- "And this land shall be yours, that you shall be its masters and its peoples bow down to you."
- — The Charter of Founding of the Red Talons, by the hand of High Lord Hanikhas
The Red Talons is a Loyalist Space Marines Chapter and a Second Founding Successor Chapter of the Iron Hands. The Red Talons were founded from a portion of the Iron Hands Legion's Morragul Clan, made up primarily of outcasts and the most unstable elements of the X Legion, who fought and died under the merciless command of their bloody-handed Clan commander, the Iron-Lord Autek Mor.
Since their founding at the end of the Great Scouring, the Red Talons have been known for their bold style of warfare and never-ending vendetta against the Traitor Legions. Several times the High Lords of Terra have tasked the Red Talons with hunting down and destroying Renegade Chapters. The Red Talons' fortress-monastery is located on their homeworld of Raikan.
The Great Crusade
The Red Talons can trace their heritage back to the dark days of the galaxy-wide rebellion known as the Horus Heresy, which began in the waning days of the Great Crusade in the late 30th Millennium. This bloody-handed Chapter is descended from the ranks of the infamous Morragul Clan Company of the Iron Hands Legion, led by its unforgiving master, Autek Mor, who was both Iron-Lord of the Clan and an Iron Father of the X Legion.
Mor held a sinister reputation within his Legion, and dark rumours accompanied him long before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, including whispered accusations that the origins of his gene-seed or perhaps his bloodline were not as they should be.
A Terran by birth, he was part of the X Legion's first intake and fought in the re-conquest of the Sol System during the early Great Crusade. He held field command by the time of his Primarch's finding on the world of Medusa, having already developed a reputation both as a weaponsmith and malevolent soul. Mor was known to have killed several members of his own Legion in duels over "slights to his honour", and to rule his company with a cruel and unforgiving fist.
On the X Legion's new homeworld, Medusa, he took over the outlaw Ra'Guln Clan's leviathan crawler in a bloody night of violence and made himself its lord, imprinting on it his name and will. In the years that followed, his Morragul Clan became a sink for the outcasts and most unstable elements of the Iron Hands Legion, who fought and died under Mor's merciless command. No love was lost between Autek Mor and his Primarch.
The Horus Heresy
Despite the enmity between the Primarch of the Iron Hands and the Lord of the Morragul Clan, when his Grand Cruiser, the Red Talon, arrived at Istvaan V as the void battle was at its height, he bravely attempted to go to his Primarch's aid. During the infamous events which would become known in the annals of Imperial history as the Drop Site Massacre, three Loyalist Astartes Legions -- the Iron Hands, the Salamanders and the Raven Guard -- were betrayed by the four other Legions of the Loyalist second wave sent to defeat Horus' Traitors at Istvaan V -- the Alpha Legion, Night Lords, Iron Warriors, and a large contingent of Word Bearers -- who they had believed were loyal to the Emperor of Mankind. In fact, the Space Marine Legions of the second wave had already betrayed the Imperium and secretly turned to the service of the rebellious Warmaster Horus and Chaos.
The Red Talon, flagship of the Iron Hands' Morragul Clan, was one of the first Iron Hands vessels to arrive in the Istvaan System after the treachery of the Loyalist reserves had been revealed, breaching into realspace amid the titanic space battle that had erupted between the Loyalist and Traitor fleets. Autek Mor ordered his ship to attempt a breach through the firestorm to reach the surface of Istvaan V, and the infamously powerful Grand Cruiser succeeded in punching through the battle, but took such heavy damage that it was forced to bypass Istvaan V and flee, managing to escape, unlike many of the Iron Hands ships that would later arrive.
Vengeance of the Red Talon
Among the Iron Hands Legion, many Astartes had been driven to stark madness by witnessing their father's end on Istvaan V and threw themselves wholesale into the crucible of war as if to absolve this terrible loss with their own deaths. Yet a substantial number of Iron Hands Legionaries had extricated themselves from the massacre, and while few had made it off the surface of Istvaan V, many more had survived the calamitous void ambush of the Legion's fleet, breaking away and scattering across the stars. Some would form isolationist bands, fighting their own private wars against the Traitors, such as the infamous "Red Talons" of Autek Mor.
One of this warband's more notable campaigns took place in the Coronid Deeps within the Gethsamaine System. The first great blow struck against Traitor control of the Coronid Deeps came from the outer darkness of the Grail Abyss. More than a standard year previously, in 005.M31, the Gethsamaine System had submitted to Horus without resistance and this obeisance had spared them the worst of the war's deprivations. The system's only inhabited world, Gethsamaine Colonus, had been forced to suffer newly imposed overlords in the shape of Tithe Acquisitors bearing the serpent's eye of Horus for a Dark Compliance action, where once they had displayed the raptor-headed Seal of Terra.
Under their directions, the industries of Gethsamaine now laboured, and the planet's vast rain forests were being clear-cut to provide fodder for off-world export, but other than the Acquisitors' harsh quotas, little in truth had changed for the people of Gethsamaine. But just as the unexpected arrival of a lone survivor from the Istvaan System in 006.M31 had gone on to herald the dawning of the terrible war that was to follow, so a second survivor of that great treachery heralded a new wave of conflict.
When the ill-starred Warp route from the haunted Grail Abyss tore open once more, the vessel that cut into realspace with dreadful purpose was no derelict outfitted in Emperor's Children purple as that first survivor-ship had been, but a jagged and scar-hulled killer in black and crimson. It was the Red Talon, the ship of the Iron Hands Clan Morragul, and its master, Autek Mor. Gethsamaine had been stripped of much of its void defences in the Traitors' passing and now it stood all but naked before this spectre of the Imperium's grim retribution. The few remaining orbital gun platforms which protected Gethsamaine Colonus were quickly swept away by the attacking Grand Cruiser, and a ruthless bombardment of the planet from low orbit immediately commenced as preparation for a ground assault. Then came the grim sons of Medusa to enact the Emperor's judgement.
Any resistance to the Iron Hands was swiftly obliterated, and an entire cohort of planetary militia and their Horusite overseers were crushed beneath the treads of Clan Morragul's armour in less than a solar hour. This resulted in a general rout for the defenders. Wasting no time, the world's seats of government were blasted to rubble, and those in positions of power that had aided the Traitors or sided with their cause were methodically hunted down and executed, save for a select number of prisoners deemed to have potentially useful information, who were dragged screaming back to the Red Talon's gunships.
As the Iron Hands Thunderhawks blasted off from the surface, the bulk of the civilian population, which had fled into hiding during the sudden assault, nervously rejoiced and came forth, little knowing what would come next. In each of the five major cities of Gethsamaine, the Iron Hands had left behind an improvised atomantic device fashioned by the bloody hand of their Iron-Father, each bomb sheathed in layer upon layer of radioactive material designed to enrich and multiply the fallout generated by its detonation a hundred-fold. The Red Talon broke orbit just as the cities bloomed into fire; sentence had been passed on both the Traitors and those who had knelt before them, and notice served that there could be no bystanders in this terrible civil war, no civilians to be given quarter, only Loyalists and Traitors to the death.
Shadow War of the Red Talon
The full role in the Horus Heresy taken by the independent battlegroup under the command of Autek Mor is impossible to collate. Nevertheless, fragmented accounts of dozens of battles are extant in the scattered records of the era. Some list no more than the warlord's name, soon a byword for destruction behind the Traitor lines, and can therefore be considered apocryphal, while others are more complete, offering a tantalising glimpse into the many shadow wars of this bloody age.
One such substantiated account is the destruction of the Traitor Mining World of Saria Major. Here, the Red Talon unleashed an orbital bombardment that scoured the hive-refineries from the planet's surface and condemned the surviving population to a slow death in the poisoned aftermath. Viable imagery also places Autek Mor himself at the Battle of Locurtar Station, where his personal forces, the so-called Bloodwrought, counter-attacked a Sons of Horus-led company poised at the moment of victory over a holdout Loyalist garrison and routed it.
Less certain is Mor's involvement at Kvalgron, where it is known that a powerful Loyalist fleet ambushed a heavily escorted Traitor-aligned supply convoy heading to the staging grounds at Paramar, capturing or destroying the entire convoy in twelve solar hours of bitter void warfare. Likewise, the incident at Nashe's World, where a Death Guard extermination detachment was destroyed amidst the cyclopean xenos ruins that towered over the deadly jungles, has often been attributed to Autek Mor, but no firm evidence remains extant for this.
The Second Founding
In the wake of the calamity that was the Horus Heresy and the entombment of the mortally-wounded Emperor within the Golden Throne, the foundations of the Imperium of Man were reformed. The first High Lords of Terra established the structure by which the Adeptus Terra operated, and described the feudal responsibilities and duties of the planetary lords.
One of the most important accomplishments was the reorganisation of the Imperium's fighting forces. This was undertaken almost single-handedly by the Primarch of the Ultramarines Legion, Roboute Guilliman. Of all of his works, the most influential is the Codex Astartes, the great prescriptive tome that lays down the basic organisational and tactical rules for the Space Marine Chapters.
The Horus Heresy had revealed previously unknown genetic weakness in the gene-seed of the Primarchs and Space Marines among the original 20 First Founding Space Marine Legions, weaknesses that left the Legions in question greatly exposed to corruption by the Ruinous Powers of Chaos. This risk was exacerbated by the rapid and atypical nature of Space Marine recruitment during the centuries between the start of the Great Crusade in ca. 800.M30 and the outbreak of the Horus Heresy itself at the dawn of the 31st Millennium.
The Codex decreed that the nine remaining Loyalist Legions would be divided into 1,000-man Chapters, the Chapter Masters of which would be directly beholden to the Emperor Himself and no other, not even the Primarchs of their original Founding Legions (save in the case of the single Chapter that would remain under each Primarch's control and retain its Legion's original name). No one man in the Imperium would ever again control the superhuman might of an entire Legion of 100,000 or more Space Marines.
In 021.M31, the Second Founding of the first Successor Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes under this new system commenced. The Red Talons were one such Successor Chapter, formed from those Battle-Brothers of the Iron Hands Legion who were the most volatile and bloody-handed of the Sons of the Gorgon, and were disposed towards aggressive and bold styles of warfare. Furthermore, the events of the Horus Heresy had imprinted upon this Chapter an unstoppable drive to continue to avenge the treacheries committed by the Traitor Legions. The sinister Iron-Lord Autek Mor was given command of the newly created Chapter, becoming its first Chapter Master.
- The Pentarchy of Blood (860-940.M33) - During the War of the False Primarch, a dark and bloody episode in the Imperium's history now largely lost to myth and purged from Imperial records which plunged the Segmentum Pacificus into anarchy, the Pentarchy of Blood was convened by the High Lords of Terra to enact their judgement. Five Chapters -- the Red Talons, Carcharodons, Charnel Guard, Death Eagles, and the Flesh Eaters -- were used to systematically destroy eleven Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes judged Traitoris Perdita and lay waste to their homeworlds, finally drawing the eight-decade-long conflict to a close.
- First Scouring of Coriolanthe (948.M38) - Night Lords Chaos Space Marines supported by an unidentified Traitor Titan Legion laid waste to the once gleaming marble cities of the world of Coriolanthe. The Grey Knights and forces of the Inquisitor Lord Naburus Baum and the Red Talons Space Marines attempted to halt the servants of the Ruinous Powers, but the Inquisitor and most of the Grey Knights were overwhelmed when assaulted by a counterattack of Traitor Titans.
- The Defence of Orask (940-997.M41) - At the very edge of the Iquathan Deeps in the northern Segmentum Ultima, near the border of the Ghoul Stars, sits the sentinel Feudal World of Orask. This vital bastion world has long defended the Iquathan Deeps against the fell horrors of the Ghoul Stars. In recent times, a most terrible assault occurred in 940.M41, when a splinter Hive Fleet Pythos of the Tyranid menace appeared, disoriented and twisted by its passage through the Ghoul Stars, and fell on the Orask System like a ravenous beast. The great battle that ensued proved brief but bloody. The stoic defenders of Orask were backed by a full company of the Red Talons Chapter and a Titan maniple from the Legio Magna. Despite horrific casualties that reached into the tens of thousands sustained within a mere matter of solar days, the valiant defenders were able to push back their monstrous attackers. Eventually they contained the threat and purged the vile xenos from Orask's blasted surface. In recognition of their hard-fought victory, the Senatorium Ultima of Ultramar honoured the Chapter with the gift of the famed relic known as the Bloody Crown of Hycani. However, evidence persists that some harbinger organisms escaped to the outer systems, and Orask may not have heard the last of the Great Devourer.
Notable Red Talons
- Chapter Master Autek Mor - Known as "The Maimed" and the "Blood-Wrought", Autek Mor was both Iron Lord and Iron Father to the Iron Hands Legion's Morragul Clan Company during the Great Crusade of the late 30th Millennium. Autek Mor held a sinister reputation within his Legion, and dark rumours accompanied him long before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, including whispered accusations that the origins of his gene-seed or perhaps his bloodline were not as they should be. A Terran by birth, he was a part of the X Legion's first intake and fought in the re-conquest of the Sol System. He held field command by the time of his Primarch Ferrus Manus' discovery, having already developed a reputation both as a weaponsmith and a malevolent soul, having killed several Astartes of his own Legion in duels over "slights of honour". He ruled his company with a cruel and unforgiving fist. His Morragul Clan became a sink for the outcasts and most unstable elements of the Iron Hands Legion, who fought and died under Mor's merciless command. No love was lost between Autek and his Primarch, but despite this, when his Grand Cruiser, the Red Talon, arrived at Istvaan V during the Drop Site Massacre when the void battle was at its height, he attacked in an attempt to reach the surface and was only driven off after sustaining massive damage, fleeing the Istvaan System dogged by murderous pursuit. He would eventually become the patriarch and first Chapter Master of the Second Founding Red Talons Chapter.
- Iron Father Bassan Terak - Bassan Terak was an Iron Father of the Red Talons Chapter during the War of the Beast in the middle centuries of M32. He would later go on to lead the Red Talons' 3rd Company in the defence of the Forge World Lankast, when it was invaded by the Orks of the massive WAAAGH! of The Beast.
- Ironwrought Veur - Ironwrought Veur was a Devastator Legionary of the 1st Squad, Devastator Company, Order Tredecimii, Clan Morragul during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy eras. Veur served aboard the Red Talon, the flagship of the Iron Hands Legion's Morragul Clan. It was one of the first Iron Hands vessels to arrive in the Istvaan System after the treachery of the reserves on Istvaan V had been revealed, breaching into realspace amid the titanic space battle that had erupted between the Loyalist and Traitor fleets. Autek Mor, master of the Morragul Clan, ordered his ship to attempt to breach through the firestorm to reach Istvaan V, and the infamously powerful grand cruiser succeeded in punching through the battle. But it took such heavy damage it was forced to bypass Istvaan V and flee, managing to escape, unlike many of the other Iron Hands ships that would later arrive. During this desperate void battle, the Red Talon repelled dozens of separate boarding attacks from all sides, during which the Morragul Devastator heavy support squads were instrumental in slaughtering any who attempted to wrest control of the vessel.
- Ancient-Claviger Khalon - Khalon was a Leviathan Pattern Siege Dreadnought of the Iron Hands Legion's Morragul Clan-Company. Once a Legion Consul of the Ungavarr Clan-Company, Ancient-Clavigar Khalon was a Terran-born siege-breaker of great renown, having won countless honours during the early days of the Great Crusade. Khalon fell in combat during the apocalyptic Battle of Rust, and was barely saved by Legion Apothecaries. His body was placed in stasis so that he could later be interred within a Dreadnought. When at last a Dreadnought shell was available, it was to be a prototype class intended for heavy assaults and siege warfare, a perfect fit for the renowned siege-breaker. Upon being placed within his new Dreadnought form, Khalon was found to be mentally ill-suited to his new existence and was prone to bouts of extreme instability. At the order of Ferrus Manus himself he was transferred from Clan Ungavarr to Clan Morragul, where his demeanour was considered to be more suited to the orphans and outcasts that had gathered under the stewardship of Iron Father Autek Mor.
- Ancient Skara Brae - The Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought within which Ancient Brae is interred is thought to date back to the earliest days of the Red Talons. Aside from the Orask Wars, this Contemptor is known to have participated in battles against such reviled xenos foes as the Galthites of the Oenorian Inner Systems, the Draxian Hegemony and the dread Paramours of the Orpheus Rift. It participated in the purging of the Argent Hammers and the Fists of Olchis, proving instrumental in the near complete destruction of both outcast Astartes Chapters. The earliest date to which this Contemptor Dreadnought's history can be traced for certain is the middle of the 31st Millennium, linking it to the age of woe that followed the Horus Heresy known as the Great Scouring. Still, one earlier temporal imprint has been extracted from its sensorium core; 566.006.M31, a date known all too well to the Iron Hands, the Salamanders, the Raven Guard and their Successor Chapters: the day of the Drop Site Massacre.
The Red Talons are known to possess at least 2 Strike Cruisers, including:
- Claw of Justice (Strike Cruiser)
- Holy Execution (Strike Cruiser)
The Red Talons primarily wear arterial red Power Armour. The Aquila or Imperialis is silver. The black squad specialty symbol -- Tactical, Devastator, Assault or Veteran -- is located on the right shoulder plate. A white Roman numeral is stenciled in the centre of the squad specialty symbol, indicating squad number. The colour of the shoulder plate trim indicates company number in accordance with the Codex Astartes -- i.e. White (1st Company), Yellow (2nd Company), Red (3rd Company), Green (4th Company), etc.
The Red Talons' Chapter badge is a crimson talon, centred on a black roundel. This symbol is reminiscent of the distinctive crimson heraldry of the Iron-Lord Autek Mor's personal guard, the Blood Wrought, as well as the Clan Company icon of the Morragul Clan of the Iron Hands Legion of old.
- Adeptus Astartes: Successor Chapters (Limited Release Booklet)
- Codex: Space Marines (8th Edition), pg. 57
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 19
- Codex: Space Marines (3rd Edition), pp. 22-23, 47
- Codex: Tyranids (6th Edition)
- Imperial Armour: Apocalypse II, pg. 79
- Imperial Armour Volume Two (Second Edition) - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, pp. 17-18, 22, 180
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 185, 237
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest 9Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 55, 157
- The Beast Arises - Book Four: The Last Wall (Novel) by David Annandale