The Death Eagles is a Loyalist, Codex Astartes-compliant Space Marine Chapter. It is suspected that it is one of the rare Successor Chapters of the Raven Guard, although some believe its roots actually lead back to the Emperor's Children Traitor Legion. Its exact Founding date is unknown. The Death Eagles' true origins may lie in the bygone Age of Darkness during the Horus Heresy in the 31st Millennium.
It is said by ancient proverb that truth is the first casualty of war and, if this is the case, then rumour is its first child. Almost from the outset, the war of the Horus Heresy was a vast cataclysm, one whose events moved with such quicksilver pace that mystery, supposition, lies and simple ignorance cloaked much of the bloodshed even as it occurred, casting a veil over much that will never be lifted. Though the roll call of Space Marine Legions, Titan Legions, Auxilia regiments and Mechanicum Taghmata that sided with the Arch-Traitor Horus and those who remained loyal is largely known and accepted, the full truth is far more complex and far more mysterious than commonly believed. Some Legiones Astartes believed Horus had the superior cause and the superior right to command their allegiance, not the Emperor, while some retained a loyalty to their Emperor and the Great Crusade over that of their own Primarch's will. It is true that particularly in the early years of the war, detachments of Legiones Astartes and sometimes entire squadrons of warships simply vanished without apparent trace, and while many may have fallen afoul of Warp Storms and enemy action, it is likely just as true that some quietly slipped anchor and turned their coats to serve another master, and that this happened on both sides of the divide. During the Horus Heresy the 34th Millennial of the Emperor's Children (the "Death Eagles") bore the purple and gold of their parent III Legion with pride, refusing to abandon their heraldry. It is thought that the Death Eagles Millennial clashed with their Traitor kin at Lethe and at Revorthe Keep in the Coronid Deeps, but their ultimate fate, like that of so many others, remains unknown.
As to the long term viability of these lost Legiones Astartes detachments, it is difficult to say. Given sufficient gene-seed and technical competence it is entirely possible for such a formation to maintain its strength over a protracted period, inducting and training new recruits in the same way as a normal modern-era Space Marine Chapter. There are certainly numerous cases cited throughout Imperial history where this has occurred, such as the Space Wolves 13th Company. This might explain how the Death Eagles were able to survive the Age of Darkness as well as the subsequent era of the Great Scouring. If the Death Eagles are indeed descended from the Emperor's Children, it would explain why their true origins have been purposely obfuscated. Such a connection to a reviled Traitor Legion would also be a terrible dishonour and would explain why the Death Eagles' heritage and original Legion colours may have been deliberately obscured from the Imperial record.
- Vengeance from the Void (ca. M32) - Across a hundred scattered star systems in the western marches of the Segmentum Solar, cult uprisings led by a core of Chaos Space Marine warbands drawn from the Iron Warriors, Night Lords and World Eaters Traitor Legions brought entire planetary governments to their knees in a year of blood and anarchy. With whole sectors on the brink of collapse, events took a dramatic turn when a combined force of the Adeptus Astartes emerged from the black depths beyond the spiral arm and launched a sudden and overwhelming attack directly upon the uprising's command. Though many Space Marines fell in glory, the warlords of the Traitor factions were slain and the uprising fractured into a thousand localised rebellions which were soon put down by local defence forces. Subsequent Inquisitorial studies claimed that these Space Marines were drawn from several Chapters, including the Death Eagles, Minotaurs, Carcharodons and Angels of Absolution. Other evidence, however, including their estimated Founding and projected deployment dates, contradict these assertions, consigning the entire event to conjecture.
- The Pentarchy of Blood (860-940.M33) - During the War of the False Primarch, a dark and bloody episode of the Imperium's history now largely lost to myth and purged from the record, the Segmentum Pacificus was plunged into anarchy and the Pentarchy of Blood was convened by the High Lords of Terra to enact their judgement. Five Chapters; the Death Eagles, the Carcharodons, the Charnel Guard, the Flesh Eaters and the Red Talons were used to systematically destroy eleven Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes judged Traitoris Perdita and lay waste to their homeworlds, finally drawing the eight-standard-decade-long conflict to a close.
- Reconquest of the Forsarr Sector (999.M41) - Three standard years after the fall of the sector's vital Hive World capital of Forsarr in the Segmentum Tempestus, the Administratum finally recongnised the true threat posed by WAAAGH! Garaghak. The Aurora Chapter joined a powerful coalition with their brethren of the Revilers and the Death Eagles as well as a demi-legio of Titans of the Legio Astraman and several regiments of Imperial Guard and Ecclesiarchal troops. They took the fight to the Orks and reclaimed the Forsarr Sector for the Emperor. It is unknown if the fact that the Raven Guard's homeworld of Deliverance is also located in the Forsarr Sector prompted this deployment.
The Death Eagles predominately wear black Power Armour. The shoulder guards have white insets with black trim. The helmet is a bone white with red eye lenses. The Aquila or Imperialis on the chest guard is black, with the central icon being bone white. The black squad specialty symbol -- Tactical, Devastator, Assault or Veteran -- is indicated on the right shoulder guard. A white Roman numeral is stenciled in the centre of the squad specialty symbol, indicating squad number. The iconography of the right knee plate indicates company number in accordance to the dictats of the Codex Astartes, i.e. White (1st Company), Yellow (2nd Company), Red (3rd Company), etc.
The Death Eagles' Chapter badge is a white, avian skull of a raven surrounded by ebon feathered wings (elevated and displayed), centred upon a field of white.
The first known mention of the Death Eagles' existence was made in White Dwarf 123 (UK), published in March 1990. Within, the 'Eavy Metal team presented a section with conversions and specially painted Space Marine miniatures -- among which there was a "Death Eagles Marine in armour variant". His heraldry consisted of an asymmetrical scheme of alternate white-purple plates, with backpack and Bolter in silver, and helm and cod piece halved in white and purple as well. However in How To Paint Space Marines (2004) the Death Eagles appear already clad in black and white Power Armour.
It is possible that the reference in The Horus Heresy Book IV - Conquest to their origins lying among the Loyalist Emperor's Children that maintained their original heraldry (purple and gold, but also white in some plates) is a nod towards this first appearance.
- Adeptus Astartes: Successor Chapters (Limited Release Booklet), pg. 32
- How To Paint Space Marines (2004), pg. 88
- Imperial Armour Volume Two, Second Edition - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, pg. 17
- Imperial Armour Volume Eight - Raid On Kastorel-Novem, pp. 77, 104
- Imperial Armour Volume Thirteen - War Machines of the Lost & The Damned, pg. 21
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest by Alan Bligh, pg. 158
- White Dwarf 123 (UK), "'Eavy Metal II", pg. 22