An Iron Father is a specialist officer unique to the Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter. A hybrid of the Chaplain and Techmarine roles found in Codex-compliant Chapters, to the Iron Hands, the duties of both are intricately intertwined. The Iron Fathers oversee the Chapter’s spiritual health, but they also guide the Battle-Brothers in their journey from a being of biological weakness to a warrior of rage and iron.
Given the atypical nature of the Iron Hands’ Chapter dogma, it is not surprising that they espouse a highly divergent form of beliefs. Instead of the conventional Chaplains fielded by most Codex-compliant Chapters, the Iron Hands maintain a special cadre of officers known as the Iron Fathers. These individuals combine the qualities of both a Chaplain and Techmarine. It is the Iron Fathers who administer and oversee the Neophytes' ascension to full Initiate, and who, along with the Chapter’s Apothecaries, conduct the many and escalating cybernetic augmentation surgeries a Battle-Brother undergoes throughout his service. The Iron Fathers are inspirational figures to their charges, shining exemplars of all that the Chapter holds dear. They preach unyielding hatred for the foes of the Emperor, and promise that one day their lost Primarch Ferrus Manus will return, to bring light to the benighted Imperium as he did to gloomy Medusa over 10,000 Terran years ago.
The Iron Father is considered the representative to the Chapter of both the Emperor of Mankind and the Adeptus Mechanicus' Cult Mechanicus. Unlike the Chaplains of other Chapters, however, the Iron Fathers do not receive a Rosarius from the Ecclesiarchy because of the perceived heresy of the Iron Hands' belief in the doctrines of the Omnissiah rather than the standard Imperial Creed. The Iron Fathers are schooled in the mysteries of the Machine Cult to a far greater degree than the Techmarines of most other Chapters. Like all Techmarines, they undergo a portion of their instruction under the supervision of the Tech-priests of the Cult Mechanicus. Yet, while most Techmarines maintain a mutually reserved distance from the Cult of Mars, the Iron Fathers appear to have far closer links, and are schooled in the most obscure of disciplines.
The use of Bionics is commonplace in the Imperium, yet the Iron Fathers are able to reconstruct the bodies of their charges right down to the cellular level, replacing the tiniest of biological functions with far superior mechanical components. It is only by way of the arts of the Iron Fathers and the skills they are taught by the Adeptus Mechanicus that an Iron Hands Astartes may be transformed from a genetically enhanced warrior to something not far from a pure machine, without losing the essence of what it is to be a member of the Adeptus Astartes. A fully mechanised Iron Hands Battle-Brother is far more than an automaton controlled by a scrap of grey matter—he is an unstoppable machine of war fuelled by faith and hatred, and utterly convinced of the truth of the dogma that the flesh is weak and that iron is strong.