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This article, Aurelius Antoninus, was written by EpicureanIX. Please do not edit this article without their explicit permission.
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"Do not forget your place, Autocrator. The needs you and your men have are of no concern to me, only the needs of the Reavers. All the rest you will sort out yourself. If I ask you to sacrifice six million men in a campaign, you will do so. What you tell those six million is your business."
—Antoninus

A Chaos Space Marine of the Shadow Reavers, Antoninus is one of the oldest of the warband still living and considered first among its Shadow Lords. He leads the elite Brotherhood of the Tenebrarii, the warband's Chosen. In absence of the Master of Shadows Crassus's direct leadership, Antoninus’s centuries of experience and unsurpassed skill as a swordsman make him the most likely commander to be chosen to lead the Reavers in a campaign.

History

Taken as a child along with his twin brother Verus in 029.M37 from Igan's populace, he became an aspirant of the Shadow Griffons Space Marines. As he grew, he learned of his new home and place as a neophyte Astartes, surviving the endless testing and experimentation. Once bestowed with the Chapter's geneseed, his eyes and hair turned pitch black and skin turned alabaster white: the "raven's mark" that was one of the flaws of the Chapter's geneseed. And as with all Shadow Griffons, once Aurelius's Lyman's Ears were implanted, they malfunctioned, amplifying all sounds to a painful level. He had an especially hard time to acclimate himself to the flaw. Testing by the apothecaries had revealed that the malfunction was particularly strong in his case, and learning of this, the then Master of Shadows Germanicus decided to visit the initiate himself. Germanicus explained the significance of the Chapter's flaw, that their enhanced hearing meant that the Shadow Griffons could become even better guerrilla fighters, and bade the young Antoninus not to see his predicament as cruel punishment, but a chance to serve the Emperor.

Taking Germanicus's words to heart, the initiate Antoninus strove to advance in his service to the Emperor of Man. Surviving the implantation process, he became a sniper in the Chapter's Scout Company, excelling in the role. Advancing from Scout to Devastator, Assault and Tactical, he finally reached the 1st Company, becoming a veteran of the Chapter, and eventually becoming Sergeant of a Sternguard Squad, serving under the Company's Shadow Captain, Crassus.

Invasion of Rhiadan

In 318.M37, a contingent of Imperial Guard had landed on the Exodite World Rhiadan, attempting to purge it of the alien. In response, the Eldar of the Craftworlds sent a strike force to aid their brethren. The Imperial Guard vied for aid; after the Imperium sent extra forces to Rhiadan, the Eldar likewise requested reinforcement, and after several instances of escalation, the alien and the Imperium found themselves in all-out war, with armies from the Space Marines, Inquisition and the Astra Militarum fighting against Exodites, Craftworld Eldar and Drukhari. While the battle raged on the surface, Corsair vessels had joined the fray, harrying the Imperial navy and protecting their alien brethren planet-side.

The Shadow Griffons arrived late to the fight, and quickly targeted the Corsairs' forces in an effort to lift their blockade. While Griffons Thunderhawks blasted through the hulls of Corsair voidships, the promoted Master of Shadows Germanicus, along with a contingent of the 1st Company, assaulted the Corsair prince leading the fleet directly. Fighting through to the surface of the Exodite World, Vanguard Griffons rained down from the sky accompanying Germanicus, and Drop Pods carrying the Sternguard lead by Crassus followed closely. The Griffons fought their way through the Corsairs, Antoninus blowing apart a Hornet with his combi-melta. Germanicus made his way through the opposition, hacking and slicing, and challenging the Corsair Prince to battle directly. Yet the perfidious Eldar only sneered at the Astartes, pulled out his fusion blaster and flew away on his jetpack, downing Germanicus with a single shot to the head.

The rest of his unit hors de combat, Antoninus detached from the fray suddenly, and vanished into the protection of the Exodite World's canopies. As Crassus defended the Master of Shadows' body, fighting off the Felarchs that had remained, the Corsair Prince regrouped away from the fighting. Yet as he landed, Antoninus sprung from the shadows and shot out his jetpack, engaging the Eldar in hand to hand combat. Striking a terrifying blow with his Lightning Claw, Antonius rent the Prince across the face. The alien bled out within minutes.

The Corsairs retreated, reeling from their losses, allowing for the Imperial Navy to establish its superiority. With aerial bombardments, the Imperium turned the tide. The Drukhari lost interest and dispersed, and the remaining Craftworlders evacuated those of the Exodites they could. Stripping the armour and gear off the felled Germanicus and leaving his body to the carrion as was Griffons tradition, Crassus donned the panoply and was declared the new Master of Shadows. Antoninus, for his avenging of the fallen, was picked to be the new First Shadow Captain in Crassus's place.

Fall to Chaos

Only several years later in 321.M37, the strike team of Griffons was called back to their Homeworld of Igan, for it had been devoured by Warp Storm Dionys. Much of the geneseed and the chapter's reliquary had been lost, mutated and broken under the Immaterium's fell power. Yet things were about to become much worse as the chapter received summons from the Ecclesiarchy. Kneeling before Saint Basilius, the Griffons, among others, were branded as corrupted and sent on a penitent Crusade into the Eye of Terror.

As they approached the Occularis Terribus, the Griffons' flaw began worsening, and none were struck harder than Antoninus. Barely in fighting condition due to this worsening, the Griffons found themselves in a deadly trap: a Chaos armada was waiting for them, and upon passing the Cadian Gate, the Space Marines' disparate fleet of vessels was torn apart. Only their Battle Barge Caliginis Rex survived, with Antoninus and barely 100 other of his battle brothers. Yet the Crusade pressed on, and hopelessly lost, the Griffons purged Daemon World after Daemon World. And with each planetfall, the flaw worsened. Antoninus could not sleep, for the chatter of the servants kept him awake, booming and cacophonous in his head, though emanating from the other side of the Battle Barge. The Griffons were on edge, and many became visibly aggressive, striking out at the serfs and acolytes who could not ever keep quiet enough. They began pulling tongues to keep them from speaking. In the night, battle brothers would rise and strike down some random piece of the battle barge's mechanism, for its work echoed incessantly into their head.

Their sixth foray brought them at the Black Planet. And for the first time, the Griffons experienced silence. The planet was a sensory null, and it seemed to lessen their pain. On its surface, a telepathic voice called to them and they were brought in front of the Black Prince, lord of that Warp-tainted place. Many of the Griffons swore fealty to the Daemon Prince and its lord Slaanesh right then and there. Antoninus hesitated at first, but the voice in his head was demanding. He kneeled. Yet there were those that didn't, and Antoninus turned, felling each and every one of those loyal. The last to die to his blade was the Griffons' Chapter Champion, fighting off Antoninus with his twinned artificer power swords, but to no avail, for Antoninus's skill was greater.

The Shadow Griffons were no more; in their stead the Shadow Reavers awakened, piratical and cruel, and mired in a black miasma that hid their presence from onlookers. Taking the survivors of the Sternguard and Vanguard and reorganizing them into the Tenebrarii Brotherhood, Antoninus declared himself their Shadow Lord. None could, or wished to, contradict him.

Appearance and Personality

Pale skin, jet black hair and black, irisless eyes are the mark of the Raven Guard's successors, and Antoninus bears them as well, same as all Shadow Reavers. Behind the black daemonic fog that clouds his form is jet black armour, with the skinned face of a Khornate champion, Antoninus's hardest kill, on its sole alabaster shoulder pad. The left side of his cranium is burnt and broken; here a stray frag grenade had exploded and nearly killed him. The scar takes a part of his eyebrow, and no strand of his black hair grows in the burnt tissue. Next to his two service studs is the symbol of Slaanesh, carved into the centre of his forehead. Lines of scar tissue in baroque pattern adorn the sides of his head, stopping only at the innermost features of his face. Two rows of sharpened teeth are revealed when the Reaver smiles, and a foot-long pierced tongue hides behind them.

Aurelius is famously taciturn and reserved in front of his men, yet is quick to punish those beneath him. On the field of battle, he maintains an aura of calculation and cold, bitter calmness, for the demands of perfection in the eyes of Slaanesh are paramount. Tactics and strategy giving way to emotion can be considered nothing but weakness in the eyes of Antoninus, and he is dedicated to this form of worship above all else. Antoninus speaks little, yet speaks with meaning, and when his orders come, his men know they come from a place of quiet and solemn analysis. For this reason they will follow him unto death, trusting in his judgment.

In private however, he is cruel and depraved. Swinging violently from morose depression to murderous fury, he is particularly brutal to his slaves and serfs, exacting terrible punishment for the slightest trespass. For he truly hates those who cannot be as quiet as him, seeing them as an affront to the sublime perfection of silence and stillness. So he lashes out against them between bouts of solemn calm, punishing them for their inadequacy and imperfection.

Skills and Equipment

Antoninus is a sublime duelist, wielding a lightning claw and power sword with equal skill. Above all, he is an unsurpassed infiltrator, and owing to the Reavers' geneseed flaw which grants him super-sensory hearing, he can detect the presence of others even beyond the range of sensors. Like all Shadow Reavers, his shape is eternally surrounded by black flames, strands of shadow that hide his form and muffle the noise emanating from him, turning it into infrasound; Antoninus uses this daemonic gift to great effect. In many cases, he and his Tenebrarii will make planetfall in secret and work their way into installations or fortifications, spending weeks hidden before the bulk of the Shadow Reavers' forces arrive, striking at the enemy's most vulnerable and most crucial points when they do.

With centuries of experience, and being one of the most venerable of his warband, his voice carries great weight in the Shadow Council, the democratic assembly of the Reavers' Shadow Lords, the leaders of the six Brotherhoods. Indeed, he is most likely to be chosen to lead a campaign when Crassus, who seldom bothers himself with the minutia of rule, is not present. There are those that see the current Master of Shadows as obsolete, and believe that one day Antoninus will strike him down and take his mantle, yet such a thing has not occurred yet, and indeed Antoninus harbors no such plans, for he fears becoming the lifeless and morose thing Crassus has become.

Antoninus is clad in the baroque Armour of Shadow, a suit of armour fashioned from his old Griffons armour, yet mutated and tainted by the power of the Warp. A leering daemonic face has manifested itself on the chest piece, from whose eyes seem to emanate a cold darkness. Much of it has merged with Antoninus's own body, as the distinction between armour and marine has dissipated. The pieces of suit that are still removable reveal alabaster skin damascened by ritualized scars, running in strange designs across the flesh. The suit is damascened in a similar way, mirroring the scars beneath.

He carries a gilded stalker bolter of the kind he preferred as a Sternguard, as well as a custom-built subsonic Doom Siren designed by the Krypteian Techarchy. The Doom Siren, although as devastating in its volleys of sound as any other, works only in infrasonic, and can not be heard by normal humans. A single blast from its modulators can burst eyes, rupture ears and turn organs to liquid. At his side is the antique Gryphon Blade, one of the twinned power swords of the Shadow Griffons’ old Champion, killed in battle by Antoninus when he refused to embrace Slaanesh. He bears also the Lightning Claw Princerender that avenged Chapter Master Constantinus by striking down the Corsair Prince that felled him.

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