“En khatha ta plakis! (Dracid: "For blood and honour!")”
- - Blood Dragon warcry
“Yes, I killed one of them!”
- - Last words of an anonymous soldier
The Khatha'Serpetii (Dracid: Blood Dragons. Also known as Dragons, Imperial Dragons, Paragon's Dogs, Paragon's Guard) are the elite bodyguard of the Paragon of the Draconid Imperium. Throughout the imperium's history they have gained a fearful reputation of loyalty, obedience to the paragon and brutal precision.
Earliest records of the Blood Dragons suggest that they were originally a special operations group within the Alcanti Solar Confederacy. Records indicate that the original "Blood Dragons" were the 21st battalion of the Alcanti Rangers. Where the moniker "Blood Dragon" came from is a mystery, in modern times it is commonly attributed to the beserker fury would become an infamous element in their successor's reputation. Before the 21st's reputation emerged, confederacy chairs their families and state chairmen were protected by the Security Service of the Office of the Chair of the Alcanti Solar Confederacy.
The 21st's position as the bodyguards of the paragon have their origins in the revolution that followed the great reformation into the Draconid Imperium. When opponents to the reformation took the consort and cousins of the paragon hostage in one of the Vospus Clan estates pID.2, the 21st Alcanti Rangers were dispatched to neutralise the raiders and secure the family. Successive attempts on the clan's life were left to the 21st to resolve, and the battalion had gained such favour by the official end of the revolution in ID.3 they were made the honorary security force of the paragon dynasty, developing into a special services group that acted as the more militant branch of the Security Service of the Office of the Paragavatus. Successive years would gradually merge the two in the public eye until the Security Service for the Office of the Paragavatus was referred to as the Paragon Guard, later becoming the Blood Dragon Guard after stories of Paragon Guard members engaging in a beserker fury when suffering casualties.
When the Janos War broke out the reigning paragon gave the Blood Dragons permission to protect the most high-value military personnel including Lord-General Tothanor and several important commodores. In some cases they had even served as ground officers to boost morale and keep discipline. The paragon had also dispatched them on several high-profile covert missions (The Covert-Ops Act of pID.2110 makes all Blood Dragon operations classified and unknown outside of the heads of state, an act that remains in force to this day). With the death of Alexia Vospus XVII the Blood Dragons were to guard the palace and the senate until a new paragon was chosen. Despite being their bodyguards the senate had no control over them no matter how many powers they tried to pass through.
Their darkest period was between ID.171,130 and ID.171,300 during the Second House War. Under the authority of Onivara VIII they combed the imperium for supporters of house Ultanos, executing them in public and on the street. Their once iconic reputation was greatly soiled and was quickly transformed from heroes and icons of discipline to merciless warriors of death. This period of murder ended with Onivara's execution along with the rest of house Khaxvis. In the first decade of her reign Alexis XIV passed the Blood Dragon Sensitivity Act; The Blood Dragons were to be more respectful to Draconis citizens and had the right to question a paragon's more radical orders.
Roughly a century after the Second House war, the Imperium secretly faced a new threat in the form of the Khaxvis Resurgence. Upon learning of this threat, Paragon Erella Ultanos I secretly passed a declaration that the Blood Dragons would and the threat of the resurgence, an order that continues to the present day. For roughly 40 millennia the two sides waged a secret war, the Resurgence battled for control while the Dragons battled to annihilate any last remnants of the Resurgence, going as far as to use antimatter time bombs to destroy Khaxvis enclaves.
The Blood Dragons played a pivotal role during the Red Snake Rising incident when the Resurgence returned to wreak havoc on the Imperium. Both during and after the incident, Blood Dragon forces co-coordinated with the Fleet of Ruin to root out any signs of Khaxvis activity in the imperium, bombarding enclaves as they went. Blood Dragon forces combined with ITN soldiers during the battle aboard the Regante Khaxvis, however suffering heavy casualties before the battle's final conclusion.
Dragons are organised into tactical teams of 20-30 members and structured identically to a platoon. They train alongside other teams to promote cooperation and team-building and are taught to take pride in their positions, their equipment and their duties. When in combat Dragons work in pairs with many choosing a particular squadmate as a bond-brother. Bond-brothers take preference during combat and drills. If one is to fall in combat the other feels duty-bound to guard the body until being relieved with reinforcements. Dragons learn that to be separated from a fallen bond-brother is to be separated from a part from themselves.
The guard is split up into two distinct groups; the Empyrean Cohort and the Guardian Legion. The Guardian Legion make up the bulk of the guard, assigned as bodyguards to the majority of the Paragon's house (in the current era they protect House Ultanos). THey are recognised by the silvertrim on their armour and are perhaps the most commonplace members of the Guard outside of Alcanti. The Empyrean Cohort serve as the personal guardians of the Paragavatus himself, his bond partner and up to two generations of ofspring he may be father to. They serve as the resident guard of the Alcant Imperial Palace and the city of Minos'Drakon. The Empyrean Cohort are offered more intense training, better and more advanced equipment and a small number are expected alongside the Paragon at all times.
Despite the differences between the Empyrean Cohort and the Guardian Legion, one group does not have jurasdiction over the other. Blood Dragons are cosnidered outside the regular military heirarchy and while they have no offical superior authority over regular Imperial troops, they hold the ability to refuse commands issued by military personnel when on bodyguard duty.
Development and Training
Dragons are prepared from birth, often donated by loyal families or particular families such as house Voxis. Donation involves a family calling for a Dragon representetive to screen the eggs, the representetive chooses the prime specimens and asks for consent to take the eggs to Alcanti and to be cared for by a specially-trained broodmother. Since hatchlings only become emotionally attached to the broodmother they never know their parents. These special broodmothers develop the young ready for military life and playfighting is encouraged between hatchlings as they age.
When they are a decade old they are moved from the hatchery to a junior barracks. Blood Dragon juveniles are given academic studies (along with physical conditioning and martial arts) until they are 15. When they reach this age they become initiates and will be vigorously trained in many combat techniques - both ranged and melee - until adulthood. Academic studies focus on basics such as maths and Dracid as well as topics they can use within military life includiing anatomy, chemistry, imperial history, psychology, maths, information technology and biology. Blood Dragons will hone their skills and undergo rigorous drills for the rest of their lives, constanly improving themselves and keeping in top physical condition. Unlike the marines they are given a specially-engineered diet to keep them in prime condition.
As they train, initiates will become conditioned to what is known as dragonfury. Dragons undergo this when thier bond-brother or sister is killed in action; a berserker-style fury where the afflicted will enter a bloodthirsty rage to defend the body of their fallen 'sibling', becoming almsot unstoppable in combat. Unlike other isntances of berserker fury, the afflicted is capable of telling friend from foe and will clam down after a moderate period of inactivity such as a lack of enemies to fight. The prescence of allies to recover the fallen body can also be used to calm the afflicted.
Entering a state of dragonfury is considered a dreaded thing by most Blood Dragons, even by those who survived after undergoing the process due to the emotional trigger used to undergo it. As such, not many talk about their experience and those that do claim their very blood screams for revenge.
Since their origins as a SpecOps unit, Blood Dragons have always had access to higher-grade equipment and next-gen armour. This only enhances their deadly reputation. Standard armour consists of high-grade ceramic armour layered with an energy field that provides increased resistance against ranged weapons. The armour is worn over a powered synthetic muscle suit that ensures full mobility no matter the user's condition along with software and sensors for compensating for any nervous impairment - making them near-incapable of losing balance despite exposure to alcohols or tranquilisers. Their helmets use advanced combat optics to provide sharp vision along with an optical HUD on the inside of the helmet. An array of micro-cameras pockmarked into the sides of the helmet itself provide the wearer with practically-unrestricted vision while an onboard AI module manages a Dragon's targets, performs hundreds of passive scans a second and in the occurence of certain stimuli can mask or modify a Dragon's visual and audial experience in the face of locales, experiences and opponents that could potentially traumatise the armour's occupant to minimise the risk of the user becoming shellshocked.
While this software has for a long time promoted the myth that Blood Dragons have shown fearlessness in all but the most extreme situations, the censorship is programmed so that it cannot modify situations that a soldier's psyche profile indicates they are accustomed to.
Blood Dragon armour comes in two umbrella variants; Empyrean and Aegis. Empyrean equipment is recognised by the gold-layered detailing across the body as well as a cutting-edge quality. Empyrean equipment represents perhaps the absolute pinnacle in batch-production development and is exclusive to the Empyrean Cohort. Aegis equipment is used by the rest of the guard and while not as advanced as Empyrean equipment, it is still typically next-generation compared to the equipment more commonly utilised by members of the Imperial Talon Navy.
High-quality fusion pistols and energy blades are standard issue. A typical Blood Dragon will wield two energy shortblades - electroconductive metal blades sheathed in a disruptor field field - in close combat and use a variety of long-range weapons including fusion rifles and, on occasion, more exotic weapons if they deem it worthwhile. Energy blades are turned off and placed in rubber-lined scabbards when not in use. Heavier weapons such as gatling guns or missile launchers are less common and an entire tactical team may only possess one such weapon.
Blood Dragons focus on being mobile along with hit-and-run and skirmishing combat tactics when in open ground. On occasion they will use vehicles (mainly for rapid deployment), like everything else these are specially built and better quality than the norm. Special vehicles are tpically distinguished by bright red markings along with the insignia somewhere on the body.
Unlike other parts of the military the Dragons' armoury is almost devoid of heavy armour and have the occasional gunship. tactical teams are deployed in special AO-9A 'nightwing' dropships with enough space for 20 Dragons and their equipment. These dropships are also used to deploy Dragons and any HVP they may be escorting. Due to the differences in equipment specifications Blood Dragons cannot occupy the standard AO-8 dropships used by the Talon Marine divisions.
“Now this is a very interesting idea...”
- - Chief Major Xerkea
“Potent warriors, indeed, although they seem to have a certain... lacking to them.”
- - Hel'Bre'K Ce'So'Va
“The Blood Dragons are one of Andromeda's most potent militaries, I hold great respect for each and every one of them.”
- - Tyraz
“Excuse me while I change my underwear.”
- - Hachiman
“Powerful and Honorable warriors, which go into a berserk rage at the death of their comrades. If one is to take them out well, it is recommended to destroy them in pairs so as not to incite their rage. Deployment of overseers is to be advised against these elite soldiers so as to facilitate battlefield dominance. Nevertheless, they are a foe to be respected by all, overseers are advised to take caution with these enemies.”
- - Drakodominatus Tyranny Evaluation
“The feelings of your bones crunching as they shatter by my power, the sounds of your agony permeating themselves across my ears, the sight of you reduced to your most base desperations in face of my visage, there is no finer thing in life.”
- - Son of Hedon