The Crimson Sabres was a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter of an unknown Founding that may have belonged to the mysterious 13th "Dark Founding", which occurred sometime between the 35th and 36th Millennia.
The Chapter's reputation was built on ruthless efficiency and fastidious adherence to the Codex Astartes. Soon enough, signs that things were awry appeared in the Chapter's history. These problems culminated with the genocidal war on Umidia.
This world proved to be the fulcrum of change for the Crimson Sabres. The fighting there proved so intense that it changed the Chapter, as its battle-brothers found themselves cursed by the Chaos God Khorne, forever haunted by the fell voices of the slain even after the combat had ended. They attempted to cleanse themselves and silence the voices howling in their minds by assaulting their future foes with an almost blatant disregard for honour or mercy.
As a result they soon found themselves declared Excommunicate Traitoris by the High Lords of Terra. Determined to sell themselves dearly, the Crimson Sabres turned to the Eye of Terror, where they planned to die fighting the enemies of Mankind and so reclaim their honour.
However, the Chapter was wracked by mutation and eventually corrupted into full-fledged Chaos Space Marines during their sojourn in the Eye. Renamed the Crimson Slaughter, the voices which plague them can no longer be silenced except by the most obscene levels of carnage, and wherever they go they are presaged by a bow wave of Warp-spawned horror.
- 1 Chapter History
- 1.1 Amalgamathian Schism
- 1.2 A Growing Estrangement
- 1.3 Born Again
- 1.4 A Growing Righteousness
- 1.5 Absolution Through Expansion
- 1.6 Fall From Grace
- 1.7 Whispers in the Dark
- 1.8 Redemption or Damnation
- 1.9 Into the Eye of Terror
- 1.10 Desperate Course of Action
- 1.11 Renegade Wars
- 1.12 Twisted Beyond Recognition
- 1.13 Descent to New Depths
- 1.14 The Killing Continues
- 1.15 Sabres No More
- 1.16 Crimson Fracture
- 1.17 Notable Campaigns
- 2 Chapter Homeworld
- 3 Notable Crimson Sabres
- 4 Chapter Fleet
- 5 Chapter Appearance
- 6 Sources
Once known as the Crimson Sabres, this Loyalist Space Marine Chapter was held up as a paragon of loyalty and virtue within the ranks of the Adeptus Astartes. It is unknown from which Founding the Crimson Sabres were created, or which Chapter served as their progenitor. Naturally, much speculation on both accounts has been made, including postulations made by members of the Chapter itself.
Each brother amongst the Chapter had held his own theory, often claiming they were descended from such noble and proud Chapters as the Ultramarines, Blood Angels or Imperial Fists. There had been a few members of the Chapter down the centuries -- usually brothers of the Librarius or Reclusiam -- who held a different belief regarding their origins, in that they believed the Crimson Sabres were founded from a Chapter whose own roots lay on a Feudal World.
This, they argued, was the source of the Crimson Sabres' prowess and fascination with the blade, but at the cost of the mastery of most other close combat weapons. Those who held to this particular school of thought bore maces, halberds and sometimes even axes into battle to honour this supposed tradition.
The earliest mentions of the Crimson Sabres that have been uncovered are battle records that list them as participating in campaigns at the dawning of the 36th Millennium. That the Chapter's Founding is unknown seems tied to two events –- the Amalgamation Schism and the destruction of the planet Rhoghon. After long searches, keen-eyed Inquisitorial teams have been able to track down several sources regarding the Chapter's activity during the Wars of Apostasy.
One, a brief report in the chrono-logs of the Silver Skulls, lists the Crimson Sabres' service in several battles, noting their disciplined fire support as exemplary. To aid the investigations, Silver Skulls Prognosticators delved further into their records, confirming that, at the time, they judged their brethren to be in perfect accordance to the Codex Astartes.
Another reference in the data-scrolls of the Black Templars credits the Crimson Sabres as the leaders in hunting down and destroying a xenos threat that encroached upon the Segmentum Solar while the Imperium was distracted in their war with the rogue High Lord of Terra Goge Vandire.
During the Cleansing of Danor IV, a standard-year-long campaign in which no less than six Chapters of Space Marines took part, it was the Crimson Sabres who gained the most commendations. The overall leader -– the then-Master of the Blood Angels, Commander Virgilus -– noted that the duty-bound Crimson Sabres were masters of quick-strike warfare, praising their Drop Pod assaults and claiming that they nearly rivalled those of his own legendary Chapter.
The only cautionary note from this period comes from Brother Aerigulus, an Ultramarines Librarian who took part in the actions on Danor IV. It was his report that cited the Crimson Sabres as "overeager for acceptance." Later, in the same data-scroll, Aerigulus went on to clarify that this overwrought zeal might have been expected from a new Chapter fighting alongside such Imperial stalwarts as the Blood Angels and Ultramarines. This foreshadows what was to follow.
Although the Warp Storms that once cut it off had lifted, the Brakatoa System remained plagued by strange eddies in the Immaterium. Warp-transit in its vicinity proved particularly hazardous -– aside from being thrown off course, spacecraft faced increased risk of time alterations and daemonic incursion.
Despite the warnings, many voidships were caught in the wayward crosscurrents. So many derelict spacecraft and Warp anomalies materialised just outside of Brakatoa that the region became known colloquially as "Hulk Alley." From their Chapter homeworld in the systerm of Rhoghon, the Crimson Sabres routinely launched missions to explore these hulks, their fleet blasting paths through the debris and using the larger clusters for target practice.
Indeed, one of the few records of the Crimson Sabres that has been found in the archives on Terra compounds this fact, claiming that the location of the Chapter's homeworld in the Brakatoa System was specifically chosen so they could regularly perform this precautionary duty. Even before the space hulk designated Amalgamation fully emerged out of the Warp, psychic choirs in the Brakatoa System began receiving desperate pleas for help. Other communication channels followed as the process of solidifying into realspace took place.
What appeared was a hulk in every sense of the word -- an enormous conglomerate made of a miserable mangle of many star-faring craft compacted together. At the heart of the sprawling Amalgamation was an Imperial pilgrimage transport, a barricaded vessel where many millions of Human colonists were under siege by Warp entities.
All available elements of the Crimson Sabres were called into action, but they were not alone in responding. Following some trail of their own, the Dark Angels arrived shortly after and requested to enter the space hulk alone. This appeal was dropped after the arrival of a Blood Angels strike cruiser, which had also answered the distress signal. Having the most senior officer present, the Blood Angels claimed overall command –- but even as they did so, the Crimson Sabres followed their own protocols and launched Boarding Torpedoes towards the hulk.
Soon, the other forces joined by Thunderhawk landings, while Deathwing Terminators teleported directly onto the craft. The Space Marines hunted the vast hulk, carving through bulkheads to enter blood-strewn corridors. Just as the chugging of bolter fire announced contact with the foe, the Daemons began to fade, disappearing back into the Warp. With the military aspect of the mission over, the Space Marines made ready to return to their respective voidships –- leaving the surviving colonists to the agents of the Inquisition that would arrive soon.
In their zeal to follow procedures and their continued eagerness to prove themselves, the Crimson Sabres had not deferred to two of the most heralded Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. Although the two organisations couldn't be more different from each other –- the taciturn and simple-robed Dark Angels, the famed descendants of the Ist Legion, contrasting with the polished brilliance of the celebrated Blood Angels, warriors whose armour flashed with elaborate gold adornments –- both Chapters were proud and well aware of their respective First Founding status.
Unspoken tradition had been breached, and the Crimson Sabres were coldly treated as impudent newcomers rather than as comrades-in-arms. There was further trouble besides. Against standard procedure, a Dark Angels Chaplain had captured one of the colonist-pilgrims. The Chaplain had been in the midst of harsh interrogations when several squads of Crimson Sabres interrupted his work.
They challenged him, claiming that some Warp malady must have possessed the Dark Angel for him to act so, and a brief firefight ensued. This resulted in casualties amongst both Chapters, and the subsequent escape of the tormented hostage. Clearly infuriated, for moments it seemed the Dark Angels were on the verge of retaliation, but they soon disappeared with the arrival of the Inquisition.
A Growing Estrangement
Even a small stone can cause many ripples. Although outwardly everything was the same after the minor rift that later came to be known to the Crimson Sabres as the Amalgamathian Schism, it set off a chain of events that was to have wider repercussions.
Within solar days, the Crimson Sabres stronghold of Decavitum received words of censure from Terra, and most probably from their Founding Chapter as well, although no records remain. This was little more than remonstrance, a lesser rebuke that let it be known that failure to properly acclaim the Dark Angels and Blood Angels had brought the Crimson Sabres dishonour, a tarnish that did not sit well with their gloried predecessors.
The leadership of the Crimson Sabres –- the Chapter's High Council of Company Masters and senior officers known as the Sword Council -- ordered a tribunal to investigate the matter. None wished the Crimson Sabres' deeds to be questioned and Chapter Master Nigellus was alarmed to learn that some of the group feared further Imperial censure.
Concerned with what he felt was a growing element of unwarranted paranoia, Nigellus was outraged. To his mind, he felt the Crimson Sabres had followed procedure and acted swiftly and correctly in responding to the threat. If there was any misconduct it was not by his Chapter. Furthermore, any perceived slight to the First Founding Chapters' honour was unintentional and petty. They were all serving the same Emperor and fighting the same enemy were they not?
Nigellus was determined to shed his Chapter's growing self-doubt and make a statement. In a bold move, he declared the Crimson Sabres would sever all ties to their brother Space Marine Chapters, including their founders. They would be loyal to the tactical guidelines laid out by the Codex Astartes and follow uncompromisingly all orders as issued by the High Lords of Terra.
To all others, they would be unanswerable. By Nigellus' straightforward logic this was as it should be -- for their mission of service must not be corrupted by the influence of their comrades. Was it not dogged faithfulness to the Warmaster Horus that had allowed half of the original Space Marine Legions to be led astray? In this action, he sought to free the Crimson Sabres from faulty judgement and therefore all reproach.
At first, the Crimson Sabres maintained great pride in their resolve, but slowly, self-doubt began to gnaw at many within the Chapter. Never one to brook dissent, Nigellus banned all further debate on the matter and any mention of the deeds of the Amalgamathian Schism was forbidden. Although the Crimson Sabres remained resolute in their convictions, the break with their primogenitors was far from easy. Much of their Chapter lore had to be reconfigured so that no mention of their founders appeared in their history.
Over and over, the Librarians and Chaplains were ordered to scrub clean all evidence of their forebears, and Rhoghon was scoured of statues, heirloom suits of power armour, and any relics of their ancient past that predated the Founding of their Chapter. Amongst the star-faring Chapter fleet, strike cruisers were renamed and the training regimen of the 10th Company was reconstructed anew. In essence, the Crimson Sabres were reborn -- new defenders of the Imperium, unencumbered by any ties to the distant past.
Only in the Sanctum of the Sword, the innermost chambers of the tallest tower of Decavitum, their Chapter stronghold and fortress-monastery, was the Chapter's full history locked away. There it was decreed that the truth of the Crimson Sabres' birthright and the full history of their deeds would be kept. The sanctum was accessible only to the Chapter's senior officers -- the captains of each company, along with the senior Chaplains and Librarians.
Beneath Nigellus' stern leadership, the Crimson Sabres were zealous in their duty. If any rumour or ill feeling towards the Chapter remained amongst any agents of the Adeptus Terra, this was soon forgotten. The red-armoured Space Marines firmly established a reputation for swift efficiency, being regarded as warriors of unimpeachable conduct.
Indeed, their rigorous obedience to the Codex Astartes, for they followed its guidelines to the letter, earned them many commendations for their rapid actions. However, deeper within the Crimson Sabres, something dark was brooding.
A Growing Righteousness
For over a hundred standard years, Nigellus served as Chapter Master. He was uncompromising and quick to action, for he knew well the tenets of the Codex Astartes and followed them to perfection. In the pursuit of faultlessness, Nigellus instilled a new cult of extreme rigour within the Crimson Sabres.
It was not enough for each mission to be successful; it had to be faultless, executed more swiftly, and properly detailed and recorded. It was a great loss to the Chapter when Nigellus was slain in action during the Fornstadt Rebellion. Arnoch succeeded Nigellus as Chapter Master of the Crimson Sabres, but the new traditions he had established lived on.
If anything, the Chapter became yet more fervent and exacting in its strict adherence to orders. Arnoch became known as "the Intransigent" –- a title that would be used to describe all the Chapter Masters that followed.
In one of his first acts, Arnoch the Intransigent sought to further banish their hidden past, wary of how others might judge the Chapter. He made the decision to seal all entrances to the Sanctum of the Sword. Not only did it lock away evidence of a perceived imperfection, but it was also his declaration that the past was over and a new era begun.
More eager to prove themselves than ever, the Crimson Sabres conducted operations with undeniable precision. Over many centuries, their battle records were exemplary. They gained particular distinction in the Zobrist Wars, hunting down the piratical Aeldari, and also drew many commendations for leading the spearhead attacks during the Deadstar Battles. In both cases, their allies -- who included many battalions and armoured divisions of Tallarn Desert Raiders along with the Black Templars -- are noted in official documentation as praising the Crimson Sabres.
Off the record, however, the truth was rather different. The Crimson Sabres were efficient and trustworthy, yet when the battle was over, they were self-righteous and fastidious. Allied commanders, whether subordinates or many ranks more senior, received post-battle reports of great detail. These inevitably pointed out where allied forces had failed to meet proper standards.
For other Space Marines, any deviation from the Codex Astartes brought even longer datascrolls -- long lists of observed compliances that failed to follow the tactical or organisational guidelines set forth by Roboute Guilliman.
While their demands for meticulous detail, contingency plans and exact protocol ultimately helped win many battles for the Imperium, it also estranged the Crimson Sabres from those they fought alongside. All of their previous conflicts, however, were precursors to the Chapter's role in the Redemption Crusades.
Absolution Through Expansion
The Imperium's Age of Redemption was marked by many Imperial Crusades. Countless campaigns were launched in an effort to purge away the sins of the previous Age of Apostasy. Once again the Ecclesiarchy rebuilt its fanatical devotion and wave after wave of new offensives were announced. There was a galaxy-wide effort to push the borders of the Imperium out further than they had ever been before.
This was an ideal time for an eager Chapter to prove itself. Seeking a lion's share of the glory, the Crimson Sabres campaigned with utmost diligence -- striving to further perfect their rapid strikes. With ruthless efficiency they completed mission after mission, the crusades in which they took part expanding the Imperium's holdings within the Segmentum Tempestus.
On planet after planet, their assaults crippled key enemy infrastructure or seized heavily fortified positions, allowing ensuing waves of Astra Militarum to consolidate and hold all gains.
It was the Crimson Sabres that eradicated the Hrud from the Frontier World of Nolla, and led the way to free the Reductus System from the Orks. Despite the heroics and their many instances of sacrifice, then-Chapter Master Drabek became increasingly convinced that the reputation of his Chapter was in question. To those on far-off Terra, this was not the case –- for the Crimson Sabres were amongst the most highly decorated forces that participated in the campaigns in the Segmentum Tempestus.
To those who fought alongside them, however, Drabek's assessment was accurate. Many allies were growing frustrated with the highly critical and overly suspicious nature of the red-armoured Space Marines. Many long-lost worlds and new star systems were added to the Imperium's control during the Redemption Crusades. In their fervour for longer and more involved campaigns, however, the forces of the Imperium sustained many casualties and became stretched too thinly.
The galaxy is a dangerous place and abhors a power vacuum. While the Imperium concentrated its efforts to expand into Wilderness Space, the inadequately defended home sectors of the crusaders became imperilled. Throughout the galaxy, rebellions, Chaos-led insurgencies, Ork invasions and new xenos threats encroached upon poorly defended Imperial worlds.
It was while the majority of the Crimson Sabres were on campaign near the Veiled Region that the near-total collapse of the Brakatoa System began. The distant fleets of the Crimson Sabres soon received word from their besieged fortress-monastery of Decavitum, but they could not leave until their campaign had been properly concluded. By the time they had completed all missions assigned to them and re-gathered their scattered companies, the incursion of Brakatoa was all but over.
The Shield World of Rhoghon, their Chapter homeworld, had been the first to fall under the daemonic onslaught. Subsequent explosions of the planet's reactors, relics of the Dark Age of Technology, left the planet a blasted rad-zone, uninhabitable by Human life for thousands of standard years.
When the massed uprising and daemonic fury descended upon the Brakatoa System, the only help from the Imperium came in the form of Cyclonic Torpedoes. Three worlds were seething with corruption -- there was little choice but to condemn them to fiery destruction. In the wake of this purge, a plague scoured Rynn's End; of the once thriving Brakatoa System, only the worlds of Raamdhon and Drogsh remained.
The devastation of their star system and the loss of their homeworld struck the Crimson Sabres hard. The last transmissions from the psychic choirs of Rhoghon revealed an ugly picture -- their fortress-monastery partially overrun, its occupants cruelly tortured. While they would soon resettle the Chapter on Drogsh, the third world of the Brakatoa System, the loss of Rhoghon was a blow to the Chapter's pride.
All records of their past and the truth of their origins were lost, buried beneath their ruined stronghold. Although they had turned from their past, some had long held out a secret hope that their estranged founding fathers would one day recognise their worth and re-establish ties. No Chapter ever did.
It took many years for the Chapter to re-establish itself upon Drogsh and to re-build its numbers. During this time, they did not fail in their duty, nor did they slacken their zeal -- but a simmering resentment was also growing within their ranks.
Fall From Grace
For over a standard millennium after resettling their Chapter upon Drogsh, the Crimson Sabres continued to do their duty. All Space Marines are detached from those they serve, but the zealously obedient Crimson Sabres drifted into ever greater isolation. They did not realise the growing acrimony they themselves fostered amongst their comrades. In others they saw only flaws, and they were puzzled that their own quest for absolute adherence to the Codex Astartes gained them little commendation.
By the time they made the planetfall upon the Imperial world of Umidia in 928.M41, the Crimson Sabres had earned a reputation as self-righteous crusaders. Several Space Marine Chapters heard the vermillion-level message sent out from the Jungle World of Umidia from a Inquisitor Lord Federic Koshyn of the Ordo Hereticus.
Though the Inquisition was no ally of the Crimson Sabres, the staunchly loyal Chapter was honour-bound to deal with the corruption before it spread to other worlds. Though they had long since severed their ties with the bureaucracy and other militant forces of the Imperium, the Sabres were still its servants and loyal to the Golden Throne. If this planet had become a haven for the Ruinous Powers then it was their sworn duty to cleanse it.
The message had been broadcast on a general channel, and soon, other forces were preparing to come to the Lord Inquisitor's aid. Chapters such as the Hawk Lords, Angels Encarmine and the venerable Dark Angels had all pledged to send multiple companies of their warriors to help the Lord Inquisitor prosecute the Heretics on Umidia.
Not to be outdone, the Crimson Sabres' leadership decided unanimously to join the fight, and so, Chapter Master Sevastus Kranon pledged the entirety of his Chapter to the fight. The other Space Marine Chapters immediately withdrew their support, refusing to fight alongside the brutal and zealous Crimson Sabres, which suited them just fine. Had any of them sent along a landing detail to aid the operation then perhaps matters might have turned out differently.
There was scant information the Chapter held regarding the planet: a mention in an old logbook from when a Crimson Sabres fleet had passed nearby almost three millennia ago; its location on an outdated parchment starchart; the results of an Imperial census carried out more than a standard century earlier, the last time any branch of the Imperium had any official contact with Umidia.
The Administratum clerks had counted two hundred thousand souls residing in the tree city on that occasion; there were easily twice that number observed by the Chapter's Scout Marines. For thousands of standard years the Ecclesiarchy had tried to incorporate the native beliefs and rituals of any new world or culture it came across into worship of the God-Emperor. Any narrative could be manipulated to make the Emperor its architect, any history moulded to make Him its shaper -- the sky god who gave rain for their planet's crops or the sun that rose every morning -- all were a manifestation of the God-Emperor.
Following standard procedure, reconnoitres by the Crimson Sabres Scouts reported a surprising development upon Umidia. The Scouts observed what appeared to be a cult leader wearing a strange bird mask leading the Umidian people in a vulgar display of frenetic dancing and chanting. As the commander of the 10th Company observed closer through his magnoculars, he saw the cult leader threw off his robes altogether, and unbidden, he saw the cult leader wearing a suit of slate-grey power armour inlaid with a stylised golden Inquisition symbol from chest to sternum.
Though the thing wore Lord Inquisitor Koshyn's armour, when it removed its mask, it displayed an identical bird face of a Greater Daemon beneath it. Escalating calls for support eventually summoned all available warriors from the entire Chapter onto the fateful planet. With each new location their Augurs scanned, they found more corruption, so that it was not long before they went from localised assaults to genocidal cleansing.
In their methodical manner, the Crimson Sabres purged Umidia, seeking nothing less than to eliminate every single one of the corrupted world's inhabitants. As the red veil of slaughter began to lift from the ensorcelment of their minds, the Crimson Sabres quickly realised the horror they had committed. These were not Chaos Cultists that they had been slaying. The citizens of Umidia, were loyal Imperial citizens celebrating their Adeptus Ministorum-approved All Saints' Day, before being set upon by Angels of Death, cold-blooded killers blinded by foul daemonic magicks.
In their rush to judgment, the Crimson Sabres had purged the entire planet of life. The innocent blood on their hands left an indelible stain upon the Chapter's honour. The Crimson Sabres were already treated with disdain. They were held in contempt by many other Chapters, and had strained relationships with the Inquisition, the Administratum and the Adeptus Mechanicus.
There had been a cancer eating away at their Chapter for even longer than those currently serving. Those Chapters who refused to come to Umidia's aid because of the Crimson Sabres' presence did not do so because of their actions or those of any who currently wore the crimson and sported the crossed blades. They shunned them because of millennia of transgressions and deviation.
The Crimson Sabres claimed to serve the Emperor and the Golden Throne with their words but did their deeds truly match that oath? On many occasions they had refused to come to the aid of other Chapters because of some perceived historical slight. They had abandoned entire worlds and star systems to their fates because they chose to pursue their own agenda instead. Their Chapter had flirted with heresy and sedition one too many times. Now the scale of the atrocity they had committed would push the Crimson Sabres over the precipice, leading them to excommunication and extermination.
Enraged at being manipulated into killing innocent Imperial civilians, the Crimson Sabres, led by their Chief Librarian Xastus Mannon, pursued the Daemon that was most likely the cause of their ensorcellment, a Lord of Change, named Tzax'lantar, and helped overcome the vile Greater Daemon with his innate psychic abilities.
But unknown to his fellow battle-brothers, Mannon's body had been subsumed by the Greater Daemon. Much later, when questioned about the deed, members of the Crimson Sabres claimed that all of Umidia's citizenry were given over to Balethu Cults –- a debased group that worshipped the Dark Gods.
In the wake of their purge, teams of Inquisitors from the Ordo Hereticus were sent to investigate. The Inquisitors found no evidence that the Balethu Cults were worshippers of the Dark Gods. What they did find amongst Umidia's thick foliage, however, was an atrocity.
With the duty of rooting out nests of corrupted cults, the Ordo Hereticus was composed of hardened individuals. Each of their order had seen many a grim scene -- yet each expressed horror at what they witnessed upon Umidia. The Crimson Sabres' action went well beyond the eradication of some hidden cult, it had been an act of wanton butchery on a planetary scale.
Whispers in the Dark
The Crimson Sabres had departed Umidia long before the Inquisitorial teams arrived to document the carnage that wholly eliminated its native population. However, the slaughter they had wrought was already beginning to have a strange effect upon the Crimson Sabres. At first, none of the Space Marines mentioned any of their untoward experiences to each other -- each feeling as if, perhaps, he was simply having some sort of post-battle melancholia.
Many felt unusual symptoms -- their multiple hearts racing to peak levels for no purpose, or the onset of a growing sense of foreboding, as if some unseen fog was closing in all around them. A rising pressure weighed heavily upon their minds. Even before the mission on Umidia was fully complete and the Crimson Sabres returned to their orbiting fleet, some of their members were already feeling the first effects of what they would later call "the haunting".
Individual members of the Chapter found that they could not properly clear their minds. No amount of litanies or meditations seemed to work. Thanks to their gene-seed organ implants and genetic modifications, Space Marines do not sleep as most Humans know it, but enter a comatose state that allows them to recharge their minds, even while their bodies remain alert.
Yet the Crimson Sabres failed in attempt after attempt to reach that peaceful state. Rather than being able to relax, they visualised instead the faces of those they had killed, living over and over again their massacre.
In an ever growing state of unrest, the most agitated of the Crimson Sabres began to hear voices -- the whispered words of the slain. The voices cajoled, taunted, or pleaded, while others screamed endlessly, or chanted indecipherable words that were painful to hear. No Space Marines yet broke -- for through training and superhuman discipline, their willpower was as impervious as their ceramite power armour.
However, as the fleet entered the Warp, travelling towards their next destination, many of the Crimson Sabres felt their sanity slipping away. Hidden from their comrades, they clutched their hands to their heads in a futile effort to stop the voices.
Since he had watched the slaughter on Umidia unfold, Chapter Master Sevastus Kranon too felt a growing unease. The Crimson Sabres were, of course, only following procedure -- the Imperium's response to Heretics was necessarily harsh -- but something felt very wrong.
Redemption or Damnation
For the briefest of periods Sevastus Kranon hung on a knife's edge. Part of him wished to order his fleet to halt, to return to Umidia. It was growing more difficult to think clearly, as voices in his head accused him of atrocities and visions of condemnation flashed through Kranon's every thought. He knew he had shown the proper methodology, that behind the savage acts of death-dealing were orthodox procedures.
But another part of Kranon felt a growing dread -- he and his troops had some spell or curse upon them. It could be hidden no longer, for it had become apparent during Warp travel that the Crimson Sabres were hearing the voices of the slain. On Drogsh, as on a great many planets of the Imperium, witches, mutants and madmen were hunted down and slain for lesser signs of insanity than those he and his Chapter were now displaying.
Despite the voices that attempted to alter his perception, Kranon at last made a resolution. They would halt their Warp travel and steer back towards Umidia, setting their course instead for her sister planet -- Demetra. There, they would seek clues of contamination.
If, as he suspected, the Crimson Sabres uncovered further spread of the Chaos-worshipping Balethu Cults there, then he could offer them up as proof of the righteousness of their cause. It also gave the Chaplains, Librarians and Apothecaries some time to assess the mental malady that enshrouded the Chapter.
The voyage to leave Warpspace and reach orbit over Demetra may have been brief, yet to the Crimson Sabres, it felt like a lifetime of torment. No peace could be found aboard any part of the fleet, and a pall of paranoid insanity raced through each and every member of the Chapter. It was not the Crimson Sabres that made planetfall upon Demetra, but instead raving madmen.
In an instinctive attempt to burn away the harrowing memories that haunted them, the red-armoured Space Marines arrived forgetful of all their plans, now intent upon only a single undertaking: slaughter! Using the rapid-strike, multiple assault blueprint that had made the Adeptus Astartes the most feared fighting force in the galaxy, the Crimson Sabres sliced into Demetra's population centres like a power blade through flesh.
Systematically, they employed a combined arms approach that utilised armour, sudden strikes, and bold manoeuvre to eliminate all living targets. Herding all before them, they set up spectacular orbital bombardments, finishing the rest off with bolter fire, or pulverising their victims in close combat. They killed with an efficiency that only superhumans genetically modified expressly for war could achieve.
Gore-drenched, the Crimson Sabres returned to their fleet, haunted no longer. They had drowned the voices in their heads with tidal waves of blood. Upon closing their eyes they found only the peace of restful oblivion.
In the typically detailed fashion of the Crimson Sabres, Kranon filed his after action report with the Administratum. He declared the neighbouring world of Demetra was indeed tainted, undoubtedly due to its proximity to Umidia. The threat was destroyed and the Crimson Sabres were now proceeding towards their next mission.
Into the Eye of Terror
As the voices inside their heads were quelled, the Crimson Sabres looked upon their deeds of slaughter with a rising sense of dread and foreboding. What had they done? What would become of them? After a lifetime of service dedicated to protecting the Imperium of Man, they were now outcasts –- hunted refugees.
And then the whispers in their heads began anew. Shortly after the massacre upon Demetra, the Librarians brought Chapter Master Sevastus Kranon messages intercepted from the High Lords of Terra. It was his worst fears confirmed: the Crimson Sabres had been declared Excommunicate Traitoris. They were now named as Renegades -- a standing order for all forces of the Imperium to open fire upon the Crimson Sabres on sight.
Part of Kranon had known such a move was possible, but he had expected an inquiry, not excommunication. If he could only explain -- the acts had been extreme, but necessary. Even as he thought this, Kranon envisioned the faces of those they had massacred. An inner voice, perhaps his own, whispered that the Crimson Sabres' only real hope had been the Imperial bureaucracy overlooking the incidents.
Deep down, Kranon knew he could never satisfactorily explain the violence that had overcome his Chapter, or the voices that followed. Inevitably the Ecclesiarchy would brand them as Traitors and Daemon-worshippers. Now every asset of the galaxy's greatest empire would be turned against them. He was not prepared for the crushing finality of it.
Given their location, Kranon knew they would never reach Drogsh before the Imperial forces could. Kranon debated not sending a warning -- Exterminatus of their homeworld would be faster and more merciful than the cruelty that would doubtless descend upon those that remained within their fortress-monastery. Countless Chapter serfs, servitors, half-trained Scout Marines and more would be put to death by the Inquisition.
Kranon thought of the old Veterans hardwired into the moon's defence guns, and the Scout sergeants with whom he had long served. Violent death was an expected hazard for any Space Marine, but all had hoped to fall in battle, serving the Imperium and the Emperor. There was no honour in dying to the fiery blast of a Cyclonic Torpedo. Kranon had vowed to do all in his power to ensure the best for his Chapter. Now, like a weight lifted from his shoulders, he realised he no longer owed anyone anything.
Yet he could not be wholly sure if this was his own thought or the whispering return of the hated voices. Already he felt like he could hear them scratching at his subconscious. Regardless of right or wrong, service was ingrained in him, a part of his fibre. Calling for Librarians, Kranon dictated an urgent message to be sent to Drogsh.
In essence it read flee if you are able -- to remain on the planet or the old moon bases of Rhoghon, or to be affiliated in any way with the Chapter, was a death sentence. Whether they escaped or some other fate befell them, Kranon never knew. Bereft of sanctuary, the Crimson Sabres would now be hunted without mercy.
After sending his message, Sevastus Kranon called together a Sword-meet -- a gathering of the Chapter. In the great Sabre Hall of the vast flagship Red Honour they gathered -- rank after rank of battle-brothers, bonded by vows and wars uncounted. All looked upward to Kranon, for they hoped to hear words of salvation even as unbidden voices began to once more echo inside each of their heads.
Kranon spoke -- he spoke of the physical pain they had endured as new organs were implanted into their modified bodies. He spoke of their commitment, he spoke of the Chapter's honour, and he spoke of the Warp-borne curse that allowed voices to whisper into his mind. And finally, Kranon spoke of the choice that now lay before them.
Only through battle and death could the Crimson Sabres rid themselves of the voices that haunted them. It was Sevastus Kranon's plan to steer a course into the Eye of Terror. There, they could attack the hell-spawned Traitors within that forsaken region and no further innocent lives would be lost. They might be branded as Traitors, but Kranon knew they were not.
It would be a noble end -- a martyrdom fitting for heroes as in the tales of old. Any that wished to leave the Crimson Sabres could do so now. Beneath the great vaulted domes there was silence as each Space Marine pondered his ultimate fate.
With a resounding cry that echoed off the vaulted ceiling, the Crimson Sabres shouted as one, raising their arms in the Chapter salute. They would follow Sevastus Kranon, they would remain in service to the Emperor. They would join him for one final campaign even if that were to be a last defiant charge into the very heart of their foe's realm! Bowing his head beneath the pride he felt swelling inside of him, Kranon dispersed his charges back to their warships and bade them all set course for the Eye of Terror.
Yet, even as he did so, there was some other part of the Chapter Master, something deeper -- an almost unconscious lingering voice -- that said he was not leading his warriors to martyrdom and doom, but luring them. Some other fate awaited them, something far greater than an unmourned death. All journeys through the Warp are prone to anomalies, and the nearer a vessel approaches the greatest tear in the fabric of realspace, the more they feel the presence of the Immaterium pressing upon them.
With their frequent travels through Warpspace, all Space Marines have mantras or battle hymnals that allow the warriors to maintain solid mental discipline upon such voyages. For the Crimson Sabres, these intonations were compromised.
The swelling voices and whispers left the Space Marines vulnerable, their iron wills besieged by self-doubt. By the time they dropped out of the Warp before the Cadian Gate, they felt as if their very beings were under a barrage, their thoughts intertwining with the voices and suggestions of the slain.
Desperate Course of Action
The Cadian Gate was the most stable route that was large enough to allow the passage of battlefleets into and out of the Eye of Terror. However, even before the fall of Cadia and the birth of the Noctis Aeterna it was neither easy to enter nor to leave that region -- for Imperial cordons surrounded that swirling mass of space, guarding against the raids, horrors, and Black Crusades that sporadically issue forth from its whirling depths.
With the correct Imperial clearance codes, the seven-ship warfleet of the Crimson Sabres slipped past several of the layers of that restricted zone, eluding fortress-planets and orbital sentinel stations. But those that guarded the Eye of Terror were on constant alert and could not wholly be avoided. In their final run to enter restricted space, the Crimson Sabres could not avoid a brief clash with an Imperial Fists strike cruiser and supporting destroyer craft that had scrambled to block their entrance.
The opposing fleets exchanged distant torpedo and Lance battery fire, and the Crimson Sabres were forced to repel a brief but fierce boarding action from their fellow Adeptus Astartes. This was not a battle that Kranon wished for, but with their heads filled with nightmare visions of slaughter and the horrible accusations of those they had slain, the Crimson Sabres reacted by rote, their training taking over as they simply fought off another foe.
With only a single warship, the Red Horizon, damaged enough to trail debris while it listed slightly due to damage to its aetheric rudder, the Crimson Sabres at last left behind their pursuers and entered the most feared region of space in the galaxy.
Onwards, into the Eye of Terror the Crimson Sabres steered their course, making all speed. Kranon knew that only by war could the spectral voices be drowned; only when their very armour dripped with gore would the voices cease. They had travelled long and the pent-up madness in their minds threatened to overload and burst forth at any moment.
So it was that the Crimson Sabres descended upon the Eye of Terror with the unequalled fury of both the righteous and the psychotically enraged. They brought doom and in their hands they carried death and carnage. The first to feel the unbridled wrath of the Crimson Sabres were the outermost planets, those only partially contained by the swirling maelstrom.
These were not full-fledged Daemon Worlds that bathed in the free-flowing powers of the Warp, but rather the refuge of the dispossessed -- the twisted home of mutants and the most successful of the Chaos Cultist rabble that had escaped persecution in the Imperium.
These forsaken planets made fine recruiting grounds and hidden lairs for the many Renegade warbands of Chaos Space Marines. There, piratical raiders formed small armies that would launch plundering forays back into the Imperium. Whether witch or Abhuman, mutant or Chaos Space Marine -- all fell before the scythe that was the Crimson Sabres. With bolter and chainsword they unleashed retribution, fighting with a savage joy that, for a time, cleared their minds and souls.
Twisted Beyond Recognition
Planet by planet, the Crimson Sabres worked their way ever more deeply into the Eye of Terror. They slaughtered their way through Chaos Cultist scum with ease, but were slowed considerably when they ran up against Renegade Chaos Space Marine warbands. Through their own numbers, the power of their fleet and the anger in their hearts, they pressed on.
During one planetfall, the Crimson Sabres fought Khornate Berserkers, toppling their blood-dripping idols and gunning down the red-robed Chaos Cultists that surrounded them. On a beslimed and marsh-ridden moon they discovered the lair of creatures that walked like men, but had the heads of enormous insects, with great bulbous compound eyes. Some of them, ominously, wore the power armour of some unrecognisable Space Marine Chapter.
All were dispatched with the same ruthless efficiency that marked every one of the Crimson Sabres' actions. After each battle, the voices were silenced and each of the Crimson Sabres felt renewed and full of worthy purpose. Slowly, however, the haunting voices returned, building into an ever more maddening cacophony. During the long Renegade Wars, there was no single moment that marked the Chapter's turn to Chaos, rather it was a gradual evolution. The flowing powers of the Warp and the heightened fears and desires of each Space Marine combined to morph the Crimson Sabres.
In some, the changes were internal or too subtle to be noticed, in others the transmutation was far more drastic. No one knew when Chaplain Okrark's tomes of liturgies altered, but his zealous speeches shifted from spouting the righteousness of sacrifice and the Imperial doctrine to the pursuit of power, the rights of the individual, and the almighty strength they bore within their own band of warriors.
One Space Marine's eyes glowed crimson as he grew angry, another noticed his teeth growing into more pronounced fangs. Others returned from battle to discover that their own bones had grown forth, penetrating their armour to form new ridged designs. Great horns sprouted out of helms, growing in size and elaboration to match their owner's valour and deeds of battle.
None were so large or as formidable as those of Chapter Master Kranon. On the ever-changing mist world of Drabloyn, esteemed Sergeant Draznicht's strange new precognitive powers erupted forth, as did the third eye that grew out of his forehead.
Space Marines are trained to accept alterations to their bodies. In part, this has to do with the extra organs implanted within them during the genetic modification stages of their early development, but largely it has to do with their war-filled lives. Typically, a Space Marine warrior will sustain more wounds in a standard year than any two dozen frontline Imperial Guardsmen, and in his lifespan he will have recovered from many injuries that would have killed an unmodified man outright.
Such rugged survivability is not without cost, and scars, burns, or losses of limb are common. Witnessing gruesome wounds, or bionic replacements, is just another part of being a Space Marine. Perhaps this attitude made them so readily accept the new growths upon their bodies? When they entered the Eye of Terror, they had already chanted their death hymns, already rationalised that this was their last campaign. From that stance, what matter if a Space Marine grew an extra appendage or sprouted razored talons? If these new mutations aided the slaughter they wreaked upon their foes, then so much the better.
Descent to New Depths
Since the battle on Umidia, not all the Crimson Sabres went along with or accepted the growing corruption of their Chapter. A few of the most aggressive of these individuals were struck down as they attempted to forestall or prevent the massacres perpetrated by their brethren. However, even when filled with the red joy of slaughter, the Crimson Sabres were loath to slay their brothers.
In most cases, those who attempted to rein in the rampant bloodshed, or even those who protested too loudly afterwards, were seized and thrown into holding cells aboard the Chapter's warships. One of these was Chapter Master Sevastus Kranon's own biological brother. Several more Crimson Sabres were clamped into irons after they rebelled against their brethren's growing mutations.
A former Chaplain buckled as he realised a horrible new truth -- he was starting to enjoy the wanton slaying and he begged his compatriots to put him out of his misery. Chained and isolated, without massed killing to even temporarily drive out the voices that haunted them, most of those unfortunates succumbed to raving insanity. The lower levels of the Chapter's warships rang to the howling ravings of madmen, yet still the Crimson Sabres kept them incarcerated.
The Killing Continues
So much raw Warp energy spills out into realspace in the region around the Eye of Terror that time passes strangely there. What may seem a matter of solar days or weeks within that nefarious region might be but seconds of time outside. On and on the Crimson Sabres went, searching each new planet, moon or floating space hulk. If any sign of life was found, they proceeded to assault, relentlessly pursuing their quarry until every one was slain. To them, it felt as if their death-bringing campaign had lasted long years already.
In the beginning, the Chapter's Librarians diligently recorded the full details of these so-called "Renegade Wars" -- or so they thought. All who approach the Eye of Terror increase the risk of madness or daemonic possession, and a psychically capable mind is put under even more strain. When the Librarians went to check their datascrolls and chrono-logs in an attempt to verify how long they had been on this final campaign, they found not the accounts of their several score of battles, but instead only gibberish, the ranting recordings of the maniacal voices from inside their heads.
Kranon took this news hard. He had hoped to redress the ledger against the Crimson Sabres by sending detailed records of their actions back to the Imperium. In this way, the Imperium might learn something of the noble and heroic sacrifice of the Chapter they had wronged.
His deepest wish had been to prove the Crimson Sabres' worth and gain forgiveness from the Imperium, but this had always been a fool's hope. Rightly or wrongly, they had been condemned by a harsh and unforgiving realm and Kranon knew that there could be no return. More realistically, the Chapter Master had simply wished to redeem honour for the Crimson Sabres, perhaps earning a worthy remembrance and memorial.
Now, ironically, the only messages the Crimson Sabres had transmitted were garbled nonsense or lunatic ravings -- surely the exact thing that would convince the Imperium that they were indeed possessed and lost. Although the passage of time had become a befuddlement, Kranon knew it had been three solar days since their last battle, a brief sortie where he himself had slain the warlord -- the Renegade leader of Grimlod's Raiders.
Kranon knew it was only three solar days because already the voices were beginning, a faint whisper, like a distant scratching that he was growing more and more aware of with each passing hour. They had not been able to find enough foes on that barren planet to wash away the murmuring for long. Kranon looked at himself and his army. By this point in the campaign, he had lost well over two hundred of his Space Marines. With no homeworld and no neophytes in training, there was no way to replace those losses. There were another fifty or so of his Chapter that he could not account for -- that had not been seen for days. At least one of those had reportedly burst out of his power armour, becoming a foul and monstrous being that prowled the lower decks of the Red Honour.
Whatever it was, it would have to be hunted out and contained. Kranon suspected several of his Librarians had passed beyond unstable and teetered upon the brink of some dreadful transformation. His own blood-brother was locked in a cell and refused to speak to him, calling him a murderous traitor.
Even his fleet was becoming grotesque -- gothic spires twisting upwards, spiked railings jutting outwards. Kranon was fairly certain that the corridor leading to the flagship's command bridge was now organic. At that moment, at that low point of despair and utter failure, Kranon Sevastus decided that he no longer wanted an unmourned martyrdom. Instead, he wanted to live.
Sabres No More
Kranon gathered about him a selection of his most trusted officers and those leaders of the Crimson Sabres who seemed to be coping the best with the onset of their curse. Into that tight circle came Company Masters Rangald and Sherdon and Veteran Sergeant Draznicht, along with the former Chaplain Okrark and Master Librarian Mannon. To them alone Kranon revealed his new frame of mind. He stated he meant to find some way to end the curse and to carve out a life rather than simply finding a way to end it with honour.
In many ways, this was a final acceptance of their rebellion -- intentional or not -- from the Imperium. Where Kranon had half-expected to find resentment, anger and confrontation, he found only a feeling of mutual relief. Each of the gathered leaders of the Crimson Sabres had also felt the pang of regret as they prepared to sacrifice their lives in battle. They were following Kranon out of duty and vows, aspects that had controlled their lives fully for many standard years, but now seemed hollow.
Each of the officers expressed his own version, justifying that they no longer sought to martyr themselves for the very cause that had so quickly -- and erroneously -- judged them. None of them, not even Kranon, mentioned that the inner voices that tormented each of them had been spewing long diatribes along similar lines for some time now. It was as if each was steeling his mind, willing themselves to believe that the whispered words of enticement had washed over harmlessly, that their decisions were entirely their own.
Thus began a new stage, as a growing circle of confidants began planning how best to bring the rest of the Chapter along with them. They also agreed on the best ways to deal with those who insisted upon remaining loyal to their pledges to the Imperium and the Emperor. One way, or another, the Crimson Sabres would be no more.
"When I first cast my eyes upon the galaxy from space I didn't see millions of points of light, I saw only duty -- planets of the Imperium that it was my task to protect. Now, I serve no one but myself. I look upon distant stars and see only opportunity. Who will join me and take what is rightfully ours?"
Not until every aspect of the plot was ripe did Kranon give the command. The Chapter had gone ten long solar days without battle before they were unleashed to maul a rabble enclave they discovered upon a drifting space hulk. So vast was the derelict spacecraft that it took three solar days to clear. As the sated Space Marines returned from their latest butchery, they were immediately summoned once more into the great Sabre Hall upon the flagship, Red Honour.
There, squad by squad and company by company, they formed up, waiting for their brethren to arrive, waiting to hear the words of their leader. Despite their gore-slick armour, and the viscera that still dripped from their close combat weapons, each of the red-armoured superhumans was content. Aboard the derelict vessel -- a hulk designated Lost Hope -- had been hundreds of dark pilgrims, worshippers of the Dark Gods lured into the Eye of Terror with false promises of power. Their deaths had drowned out the voices, at least for the time being.
Kranon addressed his battle-brothers -- asking them how long had they fought in the Eye of Terror. Once, he had told the Chapter that they had been brave enough to follow him into the most dreadful place in the galaxy. Now he asked them to have the courage to follow him out. Kranon announced that he no longer served the Imperium. Instead, he would seek a cure to halt the madness that had grown in his mind. The Crimson Sabres were dead, he told them, claiming the very name the Imperial agents had pinned upon them for their acts on Umidia and Demetra. From now on, he would lead the Crimson Slaughter.
What followed was brief, but bloody. To some score of Space Marines this was a final blow. They heard the words of sedition and, looking around them, saw that which they had foresworn to destroy. Kranon's war council had already earmarked who the likely Loyalists would be and stationed their own supporters nearby, with guns already aimed.
Less fought than expected, and the action was swiftly over. Once again, their lives had changed forever. Another line had been crossed, another decision had been taken from which there could be no turning back. So did the Crimson Slaughter step forward and of their own free will choose to stride down the path of damnation.
- The 13th Founding (ca. M35-M36) - There is more mystery surrounding the 13th Founding than any other, though it is known to have occurred sometime between the 35th and 36th Millennia. The Adeptus Terra usually keeps exact records on the Foundings of Space Marine Chapters, but has none for the 13th Founding, also known as the "Dark Founding." The Adeptus Terra maintains a bank of gene-seed tithed by every single Chapter ever created, with the notable exception of only the 13th Founding. It is surmised by many, from Inquisitors to curator-scribes, that the Crimson Sabres may have belonged to the 13th Founding, but nothing has ever been proven.
- Cleansing of Danor IV (481.M37) - The Crimson Sabres fought alongside five other Astartes Chapters, who were riled by the Sabres' zealous adherence to protocol.
- Amalgamathian Schism (556.M38) - The arrival of the Space Hulk Amalgamation triggered a series of events that further estranged the Crimson Sabres from the rest of the Adeptus Astartes after they failed to give proper respect to the senior Astartes Chapters of the Dark Angels and the Blood Angels. Chapter Master Nigellus locked away the Chapter's history and declared the Crimson Sabres born again following the schism.
- Fornstadt Rebellion (599.M38) - Called in to suppress a rebellion that was spreading like wildfire over the Hive World of Fornstadt, the Crimson Sabres became embroiled in a brutal clash with Chaos Cultists. Master Nigellus was slain in his 112th year as Chapter Master -- his last action had been to expose the source of the rebellion, which rested with the Alpha Legion. Arnoch was declared the new Master of the Crimson Sabres.
- Zobrist Wars (613-621.M38) - The Imperium took action against increasing piratical attacks by Aeldari that were paralysing shipping lanes in the sector. Along with Imperial Guard elements from Tallarn, the Crimson Sabres succeeded in finding and eliminating four Aeldari outposts. Due to their ever-increasing righteousness, the Tallarn were glad to see the red-armoured Space Marines leave for other sectors.
- Deadstar Battles (983.M38) - An armoured spearhead of Crimson Sabres joined the Black Templars in defeating the Thu'l, a loathsome xenos race that thrived under the light of dead stars. After the battle was won, the two Chapter Masters nearly fought a duel, but this was avoided when the Crimson Sabres Chapter Master Gryloch refered to the Codex Astartes and found that such a course of action is forbidden.
- The Redemption Crusades (088-186.M39) - The Crimson Sabres earned many Imperial accolades while campaigning in the Segmentum Tempestus.
- Collapse of Brakatoa (186.M39) - The entire Brakatoa System, home star system of the Crimson Sabres Chapter, erupted with a Chaos Cultist uprising heralded by the arrival of the Space Hulk The Misery. Of the eleven planets in the star system, all life was wiped off of eight worlds, with three of them mercilessly destroyed by Cyclonic Torpedoes in a desperate attempt to halt a growing Warp rift. The Crimson Sabres' homeworld of Rhoghon was contaminated by the detonation of an ancient reactor from the Dark Age of Technology.
- A New Homeworld (187.M39) - The Crimson Sabres claimed Drogsh as their new Chapter homeworld, one of the few hospitable planets left in the Brakatoa System. A growing bitterness towards the Imperium for the destruction of their home star system and for the lack of help from other nearby Space Marine Chapters in controlling the Chaos Cultist outbreak began to ferment within the Chapter. Despite the complaints of the Chapter, the Adeptus Terra took no disciplinary action with the long file of datascrolls detailing the available Imperial forces within one hundred light years that had not respond to the distress cries of Brakatoa.
- Macharian Conquests (995.M40) - The Crimson Sabres took part in the seven-year campaign of the Lord Solar Macharius, with both their effectiveness and their estrangement from the other organisations of the Imperium noted in the records of the Silver Skulls.
- Genocide on Umidia (928.M41) - The Crimson Sabres arrived on the Jungle World of Umidia to discover the Balethu Cults. They claimed the cults were attempting to open a Warp rift, and responded by slaughtering all of them. The Chapter believed they were cursed (or rewarded) by the Dark Gods in response, as they were forever after haunted by fell voices.
- Terror on Demetra (929.M41) - Hoping to halt the voices in their heads, the Crimson Sabres declared the planet of Demetra to be contaminated due to its proximity to Umidia. The killing began anew. The plan worked, but the Chapter was declared Excommunicate Traitoris by the High Lords of Terra for their actions. Their homeworld of Drogsh was seized by the Inquisition and everyone connected to the Chapter slain. Only a handful of Scout Marines, under the Master of the 10th Company, Murdok, escaped Drogsh and the Brakatoa System.
- Into the Eye of Terror (929.M41) - Fighting their way through the Imperial forces standing guard at the Cadian Gate, the Renegade Crimson Sabres steered their fleet into the Eye of Terror, seeking a glorious martyrdom and redemption in the eyes of the Emperor through slaying the hordes of Traitors within.
- The Renegade Wars (929-938.M41) - The Crimson Sabres fought and destroyed countless Chaos Cults, but also faced many warbands of Chaos Space Marine Renegades within the Eye. They engaged and defeated warbands of the Black Skulls, Bragza's Fell-handed, the Cleaved, Grimhunters, Tainted Souls, Tatterskulls, and more that have been forgotten by history.
- The Change (932.M41) - The first signs of mutation began appearing amongst the Astartes of the Crimson Sabres. They did not speak of it aloud -- even with each other.
- Rise of the Crimson Slaughter (938.M41) - Chapter Master Sevastus Kranon changed his mind -- he did not wish to die for an empty cause. The remains of the Chapter were gathered and Kranon's abandonment of Imperial martyrdom was announced. Strife amongst the ranks ensued. Captain Eli Dzarton, leader of the 4th Company, departed, taking with him many of the men of his former company and the Chapter warship Pride of Rhogon. He swore that if the two portions of the Chapter ever met again they would be foes. Captain Dzarton and his fifty-nine followers of the 4th Company re-established a secret base upon their old homeworld of Rhoghon in realspace. It is still rad-contaminated, but it is Dzarton's hope to restore the old Crimson Sabres Chapter to Loyalist purity and service to the Emperor. He vowed to hunt down and slay Kranon as his penance to the Emperor.
- Lost Hope (939.M41) - The Crimson Slaughter established a new base of operations within the edge of the Eye of Terror -- the Space Hulk Lost Hope. They sent their first warbands to raid into realspace, and now named themselves the Crimson Slaughter as they fell further into the embrace of Chaos.
The Brakatoa System was first colonised in the early stages of Mankind's Age of Technology. Though distant from Terra, a "drift channel" in the Warp allowed for easy travel to the region. The star system was ideal, for it grouped a dozen inhabitable planets within a compact orbit.
During the ever-growing Warp Storms that ushered in the Age of Strife in the 25th Millennium, all contact was lost with the Brakatoa System. It was not until thousands of standard years later, late in the Age of Forging, that the storms cleared sufficiently so that Explorator fleets could once more push into that region, now defined as the galactic south of the Segmentum Tempestus.
What the Imperium found was that a few of the planets still had Human populations: the outermost planet Rhoghon with its twin moons, as well as Raamdhon, Drogsh, and Rynn's End. Yet as close as these planets were to each other they had lost touch with all outside worlds.
During the long millennia of Old Night, Terra, the birthplace of Humanity, had become but rumour and legend. All three planets had regressed and were ruled by feudal warlords -- brutal, but fair men, who fought bravely to fight off Orks and other xenos raiders. Anxious to reclaim the mineral-rich Brakatoa System, the Imperium sent out vast colonisation expeditions. The outermost planet, Rhoghon, was a "Shield World" -- so called because its orbit protected the rest of the inhabitable worlds.
It was on Rhoghon that the newly founded Crimson Sabres built their stronghold -- the fortress-monastery of cerusion iron known as Decavitum, or "ten victories" in the native language.
Built into the side of a mountain, its ten towers soared even higher than the snow-capped peak. Upon Rhoghon's moons the Crimson Sabres established a pair of naval bases, including the orbital docks required for their sizeable fleet.
Fall of Rhoghon
During the Age of Redemption, a time marked by many Imperial Crusades, the Imperium launched countless campaigns in an effort to purge away the sins of the previous Age of Apostasy. Many long-lost worlds and new star systems were added to the Imperium's control during the Redemption Crusades.
It was while the majority of the Crimson Sabres were on campaign near the Veiled Region that word reached them that the Brakatoa System had fallen into near-collapse. It is believed by the Ordo Malleus that the Brakatoa eruption began with the emergence of the supercluster space hulk codenamed The Misery. Its long-awaited appearance in realspace was the sign for Chaos Cultists to rise up across the system.
Dating back to when the Explorator fleets first rediscovered the star system, the region was rife with cults. Although the Ecclesiarchy had done their best -- erecting several great cathedrals dedicated to the Emperor -- they had never fully succeeded in wiping out such organisations as the Cult of the Carmine Truth or the Mist-druids.
Upon Rhoghon, many of the feudal keeps from which the Crimson Sabres drew recruits housed secret factions. These rose up, seizing control of many of the great strongholds. Through their sudden wars and foul rituals, portals to the Warp were opened and Daemons poured forth across all of Brakatoa. With their fleet many sectors distant, there was little the Crimson Sabres could do to halt The Misery.
Soon the massive space hulk was orbiting Rhoghon, the Warp-pilgrims ferrying to the planet to bolster the rising cult armies. An army of half-trained Scouts, Veterans recovering from wounds, and Dreadnoughts too slow to awaken when the Crimson Sabres left en masse were all that was left to confront the cultist hordes.
Were it not for the Daemons, the makeshift Space Marine forces might have held out long enough. As it was, the end was cruel for those Crimson Sabres that were caught. With their requests for aid denied, the master of the 10th Company succeeded in detonating the ancient reactors leading to a cataclysmic rad-explosion that scoured the world. All records of the Crimson Sabres' past and the truth of their origins were lost, buried beneath their ruined stronghold.
Rise and Doom of Drogsh
The Crimson Sabres re-established themselves upon the neighboring Brakatoa System world of Drogsh to re-build their numbers. For the next millennium the Crimson Sabres continued to do their duty. But following their fateful campaigns on Umidia and Demetra Librarians brought Chapter Master Sevastus Kranon messages intercepted from the High Lords of Terra that the Crimson Sabres had been declared Excommunicate Traitoris.
Kranon knew that his fleet would never bring warning to Drogsh before the Imperial forces reached it. Kranon debated not sending a warning to his Chapter's doomed homeworld, for he knew the Imperium would reach it before he could, and the inevitable ruthless extermination campaign that would surely follow.
Kranon ordered his Librarians to send an astropathic message warning his fellow brethren to flee before the wrath of the Imperium, for the Crimson Sabres would now be hunted without mercy. Whether they escaped or some other fate befell them, Kranon never knew.
In truth, the Crimson Sabres' homeworld of Drogsh was seized by the Imperium and everyone connected to the Chapter slain by the agents of the Inquisition. Only a handful of Scouts, under the command of the master of the 10th Company, Murdok, escaped.
Return to Rhoghon
Following their excommunication after the genocide committed on Demetra, Chapter Master Kranon ordered his Chapter to set course for the Eye of Terror in a suicidal campaign to seek glorious martyrdom. When Kranon changed his mind years later and abandoned their cause, Captain Dzarton, master of the 4th Company, departed, taking with him many of the warriors of his former company and the warship Pride of Rhoghon.
He swore that if they ever met their Traitor brethren again they would do so as foes. Captain Dzarton and his fifty-nine followers of the 4th Company re-established a secret base upon their old homeworld of Rhoghon. It was still rad-contaminated, but it was Dzarton's hope to restore the Loyalist Crimson Sabres upon it.
The Lost Hope
While within the Eye of Terror, the newly-renamed Crimson Slaughter warband discovered a massive floating space hulk, designated the Lost Hope by the Imperium, and they turned the drifting colossus into a new base of operations. With help from Fabius Bile, great laboratories have been set up aboard the Lost Hope. Row after row of chem-vats grow the organs that will be transplanted into aspirants to transform them into initiates.
Following multiple raids into the realms of the Imperium and their confrontation with the hated Dark Angels Chapter, the Crimson Slaughter returned to their base and found that the space hulk had further transformed. It was now the size of a large moon and more nightmarish than ever, an amalgamation of contorted shipwrecks and twisted spires.
Sane attackers would quail before the Lost Hope, for it was bedecked with gun towers and protruding spikes, thorny clusters on which Boarding Torpedoes would skewer themselves. Protruding from the structure were tendrils, although whether the grasping tentacles were mechanical or belonged to daemonic or mutant beasts attached to the hull was unknown. None of the Crimson Slaughter wished to drift close enough to find out.
The bulk of the Crimson Slaughter had been gone for less than a Terran year, but solar decades had passed within the Eye of Terror. The Techmarines who had remained aboard the space hulk had left behind the limiting technology of the Omnissiah and embraced the blending of machine with the energies of the Immaterium. They were Warpsmiths now, and they had laboured long on the Lost Hope.
Some, like Brother Grankus, were more metal than flesh; their bodies covered with fused mechanoid elements that had minds of their own. A few, like Brother Sartok, gave themselves wholly to the Lost Hope, becoming living flesh engines bound into the conglomerate hulk.
Worse things still haunted the lower decks, for they had become the hunting grounds for strange mutated beasts and Warp-born monsters. These creatures served their purpose, however; only those recruits that survived against such terrors would be allowed to continue their initiation.
Notable Crimson Sabres
- Chapter Master Sevastus Kranon - Sevastus Kranon was the final Chapter Master of the Loyalist Crimson Sabres Chapter before their fall to Chaos -- and became the Chaos Lord of the Crimson Slaughter known as Kranon the Relentless after their fall from the Emperor's grace.
- Chapter Master Drabek - Drabek was a Chapter Master sometime during the 39th Millennium. Despite the heroics and their many instances of sacrifice, then Chapter Master Drabek became increasingly convinced that the reputation of his Chapter was in question. To those on far-off Terra, this was not the case -- for the Crimson Sabres were amongst the most highly decorated forces that participated in the campaigns in the Segmentum Tempestus. To those who fought alongside them, however, Drabek's assessment was accurate. Many allies were growing frustrated with the highly critical and overly suspicious nature of the Crimson Sabres Chapter.
- Chapter Master Arnoch the Intransigent - Arnoch assumed command of the Crimson Sabres upon the death of Nigellus in 599.M38. Arnoch succeeded Nigellus as Chapter Master of the Crimson Sabres, but the new traditions he had established lived on. If anything, the Chapter became yet more fervent and exacting in its strict adherence to orders. Arnoch became known as the Intransigent -- a title that would be used to describe all the Chapter Masters that followed. In one of his first acts, Arnoch the Intransigent sought to further banish their hidden past, wary of how others might judge the Chapter. He made the decision to seal all entrances to the Sanctum of the Sword, located within the Chapter's fortress-monastery. Not only did it lock away evidence of a perceived imperfection, but it was also his declaration that the past was over and a new era begun.
- Chapter Master Nigellus - Former Chapter Master of the then-Loyalist Crimson Sabres Chapter in the mid-38th Millennium. When the Crimson Sabres received words of censure from Terra for their actions during the Amalgamathian Schism for breaching unspoken protocol, Nigellus was determined to shed his Chapter's growing self-doubt and make a statement. In a bold move, he declared the Crimson Sabres would sever all ties to their brother Space Marine Chapters, including their founders. They would be loyal to the tactical guidelines laid out by the Codex Astartes and follow uncompromisingly all orders as issued by the High Lords of Terra. To all others, they would be unanswerable. In this action, he sought to free the Crimson Sabres from faulty judgement and therefore all reproach. When self-doubt began to gnaw at many within the Chapter, Nigellus ordered to scrub clean all evidence of their forebears and the Chapter's full history was locked away. Years later, while suppressing a rebellion over the Hive World of Fornstadt, the Crimson Sabres become embroiled in a brutal clash with Chaos Cultists. Master Nigellus was slain in his 112th year as Chapter Master -- his last action was to expose the source of the rebellion, which rested with the Alpha Legion. Before dying, he named Arnoch his successor.
- Chief Librarian Xastus Mannon - Mannon was the final Chief Librarian of the Crimson Sabres Chapter. During the massacre on Umidia, the Crimson Sabres were enraged at being manipulated by a Greater Daemon into committing a massacre against innocents. Led by Mannon, a small squad of Crimson Sabre scouts tracked down and confronted the Greater Daemon that was behind the nefarious plot. As they battled the Lord of Change, named Tzax'lantar, Mannon was instrumental in overcoming the vile Warp-spawned creature with his innate psychic abilities. Thinking they had banished the foul daemon back into the Immaterium, unknown to his fellow Battle-Brothers, Mannon's body was instead subsumed by the foul denizen of Chaos. Following the Crimson Sabres' excommunication, flight and corruption within the Eye of Terror, Mannon became Chief Sorcerer of the Crimson Slaughter. When his true nature was revealed, the Greater Daemon Tzax'lantar fled Kranon's wrath, and continues to elude him to this day.
- Forge Master Gorthus - Forge Master of the Crimson Sabres Chapter.
- Reclusiarch Okrark - Reclusiarch of the Crimson Sabres Chapter.
- Captain Dzargon Draznicht - The brutal slayer known as Draznicht was once reckoned the wisest mind amongst all the Astartes of the Crimson Sabres, and was the Captain of the 1st Company.
- Captain Sevarion Kranon - Sevarion Kranon was the Captain of the Crimson Sabres' 2nd Company and the biological brother of Sevastus Kranon. Sevarion refused to give into the bloodthirst that possessed his fellow Battle-Brothers during the massacre of Umidia, and was imprisoned by his brother for his disobedience aboard the Chapter flagship Red Honour. However the curse his entire Chapter came under from Khorne eventually drove this once noble soul completely mad during his confinement. Eventually, Sevarion was imprisoned within the cold cybernetic shell of a Helbrute, a variant form of a Chaos Dreadnought and renamed Mortis Metalikus. He was consumed by murderous rage and grotesquely corrupted by the Ruinous Powers of Chaos. Metalikus was finally slain in the days before the 13th Black Crusade, a fate he welcomed as release from his tortured existence.
- Captain Braglan Ragnald - Captain of the 3rd Company of the Crimson Sabres Chapter, Ragnald was the eldest of the Captains within the Chapter before its fall to Chaos.
- Captain Eli Dzarton - Captain of the 4th Company of the Crimson Sabres Chapter, Dzarton was a powerfully built man, even by Space Marine standards, popular not only among his fellow captains but also the lower-ranked Brothers of the Chapter. Though he did not covet Sevastus Kranon's position, it was no secret that Dzarton would likely lead the Crimson Sabres in the future. Following the massacre on Umidia, and the Crimson Sabres' excommunication after the genocide committed on Demetra, Dzarton willingly followed Chapter Master Kranon into the Eye of Terror in a suicidal campaign to seek glorious martyrdom. When Kranon changed his mind several standard years later and abandoned their cause, Captain Dzarton departed, taking with him many of the men of his former company and the Chapter warship Pride of Rhoghon. He swore that if they ever met again with the rest of the Chapter they would be foes. Captain Dzarton and his fifty-nine followers of the 4th Company re-established a secret base upon their old homeworld of Rhoghon in realspace. It is still rad-contaminated, but it is Dzarton's hope to restore the old Crimson Sabres Chapter to Loyalist purity and service to the Emperor. He vowed to hunt down and slay Kranon as his penance to the Emperor.
- Captain Shergon - Captain of the 5th Company of the Crimson Sabres Chapter.
- Captain Barkman - Captain of the 6th Company of the Crimson Sabres Chapter.
- Captain Kiestor - Captain of the 7th Company of the Crimson Sabres Chapter.
- Captain Nthicrar - Captain of the 9th Company of he Crimson Sabres Chapter.
- Captain Murdok - Murdok was the former Captain of the 10th Scout Company who was grievously wounded while fighting against the Tyranids in the galactic south that threatened a chain of Agri-Worlds vital to the continued existence of three entire sub-sectors and the lives of over a hundred billion souls. While recuperating from his horrendous wounds on their Chapter homeworld of Drogsh, the Crimson Sabres committed duel atrocities on Umidia and Demetra. They were soon declared Excommunicate Traitoris by the Senatorum Imperialis. Their homeworld was seized by the Inquisition and everyone connected to the Chapter slain. Only a handful of Scout Marines, under the Master of the 10th Company, Murdok, escaped. Their fate remains unknown.
- Scout Sergeant Anzo Riegler - Former Scout Sergeant of the 10th Company, he was a formidable combatant and senior sergeant of the Crimson Sabres' Scout Company. He was selected as the successor of Murdok to take temporary command of the 10th Company following the grievous wounding of his former commander Murdok.
- Sergeant Urzoz - Sergeant of the 9th Company of the Crimson Sabres Chapter.
- First Sergeant Kohl - Kohl served as the First Sergeant of the elite 1st Company. It was his sworn duty to remain in the Sword Hall aboard the Crimson Sabres flagship Red Honour and to carry out any task that the Masters of the Crimson Sabres required of him.
- Red Honour (Battle Barge) - Former Chapter Flagship of the Crimson Sabres Chapter.
- Pride of Rhoghon (Strike Cruiser) - Remaining vessel of the Loyalist 4th Company of the Crimson Sabres.
- Red Horizon (Strike Cruiser)
The Crimson Sabres' power armour was crimson-red with white shoulder plates and backpack. It is known that the Crimson Sabres closely followed the recommendations of the Codex Astartes in their choice of insignia and squad markings; however, exact details are now hard to ascertain.
Since their fall from service to the Emperor, the millennia-old heraldry of the Crimson Sabres has largely been eradicated and is now for the most part wholly forgotten.
Led by the Inquisition, all records of the now-excommunicated Space Marine Chapter have been erased by an Edict of Obliteration, the deliberate destruction of icons and other symbols or monuments pertaining to an offending individual or organisation that has been declared Excommunicate Traitoris by the High Lords of Terra. In many ways it is as if they never existed.
There have been scattered reports that cite witnesses seeing the uniform and heraldry of the Crimson Sabres still in service. Though it is widely unknown, the 4th Company of the Crimson Sabres split from the newly fallen Crimson Slaughter and, operating in strict transmission silence, have attempted to secretly re-establish their Chapter in service to the Imperium.
Although they were lost in the Warp for some period of time, they have since secretly returned to their Chapter's original homeworld, the rad-poisoned planet of Rhoghon in the Brakatoa System.
The Crimson Sabres Chapter badge is a pair of crossed crimson sabres beneath a small crimson skull. This is centred on a field of white.
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 16, 56, 74, 97
- Crimson Slaughter - A Codex: Chaos Space Marines Supplement (6th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 176, 299
- White Dwarf 6 (March 08, 2014) (UK) , "Crimson Slaughter", "The Crimson Sabres", pp. 15-16, 57-60
- White Dwarf 393, "Dark Vengeance", pp. 22-35, 40-65
- White Dwarf 392, "The Crimson Slaughter," "'Eavy Metal - Chaos Space Marines," & "The Battle for Bane's Landing," pp. 32-33, 38-63
- Ascension of Balthasar (Audio Drama) by C.Z. Dunn
- Dark Vengeance (Novel) by C.Z. Dunn
- Crimson Dawn (Novella) by C.Z. Dunn