Part 10: Saturnine pattern Terminator armour.
The Saturnine Terminator Armour that would one day become synonymous with the cold and unyielding IVth Legion was first envisioned in the hellish wars of reunification fought over the carcass of old earth, the Mk1 Thunder Armour being deemed insufficient for what lay ahead, though these projects never came to fruition, abandoned shortly after the Emperor and his chosen warriors left the cradle of mankind, making for the Red Planet. When the union of Mars and Terra was finalised, the Martians began to work upon the Crusade Pattern Power Armour for the Emperor’s mighty legions. Power Armour was envisioned as the ultimate infantry fighting armour, but for some fights, even its protection was not adequate, and so, Mars looked to create something that would be the final word in personal armour. Named the “Tactical Dreadnought Armour Project”, or “Terminator Project”.
The technology for Exo-armour was originally developed during Mankind’s Dark Age of Technology. These sealed environment suits enabled maintenance crews of spacecraft to operate in extremely hazardous environments such as hard vacuum or in other adverse atmospheric conditions. It was from here that the Mechanicum started their work, and in short order they had created a working prototype, the first suits completed shortly after the beginning of the Great Crusade. A legion was quickly selected to trial the new armour, the IVth, the newly dubbed Dark Watchers, chosen for two reasons; their natural affinity towards boarding and zone mortalis warfare, where such armour would surely benefit, and their proximity to Mars, the Legion still undergoing additional training alongside the Saturnine Ordos. In short order, the armour was put into place within the IVth, the legion responsible for giving it its final name in honour of those who had imparted their time won knowledge, thus was the Saturnine Terminator Armour born, the Dark Watchers striking out into the dark, led as they were by their mighty terminator units.
Similar in aspects to the Mk1 Thunder Pattern Power Armour worn by the Thunder Warriors and the first Astartes, the Saturnine Terminator Armour possessed extreme upper body strength, capable of bearing the heaviest infantry-portable weapons into battle alongside numerous other weapon systems, while thick adamantium and ceramite plating worked in concert with power fields to ensure nothing short of a turbolaser would lay the occupant low. Indeed, it was believed that the wearer inside the Terminator armour would succumbed to damage before the armour itself did, even the greatest of kinetic dampeners of the time not able to divert the hellish energies the armour could withstand away from the wearer. Similar to the first iteration of Crusade power armour, the Saturnine possessed a fixed helmet, sensor arrays building a model of the battlefield inside the helmet, allowing the wearer to fight as though they were not wearing a helmet at all.
For all its strengths however, the Saturnine Armour was plagued with weaknesses which saw its use limited, few suits ever being sent to the other legions. Ponderously slow, exceedingly bulking and possessed of a massive weight made running difficult despite built-in auto-balancers. The suits also suffered from voracious power demands and few existing armaments could be carried as the armour’s sheer bulk made handling and reloading impossible, necessitating an entirely new line of armaments to be crafted to best utilise the armour, new patterns of existing weapons devised but rarely used in the early days of the Great Crusade, their cost seen as unsustainable for the already thinly stretched logistics of the nascent Imperium of Man. Soon, the Martian Priesthood began to dismantle the forges dedicated to making the armour, redistributing the resources to the newly begun Cataphractii project. Though it was a time consuming project, most believed that the Saturnine Armour had run its course, soon to fade from the legions just as Thunder Armour had.
It was only the eventual intervention of Shaaa Hydrades himself in the wake of the Squat Wars that saved the armour from total dismantlement, arguing that the suits had been invaluable in the confined conflicts of the war, and that their level of survivability and ability to carry heavy weapons more than made up for their shortcomings. Few others agreed, most legions seeing little need for such specialised weapons, combat in such environments rare for most, but for the Star Guardians, such battlefields were their elements, and so the Primarch’s words were listened to.
Soon, those forges on Mars that still remained were indeed dismantled, but now their parts were shipped across the galaxy to the newly discovered Forge World of Graphina, recently sworn to the Star Guardians for breaking their own struggle against an Orkish horde that had beset them for generations. The world would now be the sole producer of the mighty Terminator armour, those few suits that other legions had received soon relegating the armour to their museums or halls of honour, relics from the past, brought out for Honour Guard details or other similar celebrations.
In time, new Terminator units would appear in every one of the Emperor’s Legions, and even His own Legio Custodes, from the heavy set, though still lighter and more mobile than the Mk1, Mk3 Cataphractii Armour, the advanced Mk4 Tartaros Armour, or the cheaper and easier to maintain Mk5 Indomitable Armour, but through all of this, the IVth never lost sight of the first iteration of this new wave of super heavy armour. Across a thousand worlds, the booming tread of a Saturnine Terminator was the herald of doom for xenos and non-compliant humans alike, Shaaa’s own Saturnalians crushing empires and tearing down warlords, heedless and impervious to almost anything the universe could through at them.
In time however, all things mist fade. During the First Solar War, many of the suits the Star Guardians used were destroyed by the encroaching traitors, while the schism that tore the Martian Priesthood in two saw many vaunted STC’s be damaged or outright destroyed. Though the plans for the Mk1 Terminator Armour were saved from utter destruction, vast portions of the knowledge used in their creation was lost in those days, new suits becoming all but impossible to create, while those that did still exist became difficult to maintain relics of ages past. The Saturnalian squads faded shortly after this discovery, not as a mark against their efficacy, but simply due to a lack of available supplies, those suits that remained being reserved for Officers of the new IVth.
Coming soon……….Part 11: Saturnine Fulmentarus Terminators