"Scour the planet, brothers! Cleanse it with the blood of men!"
The Crimson Slaughter is a Renegade warband of Chaos Space Marines dedicated to the service of the Blood God Khorne. Originally they were known as the Crimson Sabres, a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter that may have belonged to the mysterious 13th Founding, also known as the "Dark Founding," which occurred sometime between the 35th and 36th Millennia. Their Chapter's reputation was built on ruthless efficiency and fastidious adherence to the Codex Astartes. Soon enough, signs that things were awry appeared in their Chapter 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 they 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.
Tide of Slaughter
"I see fear in their eyes, right before they die. I see shock as they realise too late what it is to pit their pitiful strength against true power."
Of all the Renegade Space Marine Chapters that have abandoned the Emperor's cause, none are more feared than the Crimson Slaughter. The mere mention of their name brings a shudder to even the most stalwart of Imperial defenders, for it is linked to betrayal and bloodshed, a title synonymous with the blackest deeds of carnage and horrors unimaginable. The Crimson Slaughter entered the current 41st Millennium as a Chapter of Space Marines -- the ultimate defenders of Mankind. Through fate or the baleful influence of the supernatural, they have turned from the light of the Emperor. Their own paranoid insanity, or perhaps just their own weak will, has driven them down the path of damnation -- a road from which there is no turning back. Only through butchery and genocide can the Crimson Slaughter gain even momentary peace from the inner voices that goad them. Such is their cursed existence. So has an entire Chapter of the Emperor's Finest left behind the dogma of the Imperium, choosing instead to embrace the Dark Gods. The Crimson slaughter seek to wash away their sins in a tide of blood, joining the Long War to bring down the regime they once willingly served. Genetically designed for warfare and killing, the Space Marines of the Crimson Slaughter have at last thrown off the Imperial shackles, loosing themselves from restraint. Now, with allegiance only to themselves, the renegades blaze a trail of death across the galaxy, fully immersing themselves in wanton destruction.
The Imperium has attempted to suppress rumours that an entire Chapter of their Space Marines has been corrupted -- for the Chaos Space Marines are fearsome foes. They possess all of a Space Marine's abilities and skills, and his matchless gear of war. In addition to this, such enemies also wield the corrupting powers of the Dark Gods and their insidious gifts. These Traitors command arcane powers, infernal weaponry and daemonically-possessed machines that are akin to nightmarish monsters. They will stop at nothing to achieve their self-serving aims. Try as they might, however, the Imperium cannot conceal the truth about the Crimson Slaughter. Their deeds are too heinous, the scale of their bloodshed too enormous. Since turning their backs upon the Imperium they swore to protect, the Crimson Slaughter have carved bloody paths of destruction back and forth across the galaxy. In their wake they leave behind massacre sites so repulsive in their excess, so extreme in their savagery, that even hardened veterans must look away. Since their betrayal, the Crimson Slaughter have destroyed armies, massacred entire populations and despoiled swathes of the Imperium.
Fall of the Crimson Sabres
To better understand how an entire Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes could turn aside from its duty, many Inquisitors have attempted to trace the rot of corruption back to its source. Although much detail has been lost or remains shrouded since the Chapter's Founding, investigators have pieced together as much as could be uncovered about the Crimson Slaughter's past. The story of the Crimson Slaughter is a tragic tale. To the Imperium of Mankind, it is the story of ultimate betrayal –- a Space Marine Chapter that turned from the light of the Emperor, rebels who forsook sacred duty to pursue their own twisted agenda. As for the Crimson Slaughter themselves, their beliefs on the matter are more varied. Some claim that the chain of disasters that befell them was nothing more than random fate, a series of events that led down a path upon which there could be no turning back. Others deny any aimlessness in their doom, seeing instead either the engineered machinations of more sinister forces at work, or perhaps their Chapter's own subconsciousness bursting forth after long and brutal suppression. Some seek the truth of the Crimson Sabres' fall, hoping to identify signs of further corruption in other Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. Others seek evidence simply to understand what could make Mankind's most elite protectors into its worst nightmare. All agree upon two things –- the Crimson Slaughter were born of war, and their history has been writ in blood.
The Renegades who call themselves the Crimson Slaughter were once the Crimson Sabres Chapter of Space Marines. Since their betrayal and excommunication, many have sought out the Chapter's origins, delving back into their past to find perhaps some reasoning behind their rapid decline into savage butchery. Thus far, the Inquisition has failed to reveal any conclusive evidence that links them to corrupt gene-seed or known mutagenic factors. What has been brought to light in the quest to understand what happened to an elite army is only another reminder that there are enormous gaps in the Imperium's data. Tracing historical records is a difficult task. Much of the history of the Imperium of Mankind, including that of some of the most decorated Space Marine Chapters, has holes riddled through its continuum. These dead patches are often ascribed to rampant warfare, but not always. Even without xenos threat or internecine fighting, the sheer size of the galaxy-spanning empire and the dangers of Warp travel conspire to make any kind of cohesive record-keeping impossible. The most bureaucratic star systems –- those with the most Adeptus Administratum workers -– keep the best records, but ironically, they are the most difficult to extract information from. The sheer number of datascrolls and information stockpiles, along with outdated or misunderstood technology, makes sifting the heaped recordings the life's work of entire armies of scribes.
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. 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 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.
The Amalgamathian Schism
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 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 I 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 Inquisitors.
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 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 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 Eldar, 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 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 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 themselves. 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 Imperial Guard 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 the Rhoghon revealed an ugly picture –- their fortress 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.
Fall From Grace
For over a 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 Lord Inquisitor 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, they 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 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 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 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 canker 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 time. 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. 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 Mankind, they were now outcasts –- hunted refugees. And then the whispers in their heads began anew. Shortly after the massacre upon Demetra, 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 men 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 is the most stable route that is large enough to allow the passage of battlefleets into and out of the Eye of Terror. However, it is neither easy to enter nor to leave that region -- for Imperial cordons surround 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 guard the Eye of Terror are 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.
The Renegade Wars
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 Renegade 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 Khorne Berzerkers, 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 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 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 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 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.
Quickly Kranon learned that the pressures of leading a Renegade warband of Chaos Space Marines were far different to merely commanding a Chapter of Space Marines. Amongst other challenges, it was far more dangerous. While they were no longer confined to the slavish dictates of the Imperium, there was also no unifying factor -- no binding oath or loyalty to cling fast upon. What laws would men follow when there were no laws? To hold the Crimson Slaughter together there was only Kranon, the latest plan and as much loot and ammunition as they could plunder. There was trouble within hours of declaring themselves as what the Imperium had already labelled them: Renegades. Under Kranon's direction, the officers and leaders reorganised their old companies, forming smaller warbands. These would prove more flexible as the Crimson Slaughter began to adapt to their life outside the Imperium. Several duels broke out over the right to lead, and in the ensuing confusion, a sizeable warband seized the warship Pride of Rhoghon and left the remaining fleet. It was composed mostly of the remnants of the old 4th Company, led by their Captain, Eli Dzarton. It seemed they had been covertly planning such an operation for some time and the last message sent before their voidship entered Warp travel was that they would remain Crimson Sabres and, should they meet again, it would not be as brothers -- blood would be spilt.
During their next few battles -- seizing a fortified base upon an otherwise barren night world and capturing a space freighter whose Warp engines were malfunctioning -- several other squads took the opportunity to disappear into the void. From what Kranon could gather from the psychic readings supplied by Mannon, those smaller groups left to forge their own destinies. The stream of deserters was a problem for Kranon, as they weakened his command, yet they were not so dangerous as those that directly threatened his life. There was no weight of tradition to quell ambitious subordinates -- for Renegades take what they want and follow the strongest of their kind. Captain Barkman was the former commander of the 6th Company of Crimson Sabres. The voices in his head had convinced him of his own greatness, his right to seize control of the Crimson Slaughter for his own. They whispered to him that he was more fit to lead the killing, they said that Kranon was too weak. Barkman had always coveted the Chapter Master's role and had been passed over for promotion many times. Alone, he pledged his own dark pacts with the voices, promising mountains of skulls for the boon of power. Aboard the flagship Red Honour Barkman burst into the command room and hefted up his great Chainaxe to challenge Kranon to personal combat. Kranon could do nothing but accept, and a ring of onlookers formed -- eager to see who was strongest.
Kranon had served alongside Barkman for over a century, during which time they had regularly trained against each other. Since their days as Scouts in the 10th Company, they had faced each other in all manner of hand-to-hand combat. This was no drill, however, for now they duelled for their lives and for ultimate mastery of the Crimson Slaughter. In an eerie parody of the Crimson Sabres combat training ritual, both Kranon and Barkman raised their weapons in ceremonial salute before stepping back and bowing. Then began the duel. Each warrior circled the other -- Barkman adjusting the grip upon his great Chainaxe, while Kranon waved the Imperator Blade back and forth so that the glowing daemonic faces traced bright patterns before him.
Each man was wary of the other. They were both amongst the most accomplished close combat fighters in the Chapter, and they had trained enough with each other to know each others' tendencies, feints and favoured ruses. If either had expected the swordplay of days gone, however, they were greatly surprised. This was not a subtle scoring competition between comrades, but a death struggle. With unnatural speed for such a hulking figure, Barkman launched a savage series of wide-arcing strikes -- great two-handed hacks intended to sever Kranon in two. The Imperator Blade howled in protest, its bright blade parrying blows that would have cracked open a Land Raider. Such a flurry of vigour would have tired even the iron-strong limbs of a Space Marine, but now some power of the Warp coursed within them, and neither Barkman nor Kranon slowed in the least. Having taken his challenger's measure, Kranon went on the offensive. With his blade glowing ever brighter, Kranon methodically drove Barkman backwards before cleaving through his old comrade's Power Armour, cleanly lopping off his right arm from the elbow down. With a clang, Barkman's axe dropped, its whirring teeth grinding deeply into the ship's deck before becoming wedged in it. If Barkman had expected mercy from his former commander, he did not get it. With a whirl to gain momentum, Kranon spun around to deliver a final blow -- splitting his foe lengthwise from helm to groin. For a moment, Barkman remained still, but slowly, his two halves separated and fell wetly to either side. Despite the urgings of the voices, for a long while thereafter no further challenges were issued to Kranon.
Salvation of Lost Hope
In order to carve out an existence as Renegades, the Crimson Slaughter needed to establish themselves in the most convoluted and hostile environment in the galaxy. To survive, they had to fight off their madness, establish a new homeworld and make strange new alliances within the Eye of Terror. No longer lapdogs of the Imperium, they learned to take what they needed. Although the Crimson Slaughter no longer wished to end their lives on a sacrificial deathquest, there was a very real chance that it might happen regardless. With numbers dwindling from casualties and desertions, their strength was rapidly waning. Their fleet had suffered damage -- several warships were listing from encounters with hostile spacecraft and the monstrous denizens that hunted the void around the Eye of Terror. Desperate to stop the voices inside their heads, the Crimson Slaughter could not tarry long between battles. This left them constantly on the move, forever seeking new quarry to slay so that they could avoid drifting so deeply into madness that there could be no return.
Before their excommunication, the Crimson Sabres had been self-sufficient. Like all Space Marines, they were able to service and maintain their arms and fleet. No matter where they were ordered to go in the galaxy, behind them were all the resources of their homeworld back in the Brakatoa System. From Drogsh, and previously Rhoghon, had come a steady supply of genetically-enhanced replacements. The non-stop competition to be accepted by the Crimsons Sabres weeded out all but the most worthy of Aspirants from the feudal kingdoms of their home star system. What the Crimson Sabres could not source from their own system had been provided by the sprawling Imperium. It had been their Chapter's lot to collect a tithe of the most gifted of those pre-screened by the Scholastica Psykana. These were then trained as per the Codex Astartes to one day become Librarians, or perhaps join their psychic choir. To maintain their fleet, weapons and machines, the Crimson Sabres sent likely Techmarine candidates to Mars to be trained in the way of the Machine God, and at need they could call further upon the Forge Worlds. All that was now gone. Kranon and the Crimson Slaughter still had to learn the most basic of tenets for their new existence: to a Renegade nothing is given -- it must all be taken.
Years previous, Kranon had been promoted to Chapter Master not because of his considerable martial prowess or tactical acumen, but rather due to his drive. Now, shaking off the malaise of doom that had hung over him since Umidia, he became a force of action once more. He was now Kranon the Relentless, and he was everywhere. Retracing their path to the floating Space Hulk Lost Hope, the Crimson Slaughter began to turn the drifting colossus into a new base of operations. Those not working on the Hulk were sent out to launch horrific raids, to relieve their madness by butchering any victims they could find. Many times the Renegade Space Marines prowled along the shipping lanes that led out of the Eye of Terror towards the Cadian Gate. There they sought prey -- whether dark pilgrims or lost travellers, it mattered not. Upon their return, they would switch places with their comrades -- helping to overhaul the Lost Hope, while their brethren set out to reap their own bloody harvest. It was during this period that the Crimson Slaughter began to leave the Eye of Terror, returning once more to the Imperium, bringing with them red ruin.
When warbands of the Crimson Slaughter returned to realspace from the Eye of Terror, they did so to launch a series of minor, yet deadly raids. Some plundering took place during these incursions, but the unstated main goal was for the raiders merely to exorcise the voices that haunted each of them. It was the Chaos Sorcerer Mannon and Veteran Sergeant Draznicht who selected the sites the Crimson Slaughter would attack, for they were both gifted with prescient visions. Kranon insisted that all targets had easy access and weak defences rather than high value objectives. Although they may have been backwater destinations, there were no easy pickings. Even small moon bases were equipped for self-defence and any Planetary Defence Force that was given time to gather and deploy their substantial numbers could prove deadly.
These raids were small compared to the genocidal strikes of their entire Chapter of old, but their effect was far more terrifying. This was due, in part, to the strange new phenomena that the Crimson Slaughter observed amidst their massacres. When they materialised out of the Warp, the Renegades were not alone. Their haunting was no longer confined within their heads. Strange and disturbing manifestations followed them as they methodically gunned down every soul they encountered. At first, the Renegades thought the howling laughter or screams of pain were just inside their minds, but they noticed their madness spread outwards from them like a bow wave. Previously, foes had fled before their onslaught -– now some were too frightened to do even that. Lights flickered in their presence, inanimate objects oozed blood or levitated in their wake. With eyes blazing with balefire, they were doom incarnate. In time, these unnatural occurrences would only grow stronger.
How long this new routine lasted none could say, but slowly, the Lost Hope inched closer to becoming a protectable base. The Techmarines and their Servitors worked non-stop, never removing their Servo-harnesses. Already the nature of their mechanical skills was altering in this strange new landscape. They found that they could bind the living energies of the Warp into metal. Kranon looked upon his support crew, their betentacled gear writhing like living snakes upon their backs. He would have pitied them if there had been such a thing as pity left in him. Instead he urged them to work faster, adopting whatever means necessary. It had been Kranon's intent to fill many of the large empty holds on board the Space Hulk with prisoners. These could be turned into slaves and Servitors to aid the Crimson Slaughter. There was room to work with upon the Hulk, for it was a mighty size, composed of nearly a dozen different freighter-class spacecraft melded together through Warp-fusion. The problem arose with obtaining prisoners. The Crimson Slaughter were red-handed killers, eager destroyers of men who could readily unleash genocide upon even the most populous of planets. But as slavers, they were less disciplined than Orks, preferring to murder their prey. At best, the Crimson Slaughter could grab plunder after they had slain every living creature they encountered. Although they now had a base of operations, Kranon knew that the Crimson Slaughter lacked the ability to sustain themselves. Even as he debated over the next course of action with the voices in his head, Augurs buzzed and klaxons wailed in warning. As large as the Lost Hope was, it was as nothing in comparison to the enormous voidcraft that materialised alongside it.
Bargain with the Clonelord
From out of portholes and viewbays, the Crimson Slaughter gazed out upon a monstrosity of a ship. It looked more like a hive city hung in the void than any craft built for travel. The Lost Hope was dwarfed by the new voidcraft. Escape was impossible, for the Space Hulk had no Warp-Drive and could do little more than drift in the wayward currents of that region. Kranon was preparing an assault when comm-hailers picked up an incoming request. Fabius Bile wished to announce his arrival and he wished to meet with Kranon. An ancient and evil figure, Fabius Bile was one of the most legendary villains that had beset the Imperium. He was a living piece of history from the mythic age when the first Space Marine Legions betrayed the Emperor during the Horus Heresy. Bile was a renegade even amongst his own kind, and tales of his experiments and his altered creations were known to every Space Marine. The Imperium had even issued warnings to the Space Marine Chapters about the threat of Bile, for he was known to seek access to gene-seed, using ruse or deadly raids to snatch what he desired.
Surrounded by his towering bodyguard, Fabius Bile strode the shabby decks of the Lost Hope. He was impossibly old, yet he moved with a sinuous grace, and an aura of menace surrounded him. Bile was incredibly powerful -- having sold his genetic experiments to rebel commanders for millennia, he had amassed his own armies. Bile's home -- reputedly an ancient Eldar Crone World deep within the Eye of Terror -- was rife with ancient technologies, genetic samples and the most successful of his abominable New Men. Bile's sunken eyes blazed as he mentioned his latest works and his lofty aspirations, saying today's growth-vat was tomorrow's victory. Fabius Bile -- the "Primogenitor" -- was the foremost expert on cloning and genetics in the galaxy. Yet despite burying himself in millennia of study into the esoterica of fleshcrafting, Bile was no less cunning a schemer. Through his network of alliances and promises, Bile had not just survived the power struggles that took place within the Eye of Terror, he had thrived. Bile had betrayed so many patrons that he should have been dead a thousand times over, but always he had secured the protection of some other, yet mightier, benefactor. With his army of enhanced warriors, Fabius Bile could simply seize what he was after, but the old scientist found he gained more through bargaining. What he wanted was gene-seed.
Kranon was surprised by what Fabius Bile already knew about the former Crimson Sabres. With honeyed words, Bile congratulated them, praising their decisions. But Fabius Bile offered more than mere counsel, he proffered help. Without being told, Bile already knew Kranon's chief concern: the ability to create further Space Marines. Kranon's warband contained far less than half of the Crimson Sabres Chapter at full strength. With the loss of their homeworld, they had lost the ability and technology to create new troops. This, Fabius Bile could redress, but only at a price. Promises and pacts were easy for Kranon to agree to, but the rest was more difficult. When he handed over to Bile those Crimson Sabres that had refused to join him, he condemned them to a horrible and grisly fate. Kranon emptied his holds of those former comrades, sparing only his true brother. Even that tiny trace of compassion would not last for long.
Crimson Slaughter Unleashed
With an established base of operations and a system for replenishing their lost casualties, Kranon was at last ready to unleash the full force of the Crimson Slaughter upon the Imperium. Yet it was not vengeance alone that drove the Renegades onwards -- they sought also to reclaim their sanity, and to halt the voices in their heads forever. How long it took the Crimson Slaughter to outfit their Space Hulk base is unknown. They no longer kept records and the passage of time was unpredictable, for they were inside the swirling arms of the Eye of Terror and well within its aura of temporal disorder. Certainly many decades were lost in the endless labour. During this period, the Renegades continued to launch raids, both in the Eye and into the Imperium. Due to the immensity of the Emperor’s realm -- over a million inhabited worlds scattered across the vastness of the galaxy -- these hit-and-run assaults were hardly noticed by the Imperium at large. It was an era of war, and such battles and loss of life were rampant across the five segmentums. Despite the inconsequential numbers involved, however, there was a rising concern. Although the raids were carried out by between fifty and a hundred Chaos Space Marines, the amount of damage inflicted was wildly disproportionate.
Many of the inhuman foes of the Imperium inflicted gut-wrenching damage or perpetrated sadistic acts. However, the Crimson Slaughter's raids were always bound to attract additional attention. Firstly, they were obviously Chaos Space Marines -- a bitter foe for the Imperium, and one that Imperial agents did their best to cover up. They loathed admitting the fact that their best and most reliable warriors were susceptible to heresy. Secondly, there was something far more sinister about these raids. Reports gleaned from vid-cams, for survivors were uncommonly rare, showed that these bloodthirsty killers were steeped in the mystical powers of the Warp, accompanied into battle by phantasmal forces. The red-armoured Renegades left behind not just a trail of bloody massacres, but another kind of corruption. Bone-chilling hauntings drifted in their wake, maleficent poltergeists that lingered long after the Crimson Slaughter had left. These Warp-cursed signs, which were becoming all too familiar in the late 41st Millennium, were normally the hallmarks of a different kind of incursion. On the Agri-World of Grunald, the Crimson Slaughter destroyed entire communities before departing, but their presence was blamed for the wilted and bleeding crops that starved a continent. The raid that broke the sentinel bunker on the moon of Tarkus had left a series of jagged craters which, when viewed from orbit, formed the image of an enormous eight-pointed star. Witch hunters of the Ordo Hereticus studied the bloody trail of the Crimson Slaughter, theorising that this was the return of the corrupted Crimson Sabres.
Space Marine Chapters recruit by seeking out the best of Mankind's natural warriors. This is why so many Chapters recruit from Feral or Death Worlds, where survival is not a birthright, but an accomplishment achieved by only the strongest and fittest. The Crimson Sabres had recruited from Feudal Worlds, planets where warfare between rivals heightened the competition and ensured those who survived were excellent Space Marine candidates. Now, as the Crimson Slaughter, Kranon sought to emulate their old recruitment and training cycle. With help from Fabius Bile, great laboratories had been set up aboard the Lost Hope. Row after row of chem-vats grew the organs that would be transplanted into Aspirants to transform them into Initiates. Kranon's first few sorties into realspace to collect potential recruits from savage worlds went poorly -- the Renegades either slaughtered everyone, or the prisoners proved too resistant to pass even the first few stages of the process. Luckily, there was another, better answer already en route to the Lost Hope.
The Crimson Slaughter were gaining a reputation inside the Eye of Terror as well as outside. Many bands of Cultists and the lesser enclaves of rebellious Chaos Space Marines remembered them with angst, recalling their brutal attacks during the Renegade Wars, but many more Chaos Cultists were already flocking to the Crimson Slaughter's banner. In all human societies, power has an alluring draw, but nowhere is that more true than in the Eye of Terror. Many of these so-called "dark pilgrims" banded together and left the repressive Imperium, searching for a new life, seeking to make something of themselves. Most die horrible deaths, being but fodder or sport for Renegades or daemons. To survive in that environment requires skill, toughness and a certain psychotic edge -- the very same qualities produced by the most ferocious of Death Worlds. Some of the novices that reached the Lost Hope were young enough to receive the gene-seed implants, although they still had to prove themselves to begin the process. Those who had spent too long near the Warp overflow already were too genetically contaminated for their bodies to accept the organs but they too served a purpose. Some were fashioned into Servitors, or joined the growing factions of Chaos Cultists that were drawn to joining the Crimson Slaughter's cause.
Slaughter and Salvation
When the Crimson Slaughter's numbers began to wax strong once more, Kranon knew it was time for a large-scale foray into the Imperium. There were many reasons to launch such a venture: it was a show of strength, it struck a vengeful blow against those that had betrayed them, and it would bring temporary relief from the voices. There was another reason that Kranon did not share widely; he was seeking a way to permanently quell the whispering that plagued them and at long last he had found a promising lead. Following the Warp-dreams of his chief sorcerer Mannon, Kranon had sought to learn all he could about the mysterious artefact known as the Hellfire Stone. The voices in his head feared this, redoubling their efforts to fill his mind with such garble that it was difficult to think straight at times. This alone led Kranon to believe he was on the right path. He had learned that the Hellfire Stone's location was last guessed to be somewhere on the galactic southern rim. Kranon gave the command to gather all the warbands, to recruit Chaos Cultists to swell the Crimson Slaughter's numbers further and to prepare the entire warfleet. Thus began a rampage across a dozen worlds near the Veiled Region. These were not raids, but full-scale invasions that swept over a planet like wildfire. The first to meet the onslaught was Verdfall. On the old charts and Augur-readings that Kranon had obtained, the planet was under the Imperium's rule, so the Crimson Slaughter were surprised to find Orks. The world had recently fallen into Greenskin hands and the xenos race was still busy scrapping all they could find to suit their own ramshackle purposes.
Within solar minutes of their fleet materialising into realspace and attaining orbit over Verdfall, the Crimson Slaughter were attacking on eight different fronts simultaneously. They had aimed all their landing zones around the most concentrated population readings -- a far more difficult proposition with Orks than with Imperial citizens. This was the first time the Crimson Slaughter went to battle out of the Eye of Terror not in raid numbers, but with a host nearly the size of their old Chapter. The effect was startling. Perhaps it was the quantity of them, perhaps it was the savagery of their attack -- but for whatever reasons, the paranormal activity around the Crimson Slaughter was magnified. Balefire flickered about their eyes and coronas of lightning wreathed their horned helmets. Their Bolter fire left weirdly incandescent tracer trails and the shells screamed as they struck home. Spectres loomed out of shadows and discordant screeches wailed at the approach of the red-armoured Renegades. Paralysed with fear, Grots threw down their weapons and buried themselves under battlefield debris. As the chainsaw-like offensive of the Crimson Slaughter began to hit home, even the bravest of the Ork mobs wavered and began to break. They were mercilessly pursued and cut down in their thousands. After days and nights of non-stop killing, the multiple attacks at last were over and the Crimson Slaughter returned to their warships in orbit. Mangled Ork bodies and smouldering vehicle wrecks were everywhere. There had been no sign or Augur readings to indicate the Hellfire Stone was on Verdfall. At least for now, thought, the voices were silenced as Kranon plotted out the next attack.
Confrontation with Angels
The search for the Hellfire Stone continued, leading to a further string of massacres inflicted upon the Imperium. Unable to dredge up the ancient artefact that might lift their curse, the Crimson Slaughter instead uncovered the ten thousand year-old secret of the Dark Angels. A great enmity and bitter rivalry was born, and many battles followed. The Crimson Slaughter's attacks were well-documented, if subsequently suppressed by the Imperium. The remote nature of the planets along the southern rim of the galaxy and the speed with which they completed their massacres meant that by the time a distress call was received, the Crimson Slaughter had long since departed. Only the fast-response ability of the Space Marines was suited to combat such rapid hit-and-run tactics. Thus far, no Imperial Guard or Planetary Defence Force had been able to withstand the fury of their attacks. The Adeptus Astartes were soon alerted and elements from several Chapters were already present in the region.
A Dark Secret
Again and again the Crimson Slaughter materialised out of the Warp and wreaked havoc, yet Kranon was no closer to finding his true goal, the Hellfire Stone. There were still hundreds of possible planets to search in the distant region, but at last he had a clue, albeit a gruesome one. Hundreds of the last massacre victims had all had the same angry pattern of welts upon their backs. At first, Kranon had assumed this was just another cult -- they certainly had come across worse. Indeed, far more disturbing symbols and mutilations could be found upon the very Chaos Cultists that followed them into battle. But Mannon, once the Crimson Sabres Master Librarian, noted the symbols had manifested upon the victims only upon the arrival of the Crimson Slaughter -- some sign from the Warp, as if something was attempting to aid them. Sure enough, once properly flayed and laid out altogether, the welts proved to be a skin-map. The symbols and vector signs were coordinates. The map led them to a desolate moon -- a crater-struck wasteland. Scans revealed no arcane energies. Kranon doubted he would find the Hellfire Stone there, but the Augur-readings did reveal two beings -- the only living creatures on the entire orb. Anxious to discover the meaning of the skin-map, Kranon, leading a bodyguard of his Chaos Terminators, teleported down to investigate.
The ruins of alien structures revealed that the moon had once served as an outpost, but for what manner of xenos it could not be determined. Stalking between ruins, the landing party turned a corner to find two figures in argument. Both were clad in Power Armour, over which one wore long, enfolding robes. Although shocked to see interlopers in so forlorn a locale, both strangers drew weapons and fired with uncanny speed and accuracy. The fight was brief. For the loss of five Terminators, Kranon captured the black-armoured foe alive. The robed warrior, whose twin pistols had caused most of the casualties, eluded seizure and mysteriously disappeared off the moon. Unknown to Kranon, this was the elusive Fallen known as Cypher. Angry at the wasted venture, the Renegades and their captive returned to the fleet and gave their prisoner over to Mannon for questioning. In searching for a hidden object, they had instead discovered secrets hidden for ten thousand standard years. When their prisoner broke under mental probing and other, more persuasive methods, Mannon was able to reveal much about the one that they had caught. His name was Turiel, and in his secret past he had once been a Dark Angel. Of his escaped accomplice, Turiel would say little. They learned of the robed one only that he had arrived shortly before the Crimson Slaughter, for he had some premonition of peril and had begged Turiel to flee. It would have been better for him if he had. Seemingly ageless, Turiel had crisscrossed the galaxy over his long lifespan, fighting as a mercenary, and even working alongside other Renegades out of the Eye of Terror. However, he had repented of his deeds and sought redemption in a solitary life far out on the distant edge of the galaxy. In his travels, he had also heard of the Hellfire Stone, and narrowed down its location. In a desperate bid to gain freedom from the Lost Hope, Turiel even revealed where he suspected more of the Fallen could be found.
Kranon fumed at the information. His own Chapter had been excommunicated due to a misunderstanding, whilst the Imperium heaped accolades upon the guilty I Legion of old, its membership riddled with Astartes who had turned Traitor to the Emperor during the Horus Heresy. That the Dark Angels were also one of the Chapters involved in the Amalgamathian Schism that had put the first mar upon the Crimson Sabres was too much. The Hellfire Stone could wait. Now that he knew their secret, luring the Dark Angels into battle would be easy, but Kranon wanted his first impression to be one the Dark Angels would never forget. While small warbands were sent out tasked with capturing the Fallen Turiel had spoken of, Kranon prepared the trap. He found what he was looking for in the newly-founded Ecclesiarchy world by the name of Stern's Remembrance.
With no warning, the Crimson Slaughter attacked Stern's Remembrance with savage brutality. There was nowhere for the masses to flee to, and Daemon Engines and Helbrutes waded through overcrowded streets, crushing victims with every footfall. The bells of ten thousand cathedrals tolled, but their ringing was no aid to the doomed. The limited resistance provided by the Planetary Defence Force and the few honour guard squads of Adepta Sororitas did not slow the Crimson Slaughter in their grisly work. Only when the last inhabitant of the planet fell twitching did the Renegades begin the next stage -- piling the corpses into the cathedrals. The dead were stacked all the way up to the great vaulted ceilings, a grim trophy mound.
When all was ready, Kranon ordered his Chaos Sorcerers to send the Dark Angels a message -- a telepathic vector that would burn the coordinates into the body of whoever received the message. But he not only sent a map, for the message also named one of the Fallen, that could be found there and mocked the Dark Angels for their filthy secrets. Amidst the piled dead of Stern's Remembrance, Kranon left one of the recently captured Fallen. He wanted to ensure his foes that he knew of their hidden past. Their trap set, the Crimson Slaughter left the empty planet, returning to the Warp to await the oncoming of their foe. They knew it would not take long. Soon enough the Dark Angels Strike Cruiser The Pride of Caliban materialised in the sector and cautiously approached orbit. Twin Thunderhawks swooped down in order to land elements from the 5th Company. Kranon gave them time to discover and appreciate the true horror of what the Crimson Slaughter had left them before he sprung his trap. A host of landing craft entered the atmosphere, rapidly deploying the Crimson Slaughter. Before the Dark Angels could extricate themselves, they were surrounded. There, amidst the enormous stone edifices and winding streets, battle ensued. No match for the numbers or ferocity of the Renegades, the Dark Angels retreated, fighting their way out of the narrow streets. Although they recaptured the Fallen known as Attias the Untamed, they lost many Battle-Brothers, including Zadakiel, the Master of the 5th Company.
Battle of Bane's Landing
Kranon soon had the Crimson Slaughter back in search of the Hellfire Stone. Their rampage blazed a trail of bloodshed and devastation, but they could not yet find the artefact. Meanwhile, another force was stalking them. The Dark Angels had sworn retribution against the Renegades. Ostensibly this was for the loss of their 5th Company Master, but underlying that was a compulsive urge to destroy any who knew of their ancient secret. Relentless was the hunt, and on a dozen of the worlds ravaged by the Crimson Slaughter, the Dark Angels arrived to do battle. Most were small skirmishes -- the Dark Angels advance forces nipping at the heels of the Renegades as they escaped back to the Warp. It was on the planet of Bane's Landing that the Dark Angels tracked down the Crimson Slaughter in force. For it was on Bane's Landing that Kranon finally found what he was seeking: the Hellfire Stone. To complete the ritual required to have the artefact restore the Crimson Slaughter to full sanity, Kranon needed to find the ancient altar and to sacrifice a Loyalist Space Marine upon it. Many skirmishes broke out as the Dark Angels learned what their foe was attempting and raced to thwart them. The two forces battered at each other, neither side willing to give ground. Ravenwing Bikers clashed with Draznicht's Ravagers –- the Chosen warriors that had fought by his side since he led the 1st Company of the Crimson Sabres. Although Kranon was nearly successful, at the last moment victory was snatched from his grasp when his hard-won Dark Angels captive heroically sacrificed himself rather than allow the Crimson Slaughter to complete their ritual. Bitterly, the outnumbered Crimson Slaughter returned into the Warp.
After their battles with the Dark Angels, the Crimson Slaughter fleet returned to the Eye of Terror. Lord Kranon was furious. He struggled with rage and above all, the manifold voices. In the midst of battle, after bloodletting granted him a rare moment of clear thought, Kranon experienced an epiphany. He was being used, and badly. It had been a near thing on Bane's Landing. As they had attempted to wash the Hellfire Stone with the blood of a captured Space Marine he had felt the skies grow black, he had felt the twitching agitation from the inner voices that were now a part of him. It was not fear they were feeling about the ritual, but a fierce joy. The words that had risen unbidden from Kranon during the height of the ritual had not been his own, nor even in a language that he knew -- but it came to him that he had heard similar words before. On Umidia the Balethu Cults had screamed those words. They sought to summon daemons from their patron, Khorne, but were denied the completion of their ritual by Kranon and the Crimson Sabres that slaughtered them.
The ancient magicks of the Hellfire Stone were not meant to eradicate the inner daemons, but rather to make them stronger. They were intended to usher in a dark new age. His mind reeling with implications, Kranon returned to the Lost Hope to find it a larger and more vibrant place than the forlorn and derelict Hulk they had left. Word of the Crimson Slaughter had spread wide. Cultists, Renegades and Traitor warbands had flocked to fight beneath their banner. The time Kranon had to think clearly was short and there was much to do. Decisions needed to be made before the madness grew inside him and the core of his army. Also, the Lost Hope was a political powder keg, with many Chaos Cultists and rival factions vying to win favour. A warband of Khornate Berzerkers had joined -- they tired of the petty raids of other Renegade warbands and were eager to take part in the epic bloodbaths that had already made the Crimson Slaughter infamous. To maintain control, Kranon needed a new war.
After discussing the progress of the newly recruited, Kranon knew what the next target for the Crimson Slaughter must be. It was clear that the recruits produced from the gene-seed of their own brethren were faring well. Those implanted with the organs developed from Fabius Bile's creations, however, were turning into monstrosities, wild and uncontrollable. But he needed more warriors -- many more -- and there was only so much gene-seed that could be farmed from his own followers. To gain the more stable genetic material he would need to seize it. After recent clashes and the vendetta the Crimson Slaughter had developed, Kranon knew exactly which Chapter he would steal it from. Since the destruction of their homeworld, Caliban, the Dark Angels no longer had a single recruitment world, but instead used a variety of different planets. Their headquarters, the Rock, was an asteroid base replete with Warp-Drive, and could travel between worlds or war zones as required. Upon each world they claimed, the Dark Angels established strongholds -- fortress-monasteries to hold the necessities required to implant and train new Space Marines. The Warp-visions of Chaos Sorcerers aided Kranon’s search for the Dark Angels recruiting world best suited for attack. On the ice-covered planet of Numarc, the Dark Angels had built the fortress of New Redemption. Although the star system was heavily populated, Numarc was furthest from the sun -- a frozen world where the small human population fought the elements and ferocious beasts to survive. Those harsh conditions made for excellent recruits, where the Dark Angels could select the best warriors from the savage wastelands and turn them into new Space Marines. It was also a location that the Crimson Slaughter could raid and get away from before the full might of the Imperium could be roused against them.
Through masterful planning and Kranon's superior acumen for war, the Crimson Slaughter launched a diversionary orbital attack and a simultaneous lightning ground assault. Eventually, the Crimson Slaughter managed to fight their way into the confines of the beleaguered Dark Angels' fortress. A Defiler ripped open the triple-sealed doorway into the stronghold's inner cloisters. While squads rushed in to plunder the halls, Chaos Sorcerers and Dark Apostles stalked amongst the dead, callously extracting gene-seed from their fallen foes. As the other warbands had destroyed all three of the Defence Lasers, the Crimson Slaughter's fleet easily entered orbit to extract the Crimson Slaughter's troops when their looting was complete. On Numarc, not a single Dark Angel remained alive.
The Crimson Slaughter continued to grow stronger, but Lord Kranon was not satisfied. It was still his goal to rid himself and his men of the curse, but he seemed no closer to finding a way than before. This realisation lead the warlord and his warband down a strange, forbidding path, yet Kranon the Relentless refused to bow before either curse or daemon. It was a difficult trip through Warpspace back to the Eye of Terror. The Cadian Gate was well guarded and the Immaterium was restless. Great storms were surging through the centre of that maelstrom and raw Chaos energy poured forth to sweep across the galaxy. The Eye itself was astir -– for rumour of the 13th Black Crusade was building everywhere. Kranon, however, had other things weighing heavily upon his mind. He brooded. Kranon too had taken part in the battles on Numarc. The joyous act of cutting down Dark Angels with his blade had cleared his mind of the cobwebbed voices that wove in and out of his thoughts. How had he been so convinced that the Hellfire Stone would lift the curse? Had that idea been planted in his mind by the voices? Others too had been involved -- were his own followers seeking to undermine him? Was Draznicht, who could see into the future, part of the plot? Did Mannon, chief of his Sorcerers, twist his visions so as to better manipulate him? Kranon made up his mind and called for a council. Acting on an inkling, he knew just where to hold the assemblage of leaders.
Revelations Brought to Life
Flush with their great victory, the most fell-handed of his lieutenants filed into the very heart of the Lost Hope. Down into the great engine room Kranon led them, down into what was now known as the Room of the Orb. It was to there that all the power cables and conduits ran, snaking through miles of passageways and spreading outwards like veins and arteries. Through them pulsed the lifeblood of the Lost Hope. Two dozen leaders of the Crimson Slaughter strode in, each wondering what this meeting and locale might mean. To begin, Kranon addressed not them, but the orb itself. A great spherical fleshy mass hung suspended by myriad coils. At Kranon's word it opened -- a great lid drew back, revealing a pulsing wet globe beneath. It was once Brother Sartok, a Crimson Sabres Techmarine whose fervour to work closely with the machines took on strange roots in the Eye of Terror. Now it was something more -- a fusion of man, machine and the daemonic. When it spoke, it did so with no mouth -- the sound instead emanating out of a comm-station grown into the raw flesh. In Kranon's restless wanderings they had engaged in many conversations before. Now Kranon asked the orb whom it saw in the room. It listed them in its slow, steady and inhuman voice. It also saw and named the Spirits of Umidia -- a fact that Kranon had discovered long ago. He was hoping the orb would call out any other unseen manifestations it saw, for it was Kranon's suspicion that one of his trusted captains had become wholly possessed. The last appellation uttered by the orb was Tzax'lan-tar. Saying a daemon's true name is to speak a word of power. At its articulation the room grew chill, a cold prickle running down the spines of all there. All save one.
Forward stepped Mannon, an iridescent shimmering rippled through his body as the daemon stepped out of the former psyker. It shed the Power-Armoured carcass as though shrugging its way out of ceremonial robes, and the skin-shell crumpled behind it. The creature grew, standing twice, now three times the height of a man and still it expanded. Spreading out its feathery wings and stretching forth its long serpentine neck, the Greater Daemon of Tzeentch opened its beak wide and gave a long mind-tearing screech of mocking defiance. It gazed upon the Crimson Slaughter with eyes that sparkled with ancient evil. Even as it opened its beak to speak, Kranon fired his Plasma Pistol to open the conversation. Though halted by some invisible force field, the super-heated blast still caused the daemon to pull back, hissing. So began a brief battle, pitting the flickering Warp-flames of Tzax'lan-tar against the blades and pistols of the Crimson Slaughter. Even surrounded and outnumbered, the Greater Daemon was a powerful foe -- able to behead a Warpsmith and melt several others. However, when Kranon's Imperator Blade screamed through its defences, the Greater Daemon disappeared in a blink.
Deeper Into the Eye of Terror
"You should not have come, Kranon. But let us battle if we must. Try as you might, you cannot defy your true nature. I would tell you that none can fight against the inevitability of fate, but I already know that you will."
- — Tzax'lan-tar, Lord of Change
How long Mannon had played host to the daemon was not known, nor was it possible to fathom when Tzax'lan-tar's manipulations had begun. Had he led the Crimson Slaughter to the Dark Angels' secret? Was the Greater Daemon involved in the long string of events that isolated the Crimson Sabres, perhaps guiding the Space Hulk that had originally corrupted the Brakatoa System? Had the Tzeentchian agent been involved in the distress call sent from Umidia, or was it working against the daemonic voices that possessed the Crimson Slaughter? Lord Kranon's head swam at the possibilities, but he knew one thing -- he vowed to behead the Greater Daemon, declaring war upon Tzax'lan-tar. Kranon's Chaos Sorcerers could not trace the fiend’s whereabouts, as if the arcane arts refused to aid them, so Kranon called for Draznicht, champion of the Ravagers. Gifted with a third eye that saw strange visions, Draznicht went into a trance. He shuddered and spoke in a faraway voice, prophesying of a planet named Myrmidrax. Little was known of the world, except that it was located further into the Eye of Terror than any of them had ever been. The directions chanted by Draznicht were more akin to ritual than to coordinates for a space journey -- but what use were maps when the stars moved according to the whims of Chaos? Within the hour, Lord Kranon's warfleet was already en route.
It was a strange journey, but at last they reached their destination. It was not a planet, as they had surmised, but a rocky plane suspended in the void of space. Neither scans nor Augurs worked, so they had no idea what awaited them. Kranon led the warbands down to Myrmidrax, for they were too close to the centre of the Eye of Terror to linger long. The plane of Myrmidrax was flat, with rocky spires jutting upwards. The ground had a purple hue to it and was dotted with clusters of crystalline growths that protruded outwards and gave off a bluish luminescence. The Crimson Slaughter formed up in a line and advanced across the barren land. It was not long, however, before their presence was detected. With flashes of multi-coloured fire and incomprehensible gibbering sounds, daemons began to pour forth from out of the many tunnels that lined the rocky ridges. Striding in the midst of the cavorting Pink Horrors and blue-hued flame-creatures was Tzax'lan-tar. The Lord of Change sent a bolt of eldritch fire crashing into the Khornate Berzerkers to open hostilities. The Crimson Slaughter’s Land Raiders and Defilers returned fire, sending their shots into the prancing ranks of daemons. Thus began the Battle of Myrmidrax.
A high-pitched shrieking announced the arrival of Screamers, finned daemons that streaked overhead. Where they saw an opening, they dove down, their lamprey-like mouths gnawing through Power Armour to tear the flesh beneath. Flamers bounded forward, blasting gouts of fire from their stump-like arms. This washed over the red-armoured Renegades harmlessly, but the Chaos Cultists were lit up like torches, their death cries adding to the cacophony. Conditions deteriorated as a Warp Storm howled above. The skies flashed and from the unnatural gas clouds came spinning cyclones. These whirled haphazardly across the battlefield, tearing gaps through the warring forces. Through the madness waded Kranon, with Draznicht and his Ravagers by his side. Together they shredded Pink Horrors, fighting their way towards Tzax'lan-tar. Inexplicably, the daemons' attacks were proving ineffective. Kaleidoscopic flames spread over the Renegades, yet they stepped forth unscathed. Never had the spectral hosts materialised in such numbers around the Crimson Slaughter, never had the incorporeal spirits shielded them so effectively.
To slow their relentless advance, Tzax'lan-tar rained arcane doom upon his foes, yet the onslaught of the Crimson Slaughter was proving too much and defeat seemed only a matter of time. Seeking a last chance for victory, the winged daemon targeted Kranon, drenching him with blue flame. Protected by the green-tinged spectres that hovered near him, the Crimson Slaughter's Chaos Lord emerged from the fire, his blade at the ready. Screeching curses in a thousand languages, the daemon vanished once again. Cheated of vengeance, Kranon did not leave until every daemon was slain, sent howling back into the Warp. He vowed the Daemon Wars would continue until Tzax'lan-tar was slain.
13th Black Crusade
The greatest of all Chaos invasions are the Black Crusades. It takes the most powerful of Chaos Champions to unite the disparate forces and hold them on course long enough to sweep out of the Eye of Terror. During such events, the entire galaxy holds its breath -- for war on such a scale, and of such a magnitude of hatred, threatens to sweep away all that is, or ever was. Led by Kranon the Relentless, the Crimson Slaughter had carved out their own realm within the Eye of Terror. Their numbers were swollen as other outcasts from the Imperium sought them out, arriving in droves to the Lost Hope. Most were Chaos Cultists, worthless lives that the Crimson Slaughter could spend as they saw fit. However, some few showed promise and were allowed to progress further. A few were impressive enough to be augmented and given the gene-seed that would transform them into Initiates. Not until they were fully proven could a member of the Crimson Slaughter don the red Power Armour and join his brethren. But when he did, he joined a warband with numbers beyond the strength of a Space Marine Chapter.
Abaddon the Despoiler
So it was that Abaddon, the Warmaster of Chaos, had taken notice of the Crimson Slaughter. In the brutal dog-eat-dog existence that is the Eye of Terror, it does not pay to lose sight of rising powers, even for those on top. None could match the size and power of the Chaos Space Marine Traitor Legions, and of those the most powerful and well-organised was the Black Legion. It is said that only the will of Abaddon can fuse all of the manifold forces within the Eye. Now Abaddon cast his gaze upon the newcomers. Over his ten thousand year reign he had seen many rises and as many falls. Who were these upstarts? Why had they not sent tribute or bent their knee? Was this Kranon yet another rival he must crush before he could finally finish the Long War? Upon his return from Myrmidrax, word of Kranon's battle with the Lord of Change had spread like wildfire through the decks of the Space Hulk. Most of the Crimson Slaughter cared not who or what army they faced, but many of the Chaos Cultists quavered. They feared the daemons, wishing them for allies and not as foes. It was while deciding what his next course of action would be that emissaries of the Black Legion arrived at Lost Hope. They brought a demand that Kranon should meet Abaddon and join his coming 13th Black Crusade against the Imperium. He knew full well what would happen should he refuse either command.
Kranon had served as a Chapter Master of the Space Marines, had been in the presence of such luminaries as Chapter Master Marneus Calgar, Lord Commander Dante and Supreme Grand Master Azrael. Yet none had the domineering presence that he saw and felt when he stood aboard the Planet Killer, Abaddon's massive starship, staring up at the hulking figure of Abaddon the Despoiler. With the voices in his head spewing advice, it was difficult to concentrate. When, at last, it was his turn to declare fealty, Kranon vowed to join the Black Crusade, but he would do so only on the condition that the daemon Tzax'lan-tar was his to kill, whether they be on the same side or not. At Kranon's proud words, the assembled Chaos Lords and Daemon Princes, Chaos Champions and Sorcerers froze. There were no conditions with the Warmaster of Chaos. He had slain for less.
Abaddon had many fractionalised forces to command, from rival Traitor Legions to the Daemon Primarchs that awaited in the Warp. He had little patience for the foolish egos of lesser commanders. They would bow or they would die. Yet there was something about Kranon's proud bearing that Abaddon admired. Despite the rampages of the Crimson Slaughter, they were efficient -- something that still pulled to that part of him that was always an old Legionary. Besides, none knew better than he the fickleness of daemons. He laughed and welcomed the Crimson Slaughter to the Black Crusade, assigning them a place of honour amongst the attackers. One of the marks of a good commander in charge of a coalition force is that he can use each separate formation to its best ability. The Crimson Slaughter's reputation of lightning fast terror raids had reached Abaddon -- and he chose them to perform just such actions in the 13th Black Crusade. While the bulk of Abaddon’s forces prepared to take the Cadian Gate, the Crimson Slaughter would sow terror deep within the Imperium.
Campaign of Shock and Horror
"Scour the planet! Cleanse it with the blood of men!"
Losing no time, Kranon led the massed Crimson Slaughter fleet to skirt the Cadian Gate, and to instead penetrate deeply into the Imperium. Their campaign of shock and horror would draw off some of the support that would be rushed towards the battle at the Cadian Gate, but more importantly it would put fear into the hearts of any who clung to the false hope of the Imperium of Mankind. Their first target was the heavily defended Hive World of Regallus. Kranon was forced to make his plan of attack en route. From the best visions his Chaos Sorcerers could conjure, it appeared as if the defence batteries were concentrated around the mighty continent-sized hive cities. With that in mind, Kranon decided the dropsites must be in the ash plains. This meant a two stage campaign -- the first would be to break through the formidable defensive barrier. Once the Crimson Slaughter got past the trench lines, the next phase would be to wreak havoc amongst the tangled inner hive -- to massacre all they could, for this would send a message to the other Imperial planets -- a sign of what awaited them all.
By the time the Crimson Slaughter reached the most heavily defended battlement it was the last one. By that point, however, the wave of horror was so great, the psychic tension so thick, that few defenders were left. The towering statues of mighty heroes of the Imperium that lined the streets were already weeping blood by the time the first Renegade crashed through the gates and entered the hive city proper. It was at this stage of the campaign that the true killing really began. None now could stay the butchery. The last phase of the operation was the bloodiest. Disparate squads of Imperial Guard and the remnants of their supporting armour desperately attempted to defend the hab-blocks, concentrating their efforts near the densest of population centres. One by one, those strongholds fell and the massacres began. Street by street, the battle raged and the blood flowed. Howling spirits and maniacal laughter echoed down the long avenues, almost drowning out the sound of chainsaws, Bolter fire and the unheeded screams for mercy. Utter madness and cold-blooded slaughter had come to Regallus and it went on and on and on. Regallus was only the beginning –- the start of the Crimson Slaughter's terror campaign. Tales of the genocidal horrors committed there would soon send shockwaves through the Imperium. Planet by planet, their doom was at hand. And the voices were finally silent -- for a time.
- The 13th Founding (c.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 fight alongside five other Astartes Chapters, who are riled by the Sabres' zealous adherence to protocol.
- Amalgamathian Schism (556.M38) - The arrival of the Space Hulk Amalgamation triggers a series of events that further estranges the Crimson Sabres from the rest of the Adeptus Astartes after they fail to give proper respect to the senior Astartes Chapters of the Dark Angels and the Blood Angels. Chapter Master Nigellus locks away the Chapter's history and declares the Crimson Sabres born again following the schism.
- Fornstadt Rebellion (599.M38) - Called in to suppress a rebellion that is spreading like wildfire over the Hive World of Fornstadt, the Crimson Sabres become embroiled in a brutal clash with Chaos Cultists. Master Nigellus is 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. Arnoch is declared the new Master of the Crimson Sabres.
- Zobrist Wars (613-621.M38) - The Imperium takes action against increasing piratical attacks by Eldar that are paralysing shipping lanes in the sector. Along with Imperial Guard elements from Tallarn, the Crimson Sabres succeed in finding and eliminating four Eldar outposts. Due to their ever-increasing righteousness, the Tallarn are glad to see the red-armoured Space Marines leave for other sectors.
- Deadstar Battles (983.M38) - An armoured spearhead of Crimson Sabres joins the Black Templars in defeating the Thu'l, a loathsome xenos race that thrives under the light of dead stars. After the battle is won, the two Chapter Masters nearly fight a duel, but this is avoided when the Crimson Sabres Chapter Master Gryloch refers to the Codex Astartes and finds that such a course of action is forbidden.
- The Redemption Crusades (88-186.M39) - The Crimson Sabres earn 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, erupts 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 is 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 is contaminated by the detonation of an ancient reactor from the Dark Age of Technology.
- A New Homeworld (187.M39) - The Crimson Sabres claim 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 begins to ferment within the Chapter. Despite the complaints of the Chapter, the Adeptus Terra takes no disciplinary action with the long file of datascrolls detailing the available Imperial forces within one hundred light years that did not respond to the distress cries of Brakatoa.
- Macharian Conquests (995.M40) - The Crimson Sabres take part in the seven-year campaign of the Lord Solar Macharius, with both their effectiveness and their estrangement from the other organs of the Imperium noted in the records of the Silver Skulls.
- Genocide on Umidia (928.M41) - The Crimson Sabres arrive on the jungle planet of Umidia to discover the Balethu Cults. They claim the cults are attempting to open a Warp rift, and respond by slaughtering all of them. The Chapter believes they are cursed (or rewarded) by the Dark Gods in response, as they are forever after haunted by fell voices.
- Terror on Demetra (929.M41) - Hoping to halt the voices in their heads, the Crimson Sabres declare the planet of Demetra to be contaminated due to its proximity to Umidia. The killing begins anew. The plan works, but the Chapter is declared Excommunicate Traitoris by the High Lords of Terra for their actions. Their homeworld of Drogsh is 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, escape 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 steer 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 fight and destroy countless Chaos Cults, but also face many warbands of Chaos Space Marine Renegades within the Eye. They engage and defeat warbands of theBlack 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 begin appearing amongst the Astartes of the Crimson Sabres. They do not speak of it aloud -- even with each other.
- Rise of the Crimson Slaughter (938.M41) - Chapter Master Sevastus Kranon changes his mind -– he does not wish to die for an empty cause. The remains of the Chapter are gathered and Kranon's abandonment of Imperial martyrdom is announced. Strife amongst the ranks ensues. Captain Eli Dzarton, leader of the 4th Company, departs, taking with him many of the men of his former company and the Chapter warship Pride of Rhogon. He swears that if the two portions of the Chapter ever meet again they will be foes. Over the next three years Captain Dzarton and his fifty-nine followers of the 4th Company re-establish 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 establish a new base of operations within the edge of the Eye of Terror –- the Space Hulk Lost Hope. They send their first warbands to raid into realspace, and now name themselves the Crimson Slaughter.
- Coming of the Clonelord (941.M41) - Kranon strikes a deal with Fabius Bile. He gains aid in extracting gene-seed and using it to create new Crimson Slaughter Space Marines. In return, Kranon gifts Fabius prisoners -– forty-eight Space Marines that refuse to join the carnage to silence the voices in their heads. Only his own brother, Sevarion Kranon, is spared. Kranon agrees to come to Fabius' aid should he ever call.
- The Haunting (940-964.M41) - While their base is established and their gene-seed experiments begun, the Crimson Slaughter launch many small raids into the Imperium. They begin to earn a reputation among the other Forces of Chaos, noticing the effect their mere presence has when they leave the Eye of Terror. Warp energies and poltergeist activity surround them in uncanny and unnerving fashion.
- Rhoghon Refounded (941.M41) - Captain Dzarton and his fifty-nine followers of the 4th Company re-establish a secret base upon their old homeworld of Rhoghon. It is still rad-contaminated, but it is Dzarton's hope to restore the old Crimson Sabres. He vows to hunt down and slay Kranon.
- Daemon Fusion (941.M41) - Warpsmith Trentukus successfully bonds a daemon spirit with a machine. Many new works for Kranon's armies are begun.
- The Orb (947.M41) - Warpsmith Sartok comes too close to the Space Hulk's generator. Hardwires entrap him and henceforth he becomes as one with the Space Hulk and the daemonic entities it has absorbed. His entire body fuses with the cables and alters so that it is now but a giant fleshy orb.
- The Fate of Sevarion (965.M41) - In a fit of madness, Kranon orders his brother Sevarion Kranon to be wired into a Helbrute. The long, painful process takes many solar months. Mortis Metalikus is born.
- Incursion (971.M41) - Daemons sweep forth during a Warp Storm and the Lost Hope battens down to defend itself. It is later speculated that Xastus Mannon is possessed during this battle, thought the truth is much darker, as the Chief Librarian was possessed much earlier -- on the planet Umidia. Enraged at being manipulated into killing innocent Imperial civilians, the Crimson Sabres, led by Mannon, pursued the Lord of Change, named Tzax'lantar, and helped overcome the vile Greater Daemon with his innate psychic abilities. Thinking they had banished the Warp-spawned creature back into the Immaterium, unknown to his fellow Battle-Brothers, he was instead possessed by the foul denizen of Chaos.
- A Cult of Slaughter (978.M41) - Although Chaos Cultists began to join the Crimson Slaughter's cause soon after they established a base within the Lost Hope, by this point vast armies of the depraved and despondent are rallying towards the Space Hulk.
- The Hellfire Stone (981.M41) - Kranon first hears of the legendary item known as the Hellfire Stone and begins to suspect it can aid him in his plan to rid the Crimson Slaughter of the voices that haunt them.
- The Below Beast (988.M41) - All hands aboard the Lost Hope are called out to hunt down and slay the Below Beast –- a hideous creature and former Crimson Slaughter Astartes that has taken up residence aboard the lower levels.
- Battle of Stern's Remembrance (578.999.M41) - The Dark Angels 5th Company are led by Master Zadakiel to the world of Stern's Remembrance where they discover the notorious Fallen Angel Attias the Untamed. The Fallen attempted to warn his erstwhile brothers that it was all an elaborate trap, and that they should take their leave. The Dark Angels took Attias into custody and attempted to take their leave, but as they made their way back to their Thunderhawks the trap was sprung, as a massive Drop Pod assault was launched by the Crimson Slaughter while their allied Chaos Cultists surrounded the outnumbered Dark Angels. In the ensuing battle, the Dark Angels reluctantly freed Attias, allowing him to fight by their side in order to survive the Heretics' onslaught. As Zadakiel was about to board the hovering gunship, the Helbrute Mortis Metalikus appeared. Zadakiel drew his Heavenfall Blade called Fellbane and started to do battle with the beast. Despite his agility, the Helbrute eventually got the upper hand and was about to crush him underfoot when the Thunderhawk appeared, shooting the Helbrute and giving Zadakiel the chance to climb aboard. However, as the Dark Angels Master grabbed the open ramp at the front of the Thunderhawk, the Helbrute grabbed him, dragging Zadakiel down. Seeing he could not escape his fate and that the Helbrute was aiming his Multi-Melta at the Thunderhawk, Zadakiel threw Fellbane into the Thunderhawk and let go, falling to his death. Now the most senior Space Marine on board, Sergeant Balthasar gave the order to return to The Rock with their prisoner. The Captain of the 5th Company's Strike Cruiser handed over a data-slate with a message from Kranon the Relentless, the Chaos Lord who led the Crimson Slaughter warband. In the message, Kranon taunted Balthazar, showing how the Helbrute had turned the body of Zadakiel into a trophy and claiming that he knew the Dark Angels' secret shame, as proven by the capture of the Fallen Angel Attias, and that he expected and indeed counted upon meeting again as the Dark Angels would surely not tolerate the existence of such a breach of their ancient secrecy for long. This earns the Crimson Slaughter the undying vengeance of the Dark Angels.
- Bane's Landing (884.999.M41) - The Dark Angels' 5th Company battled elements of the Crimson Slaughter warband on the world of Bane's Landing. The Crimson Slaughter was on the planet seeking the Hellfire Stone, a powerful Chaos artefact which, once anointed with the blood of a Loyalist Space Marine, would open a gateway to the Warp and allow a powerful Daemon of Khorne to enter realspace from the Warp. The Dark Angels are victorious, but this battle marks only the first in a long series of clashes they will fight against the Renegade Space Marines. Mortis Metalikus is slain in the fight. Kranon does not grieve at the death of his biological brother -– it is too late for that now.
- Blood in the Snow (921.999.M41) - The Crimson Slaughter destroys the Dark Angels bastion upon the frozen recruiting world of Numarc. They steal their rivals' gene-seed, planning to use it to aid the creation of corrupted Chaos Space Marines.
- Beginning of the Daemon Wars (968.999.M41) - When Kranon the Relentless discovers that Mannon has been possessed, he tracks the Greater Daemon further into the Eye. Although failing to kill the Lord of Change named Tzax'lantar, he serves the Greater Daemon notice of his intentions and severs its arm.
- 13th Black Crusade (995.999.M41) - The Crimson Slaughter join the largest of Abaddon's Black Crusades. Impressed with the Crimson Slaughter, the Warmaster of Chaos gives them a place of honour spearheading one of the Crusade's many assaults into Imperial space.
Warband Specialty Units
- Draznicht's Ravagers - The Ravagers are an elite unit of Chaos Chosen, the most favoured by the Dark Gods amongst the Crimson Slaughter. Their baroque armour is embellished with forbidden, heretical runes and their grimacing helmets give them the aspect of raging daemons. Equipped with the finest wargear, the Chosen are even more hard-bitten and callous than other Chaos Space Marines and think nothing of sacrificing the lives of their comrades to increase their own standing with the Ruinous Powers. In battle, the Ravagers are almost the equal of Loyalist Space Marine Terminators.
- Possessed - Those Crimson Sabres who most welcome the warping mutations of Chaos become Possessed, their bodies acting as harbour for one or more daemonic entities. These wholly corrupted individuals are marked by extreme mutations, such as wings, bestial claws, or razor-sharp pincers. Foul and grotesque, the very air seems to congeal about them, as if they were contaminating reality itself. Of all the Crimson Slaughter, they are the most Warp-tainted, and the guttural and unnatural howling they issue as they lope across the battlefield spells doom for all those unfortunate enough to hear it. While most Chaos Space Marine warbands number some of these daemonically-inhabited warriors amongst their ranks, the Crimson Slaughter seem especially blessed by the Dark Gods. Indeed, so strong is the supernatural effect that surrounds the cursed Renegades that, on the verge of combat, some squads become so utterly filled by daemonic powers that their very bodies writhe and change. During a number of their bloodiest invasions into realspace, it seemed to their foes that they faced an entire army of mutated murderers. While most Possessed give themselves up permanently to such a deranged state, this seems not to be the case for all of the Crimson Slaughter. Solar hours or days after sating their bloodlust, some of their kind will shed their possessing spirits and revert, at least partially, back to their old selves again.
- Cults of the Crimson Slaughter - It did not take long for rumour of the bloody deeds of the Crimson Slaughter to spread across the vastness of the Imperium like wildfire. The desperate and the dispossessed clung to the tales -- gravitating towards any beings that could stand up to the harshest regime Mankind had ever known. Others -- the more debased and depraved of their lot -- chose the Crimson Slaughter for they saw that the Renegades were simply strong. In the late 41st Millennium, where total war is a way of life, it pays to ally oneself to the most formidable faction available. So did Chaos Cults rise up and dedicate themselves to the red-handed Renegades. To them, the Crimson Slaughter are manifestations of the Dark Gods themselves. Mutants, exiles, and hive gangers in their millions have set off in quest to prostrate themselves before the most fearsome of the Renegade Chapters -– the Crimson Slaughter. Most never make it. The galaxy is a dangerous place, and as merciless as the Imperium is to such Traitors, the Chaos Space Marines are far worse. Most cultists are slain on sight, destroyed for pleasure, ritual, or the whims of the Renegades. Some few, however, have found and joined the Crimson Slaughter -- at least until the mortals' overly ingratiating presence no longer serves any useful purpose. The Cult of the Red Disciples, the Bloodbathers and Dirtdogs make up but a few of the thousands of different cultists that serve the Crimson Slaughter.
Warband Combat Doctrine
The Crimson Slaughter strike with the same precision and thunderbolt fury as the Space Marines. To the Imperial repertoire of lightning assaults and armoured spearheads are added lurching daemonic engines of war and waves of brainwashed Chaos Cultists. Alongside traditional Bolter and heavy weapons fire come sorcerous blasts and drizzling balefire. For close quarters onslaughts the Crimson Slaughter use the time-honoured Chainsword and Power Fist, but also lasher tentacles and claw pincers capable of snipping a Dreadnought in two. Against them, no defence line can hold, no bunker can remain intact. In the end, most of their foes break and run, hoping to hide in the ruins of their world. Yet whether the Crimson Slaughter hunt their prey by Augur-tracker, Warp trace or bloodscent, their end is always the same. None can hide, some are permitted to escape -- all must fall, broken and bullet-ridden. The doctrine of well-coordinated shock attacks has ever been the trademark of the Space Marines, but none employ it with the mastery of the Crimson Slaughter. With their hellish arsenal they harness surprise and dismay, wielding them in the same way a master swordsman wields his blade. Yet as horrific as their wanton violence is, as gut-wrenching as their genocidal purges are -- there is something else about the Crimson Slaughter that makes them more terrifying than the other myriad threats that stalk this brutal era. Strange things happen when the Crimson Slaughter arrive for battle. Unnatural, awful things that hardly bear description. Phantasmal spirits manifest out of shadows and premonitions of doom coalesce so thickly they hang like haze upon the air. The skies bleed, walls melt and the innocent contort and wrack their bodies into baleful angles while they howl to the heavens with the voices of the damned. Even mutes will plead for swift and merciful death, screaming out in languages they never knew.
Slaves To The Voices
The Crimson Slaughter are haunted. Like claws scratching down a steel hull or the slow and steady scratching away of tooth enamel to reach the nerve cluster within, the spine-shivering voices murmur to them. A hateful sound, the whispering is quiet at first, so quiet that a lone warrior might pay it little heed. Those voices build in intensity, swelling not only in their volume, but also in their power. As a steady drip will, over time, carve through the hardest rock, so too work the voices. Only by acts of inhumane butchery and utter annihilation can members of the Crimson Slaughter find release from this agony. Only in gore-drenched wars can they dispel that which bedevils them, dogging their every footstep. Only by turning entire worlds into abattoirs can they make the voices halt, a reprieve that is all too short-lived. In the beginning, this Renegade Chapter of Space Marines resisted their doom -- perhaps some still do. Most of their number, however, have cast off the fetters of service and deprivation. They have at last embraced the power and the madness, longing for the blissful, sweet release that follows slaughter. It is impossible to surmise who are more damned -- the warriors who are filled with self-loathing for their vile acts, or the ones who have developed a taste for it? Regardless, the power of the Warp spreads and the shadow of the End Times grows longer. The bells of doom clang and toll. And somewhere in the galaxy, or hidden just behind the veil that overshrouds it, the Crimson Slaughter are once more driven by their inner voices, once more on the hunt.
The Brakatoa System was first colonised in the early stages of Mankind's Dark 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 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 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.
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.
The Crimson Sabres re-established itself upon the neighboring Brakatoa world of Drogsh to re-build its numbers. For the next millennium the Crimson Sabres continued to do their duty. Following their fateful campaign on Umidia, where the ensorcelled Crimson Sabres massacred the entire population for perceiving them as a world rife with Chaos corruption, they attempted to cover up their atrocities and flee before the Inquisition arrived to investigate. Soon the entire Chapter was plagued with voices in their heads accusing them of atrocities that plagued them with visions of the massacre they committed against the people of Umidia. Chapter Master Kranon halted their Warp travel and ordered the Chapter fleet to set a course instead for Umidia's sister planet -- Demetra. Attempting to exorcise the mental malady that plagued them, the Crimson Sabres slaughtered the entire population of Demetra as well, temporarily finding respite from the voices that constantly plagued their waking thoughts. Shortly after the massacre upon Demetra, Librarians brought Chapter Master Sevastus Kranon messages intercepted from the High Lords of Terra that the Crimson Sabres have 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. The Crimson Sabres' homeworld of Drogsh was seized and everyone connected to the Chapter slain by the Inquisition. Only a handful of Scouts, under the Master of the 10th Company, Murdok, escaped. 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 men of his former company and the warship Pride of Rhogon. He swore that if they ever meet again they will be 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 old Crimson Sabres upon it.
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 would 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 Space Marine 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 decades had passed within the Eye of Terror. The Techmarines 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 Members of the Crimson Slaughter
- Kranon the Relentless - Once known as Sevastus Kranon, Kranon the Relentless is the current Chapter Master and Chaos Lord of the Crimson Slaughter warband of Chaos Space Marines. Kranon was known to be militant and brutal even during the days when he was still a loyal servant to the Emperor as the Chapter Master of the Crimson Sabres Chapter. Upon leading his warband into self-imposed exile in the Eye of Terror, Sevastus was corrupted by the Ruinous Powers of Chaos. Renaming himself Kranon the Relentless, he has driven himself to commit more and more bloody and vile acts in an attempt to silent the maddening voices that plague him, the result of a curse from Khorne.
- Xastus Mannon - Mannon was the former Chief Librarian of the Crimsom 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.
- Gorthus - Gorthus was the former Forge Master of the Crimson Sabres Chapter. Following their excommunication, flight and corruption within the Eye of Terror, Gorthus embraced the malign influence of Chaos, becoming Kranon's chief Warpsmith.
- Okrark - Okrark was the former Reclusiarch of the Crimson Sabres Chapter, but following their excommunication, flight and corruption within the Eye of Terror, he embraced becoming a Dark Apostle of Chaos Undivided, and now preaches the merits of the Eight-Fold Path.
- 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. In recognition of his preternatural perception, when the Chapter was corrupted by Chaos, his mind was opened to the Warp and a baleful third eye opened upon his forehead, ever seeking new ways to unleash murder. Now Draznicht follows Kranon, not as counsellor, but as his bloody right hand, ready to unleash the murderous unit he commands that is known as the Ravagers on any who stand in the path of the Crimson Slaughter.
- Mortis Metalikus (Deceased) - Mortis Metalikus is the name given to a Helbrute of the Crimson Slaughter. Formerly known as Sevarion Kranon, he was the birth brother of Sevastus Kranon, the Chapter Master of the Crimson Sabres, and was Captain of the 2nd Company. Refusing to give into the bloodthirst that possessed his fellow Battle-Brothers during the massacre of Umidia, Sevarion was imprisoned by his brother for his disobedience. 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. 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.
- Braglan Ragnald - Former Captain of the 3rd Company of the Crimson Sabres Chapter, Ragnald was the eldest of the Captains within the Chapter.
- Eli Dzarton - Captain of the 4th Company of the Crimson Sabres Chapter, Dzarton was a powerfully set 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 their 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 years later and abandoned their cause, Captain Dzarton departed, taking with him many of the men of his former company and the Strike Cruiser Pride of Rhogon. He swore that if they ever meet again they will be foes. Captain Dzarton and his fifty-nine followers of the 4th Company re-established a secret base upon their old homeworld of Rhoghon. It is still rad-contaminated, but it was Dzarton's hope to restore the old Crimson Sabres. He vowed to hunt down and slay Kranon as his penance before the Emperor.
- Shergon - Former Captain of the 5th Company of the Crimson Sabres Chapter.
- Barkman - Former Captain of the 6th Company of the Crimson Sabres Chapter, following his Chapter's excommunication, flight and corruption within the Eye of Terror, Barkman challenged Kranon for the leadership of the Crimson Slaughter. In the subsequent duel, Kranon overpowered his former friend and comrade, and brutally slaughtered him. Following Barkman's defeat, there were no further challenges to Kranon's leadership.
- Kiestor - Former captain of the 7th Company of the Crimson Sabres Chapter.
- Nthicrar - Former Captain of the 9th Company of the Crimson Sabres Chapter.
- Murdok - 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 Slaughter committed duel atrocities on Umidia and Demetra. They were soon declared Excommunicate Traitoris. 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.
- 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 Murdock to take temporary command of the 10th Company following the grievous wounding of his former commander Murdock. His fate following the fall of his Chapter remains unknown.
- Urzoz - Former Sergeant of the 9th Company of the Crimson Sabres Chapter.
- Kohl - Kohl served as the First Sergeant of the elite 1st Company of the Crimson Sabres. 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. Now he serves as a ruthless warrior within the ranks of the Crimson Slaughter.
- Red Honour (Battle Barge and Chapter Flagship)
- Pride of Rhoghon (Strike Cruiser)
- Red Horizon (Strike Cruiser)
- Myriad other vessels, names unknown to Imperial records
The Chaos Space Marines of the Crimson Slaughter wear dark red Power Armour with golden trim. Prior to their fall, the Crimson Sabres wore dark red Power Armour with white pauldrons. Since their excommunication and their voyage into the Eye of Terror, the millennia-old heraldry and dogmatic markings of the Crimson Sabres have been left behind and all but forgotten. Now the symbols and colours of the Crimson Slaughter alone are enough to cause ripples of panic, for rumour of their fell deeds has spread far and wide across the Imperium of Mankind. It is known that the Crimson Sabres were followers of the Codex Astartes in their use of insignia and squad markings; however, exact details are now hard to ascertain. Since their fall from service to the Imperium, 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, covered up or scratched out. 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 rebelled Crimson Slaughter and, operating in strict transmission silence, began attempting to re-establish their Chapter. Although they seemed to have been lost in the Warp for some period of time, they have since secretly returned to their original homeworld, the rad-poisoned planet of Rhoghon in the Brakatoa System.
In the Eye of Terror the Crimson Sabres began their transformation into full-fledged Chaos Space Marine Renegades. In some cases the changes were subtle, but in others the change was savage and dramatic. The smooth contours of Ceramite became gnarled as intricate new patterns etched themselves across the Space Marines' power armour. When first glancing at a member of the Crimson Slaughter, it is difficult to distinguish any of the former Crimson Sabres iconography, save for the colour of their armour. Closer inspection, however, reveals that some of the former insignia can still be seen, albeit in a new and altered form. Squad markings and honour badges are twisted, having reshaped themselves into debased symbols in mockery of the Imperium. The Imperial Aquila congealed into a far-seeing eye is perhaps the most common of these emblems and can be seen in many of the different warbands of the Crimson Slaughter. On the battlefield, only the bravest dare to meet the baleful glare of murderous intent that glows within the eyes of the Crimson Slaughter. Covered in fell symbols and dripping gore from their most recent butchery, they see most foes flee before their fearsome aura.
The badge of the Crimson Slaughter is a crowned skull centred on a crimson background. The crown is a debased Iron Halo, a common symbol used by Loyalist Space Marine Chapters. Prior to their fall from grace, the badge of the Crimson Sabres was a red skull above two crossed sabres.
- 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 CZ Dunn
- Dark Vengeance (Novel) by CZ Dunn
- Crimson Dawn (Novella) by CZ Dunn