"Let them come, insidious monsters that they are. Let them flow like a tide into the killing zone. Await my signal to activate the teleportariums, and then let us unleash the Emperor's fury upon these abominations from every direction at once."
- — Oldorian Mefistal, Shield-Captain of the Dread Host
The Dread Host, known also as the "Instruments of the Emperor's Wrath," are a Shield Host of the Adeptus Custodes, the stalwart guardians of the Emperor of Mankind. Fear is a familiar weapon to the Imperium, used to deter enemies and keep seething populations in line. Yet there is no terror as pure and absolute as that invoked when the Emperor's own fury is unleashed to punish his foes. When they are called upon, the Dread Host are unleashed to deliver the divine retribution of the Master of Mankind to those who have been judged as a dire threat to the Throneworld.
The Dread Host represents a breathtaking concentration of military might. It numbers hundreds of Custodians, organised into multiple Shield Hosts and transported aboard a trio of pre-Heresy warships known as the Moiraides. The nature of this army is simple: they are the deliverers of the Emperor's judgement, His anger and His punishment made manifest.
Not for them the pinpoint rapid strike, the hidden war or the measured defensive action. Instead, the assembled Shield-Captains of the Dread Host identify the most visible and dramatic threats to the Segmentum Solar and unleash upon them such overwhelming annihilation that it sends shock waves rolling through the Warp itself. Sometimes one warship is sent, sometimes two; only a handful of times in the entire history of the Imperium have all three of the Moiraides loosed their passengers against a single foe. Yet always the effect is the same. Spearheaded by dozens of Allarus Custodians, the Dread Host fall upon their victims with unstoppable force.
They slaughter the enemy's warriors and reduce their war engines to wreckage. They cast down their false idols and set them aflame. They topple their cities, sunder their strongholds, and butcher their allies and followers. They make grisly examples of those who would dare lead such a challenge to the Emperor's dominion, ignoring all attempts at surrender and foiling all bids at flight. By the time the Dread Host are done with their war, nothing remains of their chosen victims but the gruesome tales of their brutal demise at the Emperor's hand.
The Dread Host have smashed Ork WAAAGH!s, obliterated rebellious star systems and crushed Traitor crusades. They have fought against enemies thousands of times their number and humbled them through strategy, speed and strength. With every campaign they spread the terror of the Emperor's wrath. The breathtaking bloodshed and absolute destruction they leave in their wake has dissuaded hundreds of uprisings and invasions before they could even begin.
The Sanctum of a Thousand Eyes
The Sanctum of a Thousand Eyes is the stronghold of the Adeptus Custodes specialist formation known as the Dread Host, which rises to dominate an entire district of the Imperial Palace. This armoured bastion is lit with electro-braziers and arc-lumen of immense size, all angled to under-light the five hundred enormous eagle statues that line the Sanctum's upper battlements. Each as large as a superheavy tank, these ominous sculptures are posed in vigilant stances, many staring up into the stellar gulf while the remainder peer down upon the thronging processionals below.
Superstition runs rife that the eagles of the Sanctum of a Thousand Eyes can perceive disloyalty no matter where it lies, and that the Emperor looks through their avian eyes to see the darkness in men's hearts. To some extent this is true; each eagle contains a complex array of long-range Augurs, Servitor cogitation banks and multi-spectral listening devices that feed floods of information down into the Sanctum's data-shrines. This information is used by the Dread Host to isolate and annihilate threats to the Golden Throne.
- Envoys to the Omnissiah (999.M37) - During Abaddon the Despoiler's 8th Black Crusade, a combined force of Night Lords and Iron Warriors captures the Andromax System and a direct threat to Terra is identified. Initially, the notoriously insular Fabricator-General Uixot of Mars refuses to pledge his aid in eliminating the Heretic Astartes. However, when a diplomatic mission from the Adeptus Custodes attends his forge-temple in person, the Fabricator-General's ego is stroked and his mind swayed. Mere solar months later, a combined force of Minotaurs Space Marines, Adeptus Mechanicus war maniples and Custodians from the Dread Host annihilates the Traitors in their captured strongholds.
- The Echovault (ca. 999.M41) - Led by the ambitious Chaos Lord Hadrexus, a sizeable contingent of Black Legionaries fall upon the world of Dakhorth. They sweep aside the planet's defending regiments and advance to secure the ancient xenos ruin known as the Echovault. Before they can lay claim to this mysterious structure, two of the warships known as the Moiraides appear in orbit. The Custodians of the Dread Host deploy in force, securing the mountain pass that leads to the Echovault with squads of Custodian Wardens who hold firm against wave after wave of attacks. Meanwhile, multiple Shield Companies strike at the flanks of the Traitor force, pulling their formation apart and dividing their strength. Finally, a decisive force of forty Allarus Custodian Terminators teleports into the very heart of the Black Legion lines, tearing their command structure apart and slaying Lord Hadrexus and his Chosen to the last. Though dozens of Custodians fall during the fighting, they smash the Black Legion invaders utterly and send their remnants fleeing back into the Warp. As for the Echovault, it is left undisturbed, and a permanent garrison of Custodian Wardens left to watch over it.
- Codex: Adeptus Custodes (8th Edition), pp. 25, 31-32, 49
- The Horus Heresy - Book Seven: Inferno (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 115