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The optical sights of their weapon can be tailored for any situation, from thermoscopic vision to precision auspex scans that can penetrate several feet through solid matter. Once marked, there is nowhere for an Eliminator's prey to hide, and no amount of protective armour that can stop the killing shot. These warriors are chosen for their adaptive thinking as well as their ability to improvise on the fly.
Eliminator Squads fulfil a wide variety of roles as the situation demands, switching quickly from knocking out artillery crews and enemy communications specialists, to mowing down massed foes moving to reinforce the battleline, to picking off the foe's own elite marksmen in vicious sniper-duels.
Eliminator Squad may be tasked with the death of a specific enemy leader, threading like the spectre of death through the mayhem of battle to line up their perfect kill-shots. Alternatively, their pinpoint fire may be put to use covering spearhead assaults or swiftly cutting the legs out from under sudden enemy counterattacks. Reiver are notoriously feared on the battlefield, and rightly so, for the Night Ravens' warriors or no exception.
They are specially trained and equipped to launch brutally effective and unexpected assaults. They do so with a sudden fury and shocking violence, for the Reiver Squads fulfil the role of terror troops that sow fear and confusion amongst their foes. As master of terror tactics these deadly warriors stalk the shadows, breaking stealth in a cacophony of bolter fire, grenade detonation and harsh, ear-piercing vox-amplified avian caws. Often, a lone Reiver reconnaissance strike force will be forced to rely on the briefest window of opportunity to take down their targets at close range, utilsing their combat knives rather than have the luxury of distance and able sighting as their Vanguard Eliminator brethren.
The Mark X Phobos Armour worn by the Chapter's Reivers has been modifed to display a large frightening avian-skull faced helm, as well as an enlarged left pauldron to enhance their protection in meless situations and to run completely silent. Reivers are armed primarily to engage in close combat, and all make use of combat knives , power swords , heavy bolt pistols and handheld, deadly versions of the bolt rifle.
Reivers can also stun enemy infantry with shock grenades or deploy deep behind hostile lines via grapnel launcher or grav-chutes. Before engaging an enemy in battle, the Night Ravens carefully identify all of their assets and utilise them to the fullest extent possible.
These often include assets that are not identified within the dictates of the Codex Astartes. This includes such formations as the ' Ashen Shades ' and the ' Dark Wings '. The former are a result of their aberrant gene-seed and seemingly inherited battlefield madness of the ancient XIX Legion. These cold-blooded individuals were known unofficially as Moritats - Legionaries who displayed suicidal urges and a blatant disregard for overall combat doctrine.
Operating independently on the battlefield, these individuals were often employed as efficient shock assault troops and tactical assassins. They were often used, willingly, to undertake suicidal missions from which they are not expected to return. This tradition is still carried on by the Night Ravens Chapter, as over time some of their warriors fall into a state of cold indifference and become withdrawn almost entirely from interacting with others.
Known as "Ashen Shades", they are no longer able to lead squads. These afflicted individuals stalk the battlefields alone, forsaking all pretence of self-preservation, determined to cause as many casualties and inflict as much destruction as possible before succumbing to their foe. The other unique formation are known as the "Dark Wings". These individual warriors are distinctive as they all possess a unique mutation that occurs very rarely - large avian-like wings framed by the blackened feathers that sprout from their shoulder blades.
These mighty pinions are able to bear them aloft and allows them to take flight and to descend down upon their enemies like predatory birds, appearing as a living manifestation of the grim executioner taken flight on broad sable coloured wings, like an avenging angel of death, striking fear into the hearts of their foes. Looked upon as being blessed by the Raven Lord himself, by their fellow Shade-Brothers, these individual warriors all but assured of reaching the senior echelons of the Chapter.
However, this mutation is looked upon with scorn and distrust by those outside the Chapter, especially some of the more radical factions of the Inquisition who believe this is just another sign of the Night Ravens' sullied and cursed blood. Despite such misgivings, their effectiveness in battle cannot be denied.
In addition to the core sturcture of the Chapter, there are six Orders which exists both within and beyond its circumference. These Orders stand apart from the various Companies and individual battlefield specialities, their membership crossing such divides. Their purpose is not the day-to-day tactical operations of the Chapter, but rather to act as unofficial micro-military structures. Perhaps as much as outgrowth of the traditions and culture of the Chapter as a deliberate structure, they are made to cope with the wider factors of conducting operations, the furtherance of the Night Ravens as a whole and its relation to the wider Imperium.
Though the Chapter adheres broadly to the organisational patterns and provisions laid down in the Codex Astartes , they see this tome as a highly effective and proven set of strategic and operational guidelines rather than inviolable dogma to be obeyed without question. Case in point, are their use of unique titles and designations not found in any other Chapter, however, they still nominally perform the same duties as their Codex -oriented counterparts in spirit, if not to the letter:.
The Night Ravens nominally adhere to the tenets of the Codex Astartes as their flaw allows, as they recognise the strictures of the Codex as a form of discipline that can be used to help offset the genetic deficiencies their flaw represents.
Though each company can, and does, often fight as a separate unit, a Night Ravens strike force will often be composed of several squads from different companies, assembled in an ad hoc basis according to the mission at hand. Represented below is the composition and deployment of the Night Ravens Chapter, circa For logistical reasons, each squad is assumed to have a nominal strength of Battle-Brothers, although battlefield attrition and instability brought on by the 'Crow Bone' flaw inevitably reduces this tally:.
The Chapter's preferred combat methods are those of rapid assaults and hit-and-run raiding. The Chapter uses its battle-brothers and the fastest vehicles in their armoury to launch high-speed raids, often deep behind enemy lines. They are a highly mobile Chapter, making wide use of Thunderhawk and Stormtalon gunships and Land Speeders to attack the enemy where they are weakest.
Close Support Squads are the preferred units in battle, with jump pack assaults from Thunderhawks common. Each company also retains a sizeable contingent of Land Speeders of all types for fast moving fire support fo their Assault squads. Alongside speed and mobility the Night Ravens also value stealth and infiltration.
Like their partent Chapter, the Night Ravens make extensive use of their Scout Marines and Primaris Incursors dispersed throughout their task forces. These formations are used for intelligence gathering, indentifying targets, gathering information on enemy movements and stength. These specialised troops are the eyes and ears of the Chapter in the field.
For this task, they are armed with and equipped with a variety of specialised wargear including long-range weaponry, sensory auspex and stealth gear. They also serve the Chapter as pickets, saboteurs, raiders and snipers where needed, and in open battle are experts in sudden flanking manoeuvres and infilation attacks in support of their main force.
These squads can act independently and without support from the Chapter for extended periods. Flexibility and adaptability is the Night Ravens' mantra. Their ability to change with the ever-shifting tides represents the Night Ravens' combat doctrine.
Every battle fought against an unidentified opponent requires a warrior to first identify the foe's strengths and weaknesses. Only once these are known can strengths be avoided and weaknesses exploited. The Night Ravens are adept at using a variety of different approaches against new foes in remarkably short order. Once a particularly effective tactic is identified, it is then used for as long as it remains effective.
However, if no commonly known methods provide a necessary solution, these Space Marines do not hesitate to attempt to find an alternative. At a tactical level, the Night Ravens favor freedom of manoeuvre and portability of firepower, and its battle tactics show particular tendencies towards the heavy use of integrated Firstborn Scout Marines and Primaris Incursors as well as other reconnaissance units such as Land Speeders and Bike Squads to probe enemy positions and identify weak points and any targets with strategic value.
Similarly, by expertly scouting a region prior to launching an attack, the Night Ravens are often able to insert their forces without their opponents realising the number or nature of the opposing forces. By deceiving their opponents as to the timing, nature and objectives of an attack, this often grants the Night Ravens a significant tactical advantage.
Attacking from many vectors at once, the Chapter's forward forces skillfully employ feints and ambushes to reveal an enemy's weaknesses to the ever-watchful Shade Captains. These astute commanders carefully identify the most relevant portions as they prepare for and command a battle, immediately and definitively using the most appropriate responses to any numerical or strategic shifts in a given combat, such that the army's forces constantly adjust their strategic responses as the tactical situation changes.
Once an exposed vulnerability has been identified, they will bring to bear maximum pressure, launching a rapid deployment of fast-attack armoured transports, close air support gunship and mechanised infantry units, hitting these points with overwhelming attacks.
The Chapter eschews prepatory bombardments or armoured spearheads in favour of complete and overwhelming surprise, making use of Drop Pods, Thunderhawk and Stormtalon gunships, or massed teleportation. These assaulting forces are often a mix of Battleline and Close Support squads, as well as Terminator Veterans.
If a targeted position proves well-defended, the Night Ravens will withdraw as quickly as the prior assault, fading from the battlfield like wraiths. Reevaluting the strength of the enemy position, they will then launch another lighting assault at a different point that is perceived as weak.
Eventually, one of these assaults will succeed, and then the Chapter will press their advantage. Once committed fully, they exploit the breach in the enemy's lines and endeavour to cause as much damage as quickly as possible, dealing a shattering death blow. Quite apart from the methods taught to the XIX Legion by the Primarch and passed down through the ages, the Night Ravens also fight in a manner unique to their particular character.
They strike without mercy, appearing cold and uncaring to their allies and inhumanly terrifying to their foes. It has been observed that the Night Ravens make war as an assassin delivers the killing shot or blow. They approach unseen and unheralded, and invariably from an unanticipated quarter.
They bide their time, when required, preparing the ground by sowing weakness and confusion in the enemy's ranks. When ready, and at a time of their own choosing, they strike hard and fast, with such ferocity that the enemy has scant time to even realise his doom, let alone mount any sort of defence.
And then, the Night Ravens are gone, no effort made to cover their activities and no clue as to their next target revealed, to friend or foe alike. Chronicling the early days of the Chapter's existence and the trials that had to be overcome, The Book of Nightshade speaks of the Night Ravens' most holy of rites - the ' Testing '.
Believed to have begun as a means of rehabilitation for Night Raven's crippled by Crow Bone, the Testing has, over the centuries, become an essential part of the Chapter's spiritual existence and holy testament to their endurance and strength of will.
Taking the form of a several month-long fasting and mental sufferance in the pitch black bowels of the Chapter's battle ship Crow Sinister , it is said that the Night Ravens who have survived the initial effects of their gene-curse could only survive and be deemed pure once they had cured not only their bodies, but their minds. The Testing, though an integral part of the Chapter's identity, often leads to the seemingly needless deaths of brothers who would, with proper care, otherwise have survived.
Due to the nature of the Night Raven's gene-seed degradation, the Testing is in some ways a means for the Chapter to repent for their imagined failures, blaming themselves for their situation and caring little for what others would have to say on the topic. Like their sire before them, the Night Ravens gene-seed bears the scars of Corax's attempt to rebuild his Legion after the Drop Site Massacre. Not only do the Night Ravens have extreme difficulty with finding recruits whose bodies can accept their flawed gene-seed, but in the time after the implantation of the second organ implant, many initiates suffer from an affliction of the bone known as 'Crow Bone'.
Due to a flaw in the Chapter's gene-seed, the Night Ravens' genetic deficiencies has caused the implant known as the Ossmodula to not function properly. This small but vital organ is responsible for the epiphiseal fusion and ossification of the bones, which causes an Aspirant's skeleton to become larger and exponentially stronger.
But the Aspirants' within the Night Ravens often suffer from this genetic flaw, which causes their bones appear to hollow, losing all integrity over time and finally crumble and splinter under the slightest pressure. Though these ailments of the Chapter's gene-seed have led many to believe the Chapter is cursed, the warriors of the Night Ravens themselves see their plight as a test.
Another curious idiosyncrasy of the Night Ravens' gene-seed causes a few members of the Chapter to be 'blessed' with large, raven-like pinions. Stretching out from an Astartes' shoulders, these vast dark wings of blackest feather are seen as the greatest blessing a Night Raven may ever receive, and thus, these warriors are held in reverence by all others within the Chapter.
Those blessed with the 'Dark Wings' are almost assured of reaching a lofty position in the Chapter's hierarchy. Though these Astartes are held in high esteem by the Chapter, this particular mutation is not looked upon very kindly by many of their fellow Adeptus Astartes Chapters. The outward appearance of these afflicted Night Ravens confirms at least in their eyes , that their Chapter is somehow 'tainted' or sullied. This mutation also strains the acceptable tolerances of the Inquisition, which has caused the Ordo Hereticus to cast an accusatory eye towards this 'Cursed' Founding Chapter.
Due to the difficulty of finding viable candidates that are genetically compatible to receive their flawed gene-seed, and suffering from the 'Crow Bone' affliction, the Chapter's numbers have slowly dwindled over the last few decades. Whether or not the Night Ravens will be able to overcome their genetic deficiencies and rise above them, or be doomed to suffer the long, slow agonising death of their Chapter due to genetic deviancy. Only time will tell Like many Chapters of the 'Cursed Founding', the Night Ravens also suffer from a number of genetic deficiences.
Most notably, the Chapter's demeanour heavily reflects their combat doctrine. Insular and taciturn, this only becomes more pronounced when they are amongst Astartes from other Chapters. Generally reserved, Night Ravens Astartes stay within the shadows until they fell it prudent to speak. When they do, they are very recalcitrant and terse, not one to mince words. They often condemn the more direct tactics of their fellow Space Marine Chapters. Over time, a strange blood-soaked ennui drives many amongst the Night Ravens to sacrifice themselves in battle.
These individuals are known among the Chapter as the "Ashen Shades". The first signs of this madness comes on as a subtle physical change, known as being "Ash Blind", a condition heralded by the darkening of the entire eye to black. Should an afflicted Shade-Brother survive their suicidal furies and recover, they will evermore be plagued in combat by the urge to slay until death takes them, paying no heed to tactical plans.
Marked by raven-skull helms, they are the embodiment of the spirit of death that lurks in the darkest parts of the heart of the Night Ravens. The Night Ravens have been a fleet-based Chapter since shortly after their founding, and as such their Chapter fleet doubles as a base of operations and spiritual home. Each ship in the fleet is painted as black as the void of space, with little to no telling features to define it from the surrounding space:.
The Night Ravens warriors are given free reign to wield any weapon from their respective company armoury as long as it fits into their designated battlefield role. This allows each squad to be prepared for any eventuality and allows each member to perform their duties at peak efficiency, resulting in maximum effectiveness. The Night Ravens believe in self-reliance, with every member of the Chapter expected to maintain their personal arms and equipment in perfect working order.
Willingness to adapt and improvise are also traits that are highly prized by the Night Ravens, as they are expected to innovate novel solutions to unexpected problems. In line with their focus on rapid and merciless assault, many Night Ravens warriors favour the use of lightning claws as personal weapons, using them to strike their foe down from an unanticipated quarter with cold, hard efficiency.
Though best known for the skills of its warriors in rapid assaults, reconnaissance and infiltration protocols, the Night Ravens possess and utilise the full range of engines of war produced for the Adeptus Astartes by the Adeptus Mechanicus.
The Chapter's armoury retains many armoured vehicles for campaigns when they are required to meet an enemy in open battle. Heavy armour such as Land Raiders are generally used in a more defensive role. They form a solid base that can hold an enemy advance long enough for a rapid moving strike force to drop behind the enemy or out-flank them. As the Night Ravens warriors are best known for the skills of its warriors in rapid assaults, reconnaissance and infiltration protocols, the Chapter is known to make extensive use of a wide range of atmospheric, orbital and void-capable craft.
Like their genetic forebears, many of the Night Ravens' aerial vehicles are equipped with unique archeotech stealth systems, allowing them to penetrate deep into enemy-controlled territory in order to deploy the Chatper's strike forces and to provide fire support once their passengers are on the ground.
See Main Article: Book of Nightshade. The power armour of the Night Ravens is predominately soot black with ash gray lined insets on the shoulder pauldrons. The Aquilla or Imperialis, though rarely worn, are the same soot black as the armour.
Tactical markings are marked in white on the right poleyn knee guard , with squad numbers sometimes engraved in deep red in the lower right hand corner of the inset of the right shoulder pauldron or below the squad specialty symbol on the right poleyn.
Optionally, sometimes both squad specialty markings and squad number are displayed on the right greave. Company numbers are shown, etched on the left poleyn or greave, which is painted deep red and written in the ancient language of their lost home world of Sapio. Another common sight amongst the warriors of the Night Ravens is the dark blue pictographic markings painted on the surfaces of their armour.
These icons represent many things to the warriors; blue marks on the helmet denote veteran status, while marks on the shoulders and arms are usually carried by those who are highly skilled in their arts. The symbols are most frequently the shape of bones Long bones painted on an Astartes' greaves mark him as a survivor of the dreaded 'Crow Bone' , though other shapes are not uncommon - teeth, claws, celestial signs and even tracts from The Book of Nightshade have been sighted on the battle-plate of this Chapter's warriors.
The War Council had one caveat when issuing this order that precluded the use of overwhelming force in order to avoid excessive collateral damage that would spoil this valuable prize. The task of bringing the Istvaan System into Imperial Compliance fell to Corax and his Raven Guard Legion as the warriors of the XIX th Legion had a reputation for the use of surgical strikes and precision in such matters.
The black-hulled Strike Cruisers and gunships of the Raven Guard attacked without warning, systematically destroying Istvaan III's military infrastructure and taking charge of its seats of governance. The military forces of the indigenous Istvaanians were professional soldiers who did not break easily, even when confronted with the might of Space Marines. The Istvaanians kneeled before the sable-armoured conquerors as a defeated foe but were welcomed into the fold as men of the Imperium.
Though they had waged war against one another, the Imperial Truth had prevailed and the Istvaanians had sworn to accept its teachings. By proving themselves men of wisdom and civilisation, they were deemed fitting partners for the many other worlds of the nascent Imperium.
The Remembrancer Order had not yet been foisted upon the Space Marine Legions by the Council of Terra at this time, but a substantial civilian contingent was left behind to begin the integration of the Istvaanian population with the Imperial Truth. Vardus Praal was left behind as the world's Imperial Planetary Governor to command Istvaan III in the name of the Imperium, to ensure continued Compliance and manage the dismantling of the traditional religious structures that defined the planet's autochthonous society.
The established capital located at the sprawling proto-hive of Khry Vanak -- Istvaan III's political and cultural capital "Choral City" in translation -- was chosen as the site of Imperial power. Unbeknownst to Corax and his Raven Guard, they would return fifteen standard years later to the Istvaan System, to the world of Istvaan V , to bring the rebel Horus to account. It was the need to conduct war in a more conventional manner that led to one of the greatest setbacks in the XIX th Legion's history, and one that would foreshadow the terrible events at Istvaan V only a few years later.
Soon after Horus was declared the Imperial Warmaster, the Raven Guard were recalled from operations along the coreward edge of the Ghoul Stars and ordered to take their place in the line alongside several other Legions under the Warmaster's direct command. The Aukum-Sothos Cluster had been brought to Imperial Compliance by the Luna Wolves in the opening years of the Great Crusade, but its people had fallen to a form of mass-psychosis and violently rejected unity with Terra.
This unheralded secession was later determined to have been caused by xenos parasites which matured within the eye sockets of their hosts, in this case the unfortunate population of the cluster. As they matured, the parasites gained rudimentary control over their hosts and formed what amounted to a wholly alien, gestalt consciousness focused on a cabal of primary hosts dubbed the "Unsighted Kings.
Horus had formulated a plan to cast down the Unsighted Kings in a lightning war that would purge the afflicted population while retaining the cluster's highly developed infrastructure for future re-population. Furthermore, a rapid victory would demonstrate to Horus' brother-Primarchs that the Emperor had been correct to elevate him so high a rank. The Warmaster's plan called for the bulk of four Legions -- the Luna Wolves , Space Wolves , Iron Warriors and Raven Guard -- to converge on the heavily fortified lair of the Unsighted Kings before a final, overwhelming assault was launched.
Having brought the outer worlds of the cluster to heel in a matter of solar weeks, the Warmaster called a council of his brother-Primarchs, one part of his plan calling for the Raven Guard to make a frontal assault directly into the guns of the defenders of Gate Forty-Two.
Corax argued against what he denounced as a waste of resources and a needless squandering of his warriors' lives, countering with a strategy of his own. The Raven Lord proposed that his Legion should draw off the enemy forces in a series of feints, allowing the three other Legions to overwhelm what defenders remained at the walls with comparative ease. In answer, Perturabo accused Corax of seeking to avoid battle, a crime verging on dereliction for a Primarch of the Legiones Astartes.
The two very nearly came to blows, with only the intervention of Leman Russ staying bloodshed. The Wolf King counselled Corax to heed the words of the Primarch who the Emperor had set above his brothers. Russ urged Corax to smother his bitterness, but not to extinguish it, and allow that guttering flame to kindle the fire necessary to carry the battle through.
Knowing their particular demeanour would carry them forward, Corax assigned many of his Terran-dominated companies to the vanguard, in particular those whose captains appeared the most willing to play their part in the Warmaster's plan. The assault that followed was hailed as the Legion's darkest hour, a grim honour that, tragically, would be displaced just a few Terran years later at Istvaan V.
At the height of the battle, the assault companies decimated and the attack faltering in the face of overwhelming fire, Corax himself led the forlorn hope, his battle cry firing the XIX th Legion to such efforts that the breach was carried and Gate Forty-Two taken. The honour of slaying the Unsighted Kings was claimed by Horus as Warmaster and at the moment of their execution, the xenos' hold over the population was dispelled.
The Akum-Sothos Cluster was delivered and the Warmaster's prize was reclaimed. The cost was terrible however, for not only had countless millions of hosts been crippled in mind and body, but thousands of Raven Guard, the bulk of them Terran-born, had given their lives before the shattered walls.
Though the Battle of Gate Forty-Two was counted a victory by and indeed for Horus, its effects were far-reaching. The XIX th Legion was sorely depleted, leaving only 80, Legionaries under the Primarch's command and making it the smallest of the Legiones Astartes.
Corax removed himself and his Legion from his brother's command, swearing bitterly never to serve alongside Horus again. One last consequence of the Battle of Gate Forty-Two lingers still. In its aftermath, those line officers who, before the coming of the Primarch, had served for so long under Horus' command were gone, and so the Warmaster was able to exert little in the way of influence over the Raven Lord's Legion.
Many of these Terrans had been inducted into the Warrior Lodges , and with their deaths these unseen bodies all but vanished from the Raven Guard. It has been claimed by his detractors that in assigning the Terran-born Legionaries to the assault wave that would suffer the greatest losses, Corax did his Legion a service, consolidating his power and paving the way for a future more in line with his own vision.
As a result, the Legion was largely spared the wave of insurrection that was later transmitted through so many of the Legions by the hidden auspices of the lodges. A two year engagement through a sector of space claimed by the remnants of the broken Aeldari race, the Scalland Campaign was to serve as the original field test for the first thousand sets of prototype Power Armour that would later come to be designated as Mark VI; though at the time it bore the provisional designation Mark V.
Small numbers of the Mark V armour had already been submitted to the Iron Warriors and Salamanders Legions , and both had expressed reservations about the lack of heavy plating when compared to earlier marks, pushing for the Mark V to be revised for a heavy assault role. It was deemed that a mass combat trial was required to determine the effectiveness of the original design before potentially abandoning it. Internal politics within the various Legion commands saw this honour bestowed upon the Raven Guard, depleted in number after the bloody fighting in the Aukum-Sothos Cluster.
Speculation at the time suggest that a faction amongst the Primarchs and Legion commanders, led by Perturabo, intended this assignment to an under-strength Legion to be the death-knell of the Mark VI armour, leading to its replacement by a sturdier design. If this was so then the plan was to backfire spectacularly, for the Raven Guard performed admirably in the verdant Aeldari seed worlds of the Scalland Sector, utilising the advanced auto-senses and agility of the new armour to hound the Aeldari in a series of strike-and-fade attacks that decimated their already battered military forces.
Such was the success of the fighting in the sector, which eventually saw the expulsion of the Aeldari and the Imperium claim its rich worlds, that not only was the Mark VI armour approved for final deployment, but the majority of the improvements suggested by the Raven Guard were adopted. The new armour, later dubbed "Corvus" Pattern Power Armour in honour of the Raven Guard, was placed into full scale production only a few solar months before the outbreak of Horus' rebellion against the Emperor, re-designated as Mark VI from Mark V by the Mechanicum to account for the inclusion of the many stop-gap field modifications and repairs into the Legiones Astartes order of battle during the Heresy.
The Raven Guard fought ferociously alongside their fellow Loyalists of the Salamanders and the Iron Hands Space Marines against the Traitor Marines of Chaos, but suffered such heavy losses that they were effectively crippled and unable to play any further constructive role in the defence of Terra from Horus' assault during the Heresy.
Taking stock of their dire situation, the Primarchs Corax and Vulkan differed over how to salvage what they could from the situation. The Salamanders' Primarch suggested that the Loyalists attempt to make a tactical withdrawal to their respective drop ships and dig in to resist any further attacks.
Corax advocated instead that the Loyalists should do whatever they could to make good their escape from the slaughter as the battle was lost. Neither Primarch could agree with the other, and so Corax turned from Vulkan and ordered his Legion to retreat. A short while later, a direct artillery strike hit the Primarchs' position.
By the grace of the Emperor, Corax somehow managed to survive, but as to the fate of his brother Vulkan, nothing at the time was known. In the meantime, the second wave of Traitor Legions turned upon their former allies and began to slaughter them in earnest.
The Iron Hands were apparently slaughtered to a man. In the midst of this brutal carnage two Primarchs from the opposing sides confronted one another in a final showdown. Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children and Ferrus Manus , once as close as true brothers could be, fought a bitterly contested, titanic struggle. In the course of the heated duel Ferrus Manus lost and was beheaded by his former brother.
The two Legions fought one another in bitter combat. In the midst of this battle, the Word Bearers unleashed the elite unit known as the Gal Vorbak -- Astartes who had allowed themselves to be possessed by daemons. They attacked the Raven Guard's Primarch en masse , but despite the advantage of their numbers, Corax's formidable abilities as a consummate warrior proved to be more than a match for the possessed Astartes, and he slew them with impunity. Seeing the slaughter of his most favoured sons, Lorgar intervened and prevented the death of the remaining Gal Vorbak.
The two opposing Primarchs duelled one another in close combat, and the Raven Guard's Primarch quickly gained the upper hand over his outmatched brother. Lorgar had always been more of a scholar than a warrior and Corax prepared to execute him for his betrayal of the Emperor. Lorgar was spared from execution by the intervention of the Night Lords' Primarch, Konrad Curze , at the last moment.
The Night Haunter and the Raven fought a brutal melee. Curze quickly gained the upper hand over his battle-weary brother and prepared to slay him, but Corax managed to escape death by taking to the sky with his master-crafted Jump Pack. The outnumbered Loyalists were then surrounded and brutally butchered.
Refusing to surrender, the remaining Raven Guard and Salamanders Astartes stubbornly defended themselves, trying to hold off the inevitable slaughter for as long as possible. Though they suffered an atrocious number of casualties, the Loyalists managed to hold their own, until the Primarchs Mortarion of the Death Guard and Angron of the World Eaters joined the fray. Bolstered by the support of the infamous Imperator -class Titan Dies Irae , the Traitors killed tens of thousands of Loyalist Astartes.
At the height of the massacre the Warmaster Horus entered the combat, at the head of the elite Sons of Horus Terminators known as the Justaerin , slaughtering the Loyalists in wrathful anger. Any hope of escape for the Loyalists was quickly crushed when the traitorous Iron Warriors destroyed the first wave's drop ships.
The Loyalist starships still orbiting the embattled planet were also largely annihilated by the vastly superior numbers of the Traitors' fleet. Despite the odds arrayed against them, some of the Loyalists on the ground managed to survive -- they miraculously escaped through the tightening cordon of Traitors that surrounded their position.
The Raven Guard fared better than the Salamanders in escaping the brutal massacre. But the Salamanders managed to assist a few surviving Astartes from the decimated Iron Hands Legion to also escape the slaughter. Imperial history does not record the fate of these surviving Salamanders or their missing Primarch Vulkan. The Raven Guard's Primarch just barely managed to board a fleeing Thunderhawk gunship to make good his escape, but was thwarted in the attempt when it was shot down almost immediately by the gunfire of the Traitors.
The badly damaged gunship crashed on the outskirts of the Urgall Plateau. Primarch Corax leads his surviving sons to safety during the event remembered by teh Chapter as the "Raven's Flight. Corax survived the crash and quickly ordered the remaining warriors of his Legion to regroup. He learned to his shock that a large percentage of his Legion had been utterly annihilated during the ensuing slaughter.
They took to the highlands of the surrounding hills and to the shadows, hiding from their relentless pursuers. During their flight, their position was nearly discovered by a roving armour column of traitorous Iron Warriors, but they were destroyed in a Raven Guard ambush and wiped out before they could report what they had learned.
Thirty solar days after the initial planetary assault, the future looked grim for the fleeing Raven Guard survivors. They had received no word from either the surviving Iron Hands or Salamanders Legions. Corax ordered his warriors to dig in and hold position at Lurgan Ridge while he undertook a lone reconnaissance of their original drop site to determine their options.
Utilising his innate psi-abilities to escape detection, Corax successfully conducted a reconnaissance of the Traitor Legions' positions around the heavily fortified drop site. Though the Primarch informed his men that his mission was to reconnoiter the drop site, his primary objective was to scour the Urgall Plateau for the bodies of his fallen sons, but he failed to find them.
After 98 solar days of relentless pursuit, the Raven Guard survivors were finally backed into a literal corner. Caught upon a windswept mountainside, Corax's Legion remained resolute. Behind the peak stretched the great salt plains that had forced them into this last, defiant stand. Ahead of them massed the might of the World Eaters, the rage-driven Astartes Legion of Angron, who strode at their head roaring for the blood of his brother. A sea of white and blue World Eaters Astartes spattered with the red of gore swept up from the valley intent on the destruction of the Raven Guard.
Maddened by their neural implants and driven into a battle-frenzy by inhuman cocktails of stimulants, the berserk warriors of the World Eaters pounded up the sloping mountainside while their tanks and guns provided covering fire; every warrior bellowed his eagerness to fulfill the blood oaths he had sworn to his Primarch.
But before they could utterly eradicate the surviving Raven Guard Astartes, the World Eaters were attacked from an unexpected quarter. Broad-winged aircraft plunged down from the scattering of clouds, missile pods rippling with fire. A swathe of detonations cut through the ranks of the World Eaters, ripping through their advance companies.
Incendiary bombs blossomed in the heart of the approaching army, scattering white-hot Promethium over the steep slopes. Corax looked on with incredulity as blistering pulses of plasma descended from orbit, cutting great gouges into Angron's Legion. The roar of jets became deafening as drop ships descended on pillars of fire: black drop ships emblazoned with the badge of the Raven Guard.
The Legionaries scattered to give the landing craft space to make planetfall. As soon as their thick hydraulic legs touched the ground, their ramps whined down and boarding gateways opened. The Raven Guard met their rescuers in stunned disbelief. These drop ships were part of a desperate rescue mission that had been devised by Commander Branne, a Raven Guard Captain who had been left in charge of the Legion's homeworld of Deliverance.
Without further delay the Raven Guard survivors quickly prepared for embarkation and escaped aboard the drop ships, breaking for orbit and leaving behind the frothing berserkers of the World Eaters, their angry Primarch futilely baying for blood. Meanwhile, the Alpha Legion had secretly infiltrated the Raven Guard during the Drop Site Massacre, surgically altering their own operatives to resemble dead Raven Guard Astartes and then inserting them into Corax's Legion during the chaos of the chase on Istvaan V.
Alpharius Omegon had been told by the secret alien organisation known as the Cabal that the XIX th Legion was going to receive an extremely valuable, top-secret asset that would be of great use to the cause of Horus. Impersonating Horus, the Alpha Legion Primarchs ordered a pursuing World Eaters fleet to stop all action against Branne's ships, so that the Raven Guard would survive the slaughter on Istvaan V and come into possession of the asset, which the Alpha Legion's infiltrators could then steal.
Corax never knew how Branne had managed to make his way to Istvaan V, but he was grateful for the rescue. Branne himself was reluctant to reveal what lead him to Istvaan V, and considered the topic sensitive since he had only acted after repeated, inexplicable prophetic "dreams" seen by Marcus Valerius, Praefector of the Therion Cohort, the Imperial Army regiment which was part of the Raven Guard's Expeditionary Fleet.
Deadly absolution at the hands of Angron would have been a righteous end for the XIX th Legion, but with all things considered, Corax was glad that he would survive to fight in the Emperor's name again. Following his and his Astartes' dramatic rescue from Istvaan V, Corax took the time to review the organisation of the remnants of his Legion.
Including the companies of Commander Branne who had been left behind to command the garrison of Deliverance and had ultimately been responsible for rescuing the Legion's survivors from the disaster at Istvaan V, he had fewer than 4, Astartes of varying ranks and specialisations remaining.
The majority of these Space Marines he formed into the "Talons" -- tactical companies under Captain Agapito's command. The survivors of the various assault platoons, along with several Dreadnought -interred veterans, were formed into the "Falcons," led by Aloni Tev. It appeared that the Traitors had specifically targeted them from the outset of the battle.
Only seven managed to survive, and even with only fifteen years in the Apothecarion, Apothecary Vincente Sixx was appointed as the Legion's new Chief Apothecary by the Primarch himself. Consumed by the loss of over 75, of his Legion's Astartes, and obsessed with thoughts of revenge against Horus, Corax ordered his survivors to return to Terra, where he intended to ask the Emperor for help in rebuilding the Legion. Following a number of delays and setbacks, and despite the disagreement and displeasure of Rogal Dorn and Malcador the Sigillite , Corax psychically communed with the Emperor, who was devoting all His time battling Chaos within the Warp and what remained of the secret Imperial extension into the Webway in the aftermath of Magnus the Red 's catastrophic psychic intrusion into the Imperial Palace.
The Emperor revealed certain truths to Corax: the existence of the Imperial project to control portions of the Webway, the nature of Chaos , and the truth behind the outbreak of the so-called Heresy -- which in reality was an all-out campaign by the Chaos Gods to defeat the Emperor and enslave Mankind , using Horus and the Traitor Legions as their pawns. The Emperor decided to help Corax, and had another, astonishing revelation to make: the Primarch Project 's genetic assets had not been destroyed, as everyone had thought, but still existed and were dormant -- including living samples of the original gene-stock the Emperor had used to create the 20 Primarchs.
The Emperor, who offered no explanation as to why such facilities and gene-stock still existed, demanded only one thing: this genetic material could never be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. Accompanied by several Raven Guard squads, a contingent of Mechanicum specialists, and a number of Custodians to serve as the Emperor's "overseers," Corax managed to locate and enter the Emperor's well-protected gene-laboratories deep beneath the Imperial Palace in the Himalazian Mountains, after his strike force suffered a number of casualties.
The original Primarch gene-stock and related technical information was secured, and Corax and his Raven Guard warriors returned to Deliverance to begin remaking the Legion. The gene-seed was more pure than "normal" Raven Guard gene stock as it came from undiluted Primarch DNA before it was broken down to the 20 different recombinant strands that gave birth to the original Primarchs. It was implanted using an extremely accelerated development schedule within Aspirants, with excellent results.
The resulting Astartes, though lacking combat experience, were even more capable than typical Raven Guard Space Marines. They were assigned the name "Raptors," and placed under the overall command of Captain Branne, who served as the Legion's Master of Recruits.
The Alpha Legion had other plans. Patiently waiting until the Raven Guard had achieved the genetic breakthrough, they were fomenting rebellion among the old tech-guilds of Kiavahr, the Forge World that the moon of Deliverance circled, while assembling an Alpha Legion force nearby, and simultaneously misleading both their nominal allies among the other Traitor Legions and their supposed allies in the Cabal about their true purpose.
With the help of Adepts from the Dark Mechanicum the Alpha Legion operatives within the Raven Guard contaminated the pure Primarch gene-stock held by the Raven Guard with a virus that was tainted with daemonic essence. The nature of the virus was unknown to the Alpha Legionaries until after the gene-stock had been contaminated, as their Dark Mechanicum allies had insisted the virus could be easily extracted once the original Primarch gene-stock came into their possession.
The next cadre of 2, newborn Raven Guard Astartes was predictably a disaster. All manifested hideous Warp -related mutations after they were implanted with their gene-seed organs, and many had to be kept imprisoned. Corax announced that mutation or not, he considered them as much a part of the Raven Guard as the rest of his Astartes, and vowed to find a way to reverse the mutations. Ninety percent of the recruits who underwent the accelerated treatments were unable to hold a standard Space Marine Bolter , let alone fire it.
Of recruits, perhaps one would have a genome stable enough to become a true Space Marine. At the same time, the Alpha Legion's plans were reaching their climax. The Kiavahr rebellion was well under way, supported by the newly arrived Alpha Legion force, who were camouflaged as Raven Guard, bearing the XIX th Legion's badges, insignia, and armour.
These tactics were only diversions intended to allow the Alpha Legion operatives already within the XIX th Legion to steal the Primarch gene-stock and to completely destroy the original Raven Guard gene-seed, crippling the Loyalist Legion. The first objective was successful: the original Primarch DNA and all information about it was secured by Omegon, who had been secretly on Kiavahr all the time, manipulating events as needed. Corax subsequently allowed the Mutants who could fight to join the Legion's Raptor Squads.
They participated with the rest of the Raven Guard, a small force of Imperial Fists , and the reconstituted Therion Cohort in the first counterattack against the Traitors, and the Raven Guard's successful campaign against the garrison of an Emperor's Children -held planet near the Kiavahr System. Unfortunately the attempt to rebuild the XIX th Legion's strength was now in ruins. With a heavy heart, Corax decided that his attempt to use a shortcut to refill his Legion's ranks had been a mistake.
He determined that the XIX th Legion would rebuild its ranks in the traditional way, slowly and painstakingly transforming human Aspirants into Space Marines over many standard years of genetic alteration and training. But the price would be that the Raven Guard would not be able to participate in a meaningful way in defending the Imperium against the Traitor Legions.
This did not mean, however, that the Raven Guard would renounce taking part in the fight against Horus. Lacking the manpower to confront the Traitors in open battle, what remained of the Raven Guard would stalk the enemy's supply lines -- those worlds away from the front lines that were yet of strategic importance to the enemy. Over the following Terran years the Raven Guard would attack convoys, sabotage weapons deliveries, decimate planetary occupation forces, destroy orbital shipping yards, liberate worker camps and generally be a thorn in Horus' side.
Every starship destroyed was one ship less to ferry troops to the inevitable Siege of Terra. Every weapons shipment destroyed was one shot less fired at the defenders of the Imperial Palace. Every planet liberated reduced the Traitors' manufacturing capabilities. This became the Ravens Guard's new mode of thinking -- if you could not strike at the enemy directly, hit them where it hurt. Following the later reorganisation of the Space Marine Legions into the Second Founding Chapters after the end of the Horus Heresy, the Raven Guard was left largely inoperable as a combat unit and was forced to spend solar decades recruiting new members and rebuilding itself.
Finding itself woefully undermanned and under-equipped following the massacre on Istvaan V, the Raven Guard honed and perfected the use of covert small-unit, guerrilla tactics that utilised little fire support, armoured support or other heavy equipment that the Chapter and its Successors lacked.
Even today, the Raven Guard's lack of Predators , Land Raiders , and the latest patterns of Power Armour reflect these conditions of the Chapter's past. A Raven Guard Assault Marine. After Horus' defeat, Corax welcomed the decision to split the Legions into Chapters during the Second Founding , for he knew that Roboute Guilliman 's vision for protecting the future of the Imperium was necessary.
It was a future the Raven Guard would face alone; Corax disappeared, consumed by the tragic acts he had committed to save his sons. His ultimate fate, reflecting much of his life, was shadowed in mystery. After the Heresy, Corax personally gave the Emperor's Peace to every surviving mutant that had resulted from their accelerated program of Space Marine development, an act that led him to lock himself in his personal chambers in the Ravenspire on Deliverance and beg the recently-ascended Emperor for forgiveness.
Unable to alleviate his guilt, the Primarch left the Ravenspire exactly one Terran year after he first went into seclusion. He boarded a transport that was headed for the Eye of Terror. Corax's fate remains unknown to this day to his Chapter.
His last recorded words as he departed Deliverance were, "Nevermore. A handful of centuries after Corax's disappearance, the gene-seed of the Raven Guard began to deteriorate. Some suggested it was a side effect of the accelerated gene-harvesting techniques employed in ages past. Several organs unique to Space Marines no longer functioned as they should, and all endeavours to compensate for this critical damage met with failure.
As a result, much of the Raven Guard's genetic material had to come from undamaged gene-stocks that were tithed and stored on Terra during the Second Founding. The scarcity of viable gene-seed has led the Raven Guard to be more scrupulous in their selection, testing and training of new recruits than most other Chapters. Inductees spend far longer in the 10th Company as either Scout Marine or Vanguard Marine brethren than do those of many other Chapters, and the Raven Guard rarely go to battle without a large number of these aspiring Battle-Brothers in support.
Despite their inability to quickly replace losses, the Raven Guard have refused to lessen the pace of their assaults upon the Imperium's enemies. Particularly gruelling campaigns sometimes result in the Chapter operating at perilously under-strength levels for extended periods of time.
The Raven Guard do not shy from costly frontal assaults, and will willingly attack with everything that the Adeptus Astartes can bring to bear, but they regard tactical prowess and personal initiative as being more important than raw force. Shrike has since fragmented his Chapter's strength and deployed them in a number of covert operations throughout the Segmentum Tempestus and Segmentum Pacificus.
What the eventual goal of these scattered campaigns might be, the Chapter Master has yet to reveal, but his enemies have learnt well that nothing the famed commander does is without purpose. The XIX th Legion was founded according to the Emperor's far-reaching vision for the armies of humanity laid out in the structure of the Officio Militaris. The Legion was divided into Chapters, Chapters into battalions, battalions into companies and companies into squads.
Most Legionaries considered themselves members of a given company rather than a Chapter, the company being the preferred level for most independent operations. From the earliest formation, the Legion's officers devolved command responsibility towards the lower echelons, allowing sub-commanders to take the initiative and make tactical decisions according to immediate needs without interference from higher up the chain of command.
This mindset was a direct result of the practices of the Xeric tribes, who conducted their wars against far more numerous foes and were therefore well-practiced in a wide spectrum of unconventional tactics. Individual units tended towards the smaller end of the scales and passed down by the architects of the Emperor's armies, but each was a tightly-knit band of warriors trained and equipped to operate on their own for extended periods.
They were well able to live off of the land, taking what few resources they needed from their environment or when opportunity or necessity dictated, from defeated enemies. When the Legion expanded, its ranks were filled with the full panoply of war machines created for the Legiones Astartes. While its sub units remained relatively compact, the XIX th Legion integrated numerous smaller formations into its structure, allowing them to take its place in the hosts of the Great Crusade and to confront the countless enemies of Mankind that would deny the Emperor's manifest destiny to rule the stars.
While retaining its expertise in stealth and infiltration, the XIX th Legion integrated formations of battle tanks, super-heavy war machines, artillery, assault vehicles and assets, mastering each with the skill engineered into them by the genius of the Emperor. Nonetheless, the XIX th Legion's favoured method of war focused on rapid strike, flanking, mobility and, where possible and desirable, stealth.
Maintaining many specialised units, there were certain formations the XIX th Legion favoured over others. The Legion is noted in historical accounts as fielding more Legion Reconnaissance Squads than any others, every Legionary being cross-trained to fulfill his assigned role, as well as that of the reconnaissance units.
Indeed, the line between Legion Tactical Squad and reconnaissance squad seems to have become blurred, the two often operating using similar tactics and even specialised equipment. From the earliest days, the Legion employed more Moritat than did many others. The individuals assigned to this duty were often those considered extreme in their methods even by the cold-blooded Xeric and they were often used -- willingly -- to undertake missions from which they were not expected to return.
It is likely that the Raven Guard engaged in far more assassination and sabotage operations than is widely known to the Order of Remembrancers. Invariably, the increasing numbers of Remembrancers accompanying the Expeditionary Fleets were only allowed to bear witness to the Legion's victories after they had been won, the imagists, historians and poets were denied the opportunity to record the Raven Guard as they waged war on the Imperium's foes.
In the aftermath of the Council of Nikaea , which history does not record Corax attending, the Raven Guard obeyed the command to cease the employment of Psykers and disband its Librarius. Many of the Legion's Librarians were reassigned to the line companies to serve in communication roles, although some may have served in the Legion Seeker Squads or as Vigilancers or Moritats.
Whether or not these individuals obeyed the Decree of Nikaea where operating independently on missions not committed to any archive must remain unknown and it is likely that most were slain upon the bloody battleground of the Urgall Depression during the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V. Upon assuming command of his Legion, Corvus Corax took it upon himself to expand the methods of warfare he had employed against the slave-lords of Lycaeus with a series of tactical and strategic initiatives by which the Raven Guard would operate.
In this regard, these doctrines meshed well with those the XIX th Legion had already been operating under throughout the Great Crusade, casting that particular aspect of the Primarch's assumption of command. It is remarkable that as soon as he was able, Corax assured that many of his senior commanders were drawn from Deliverance.
Indeed, several of the Primarch's elevated advisors had served alongside him as resisting freedom fighters during the Lycaeus Uprising, having later undergone the implantation and conditioning process to turn them into warriors of the Legiones Astartes. After the costly Battle of Gate Forty-Two, the members of the Legion who were born of Deliverance increased still further, with only a handful of Terrans still serving in positions of high command.
The Primarch maintained a comparatively loose chain of command, and was known to value candid and honest counsel from his officers. His bearing made it clear he did not expect to be treated in the manner many of his brother-Primarchs demanded as their birthright. When he was their leader during the slave uprisings on Lycaeus, Corax' peers insisted he be watched over by a bodyguard lest the overlords or some other rogue element attempt to assassinate him.
While he resented this, Corax allowed it, as much for his followers' peace of mind as for his own safety. Having joined his Legion, the bodyguard followed, being formed into an Honour Guard known informally as the Shadow Wardens. It was said that they were ever present, though often unseen when their Primarch went to war, and that none could avoid their gaze. Indeed, only one individual was ever able to do so, and that was Corax himself, giving credence to the stories that Corax was able to slip his own shadow should he choose to do so.
Perhaps more than any other Primarch, the Raven Lord frequently operated alone, or otherwise led very small bands of handpicked warriors who possessed gene-granted skills comparable to his own -- the Mor Deythan or Shadowmasters. This predilection might at least in part derive from his time as a freedom fighter, where circumstances dictated that small cells of rebels were often more effective than larger numbers.
It was not unusual for Corax himself to conduct extensive reconnaissance prior to a battle, while most Primarchs would leave such tasks to their warriors. Corax is also known to have led small forces on deep infiltration far behind enemy lines, striking directly at the heart of an enemy force, leaving his line officers to conduct the overall operation.
Frequently, the actions of the main force were in fact a ploy to draw the enemy's attentions away from the Primarch's own mission, allowing him to strike the final blow and win the battle. Though best known for the skills of its warriors in rapid assaults, reconnaissance and infiltration protocols, the Raven Guard Legion possessed and utilised the full range of engines of war produced for the Legiones Astartes by the genius of the Mechanicum.
The Raven Guard maintained entire battalions of heavy armour of all types, the Legionary Armoury and Fleet Reserve held hundreds more, and individual companies were assigned individual war engines as and when required. The Raven Guard deployed every heavy armour formation it could muster to Istvaan V, committing the majority to a wide flanking manoeuvre launched along the base of the Lergahn Ridge against the Sons of Horus units guarding the extreme left flank of the Traitors' lines.
Entire wings of Javelin Attack Speeders and Skyhunter Jetbike squads roamed ahead of the slower-moving tank companies, isolating enemy positions and harrying them mercilessly until the heavier units arrived to grind them into dust. When the Night Lords , Iron Warriors , Alpha Legion and Word Bearers revealed their treachery upon the Urgall Depression, most of these formations were cut off from the bulk of the XIX th Legion and ambushed by the Night Lords' units as they attempted to fight their way back to their Primarch's side.
Very few of the Raven Guard's heavier armoured formations were able to withdraw from the Drop Site Massacre, although those that did played a pivotal role in holding back the foe's pursuit in its immediate aftermath. Later on, all but the lightest formations were disbanded and their crews re-assigned to fight on as infantry, the survival of every last Legionary deemed of far more importance to the future of the Legion than maintaining its vehicles.
Long after the Istvaan V Drop Site Massacre, it would be discovered that the Traitors recovered a large number of the vehicles left upon the black sands of the Urgall Depression and turned them against their erstwhile masters.
Many also appear to have been crippled by Mechanicum war machines using ultra-high yield neutron weaponry so that, while the crews were slain by radiation deadly even to a superhuman Space Marine, the war engines themselves remained intact. Were it needed, this provided further evidence of the dark genius and far-reaching stratagems of Horus. Raven Guard Legion Thunderhawk gunship, Umbra Secundus , deployed to Istvaan V , assigned to transport three Veteran Legion Tactical squads of the 3 rd Company and later commandeered by Master of Descent Alvarex Maun and used to extract the Primarch himself before succumbing to massive damage from Traitor ground fire.
The Raven Guard Legion made extensive use of a wide range of atmospheric, orbital and void-capable craft, from the heavily armed Fire Raptor gunship to the mighty Stormbird dropship. Many were equipped with unique stealth systems produced by the guilds of Kiavahr, allowing them to penetrate deep into enemy-controlled territory in order to deploy Raven Guard strike forces and to provide fire support once their passengers were on the ground.
The bulk of the Legion's orbital strike craft were committed to the assault against the Warmaster Horus' rebels at Istvaan V, many making repeated runs from ground to orbit as they ferried thousands of Legionaries to the surface. It is testament to the thoroughness of the Warmaster's treachery that when the second wave of the Loyalist retribution force turned upon the Raven Guard, Salamanders and Iron Hands of the first wave, the majority of the Legion's Thunderhawks and Stormbirds were on the ground in the process of disembarking warriors and thus at their most vulnerable.
When the Iron Warriors opened fire on the landing zones with their super-heavy artillery, the devastation was total -- barely a handful of Thunderhawks and Storm Eagles , and not a single Stormbird, escaped the all-encompassing conflagration. It was thanks to the skill and courage of the crews of Commander Branne Nev's rescue force that the Primarch and the last few thousand of his sons lived to fight on against the treachery of Horus and the fallen Legiones Astartes.
When at last prevailing conditions in the Warp made it possible for Lord Rogal Dorn on Terra to contact his brother-Primarch by way of astro-telepathy and inform him of the dire situation unfolding in the Istvaan System, Corax commanded his fleet to make for the nearest Warp jump point. Now that all of his Legion had departed for the Istvaan System, however, the Primarch decreed that a portion of his Legion remain behind to garrison Deliverance in order to guard it from any counterattack.
None of the senior commanders wished to be absent when the Traitors were brought to justice, and so lots were drawn to decide who would return. A small detachment comprised of around 1, Legionaries, commanded by Commander Branne Nev , alongside their Imperial Army allies of the Therion Cohort, departed to Deliverance. As with much of the XIX th Legion, there were other elements detached to serve elsewhere. A small number of mostly Terrans of the Legion of old, had been assigned to many of these posts beyond the fringes of the Imperium, some in independent nomad fleets, other attached to various Rogue Traders Militum or other so-called "lone wolves".
One of these fleets was in fact commanded by the Legion's former commanding officer -- Shade Lord Arkhas Fal -- on the direct order of the Primarch when Corax took over the Raven Guard. What became of the Shade Lord, his fleet and the other elements may never be known, and the fact that Corax appears to have made no effort to recall them suggests they were considered a body apart from the bulk of the Legion.
When the Raven Guard committed to the Istvaan V drop, they did so in numbers approaching their full strength, with all assets, both surface and spaceborne, in attendance. The events of the Battle of Gate Forty-Two had left the Raven Guard as the smallest of the Space Marine Legions, but they would be operating alongside some of their brother-Legions, or so they had every reason to believe.
The truth, as described in numerous historical accounts, was otherwise. The Raven Guard were to lose nearly 75, Legionaries during the betrayal known as the Drop Site Massacre, and by the end of the ninety-eight solar days that followed, could muster but a fraction of their former strength.
Leaving aside these unknown numbers operating alone in the outer darkness, the Raven Guard barely numbered around 4, Astartes, including those despatched to garrison Deliverance. For the first time in their glorious history, the Raven Guard were truly laid low. What the future would hold for the shattered XIX th Legion would be determined through a time of trial and misfortune.
In the aftermath of the Drop Site Massacre, the number of Raven Guard Legionaries under the direct command of Corax numbered no more than 4, These grim survivors were mostly those raised into the ranks of the Legiones Astartes from the warriors of Deliverance, those who had fought through the hell of Istvaan V and those who had come to rescue them.
In addition, there were distant Great Crusade fleets and varous small garrison units scattered throughout the Imperium, mainly composed of Terran warriors of the old XIX th Legion who would take months to return to bolster the Legion. As the Raven Lord had no intention of retiring from the fight against the arch-Traitor, he reorganised the tattered remnants of his Legion in an attempt to keep them combat capable at a strategic level.
Unable to maintain the standard Chapter division of the old Legion days, he instead chose to separate his surviving warriors into divisions marked by their combat specialisation. The assembled tactical companies were named the "Talons", assault companies became the "Falcons", and light vehicle squadrons and air support were renamed the "Hawks".
In the campaigns to come this structure proved to be highly flexible, playing to the Raven Guard's inner strengths and allowing them to quickly redistribute their firepower and tactical capabilities to meet the threat of much larger enemy formations, though for many of their contemporaries it would no doubt have proven impractical. While the Raven Guard were organised along the lines of the Codex Astartes in the wake of the Second Founding , their application of its principles are subtly different.
Following the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V the Legion just did not have the resources remaining to re-equip properly and had to make due with older arms and patterns of Power Armour. Because of this reality, even at present the Raven Guard uses a significantly larger number of the more ancient patterns of Power Armour than most Chapters and the individuals that are lucky enough to be gifted with these suits view themselves as blessed by their Primarch. Raven Guard Shadow Captains are fiercely independent, and it is incredibly rare for the Chapter to fight as a whole.
Individual companies are completely autonomous and are quick to lend their aid to Imperial commanders across the galaxy, with or without the sanction of their Master of Shadows. Such behaviour has led some in the other Space Marine Chapters to question the Raven Guard's soundness as a military force, but most recognise that such fluidity of command only proves the presence of the Chapter's formidable discipline, not its absence.
Organisational chart depicting the Raven Guard Chapter's organisation during the outset of the Prefectia Campaign , Like all Codex Astartes -compliant Space Marine Chapters, the Raven Guard are divided into ten companies of Space Marines each when at full strength, a standard which Raven Guard companies rarely achieve because of their constant manpower shortage. Each company is led by an officer with the rank of Shadow Captain who is a hero of the Raven Guard.
Each Shadow Captain -- in addition to his company command -- is in charge of a particular aspect of the Chapter's logistics as a Space Marine Master. Raven Guard Scout Marine operating behind enemy lines. After their near-destruction as a force on Istvaan V during the Drop Site Massacre of the early Horus Heresy, the Raven Guard have had to make due with the older Power Armour patterns and equipment that remained in their reserve armoury. The available resources were too few to re-equip them up to the most advanced technological standards of the Imperium and even today there is a higher percentage of ancient suits of Power Armour amongst the Chapter than in most others.
The Raven Guard's homeworld of Deliverance and its fortress-monastery on that planet, the Ravenspire, has the production capacity of a small Forge World since it can draw upon the resources of the actual Forge World of Kiavahr that Deliverance orbits , ensuring that the Raven Guard now rarely lacks for the materiel needed to prosecute its campaigns. Owing to the instability of the Raven Guard's gene-seed due to the experiments of Corax, much of the Chapter's genetic stock has been irreparably damaged.
Now, much of their genetic material comes from stored supplies held on Terra by the Adeptus Mechanicus. This means the cycle of recruitment for the Raven Guard is much slower than for other Chapters while they wait for purified samples of gene-seed to be sent from Terra and fewer Raven Guard Neophytes prove able to survive their training and genetic modification than is the norm in other Chapters.
This means that before the introduction of the Primaris Space Marines , the Chapter was constantly short-handed. The Raven Guard's recruits are almost all drawn from the hardy population of miners that has called Deliverance home for millennia. As masters of stealth, infiltration and sabotage, all Raven Guard Neophytes are trained by the finest Shadow Masters of the Ravenspire.
Despite their Astartes-enhanced physiology and their cumbersome armour, they are taught to move with silence and invisibility, shifting from one pool of darkness to another within the shadows. This art of silent and stealthy movement particular to the Chapter is known as wraith-slipping. Raven Guard Neophytes are taught this art in the labyrinths of the Ravenspire, and they learn how to muffle the noise they make, first with rags and packed earth, then with acoustic dampeners and pure skill at movement.
They later use these techniques to baffle the sounds created by their own Power Armour, in what are known as the "secret rites of silence," as every Raven Guard must have mastered these abilities once they become full Initiates of the Chapter. Each Raven Guard warrior moves silently in his own way, and it is each warrior's understanding of the empty spaces between sounds that allows them to occupy them.
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