The 7th Black Crusade, also remembered informally as the Ghost War, was a Black Crusade against the forces of the Imperium of Man led by the infamous Chaos Champion Abaddon the Despoiler and his Black Legion, launched out of the Eye of Terror in 811.M37. At this time, the Forces of Chaos spewed forth from the great Warp Rift past Cadia and then disappeared.
This event is what earned this conflict its informal name of the Ghost War. The following years saw a game of hide-and-seek played between the Forces of Chaos and the Imperium of Man which spread confusion, paranoia, disinformation and deceit across the galaxy.
Raids became commonplace in far-flung areas but eventually the servants of the Dark Gods returned to the Eye of Terror, having caused enough trouble but having proven unable to significantly degrade Imperial defensive capabilities at that time.
The 7th Black Crusade began when the Black Legion fleet slipped out of the Eye of Terror undetected and fell covertly upon the worlds of the Imperium. Whole planets were lost before the Emperor's armies could muster the forces to repel the Traitor Legions. Abaddon proved himself a masterful tactician and a match for the combined Imperial Navy commanders of the Battlefleet Obscurus, repeatedly outmanoeuvring their scouts and confounding their attempts to bring him to battle. While the Imperium tried to find and defeat Abaddon's fleet, his Black Legion laid waste to Imperial settlements and star systems. In the volcanic depths of the Harnas Collective, the Traitor Legion broke the great steam seals and left millions to die screaming as scalding clouds engulfed their cities.
On the storm-tossed oceans of Jyrro, Renegade Space Marine warbands sunk the silt-mining platforms and fed their workers to rift sharks. Black Legionaries assaulted the Adeptus Mechanicus void stations of Niess, deep within the Magorium Nebula. The Traitors ransacked the void stations' stores, taking ancient Eldar artefacts recovered by the Adeptus Mechanicus. When Imperial forces arrived, they discovered the Black Legion gone and the station decorated with the corpses of Tech-priests and Servitors.
When the Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter battled against the Forces of Chaos at Midian, Abaddon singled them out with implacable fury. He led a band of Khornate Berserkers into the teeth of the Blood Angels' Devastator positions. Even the Blood Angels' own Assault troops could not dislodge the frenzied warband and recapture the bodies of their comrades. But there is an obscure reference to the Blood Angels being saved by an unidentified Space Marine Chapter of mysterious origin.
Written within the The Canticle of Cassandria Lev - Vol. CVI, the eponymous Sainted Sisters' highly mythologised and oblique account of the wars of the 7th Black Crusade, is found mention of a "grey-clad" Space Marines Chapter who came from "The outer night" to aid the Imperium, and whose "Jagged maw did swallow the stars ... and whose ... black gaze did mirror the void of oblivion." In the course of the canticle this Chapter's warships set upon Abaddon's forces following the disastrous defeat and routing of the Blood Angels at Midian and attacked the pursuing forces as Saint Lev writes: "...fell upon the servants of the skulled-one with great fury from the darkness, unseen as the beast that lurks beneath the black waters, death for death, blood for blood...thus were the Sons of Sanguinius bought respite, and did turn back upon their pursuers and so were the damned traitors of the false gods driven unto their ruin."
Images of these events can be found upon the walls of the Cemetery World of Hypasitis created to house the honoured dead of that war, depicted in repeated fresco and bar relief. Curiously, the faces of the intervening Space Marines depicted there are obscured with featureless disks of black obsidian. Given the largely unknown history of the star-faring Carcharodons Chapter, accounts of their activities can only be constructed from recorded historical incidents and fragmentary records that are believed to have involved the Carcharodons on balance of evidence. This notable engagement is listed by Imperial savants as a "[Special] Probable Encounter/Recorded Sighting" of this notorious and mysterious Space Marine Chapter.
While the Ghost War would rage for many standard years before the Traitor Legions finally retreated to the Eye of Terror, a single engagement stands out among the long list of bloody deeds. On the world of Mackan, the Black Legion and its allies faced a company of Blood Angels. The Traitor Legion had ravaged the world, putting its remote dust-mill towns to the torch and tearing apart the grand Cathedral of Radiance raised to honour the might of the Emperor. Arriving in time to halt the escape of the Traitors, the sons of Sanguinius set up defensive positions around the Black Legion landing zone in an attempt to cut them off from their fleet.
Although the conflict ultimately ended in the near-extinction of the Blood Angels at the hands of Abaddon the Despoiler and his primary lieutenants -- the Sorcerer-Lord Iskandar Khayon and the swordmaster Telemachon Lyras -- the Blood Angels Reclusiarch Thalastian Jorus becomes one of the few Imperial heroes to ever land a blow against the Warmaster of Chaos. With his Chapter devastated, the Chaplain endured weeks of hardship in the wilderness and the constant trials of keeping his crazed warriors undetected on Mackan. When the time proved right, Jorus lead his Death Company in a lightning raid behind enemy lines, butchering the unprepared sworn warriors of the Despoiler’s honour guard, and allowing the Reclusiarch to lock blades with Abaddon himself. It is said the Chaos Warmaster still bears the scars of that battle, even three standard millennia later.
Whatever the truth of the matter, it is known that the Despoiler honoured Jorus once the war was over -- perhaps in mockery, or perhaps with nothing but sincerity. After Mackan, hundreds of Blood Angels corpses were desecrated, their gene-seed ruined beyond recovery. Of all the Chapter, only a handful of bodies were left undefiled: Reclusiarch Jorus and his Death Company, clad in their battered and broken black ceramite, were seated in makeshift thrones made from the armour of those Black Legion warriors they had killed on that fateful night.
In the final decades of the 37th Millennium, the Blood Angels were a broken Chapter, ravaged by the Black Legion on the world of Mackan during the tumultuous final years of the Ghost War. Although the Angels restored their strength over the following centuries, for the first time it introduced the threat of mortality upon one of the proudest and noblest First Founding Chapters.
There is some confusion as to where the attack by Abaddon and his Forces of Chaos against the Blood Angels actually took place. In Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex) it states, "When the Blood Angels battled against the horde at Mackan, Abaddon singled them out with implacable fury."
But in the recently released Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, under the Notable Campaigns of the Carcharodons Chapter, "...following the disastrous defeat and routing of the Blood Angels Chapter at Midian." It now seems likely that the chroniclers are referring to two separate events that occurred during the 7th Black Crusade.
- Black Legion - A Codex: Chaos Space Marines Supplement (Digital Edition), pp. 35-36, 70-71
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 23
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 22
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pg. 118
- Index Astartes - Death Company (Digital Edition), pg. 10
- Warlords of the Dark Millennium: Dante (Digital Edition), pg. 9