The Ravenwing Darkshroud is a variant of the Dark Angels' own Land Speeder Vengeance and is used only by the Dark Angels' 2nd Company, the Ravenwing, and the similar formations of their Unforgiven Successor Chapters. The Land Speeder Vengeance's standard Plasma Storm Battery has been replaced with an ancient relic, an Icon of Old Caliban known as a Stone Guardian or one of the Ten Brothers of The Order that once stood within the fortress-monastery of The Order on the Dark Angels' lost homeworld of Caliban.
The Darkshroud then channels the arcane energies of the ancient relic and projects a field of impenetrable darkness known as the Shroud of Angels, swathing the Dark Angels' forces in a gloom that can swallow even the most potent of incoming enemy ranged attacks and protect the Unforgiven from harm. Those who have witnessed it at close range and felt its murky pall, and lived to tell of it, are disturbed forever more.
Of all the archaic relics deployed on the field of battle by the Unforgiven, the Darkshroud is perhaps the most unusual. The Darkshroud is a powerful icon of the Chapter and the Dark Angels will protect it with their lives. This archeotech vehicle consists of a Land Speeder Vengeance mounted with an ancient stone statue known as a Stone Guardian, an Icon of Old Caliban, or one of the Ten Brothers of The Order. Ten such idols currently exist within the Chapter's Armoury. These statues were some of the few barren remnants found amongst the ruins of the Tower of Angels following the destruction of Caliban at the end of the Horus Heresy and they were exposed to powerful Warp energies during the catastrophe that tore that world apart.
How such a device came to be is a tale that began when the planet of Caliban was engulfed and split asunder by a Warp Storm. Yet not all was destroyed, as the fortress-monastery of the Dark Angels, and much of the bedrock upon which it stood was protected by an ancient force field of prodigious strength. The collision of that storm with the indestructible force field, however, had many repercussions. Some contaminant leaked within the shield's perimeter, and the atmosphere within the domed field that surrounds The Rock is, to this day, still crowned with chain lightnings, and darksome squalls.
Early in that catastrophic tumult, the Tower of Angels -- the proud citadel that topped the largest fortress-monastery of The Order and subsequently the Dark Angels -- had fallen in ruin. Although the Dark Angels would take the barren remnants of their homeworld as a base, they have never attempted to rebuild that wreckage above. Standing proud amongst the desolate rubble were some elements of their old fortress citadel that withstood the collision of unstoppable force with impenetrable shield. Amidst the debris there stood statues -- carved figures from a past age. Those stone eyes had seen the tragedy that had befallen the Emperor's I Legion, and they now glowed with mysterious power, imbued with the energies released on that fateful day.
The Stone Guardians, or Ten Brothers of The Order, as they were known, were taken into The Rock and locked in stasis in the Reclusiam for years. It was not until the desperation of the Vendetta Campaign that the Dark Angels at last felt compelled to unleash their arcane power upon the battlefield. Each statue was mounted upon the chassis of a Land Speeder Vengeance, with great cables siphoning off its esoteric energy and amplifying it, and a power field of unknown quality rippled outwards from these ominous relics and absorbed most forms of electromagnetic energy.
In battle, the Darkshroud is used in support of the elite 2nd Company, the Ravenwing, as its otherworldly veil serves to partially obscure and protect the company's Assault Bikes and other light vehicles as they streak towards the foe. Even the blazing beam of a Lascannon can be swallowed within the Darkshroud's gloaming field of eldritch power, dissipating harmlessly while the Ravenwing speed onwards. With a Darkshroud as a foreboding escort, units of Ravenwing Black Knights and a Ravenwing Attack Squadron can rev their engines and hurtle straight into an enemy gun line with impunity, protected from the foe's firepower as if by the Emperor's own blessing.
The Ravenwing Darkshroud is armed with a Heavy Bolter that can be replaced by the Chapter's Techmarines with an Assault Cannon to further maximise the vehicle's firepower. Its primary weapon, of course, is the Stone Guardian that produces the vehicle's arcane cloak of protective darkness, which is known as the Shroud of Angels. How the relic produces this effect, or what technology is involved, remains unknown at this time.
- 1 Ravenwing Darkshroud
A standard Ravenwing Darkshroud is armed and equipped with:
- Heavy Bolter
- Icon of Old Caliban - After the fall of Caliban the Dark Angels explored the ruins of the Tower of Angels that sat atop The Rock. Though the ancient fortress had been ruined beyond recognition, they still found certain relics still standing from an age past, old even by Caliban's standards. The statues had been bathed in the radiations given off by The Rock's crackling force field, and glowed with a strange energy all their own. Mounted upon reliquaries at the rear of a Ravenwing Land Speeder Vengeance, these eerie statues, known to the Dark Angels as the "Ten Brothers of the Order", emanate an unsettling barrier of rippling darkness that veils friendly troops and shields them from harm.
- Ravenwing Support Squadron - The Ravenwing Support Squadron consists of a Ravenwing Land Speeder Squadron and a single Ravenwing Land Speeder Vengeance or Ravenwing Darkshroud. The Support Squadrons of the Ravenwing act in concert with the Attack Squadrons, one the sword and one the shield. Skimming fast and low over the battlefield, the Support Squadron's Land Speeders scan constantly for anything that may pose a threat to the mission. Where enemy heavy armour or entrenched artillery attempt to devastate the Ravenwing with overwhelming firepower, the Support Squadrons swoop low overhead, missiles and plasma blasts reducing the weapons of the foe to blazing scrap. When enemy infantry mass in sufficient quantities to swamp the huntsmen of the 2nd Company, the Support Squadron's Land Speeders pass back and forth, raking the enemy with bullets, bolts and fiery blasts. In this way, the Support Squadrons combine their strength with their land-bound brothers to crush the foe completely.
Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications
The Adeptus Mechanicus has not yet publicly released the technical specifications of the Ravenwing Dark Shroud. Like much of the Dark Angels and other Unforgiven Chapters' vehicles, the Darkshroud's presence is likely not known to many in the Imperium, due to their secretive and secluded nature. Releasing such technical specifications of their Chapter's vehicles could very well reveal the Dark Angels' hoarding of sacred Standard Template Construct databases, which they have repeatedly denied having in their possession.
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Dark Angels (8th Edition), pg. 46
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Dark Angels (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), "Ravenwing Vengeance Land Speeders", "Ravenwing Support Squadron", "Ravenwing Darkshroud"
- Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pp. 5, 49, 83, 102
- Warhammer 40,000: Apocalypse (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 173