The hull of the shuttle glowed brightly from atmospheric re-entry. The sturdy Arvus Lighter shook and the metal groaned as it plunged into the stratosphere. Soon, the clouds disappeared and the planet's surface became visible. Grassy plains surrounded by mighty, ancient mountains with snowy peaks. The planet seemed lush and unspoiled. Its cities and settlements rendered almost invisible by the raw natural splendour the world seemingly possessed. Here and there, ancient pockmarks, craters and old wounds were visible in the surface. But nature had long since healed the old wounds. The bulky shuttle soared through the sky and made a clear path towards one of the most imposing mountain ranges the world had to offer.
"Mortikah VII.. It has been a long time since I have been here," a weary but passionate voice said. It belonged to a old veteran of many wars. The sigil of the Inquisition adorned his chest and he sat calmly, waiting for their transport to arrive at its destination.
"You have been here before, master?" Said a younger voice, laden with careful curiosity.
"Indeed.." Came a thoughtful reply from the elder man.
The Arvus Lighter seemed to slow as it was close to arriving at its destination, delivering the Inquisitor and his protégé to a vast baroque landing pad adorned with leering gargoyles and heroes of ages past rendered in stone. The shuttle landed with a thump and pneumatic systems hissed as the ramp extended. As both men descended from their transport, they were utterly dwarfed by the grand splendour of the Fortress-Monastery in front of them. Built from endless reinforced and sculpted red brick, the Monastery looked like enormous Gothic cathedral, with high arches and stained-glass windows depicting red-robed angels. Every corner was sired by many ominous gargoyles looking down as if judging the puny mortals who dared approach their lair. The Fortress-Monastery was the size of several city blocks and its tall spires rose hundreds of meters into the clear sky of the mountain range, like tall guardians of the mountains surrounding them. The construction was as much a work of art, as a place of war. In between the spires, windows and arches, heavy cannons and lances pointed at the blue sky, like a defender looking up into the sky for a possible assailant. Ever vigilant.
The elder Inquisitor took several steps towards a heavy wooden door with ornate carvings before pausing and looking up once again at the terrific marvel of Man's architecture in front of him. "The Spire. Long has it been since I were last here," he said. "This is where the Angels reside. The Guardians of the Covenant."
"I have read about them, Master. Monastic, secretive Astartes, good ties with the Adeptus Mechanicus..," the apprentice begun. "..And that is only the very tip of the iceberg. I have a very old friend here," the Inquisitor replied. "But first, let us enter."
As they approached the heavy doors, two bulky iron giants wearing flowing crimson robes stood guard. As the two men approached, the glowing red lenses of their helmet followed their movements.
"Halt," a metallic voice said. "Identify yourselves."
The Inquisitor reached for his pocket and took out an ornate device with a stylised 'I', a symbol of office, an Inquisitorial Rosette.
"Inquisitor Basel Volkov of the Ordo Xenos. Welcome back to the Spire. You and your pupil may enter," the giant proclaimed as the Inquisitor put his Rosette back in a pocket of his black greatcoat. The Space Marines opened the heavy doors without so much as an effort, and both men entered the great hall of the Spire.
It is known only to few Guardians themselves from which time their Chapter stems. Knowledge is power, and the origins of the Chapter are secrets well guarded deep within the catacombs of the Spire, a vast baroque Fortress-Monastery hidden deep within the mountains of Mortikah VII.
The only thing that is certain, is the fact the Guardians of the Covenant were founded to stand vigil against the horrors that lurk beyond the Halo Stars, on the edge of the Segmentum Pacificus.
Inquisitors place the founding of the Chapter around M34, though some ancient scriptures and artistic renderings speak of a Chapter in the First Legion which carried the Chapter Symbol, Vigilatus on their banners.
During their millennia-long existence, the Chapter has stood watch over a region of space from which many alien threats find their origin. To better understand the myriad threats the galaxy had to offer, the brothers of the Guardians of the Covenant took upon themselves to record and catalogue all knowledge and information they could gather, eventually leading to works such as the Tome of Oblivion, a vast collection of knowledge, carefully gathered and indexed over the course of dozens of centuries. It is this the Battle-Brothers of the chapter are renowned for and it has earned them both praise and ire from the various institutions the Imperium consists of.
The quest for knowledge and understanding is what drives the Chapter. Passing the martial training will result in a suit of Power Armour for an aspiring Battle-Brother. However, they are expected to add a unique piece of knowledge, fully studied and well documented, to the Archives of the Spire. Only after a Brother has done this, will he earn the trademark Crimson Robe so often seen flowing over the dull grey Power Armour.
The Chapter places knowledge and understanding above all else. Though dogmatic worship of the Emperor is frowned upon by members of the Chapter, certain freedom of thought is given to Brothers of the Chapter. This has resulted in both zealous Space Marines as well as more open minded individuals. Guardians of the Covenant believe that no one entity but the Emperor holds the truth, and by congregating and sharing ideas, they can come closer to understanding this truth.
The Chapter is unique in that they value scholarly arts on an equal level to martial arts. Most Battle-Brothers are gifted individuals with unique skills that range from poetry to masonry and from biology to exact science.
The path to becoming an Astartes of the Chapter is a long and arduous one. A brother is expected to take part in the Practicum as well as the Theoreticum. The former earning them a suit of Power Armour, the latter earning a brother his Crimson Robes. The Practicum equals the training each aspiring member of the Adeptus Astartes receives over the course of many years until they become a full Battle-Brother. During this training, a brother of the Guardians of the Covenant will also attend the Theoreticum, a unique course of learning which is considered of equal importance to the Practicum. In order to pass the Theoreticum, a brother has to complete a Quest for Knowledge. This Quest can only be completed once the Brother has proven his worth by adding a unique piece of knowledge to the Archive or Librarium. A Battle-Brother is free to choose in what way this piece of knowledge takes form, be it music, scripture or science.
Through extensive knowledge, a Battle-Brother hopes to understand his situation and his foe.
The Chapter itself is divided into several Convenio, which translates to Low-Gothic as “Gatherings”. Each Gathering the equivalent of a Codex Company. A Convenio is led by a Dominus, or Company Master. These are gifted and wise individuals, each one taking care of a certain aspect within the Chapter. Together with the First Company, the Convenio Mentoris, they form the Convenio Arcanum. The Guardians of the Covenant equivalent of the Inner Circle, the Convenio Arcanum is led by the Xandor Solacion, Lord Guardian of Mortikah and Supreme Grand Master of the Guardians of the Covenant.
Status as Unforgiven
Though part of the Unforgiven and close ties to other Unforgiven Chapters, the Guardians of the Covenant, mostly due to their remote location, do not actively hunt the Fallen like their primogenitor and fellow successor chapters. Though aid will be given when requested, the Chapter's Convenio Venator, which was originally formed after the primogenitor's Ravenwing, seldom rides out for one of the cast-down members of the legion from whence they originated.
This has further lead to an already isolated status apart from the rest of the Unforgiven. Nevertheless, the Guardians of the Covenant are proud of their heritage as Sons of the Lion and follow many traditions laid down by their parent legion and Chapter