The Fiery Lions are a fairly unknown chapter, even though they have an ancient heritage, dating back to the 7th Founding, around 502.M31. They have no home world and the extensive fleet they have for a base, is never to be found in one place at a time. Individual detachments do not often linger in any one area for long and even when they do, they usually keep away from populated systems whenever possible. The chapter excels in boarding actions and deep space operations and is therefore often called upon to patrol shipping lanes and enforce the Emperorís will on pirates and enemy supply lines. Due to these rather specific and usually isolated duties, the Fiery Lionsí exploits are rarely known outside of the chapter itself and whoever called upon them to perform their task. It is even rarer for foes to live and tell the tale...
 


Origins


Shortly after the second founding it became quite clear that the created chapters would not be enough to meet the ever growing demand for Space Marine forces just after the Great Scouring. The 23 Second Founding chapters, as recorded in the Apcrypha of Davio, proved to be severely lacking in numbers to meet the increasing requests for their services. A large amount of foundings was therefore created in the ensuing centuries to ensure there would be enough Marines to secure the just re-won precarious peace across the Imperium.

Somewhere around the 5th founding it was found however, that due to chapters being assigned to fixed sectors and worlds, there remained large gaps in their coverage, which not even a million chapters would be able to fill. But it was realized that large sections of open space didnít need such strong a presence. A number of chapters were therefore created, that would not have a fixed base but would be able to be redirected or split up to cover the large gaps that sometimes gaped between the assigned sectors of other chapters. Most of these were fleet based but with largely the same modus operandi of planet based chapters. There was however, also created an unknown number of space borne chapters that were not tasked with coverage of worlds, but rather with all that lay between them; chapters specialized in deep space actions.

These chapters were badly needed. Although the name of the period makes one think otherwise, during the Great Scouring by far all threats to Mankind were eradicated. If anything, the period just after proved to be more dangerous than ever, since it became apparent to many alien races the Imperium was having a shaky hold of itís territories at best. The result was an enormous increase in raids, conquest and random destruction in all but the best defended regions of the Imperium. A lot of these raids took place in remote, open areas of space, where system patrols were unable to venture and raiding forces and pirates could operate with virtual impunity. The Imperial fleet was still rebuilding after the Horus Heresy and had not yet organized itself to effectively patrol sectors and space lanes.

The Fiery Lions were created out of Ultramarines stock, long recognized as the most stable of all gene seeds, although in their case, there must have been some manipulation or slight mutation at work, because the Fiery Lions do not at all resemble their parent chapter in both temperament and doctrine. Although the Fiery Lions are considered to be a codex chapter in both appearance and organization, it is speculated, based on records of sightings and battle reports, that the chapter must include far more marines than the 1,000 mandated by the Codex Astartes. Also noted is the chapterís obvious predilection towards close combat, their ferocity rivalling that of chapters such as the Space Wolves and Flesh Tearers.

There is however another, even less known fact about the Fiery Lions. At the chapterís founding, it was decreed the Fiery Lions would be tasked specifically with space borne actions such as space lane patrols, destroying pirates and raiders and even raiding actions of their own. However, at the time, scant centuries after the Horus Heresy, the ships needed to allow the chapter to carry out its assigned tasks were in very short supply indeed. A skeleton fleet, existing of one old, badly damaged small cruiser, numerous old escort ships and even commandeered merchant vessels was put together and offered to the chapter as its future base of operations. The first chapter master, Blois Van Treslong, however, in a display of temperament that would later prove to be characteristic for the whole chapter, blatantly refused to accept command of this rag tag fleet on grounds of it not being battle worthy enough.
 


The Charter

In light of this outburst of defiance and its obvious legitimate grounds, the Administratum, together with a number of Inquisitors and other officials, in a special meeting on Parmenio, where the Fiery Lions were still in training, decided upon a specific and unique charter. This charter permits the Fiery Lions to Ďseize and keep for themselves any and all enemy vessels not of Xenos originí. In case of Xenos craft, the chapter would be obliged to surrender the vessels in question to the Ordo Xenos of the Inquisition. On these grounds, Blois Van Treslong accepted the fleet and immediately took the first company out on their first patrol, aboard the most potent vessels in the fleet, while he left the rest of his chapter to finish their training, under supervision of the Ultramarines.

Not surprisingly, this charter was highly criticized by the Imperial Navy and certain other chapters, which felt they were disadvantaged by the liberties the Fiery Lions were granted by it. Some of these opponents of the charter were highly vocal in their protests and the chapter soon was the centre of a large scale discussion of the amount of leeway that could be given to a chapter in light of the legacy of Roboute Guilliman; the Codex Astartes. Representatives of almost all Imperial institutions descended upon Parmenio to be heard on the matter. This discussion reached its boiling point when a recently missing Navy frigate was seized by the Fiery Lions when it was trying to escape the nearby system of Agkhala IV, where the chapter had begun preliminary patrols to eradicate pirate activity in the area. Following up on their new charter, the Fiery Lions added the vessel to their fleet. When the Imperial Navy delegation present at the meetings received news of this, they were infuriated. They stated the ship was the property of the Imperial Navy and should be returned to them, while the Fiery Lions claimed it was a pirate vessel and since they captured it, it was now rightfully theirs.

Headstrong as he was, Blois Van Treslong refused to return to Parmenio and continued his patrol, being highly successful in eliminating the decades old pirate infestation of the sector. When he finally did return, his fleet a full six vessels larger than when he set out, some form of consensus had been reached on the matter of the Fiery Lionsí charter. Confronted with the evidence of the Fiery Lionsí obvious success, the Navy delegation grudgingly conceded and would accept the charter, on the condition the chapter would not be allowed to add vessels to their fleet that were larger than cruiser class, which would be surrendered to the Imperial Navy. Although Blois Van Treslong was at first not willing to accept this culling of his liberties, after being taken aside and talked to at length by the masters of both the Ultramarines and the Sons Of Guilliman, he accepted the concession.

The Fiery Lions set out on their assigned tasks with their now trademark drive and fury and before long, most of the fleet was scattered throughout the entire Ultima Sector and communication and supply became more difficult as detachments were posted further and further apart. During a meeting that the masters of the gathered companies had on the matter, it was decided in secrecy, that if the chapter was to be so divided, each company should be able to operate independently. This would mean, amongst others, that each company would have to be able to create its own marines to fill in battle losses. The Fiery Lions were aware that this was highly controversial and they would probably be criticized at least as fiercely as they were for their coveted charter. Where other chapters had their equipment in one place, usually a monastery, the Fiery Lions would have theirs divided over the companiesí respective flagships. Each company would be operating as an independent unit, but every five Terran years, delegations of each company would gather to discuss the chapterís achievements, problems and the course to be taken in the next five year period.
 


The Unguis Leoninus

Although a part of the culling of their charter implied that the Fiery Lions were obliged to surrender every captured vessel that was not covered by it, over the course of their history, they still have managed to obtain a number of vessels that could be considered in violation with it. The most notable exception to the standing rules is the chapterís flagship, the ancient and extensively modified Retribution Class Battleship named ĎUnguis Leoninusí. This enormous 30Km long vessel has been the focal point of the Fiery Lions chapter for almost 5,000 years. It was gifted to them for acts of the greatest valour by the loyal High Lord Askahad after the fierce battles of the Age of Apostasy had subsided. A small detachment of Fiery Lions terminators and assault marines had, during a large naval engagement high above the dead, dusty surface of Luna defended the crippled flagship of Grand Admiral Tellerius against massive boarding attempts by Daughters of the Emperor and Frateris Templar forces for more than five days, without being re-supplied or reinforced. Their stalwart defence of the vessel held up the rebel forces long enough for the shipís disabled engines to be repaired and reconsecrated in time to fend off enemy reinforcements in the form of a small fleet of escort vessels. This in turn secured the Lunar bases for the forces of Sebastian Thor and indirectly played an important part in his victory over the forces of the Ecclesiary.

Out of respect for the fallen Fiery Lions; more than three quarters of the detachment had been killed in the battle, the remaining battle brothers were gifted with the very ship they had defended, complete with a full complement of crew. In a grand ceremony in orbit over Terra, High Lord Askahad decreed that the Fiery Lions were from that day entrusted with the ship, in a one time exemption to their charter. However, the ship turned out to be more of a curse than a blessing, as a large portion of the new crew of the ship turned out to be Ecclesiary prisoners of war. Also, the ship had suffered greatly under the battles it had fought in and because Adeptus Mechanicus and Naval experts were needed elsewhere, only the most rudimentary of repairs had been effected before the transfer of command to the Fiery Lions. En route to the chapterís headquarters fleet, the embattled Fiery Lions detachment was tested again and again by mutinies, technical problems and a general lack of expertise. These were veteran and assault marines and none of them was trained to command a ship, especially one of this immense size. However, in a display of characteristic stubbornness and defiance, the remaining 8 marines managed to overcome every mutiny, got the remaining loyal crew into shape and eventually deliver the damaged gargantuan ship to the Fiery Lions fleet.

There, they were welcomed back as the heroes they were and awarded with ranks and positions worthy of such extraordinary individuals. Their leader in these dire circumstances, Veteran Sergeant Buysman, was eventually promoted to captain of the newly named ĎUnguis Leoninusí and served in that capacity with distinction for almost 400 years. The ĎUnguis Leoninusí has been only slowly rebuilt over the course of the centuries under supervision of the chapterís techmarines. Since so much of the ship had been damaged and because a Spacemarine chapter has different demands for a ship than the Imperial Navy, numerous alterations were inevitable. Consequently, more hangar bays were added, lance batteries were converted into bombardment cannons and torpedo tubes adapted to launch specialized boarding torpedoes. This is an ongoing process, as defective parts are replaced, armour plates or weapons added and existing parts upgraded. As a result, the ĎUnguis Leoninusí is more of a battle barge in performance and offensive capabilities, while it still retains most of itís original anti-ship capabilities. Most of itís crew have been replaced by a much smaller complement of servitors for maximal efficiency, with a great number of them slaved directly to the shipís systems, making itís operation automated to a great extend.

It is speculated that the ĎUnguis Leoninusí is in all probability the most powerful vessel in hands of a Spacemarine chapter and this has been cause for several heated conflicts with different Imperial organizations, most notably the Imperial navy and the Inquisition. However, due to the nature of the Fiery Lionsí missions, most officials are more than happy to disregard the obviously non-codex organization and composition of the chapterís fleet. Actually, the various branches of the Inquisition have called upon the Fiery Lions many times, when fighting ship borne enemies or investigating space hulks, although there have been recorded incidents where it came to a serious deterioration of relations between the chapter and both the Inquisition and Administratum. The current Chapter-Master, Van Speyck, who has held that position for only four years, is known to be particularly temperamental and impetuous and might, at one time or another, invoke the anger of either or both organisations again. Recently, rumours about the cause of the demise of a remotely connected chapter, possibly even a descendant from the Fiery Lions; the Celestial Lions, has reached the Unguis Leoninus and Van Speyck and it is feared a flare-up of old animosities might occur in the very near future.
 

Inappropriate Behaviour

Another aspect of the Fiery Lions that has regularly earned them the animosity of several worlds, organizations and people is their, somewhat unrestricted, attitude towards propriety. Due to the nature of the Fiery Lionsí missions, it has, on more than one occasion, occurred that the chapter has procured vessels that might not have been entirely under the license of their charter. In other words; the Fiery Lions have been known to board and take ships that actually were under Imperial flag, merchant or otherwise, adding them to their fleet or stripping them bare before scuttling them, the crews given the choice to either be enrolled in Fiery Lionsí service or abandoned on some backwater planet. These actions have often led to Imperial Fleet assets being sent out to bring the responsible Fiery Lions vessels to justice. In most cases though, the Fiery Lionsí elements just lead the Imperial Navy on a merry chase through the sector, before apparently disappearing, only to be spotted again some time later in a completely different area.

This ability to constantly evade Imperial patrols together with their willingness to aid these same Imperial forces in times of need regardless of past occurrences has earned the Fiery Lions the grudging respect of many a Naval commander. The Navy assets at Port Maw especially, have a love-hate relationship with the Fiery Lions fleet that has been present in that region for centuries In turn chasing them with charges ranging from Piracy to Slave Trade to failure to comply to Imperial Space lane Traffic Regulations and receiving unexpected aid from the same Spacemarine fleet whenever a battle seems to turn against them. On Port Maw and beyond, it is also whispered that the Fiery Lions have hoarded an enormous treasure of archeotech, ships and weapons as well as vast quantities of monetary assets. However, this has never been confirmed and an almost legendary map, drawn by a long deceased merchant, allegedly revealing the hoardís location has been rumoured to exist, but has never been found. It is certainly true that the Fiery Lions never seem to have a lack of fuel, spares and other supplies though.
 


Tactics

The fact that the Fiery Lions are so attuned to Space borne actions, makes them also very adept at city- and tunnel fights but has had its effect on the equipment they have available. Since a lot of their capital ships are former Imperial Navy craft, their ability to conduct planetary landings has been greatly reduced. Drop-pods are rarely deployed, as the chapter prefers riding into battle in armed shuttlecraft or Thunderhawk Gunships. Their ships are, however, equipped with a more than average amount of boarding torpedoes and assault craft, catering to the need for ship to ship capability. Also, large amounts of hard vacuum equipment are available, with which the chapter trains extensively. Relatively few vehicles are maintained by the chapter and most of these are geared towards transport or short range fire fights, such as can be expected on board spaceships. However, the chapter does deploy larger than usual amounts of Tarantula and Rapier weapons platforms in different configurations, as these are invaluable for point defences in the narrow corridors of ships and space hulks. The Fiery Lions are not well adapted to main battlefields and lack the infrastructure to conduct large scale operations, being more suited to lightning raids or hunting elusive foes along space lanes.
 


Organisation

Because of the confined nature of their preferred battlegrounds, the chapter is more geared towards close quarters combat than ranged fire fights and has a fearsome reputation in melee fighting, reflected in part by the custom of the assault squads to paint leering lionís jaws on their helmets. It is also common practice for tactical squads to arm themselves with bolt pistols and close combat weapons whenever the situation requires it. Other than these differences though, the Fiery Lions are in all respects a Codex chapter, as can be expected of an Ultramarines successor.

Chapter organisation follows the Codex to the letter, apart from the abovementioned differences, but it is suspected there might be more than 10 companies and definitely more than 1000 battle brothers in the chapter. This is because, much like the Black Templars, the Fiery Lions are almost never gathered together completely. In the cause of their patrol duties, which often take years, portions of the Fiery Lionsí fleet are scattered all over the Ultima Segmentum, sometimes in detachments not larger than a single squad on board a frigate. Therefore, most capital ships in the fleet are able to create new marines on their own, often to meet the individual detachmentsí growing requirements. Still; it is rare for more than one or two companies of Fiery Lions to be amassed in one place other than the main fleet and it is this scattered deployment that has so far kept them safe from Inquisitorial scrutiny.


Battle cry:

ĎEmperorís Will, Lionís Wrath!í