IMPERIAL PENAL COMMANDER
The Imperial Guard is a vast organisation, containing armies of soldiers in their hundreds of thousands and even many millions. Discipline and faith are paramount, when quite often it is the heretic and the traitor who pose the greatest threat to the future of Mankind. Thus an infraction against the military law of the Imperial Guard is usually dealt with swiftly and harshly. Battlefield executions by Commissars, banishment to prison worlds, alteration into mindless servitors or frenzied Arco-flagellants are all possible fates for those who kill their fellow soldier, loot a conquered world or betray their officers and the Emperor.
Then there are those whose skills are too useful to waste. Veteran officers who countermand orders, snipers who refuse to kill, soldiers who have seen enough death to drive them insane. These are the warriors who are spared the gallows, for they are more useful to the Emperor alive, if only for a short time, than dead or imprisoned. These men and women -brutal killers, rogues, cowards and thieves - make up the ranks of the Penal Legions.
Most Penal Legions are not dissimilar to any other Imperial Guard regiment. The 13th Penal Legion is different. Those miscreants who fall under the eye of Colonel Schaeffer are given a simple choice: fight for the Colonel or die. Quite often there is no distinction at all, as Colonel Schaeffer's missions are almost invariably suicidal for those involved. However, the promised reward is lure enough to a desperate man or woman awaiting the hangman's visit - survive the mission and receive a pardon for your crimes, Schaeffer does not just give his soldiers the chance to escape their punishment; he offers them an opportunity to purify the sin from their souls before they die. A soldier who dies in the service of the Emperor has earned the right to dwell beside the Immortal Lord, but one who dies a traitor to Mankind is damned to the eternal abyss of Chaos. It is for this reason that the soldiers of the 13th Legion commonly refer to themselves as the Last Chancers.
Nobody is sure how long Colonel Schaeffer has led the Last Chancers, or how many times he has cheated death himself. His missions take him to the far corners of the galaxy, and so, though he appears to be a man of perhaps no more than forty Terran years, the time distortion effect of so much warp travel means that he has been in Imperial service for centuries.
Over that time, Schaeffer has participated in some of the bloodiest fighting Mankind has ever witnessed. Forlorn hope assaults against enemy fortresses, city fighting across blood-stained ruins, on death worlds, below ice worlds and in the scorching heat of desert worlds; Schaeffer has seen them all and survived.
The Last Chancers vary in number, but they are always picked for a specific objective. When he has time, Schaeffer may lead hundreds, even thousands of men on a campaign, dragging them through the most dangerous war zones imaginable until only the hardiest, most desperate and savage fighters remain. Only then do they embark on their real mission.
Alternatively, if time is short, then Schaeffer will hand pick his team from the outset and train them for their purpose. He maintains contact with other Penal Legion commanders, the governors of prison worlds, and also is known to communicate with members of the Inquisition. From these sources, he gathers the flawed elite of the Imperial Guard, and they are brought together at various holding prisons that have been established across the Imperium. From these men and women, the most vicious, undisciplined dregs of the Imperium, he chooses the Last Chancers.
Though few survive one of Schaeffer's missions, the Colonel himself has always come through, often totally unscathed. Some believe he is guided by the Emperor, others that he is not even human but the result of secret Adeptus Mechanicus tampering. Possibly only a select few members of the Inquisition know the truth. However it came about, Schaeffer is one of the most gifted leaders alive. He is able to push his troopers to their limits and then beyond, using his innate knowledge of how their minds work, through a mixture of punishment and hope.
Schaeffer's past record is exemplary, and he has never failed in a mission yet. Despite horrendous casualties suffered by his men (in fact it is common for no Last Chancers to survive), somehow he always achieves his aim. Whole wars have been won or shortened by his efforts, alien conquests halted in their infancy by a well-timed strike, and traitor generals and Imperial commanders hunted down before their evil has spread. Often unseen, the Last Chancers fight behind enemy lines to attack supply dumps and command headquarters, ambush enemy columns or sabotage their food and water. Though he has probably earned the right to the title of Warmaster by his efforts, Schaeffer prefers this covert warfare, and in the spiritual cleansing of those he commands.
Though his current duties have led him to the far side of the galaxy, even Colonel Schaeffer was once embroiled in the cataclysm that has engulfed the galaxy from the Eye of Terror. Many years ago, when Abaddon's Thirteenth Crusade was not even a rumour, Schaeffer and his hand-picked team were sent into the Eye of Terror. Only a few Inquisitors know of the mission that took place, and fewer still of its true purpose.
Colonel Schaeffer's goal was straightforward, if not easy - destroy a small outpost of the Black Legion Traitor Space Marines. Assembling his squad, Schaeffer was transported by a specially shielded starship through the Arx Gap into the Eye of Terror itself. Three navigators died locating the daemon world Gorthesta, but eventually the Last Chancers were deposited on the planet, out of range of any detection augurs the enemy may have possessed.
There was no day or night on Gorthesta, only an endless sky of purple haze that roiled with violent storms. The Last Chancers had to fight their way across this inhospitable realm, battling nightmarish daemonic entities and the planet itself. The six survivors of the twelve-man team that had landed breached the perimeter of the outpost under the cover of a massive tempest so destructive that the ground trembled beneath their feet.
Schaeffer led his men on a cleanse of the guard buildings that surrounded the central complex, despatching the few Traitor Marines they encountered with brutal efficiency. However, as they cleared the last guardhouse, the alarm was finally raised.
Dashing across the open ground with the storm lashing down with acidic rain, the Last Chancers rushed the central compound in the teeth of the enemies' bolter fire, losing two more of their number. They were about to enter the cathedral-sized central edifice when a pair of massive gates began to grind open.
Through the gate came a monstrous biomechanical beast, a fusion of flesh and metal that strode towards them on six piston-driven legs. The roars of the daemon-engine could be heard even above the deafening thunder, its weapons bathing the Last Chancers in shells and flames as it stormed towards them. Behind the Defiler six Traitor Marines advanced, their bolters booming.
The Colonel himself was bathed in daemonic fire but leaped clear, his clothes ablaze, and hurled a cluster of meltabombs at the machine. The detonations tore the daemon-engine apart from below, releasing the trapped daemon within. Before its essence dissipated, the daemon ripped apart two more of Schaeffer's men, and tore through the squad of Black Legion that had accompanied it. Seizing the opportunity that had presented itself, Schaeffer led the two remaining Last Chancers on a charge through the open gates.
Within the huge, vaulted chamber beyond, they found the dormant shells of five more of the daemon-engines. At its centre the Black Legionnaires had erected an obscene altar to the gods of Chaos, pulsing with unearthly energies, filling the minds of the Last Chancers with daemonic laughter. Schaeffer pressed on, placing meltabombs on the promethium barrels intended to fuel the Defilers' arcane engines. The two remaining members of the squad were reduced to gibbering wrecks by the surging Chaos energy. One of them, a ghostly light in his eyes, hurled himself at Schaeffer with murderous intent. Schaefler shot him between the eyes with his bolt pistol before dragging the other unfortunate clear.
As they escaped the compound, the meltabombs detonated, turning the outpost into a ball of fire and plasma that towered into the sky. Hideously burned, carrying the limp form of his companion, Schaeffer made the trek of many kilometres back to his ship.
None can say what might have happened had the Black Legion finished their construction of the Defilers. Had the Defilers been set loose, it is entirely possible they would have opened up a staging point for Abaddon to launch his crusade through the Arx Gap, rather than against the formidable defences of the Cadian Gate. For Schaeffer, there was no time to rest, for even as he recuperated from his injuries, word came of the renewed Tyranid threat growing on the Eastern fringe.
The Last Chancers count as a HQ selection on the force organisation chart. If more than 8 models are taken (including Schaeffer and Kage) they count as a Troops selection as well. If more than 16 models are taken they count as two Troops selections as well.
Number/squad: Colonel Schaeffer, Lieutenant Kage and from 4 to 20 Last Chancers.
Weapons: Schaeffer has a power sword, plasma pistol and carapace armour. He also has bionics, the Macharian Cross and a Medallion Crimson.
Kage has a bolt pistol and close combat weapon.
The Last Chancers have a motley assortment of personal weapons, but in game terms each will have either a lasgun, a shotgun or a laspistol and close combat weapon.
All members of the unit have frag and krak grenades.
Options: Schaeffer and Kage must be used as described. Any number of Last Chancers can be upgraded to specialists at +5 points per model.
Each specialist may be armed with a special or heavy weapon from the list below, and may additionally select equipment from the Imperial Guard Armoury up to a maximum limit of 15 points each (this can include "Officer only" items - some of the owners may not have noticed the kit is missing yet!). Weapon limits apply (no model may have more than two weapons of which only one can be two-handed) and weapons selected from the list below cannot be master-crafted.
For each model with a heavy weapon, there must be at least one more non-specialist charged with carrying the ammo. Each pair of models will form a heavy weapon team armed with one of the following, lascannon at +25 points, missile launcher at +15 points, autocannon at +15 points, heavy bolter at +10 points or mortar at +10 potnts.
Otherwise, specialists can carry a meftagun at +10 points, plasma gun at +10 points, flamer at +6 points, grenade launcher at +8 points, sniper rifle at +10 points or demolition charge at+10 potnts.
Any specialist not acting as a heavy weapon team or using a special weapon may be equipped with a vox-caster at +5 points.
Any specialist not acting as a heavy weapon team or using a special weapon may be upgraded to a Psyker for +5 points. His profile remains the same but he has a randomly determined power from the Sanctioned Psyker table.
Character: Schaeffer and Kage are independent characters. They must remain within 2" of the sub-unit they are each allocated to (see Sub-Units below) at all limes and may not leave it. If it is wiped out each reverts to being an independent character.
Transport: Any sub-unit may be mounted in a Chimera transport at +70 points; see the Chimera entry on page 49 for more details.
Sub-Units: At the start of any game you can break the Last Chancers, including Kage and Schaeffer. into a maximum of five sub-units. Each can consist of as few as one model. How you do this is up to you but you cannot have more than five units.
Members of the same heavy weapon team must be in the same sub-uni! and no sub-unit may have more than one demolition charge.
Doctrines: The Last Chancers come from a variety of units and cannot be upgraded with any Doctrines.
Harsh Discipline: While the Colonel is alive all sub-units will automatically pass any Morale. Leadership or Pinning tests they have to make.
Crazy: Lieutenant Kage is a nasty piece of work with a mind no one wants to understand too closely. When attacking a sentry, the alarm is only raised on a 6. as Kage is a very proficient back-stabber. Also he gets premonitions - sometimes they |ust encourage him to do bad things, but other times they warn him of danger. Treat his 5+ save as Invulnerable.
Infiltrate: Any sub-unit not mounted in a Chimera may infiltrate if the mission permits it.
Deep Strike: Any sub-unit not mounted in a Chimera may start the game in reserve and arrive by Deep Strike if the mission permits it. This represents them dropping in by grav-chute.