"Once, I was nothing. The Astartes made me everything."
Elgast Cotenue was a Company Champion of the Imperial Fists who later helped to found the Golden Reclaimers, becoming their first Chapter Master. With several hundred years of combat experience he is the most powerful warrior in the chapter and is well-known for his unwavering dedication to not only the Space Marines under his command, but the Imperial citizens they defend. As the Reclaimers' leader, he has brought his relatively new chapter from strength to strength in their long campaigns and is greatly respected by other leaders as a result.
Elgast Cotenue was born on the hive world of Necromunda in 522.M41. As one person among untold billions of Imperial citizens living in the vast expanse of Hive Primus, he faced a harsh life within the massive city and was forced to look after himself from a young age. He spent the first few years of his life in an orphanage, though food was scarce and the mortality rate among the other children was high due to the many dangers of living in that particular part of the city. Elgast quickly realised that to survive he would have to look after himself, stealing more food and often getting into fights over scraps with others. By the age of nine, he had joined a local gang and participated in a number of muggings and street battles with their rivals. It was here that Elgast first met Malen Praxas, a fellow child ganger who soon became his best friend. The pair were able to survive several years in the gang in spite of low survival odds, until an attack on a weapons shipment lead to them being targeted by House Van Saar, Hive Primus' richest House.
What ensued was a massacre, the technologically-advanced Van Saar gangers easily wiping out most of Elgast's gang. He and Malen were soon surrounded by enemies in a run-down building, and slowly running out of ammunition. Over the course of a day the two fourteen year-olds had racked up nearly three dozen kills, but had sustained several wounds in doing so. Unbeknownst to Elgast and his comrade, their losing fight had been watched from afar by Chaplains of the Imperial Fists Chapter, who descended from the rooftops and rescued the pair before they were killed and escaped via Jump Packs. Elgast and Malen were knocked out in the process, and when they awoke they were being brought aboard a Thunderhawk transport alongside several others, which soon left Necromunda for good.
After some time, Elgast and dozens of other aspirants arrived at Phalanx, the mobile Fortress-Monastery of the Imperial Fists. There the recruits would undergo a brutal training regimen that would test their mental and physical capabilities to the limit. Though several died during this process, Elgast and Malen made sure to look out for one another and often worked together during training exercises. As such, the pair quickly became the top-performing aspirants in their group and impressed their Space Marine trainers. After six months, however, they would have to face their greatest test alone: The 'tunnel of terror', a tough gauntlet in which they had to survive extreme temperatures and empty space amongst other trials. While Malen would pull through with relative ease, Elgast barely survived the trials and was close to death when he finally emerged. Regardless, once he recovered he joined the survivors as they became cadets of the Imperial Fists chapter.
Following their trials, Elgast and the others would begin the process of indoctrination and augmentation that would transform them from normal Humans into Space Marines. This would take time while the various organs were implanted into their bodies and their minds were made stronger. Eventually, his group would emerge as full-fledged Space Marines. Barely two weeks after recovering from these augmentations, they were assigned to the Imperial Fists' Tenth Company under Captain Taelos to serve as Scouts.
Elgast and Malen would fight side-by-side on multiple campaigns during their time as Scout Marines. During this time Elgast became an accomplished marksman and was responsible for the deaths of several notable enemy commanders while on missions. The pair remained in the 10th Company for eighteen years and racked up an impressive killcount before finally becoming full Space Marines. After their graduation, they were transferred to the Imperial Fists' Fifth Company. Their friendship and determination impressed the then-Captain Vorn Hagen, as they were placed into one of the Company's many Devastator Squads.
One of Elgast's first missions as a Space Marine was a deployment to a Hive World embroiled in a war with Chaos Insurrectionists. With the possible threat of a Daemonic incursion if the cultists were not immediately destroyed, the Imperial Fists were sent in to save the planet. Elgast's squad were to support three Tactical Squads as they advanced through the city, killing dozens of poorly-armed cultists as they moved to kill their leader. As the Marines drew closer, they were ambushed by dozens of Black Legion Chaos Marines while in orbit several enemy ships emerged from the Warp. While the Fists were able to hold the line against this new foe for some time, it soon became clear that their foe were more numerous than they first anticipated; Chaos Predators and Defilers smashed their way across the Hive City and gradually pushed them back. It was during this battle that most of Elgast's squad was killed, leaving only him and Malen alive to hold back the tide in their area. Using his Missile Launcher and the weapons of his fallen Battle-Brothers, the two Space Marines destroyed a number of Defilers and annihilated every Chaos Marine that approached their position, holding out for well over a day before reinforcements arrived in the form of a Terminator Squad.
Within a week of fighting the Imperial Fists had driven the last remnants of the Black Legion from the Hive World and successfully liberated it in the name of the Imperium. However, the taint of Chaos had spread much further than the Marines had first believed, leading to several minor skirmishes with local Imperial Guard forces shortly after. Once the Fists and a portion of the civilian population had been evacuated from the planet, it was subjected to Exterminatus via mass bombardment and destroyed; Elgast and Malen watched its destruction from their Strike Cruiser, both shaken and impressed at the destruction wrought by their Chapter. Both were commended for their actions against Chaos and were reassigned to another squad shortly after the battle. Elgast would participate in many battles as part of the Imperial Fists, eventually earning his place as an Assault Marine after several successful campaigns. The change from a support role to close-range combat was a welcome one for Elgast, who took up the chainsword eagerly and became one of the Fifth Company's most valuable shock troops.
Elgast would remain as an Assault Marine for nearly forty years alongside his longtime friend Malen, the pair becoming renowned as nigh-unbeatable partners while in battle. In 649.M41, Elgast was chosen by Captain Hagen to represent the Imperial Fists Chapter at the 811th Feast of Blades; an illustrious honour for any Space Marine. While he privately doubted that he could compete against the array of skilled warriors from other chapters, Elgast fought valiantly and managed to overcome the other champions after a series of gruelling duels. Shortly after his victory, Elgast was honoured with the title of Company Champion and elevated to Vorn Hagen's personal Command Squad. While many saw this as a great honour for the relatively young Marine, Elgast personally felt that he had been entrusted with such a high rank far too soon and preferred life within his Assault Squad. Nonetheless, he did not refuse the promotion and would stand at the Captain's side on subsequent campaigns.
"Space Marines, Guardsmen, to me! As servants of the God-Emperor it is our duty to defend his subjects from the taint of Chaos that has infected this world and threatens us all! Are we any better than our foes if we abandon millions of innocents to the Daemons and corrupted filth below? By the grace of our Emperor, I WILL retake this city!"
―Elgast rallying Imperial troops before his counterattack.
As Champion of the Fifth Company, Elgast would serve valiantly alongside Captain Hagen for a number of decades and helped lead his Battle-Brothers on multiple campaigns. By 702.M41 many within the company saw him as a fit successor should their Captain ever fall in battle or ascend to the rank of Chapter Master, though Elgast privately felt that he was a better fighter than leader. That year, the Imperial Fists were called alongside the Ultramarines and a large contingent of Imperial Guard to quell what was initially believed to be a large-scale revolt on Garanth IV and several surrounding planets. While the use of two Space Marine chapters was initially seen as somewhat excessive, it soon became clear that the revolt was not merely due to a civilian uprising as a large Space Hulk was sighted, marking the arrival of a large number of Chaos Space Marines. The Fifth Company was immediately deployed to Garanth IV with orders to completely purge the planet's capital city of Chaotic taint.
Shortly after landing on the planet, the Imperial Fists came under attack by waves of armed militia and defected Guardsmen, many of whom were slaughtered before they could inflict any real casualties on the Space Marines. This relentless assault continued for several hours, culminating in thousands of deaths with barely a dozen Astartes killed. As they regrouped and made plans to assault a nearby city, the forces of Chaos revealed themselves as dozens of tanks emerged and began their assault on the Marines. It did not take long before their foes were identified; it was none other than the Iron Warriors, the Imperial Fists' greatest foes. This only served to motivate Elgast and his brothers, who led a charge that broke through enemy ranks and routed them and destroyed most of their vehicles. The pursuit that followed led to the deaths of many Iron Warriors as the Imperial Fists moved into the city, wiping out their foes in close combat as reinforcements landed nearby from the Seventh Company. However, as the battle went on both Elgast and Captain Hagen began to feel uneasy at how easily the forces of Chaos were driven back. Their suspicions were proven correct when the area around them began to crumble as the Iron Warriors detonated explosive devices to level half the city. Dozens of Marines were killed, prompting a swift retreat as the ground itself began to give way beneath their feet. The Fifth Company was able to retreat into the nearby hills as the city crumbled, revealing a massive Warp Rift that would have consumed the Imperial Fists had they proceeded any further.
While many saw defeat as a possibility, Elgast and a number of his Battle-Brothers wished to return to the city to save the remaining civilians, who were being rounded up in the thousands and sacrificed to give the expanding rift more power. News soon arrived from the Ultramarines elsewhere on Garanth IV that a number of Black Legion Sorcerers had been sighted among the Iron Warriors' ranks, and were attempting to open more rifts across the planet. Fearing a full-on Daemonic incursion, Captain Hagen took temporary command of the Seventh Company, whose captain had been killed in the city, and moved west to engage a larger force of Iron Warriors that were approaching them. Though the Fifth Company was depleted, Elgast was left in charge and ordered to act as he saw fit to end the incursion. While surprised by the sudden command given to him, he rallied both the Space Marines of his company and the few hundred Imperial Guardsmen who had survived against the Chaos Marines for a massive counterattack into the city, with the objective of closing the Warp rift at all costs.
By the time the Imperial troops arrived back in what remained of the capital, Daemons had already began to emerge from the rift, drawn by the mass sacrifices and power of the Chaos Sorcerers. Elgast's main goal was to eliminate the sorcerers around the rift and to plant a homing beacon nearby, enabling a massive orbital bombardment that would hopefully win the battle, even if he and his entire force perished in the attempt. The fighting grew fiercer as they approached the rift, with the Iron Warriors fighting alongside Bloodletters of Khorne in an attempt to halt the Imperial Fists' advance. Elgast slew dozens of Daemons and traitors, driven by a righteous fury against his foes. However, the Fifth Company were scattered and had taken significant casualties in their advance, leaving Elgast with only a few squads around him to make their final assault on the rift. The squads were lead by none other than Brother-Sergeant Malen Praxas, Elgast's oldest friend and ally. Glad to have Malen by his side on what he believed was a suicide mission, the Champion led his Battle-Brothers on one last charge into enemy lines, personally decapitating one of the Sorcerers as his Marines planted their homing beacon. Beset on all sides by enemies, Elgast's men prepared for a final stand as they were attacked by the Iron Warriors Warsmith who had led his forces to Garanth IV. The Warsmith would have taken Elgast by surprise were it not for Malen, who engaged the enemy commander in close combat for some time while the Champion slew another Sorcerer. As Elgast turned to assist his friend, the Warsmith blasted one of Malen's arms off with his Melta Gun before cutting the Marine Sergeant in half horizontally.
The Champion flew into a rage at the sight of this, attacking and bringing down Malen's killer with a single blow of his power sword before activating the homing beacon that would bring the Emperor's Fury down on the warp rift, obliterating everything in sight. Instead of a blast from one of their orbiting Battle Barge, two-dozen heavily-armed Terminators teleported onto the site, immediately turning the tide and slaughtering all that stood in their path. With the forces of Chaos quickly wiped out by this timely intervention, the warp rift imploded and closed. As Elgast's rage began to subside, he found himself covered in the blood of his enemies and looking up at none other than Darnath Lysander, Captain of the Imperial Fists' First Company and one of the chapter's greatest heroes. The Captain congratulated Elgast for his bravery, and informed him that the battle would soon be won. Shortly after this a number of apothecaries arrived to extract gene-seed from their fallen brothers; over half of the Fifth Company had fallen in the siege, though there was little doubt that many more would have died had Elgast not launched his attack. As Lysander led his Terminators away to finish off what remained of their foe, Elgast dragged Malen's body out of the rubble and discovered that his Battle-brother was barely alive in spite of his grievous injuries. Calling for immediate transportation from a nearby Thunderhawk and assistance from a nearby Apothecary, Elgast and the other survivors left Garanth IV with intentions of returning to the Phalanx.
Though gravely injured beyond the help of any bionics, Elgast and the chapter Apothecaries were able to keep Malen alive long enough for their return to The Phalanx, where their Battle-Brother was interred in the armoured sarcophagus of a Dreadnought. Elgast was commended once more for his actions on Garanth IV, and was even offered the position of Captain of the Seventh Company by his superiors. He declined the position to keep his current role as the Fifth Company's Champion, largely out of loyalty to Captain Hagen and willingness to remain in the same company as Malen, who remained there even as a Dreadnought. While they respected his decision, Elgast was often considered one of the most promising members of the Imperial Fists, directly behind Darnath Lysander and Vorn Hagen in the unofficial line of succession for the next Chapter Master in spite of the fact that he did not hold the rank of Captain. Elgast was unaware of how highly be was regarded by his superiors, and wished to remain in his Champion's role as a warrior rather than a leader.
In 738.M41, orders came down from the High Lords of Terra that a new Space Marine Founding was to take place. In this one, the 26th, the Imperial Fists would authorise the creation of several new successor chapters and chose a number of Marines from their ranks to lead them. One such chapter was dubbed the 'Golden Reclaimers', and Elgast Cotenue was chosen as its first Chapter Master. Though he protested, Captain Hagen advised him to take the role; to refuse would be seen as a grave insult by some. Reluctantly, Elgast took up the role and spent a number of years overseeing the creation of his new chapter. In choosing a group of warriors to accompany him from the Imperial Fists, he brought Malen Praxas and several dozen of his brothers from he Fifth Company to take up positions in the Reclaimers as new Marines were inducted and trained. Lastly, the Imperial Fists gifted them the planet Veren, a small Agri World in the Segmentum Pacificus that had once housed an Imperial outpost.
While some of his comrades felt that they had been given a raw deal in terms of their new homeworld, Elgast spent a number of years having the Golden Reclaimers' new fortress constructed on Veren. Several artificers from the Imperial Fists gladly lent their support in its construction as the new chapter slowly grew with newer Marines. By 786.M41, the Golden Fortress was completed shortly before the Chapter reached full-strength. Not one to disappoint, Elgast led his new First Company in battle for the first time against an army of heretics on a nearby Hive World. While millions were slaughtered by the eager Marines, there remained a few thousand who had resisted the temptations of Chaos and rebellion. While he was advised by the planetary governor to have them executed, Elgast chose to spare the civilians, an act that led to an angry debate between the Chapter Master and the Hive World's surviving arisocracy, who had immediately fled to their orbital ships when news of fighting broke out. Seeing the spread of corruption and vice among the ruling class, Elgast's patience was broken when the arrogant governor began to treat his Marines like servants. He then had them massacred for their perceived crimes. A search of some of the aristocrat's ships revealed objects of worship related to the Chaos god Slaanesh, proving his suspicions to be true. Leaving the Hive World's repopulation as a problem for the sector's authorities, Elgast had the survivors thoroughly checked for and signs of corruption and had them transported to Veren, where they would be housed and given work. This act of unusual kindness was noted by Elgast's brothers, and a long council meeting involving the Reclaimers' leaders ended with the announcement that their chapter would work to reclaim and rebuild a number of worlds that had been abandoned or otherwise neglected by the Imperium. Leaving the chapter's Ninth and Tenth Companies in charge of their home sector, Elgast would lead the other eight Companies on a massive campaign that would last a number of years.
"The discovery of not one, but dozens of Human worlds living outside of the Imperium's control disturbs me greatly. The fact that many are somehow untouched by heresy and corruption is even more worrying. Nonetheless, we must press on, and bring the Emperor's light to those still in the dark."
Reclaimer - A Master-crafted Power Sword, presented to Elgast by his former brethren within the Imperial Fists shortly after his appointment as Chapter Master of the Golden Reclaimers. It has seen several hundred years of combat, and is the Reclaimers' most prized artefact. Elgast plans to have it passed on to the next Chapter Master after his death.
Bolt Pistol - Master-crafted by the Artificers of the Imperial Fists, this weapon once belonged to Vorn Hagen while he was Captain of the Fifth Company. He passed it on to Elgast as a sign of respect after he served for many years as the Company Champion.
Mark VII Aquila Power Armour - A highly ornate suit of Artificer armour designed specifically for Elgast after his Chapter's creation, it has seen its user through countless battles. The helmet was made to resemble the helm that Elgast wore in his many decades of service as the Fifth Company's Champion within the Imperial Fists, and is adorned with several purity seals and inscriptions of the Golden Reclaimers' victories over the years.
"You're a force of nature, my friend; unmatched with blade or Bolter."
―Malen Praxas complimenting Elgast in 692.M41
With centuries of combat experience, Elgast was widely known for his skill in battle even before his appointment as Chapter Master of the Golden Reclaimers. While Space Marines are trained to use a wide variety of weapons, he often favoured the Chainsword or other blades to use in close combat, having gotten a taste for it during his years as an Assault Marine. It was Elgast's prowess that first brought him to the attention of his superiors, leading to his selection for the 811th Feast of Blades, from which he emerged as the victor. Even centuries later, he often trains the Chapter's recruits in the art of swordsmanship, and is an incredibly dangerous foe on the battlefield. Elgast's usual battle style is to lay down a hail of Bolter fire to suppress the enemy until he and his comrades can advance, engaging their foe a bloody melee and destroying them. His personal blade, Reclaimer, has taken the lives of many Xenos and Heretic champions in duels over the centuries, honing the Chapter Master's skills even further with each battle won.
"There will be an unconditional surrender to the Imperium. Refuse and you face extermination."
―Elgast's single warning to a rebel-held planet
A stern disciplinarian when it comes to his Chapter, many of Elgast's traits are similar to those exhibited by his former brothers in the Imperial Fists. As such, he ensures that both he and his brothers have a great deal of self-discipline and are ready for anything. During his days in the Fists, Elgast was often scolded for his individualism and penchant towards self-preservation; the only person whom he seemed to care about was Malen Praxas, his oldest friend. However, as they were properly trained he was able to turn this attitude into a desire to be the best he could be in his drive to become a Space Marine. However, Elgast had few true friends among his battle-brothers as he strove to fight more for the honour of his Chapter than for the Marines fighting alongside him.
As the years went on, however, Elgast's fairly cold temperament began to change as he lost many brothers in combat and fought on as newer Marines arrived to replace his fallen comrades. It was during his time as an Assault Marine that his leadership qualities emerged, as he began to care more for his fellows while on missions, and was often seen going on bloody rampages after the death of a fellow battle-brother. His participation and victory in the Feast of Blades and eventual ascension to the rank of Company Champion instilled a fierce loyalty in Elgast; even in later years he would still defend the honour of the Imperial Fists from time to time. As Chapter Master of the Golden Reclaimers, he was sure to instil respect for the Fists' into all new recruits.
Having grown up and seen the dire state that untold billions of Imperial citizens live in, Elgast was surprisingly sympathetic to their plight for a Space Marine and often worked to avoid civilian casualties and even remained to assist in the reconstruction of worlds shattered by their campaigns against rebellions. While this was seen as a weakness by some, Elgast's compassion for his fellow man made his Chapter well-loved with the civilian populace in several sectors. However, when dealing with the forces of Chaos or enemy Xenos, Elgast was renowned for his fury in battle and the decisive actions taken during campaigns. He held a particularly deep hatred for the Iron Warriors, both for crippling his friend Malen and repeatedly attacking his Chapter over the years. During the Great Reclamation, he would often give rebel-held planets a single chance to surrender and face execution, or fight and be annihilated. While this was an effective fear tactic, Elgast was a man of his word and had millions of foes slaughtered for refusing to surrender when asked.