St Adelphia's Hope breeds a rare kind of man. Like the icy tundra of Valhalla, the deadly jungles of Catachan or the bleak hives of Armageddon, survival is a battle in itself and to live to adulthood needs a certain toughness that off-worlders just cannot match. This makes these planets ideal recruiting-grounds for the Departmento Munitorium.
St Adelphia's Hope is one such world.
The P.D.F. and Imperial Guard contingents are quite small. There are four regiments in the P.D.F., for a total of about 12,000 men, who are almost exclusively tied up in supporting the overstretched Public Order and Control Corps. By ancient decree, St. Adelphia's Hope is bound to tithe every tenth man for service in the Imperial Guard, and so there is a small brigade of about a thousand men who make up St Adelphia's tithe.
The Imperial Guard brigade is known as the 1st Adelphian Expeditionary Brigade, and the P.D.F. regiments are the 3rd through to the 7th Adelphian Internal Regiments. Generally made up of former miners, the Expeditionary Brigade's men are tough, hardy soldiers who take great pleasure in 'digging in' alongside some of the other troops of the Guard and showing them how it's done. But their reputation is generally one of undisciplined ruffians; fine fighters, they aren't too fussy if it's fighting with Chaotic heretics on the battlefield or Cadian Military Policemen on planet leave ...
The Internal Regiments are in theory the 'heavy guns' of the internal security forces, used to quell dissent and break up strikes amongst the restive mining community. In practice, young men do three years in 'the regiments', often guarding the same areas they grew up in. This means that the criminal and gang links are still strong, and the precinct commanders rarely even need a bribe to turn a blind eye.
But if the Adelphian Guard regiments are famous for anything beyond their own borders, it's their Penal Companies. The concept of convict warriors is nothing new to the Imperial Guard, but the Adelphians take it to the next level - the substantial prison population, carrying out dangerous slave labour, also provide recruits for the Penal Companies who work alongside the civilian workforce of penal labourers. So vital has this job become that St Adelphia's hope is now a net importer of convicts, meaning there is a large contingent of Imperial Guard penal units to work in the mines.
But unlike the civilian labourers they have a few extra ways to die. They could wind up working in the Magos Biologis' mysterious mountaintop laboratories. They could get flown out, sent into the most dangerous warzones for suicide missions, or work as cheap mine-clearing units ... and impelled only by that one-in-a-million chance that they survive and get their pardon. The fact that only about ten men out of millions ever have, doesn't seem to deter them.
So life is cheap in the Penal Companies - even by Imperial Guard standards - and when a general has Adelphian troops in his army, and a job too suicidal even to give to conscript platoons, he calls on the 'Hazardous Environment Reconnaissance Platoons'.
Being the captain of a Penal Platoon is not a glamourous job. Why Lieutenant Morgan Earnest Hellbrooke volunteered for the job, nobody really knows. As an officer, he isn't a convict and doesn't have to do the most suicidal missions - but the pay is worse than a regular corporal and the life expectancy isn't exactly high. The last four commanders of the 99 'Last Gasp' Platoon have all been murdered, and there haven't even been any arrests. Why arrest a condemned man for murder?
Whatever the reason, Hellbrooke has a reputation of a man who gets things done. Since he too command, he has completed thirteen missions - and four hundred souls have found redemption at the hands of the Emperor ... in person.
Well, that's it for now! I'll be working on a few more penal troops, as well as Captain Hellbrooke himself, later on in the new year, so keep your eyes peeled!