The Kharybdis Assault Claw, also known simply as the Kharybdis, was a monstrous ship-to-ship heavy assault craft that was used by the Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras of the late 30th and early 31st Millennia. The Kharybdis was a Drop Pod-type assault craft, massive in size compared to other Drop Pods of the era.
The Kharybdis was capable of carrying a large assault force through the void of space whilst mounting significant enough firepower to blast a path through smaller defensive vessels. The arrival of a swarm of these assault craft, boarding hooks extended outwards like hungry jaws, signalled the doom of whatever target they closed on.
The Kharybdis Assault Claw was a consequence of the same cursed machine lore that gave birth to the wretched Dreadclaw Drop Pod and as such the vessel fell under scrutiny when that other void assault craft's deficiencies became known. The Kharybdis was studied and measured, its cogitation cores dissected in search of even the slightest hint that the corruption that defiled the Dreadclaw did not exist in the Kharybdis' own Machine Spirit. Although these searches did indeed find anomalies within its demeanour, there existed no instances of the ill-fortune that had led to the Dreadclaw being forcibly withdrawn from Imperial service -- at least at the time.
At the end of the Horus Heresy and further on into the Great Scouring, the Kharybdis saw extensive use on both sides of the conflict. As the Loyalist Legions hounded their traitorous brothers from warzone to warzone, entire fleets burned in void battles in which the lives of countless thousands more Astartes lost their lives. At the end of the Great Scouring, hundreds, possibly even thousands of Kharybdis served the Astartes faithfully, and in so doing began to develop certain characteristics for which it too would become infamous in the ranks of Loyalist and Traitor alike.
The Ordo Malleus of the Imperial Inquisition is in possession of several sealed accounts that pertain to the Kharybdis Assault Claw, and while they are mostly contradictory, it is likely that they all contain at least a fragment of truth. There are some that suggest that the Kharybdis' Machine Spirit developed the same near Abominable Intelligence that plagued the Dreadclaw, but of a very different demeanour. Rather than the many malign incidents suffered by the Loyalist Legions at the hands of their Dreadclaws, the Kharybdis seemed to became attached to individual masters, and grew to be highly unpredictable when they were not close to hand.
Should the master the machine was attached to leave the area for too long, Tech-priests and Servitors that were tending the machine would fall prey to grizzly accidents. If the machine's chosen master died or was otherwise unable to tend to the machine it would tolerate no others to be within its armoured hold. This fact became revealed during the worst possible time -- during atmospheric entry the great iris hatch would spontaneously open, incinerating those inside to ashes.
During the Great Scouring, the Loyalists would eventually stop using the Kharybdis altogether, instead turning to Thunderhawk gunships or Caestus Assault Rams for their ship-to-ship assaults, but they lacked the brute effectiveness of the Kharybdis. However, the assault craft remained in use amongst the Traitor Legions, and as such shared their fate when they fled to the Eye of Terror. Over the millennia, the tides of the Warp changed the Kharybdis as it changed the Traitors, creating a thing of dark sentience and wholly malefic intent.
In the 41st Millennium
The Kharybdis Assault Claw has served the dark Chaos Space Marines since the Scouring and throughout the war-torn Age of the Imperium, both as an atmospheric drop ship and as a void assault craft. The Chaos Space Marines regularly use the Kharybdis' Storm Launchers and Melta Weapons to scour landing zones before their deadly cargo disembarks.
More aggressive commanders employ the craft as a deadly and highly efficient tank hunter, ramming enemy armoured vehicles in daring low-altitude attacks and hooking on with their hook-claws before burning through even the thickest plate with Melta cutters designed to breach the far-thicker hulls of voidships.
The secrets of the Kharybdis' construction were lost by the Imperium in the centuries following the Horus Heresy, but still persists in the hands of the Dark Mechanicum and their Chaos Hell-Forges, who offer them up in return to the Forces of Chaos for a bounty of souls and slaves.
The following is a list of notable campaigns the Kharybdis Assault Claw has been used in:
- Great Crusade - The Kharybdis Assault Claw was widely used by all of the Legiones Astartes during the Great Crusade.
- Horus Heresy - The Kharybdis Assault Claw was widely used by both sides during the Horus Heresy, with most Space Marine Legions making use of them for both ship-to-ship boarding actions and ground assaults.
- Great Scouring - The Kharybdis Assault Claw was widely used during the Great Scouring, with most Space Marine Legions on both sides of the conflict making use of them for boarding actions and ground assaults, although these craft began exhibiting strange attachments to certain masters and sometimes were prone to devastating accidents. Eventually the Imperium discontinued their use entirely during this conflict.
- Destruction of Solomon Theta - The Kharybdis Assault Claw, along with the Dreadclaw were used in massive numbers by the Thousand Sons Traitor Legion during the Destruction of Solomon Theta in 744.M40, where a coordinated global attack left the planet completely ruined.
- First Scouring of Coriolanthe - Lord Koth-Scarren of the Night Lords Traitor Legion led a devastating counterattack against the Inquisition and the Grey Knights who were answering an astropathic distress call from the world of Coriolanthe. The usage of Kharybdis Assault Claws helped the Night Lords repel the Imperium long enough for Coriolanthe to fall into madness.
The Kharybdis Assault Claw was equipped with several forward-facing Melta-Cutters and Cyclic Thermal Jets that were used to cut breaches into the outer hulls of enemy voidcraft, but could also be used for dangerous low-altitude strafing runs and for burning clear a landing zone before touchdown. The Assault Claw was also armed with a high-powered Melta-ram, which was used with its hook-claws to ram enemy vehicles and burn through their armour, and five Kharybdis Storm Launchers. The Kharybdis Storm Launcher was an external missile launcher system that gave the Kharybdis some degree of ranged striking power as it closed with its target, and could be used to clear landing zones of enemy combatants. The Kharybdis was capable of carrying up to twenty Space Marines, ten Terminators, or a single Castraferrum Pattern or Contemptor Dreadnought. The Assault Claws used by the Chaos Space Marines in the late 41st Millennium are also able to carry a single Helbrute. The Kharybdis is capable of being outfitted with external Frag Assault Launchers, which will fire a blast of fragmentation charges to protect the craft from any enemy infantry that gets too close while it is on a planet's surface.
- 1 Legion Kharybdis Assault Claw (31st Millennium Only)
A standard Legion Kharybdis Assault Claw is armed and equipped with:
Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications
The technical specifications of this heretical craft are no longer publicly available in Imperial records.
- The Horus Heresy: Book Three - Extermination (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 61, 236-237
- The Horus Heresy: Book Six - Retribution (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 145
- The Horus Heresy: Legiones Astartes - Crusade Army List, pp. 62-63
- The Horus Heresy: Legiones Astartes - Age of Darkness Army List, pp. 74-75
- Imperial Armour: Volume 13 - Warmachines of the Lost and the Damned, pp. 18, 92-96
- Forge World Website - Experimental Rules (No Longer Available)