The Necromundan 23rd
The Necromundan 23rd started as a regiment of gangers and hive workers pressed into service. Men were badly needed in the sector and the standards for genetic purity were lowered, and many subtle mutations made it past the screeners. The recruits were used to a life of violent brutality, but the gangers despised their freedom being taken away. Insubordination, gang feuds and stolen supplies were a constant problem. Dozens of sergeants and three commissars were discovered murdered. Lord Commissar VunHeklu was dispatched to enforce discipline. Summary executions were held for the worst offenders, and the Commanding Officer was publicly hung as a traitor. Everyone in the regiment from the lowest grunts to the highest officers lived in fear of the firing squad, or death by a sudden bolt pistol shot to the head. After a shaky order was imposed, VunHeklu was called away to another sector and Vezz Dragasta was appointed Commander.
The 23rd had not completed their enroute training aboard their transport ship, but were dispatched to their scheduled warzone anyways. They fought against pirates who had seized the Jonvok asteroid mining operations. The inexperienced grunts who began life as laborers fell prey to pirate ambushes and traps, while the more savvy gangers were generally able to survive. Unbeknownst to the 23rd’s officers, at the end of the conflict many pirates donned looted Necromundan uniforms and mixed themselves in with the regiment. The 23rd had completed their assignment but their numbers were depleted.
Commander Dragasta was ordered to report to a new world to fight against an Ork invasion on Blett’s World, although his regiment was seriously depleted. He turned to recruiting beastmen laborers from the Jonvok colonies to replenish his ranks. When the 23rd arrived at Blett’s World Dragasta was met by an Inquisitor, and subsequently ordered by his superiors to execute all mutants and heretics within his unit. Dragasta knew that to comply would destroy his already shaken regiment through further infighting. He desperately pleaded his case, but was demoted and once again given the order. He agreed this time, but it was a lie.
Dragasta met with some of his more devious advisors, a former Delaque gang leader named Kurgan the Younger and a former Goliath leader named Slaughter. The three of them devised a plan to steal a space going vessel and escape the Imperium. Kurgan and Slaughter snuck into a section of the spaceport that was poorly guarded, silently murdering sentries and planting explosive charges. Dragasta ordered his men to approach as far as possible but they were stopped by dozens of Adeptus Arbites. The signal was given and the 23rd opened fire on the Arbites. The charges were detonated from inside the spaceport, disabling critical defenses and sensory arrays. Dragasta orderd artillery barrages to cover his flanks and moved his men aboard the largest vessel they could find. Imperial response to their treachery was swift, and only a small segment of the regiment escaped with the cruiser. Dragasta saw the slower of his units gunned down by Imperial Fist marines as the cruiser lurched into space.
The 23rd now fights for survival in a hostile universe. They will raid any place where food, fuel, and arms can be looted. Having turned renegade there is no going back. Other guardsmen or civilians are gunned down without hesitation. Mutants are freely accepted into the force if they can take an order and have the strength to kill. Since their escape the 23rd have since fallen under the sway of the Word Bearers, who cynically use the regiment as both cultists for their rituals and “meat shields” in their conquests. Morale and hierarchy are maintained by Kurgan, who lives in the shadows to listen for plots and execute disloyal fools. He selects former gang leaders and pirate captains as sergeants. Chaos is openly worshipped by the devout in the regiment, although most do not understand the cause they are fighting for. The more fervent believers are inducted into a cult: The Brotherhood of the Yellow Eye. Brothers are always the first to eat and answer only to Dragasta, now their spiritual leader.
(The Necromundan 23rd is my traitor guard army, which could also be fielded as a Lost and The Damned army.)