- "There is no peace. There is only time wasted between battles."
The Skulltakers are an infamous Khornate warband of Chaos Space Marines. Formerly known as the Berserkers of Kharadon, this once-Loyalist Space Marine Chapter disappeared from the Imperium of Man from 153.M34 to 184.M39.
During these five millennia the Berserkers of Kharadon turned to Chaos, and the bloody worship of Khorne, rechristening themselves the Skulltakers. With the Styx-class Heavy Cruiser Blood Dawn leading their fleet as its flagship, the Skulltakers have raided and plundered across the galaxy, killing indiscriminately and gathering skulls in the name of Khorne.
The Skulltakers participated in the Cholercaust Blood Crusade in the late 41st Mllennium and suffered heavy casualties. The current disposition and composition of the warband are unknown.
- Siege of Vraks (813-830.M41) - The Skulltakers were the largest Khornate warband of Chaos Space Marines who were drawn to the Imperial Armoury World of Vraks Prime to take part in the slaughter during the 17-year-long siege of that rebellious planet by Imperial forces. It is with some certainty that Warmaster Abaddon sanctioned the Skulltakers' presence on Vraks, as part of a long-term plan to disrupt the Imperium's defences around the Eye of Terror in the years before the start of his 13th Black Crusade. Once upon Vraks, Zhufor committed his warband to the front, smashing into the Imperial siege regiments and hacking a bloody path into their trench lines. But, lacking numbers, Zhufor could not allow his warband to become trapped in the attritional war and instead, allowed them to roam the surface of Vraks, killing and plundering wherever they could. As the Imperial siege closed in and it seemed that the Forces of Chaos might be defeated, Zhufor enacted a plan to take over supreme command of the Apostate Cardinal Xaphan's army. Sickened by reports from the front of cowardice and desertion in the face of the enemy, Zhufor sought to unify the various Khornate warbands under his leadership. He then moved to take over the entire Vraksian Traitor army -- which meant the removal of the reclusive Apostate-Cardinal Xaphan and his ineffectual cronies. After successfully overthrowing Xaphan and seizing control over Vraks Prime, Zhufor began his campaign of genocide in earnest. Late in the siege, Zhufor killed an Imperial Guard Commissar-General, taking his body as a gory trophy, which he mounted upon the spikes of his blood encrusted armour. He then hatched an audacious plan to summon the mightiest of the servants of Khorne. With the aid of the Khornate warband known as The Sanctified, Zhufor tempted his master's wrath and successfully summoned the Deathbringer - An'ggrath the Unbound, the Lord of the Bloodthirsters. The long carnage of the Vraksian war drew An'ggrath and his daemonic legions through the Warp portal created by the daemonmancers of The Sanctified. The mighty Bloodthirster turned the surface of Vraks into his personal slaughterhouse until the intervention of the Grey Knights and Lord Inquisitor Hector Rex. Wielding a powerful sword forged to destroy such daemon-lords known as Arias, Rex stopped An'ggrath before it was too late. An'ggrath's defeat was a bitter blow to Zhufor and his followers and soon after, they abandoned Vraks to seek out fresh battlefields. Zhufor left behind a strong rearguard of fanatics and daemons and, it is thought, used the Vraks Warp portal to cast himself back through the Immaterium. Where he and the Skulltakers will finally emerge next is not known.
- Cholercaust Blood Crusade (Unknown Date.M41)- The Skulltakers joined the massive Khornate force known as the Cholercaust which followed the path of the Keeler Comet and brought war and ruin to the worlds in its path. The Cholercaust Blood Crusade was finally stopped by a small coalition of Imperial forces on the Cemetery World of Certus Minor. The Skulltakers and other Khornate Traitor Marines took to the field under the command of Lord Umbragg of the World Eaters and participated in the final attack on Obsequa City. The Cholercauset suffered a total defeat and all in its ranks were slain, including the Skulltakers. It is unknown if the entire warband took part in the Blood Crusade, and whether or not Skulltaker remnants still exist elsewhere.
- Invasion of Ultramar (999.M41) - The Invasion of Ultramar occurred when a large Chaos warband known as the Bloodborn invaded the Ultramarines' Realm of Ultramar, headed by the Iron Warriors Warsmith Honsou and the Daemon Prince M'kar the Reborn, both servants of the Ruinous Powers who had sworn revenge against the Ultramarines for the past wrongs they believed had been done to them. This Chaos invasion occurred roughly concurrently with Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41, though the Bloodborn's invasion was not officially a part of the Black Crusade's forces. The Bloodborn were comprised of a large following of multiple Chaos Warbands and rogue regiments comprised of both Planetary Defence Forces and Imperial Guardsmen. These throwaway troops were used as cannon fodder during the Bloodborn's initial assaults. The rest of the Bloodborn's elite forces were comprised of Chaos Space Marine warbands which included the Skulltakers, the Apostles of MinthRas, the Claws of Lorek, and the Death Shadows. The Skulltakers were not a part of the Bloodborn themselves, and unlike the other Chaos Warbands and Iron Warriors detachment, they were not often seen fighting alongside the Bloodborn's main forces. This was more than likely due to the Skulltakers being utilised in a role that they were adept at fulfilling -- as shock assault troops -- rather than deploying in a normal infantry role. During this invasion, an unknown number of Skulltakers fought at Calth against the Ultramarines 4th Company and their allies, as part of a trap set in the aftermath of the destruction of Talasaar in a bid to hurt the 4th Company. They also sent a contingent against the Ultramarines 2nd Company and their allies on Espandor. The Skulltakers did not play a pivotal role in the overall scheme of the campaign as they were always utilised in deadly Zone Mortalis missions that they were not meant to survive. It is not known if this particular band of Skulltakers was sent by Lord Zhufor himself. The only thing confirmed with any certainty is that this warband of Skulltakers involved in the Ultramar campaign came from Zhufor's main warband, and was led by a Chaos Lord by the name of Muscara. It is not known if this band took part in any other larger campaigns, such as the Siege of Vraks. The Skullstakers, being devout servants of the Blood God, revel in the bloodiest hand-to-hand fighting in the perpetual quest to offer up blood and skulls to Khorne. They were most likely restrained somehow by Honsou, the formidable Warsmith and leader of the Iron Warriors. Denied the chance to engage in constant slaughter, the Skulltakers would have become almost uncontrollably enraged and would turn on any living thing whose life could be extinguished to satisfy their sheer need for carnage. Somehow the Warsmith managed to evolve the use of these Khorne Berserkers, utilising them at the most opportune moment.
- Blood Cult - Outfitted in the finest Chaos Terminator Armour, Lord Zhufor's personal cadre, the so-called Blood Cult are the most numerous and most dreaded of the Chaos Terminators who operated on Vraks Prime. They fought with inhuman skill and savagery and were feared in equal measure by their enemies and their erstwhile comrades, whose blood they were more than inclined to spill when the Khornate battle-rage overcame them.
The Skulltakers wear copper coloured Power Armour, the colour of spilt blood with brass or silver trim. They are known for their obsession of polishing their armour with the powdered bones of their slain enemies.
The Skulltakers' badge symbol is a silver, double-bladed serrated battle-axe on a red background. It is also quite common for Skulltakers Chaos Space Marines to wear various icons of both Khorne, their patron God, and Chaos itself.
- Zhufor (Chaos Lord) - Also called Zhufor the Impaler and the Butcher of Vraks, this infamous Chaos Lord leads the Skulltakers warband. Zhufor was not always a servant of the Dark Gods. Once, millennia ago, he was known as Balzach, a former Sergeant of the Storm Lords Chapter. During the sacking of the hive cities of Paramar, Sergeant Balzach was severely wounded and taken captive by the Traitor Marines of the World Eaters. Balzach was then drugged and subjected to torture and psycho-corrective surgery to alter his brainwave patterns in order to break his Imperial indoctrination. He was turned into a psychopathic killer and was reborn as Zhufor, joining the World Eater's ranks as a Khornate Berserker, hacking and slaying any who stood in his way until he rose to become the Chaos Lord of his own Khornate warband. In recent history, he led the Skulltakers and the majority of the Khornate warbands during the Siege of Vraks in the latter 41st Millennium. Following the dire events on Vraks Prime, Zhufor remains a grave threat to the Imperium and is still regarded as one of Abaddon's most lethal lieutenants. Zhufor commands the Skulltakers from the Styx-class Heavy Cruiser Blood Dawn, which has been identified as leading many bloody raids against Imperial targets from out of the Eye of Terror. At the end of the 41st Millennium, Zhufor and the Skulltakers would serve at the forefront of Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade. Four attempts by the Imperial Assassins of the Officio Assassinorum to find and eliminate him in the name of the Emperor have all ended in failure -- and the death of the Assassins.
- Gorfan - Gorfan is a Chaos Champion of Khorne and the commander of the Blood Cult, Lord Zhufor's elite bodyguard of Khornate Berserkers.
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 21
- Imperial Armour Volume Six - The Siege of Vraks - Part Two, pp. 9, 13, 21-22, 32-33
- Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks - Part Three, pp. 17-18, 88, 174
- The Chapters Due (Novel) by Graham McNeill