The Iron Hands recruit from their homeworld of Medusa, choosing the strongest from the nomadic clans that populate the feral world. Through brutal trials and indoctrination, these recruits are taught to suppress their emotions, until all that remains is a resentment for their own biological form.
Upon induction into the Chapter, the left hand of the recruit is severed and replaced with a bionic limb. This ceremony can see some recruits choosing to sever their own hand, or submerge it into a lava stream from one of Medusa’s many volcanoes. Some believe that this hand is severed when a neophyte is initiated and becomes a full battle-brother (basically going from Scout to Marine), while others argue that a Scout’s augmentation surgeries would be started as soon as possible, so that he is taught early to reject the frailty of his flesh.
Every Medusan is part of a clan, and kept in constant competition with the countless other clans that travel the ever-shifting terrain of the planet. In keeping with tradition, the Iron Hands Chapter is also split into Clan Companies, with each one maintaining its own supply of weapons, vehicles and handling their own recruitment.
The people of Medusa come from a long line of hunter-gatherers, and are proud hunters and survivalists in their own right. They have to be, for dwelling on a planet as unforgiving and unpredictable as Medusa requires great strength, adaptability and resourcefulness. It’s these core qualities and skills that they need to see them through their initial trials and all those beyond that, for failure and weakness will not be tolerated by any of the Iron Hands Clan Companies.
The Iron Hands are adept at waging war in silence, and their Scouts are no different. This comes from being brought up and trained on Medusa where it is impossible to shout in the heat of battle without warcries being lost in high winds. Although the Chapter’s warcry is said to be “The Flesh is Weak!” it is unknown if they actually use such a cry in combat, for when a battle company takes to the battlefield they tend to do so without speaking, their communications lying quiet for important transmissions.
Over the course of his time in one of the Clan Companies’ Scout squads, the neophyte will master various weapons and forms of combat, both close quarters and long range, as well as infiltration and sabotage. Only when he has proven himself before the eyes of his Clan Company will he be initiated into the Chapter as a full battle-brother. For those who fail their challenges, a swift termination awaits, or worse, transformation into a mindless servitor; those who pass will be inducted into the ranks of the Iron Hands fully, a series of bionic augmentation surgeries lying ahead of him.
- Warhammer 40k, Codex Space Marines, Games Workshop (2012) pg 66.
- Deathwatch: First Founding, Games Workshop (2011) pg 7-9.
- http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Iron_Hands, (date accessed 22.11.2016).