- "Ours is a world born in fire. We are born in fire, having been born of our world. Why should we not live the same way? why should we not wield fire against our enemies and when our time comes why should our bodies not be burned, and bring life again from the ashes?""
- —Captain Kahale Aukai
History and Regimental Culture
The Akoni Imperial Guard are drawn exclusively from the Kulanai Wai' To'na Island Chain on Akoni. The rest of the world's many island chains are populated by either primitive tribes afraid of them or uninhabitable due to heavy volcanic activity.
The Kulanai wai'To'na is also the largest of these archipelagos, it's many islands easily equal the land mass of a small continent. Its vast distances are traveled mostly by aircraft and boats with armored hulls. The people of the Akoni were once not much more advanced their primitive neighbors, living in buildings of stone armed with black powder rifles and knives as opposed to their foe's grass and wooden huts and obsidian tipped blades and spears. This has changed since their discovery by the Salamanders.
Cities that were once built from stone and wood became skyscrapers made of glass and steel while the uninhabited islands became untamed, pristine wilderness with black sand beaches.
While the nascent Imperium was waging the Great Crusade the ancestors of the Kulanai wai'To'na Akoni were beginning their exodus toward those islands where they would be protected by the sea cliffs. During this time a single squad of Salamanders would land and come under attack by hostile natives. They would lay waste to the entire island and rescue Akoni prisoners intended as a meal for the savage islanders. Grateful for the rescue and shocked by the level of destruction the Marines were capable of they took the scouts to their leaders and so began their respect and reverence for the Emperor and for Vulkan. The Salamanders landing site is now a holy place home to a shrine dedicated to the Primarch and the Emperor.
In addition to this Akoni culture reveres and respects fire as both a tool to build and to destroy. They feel the Salamanders are kindred spirits since they hail from a world "born in fire" like theirs and many Akoni hope to one day fight alongside them. They see Vulkan as the protector of their people, not the Emperor but still serve as they see him as the Father and Protector of Vulkan. In addition to the obsidian and Parrot feather charm worn by hunters many Akoni Drop Troopers also wear obsidian carved into the Salamanders chapter symbol.
Rite of Passage
While the more civilized islanders have left behind most tribal traditions, excepting tattoos on the arms and/or face and cremation of the dead, one plays directly into their preferred fighting style. Once a right of passage it is now more of a celebration of adulthood. The islands that the Akoni call home are surrounded by sea cliffs and so upon reaching adulthood most Akoni teenagers will leap off the cliffs into the ocean below. In the past they would be armed with a knife to defend themselves from the sea snakes, easily twentty meters and above in length.
in the Akoni language,which is not compatible with Low Gothic, they are called Wai'ka'da man'di or "Great Ones from the sea" but with the advance of technology these serpents are no longer a threat, merely a resource to be hunted.
Once done from dugout canoes, the updated tradition sees them using low flying aircraft. Secured in place by harnesses two men will jump into the sea when a Sea Snake surfaces hoping to land their harpoons(held to the aircraft by long cables) in either side of its head. Paralyzed and helpless the animal can then be reeled into the cargo bay. This is still dangerous work- many wear good luck charms made of obsidian and parrot feathers. Taken together these practices make The Akoni Natural pilots and Drop Troopers,most notably serving in the Crusade for Nightshores in M37.
The Blackwater Rifles
The Imperial Guard of Akoni(the 3rd Akoni was one of twenty two regiments, all drop troopers) and the Imperial Guard of Sarton fought together in the Crusade for Nightshores developing an intense respect for each other's skills. Most notably in the case of the 3rd Akoni and the Blackwater Rifles lacking in every way but in Heavy Infantry the Sarton Imperial Guard found themselves in danger of being outflanked in one major battle- only the timely deployment of the 3rd Akoni saved them and later won the day. While the units had traveled together aboard the Brightstar it was this incident which saw them interact for the first time.
From that moment forward the Crusade Command staff deployed these units together for the remainder of the Crusade. The Akoni remained completely fascinated by Ogryns, something unknown to the Akoni. Many friendships were born of the working relationship,as well as informal trades, pictures of Akoni women and dried fruit for Sarton Liquor(but not the beloved "Blackwater Brown") and canned ham they remained close friends, allies and trading partners after the end of the Crusade- they fight together to this day.
- Elysian Pattern Grav chute
- Akoni Pattern flak jacket
- Akoni Pattern flak helmet/breath mask with optional night vision goggles
- Akoni Pattern Bullpup lasgun
- 6 Akoni "Blackfire" pattern incendiary grenades
- Autopistol- no standard issue- only requirement is .45 caliber ammo
- Akoni pattern tactical webbing
- Akoni "Coldfire" Fighting knife
- 3 days of rations/pack -deployed via drop chute after landing
Imperial Guardsman's uplifting primer
856 Men total divided up into
- 8 companies of 100 each- lead by a Captain
- •Divided into 10 platoons of 80 (led by a Lieutenant)
- •Divided into 10 squads of 8 Troopers(led by a Sergeant)
Total- 800 men
Air Support Unit
- 6 Vultures- 24 men
- 6 Vendettas- 24 men
- 4 Sky Talons- 4 men
- 4 Drop Sentinels -4 men
Total- 56 men
Since they are most often used in support roles the hierarchy goes no further than Captain- each company acts largely independently or under the command of ranking officers in other units. Their vehicles carry the same blue and black cammo as their men but wear a symbol unique to the Akoni- an Aquila that displays a decided tribal influence. Many of them carry white painted tribal symbols in their intricate, swirling style. Some also borrow the tradition of aircraft nose art with Vultures and Vendettas showing images of Hula dancers and swimsuit models as a reminder of home, or images of crowd favorite "Black Velvet Vixens".
Unlike most of the units in the Crusade they traveled without any civilians, a practice that continues to the present day. Due to the high risk nature of their work the unit is made up entirely of single men, not that this stops them from establishing relationships with female camp followers in other regiments. Regimental commanders tend to overlook this breach in regulations, willingly accepting the young men who wish to follow their fathers.
Members are allowed to leave the unit after fifteen to twenty years depending on the age of the soldier in question. Some carry on in their careers, serving as instructors for the next generation of drop troopers. As they are no longer in the field they are allowed to marry with the assumption that their sons will follow their fathers into Imperial Guard service, or already are.
The limited term of service for the rank and file troopers is not a problem as there are always plenty of young men eager to prove themselves in the Drop Troopers, but this condition did see the unit almost entirely rebuilt after the Crusade when most of the survivors returned home.
Tactics and Training
They tend not to wear much armor preferring mobility to anything else. While they wear flak jackets, thick leather with armor plates sewn into them they often carry them in their packs when they no longer need them. They act as a sort of light infantry scouting ahead of slower units or to guard the flanks during an advance. They are also deployed behind enemy lines before engagements to sow chaos and confusion in the enemy ranks, assassinate key leaders, sabotage enemy supply lines and the like. When they cannot use these tactics in battle they always seek out the high ground climbing almost sheer rock with full loads when they need to, part of their training.
Such training is done on an island known as "The Bone Knife"- so named for its rough, rocky soil easily capable of slicing through flesh. The training grounds are in the shadow of a long extinct volcano, it's caldera now full of water. The first practice jumps of new troopers are done so after climbing the side of the volcano in full gear and jumping. Their training grows more and more hellish as it progresses and by the time they graduate they are capable of enduring almost anything- or so they say. Like their passage into adulthood they too leap, from the rim of the volcano into the sea activating their grav chutes at the last possible second.
This training is more or less a constant event since the dangerous nature of their work often leaves the Akoni short handed and every six months or so the latest trainees are sent out to the stars to return in glory or to be burned on the battlefield where they fell.
Training for legacy members is less formal. With no access to the proper training grounds or methods veteran members are forced to be creative in instructing their sons and grandsons.
Haka:We That Conquer
The word Haka come from some of their ancestors-these harsh guttural chants in their native tongue are meant to be a morale boost and motivation to fight. It is also sometimes performed for visiting VIPs and dignitaries. As such it is not uncommon for them to perform them, with their traditional chest thumping/foot stomping dance, before dropping into battle, or to broadcast them to friendly units as encouragement and to demoralize their enemies.
It is also not unknown for them to perform these chants in battle in a call and response fashion- their officers call and they respond. In some cases other regiments they fought with would join in once they learned the words, following the Akoni officers.
The title of their regimental Haka is "We that Conquer"
translated lyrics are as follows:
Ask us and we will tell you
We who Conquer!
That we are Akoni, born in fire And from ash reborn!
We who Conquer!
We fly and behind us rolls the thunder! We are the Wrath from the Stars!
From an island of fire and stone in a sea of sparkling black!
We who Conquer!
We who bring His name to battle on our lips! And fire in our hands!
Ask us and we tell you all of this
We who Conquer!
Sgt. Kapali Kalena
"My medals are no good to me. The Dead, they're the ones who earned what the living have not."
Leader of a squad named the "Suicide Six" by the Blackwater,despite having eight members. They earned their name from their reckless habit of charging into enemy fire screaming the Regimental Haka. Despite being reckless he was effective. He would earn many awards and honors, including The Order of The Scarlet Wing, the Winged Skull and two Infantry Assault Ribbons among others, but he always refused to accept them. In situations where he could not refuse what he regarded as worthless bits of metal and ribbon he would place them on the funeral pyres of the fallen.
Once a kelp farmer and part time cargo pilot, he joined looking for an escape from his mundane life. He found it behind the controls of a Sky Talon. He was a talented pilot and somehow managed to score an aircraft kill, despite the craft's light armament. His true skills revealed themselves by accident- during an attack on an Akoni camp ahead of the main battle line he took command of a Vendetta gunship without orders scoring multiple vehicle kills. Instead of a reprimand or worse he was instead assigned to a Vendetta for good enabling him to score sixty four vehicle kills.
Another Squad leader, he commanded the "Nightmare Children" named for an Akoni legend, The children of one of their ancient volcano spirits who acted as protectors warded off their enemies by causing them nightmares so severe that they would die of fright. They tried to live up to the reputation of their namesake by operating at night, assassinating enemy leaders in a way that ensured their mangled bodies would not be found until the next morning. They would also make good use of their grenades, leaving nothing but ash and ruin behind them.
Makaio personally accounted for one hundred and twenty enemy KIAs while his squad as a whole is credited with more than eight hundred.
The son of a Black Velvet Vixen named Rachel Layne and Sergeant Hoaka Ailani he came of age on one of their later shared campaigns and followed his father into the Drop Troopers. Only twenty one when he arrived on Syprios he soon distinguished himself in an intense firefight against Chaos cultists. His squad, deployed behind enemy lines soon faced ten to one odds. They held their ground for more than a day as they took cover in an irrigation ditch and accounted for 210 enemy dead before help arrived. He was given several awards for his actions that day including The Order of the Scarlet Wing for breaking his left hand on a low lying tree branch. Despite his own injuries he was awarded the Crimson Skull, for carrying his wounded Sergeant to safety.
Ashoria, the city of Sardari
Early in the year of fighting for this world the Akoni 3rd and many other drop regiments were deployed directly into the spires of the great city of Sardari, attempting to destroy command and control. The gambit failed leaving the drop units to fight for every inch of territory they had taken as long distance battles raged among the kilometers high skyscrapers and dogfights tore through the skies over both the city and the world as a whole. All other units in the city, including the Blackwater Rifles fought through the streets below, the infantry advancing slowly upward to help them supported by armor and artillery.
Sardari fell after four long weeks of fighting, the body of the defeated "High Lord of Sardari" was thrown from the highest of the spires by the "Suicide six" and the Akoni claimed his rooftop garden as their own making camp amongst the exotic plants and tall grasses. It was the closest thing to Akoni that they had seen in many years. Ashoria would fall after a little more than a year of further conflict. When the world was placed under the control of the Lysian Imperial Guard they were quickly redployed to Vostronov.
Vostronov and Bostrovil
Vostronov and Bostrovil were the two core worlds of a small empire controlled by a minor Xeno race called the Y'geht. Vostronov and Bostrovil originally belonged to the Y'geht- Bostrovil fell to the first noble houses who conquered the planet, it eventually became a Knight World and sometime after that, the ruling nobles on Bostrovil exiled one of their more troublesome rivals.
With nowhere else to go Alexei Vostronov and his wife Oksana raised an army from amongst their vassals and any ordinary citizens willing to fight under their banner. They took the then unnamed planet, naming it for themselves and acting as its first human rulers. In time, these worlds would again fall to the Y'geht and only the Crusade would totally break the hold this xeno species had over their populations.
Three Departmento Munitorum Super Heavy Detachments proved the key to retaking Vostronov but the years of fighting beforehand fell to the Imperial Guard.
While the Y'geht were far larger and stronger than the average human they were not larger and stronger than Ogryns, whom the Y'geht came to fear. When Vostronov fell the Y'geht kept up a fighting retreat all the way to Bostrovil. While not the key to the Knight World they played an important role in the eventual victory, holding the regions taken by the Crusade armies against fierce counterattacks.
Seroon, the city of Anison
They were redeployed to Seroon alongside the Akoni 3rd in an effort to break the siege that had been ongoing for several years. Part of the problem was the city of Anison, built around several railway hubs and held by a segment of the Dark Mechanicum who used the railways to move large guns. Those guns, capable of hitting targets hundreds of kilometers away, or straight up to target vessels in orbit had to be silenced and the city had to fall before the campaign could continue. The Akoni 3rd were the spearhead of this operation, beginning with an all night march from their drop point fifty kilometers from the city. They entered the city just before dawn, catching the enemy's Combat Servitors completely by surprise and silencing the anti aircraft positions. With this done, they signaled the rest of the Imperial Army including the Blackwater Rifles, by broadcasting their Regimental Haka.
With Akoni gunships and Marauder bombers flying air support they knocked out the railway guns and took the city in only one day. Anison would serve out the remainder of the conflict on Seroon as a staging area for Imperial forces, including the penal troops sent to replace losses suffered by the Crusade army. The civilians following the Crusade army moved into Anison and rebuilt, living some semblance of a normal life despite the conflict around them.
The Crusade armies conducted their landings on a series of narrow beaches overlooked by pitted gray-brown stone monoliths covered in overgrown plants, giant examples of local floral caused by a piece of long forgotten xenotech. These overgrown monoliths concealed the army they were fighting. After more than a month of fighting, the crusade army drove Sioa's "Unified and Perfected Dynasty" off the rocks and cliffs and into the vast plains to the interior.
At first glance the enemy stronghold appeared to be a kilometer wide plateau in an otherwise empty plain- the truth however was far stranger, it was really an enormous fossilized tree stump. In any case it had to fall as those within controlled everything around it. When weeks of artillery bombardments failed and an orbital strike leveled the surface instillation but failed to destroy the vast underground complex beneath the only remaining option was an infantry assault. While lighter units like the Akoni 3rd drew enemy units away from the battle to destroy them piecemeal all available Heavy Infantry assaulted and ultimately took the stronghold, destroying it and leaving vast scars in the surface of Sioa.
With battles still raging in space and in the skies above Vermillion Rock the Akoni and other drop trooper units were deployed,tasked with capturing and clearing the High Fells Airfield, a launch and repair base for Vermillion fighter craft.
The Drop Troopers successfully dodged enemy fire only to encounter fierce resistance as soon as they made landfall. Many of the first wave fell victim to Vermillion's signature razor wire grenades. Despite these casualties the Drop Troopers persisted, clearing the way for the second wave of troopers,including medical corpsmen to arrive and carry the fight forward. These new arrivals quickly captured The High Fells, disabled the remaining fighter craft and opened the way for the advance into the underground city of Fora. They rapidly became the first line of defense against the fighters sent to take the airfield back, braving strafing runs launched from orbit they were quick to fall back to the hangars.
Wreckage from the enemy Destroyer Akura hit the runways only moments later and they were quick to take advantage and use the debris as cover. When the battle in orbit ended they were beset upon again by enemy soldiers and pilots desperate to land and so they turned the airfield's weapons against their makers. With their only options to surrender or face certain death the Vermillion personnel surrendered, leaving the High Fells in Imperial Hands for the rest of the campaign. Imperial Guard combat engineers and Techpriests quickly repaired the damage and converted the High Fells into a base for Marauder Bombers conducting strike missions across the entire planet.
Despite seven attempts by Vermillion forces to retake The High Fells they held the area but eight proved to be too many and they were forced off of the high ground,holding their positions for almost three hours before they could be extracted. Vermillion forces retook the base to find it empty of anything useful. A Navy Captain quickly realized the High Fells were useless to The Imperium now and so blasted the area into dust with lance fire.
Not a planet but the assumed name of a Traitor Guardsman who attracted a small army of fellow traitors and deserters. Amassing a small army of roughly 3500 like minded individuals, he conquered a few small settlements on a world the Crusade armies had already taken. His poor decision brought the wrath of the Blackwater Rifles and the Akoni 3rd Drop Infantry on himself and his army was annihilated in a single battle. This only deepened the relationship and intense mutual respect between these two units.
Reduced to only 300 men in the first day of fighting the Third were confined to roles as garrison troops for the next year and a half as they waited for replacements to arrive. While not a role the drop troopers were ever really meant for they held against constant fierce counterattacks from 1911's Techno Barbarian Tribes fighting alongside their comrades in the Blackwater Rifles whenever possible. They went on the offensive within days assualting a primitive genetics laboratory producing crude replicas of the Thunder Warriors. While they both suffered against these new Barbarian warriors there were too few to make a difference and they were victorious, burning the lab and its creations to ash.
These victories proved short lived, a major Barbarian counter offensive broke the Imperial lines and forced them back. Imperial Forces began to lose hope until the Warmaster arrived with reinforcements and the planet fell in short order. They were present at the Blackwater's final battle against the Scarab Tribe on 1911's Ash Fields, they stood firm as the Scarabs charged into a firestorm and aided their allies in finishing off the wounded. Their role in the Crusade ended at 1911 and the veterans returned home, their terms of service having long since expired. The newly minted members of the Akoni 3rd were left as garrison troops elsewhere in Nightshores.
Over the next millenia they began a new tradition, they would be disbanded and refounded alongside their Blackwater allies in order to share the same battlefields.
The Devouring Wurm Homstead, a unit of the Einherjars of Ymir led by Jarl Herraud were deployed alongside them to fight Khornate fanatics. While initially at odds over vastly different tactics and attitudes toward warfare they found they were kindred spirits- the more disciplined Blackwater proved a balance to the wild, uncontrollable natures of those they nicknamed the "Tall Men" for their imposing size.
The Akoni disliked them for the same reasons, they towered over the rather small drop troopers and their actions reminded them of the cannibal islanders back home but they did find common ground discussing tattoos and the regiment's aircraft. They did nothing to sway them from their belief that their Valkyries were spirits sent by the Emperor himself, the pilots simply accepted the thanks they were given for flying air support.
Ceolward was a world not unlike Sarton, and the Rifles found themselves at home amidst the red brick and half timber buildings of the capital city of Aelwold. It did not take them very long to find the city's rougher quarters where they spent their downtime drinking, gambling, brawling with the local gangs and chasing women. The Akoni kept their distance, finding less destructive ways to keep themselves occupied.
The taverns and dance halls proved a welcome relief from the hellish "Killing Fields" only a few kilometers from the city walls. There was no single great battle- the fighting dragged on for close to a year and left close to a million people dead including many of their comrades. While they never liked each other the Tall Men and the Akoni did develop a sort of respect for each other as warriors.
- "Xenos are different- you cannot reasonably hold them to the same standard as humanity. The Humans fighting alongside these Tau- they are worse than traitors, they deny their blood and the world on which humanity was born. They deny Holy Terra, they deny the Emperor. They must not be allowed to live."
- — from the journal of Malakai Jenkyns-dated only hours before his attack
843 M41 saw the regiment sent to Turilia alongside the Blackwater Rifles as the response to an aid request from the planetary Governor, known to be loyal but incredibly paranoid. According to his information the pirates in the area were planning to overthrow him and take Turilia for themselves with aid from rebels planning an uprising.
TheAr'Cyr'Ru Mercenary Fleet was already on the world- they had been hired to bolster the PDF despite the events on the Hive World Irwyn several years earlier. The Imperial Forces looked at these aliens with disgust and complete distrust they did not bother to hide, only working with them due to the greater threat. One of the Blackwater, a man named Malakai Jenkyns was more disturbed by the presence of humans in their ranks than the Tau themselves.
He acted on his belief that they were traitors not only to the Imperium but to humanity itself, throwing a grenade into a crowded room where they were gathered killing or wounding many of them. The survivors returned fire killing him instantly. The situation spiraled out control very quickly each side was unaware that Jenkyns had acted alone, each side believed the other had fired the first shot and that they were simply acting in self defense. This set off a very brief but very intense battle that soon saw Akoni gunships and Blackwater Ogryns take the field.
Imperial and Tau leaders agreed to a ceasefire to collect their dead and wounded and the truth came out- ending the matter between them roughly three hours after it began. Despite the increased tension between the two groups the mercenaries stayed to fulfill their contract though relocating so as to avoid another such incident.
The so called rebellion emerged several days later but it consisted of no more than five hundred poorly armed farmers easily dispersed by the two Imperial Guard Regiments with no further loss of life Their contract fulfilled the Tau departed with equipment stolen from their former allies.
The Cadian 517th having received an order to return home were on their way intending to make a brief stop to replenish their food supplies.
Their transport the Advanae arrived at roughly the same time, the three vessels quickly formed a convoy and barely made it through the fleet surrounding the planet deploying their regiments directly into combat only hours later.
Syprios The Siege of Mende
The Cadian 517th lacked any armor but their large numbers of heavy weapons broke the siege of Syprios' capital city Mende allowing the local Militia to fall back, regroup and plan their next move.
While Chaos forces were forced to withdraw a small group of assassins entered the city, intending to capture the planetary governor and broadcast his death to the planet from the flagship in orbit. They entered his palace cutting down many Milita troopers and Mende police before reaching him.
Escaping the city in a stolen truck they were quickly able to reach their transport several kilometers away. Arapidly deployed squad of Drop Troopers were able to kill the assassins, save the governor and return him to Mende before redeploying elsewhere.
The Blackwater Rifles and the Akoni deployed near a small town on Silve named Metius, their civilian followers doubling the population almost overnight.
The Akoni gunships ripped into the armored columns headed toward the town while the Akoni outmaneuvered the cultists behind them, letting the six hundred Ogryns in the Rifles finish them off, the Militia serving in a support role.
While far inferior in terms in numbers to the local Militia the three Imperial Guard regiments on the world faced resistance as well- they were redeployed to the far north fighting in the icy wastes of the northern glaciers, having broken the siege of the world's cities while the PDF were still finishing their role in the defense.
The Akoni were completely unused to the cold environment but performed admirably all the same letting the cold work in their favor as they destroyed enemy food supplies and equipment. Like the militia none of the Imperial Guard were interested in prisoners, the Cadians least of all, simply shooting any prisoners and throwing the bodies into the sea.
Straggling into the cities after roughly three weeks of intense fighting the 517th was rewarded with a single day of rest before continuing on their way back home while the Akoni and Blackwater Rifles entered yet another campaign.
I was unaware of Ithaka and the practices of the Iron Snakes, also involving giant serpents when I wrote this, any similarities are purely coincidental.