"We are the voice and the clarion call; We are tyrant's ruin and rival's fall."
- —Battle Mantra of the Dusk Raiders
The Dusk Raiders were the XIV Space Marine Legion raised by the Emperor of Mankind on Terra at the dawn of the Great Crusade in the 30th Millennium. After the Emperor discovered the Dusk Raiders' Primarch Mortarion on the poisonous world of Barbarus, and gave him command of the XIV Legion, Mortarion changed the name of the Legion to the Death Guard in honour of the name of the military force he had raised on his homeworld of Barbarus to overthrow the rule of that Feral World's necromantic warlords.
The Emperor of Mankind sought to unite all of humanity under one banner following the Long Night of the Age of Strife, and end inter-human conflict. Once united, the Emperor intended to begin the next stage of His great plan to ensure human domination of the Milky Way Galaxy, which He judged to be necessary if humanity was to survive the never-ceasing threats to its existence embodied by Chaos, myriad xenos races and its own fragile human nature. In time, when the Emperor's eye first began to fall beyond Terra, He began to raise new armies to fight His Great Crusade. He drew these new troops in part from the forces that had already unified Terra during the Unification Wars of the late 30th Millennium. To carry out the Great Crusade and reunite all the scattered colony worlds of Mankind beneath the single banner of the Imperium of Man, the Emperor created the genetically-enhanced superhuman warriors known as the Space Marine Legions. These forces would serve as the speartip of His Great Crusade that began in ca. 800.M30, bringing the light of Imperial Truth and enforcing Imperial Compliance with the new regime on every human world encountered.
Warlords of Dusk
The origins of the Dusk Raiders can be found during the Unification Wars. The base human stock for the majority of the first Space Marine Legions to be raised came from Terra, and in the case of the XIV Legion the main bulk of the gene-recruits used were drawn from the ancient and warlike clans of Old Albia, situated in southeastern Europe, and in ancient times was known as Albia (Albania). Indeed such was the suitability of this stock for induction into the ranks of the Space Marines that recruits drawn from their Castram-cities were also to be found in the ranks of the First Founding VIII Legion and X Legion Legions, the Night Lords and the Iron Hands, respectively, although to a lesser degree than the XIV Legion who were by blood and culture shaped by the traditions of the warlords of Albia as well as the hand of the Emperor.
The recruitment of the sons of Albia served a twofold purpose; firstly, and most importantly, it drew off the cream of whole generations of strength from a Terran realm, now friend and ally to the Imperium but never fully trusted. For Old Albia, towering amid the northern Atlan wilderness, had once been a true rival of the Emperor for control of the destiny of Mankind. By recruiting their brightest and best into the Legiones Astartes and the other growing Imperial organisations marked for war amid the stars, the Emperor ensured they could never threaten the Unification from within. Secondly, it subsumed into the Emperor's forces all the martial traditions and bloodlines that had for centuries held much of Terra under their cruel grasp and had eventually overcome the Panpacific Empire under the rule of its Unspeakable King, Narthan Dume. Such a breed of relentless warlords and soldier-scientists was an invaluable resource that the Emperor was loathe to waste.
By the time the Unification Wars had begun, the warlord clans of Old Albia had thrown off the tyranny of the last descendants of the Unspeakable King, and did not readily bend their knee to the Emperor, for they refused to have another master in Dume's place. Instead the Albians met the Emperor's regiments of Thunder Warriors with their own battalions of steam-belching proto-Dreadnoughts and heavily armoured Ironside soldiers. In battle after battle, the forces of the Unification were held in check, although at a shattering cost for the Albians, who would not give in despite the Imperial onslaught. Impressed with the Albians' martial temper and indomitable courage, the Emperor called for a ceasefire and sought victory over the warlord clans through peaceful negotiations, understanding that to crush them by force alone would entail a grinding war of attrition that would only serve to decimate His own forces and gain Him naught but a handful of ashes as a prize of war.
The Emperor pursued peace despite the protestations of His human counsellors and generals. Going before them, it is said, unarmed and clothed in white and crimson, the Emperor spoke to the warlords' parliament and laid before them His vision of a future Mankind reunited and ascendant, of tyrants toppled and nightmares slain. He offered them glory amongst the stars and most importantly, redemption for many hundreds of years of kin-slaying and bloodshed. To the shock of many, the warlords of Old Albia accepted the Emperor's vision. In doing so, the Albian clans became among the Unification's most zealous supporters, although still untrusted by many, lending their warriors and secrets long kept up for the Emperor's eyes alone. Most importantly for the future of humanity, the Albians sacrificed their sons to become the first Space Marines.
The XIV Legion quickly developed in the use of tactics and methods of warfare that their Ironside forebears would have found utterly familiar, matched with a stoic temperament and gene-crafted aptitude which few doubted had been the Emperor's design all along. Operating in the role of heavy infantry, the Astartes of the XIV Legion were experts at survival and endurance, and quickly gained a reputation among the other newly-forged Legions as relentless and disciplined fighters. In defence they were stubborn and indefatigable, able to stand unwaveringly against the heaviest fire and hold their position against all comers to the last living body and Bolter shell if needed. In attack they systematically destroyed a given target, crashing upon an enemy in wave after wave of armoured bodies, excelling in close range fire-fights and bloody attrition. Their grey and unadorned Power Armour began to carry the symbols of rank and decoration, now modified that once formed the armorial imagery of the Ironsides of Old Albia, and most tellingly their right vambraces, gauntlets and shoulder plates were painted the deep crimson of drying blood, now symbolising the red right hand of the Emperor's justice where once it had proclaimed the murderous reach of the Panpacific Empire's Unspeakable King.
As the XIV Legion fought in the last days of Terran Unification and the first battles of the Great Crusade off-world, they were given the epithet of "Dusk Raiders" by those they fought and took it for their own. This name was a consequence of their use of the ancient Albian tactic of conducting major ground attacks at fall of night when the shift of light confused an enemy's watch, and gathering darkness would shadow an advance across open ground. Such was the reputation the XIV Legion garnered, in fact, that foes given an ultimatum of attack by the Dusk Raiders would often waver in their resolve, their soldiers panicking and deserting their bastions or throwing down their arms and fleeing at the coming of darkness rather than face the Astartes. As relentless as they were in attack, the Dusk Raiders were known to be honourable opponents as well, who would hold to bargains struck for early surrender and honour symbols of truce. When such terms lapsed, however, and the die was cast for destruction, it was just as widely known that nothing would stay the Dusk Raiders' hand. Such honourable terms only extended to human foes worthy to be brought into the fold of Imperial Compliance, however; to the degenerate, the mutant and the alien, no such mercy was given.
So the Dusk Raiders continued this course over the next eight standard decades as they fought on unwavering in the service of the Great Crusade. Still fatherless during this time as other Space Marine Legions gained their long-lost Primarchs until only a handful remained to be discovered, this "orphan" status further bred a self-reliance and a quiet, stubborn pride in the Dusk Raiders' self-forged character, and the martial triumphs of the XIV Legion were many and enviable. Their reunification with their Primrarch though, when it finally came, was not to be the happy event that many had long hoped for, but instead it was to be a pall that fell across the Legion, and under its shadow the Dusk Raiders were broken down and remade, and only the Death Guard remained.
A Mournful Unity
When Mortarion was discovered by the Emperor upon the troubled Feral World of Barbarus, he was swiftly given control of the XIV Legion whose Space Marines had been created from his genetic material and he began to enlarge the Legion's ranks with men taken from the population of Barbarus. Upon first seeing them he told them: "You are my unbroken blades. You are the Death Guard. By your hand shall justice be delivered, and doom shall stalk a thousand worlds." The Legion's name was then changed in accordance with this decree, and Mortarion's words were engraved above the airlock door of the Battle Barge Reaper's Scythe in honour of that moment. By this simple decree the Dusk Raiders were no more, and the records and annals from that day forward would carry this new name as one to strike fear into the hearts of Mankind's enemies.
The XIV Legion's Astartes had been primarily Terran-born before Mortarion joined the Legion; after that time almost all of the Legion's Neophytes were drawn from the Feral World of Barbarus. This changed the culture and traditions of the Legion, so much so that by the last days of the Great Crusade in the early 31st Millennium, there were increasing tensions between the Barbarus-born Astartes and the Terran minority who remained in the Legion and who remembered the Dusk Raiders' earlier martial traditions brought out of Old Terra. These tensions became most clear in the period directly preceding the first battle of the Horus Heresy at Istvaan III, when approximately one-third of the Legion was judged by Mortarion to be likely to remain loyal to the Emperor when the Legion joined the Warmaster Horus in his rebellion against the Imperium. Many of these Loyalist Death Guard Astartes were Terran-born, former Dusk Raiders like Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro of the 7th Great Company whose loyalty to the Emperor outweighed their devotion to their Primarch.
Before they were reunited with their Primarch, the Dusk Raiders conformed very closely to the standard raiment of arms and organisational patterns laid out for the early Space Marine Legions by the Officio Militaris. At its most fundamental level the Dusk Raiders were organised around the principle of equipping individual Space Marines as well as possible, so that they could endure and prevail against any foe encountered, and operate for extended periods without resupply or support if necessary. This dogma was espoused by the warriors of the XIV Legion, built upon the foundations of independence and surety with which they had always fought. The Dusk Raiders are noted in records of this period as maintaining a well-rounded capacity for unleashing multiple modes of warfare, although with some bias towards heavy assault formations and attritional engagements, as evidenced by the particular use of close-ranged weaponry within the Legion. The Dusk Raiders relied upon its infantry to provide its strategic strength, with the bulk of tactical fire support coming from heavily armed support squads, and later with considerable numbers of Terminators and Dreadnoughts providing reinforcement and an assault spearhead where needed.
Legion Combat Doctrine
The Dusk Raiders' signature strategy had been to attack their foes at nightfall, thus earning them their Legion moniker. The Dusk Raiders' Power Armour was an unpainted slate grey in colour while their right arm and one or both shoulder plates were painted crimson. This was done with the intent to symbolically show their enemies what they truly were -- the Emperor's red right hand, relentless and unstoppable. Many enemies would throw down their weapons the moment the sun dipped beneath the horizon, rather than dare to fight them.
Notable Dusk Raiders
- Battle-Captain Nathaniel Garro - Nathaniel Garro was the Battle-Captain of the Death Guard's 7th Great Company. Garro was born on Terra, in the small techno-barbarian state of Albia, situated in the area of southeastern Europe near what had once been the ancient nation-state of Albion (Albania). Garro was one of the few remaining Terran Astartes of the XIV Legion when it had still been named the Dusk Raiders, so known because of their signature tactic of attacking a foe at nightfall. Garro was the leader of the 70 surviving Astartes who alone of the Death Guard Loyalists escaped the betrayal of Horus on Istvaan III aboard the Imperial Navy frigate Eisenstein to bring word of Horus' betrayal to the Emperor. He held to the original tenets of the Legion when many of his Battle-Brothers chose to follow the Traitors, Horus, Mortarion, and First Captain Typhon's decision to serve Chaos and conquer the Imperium for themselves rather than trust in the will of the Emperor. After a lucky rendezvous with the Imperial Fists' space fortress Phalanx, news of Horus' treachery were brought to Terra and the Emperor, which may well have saved the Imperium. While his historical fate is uncertain, it is believed that Garro, along with the remaining Loyalist Luna Wolves Captain Iacton Qruze, was ordered by Malcador the Sigillite to gather 8 Astartes from both the Loyalist and Traitor Legions across the galaxy who would later form the precursor of the Grey Knights Chapter of Space Marines, and along with 4 lords and administrators of the Imperium they helped to forge the secret organisation that would later become the Imperial Inquisition. After arriving on Terra, Garro's Power Armour had all of its Death Guard regalia removed and replaced with the personal sigil of Malcador, an "I" with three horizontal lines through its center, the icon that would later become famous as the Rosette of the Inquisition. During his mission for the Sigillite, Garro consistently referred to himself as a "Knight Errant" and the member of a "Legion of One". Garro wielded the potent relic Power Sword named Libertas.
The Dusk Raiders' base pattern Power Armour was an unpainted storm grey. The entire right vambrace, gauntlet and shoulder plate (sometimes both) were painted the deep crimson of drying blood, which signified the XIV Legion's status as the "red right hand" of the Emperor's justice.
The Dusk Raiders' Legion badge was a black skull halved, with a setting black sun on the other side, centred on a field of deep crimson. This icon symbolised the XIV Legion's given epithet of the "Dusk Raiders", a consequence of their use of the ancient tactic of conducting major ground attacks at the fall of night. Once the Dusk Raiders were unleashed upon their foes, nothing would stay the Legion's hand.
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 14
- Horus Heresy: Visions of Death by Alan Merrett
- Index Astartes III: The Lost and the Damned
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal by Alan Bligh, pp. 120-137
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest, by Alan Bligh, pp. 19, 153
- Flight of the Eisenstein (Novel) by James Swallow