes ever inducted into that elite brotherhood, after training with the weapon master Appius. During his training, Appius asked Sigismund what his reason for fighting was. Sigismund thought back to the friends he'd left behind on Terra, and answered that his purpose in fighting was to protect those who could not protect themselves. While he was a lieutenant, Rogal Dorn made him his personal champion after the end of a joint campaign between the Imperial Fists and the Iron Hands. Dorn and Ferrus Manus had disagreed about the proper way to conduct the campaign, and decided to settle their argument with a duel between their chosen sons. Sigismund kicked the shit out of the Iron Hands champion and was ready to kill him until Ferrus ordered him to yield. He later became First Captain after a grueling ritual in which he fought and defeated 200(!) other Templars one after the other, with number 200 being Appius, now interred within a Contemptor Dreadnought. He became known for his skill and hotheadedness - and his unparalleled asskickery. Much like Ahmed Ibn Fadlan in the movie "13th Warrior", Sigismund later went on to spend a great deal of time with the World Eaters, more than he did with his own legion (even being duelling buddies with Kharn, proof that the latter was always a swell guy), and began to take on their ways. For example, he took to using heavy, dense black chains to shackle his weapon to his arm so that he could never drop it. Yep, that's right, the Black Templars got this tradition from a Traitor Legion! Siggy wisely took that little detail with him right to the grave, lest the Templars suffer a crisis of faith regarding their aesthetic. As it turned out, the reason Sigismund went to live with them was to see if there was anything worthwhile in the way the World Eaters were doing things and as a possible way to forge closer bonds between them and the VII Legion, in the hopes of tempering the XII's rage and butchery.
Interestingly, Sigismund always vaguely resented having been made into a Space Marine, probably because he'd been forced to abandon his friends on Terra, and once admitted to the remembrancer Solomon Voss that if he'd known as a child what he would become when the Night Lords took him away, he'd have refused the chance. He was also a pessimist at heart, believing that there would be nothing but war in humanity's future even if the Imperium successfully pacified the galaxy, because conflict was an inescapable part of human nature. Unfortunately, he was proven extremely right.
When the Horus Heresy kicked off, he was with Rogal Dorn when the Eisenstein delivered news of the Isstvan III massacre. He had his first discussions with the Imperial "Saint" Euphrati Keeler, who told him that he would die unremembered under an unknown star if he left his father's side. This discussion affected Sigismund deeply, so he requested that Dorn task someone else with leading the Retribution Fleet after Dorn ordered him to go; Dorn thought this was an odd request, but allowed it and Captain Hashin Yonnad was sent instead. Ironically, Sigismund's absence at Phall would lead Perturabo to make the wrong assumptions about how the battle would go, and result in the Fists nearly winning and a large chunk of the Retribution Fleet escaping. When news came about the Drop Site Massacre and the full scale of rebellion became apparent, Sigismund was ordered to purge any remnants of the traitors in the Solar System, purging the memorial asteroid with his Templar elite and the Assault Cadre under Fafnir Rann. This began a fruitful five years of Rann talking shit to Sigismund while they killed every motherfucker in their path.
Sigismund then led a mission to Mars to retrieve as many weapons and suits of armour as possible, since by that time Mars was FUCKED. Despite really, really wanting to kill everything standing between him and the traitor Fabricator-General Kelbor-Hal, Sigismund realized that the Imperial Fists couldn't retake the planet without reinforcements, ordering Imperial forces to retreat when the forges were surrounded by traitor Titans.
However, before leaving for Mars, Sigismund confessed his reasons for refusing to take the Retribution mission to his father, explaining the vision he had received from "Saint" Keeler. Unfortunately, Dorn flipped his shit and accused Sigismund of arrogance, superstition, and forgetting what it meant to be an Imperial Fist; as a Space Marine and a servant of the Emperor, he had no right to determine his fate in such a way. Dorn further compared him to the rebels they were now fighting. When Sigismund begged Dorn to execute him then and there, Dorn disowned him as a son and from the Legion. To prevent Sigismund's "weakness" from tainting the rest of the Legion, however, he was allowed to retain his rank, but was dispatched to the farthest fringes of the Solar System as a means of getting rid of him, a fate for Sigismund which was worse than death though he took solace in his duty. There he would remain until the Horus Heresy hit its climax.
Despite being quietly disowned for his involvement with Euphrati Keeler, Sigismund used his influence in the Legion to keep discreet tabs on her movements. When the Saint was targeted for assassination in the run-up to the Siege of Terra, Sigismund personally answered her distress call and returned to the homeworld, where he met Nathaniel Garro again. Knowing that Dorn would likely be extremely pissed at him for ignoring his orders a second time, he handed over all the information he had on the Saint to Garro, passing his self-appointed duty as her guardian off to him.
Having been largely sidelined during the Battle of Pluto (still killing plenty of Alpha Legionnaires), Sigismund was the first Imperial commander to engage the Traitors. He got swarmed by the Fifth Company of the Sons of Horus under Horus Aximand, who was ready to move in on the wounded Sigismund and finish the job when Rann and First Lieutenant Boreas intervened. Sigismund then rallied hard and injured Aximand before making for Terra, though he lost his ship and Boreas to Aximand.
Defending the First Wall, Sigismund defeated several Chaos Champions before facing Kharn and losing badly as the (not yet) Betrayer had been blessed by Khorne. As Kharn was about to kill Sigi, Dorn intervened and bitch-slapped Kharn out of the way. Later on he led a kill team against a Sons of Horus assault force that attempted to tunnel under the Saturnine Wall of the Imperial Palace, then went up to the top of the wall and got into a fight with Fulgrim. He managed to land a few hits, but Fulgrim, being a daemon prince, promptly beat him down. Dorn intervened again, forcing Fulgrim into an undignified retreat, after which father and gene-son saw off fifty-six of the III Legion's best fighters together.
In the time just after Corswain's contingent of Dark Angels secured the Astronomican and just before the Khan retook the Lion's Gate Spaceport, Dorn summoned Sigismund to his command center and issued the first captain a simple order: "Hurt them." As Sigismund made his way out to the battlefield, he was presented with the Black Sword by one of Malcador's agents. Weary, embittered, and wounded in spirit, Sigismund accepted the blade, resolved now to fight for what the Imperium would have to become, not what it could have been. As the traitor forces ground toward the Inner Palace, Sigismund met them on the field, challenging their captains and praetors to single combat and killing them one after the other. As his body count grew, rumors of the warrior known as the "Black Sword" or the "Emperor's Champion" spread across the Palace, heartening the loyalist forces and demoralizing the traitors CONSIDERABLY. Both sides began seeking him out, the loyalists forming an army around him while the traitors sought to challenge him themselves. It was at this time that he and Kharn had their legendary final duel. At first they were pretty evenly matched, but when a slobbering Kharn realized he couldn't get a rise or even any sort of reaction out of Sigismund, he became increasingly unnerved, because Siggy's cold, contemptuous repose could've given a Necron or the Legion of the Damned something to admire. Kharn eventually received something of a vision of the future, when Sigismund's Black Templars would roam the galaxy bringing death to the enemies of the Master of Mankind, and that all of them would be as deadly and silent as Sigismund. This caused Kharn to panic for all of the 4 seconds it took Sigismund to exploit this opening and literally (not figuratively) cut Kharn to pieces. Before his end, he still managed to say to Sigismund "I am not as damaged as you." And though he gave no outward reply, Sigismund likely thought in response "I know. And I don't care."
After the Heresy and the Iron Cage business, what remained of the Imperial Fists Legion was divided into five Chapters, in accordance with the Codex Astartes reforms. Dorn placed those now ex-Imperial Fists that were still burning with the need to tear traitors multiple new orifices, barehanded if necessary, under Sigismund's command. They became the Black Templars Chapter, while the third and fourth Chapters (formed from the more conservative/level-headed Marines and those more accepting of the Codex Astartes) were the Crimson Fists and Fists Exemplar. Those Astartes who had fought on the walls of the Imperial Palace became the Excoriators), while Rann would have to wait until the Third Founding before his head-takers got their big break and became the Executioners. Considering that the Black Templars are a Chapter of Space Marines that wants nothing else than to purge traitors, aliens and heretics with religious fervor, they promptly set out on their eternal Crusade vowing to never stop hunting down the enemies of the Imperium. And they are true to their word, too. Ten thousand years, and they're still going strong, kicking heretic and xeno ass left, right and centre!
Sigismund would fight in the First Black Crusade, where by that point he was just shy of one thousand years old, having fought and killed everything the galaxy could throw at him (and given that it's 40K, that's a lot). Unlike most Imperials, he still believed the Traitor Legions would return, making the Black Templars the only Imperial force ready when the Black Legion invaded. Sigismund later faced Abaddon himself in battle during the First Black Crusade; the outcome was long unconfirmed, but as of the recent Black Legion books, we can finally say for certain that Abaddon killed Sigismund in single combat. The two were at a stalemate at first, with Abaddon being stronger and better armored, while Sigismund was quicker and more controlled. Over time though, Siggy's age started catching up with him, and his body slowed. When he realized he couldn't win, Siggy did his best Excalibur impression, except here Abaddon's torso was the stone the blade was plunged into, like that old Emperor's Champion art with the ork. You know the one. To match Siggy's final moment of badassery, Abaddon inflicted a mortal blow of his own, slaying the old warrior - Sigismund had realized he would only kill Abaddon by exposing himself, and he did it without hesitation.
BADASS. Abaddon's lieutenant felt that the playing field was only evened out by Sigismund's age bringing him down to the level of other Astartes. Even with this handicap Sigismund still put up a tremendous fight, almost killing Abaddon outright. The Black Knight came closer to killing the Despoiler than anyone else has (except maybe Thalastian Jorus). Best of all, the Black Legion high command treated him with the utmost respect in death. Abaddon cleaned him up as much as possible (he was kinda torn in two), and had his corpse sent back to Terra with the message that the Black Legion had arrived and declared its Long War against the God-Emperor. They didn't even steal the Black Sword, but returned it along with Sigismund's body.
Sigismund is sometimes referred to as the best duelist in all the Legiones Astartes. Regardless, several named characters could probably give him a run for his money; among them are Abaddon, Khârn, Lucius, Sevatar, Corswain, Azkaellon and Amit (the original Flesh Tearer) of the Blood Angels, and Argel Tal of the Word Bearers (but he had daemon powers, so that's kinda cheating). He not only bested Khârn in a duel many, many times (although Khârn was never serious in these fights, and preferred losing, a trait that he shared with Argel Tal), but also during the Great Crusade, the Fists and the World Eaters crusaded together for a while, which allowed Siggy to regularly fight in the World Eaters arenas against all of their best fighters. He never lost. Not once. This went on for around 10 years.
He also avoided lethal duels, viewing it as a sin to kill a cousin: the first Astartes he offed was during the Heresy. In the novel Betrayer and the novella Templar, Khârn and Sigismund ended up becoming good friends until Horus fucked everything up, and Sevatar mentioned dueling him for 20 hours before he got tired of no one winning and decided to cheat by headbutting Sigismund just to end the bout.
It should be pointed out that in the HH Book: Templar, he is described as having never lost a duel. Ever. This means either:
- He's never duelled any Primarchs.
- However, Primarchs are OP and therefore an unfair opponent for any Astartes and typically don't stoop so low as to demonstrate it. They occasionally say, in novels, maybe a dude could tangle with a Primarch because they can't grasp just how OP those bastards are. Any mortal from any species, including freaks like Tyranids or technically Necrons would get smashed to paste and even super soldiers will only marginally last longer before literal demigods.
- Doesn't consider it a loss if his opponent cheats in the fight, as happened with Sevatar.
- Because he cheated, Jago is technically considered to have lost that sparring duel. Besides, if they had been trying to kill each other Sev would have been way dirtier way earlier, but Sig would have been expecting it as well. That duel was all around still a good indicator of their skill in regards to one another. Sev is regarded as one of the best Astartes close combatants and they basically tied. If the stats in the HH books are anything to go off of (admittedly not always, like the Primarchs being nerfed so they can still be balanced) then Sig, Sev and the Nemean are the overall best close "dueling" Astartes period. 1-on-1 ruleswise: Sev has almost no chance due to lack of Eternal Warrior.
- It's worth noting that Khârn later tried copying the move. Sigismund dropped him face-down on the floor.
- Always ended in a draw. This option is possible, although the context didn't seem to suggest this at all.
- It doesn't mean anything at all, because a sparring bout (even amongst Astartes who are at real risk of being maimed) does not accurately represent the fighters' true potential.
- For example, Khârn actually disdained the fighting pits because it's not about killing your opponent, making it an entirely different situation. While Nathaniel Garro also beat a Custodian in a duel, but realised that he would not likely be able to take him in a real fight.
He had some really, REALLY crappy Marines training him how to fight, seriously, surely he would have lost as an initiate.Sparring isn't the same as a duel ya git.
He received stats in the third Horus Heresy book, showing him to be a close-combat monster:
With Eternal Warrior, Fearless, Adamantium Will, a +2S AP2 weapon, instant death and re-rolls ones to hit when in challenges, 4 attacks at WS7, and forcing successful invulns to be re-rolled, he's the nastiest duelist character so far in virtually any incarnation of the rules, barring the Primarchs, Constantin Valdor, motherfucking Anacharis Scoria and the Cheestodes Tribune. He's also one of the few that has a fighting chance against some of the weaker among said Primarchs. Now that some Legions, namely Sons of Horus, Salamanders, and Imperial Fists, have access to Eternal Warrior from relics that non-Primarchs can take, he's descended from being an "I win as soon as I wound" button to merely "75% likely to win." Aside from all that, he allows you to take Templar Brethren as troops, gives any unit he joins +1I on the charge and rerolls to charges and Sweeping Advance, and if taken as the warlord has a fixed trait that gives +1VP and +1CR to his entire army if he kills the enemy warlord in a challenge.
This still means pretty much all Legion characters barring Salamander Praetors and Eidolon are fucked as Sigismund is forced to challenge and most Legions have nothing, bar their Primarchs, who could stand up to Sigismund and hope to win (excluding terrible rolls).
In fact, even against his own Primarch (or any T6, 4++ Primarch barring Lorgar and Russ), Sigismund makes a good stab at it and causes just under 1 wound per turn mathematically during a challenge (what with IWND and all), which hilariously, is almost as much as Dorn's own brother can cause against him. While Sigismund receives 1.25 wounds/turn in return. Which is actually pretty good for Astartes vs Primarch combat. As of the fourth book in the Siege of Terra series, we even have fluff to back this up, as Sigismund was able to get in a few shots against Fulgrim before the Phoenician started beating him down.