Thursday, 20 May 2010

Space marine creation

Those readers who are familiar with me are probably groaning that im writing yet another article about scouts. This time around however its a case of necessity.
Many of us it seems (myself included) seem to struggle with many of the facets and particulars with space marine training and creation, so it can only help to combine everything we know into one place.In this article ill be highlighting the details of space marine creation and try to answer some of the questions that get raised about scouts.

Creation of a space marine
This information was originally printed in white dwarf 98 by Rick Priestly entitled "the origins of the legiones astartes", and it was later published the warhammer 40,000 compendium. A more indepth look can be found in white dwarf 247 and was the basis of the first index astartes article.

It takes a considerable deal of time to transform a normal human into a Space Marine. They receive implants which transform their bodies and give them superhuman abilities - making them capable of spitting acidic venom, absorbing the memories of the dead by eating their flesh, darkening their skin to protect it from radiation, and operating for long periods without sleep by switching off parts of their brains at a time.
Recruits are subjected to psycho-indoctrination and conditioning, strengthening their resolve and honing them into dedicated and merciless warriors. Not all recruits survive the brutal training of course, and not all are accepted.

Recruits are chosen from the best warriors among humanity. Naturally this makes feral worlds prized recruitment grounds, as such harsh and primal conditions produce the best warriors. However hive worlds are considered the ideal source of potential recruits, the populace of the lower levels composed of some of the most murderous scum in the human Imperium. Whole gangs of hive scum are sometimes hunted down and captured for recruitment. Among the most valued traits in a recruit are aggression and psychotic-level killer instinct. More rarely, certain civilised worlds are also recruited from.

Recruits must be fairly young, because implants often do not become fully functional if the recipient has reached a certain level of physical maturity. They must be male because the zygotes are keyed to male hormones and tissue types. Only a small percentage of people are compatible to receive the implants and hypno-suggestion to turn them into Marines. Before the process of implantation begins the potential recruit receives tissue compatibility tests and psychological screening. If the testing proves successful the recruit becomes a neophyte. After the organ implantation process he becomes an initiate.
Even once the organs are implanted they are generally inactive or useless without associated training and hypnotherapy and chemical treatment. Most recruits join the ranks as a brother between the age of 16-18 years.

The 19 implanted organs are very complicated, and because several of them only work properly or work at all in the presence of another of the implants, the removal, mutation or failure of one organ can affect the exact functioning of the others. Because of this and the fact that each Chapter's gene-seed belongs to that Chapter alone, different Chapters display different characteristics and use different sets of implants and methods of implantation. Throughout the implantation process the Marine must undergo various forms of conditioning in order for the implanted organs to develop and become part of his physiology. Listed below is the complete set of implants used: Phases 1-3 can be introduced at the same time, ideally between 10 and 14 years of age. Phases 4 and 5 can be introduced at the same time, ideally between 12 and 14 years of age. Hypnotherapy normally begins at phase 6, ideally sometime between 14 and 17 years of age. Phases 7 to 9 are normally introduced simultaneously, ideally at a point between 14 and 16 years old. The following series of organs are also ideally implanted between the ages of 14 and 16. Phases 14 and 15 may be introduced at the same time, ideally between 15 and 16 years of age. The remaining series of implants are then ideally introduced to the recipient between the ages of 16 and 18.

Secondary Heart
Phase 1: This simplest and most self-sufficient of implants allows a Space Marine to survive his other heart being damaged or destroyed, and to survive in low oxygen environments. Not just a back-up, the secondary heart can boost the blood-flow around the Marine's body.

Phase 2: A small, tubular and complex organ, the ossmodula secretes hormones that both affect the ossification of the skeleton and encourage the forming bone growths to absorb ceramic-based chemicals that are laced into the Marine's diet. This heavily alters the way the Space Marine's bones grow and develop. Two years after this implant is first put in the subject's long bones will have increased in size (along with most other bones) and the rib cage will have been fused into a solid mass of bulletproof, interlocking plates.

Phase 3: This small, circular organ is inserted into the chest cavity and releases hormones that vastly increase muscle growth throughout the marine's body. It also serves to form the hormonal basis for many of the later implants.

Phase 4: Implanted into the main circulatory system, this tiny implant not only increases the haemoglobin content of the subjects blood, making it more efficient at carrying oxygen around the body and making the subject's blood a bright red, it also serves to monitor and control the actions of the phase 2 and phase 3 implants.

Larraman's Organ
Phase 5: A liver-shaped organ about the size of a golf-ball, this implant is placed within the chest cavity and connected to the circulatory system. It generates and controls 'Larraman cells' which are released into the blood stream if the recipient is wounded. They attach themselves to leucocytes in the blood and are carried to the site of the wound, where upon contact with air they form a near instant patch of scar tissue, sealing any wounds the Space Marine may suffer.

Catalepsean Node
Phase 6: Implanted into the back of the brain, this pea-sized organ influences the circadian rhythms of sleep and the body's response to sleep deprivation. If deprived of sleep, the catalepsean node cuts in. The node allows a Marine to sleep and remain awake at the same time by switching off areas of his brain sequentially. This process cannot replace sleep entirely, but increases the Marines survivability by allowing perception of the environment while resting. This means that a Space Marine needs no more than 4 hours of sleep a day, and can potentially go for 2 weeks without any sleep at all.

Phase 7: This is essentially a pre-stomach that can neutralise otherwise poisonous or indigestible foods. No actual digestion takes place in the preomnor, as it acts as a decontamination chamber placed before the natural stomach in the body's system and can be isolated from the rest of the digestive tract in order to contain particularly troublesome intake.

Phase 8: This implant allows a Space Marine to 'learn by eating'. It is situated in the spinal cord but is actually part of the brain. Four nerve bundles are implanted connecting the spine and the stomach wall. Able to 'read' or absorb genetic material consumed by the marine, the omophagea transmits the gained information to the Marine's brain as a set of memories or experiences. It is the presence of this organ which has lead to the various flesh-eating and blood-drinking rituals for which the Astartes are famous, as well as giving names to chapters such as the Blood Drinkers and Flesh Tearers. Over time, mutations in this implant have given some chapters unnatural craving for blood or flesh.

Phase 9: This additional lung activates when a Space Marine needs to breathe in low-oxygen or poisoned atmospheres, and even water. The natural lungs are closed off by a sphincter muscle associated with the multi-lung and the implanted organ takes over breathing operations. It has highly efficient toxin dispersal systems.

Phase 10: This implant sits at the base of the brain, and provides hormonal and genetic stimuli which enable a Marine's eyes to respond to optic-therapy. This in turn allows the Apothecaries to make adjustments to the growth patterns of the eye and the light-receptive retinal cells - the result being that Space Marines have far superior vision to normal humans, and can see in low-light conditions almost as well as in daylight.

Lyman's Ear
Phase 11: Not only does this implant make a Space Marine immune from dizziness or motion sickness but also allows Space Marines to consciously filter out and enhance certain sounds. The Lyman's Ear completely replaces a Marine's original ear. It is externally indistinguishable from a normal human ear.

Sus-an Membrane
Phase 12: Initially implanted above the brain, this membrane eventually merges with the recipient's entire brain. Ineffective without follow-up chemical therapy and training, but with sufficient training a Space Marine can use this implant to enter a state of suspended animation, consciously or as an automatic reaction to extreme trauma, keeping the Marine alive for years, even if he has suffered otherwise mortal wounds. Only the appropriate chemical therapy or auto-suggestion can revive a Marine from this state. The longest recorded period spent in suspended animation was undertaken by Brother Silas Err of the Dark Angels, who was revived after 567 years. It should also be noted that Talonmaster Zso Sahaal of the Night Lord's legion spent nearly ten thousand years in suspended animation when his ship was entombed in the warp by the Eldar, however time in his ship may not have passed at the same rate as in normal space.

Phase 13: This implant controls the amount of melanin in a Marine's skin. Exposure to high levels of sunlight will result in the Marine's skin darkening to compensate. It also protects the Marine from other forms of radiation.

Oolitic Kidney
Phase 14: In conjunction with the secondary heart this implant allows a Space Marine to filter his blood very quickly, rendering him immune to most poisons. This action comes at a price, however, as this emergency detoxification usually renders the Marine unconscious while his blood is circulated at high speed. The organ's everyday function is to monitor the entire circulatory system and allow other organs to function effectively.

Phase 15: This enhances a Space Marine's sense of taste to such a high degree that he can identify many common chemicals by taste alone. A Marine can even track down his target by taste.

Phase 16: This implant allows a Space Marine to sweat a substance that coats the skin and offers resistance to extreme heat and cold and can even provide some protection for the marine in a vacuum. This can only be activated by outside treatment, and is common when Space Marines are expected to be fighting in vacuum.

Betcher's Gland
Phase 17: Consists of two identical glands, implanted either into the lower lip, alongside the salivary glands or into the hard palette. The gland works in a similar way to the poison gland of venomous reptiles by synthesizing and storing deadly poison, which the Marines themselves are immune to due to the gland's presence. This allows a Space Marine to spit a blinding contact poison. The poison is also corrosive and can even burn away strong metals given sufficient time.

Phase 18: Progenoids are one of the 19 Space Marine organ implants. Their only purpose is to reproduce gene-seeds. Progenoids are a pair of glands implanted into a Marine during the 18th phase of the implantation process. One gland is situated in the neck, the other deep within the chest cavity. These glands are vital to the survival of the Marine's Chapter, as they are a chapter's only source of new implants which create a Marine. The Progenoid creates germ cells, each corresponding to one of the other implanted organs in the Marine. These germ cells develop within the Progenoid. After five years, the neck Progenoid is mature and ready to be removed. After ten years, the chest Progenoid becomes mature and is also ready to be removed. A mature gland can be removed by an Apothecary and new organs artificially cultured from them. This is the only source for new implants, so a Chapter depends on its Marines to create other Marines. In the battle-mysticism of the Astartes, the gene-seed is regarded spiritually - though a fallen Marine's body is dead, he lives on as gene-seed which returns to the Chapter. Apothecaries remove Progenoids after they have matured or if a Marine has died in combat.
A Marine's gene-seed may be rendered useless by exposure to high levels of radiation. Over time the Chapter's gene-seed may also change through genetic mutations, so that specific implants become corrupted, producing new effects in Marines, or becoming useless altogether.
A corruption in the chapter's genetic material can lead to the chapter's extinction. This is why gene-seed must be constantly monitored for mutations. Each Chapter is obliged to send 5% of its genetic material to the Adeptus Mechanicus. The first purpose for this is that it enables the Adeptus Mechanicus to monitor the health of each Marine Chapter. Secondly, it enables the Adeptus Mechanicus to store gene-seed with a view to founding new Chapters.

Black Carapace
Phase 19: The most distinctive implant, it resembles a film of black plastic that is implanted directly beneath the skin of the Marine's torso in sheets. It hardens on the outside and sends invasive neural bundles into the Marine's body. After the organ has matured the recipient is then fitted with neural sensors and interface points cut into the carapace's surface. This allows a Space Marine to interface directly with his Power Armour.


Chemical Treatment - Until his initiation, a Marine must submit to constant tests and examinations. The newly implanted organs must be monitored very carefully, imbalances corrected, and any sign of maldevelopment treated. This chemical treatment is reduced after completion of the initiation process, but it never ends. Marines undergo periodic treatment for the rest of their lives in order to maintain a stable metabolism. Marine power armour suits contain monitoring equipment and drug dispensers to aid in this.

Hypnotherapy - As the super-enhanced body grows, the recipient must learn how to use his new abilities. Some of the implants, specifically the phase 6 and 10 implants, can only function once correct hypnotherapy has been administered. Hypnotherapy is not always as effective as chemical treatment, but it can have substantial results. If a Marine can be taught how to control his own metabolism, his dependence on drugs is lessened. The process is undertaken in a machine called a Hypnomat. Marines are placed in a state of hypnosis and subjected to visual and aural stimuli in order to awaken their minds to their unconscious metabolic processes.

Training - Physical training stimulates the implants and allows them to be tested for effectiveness. Indoctrination - Just as their bodies receive 19 separate implants, so their minds are altered to release the latent powers within. These mental powers are, if anything, more extraordinary than even the physical powers described above. For example, a Marine can control his senses and nervous system to a remarkable degree, and can consequently endure pain that would kill an ordinary man. A Marine can also think and react at lightning speeds. Memory training is an important part of the indoctrination too. Some Marines develop photographic memories. Obviously, Marines vary in intelligence as do other men, and their individual mental abilities vary in degree. After all of these implantations and alterations to the human body, there is a serious debate whether or not Space Marines are human. While they indubitably serve humanity, they are at least two meters tall, can breathe poison and eat through metal.

The importance of gene-seed

Each organ serves a specific function as outlined above. Although a Chapter's Apothecaries and surgeons are able to perform the necessary implant operations, they do not necessarily understand the exact functioning of each organ. The processes involved are incredibly ancient. Procedures are handed down from generation to generation, becoming increasingly ritualised and misinterpreted. For these reasons, the efficiency of each organ differs from Chapter to Chapter, depending on the condition of that Chapter's gene-seeds and the degree of debasement of its surgical procedures. In some Chapters, mutation of gene-seed, poor surgical procedure, or inadequate post-operative conditioning, has twisted the functioning of implants. For example, the omophagea gene-seed of the Blood Drinkers has mutated so that all Blood Drinkers have an unnatural craving for blood. In other Chapters individual organs are either useless or absent altogether.

Reproducing Zygotes
Gene-seed can only be obtained by removing one or both progenoid organs from a living (or very recently deceased) Marine. For this purpose, Space Marine Apothecaries carry a special device known as a reductor, which they can use in battlefield conditions to remove the progenoid glands of a fallen Marine. The whole purpose of the progenoid organ is to provide gene-seed to enable the Chapter to continue. It is not possible to create a zygote in any other way. Each Chapter's stock of gene-seed is therefore unique to itself. Gene-seed has a great deal of religious significance to a Chapter, representing its identity and future. Without gene-seed, a Chapter has no future. The extinction of a type of gene-seed means that a zygote has been lost forever. The extinction of a Phase 18 or 19 gene-seed would effectively mean an end to a Chapter.
As each Marine has only two progenoid glands, the rate at which a Chapter can create new Marines is restricted. It may take many years for a Chapter to rebuild itself after heavy losses. Gene-seed is often rendered useless if a Marine is exposed to high radiation levels or other forms of genetic disturbance. The efficiency of different Chapters' progenoid gene-seed also varies, so some Chapters are able to make up their numbers faster than others.

Founding new chapters
According to their charter, each Chapter is obliged to send 5% of its genetic material to the Adeptus Mechanicus on Mars. This 'tithe' has two purposes. Firstly, it enables the Adeptus Mechanicus to monitor the health of each Marine Chapter. Secondly, it enables the Adeptus Mechanicus to store gene-seed with a view to founding new Chapters.
A new Chapter cannot be founded overnight. A single suitable gene-seed must be selected for each zygote. Zygotes are then grown in cultures and implanted into human test-slaves. These test-slaves must be biologically compatible and free from mutation. Test-slaves spend their entire lives bound in static experimental capsules. Although conscious, they are completely immobile, serving as little more than mediums within which the various zygotes can develop. From the original slave come two progenoids, which are implanted within two more slaves, from which come four progenoids and so on. It takes about 55 years of constant reproduction to produce 1,000 healthy sets of organs. These must be officially sanctioned by the Master of Adeptus Mechanicus and then by the High Lords of Terra speaking for the Emperor. Only the Emperor can give permission for the creation of a new Chapter.

Gene-seed flaws
Several chapters are known to have flaws in thier gene-seed or may even have entire defunct implants, the following are known to have these problems:
Blood Angels: Black Rage and the Red Thirst
Imperial Fists: Missing Betcher's Gland and Sus-an Membrane
Space Wolves: Enlarged canine teeth and Mark of the Wulfen.
Raven Guard: Missing Mucranoid and Betcher's Gland. Pale skin and dark eyes.
Blood Ravens: Can't experience R.E.M. sleep and have perfect recall.
Salamanders: Onyx black skin and bright red eyes. (Malfunctioning Malenochrome gland)
The renegade Legions and Chapters maintain the process of gene-seed implantation and harvesting, allowing new recruits to be turned into Marines, there is little known about the mutations of these chapters gene-seed.

Are scouts space marines?
Some have suggested that scouts arent true space marines, ultimately we cannot answer this question until we properly define what a space marine is.
Most people build thier own definitions which leads to differing opinions and with little evidence to go on it may always come down to personal opinions.The 2nd edition codex Ultramarines seems to take the stance that they are Space marines:

[As a Space Marine initiate completes his training he prepares for battle alongside his brother Space Marines. His first combat experience will be in the Space Marine Scouts]
[Space Marine Scouts wear lighter armour than full Space Marines and are less heavily armed.]
[Note that as Scouts are not yet fully fledged Space Marines the usual Break test and Rapid Fire rules do not apply.]

they use the definition space marine scouts, as does the most recent codex, but goes further to seperate them from 'fully fledged marines'.
This would indicate they are considered space marines just not 'full' space marines but again there is no actual definition stating scouts ARE space marines.

[The Adeptus Astartes (commonly known as Space Marines, and colloquially as Angels of Death) are the most elite and feared fighting forces of the Imperium. The primary unit of organization is the Chapter, a self-contained army fully equipped with its own transport, non-combatant support staff, etc. There are around a thousand Chapters, each comprising a thousand Space Marines. There are far too few Space Marines to form the Imperium's main military forces; instead they operate as highly mobile strike forces. They are entrusted with the most dangerous missions, such as lightning raids behind enemy lines, infiltration and tunnel fighting. Through selection, training and conditioning, Marines are physically, mentally and spiritually superior to any other Imperial soldier.
A chapter's fighting force numbers a nominal 1,000 Marines, divided into ten companies, each of which is commanded by a Captain. Companies are further divided into squads of ten battle-brothers]

This quote from the warhammer 40k compendium does describe a space marine, it does fall short of a full definition but using the above we can suggest a scout is a space marine. They are after all physically, mentally and spiritually superior to any imperial soldier after mere months in the tenth company.
My own personal opinion is that scouts are space marines, people often treat them the same as IG recruits but its just not the case. These neophytes fight and die for thier chapters often against unimaginable odds and unthinkable enemies and they deserve the title regardless of thier physical development or experience.
There is however a set of descriptions within later codex editions that can help answer this question:

[Recruits must be fairly young, because implants often do not become fully functional if the recipient has reached a certain level of physical maturity. They must be male because the zygotes are keyed to male hormones and tissue types. Only a small percentage of people are compatible to receive the implants and hypno-suggestion to turn them into Marines. Before the process of implantation begins the potential recruit receives tissue compatibility tests and psychological screening. If the testing proves successful the recruit becomes a neophyte. After the organ implantation process he becomes an initiate.]

This clearly defines neophytes as scouts without the full set of gene-seed (implants), and initiates after they have recieved the black carapace.
In the 5th edition codex space marines they describe how the black carapace (and the using of power armour) turns a scout into a 'full battle brother'
Neophytes are described in C:SM 4th edition as:

[humans that are undergoing the processes to become a space marine]

If they are humans until the black carapace has been added, at which point they become a 'full battle brother' then all scouts are infact NOT space marines (excluding sergeants of course)
It is also the case that intitiates are referred to as battle brothers for a period, and although this is suppostion i believe they keep the title initiate until they have reached tactical level. It is certainly true for the black templars that initiaties are full space marines!
The only grey area in this assessment is the time between implantation of black carapace and promotion to the reserve devestator company, we know it takes time for the black carapace to harden and form neural bundles inside the marines body, but how much time?
What does the scout do in the mean time, does he stay with the tenth?
Im not sure we will answer ever these questions, but my theory is that scouts who have received the black carapace will leave the scout company and enter into a period of training prior to entry into the reserve companies. During which time he will learn to use the new power armour whilst observing all the rituals, when his black carapace has matured and he has grasped the fundamentals he will join the 9th company.

Rituals and spirtuality

Most of the latter time as a scout will emerse the neophyte/initiate into the many rituals necessary in becoming a space marine. So far i have touched upon the physiological and training standards by which we judge a scouts worthiness, but not the symbolic standards!
As we can see from the diagram and information above the final two implants are given at between 16-18, the same ages we are given as an estimate for entry into the scout company, this is of course assuming the recruit is taken at age 10, in my marine training article i assume 13 and hence have the age 21 as age of advancement.
It is with the 18th implant that the scout starts his transition into a space marine, he will soon start to become accepted by fully fledged marines as a battle brother and worthy of wearing the precious power armour that guards them from the emperors enemies.

Progenoids: It is the progenoids that provide the sole source of gene-seed for creating new space marines, much like human puberty, the implantation of progenoids prvoides the scouts with the abiltity to create more of his kind. Almost a symbol of adulthood and full maturity.

Black carapace: Shortly after receiving progenoids, the neophyte will finish his training and be judged worthy of his black carapace (and therefore power armour), it is this implant that stands out as the defining point in a scout becoming a space marine:

[As well as mutant implants, many Chapters have lost one or more types of gene-seeds due to accident, genetic failure, or some other cause. Very few Chapters therefore possess all ninteen implants. All possess the carapace implant (phase 19). It is this implant which marks a space-marine for what he is, irrespective of other implants, training or psycho-surgery.]

Final thoughts

The processes of turning a human into a space marine are undoubtedly complex, and although scouts may not be considered actual space marines they are superhuman in comparison to the average imperial guard trooper.
From the above we know thats scouts receive the first three implants almost straight away and we also know from the article on space marine traning that scouts must undergo 'many months' of intense training before they can join the scout squads in active duty.
During this time the initial implants will cause a rapid growth in muscle and bone structure and whilst it may take two years for the full changes to occur, there will be a marked difference in those 'many months', more than enough to set them aprt from humans in terms of size and strength.
It is true however that these 'green' neopyhte scouts are vastly more delicate than full space marines, they are not as strong, not as large and miss many of the implants that help them heal.. even thier fused ribcage hasnt developed which makes them more vulnerable to chest injuries.
The next few years will see them grow and develop almost hand in hand with thier actual training.. as each year passes and the scout proves his abilty to survive he will get stronger and more 'superhuman'.
By the final year or two when the scout makes the transition to scout biker he will have most of his implants bar the 18th and 19th (the most important), arguably since neither of these provide a physiological advancement he could be physically identical to full space marines.

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