- "Wherever you tread, tread lightly. We are closer than you think, and our blades are sharp."
- — Shadow Captain Kayvaan Shrike, Raven Guard 3rd Company
Kayvaan Shrike is a famed officer of the Raven Guard Space Marine Chapter. A former Shadow Captain of the Raven Guard's 3rd Company, Shrike now serves as the current Raven Guard Chapter Master in the wake of the Prefectia Campaign of 999.M41 when the former Chapter Master, Corvin Severax, and a large contingent of the 3rd Company were slain during a T'au ambush.
A master of stealth and infiltration, Kayvaan Shrike strikes from the darkness, fast and lethal. By the time his foes can react, it is already too late and darkness has claimed them.
- "Violent aggression alone is not enough to win a war. Violence must be accompanied by intelligence as aggression must be tempered by purpose. There is no blow as ultimately destructive as the which is ultimately considered."
- — Shadow Captain Kayvaan Shrike, Raven Guard 3rd Company
Shrike was born on the Imperial Forge World of Kiavahr, and as a boy, demonstrated a preternatural ability for stealth and espionage. As a youth, he worked as a runner for the Tarkal Guild, a gang that operated within the hive city Shrike lived in. But it was an incident in his late teenage years that set him on the path to destiny -- he had been pursued by a rival gang for solar days on end.
He'd managed to evade them for a solar week, feeding on rancid fungi and brackish water as he fled his pursuers. But the gang members weren't the only ones following Shrike; high above, in the gargoyle-studded spires of the city, the Chaplains of the Raven Guard, who often traveled stealthily through the cities of Kiavahr, looking for Neophytes for the Chapter, were observing the progress of the hunt with growing interest.
When Shrike was finally cornered, he fought viciously and killed four rival gangers before being overwhelmed. His captors took him back to their base and tried to torture him for information, but he resisted, and escaped after killing three more of his tormentors. Realising he was a prime candidate for recruitment into the Adeptus Astartes, the Raven Guard Chaplains descended from the spires using Jump Packs to rescue the boy before his pursuers caught and killed him.
Shrike resisted the Chaplains, believing them to be another gang, but in his weakened and exhausted state, the boy was no match for the Space Marines, and was taken back with them to the Raven Guard's fortress-monastery on the moon of Deliverance to be trained. But Shrike proved to be no passive pupil, and often resisted and evaded his tutors within the depths of the fortress. But as time went on, and Shrike learned more about his duty to the Emperor of Mankind, he directed his energies more appropriately and became one of the Raven Guard's most promising Neophytes in centuries.
Targus VIII and WAAAGH! Skullkrak
Shadow Captain Kayvaan Shrike rose to fame after actions in the Imperial campaign on the world of Targus VIII against the Orks of WAAAGH! Skullkrak. After leading his 3rd Company in a mission to destroy the Orks' orbital defences, he found himself and his company stranded in Ork territory after their Thunderhawk transport was destroyed in near-orbit.
Despite this setback, Shrike remained in Ork territory with his company for over two Terran years in which time he led a guerrilla war against the Ork forces, destroying encampments, ammunition stores and the like, while providing the forces of the Imperium with valuable tactical information which helped bring the campaign on Targus VIII to an end long before it had been previously predicted to conclude by Imperial Strategos.
The survivors of this ordeal formed an elite Veteran unit of Assault Marines within the 3rd Company of the Raven Guard known as "Shrike's Wing" who were highly adept at guerilla and hit-and-run tactics and were armed with Jump Packs and Lightning Claws much like their Captain. Upon return to Deliverance, the Raven Guard homeworld, Shrike received the Laurel Imperialis, for having upheld his honour and exemplified the virtues of his Chapter.
By the time Shrike had extracted his company from the ruins of Targus VIII he was hailed a hero systemwide. After his subsequent assaults on Ork conquests in the Donara and Yakhee Systems, Shrike became nothing less than a saviour. Amongst the besieged ruins of Aldeb, Sulphuron and a dozen other worlds, desperate men beseeched the God-Emperor to send Shrike to deliver them from the green-skinned terror of WAAAGH! Skullkrak. Fleet Commanders and Lord Generals of the Astra Militarum pleaded with the Chapter Master of the Raven Guard to assign Captain Shrike to their sector of the campaign. But if the sombre Shadow Captain was aware of either petition, he gave no sign.
Under Shrike's direction, the Raven Guard 3rd Company continued to assail WAAAGH! Skullkrak. They went wherever they were most needed, not to battlezones where Imperial Commanders struggle to contain the Ork menace, but to worlds whose populations have been abandoned to their fates by an overstretched and uncaring Imperium. Shrike and his men are legends on these worlds, as revered as the greatest heroes of old.
On every planet under threat from the Orks, Guardsmen grasped their guns tighter and fought more fiercely, knowing that every solar minute they held out was a minute in which the Raven Guard's 3rd Company might arrive to deliver them from hopeless peril and the endless tide of Greenskins. Meanwhile, beyond the ravaged defences, Skullkrak's Boyz kept a wary eye on the shadows cast by ruin and undergrowth, knowing that Shrike and his company might be lurking in the darkness, just waiting for the right moment to strike.
Hunt for Voldorius
During this time, Kayvaan Shrike also led the 3rd Company for a brief campaign to the world of Quintus, which had been infiltrated by the Night Lords and Alpha Legion Traitor Legions and been led into rebellion against the Imperium by Kernax Voldorius, a Daemon Prince of the Alpha Legion and the leader of the Chaos Space Marines and the other Forces of Chaos on Quintus.
Kayvaan Shrike joined with Kor'sarro Khan, the Captain of the White Scars Chapter's 3rd Brotherhood (Company) and that Chapter's Master of the Hunt, to bring down Voldorius and restore Quintus to the light of the Emperor in a campaign later made famous as the Hunt for Voldorius.
The ancient rivalry between the White Scars and the Raven Guard was thousands of Terran years old, but the two Captains forged an uneasy alliance. Their combined efforts led to victory, and Shrike and Khan fought side-by-side to defeat the Daemon Prince in close combat. Shrike returned to the Targus battlezone, parting from the Khan on terms of respect.
The Prefectia Campaign
Captain Kayvaan Shrike and the rest of the Raven Guard Chapter led a defensive campaign on Perfectia against the relentless Third Sphere Expansion which was carried by the armed forces of the T'au Empire. Though the initial clash upon Prefectia had grown intense, the battle for control of the surrounding worlds had barely begun.
Bypassing Voltoris as they forged on through the Imperium, the T'au fleets took battle to Doth, Delinquence and Carradon, making inroads into Imperial territory so quickly that the Imperial Navy and the Astra Militarum found them nigh impossible to stop.
As for Prefectia itself, reinforcements were already inbound. No fewer than eight Space Marine Chapters engaged in simultaneous planetstrikes that struck every major landmass within the same terrifying hour. The Raven Guard were foremost amongst them. In a remote briefing with the Raven Guard's Chapter Master Corvin Severax, Kayvaan Shrike was ordered to follow up the initial strikes of Shadow Force Solaq, hunting down Tau Commanders amongst Prefectia's electromine complexes.
Using the fissure known as Ventur Scar to anchor their operation, Shrike's plan was to assess the T'au, wait for them to commit in force, then dive in to capitalise on the enemy's position. However, the Raven Guard, watching carefully, found not a single vulnerability to exploit -- their stealthcraft was matched step for step by that of Supreme Commander O'Shaserra, also known as Commander Shadowsun.
It was Kayvaan Shrike of the 3rd Company who had been entrusted with finding and exploiting the weaknesses of the T'au that had claimed Prefectia. The heavily-defended shield zones of the Fortress World burned with the fires of conquest. Eight Chapters of Space Marines launched assaults against the forces of a dozen T'au Septs across the planet. Shrike had instead chosen to confine his efforts to the electromine complexes of the Southern Scars.
He felt sure that a Tau Commander would value the raw energy resource they represented. He was equally confident that Commander Shadowsun would not lead from the front line, but instead coordinate the war effort from the least likely of locations in order to escape a confrontation with Kor'sarro Khan's White Scars, who were also participating in the campaign. The Khan had sworn to hunt down and take the head of Commander Shadowsun at all costs.
As the Raven Guard's commanding officer on Prefectia, Captain Shrike had not only the entire 3rd Company under his command, but elements of the 2nd, several Scout Squads of the 10th, the finest Vanguard Veterans of the 1st Company and a Raptor Wing of gunships from the Armoury, as well as various specialist elements. He split the 3rd Company in two, assigning the Scouts to each Pinion Battle Demi-company and keeping his most mobile forces in reserve at Aquillon Hive. Shrike took his own force west into the gullies of Ventur Scar, and deployed 2nd Company Chaplain, Laefin Torovac, to the north.
High above the sparse clouds of ash that girdled Aquillon Hive, unblinking eyes stared at the explosions lighting the sprawl. Massed squads of Raven Guard were perched in a nest of decommissioned gun clusters, Jump Packs like stubby wings behind their broad shoulders. A Vox-crackle, a series of tight snapping sounds, and the Assault Marines vaulted from their gargoyle-studded roosts into free fall, angling their arms to correct their headlong dive into a steep swoop.
The Bladewing Assault Brotherhood of the 8th Company headed west, seeking to reinforce Shadow Captain Shrike as he led a new assault north of Atlassi Hive. The Veterans of the 1st flipped in mid-flight and touched down half a Terran mile below, leaping from broken pillar to shattered statue before blasting towards the carnage at Ventur Scar.
Long days of war passed, each bringing a hundred new acts of heroism and tragedy. Bellowing commanders and scholarly strategists alike were drowned by the tides of violence that washed across the Fortress World. The ancient wisdom of the Codex Astartes was repeatedly tested against the Code of Fire's teachings.
Several Space Marine forces distinguished themselves above the others, amongst their ranks those of Captain Shrike and Kor'sarro Khan, but it was becoming obvious that the fortress of Prefectia would not fall to a lightning-fast blitz. Keen to secure victory over the xenos, Chapter Master Corvin Severax made planetfall in person. He intended to oversee the T'au's defeat -- or engineer it himself if necessary.
The strife-filled days leading up to Corvin Severax's death had been a tapestry of cause and effect that sent ripples across Prefectia from pole to pole. The Chapter Master's successor would be chosen from the Shadow Captains of the Raven Guard Chapter, but there was little time for lengthy counsel and debate. Most of the warrior-lords were already embroiled in fierce conflicts against the T'au, some fighting for their lives as the Fire Caste pressed home their advantage.
Whilst Corvin Severax had been orchestrating his masterful search-and-destroy patterns, Shadow Captain Shrike had been leading the men of the 3rd Company on a series of punitive strikes. Over the course of three solar days, Strike Force Shrike had harried an entire contingent to the point of extinction -- and in doing so, laid the bait for a trap of its own.
Shrike had worked in tandem with an artillery regiment of the Astra Militarum. He had ordered them to bombard enemy armour that sought to intervene as his warriors launched a ground assault on the remnants of the harried cadre. Seeing easy prey, Shadowsun had attacked the Astra Militarum artillery and the infantry assigned to defend them. Shrike had been waiting for such a move, and when he turned back to counterattack Shadowsun's armies, he spotted the distinctive Tau Battlesuit of the enemy commander standing triumphant over the bodies of his Astra Militarum allies.
Shrike's Veterans had voxed confirmation of Shadowsun's whereabouts to Corvin Severax, and the Chapter Master had made haste to join the fight, seeking to claim Shadowsun's head for his own. It was that single decision that had cost the Raven Guard its Chapter Master and the majority of its 3rd Company.
With Corvin Severax slain, Shrike and his surviving Veterans were forced to improvise, for in terms of firepower they were massively outclassed. By staying to the rear of the nearest XV95 Ghostkeel Battlesuit, they used the strengths of the giant Tau Battlesuits against them -- a stray shot from one XV95 was not recognised as a threat by the countermeasures suite of another, and caused crippling damage to its Stealth Drones. The Raven Guard then concentrated their attacks on the most skilled of the remaining Ghostkeels -- that of Shadowsun herself -- and through sheer tenacity, forced her to withdraw.
That night, Captain Shrike and his Command Squad returned to the site of the battle, there to harvest the Progenoid Glands of the fallen. They did so at great risk, but they survived, and much of the 3rd Company's gene-seed survived with them. It was likely that this selfless act secured Shrike's status as Severax's natural successor.
A series of astropathic communiqués had already been established, counting amongst their recipients the other Shadow Captains of the Raven Guard and even Marneus Calgar from neighbouring Ultramar. The Raven Guard needed a new leader, one so widely respected he could unite the Imperium's armies instead of simply fighting alongside them.
In the end, the decision was unanimous. Kayvaan Shrike, saviour of Targus VIII, Donaka and Yahkee, bane of WAAAGH! Skullkrak, bearer of the Laurel Imperialis and patron saint to worlds considered lost or abandoned, would become the new Chapter Master of the Raven Guard.
The military doctrines of the Raven Guard and White Scars could not have been more different. Where the Khan's warriors preferred to deliver decisive blows upon open ground, Shrike's kin operated best in dense terrain where their meticulous strikes could wear down even the largest armies. Shadowsun had seen patterns emerge upon Prefectia, Agrellan and even Voltoris, and had begun to organise each Sept's Kauyon traps accordingly.
Where the White Scars had charged in, they often found themselves fighting only holographic mirages, the true strike coming from concealed fortifications nearby. Where the Raven Guard had lain in wait for their foe, they found themselves ambushed in their turn, or brought out into the open where long-range support cadres could scythe them down.
However, when the forces of Vior'la and T'au found themselves fighting both Chapters at once, even the best-laid Kauyon traps were found wanting. Again and again the Raven Guard, allowing themselves to be drawn out into the open, provided the anvil; the White Scars, charging from artful concealment, acted as the hammer.
Outside the Rhosputen bunker complex, the Raven Guard, engaged in a running battle with an Armoured Interdiction Cadre, steered their foes into a cross-quadrant strafing blitz that saw White Scars air support tear apart the fast-moving skimmers. When the Khan led a headlong charge across the Hectorid Greatspan, the Vior'lans quickly blocked both ends of the bridge, only to be cut to ribbons by the Raven Guard's assault demi-companies hiding mag-locked beneath its suspension arches.
Scout patrols lured Shadowsun's XV104 Riptide Battlesuits into committing to Kauyon strikes, only for well-placed Teleport Homers to summon Terminators from orbit, the Veterans ambushing the giant Battlesuits in their turn.
The other Space Marine companies present upon Prefectia were also united by Shrike's plans. When the White Scars' Hunting Forces were pursued across the Gnarled Wastes by cadres of Air Caste fighters, the anti-aircraft fire of Stalkers and Hunters from six Chapters sowed the skies with such a massive barrage of flakk that not a single T'au pilot made it out alive.
The Space Marines would not leave without first combining their strengths, preventing the Fire Caste from cementing their hold upon Prefectia. Every victory was but another link in the chain that led to the most significant blow of all, a strategy hinging around the electrodam complex known as Brutec Nexus. Combined, the Fire Caste's most advanced war machines became an unstoppable force. A hurricane of munitions was thrown into the oncoming Imperial attack, tearing apart Space Marine transports, gun tanks and even those Imperial Knights that found themselves caught in the teeth of the new offensive.
Kayvaan Shrike, quickly adjusting to the magnitude of this new development, commanded a triple-pronged assault from Raven Guard, White Scar and Imperial Knight alike. As the Raven Guard pressed their assault from the ruins, Kor'sarro Khan's own hunting force hurtled from Ventur Scar to strike hard at the T'au flank.
The dual assault hit the barely-recovered Fire Caste battle line just as its warriors were rallying around an Ethereal ordering them back into the fight. The White Scars had brought more than guns, and blades to the fight; with them came the psychic storm their Stormseers had conjured from the geo-electric power stations.
The tempest of energies raged so fierce it caught up spear-like lengths of rebar and even rusted girders from the battleground, hurling them out to impale T'au infantry and Battlesuits alike. One of the giant KV128 Stormsurge Ballistic Suits was caught in a vortex of crackling force, its crew electrocuted in a single hideous moment.
The Knights of House Terryn cried out in despair at the demise of the Freeblade known as the Obsidian Knight, and rightly so, for the hero's loss was the tipping point that turned a losing battle into disaster. Their strength spent, the Imperial invaders had no option but to dig their claws as deep as possible, gouging a few last wounds into the Fire Caste before withdrawing altogether.
Kayvaan Shrike had lost a powerful asset indeed, but he still refused to give up. Abandoning the cataclysmic battle at the edge of the shattered cityscape, the Raven Guard and White Scars alike sought the safety of dense terrain where their raw physical power could not be neutralised by the guns of the T'au.
A series of brutal, blood-spattered skirmishes followed as the Space Marines made their way to Shrike's designated extraction point, each driven as much by bitterness and hatred as by the expediency of an ordered withdrawal. Amongst the smoke-shrouded destruction of the abandoned hive districts, the tactical genius of Chapter Master Shrike came to the fore.
Shielded from the T'au's long-ranged firepower, the Raven Guard turned the fight to their own terms, and by using a complex series of feints and shadow tactics, they withdrew with minimal casualties. With the fighting withdrawal of the Space Marines and the evacuation of House Terryn, the remainder of the Imperial forces upon Prefectia soon followed suit.
- Power Armour - Power Armour is an advanced form of powered combat armour, worn primarily by the Space Marines and the Chaos Space Marines, though suits have been created to be worn by mere mortals. Each suit possesses a full suite of life-support functions for operation in hostile environments, an automated medicae system to provide some level of first aid to a wounded wearer and a highly advanced and fully integrated tactical targeting and threat analysis system known as Auto-senses.
- Raven's Talons - When he was a Captain, Kayvaan Shrike won the Contest of Shadows, allowing him to select any item from the Armoury of Ravenspire, the Raven Guard fortress-monastery. Kayvaan chose a matching pair of Lightning Claws called the Raven's Talons, which are said to have been crafted by the Primarch Corax himself on Deliverance, after the Raven Guard retreated there following the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V. Whether the tale is true or mere fable, the Raven’s Talons were almost certainly crafted by some ancient master, for they are beyond sharp, and quite capable of rending Terminator armour as if it were papyrus. For many foes of the Imperium, the lightning-wreathed claws are the very last thing they see. The Raven's Talons can rend even Terminator Armour as easily as silk, in addition to the normal effects of Lightning Claws. In battle, Shrike is normally seen at the head of an assault force of Veteran Raven Guard Astartes, personally trained by himself during his time on Targus VIII and known as "Shrike's Wing." These Veterans also carry Lightning Claws, albeit normal ones. In all his endeavors Shrike upholds the tradition of the Raven Guard in excelling at rapid action and guerrilla warfare.
- Bolt Pistol - A Bolt Pistol is a smaller version of the Bolter in standard use by the Space Marines and other Imperial forces. It is a powerful sidearm that fires explosive kinetic rounds colloquially referred to as bolts.
- Jump Pack - Shrike makes use of a modified Jump Pack that incorporates a Grenade Launcher capable of firing at least 3 projectiles at once.
- Iron Halo - The Iron Halo is a prestigious honour that is granted only to the most exceptional of the Astartes within a Space Marine Chapter as a reward for uncommon initiative and valour. It is most often worn by the Chapter's Captains and Chapter Master. The Iron Halo emits a very strong Conversion Field around its wearer, which makes his armour even harder to pierce with enemy ranged and melee weapons. In addition it also provides its user with immense resilience to even the most potent weapons such as Lascannons and missiles of all varieties. The energy shield the Halo generates stands a good chance of deflecting many deadly projectiles that would slay even an unprotected Space Marine with ease.
- Frag Grenades - A Frag Grenade is the standard anti-personnel grenade commonly used by the military forces of the Imperium of Man, including the Astra Militarum and Adeptus Astartes. It produces a blast of shrapnel that can shred unarmoured infantry troops.
- Krak Grenades - The Krak Grenade is a type of explosive device used by the military forces of the Imperium of Man. Krak Grenades use a shaped explosive charge capable of punching holes in armoured targets such as vehicles or bunkers, and its charge can even rip armour plating apart.
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pg. 103, 139
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 113
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 25, 42-43, 49, 69, 92, 109, 130
- Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 26
- War Zone Damocles: Kauyon (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 7 - 102
- Hunt for Voldorius (Novel) by Andy Hoare