"Many interpret our honour beliefs as a 'cowards fight'. What do we say to that? All I will say is that the ability to hide dozens of miles away and never look your opponent in the eye does not make a true warrior."
-Beserker Chieftain Arnaky, Ifkashar Clan
Standing at 12-18 feet tall, Beserkers are easily noticeable among the plethora of species roaming the Imperium. They are one of the few species to have more than four limbs, indicating an evolution unaffected by the Sh'Kaali. Instead, they have four arms and two bipedal legs, allowing them to stand upright or crawl with ease when needed- usually for an extremely fast sprinting charge at their enemies- and also wield tools or weapons at the same time.
Their face is dominated by two large canines that are primarily used for gripping on the tough hides of the creatures they eat on their homeworld, Kanafin. This also makes them brutal in combat, even when disarmed when used alongside their incredible strength. In between their two orange eyes, their is a small 'ridge' in the middle of their head that is essentially a thick armour plate above their heads, In the middle of this ridge is a row of feather-like structures, also appearing in a single row up the arms and legs of warriors, hinting at avian relations as well as reptilian. A Beserker is, on avergae, able to live to the age of around 200 years old, before dying of old age.
Due to the 2.05G gravity they evolved in, the Beserker strength is unparalleled by any other species, almost matching that of S'pher Heavy forms and Sh'kaali soldiers. This strength has been confirmed to be used-in rare cases- to literally tear their opponents in half during battle. Their large physique also allows them to wield heavier weapons casually, for example, a human Greatsword would be a simple dagger or combat knife for these hulking monsters. Their weapons are- as such- rarely, if ever- used by other species in battle.
Their skin is generally a brown-yellow shade, but has been observed to be closer to a grey colour for those living in particularly northern or southern regions. This colour seems to gradually get darker with age which allows easy identification of clan leaders and elders in battle, for targeting. This also applies to their feathers on their head, arms and legs. However, this skin is often dominated by large, naturally occuring, armour plates not unlike those of a rhinocerous. These plates naturally shed over time, typically around the age of 100-105 years old.
Another, less noticeable aspect of their biology is a massive resistance to radiation, UV and other chemical/ biological hazards. These resistances appear to be naturally evolved, an adaptation to the incredibly hostile environment they live in. Despite these adaptations, the Beserkers are still known to have an extremely high casualty rate amongst those living on their world.
Despite having a seemingly brutal and horrific fighting style, the Beserkers have a great emphasis on honour in their clans. For example, stealth engagements tend to be frowned upon by Beserkers, as they give opponents an unfair advantage.
Because of this, battles and disputes are often done through arranged combat- both armies/ combatants will have equal strength (Numbers, Weapons, Etc) and will begin fighting on a pre-arranged time. Where an assassination would be ordered, the two enemies would meet each other in one of the many arenas on their home world of Kanafin, to battle to the death.
In honourable battles- or those deemed as fair for both sides involved- the Beserker will always fight fairly. Bodies of dead rivals will be allowed to be reclaimed for proper burial by the opposing clan, so Flechette Cannons/ Spike Cannons are rarely used. If a battle is deemed dishonourable (The opposing army(s) brought more troops than arranged, attacked early, used capital ships for Orbital Strikes, etc), then Beserkers are an unparalleled force. Because of the nature if these battles, more destructive weapons are used, and for the winners, the bodies of dead opponents would be eaten in a great feast on the battlefield.
Another great belief of the Beserker is that a warrior should always be able to look his killer in the eye- this means that training is often done with a strong emphasis on melee combat; bows and firearms are often frowned on. This also partially relates back to the dishonour of assassins- that there is no honour in killing those who cannot have a chance to defend themselves. Because of this, army leaders will lead their soldiers into battle, rather than sitting on the sidelines.
Outside of the battlefield, honour plays a great deal in regular life. Due to their being 12 Major Clans on a Class 3 planet, there is often not enough resources for an entire clan. This created a problem that was resolved with the addition of crude spacecraft into the little technology employed by these creatures. These craft only served one purpose of taking the Beserkers to a new world. Fortunately, they are able to survive in Earthlike Conditions, so they were able to colonise with ease, though they only have a few colonies. When a young Beserker is of age (Typically 11-12), they will be called forth by the Elders of The Clan to serve; this child must (If he was not already there) be taken to the surface of the Homeworld to gain his honour. This would involve living on the planet for many years, learning the skills necessary to survive on that harsh environment, including hunting, combat, riding, survival and other things of that type. Once they haven proven worthy of being accepted into the clan, they will be accepted into one of the three Castes- Warrior, Hunter, or Guardsmen.
Should a Beserker choose to not do these tasks, he(or she) will be branded as a 'Dishonourable'- the same is branded to those who desert their clan in a time of need, those who fight/ lead a dishonourable army and those who engage in assassinations. They will be sent out to the Wild Space, by their clan. Should they choose to regain their honour, they will be welcomed back into the clan and will be to do the tasks given to Initiates. Often, the dishonourable instead become mercenaries, working only for those who pay them for any purpose.
Another battlefield-related symbolic is the collection of feathers from an opponent personally killed. Every Beserker's feather colourings are different (UCE scientists are yet to find a case of two identical pairings, and theorise these to be much like Human Fingerprints) and unique to that individual. One feather is taken from the front of the 'Head mane' and added to the armour of that warrior after battle. Likewise, a small section of skin from the back of the head is cut- this skin is incredibly rigid and armour-like. Once again, engaging a warrior in combat, whilst he is performing this ritual, is considered dishonourable. An opponent would have to wait for this to be completed to start combat. As such, the skill of a warrior can generally be judged by his armour- it would have more feather decorations and the armour itself would be more coated with a patchwork of skins of his fallen enemies. This can also be used to judge the rank in the clan, more experience warriors are often seen as elders or leaders.
In death, warriors are disposed of in different ways, depending on the circumstances of their death- if in dishonourable battle, the body is either abandoned to rot on the battlefield, or taken to be cannibalised by the victors. If in honourable battle or arena fights, clans will return the bodies of the fallen to the losing side for disposal. In this, the bodies are cremated on funeral pyres in the midst of feasts and celebrations for the passing of those fallen. The collected feathers and custom armour and weapons built by that user are taken and are placed in the family home in the house trophy collection, next to a small urn of ashes of that warrior.
Beserker weaponry is often seen as crude, in comparison to the technology used by more advanced armies. Instead of high-end ballistics and energy firearms, the Beserker instead choose to have a preference for melee-orientated fighting styles; swords, warhammers, battle axes, maces and other CQC weaponry are not uncommon for these troops. Each soldier trains with variations of each weapon before finding one they are comfortable using, and then spends a large amount of time custom-making that weapon to be suited for their preference. This also means that each warrior is unparalleled with their custom weapon while less effective with others.
This emphasis on melee also discourages the use of firearms in society- it is deemed dishonourable to kill opponents without looking them/ letting them know who killed them. However, the presence of the hostile Archers, as well the widespread use of guns in the galactic community has not gone unrecognised- there are two widely used firearms on the planet, being the Flechette Cannon and Impaler Cannon. These rifles reflect the nature of the species, still maintaining a heavy Close-Quarters-Combat (CQC) emphasis in their designs, and still being very simplistic in nature.
Weapons are typically made from the rich iron deposits found on the volcanic plains of Kanafin, brought up from the core and mantle through heavy volcanic activity and naturally occuring deposits in the deep gorges of Kanafin. Some lans, closer to the Old Cities have been known to utilise rarer metals and alloys that survived the ages and countless conflicts across the planet. These weapons are always more destructive and are always found in the hands of tribal elders and chieftains. some of these metals are theorised to be powerful superconductors and contain massive magnetic properties, some of which have been known to interfere with electronics such as those employed in armour and vehicles- though UCE scientists are yet to get a proper analysis of these weapons, due to the incredibly rare nature of them.
There are 12 Main Clans on Kanafin, 13 if including the similar Archers. Each clan has a fairly similar heirarchy and caste system, with one tribal elder, or Chieftain, at the top. These Chieftains do not always reside on Kanafin, with some choosing to live a more luxurious life on other worlds. However, these Chieftains will always lead their armies into battle, and do spend a significant portion of time on the homeworld. Below the Chieftain are the Elders- these are comprised of individuals who are too old to fight, but instead advise the chieftain on matters. The chieftains and Elders of clans are typically the only Beserkers to ever be present in Imperium gatherings, and are the only Beserkers to set foot in the Shepard-Walker Battlestation. Below this, all Beserkers are judged based on the amount of feathers/ patches they have in their armour, with the more elaborate being higher ranked. However, these are not official, and youngers only follow these orders with respect for their elders.
When a younger wishes to become Chieftain, he/ she will engage the chief in an arena- these gladitorial arena battles are viewed as events and become yearly celebrations, should the challenger be victorious. The challenger will have rights to take weapons and the Chieftain's feather (Which is usually worn on a crown) and become the new Chieftain. Should a chieftain die without being challenged/ defeated, the title of Chieftain will be passed to his eldest son (Unless they are a dishonoured), and will proceed down his family until there are no more eligible heirs- if this happens, then the elders convene to decide who should become the next leader.
The Beserkers are theorised to be one of the earliest evolving races to reach spacefaring status in the galaxy. On some worlds, there have been reports of spacecraft debris on the surface- rumours report that these craft have had traces of metals found only on Kanafin- though UCE sources have denied these claims of ancient spacefaring Beserkers. However, advanced dating methods have proved these ships (Or what remains of them) to be upwards of 6,000 years old- even older than the first Vulture and Osmatari records. This is all that is theorised by the UCE. However, there is much more evidence to support an ancient civilisation on Kanafin, akin to late 21st/ early 22nd century humanity.
As noted earlier, Kanafin is notable for having large amounts of radiation, gorges, mountains, and other threats. These threats are not naturally occuring, with Kanafin once being largely comprised of swamps and woodlands. As the Beserkers were one of the first major civilisations to arise from the ashes of Previous Galactic Warfare, it remains a mystery to why their lifestyle is primitive. This answer comes from within the gorges and canyons across the surface of the planet. Deep within these canyons and caves, there are reports of (Semi) Intact buildings in the crust and lining some of these canyons. if these reports are to be believed, the culture of the Beserkers and Archers and the events leading to war could be stored in potential computer systems and other data. hese buildings, lining the streets of massive gorges, would, as such, essentially be artificial cave systems in the forms of corridors and rooms- the same type of Warrens used by Archers for burrowing in the ground.
Mercenaries have been known to go into these ruins, recovering artifacts, data, snapshots, video recordings and other useful data (Usually to sell the UCE Research Divisions at exceedingly high prices.) but at high cost- only twelve of the hundreds of soldiers have survived venturing these caverns, and refused to talk about what they'd seen (All had confirmed PTSD from these events and, despite the best psychoanalysis available, are yet to reveal the secrets and horrors found in the Catacombs.) One thing that can be gleamed, however, is that the tunnels are remarkably well preserved in the entrance areas- another thing the survivors shared is that none of them ventured further than where sunlight shines into the areas (Typically about 10 metres, maximum; depending on location of entry.) and that for all cases, the most advanced IR, Radar Imaging, EL (EchoLocation) and other scanning imagery has consistently stopped working altogether in the tombs, but returns to 100% working condition upon being more than five metres away from the 'entrance'. The camera visuals have also been known to fail, with all recordings stuttering and every video cutting out once the operator got more than seven metres in, or stayed for more then approximately three to four minutes in these areas. After almost exactly 32 seconds, the video then snaps back in with the user lying on the floor and proceeds with them making a hasty retreat out of the area. The area where the user wakes up is usually covered in what appears to be human blood- and lots of it- but medi-scans reveal no injury, foreign objects or injury in the user in the level that should be expected from the gory scenes, and the next expeditions to the same spot reveal it as it was when it was originally found, with no traces of blood to be found. The final characteristic is from the record of one of the soldiers: this record is significant, as more can be seen in the darkness- two glowing orange eyes and an echoing voice simply stating 'Whispers in the night'. This has been unoficially deemed the 'Mystery of The Catacombs', and is classified at a level 1 access in UCE heirarchy.
The Wars of the Ancients