‘Rise, Lord Commander Dras, and stand as the proud warrior and general you are,’ said the crystal clear, perfectly-accented voice. ‘No warrior, no matter how high or low his station, shall ever have to kneel before me.’
Hesitantly, Astinon and his Space Marines got up from their kneeling positions, standing tall before their new master. His aura, if it could be called that, held their eyes captive and they were unable to look away from his face.
‘Once I was the lord of an entire legion of warriors, eighty thousand Astartes at the height of its power,’ began Vulkan, addressing the entire chamber. ‘I was an unwilling general in those times, commanding the finest and most brutal armies in the history of our race. The last twenty thousand years have changed much. I came back from my exile to find my father’s realm torn asunder, more potently than even my most twisted brothers could have ever planned.’ The Primarch paced in front of his throne like a caged lion, as if struggling to break free of invisible chains that held him down.
Astinon could hear the pain in Vulkan’s heartfelt speech, aware of how monstrous the Great Betrayal had been for the demi-god. He could even see the faint shadow of the anguish in the Primarch’s eyes, eyes that silently and forcefully promised vengeance for millennia of suffering.
‘And my heart soared to find that my sons and the sons of my brothers still survive, that they still hold true to ideals that the rest of the galaxy has forgotten. They, like you, have sacrificed much over the centuries and the millennia since the Fall of Terra. Many of them were forced to become savages while others kept their nobility of purpose and duty alive. And it is they who will carry aloft the torch of our new future.’ Vulkan now stopped and pointed at the Corvians.
‘These warriors, the sons of Corax, Corvians as they call themselves, are one of the many that have joined our new beginning, like the Fire Beasts and the Dorn Revenants. There will be others as well, mark my words, my friends. Lord Commander Dras?’
‘Yes, my lord,’ croaked Astinon.
‘Dalmor has told me much about you and your battle-brothers. And in my exile I have heard much of your predecessors as well. Corax was my closest brother in the Golden Days, together with Ferrus Gorgon and Rogal Dorn. I would be honoured to accept your service until the time when Corax himself calls upon you.’
Tears came unbidden to Astinon’s eyes at the Primarch’s words, and he managed to nod, answering for his brothers as well. Vulkan smiled at him once more and sat back down in his throne.
‘Very well, then. Astinon Dras of the former Angels of Retribution chapter, I hereby give you command of the Nineteenth Commandery, the Sons of Corax. Your warriors shall ever be your own. Sergeant Tel’maon, take the Captain of the Nineteenth and his officers to their quarters.’
‘Yes, my liege,’ Tel’maon saluted, forming the Aquila over his chest.
‘Captain Dras,’ Vulkan called out to the former general as he began to leave. ‘Remember always that what we do, we do in the name of the True Emperor of Mankind, not the bloated, bastardized mockery that is the Star-Father.’
‘Yes, my lord,’ Astinon bowed and left with Tel’maon.
‘We are still in the Primarch’s tower, are we not, Brother Tel’maon?’ asked Adrastos as they all walked towards the quarters assigned to the Corvian officers.
‘Indeed, Captain. The Emerald Tower lies at the heart of Hades Hive, just as Armageddon is the heart of the New Imperium. It serves as the Primarch’s base of operations, his sanctum, his refuge, and his court.’
Tel’maon and a squad of his Firedrakes led them via power-lifts down to the deep sub-levels of the tower, where access was carefully restricted and entire squads of Astartes in emerald power armour stood as sentries. Astinon could see that their armour was the same as that of his escorts, recently forged and shining with its own newness. In comparison, the armour worn by him and his warriors was a patchwork of armour-plates salvaged and repaired times beyond count and in the early stages of becoming obsolete in their functionality.
The Firedrake Sergeant stopped as he came to stand before a large, armoured door of Adamantium and strengthened ceramite. Astinon looked on as Tel’maon typed in an access code and the door opened, soundlessly and with such a grace that he could not have imagined of Imperial technology. Curious as to what the chamber beyond could hold, the Corvians followed the Salamanders inside.
As Tel’maon switched on the chamber’s bio-lumes, bathing the entire chamber in a soft golden light, the Corvians were stunned at the incredible bounty that lay before them.
The walls of the entire chamber were covered in various weapon racks and storage boxes full of a multitude of varying ammunitions. There were chainswords, chain-axes, power swords, thunder hammers, lightning claws, power-axes, boltguns, plasma pistols, heavy bolters, multi-meltas and more besides, resting snugly in their casings and giving off the sheen of newness that was the norm throughout Hades Hive. The chamber was a repository of technological wonders.
Grinning, Tel’maon watched their shocked expressions with some amusement. ‘This is to be your armoury, Captain Dras. It will fall under the jurisdiction of the Nineteenth Commandery and serfs and artificers will be provided to you in due course.’
‘This is extraordinary,’ whispered Manov, finding his voice.
‘The entire chamber is to be given over to us?’ asked an incredulous Adrastos.
‘These are wonders beyond measure,’ remarked Astinon in an awed tone.
‘This is not the entirety of the Primarch’s gift to you, lords.’ Tel’maon turned to the wall behind him and activated a control panel next to the light-box. Astinon and the others could hear a soft, whirring noise as six perfectly circular recesses some fifty feet in diameter opened up in the floor of the armoury and a platform arose from within each recess. The Corvians gaped dumbfounded at the new sight before them.
Suits of newly-forged, unpainted power armour were stacked neatly together on five of the platforms, thirty on each, their surfaces unblemished and unmarked. On the central platform were ten suits of Terminator armour, finely wrought and unpainted just like their smaller versions.
‘These suits of armour have been forged for you and your warriors, Captain Dras. More will be provided in due time as your Commandery grow in number. I suggest you and your warriors take charge immediately, for if I have read the Primarch right, you will be given a vital mission of great import soon enough. That is how it has been for all the Astartes warbands and mortal soldiers that have so far come to Armageddon. Lord Vulkan does not delay in making appropriate use of the forces under his command.’
‘Understood brother,’ said Astinon and turned to Captains Adrastos and Dheimmel and his champion Manov. ‘Assemble the rest of the Corvians. Distribute the suits of power armour and the weapons equally between all. I will make a decision later about the suits of Terminator armour.’
Taking a final look at the chamber and its contents, Astinon continued. ‘The night is darkest just before the dawn, my brothers. We have begun to step out of the darkness of our conflicted past and it looks like the sun has now begun to rise on our destiny as well, a new dawn full of hope and promise heralds our future.’
‘Lord Admiral Teluga is an unsubtle man,’ remarked Astinon as he took in the display on his hololith screen and smiled at his champion. ‘He sends two battleships with seven escorts to escort our pitiful fleet to Armageddon. Our reputation precedes us, brother.’
‘He is arrogant and foolish in addition,’ said Manov with distaste. ‘We come at the request of Captain Dalmor and should be given an honour guard, not an armed escort.’
‘Given our past dealings with the Steel Legion, the Admiral’s actions are perhaps, appropriate,’ Astinon’s light tone conveyed to his champion all he needed to know about his general’s feelings on the matter. Not that they were any secret to him.
‘At least they have granted us passage through to the planet without any fuss,’ was the dry comment from Captain Adrastos, who stood next to the Lord Commander’s throne in full armour.
‘Quite true, my friend and brother. The chaplains always told of the glorious days of the past when the Primarchs walked among the chapters and kept us united together in common purpose.’ Astinon’s expression turned thoughtful as he continued. ‘Never for a moment did I ever imagine that I would have the chance to see one in the flesh myself. I recall old Svydro’s sermons well where he told of how they had all either disappeared or died. He always said they would return one day, that it was foretold in the sealed records of the Reclusiam only the chaplains could read.’
‘And here we are today,’ said Adrastos, finishing Astinon’s thought. ‘Our surviving records tell of how the Great Raven counted Lord Vulkan as one of his closest friends and confidants. By serving Vulkan we serve Corax, brother. I dare keep alive a glimmer of hope that perhaps he can tell us of Lord Corax and his whereabouts since his disappearance. The Raven Guard sought long for the Primarch in the old days but all we found was dust.’
‘Don’t be so bitter Adrastos,’ said the Corvian general and then turned to his champion. ‘Have the fleet proceed to Armageddon. We go to finally meet the Regent of the New Imperium.’
With the authority of the new master of the Salamanders freely given, the Corvian fleet was finally escorted to Armageddon high orbit and assigned anchor stations. Admiral Teluga’s thoroughness however insured that the fleet was not stationed above any vital facilities and that the defence fleet’s escorts were also stationed nearby in case of any unpleasantness that might erupt. The Corvians did not object to the arrangement and gladly accepted any limitations imposed upon them. They had come to meet with and submit to the authority of the ruler of the New Imperium and give fealty to him.
Once their ships were in orbit, the Corvians made for the surface however they could. The Astartes used their few precious Thunderhawks and captured landers while their fellow human soldiers used aging shuttles for transport. Some of them would have used teleporters if the ancient systems had still worked, and they all knew painfully well how close to the breaking point they had come with little in the way of supplies remaining to them. Teluga’s comparison of the Corvians to mercenaries was far closer to the truth than even many of the Corvians themselves would willingly acknowledge.
The descending Corvian transports were escorted to one of the spaceports in Hades Hive by several flights of atmospheric fighters along a strict route that avoided passing close to any vital military locations. Astinon and his fellow officers were surprised to notice that the aircraft were all newly-manufactured, their paint still fresh and their surfaces still gleaming. This however was just one of the many surprises awaiting them.
As Astinon and his officers stepped off the ramps of their Thunderhawks, the unmistakable smells and sounds of a hive being rebuilt after a war assailed them and they looked around in wonder. The actinic tang and the grinding, reverberating sounds of promethium-powered drills were all around them. The smell of liquid rockcrete being laid on the streets and thoroughfares below rose up to greet them as sweating labourers worked under the harsh guidance of their overseers. In the distance, they could hear and see the engine backwash of gunships as they patrolled the hive sky. And in the midst of it all, they could hear the cries of traders hawking their wares as hivers bickered with them over prices, soldiers talking idly as they manned their watch-posts, people praying to the Emperor and singing the praises of the Regent.
The last time any of them had set foot on the planet, Hades Hive had been a scene of rampant destruction and neglect, a shadow of its former glory from before the Second Strife. It had changed since then however, and they could see the hand of a master at work. As they looked out from the landing pad towards the rest of the hive, they saw miles-high towers and masses of bulky hab-blocks stretch out to the ends of the horizon.
Twice Hades Hive had been destroyed utterly and twice it had been rebuilt, and now it looked like it had surpassed even its own splendour from the Age of the Imperium. The Corvians were still looking around in wonder when they finally spotted their welcoming committee.
Standing across from them was a fifty-strong contingent of Astartes wearing dark emerald armour, the same colour as Captain Dalmor’s when he had come to meet with them aboard the Montisgarre. If Salamanders had been wearing newly-made power armour, Astinon’s party would not have been as startled as they were at that moment, for the Salamanders in front of them all wore Terminator Armour, armour that appeared for all intents and purposes to be fresh from the forges. It was devoid of any battle-scars and the snarling drakes gilded on the warriors’ pauldrons shone as brightly as the Aquilas and winged hammers on their breastplate. The Corvians continued to stare in shock as one of the Terminators stepped forwards and extended his hand to Astinon.
‘Welcome to Armageddon, Lord Commander Dras. We have been sent by Captain Dalmor to escort you to Lord Vulkan’s tower.’ The voice that issued from the vox-grilles of the armour was full of respect and authority in equal measure. Astinon stared at the hulking warrior in front of him and had to tilt his head up to look him in his helmeted eyes.
‘And who are you, warrior?’ he asked, confused and still in shock. ‘Your voice and bearing are familiar to me, yet I cannot recall if I have met you before.’
The warrior’s rich laugh surprised the Corvians once again and they looked at one another in puzzlement. The Salamander gently removed his helmet, revealing his face to the harsh winds of the hive.
‘Tel’maon!’ gasped Manov and moved forwards. ‘It has been years, brother!’
‘Aye, Lakos, it has indeed,’ said the warrior. ‘I believe we have a lot of history to catch up on, but as you can see, I now serve the Primarch himself as one of his elite Firedrakes.’
‘You have indeed risen high in the ranks since we last met, Sergeant Tel’maon,’ Astinon grinned, finally placing the warrior’s name in his memories and shaking his head in wonder.
Tel’maon gave him a salute as he continued. ‘Captain Dalmor and Lord Vulkan await you in the Primarch’s tower, general. The Captain has just arrived from the Promethean Sun in orbit himself and is anxious to meet you.’
‘How far is it to our destination then, Brother Tel’maon?’ asked Adrastos.
The Salamander smiled conspiratorially at the Raven Guard’s question. ‘Tell me Captain, when was the last time you used a teleporter?’
Adrastos was momentarily wrong-footed at the question and looked to Astinon and Manov in confusion before answering. ‘The array aboard the Deliverance has not worked for years, why do you ask?’
‘This is Sergeant Tel’maon, initiate teleport.’ Those were the last words the Corvians heard before their world dissolved into utter blackness.
‘That was unpleasant,’ remarked Astinon as he picked himself up from the floor of the massive teleportarium. The expressions on his brothers’ faces told him they agreed. With the breakdown of their last functioning array nine years ago, the Corvians had become unaccustomed to the feeling of being teleported. This will take some getting used to, he thought to himself.
‘Perhaps a warning next time, Sergeant Tel’maon?’ asked Adrastos. ‘I admit I was quite unprepared for being hurtled through the warp like that.’
The teleportarium, according to Astinon’s estimate, was as large as the Reclusiam aboard the Montisgarre, and that could hold up to fifteen hundred fully armoured Space Marines. Everywhere around them, serfs, Tech-priests and servitors rushed about, performing system checks and other tasks that all looked meaningless to him. A soft, continuous hum invaded his enhanced senses, a sign of the massive teleporter array working at full power.
‘Apologies, captains,’ said the Salamander in a conciliatory voice. ‘But it was quite necessary under the circumstances. The population of the hive still bears some ill-feeling towards all Astartes since the Emperor’s Children and their armies invaded a decade ago. The Steel Legion is loyal to Lord Vulkan and could be trusted to escort you down to the surface but to have you all walk through the hive’s concourses would have been a mistake. I bow down to the Primarch’s wisdom in this.’
‘And when do we get to meet with the Primarch, brother?’ annoyance flickered on Astinon’s face at the endless array of surprises he was being subjected to. ‘It seems that the forges and manufactora of Armageddon are producing a massive quantity of war material, if the aircraft that escorted us and your armour are anything to go by.’
The Firedrake nodded knowingly. ‘Lord Vulkan has always been a smith and a crafter, Lord Commander. Under his leadership several technologies have been recovered and discovered in equal measures. The armies of the New Imperium are growing by the day and they must be supplied of course.’
‘Discovered?’ asked Manov incredulously.
‘There are many things about the New Imperium that will surprise you, brothers. Do try to keep up with the revelations.’ With that Tel’maon made to leave the teleportarium, beckoning to the Corvians to follow him as the rest of the Firedrakes assumed positions around the sons of Corax as the honour guard they were intended.
The audience hall was gripped by an uncomfortable silence as Tel’maon and his Firedrakes led Astinon’s Corvians inside. Every face looked upon the power-armoured warriors, and to Astinon, it appeared that they all judged him and his warriors. The cold, harsh and stern appraising glances cast their way unsettled him as he walked behind Tel’maon, unable to meet the questioning looks. The room was full of all manner of people, from clerks to servants, from Space Marines in a dozen different liveries to mortal soldiers and naval armsmen, from lords of the Armageddon hives to Tech-priests and their servitors.
‘Astinon!’ The Lord Commander looked up to see Dalmor approaching him, his hands spread out to embrace his honour-brother. ‘Welcome to Hades Hive, brother.’
‘Is this some kind of a court of judgement, Dalmor?’ whispered Astinon in an accusing tone.
The Salamander looked confused. ‘No it is not Astinon, you doubt others too much. Come, meet the Primarch.’
Up until then, the Corvian general had not been sure of what to expect from the Primarch. He had given it little thought; his thoughts had been focused elsewhere on finally being granted the redemption and absolution he sought.
But as he looked past Dalmor and Tel’maon to the figure seated on the throne at the far end of the hall, uncontrollable fear took hold of him. Ages ago, when the Space Marines had first been created, it was rumoured that one of the Emperor’s first command to them had been ‘And They Shall Know No Fear’. It was said that all fear had been bred out of them and they were immune to its effects. That was not how Astinon felt at that moment as he and his warriors slowly and consciously approached the throne.
A squad of yet more Terminators stood guard around the throne, their armour more ornate than that of Tel’maon and his Firedrakes. The significance was not lost on the Corvians; these were the Primarch’s own personal guard, elites among even the Firedrakes.
Beyond the tall forms of the Terminators, a towering figure, his armour the most ostentatious and finely-crafted of its kind that the Corvians had ever seen or had even imagined, sat in the throne, which itself was the colour of the deepest emerald. The figure’s gauntleted hands rested on the throne’s arms which were sculpted into the likeness of claws. The throne’s back itself was sculpted in the likeness of a ferocious drake, its jaw framing the head of the armoured warrior.
On his breastplate was a single-headed eagle, so unlike the Aquilas that Astinon and his warriors knew well. More sculpted drake-heads adorned his pauldrons, a rich gold in colour and looking closely Astinon could see finely-detailed script etched on the drake-heads. A cloak of glistening, green drake-scale hung from these shoulders, and the Corvians could hear the faint rustle of armoured plates clashing as the warrior rose.
In his hands, the figure held the largest glaive Astinon had ever seen, its haft as thick as his own arms and its blade wickedly-sharp like the throne’s own sculpted claws. It was a fearsome and impressive sight. With great effort, Astinon raised his eyes from the warrior’s breastplate to his face and his reaction was automatic and uncontrollable.
The forty-three Corvian officers all knelt before the seated figure, their eyes locked with that of his own, their reaction ingrained in their very genes. To look upon a Primarch was to look upon unrestrained perfection and beauty of form, to glimpse a glory that promised much yet could terrify the most strong-hearted. The radiance that emanated from the figure on the throne was compounded with his finely-wrought armour and his glaive.
The figure rose from the throne and addressed the sons of Corax, his face youthful beyond measure yet marked with age, a face filled with infinite nobility. A warm, comforting smile graced the warrior’s patrician features as he addressed the Astartes before him.
‘Welcome proud Sons of Corax, welcome to the heart of the New Imperium,’ said Vulkan, once Lord of Nocturne and Master of the XVIIIth Legiones Astartes, now Imperial Regent.
As per some of my last few blogposts, I have started writing for LL’s Age of Dusk setting, which is set in the years M51 and on. My first piece for this, entitled Sons of Corax, is now available on the Bolthole in the General Warhammer-verse Fiction section. So far, I have four chapters up which have set up my characters, the particular setting within the larger background, and hopefully the motivations of my main characters.
Chapter 5, which will nicely and quite explosively be the first action scene of the piece, shall be up either tonight or tomorrow. Expect lots of bolter-action, screaming, dying, mutilating, decapitating, gut-ripping, and all that jazz that people love in Warhammer 40,00o or, should I say Warhammer 60,000?
So far, this has been really fun to write, and I have all sorts of crazy ideas on how to turn things on their heads and twist perceptions. This is going to be a wild, wild ride people and you don’t wanna miss it! Stay tuned for more on this!
Stunned silence gripped the bridge of the ancient vessel at Collector Idel’s unexpected words and every single gathered warrior, whether a mortal or an Astartes, stared at him with dumbfounded expressions. Lord Commander Astinon could hardly believe his ears. Was this really true?, he wondered. In the utter madness and turmoil that grips this galaxy can this ember of hope really exist?
‘No old friend, it cannot be true,’ he addressed the diminutive man, his shoulders heavy as he sat down on his battered and chipped black-ivory throne, suddenly feeling light-headed and weak. For one such as him, these weaknesses would have once been completely alien, but not in the terrible times that he now found himself in. ‘There is nothing in this galaxy but horror and terror. Utter damnation has wormed its way into its heart and corrupted it to its very core. Nought but oblivion awaits us.’ To the warriors on the bridge, their general’s pain was all too apparent in his tone and inflection.
The eager and youthful Collector shook his head in disapproval. ‘No my friend, it is very much true. I have seen him and the wonders he has wrought with my own eyes. There is a fire within him that compels all around him to seek out the best in themselves. His words drive them to heights of unimaginable greatness! If only you could see what I have seen brother,’ he mused, his mind still unable let go of the visions he had seen on that blasted world.
Astinon’s stunned expression turned to one of contempt and hate. ‘You are lying, Idel. You tell me some fable, thinking that you can dupe me with such grand falsities, but I will not suffer that indignity. I once called you brother and friend, but no more. I see now how deep your ambition to take my place as the Master of the Corvians goes. But has doomed you, traitor. I denounce you!’ The Lord Commander turned to his champion, Sergeant Manov, and pointed at Idel. ‘Seize this traitor, brother, and throw him in the brig. I will see to him later.’
Manov stood helpless next to Astinon’s throne, caught between his loyalty to his commander and his friendship to the Collector. For his part, Idel was as dumbfounded at Astinon’s order as the latter had been at his words only a few moments ago. Rage took hold of Astinon as his order went unheeded and he got up.
‘Sergeant Manov!’ he thundered. ‘You will arrest this traitor and put him in the brig, now!’
Before the Sergeant could respond, a voice full of authority and purpose challenged Astinon. ‘There will be no hands laid on this man, Lord Commander Astinon Dras.’
The furious general turned towards the direction of the voice and was struck speechless for a second time in less than an hour. Stepping onto the bridge was a tall figure, a figure he had never expected to see again, not since the last time they had met on the blood-drenched fields of Gida Prime. In full battle-plate of polished dark emerald, the helmeted warrior’s presence had a distinctive effect on the tense atmosphere of the bridge. Many of the Corvians recognized the armour and its distinctive markings, markings which seemed to have become even more complex and ostentatious since he had last laid eyes on it, as if the wearer of the armour had recently been raised high in rank.
Astinon gazed at the new arrival in complete shock and awe, his senses unable to accept the evidence of his own eyes. One by one, the Corvians on the bridge couldn’t help but kneel before the new arrival; such was the magnificence that radiated from him. A surprised and awestruck Astinon collapsed back on his throne. In a life as chaotic and turbulent as his own, the endless parade of changes was too much even for him.
‘You… you are… you are alive,’ he croaked. ‘But that is impossible! I saw you fall on Gida Prime!’
In a fluid motion and with apparent grace, the warrior removed his helmet, exposing his face to the Corvian officers in front of him. With cropped hair, patrician features, a confident bearing and three gold studs, he was the image of martial perfection as only a warrior of the Adeptus Astartes could be. He walked up to Astinon’s throne and shook the Lord Commander’s gauntleted hands in a warrior’s grip, wrist to wrist.
‘I survived, brother. The drug-crazed Kazan captured me as spoils of war and I was their prisoner for nigh twelve years.’ The warrior’s voice was just as Astinon remembered, strong, clear and, in contrast to his own, full of purpose. His world contracted to encompass just him and the green-armoured warrior in front of him, his fellow Corvians and Idel forgotten for the moment.
‘Twelve years? It has been only a mere twelve years?’ he whispered. ‘The galaxy has gone from one hell to another since I thought you lost, brother.’
‘The past does not matter anymore, Astinon, but what does is that I have returned. Seven years, my oldest friend, seven years I have spent in a holy crusade, bringing hope, truth and justice to a corrupted galaxy. And I bring you the most wondrous news brother, one to uplift even your sorrow.’
‘Hope? Truth? Justice?’ Astinon laughed maniacally. ‘Such concepts are meaningless in these times Sian’me, my friend. Meaningless I tell you, for the Emperor’s light has -’
Sian’me, once a sergeant of the Salamanders chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, raised his hand to stop Astinon in mid-sentence. The Lord Commander only looked confused at the interruption.
‘I am no longer Sian’me, Astinon,’ said the warrior gently. ‘I am reborn, and in my rebirth I have a new name. A name bestowed upon me by my new lord. I am now Dalmor, Captain of the Salamanders Commandery, the Lord Nocturne’s Own.’
Astinon’s world shattered at those words, words which wormed their way into his thoughts. Rebirth. New lord. Lord Nocturne’s Own. Thoughts of lost glory, of nobility, of sacrifice, of duty, of purpose came unbidden to him. The dream-haze that had for so long clouded his mind suddenly disappeared in an instant. And with it gone, came clarity, a clarity he had lost all those years ago.
Comprehension flooded his mind, a mind bred for war, for service, for loyalty. His shrunken world expanded and suddenly he became aware of his battle-brothers near him, of the throne he sat upon. He realized where he was and looked to his champion.
In his eyes Manov saw all the pain and guilt his general had carried with him for the last twelve years disappear in a flash. In his poise, he saw the return of unyielding confidence, the surety of purpose. He nodded in approval at Dalmor, who continued to look at his friend.
‘He has returned, Astinon, well and truly returned!’ exclaimed the Salamander, his tone conveying all the emotion he could not express with any action. A sense of wonder filled him, and all could see it, could feel it. ‘Armageddon has been purged in blood and fire, the filth of the Emperor’s Children and their dupes scoured clean from its surface. The Master of Nocturne, the true child of the Emperor has returned to guide us to new beginnings. To unite all the disparate and warring factions of humanity and restore the true ideals of the Imperium, bringing the Emperor’s light to all the corners of this damned galaxy!’
Lord Commander Astinon Dras, general of the Corvians, glanced at his old friend, a friend he had thought long gone, and whom he had mourned in his grief for twelve long years, twelve years of self-chastisement and self-torture. To everyone around him, Astinon appeared remarkably changed from the defeated man whom he had been just a few moments prior, and they saw their old commander return in his bearing.
‘I need to see him myself Dalmor,’ he addressed the Salamander. ‘I must ask forgiveness for my sins, sins that I have committed against the Emperor and my own lord.’
‘Indeed, my brother,’ Dalmor smiled at his friend’s words. ‘He himself has asked to meet with you on Armageddon, the capital of his new Imperium. It is why I accompanied Collector Idel,’ he said, pointing at the scion of a long line of those who had once called themselves Rogue Traders.
Astinon looked at his hands, hands that hadn’t wielded a weapon in two years, and bunched them into fists, smashing them down on the arms of his throne. The sound reverberated across the entire bridge of the ancient vessel, the venerable battle-barge Montisgarre, once the fortress-monastery of the infamous Angels of Retribution.
‘I am done hiding,’ he spoke, with absolute conviction in his voice. ‘I am done running away from the bastard dogs that once were as dust beneath my ancestors’ feet. I once had honour and purpose. I was once loyal,’ he whispered.
The Corvians gathered closer and knelt together in fealty before him, acknowledging his authority as their Lord Commander. Dalmor stood where he was, full of pride at the warrior who stood before him, one who had been a broken shell of himself for the last twelve years.
‘We are the Corvians, the truest of all the sons of Kiavahr,’ he continued. ‘We once stood as a bulwark against all the enemies of mankind, from within and without, whether they be traitors most foul or aliens too horrible. And we shall be so once again. Once we were known as the Raven Guard, Raptors, Black Guard, Revilers, Angels of Retribution, Imperial Talons, Knights of the Raven, and by dozens of other names.’ No one interrupted and all listened raptly to his rousing words.
‘In those dark days, we were as islands to each other, like scattered sticks of wood. That is why the Imperium fell for we failed it utterly and completely. We were once the Angels of Death, His own vengeance that would strike all those who would oppose us, but we weren’t united.’ Astinon made eye contact with every single Corvian, even with Dalmor, before continuing.
‘But that changes, now!’ he shouted. ‘We have lived the last ten thousand years as scavengers and opportunists, mercenaries in all but name. This is the Age of Dusk for Mankind and in these terrible times we will rise again from the ashes of our defeat to take our due from this uncaring galaxy.’
Astinon drew his power sword from its scabbard and thrust it high into the air. The silvery-blue surface of the sword caught the light from the bio-lumes aboard the bridge and reflected it to create the illusion that the weapon was radiating an intense, near-blinding light.
‘We will live with honour, fight with honour and die with honour!’ he cried, his voice full of passion in a cause he had long thought he had forsaken but had now rediscovered. ‘FOR THE HONOUR OF CORAX!’
‘WE BRING RETRIBUTION AND DEATH TO OUR FOE!’
This is a question that has been bothering me for the last week quite a bit. Mostly in relation to what the chapter name Sons of Corax really means. Ages ago on warseer when someone was posting their own DIY chapter they had some sort of similar name for a different legion successor. One of the posters said it was quite presumptuous of the chapter to name itself after the primarch, somehow indicating that the particular chapter was more favored by the primarch.
Is that necessarily true?
We already have the Sons of Guilliman, Sons of Dorn, Hammers of Dorn, Angels Sanguine, Disciples of Caliban, Heralds of Ultramar, Emperor’s XYZ, Imperial ABC, Knights of the Raven, other Sons of PQR etc etc. What are the significances of these names? The Heralds of Ultramar aren’t even based anywhere in Ultramar! The Sons of Orar aren’t even Orar’s sons in the sense that the Sons of Guilliman are literally sons of Guilliman! Did Dorn ever really carry a thunderhammer (how does the Fist of Dorn fit in here when the Imperial Fists are the ones using it)? Or the Emperor’s XYZ (loyalist) chapters who have been created after the Emperor ascended the Golden Throne and isn’t even aware of them? Are the Imperial ABC chapters really favoured by the Imperium?
Where does the favoritism being and where does it end? Is there really a question of these chapters being favored as indicated by the names of these chapters?
Two other aspects of the question are A, what is the power of these names and B, what is the real significance of these names? Let’s take it one by one.
A, The Power of Names – Fiction is quite literally littered with references and cases to/of the idea that names have power. These are reminiscent of some of the oldest religions on our planet. Knowing the name of a daemon gives you power over him is a concept particularly emphasised in both Warhammer worlds and in 40K we have the new background stating that the names of Grey Knights are parts of the true names of daemons! It is all the same as knowing the true identity of a spy, which allows you to exert power over him/her.
Why else do Inquisitors in 40k operate in subterfuge, particular examples being Eisenhorn and Ravenor. They don’t think twice about falsifying identities.
In Frank Herbert’s Dune series, the name Muad’Dib is a name of power, a killing name that the Fremen soldiers can use to literally kill their enemies with the aid of their sonic weapons.
Perhaps the Alpha Legion, at least pre-Heresy, exemplified this best of all. All Alpha Legionnaires are Alpharius when questioned in the book Legion. The identity of the primarch is hidden from anyone not of the Twentieth Legion and there is even a bigger secret being kept here.
What is the power of a name in Warhammer 40,000 in your opinion?
B, The Real Significance of Names – If names have power, then they also have a significance, a deeper meaning perhaps.
What does the name Blood Angels mean for that chapter? The chapter often has angelic names for its battle-brothers. The space marines were/are the Emperor’s Angels of Death. Sanguinius was raised in the Baalite tribe ‘Blood’. Post-heresy the Blood Angels and their successors have been cursed with a vampiric heritage and the Red Thirst.
Ultramarines, is it significant only in that Guilliman’s space marines come from Ultramar, or is the significance related to the colour of their name or is it a clever pun on both?
Space Wolves, are they really wolves in space because they have larger canines than is the norm among other marines, or is it a reference to Leman Russ’ upbringing, or is it related to the Wulfen curse, or is it another clever twist on all of them?
Alpha Legion, the last legion to be formed and yet designated in an old dead (in-universe) language as the first. Alpharius, the last primarch to be found yet his name has one (of course there are multiple meanings) meaning of the first. His twin’s name, Omegon, in that same dead language is the last letter of the alphabet.
Among the Raven Guard, a lot of their captains are named after birds, just as Corax is. And they are plays on similar words. Korvydae of the Tenth, Kayvaan Shrike of the Third, Corvane Valar of the Fifth. Go to wikipedia and do a search for the word Corax and see the results that come up.
Perhaps the most telling and important from an in-universe aspect is Horus, primarch of the most accomplished legion during the Heresy, the Warmaster of the Imperium, the Emperor’s most favored son, foremost among all the primarchs. And the one who plunged the entire galaxy into never-ending war. Horus, in egyptian mythology, is one of the oldest and most significant gods. What came to be known during the Heresy as the Eye of Horus, and was previously the Eye of Terra, is an ancient egyptian symbol for protection, royal power and good health. What Horus the primarch did during the Heresy is known to everyone.
Where does this all end?
All of this is something that I’ve been thinking about in this last week. I was quite surprised when I found out that the Corvus Mellori is a species of the crow/raven family Corvidae about two weeks back. The protagonist of my short story is Valerius Mellor. I had accidentally come up with a name that tied my character to the primarch and legion his chapter is descended from. And yes, it was quite unintentional.
All this comes down to the collective fact that Black Library does not want its writers, particularly ones who are aiming to get published through them the first time (established writers might be getting some leeway), to invent new chapters. I can see where they are coming from because there is such a large number of canon chapters we known nothing about. Some of them exist as nothing but names, they have no livery, heraldry, home or any kind of backstory.
This put me in a real bind because even though Sons of Corax was a stopgap measure to name the Raven Guard successor, I have become quite attached to it. And now I have to change it. Mostly because using my own chapter name is quite a bit of risk and could potentially work against my pitch for the upcoming submissions window. And I really want to not have any negative points against the pitch, especially ones that are easily controllable by me.
So I am now changing the name of the chapter. I have a short list of 4 chapters from Lexicanum’s list of canon chapters. I am very undecided at the moment because each of them represent some aspect of the backstory I have created for the Sons of Corax and I am reluctant to just abandon any of it. I tried to roll for these 4 names (about 50 times mind you to get a nice average) but I was still unhappy.
You see, the name of the chapter matters a lot. It ties it to the primarch, to the original legion. The Sons of Corax have a rich history of having collaborated with the Raven Guard over the years and they have kept some legion practices alive in their original form. They are also quite close to Corax in a spiritual way from what I have envisioned. And the name should reflect the traditions they have inherited from the legion, even though they are Third Founding, and an aspect(s) of the primarch that they think is the most appropriate for the direction they want to go in.
Perhaps all of this is a little too much for just one short story that may not even get picked up. But I think that that is where the difference lies. The difference between a writer who is aiming for quality and one who is just doing it because he/she wants to do it. I am not the best writer out there by any means. And the quality of the fanfic I regularly see on the good old Bolthole reminds me of that everyday and pushes me to perfect my own work that much more.
Its all about the effort you want to put in. And I believe that the more you can show that in the pitch, the better your (and my) chances of getting that foot in the door.
I have had three great critiques on my sample. They all attacked it in very different ways. Some did it from a background perspective. Some based on their own ideas on how things work in-universe. Some based on the technical aspects of the writing process. Some based on just pure logic from their own experiences. Combined, their review has resulted in quite a few changes to the sample in ways I had ignored because I wasn’t aware of the significance. Much thanks to Phalanx, Raziel and Narry for their help on this. Particularly Narry for his help with the names. And all the other Boltholers who helped in the entire process as well.
Not much done since I finished the short story sample for the BL submissions. Took a breather by working on the Hesperon Crusade.
Sent out the sample to a few Boltholers for critique and so far the response has been quite positive. Only a few simple things here and there to change. The biggest ‘mistake’ probably has to be confusing US English and British English together. Those damn OUs.
The Hesperon Crusade is finally taking shape. I’ve started writing about some of the conflicts that take place. Currently working on a system assault mission involving a significant Navy battlegroup, guardsmen, space marines and Sororitas. It’s going to be quite fun. Particularly the initial stages where the strike force has to capture a shipyard! Hah.
Other than, things have been quite. Except people complaining about the brand new Limited Edition hardback novella Promethean Sun. Entitlement is all fun and games to talk about but quite impractical. And no fun at taking potshots at the writer or the team or BL itself. They are all in a business. Money-making is one of their top objectives. So chill out people.
Oh and that artwork rocks. Although I am not sure about that Iron Snakes-ish logo on the left-most marine’s shoulder. Someone on warseer pointed it out, was surprised to see it there. Perhaps its an icon of the Promethean Cult?
Its all good fun.
The Sons of Corax gene-seed is derived from that of the Raven Guard and has similarly mutated over the millennia. Their skin and hair grow paler over time and turn white eventually while their eyes turn completely sea-green. They are also missing the Betcher’s Gland while their Neuroglottis and Lyman’s Ear have become especially sensitive. As such the gene-enhanced senses of the Sons of Corax are superior to their armor’s auto-senses and rival those of even the renowned Space Wolves.
The Sons of Corax hold to the belief that their gene-father Corax will one day return to lead all his sons in a final crusade against the hated Betrayers of Isstvan who nearly destroyed the XIXth Legion at the onset of the Horus Heresy. They are aware that Corax’s experiments failed because he possessed incomplete knowledge about both the cloning process and the gene-seed of the Astartes. Therefore they believe that he disappeared not to seek penance for his failed experiments with the Legion’s gene-seed but to seek knowledge that will perfect the process.
As such they revere their gene-seed all the more and have never sought to tamper with the genetic legacy of their Primarch. Their beliefs are known to none outside the Sons and the Raven Guard and these beliefs have sometimes caused friction between the two noble Chapters.
The Chapter venerates its Primarch Corax and the Lord of Mankind, the Emperor, above all others and like many other Chapters they view the Emperor not as a god but as the greatest and most powerful man to have ever lived. As Corax is descended from the Emperor, the Sons are descended from Corax himself and save the Emperor there is no other man they hold in higher regard. The Chapter has immortalized the Primarch of the XIXth Legiones Astartes by naming itself after him and it is one of the many ways in which they display their affection for him.
The Sons of Corax have earned the right to a homeworld many times over but all the High Commanders over the millennia have never accepted the offer, preferring to continue in the tradition of Taimon Naskius and the first battle-brothers of the Chapter. The warships of the chapter are the only homes that the Sons of Corax acknowledge, returning to the worlds of their birth only during recruiting missions to conduct their search for new warriors.
As a fleet-based Chapter, the Sons of Corax possess a considerable fleet of warships and possess three battle-barges (Montisgarre, Spear of Lycaeus, and Avalerion) as well as six strike cruisers (Crusader, Chevalier, Ravenna, Talon, Raven’s Fury and Wrath of Redemption). Additionally the Chapter possesses the forge-ship Raven Song and several escort squadrons of frigates and destroyers. Each of these warships serve as the home of one of the Companies of the Chapter, which are often referred to as the Fleet Companies.
The Montisgarre serves as the chapter’s fortress-monastery and has done so ever since the first days of its founding. It is a warship that saw service with the expeditionary fleets of the XIXth Legiones Astartes for a hundred and eighty years. However it was retired to Deliverance just before the onset of the Horus Heresy because of severe damage in its last engagement. It was repurposed as a training vessel and formed part of the system fleet. When the Sons of Corax were formed in the Third Founding it was gifted to the new chapter as part of the Raven Guard contribution of war supplies.
With the necessities of their nature as a crusading chapter and their growing numbers, the Sons were quickly able to collect a sizable fleet of warships and escorts. Eventually the Adeptus Mechanicus was able to supply the chapter with a proper fleet that served their purposes and replaced their casualties. The Kiavhari Wisdom, a modified Lunar-class cruiser, was once a part of the chapter fleet and assigned to the Fourth Company. The warship served for fourteen hundred years and had an honour roll including such victories as the Adenari Campaign of 205.M33. Eventually the Kiavhari Wisdom was destroyed in a Word Bearers ambush in mid-M34 during the War of Faith in the Sarosa subsector.
Each Company is responsible for its own recruitment and the training of its recruits who are drawn from all over the Tempestus Segmentum from the worlds visited by the Fleet-Companies of the Chapter. All potential Chaplains, Librarians and Apothecaries are sent to the Montisgarre while those neophytes who display technical aptitude are sent to the forge-ship Raven Song to serve under the Chapter’s Master of the Forge. As some battle-brothers have been known to have displayed psychic potential far past their time as a novice Scout, all battle-brothers of the Chapter are regularly screened by their Company Librarians and those who show such abilities are then sent to the Montisgarre.
The Chapter symbol of the Sons of Corax is a golden raven clutching a black spear and is displayed on the left shoulder pad. The Chapter’s colour scheme is blue armour with orange kneepads, boots, chest eagle and backpack. Veterans are differentiated by their white helmets while officers wear white helmets with gold stripes.
While squad designations are never displayed, company colour is displayed as shoulder pad trims while the Company badge is displayed on the right shoulder pad:
- 1st Company – Colour: Silver, Badge: Silver Raven/White Spear/Black Background.
- 2nd Company – Colour: Yellow, Badge: Yellow Raven/Black Spear/White Background.
- 3rd Company – Colour: Red, Badge: Red Raven/White Spear/Black Background.
- 4th Company – Colour: Green, Badge: Green Raven/Black Spear/White Background.
- 5th Company – Colour: Black, Badge: Black Raven/White Spear/Black Background.
- 6th Company – Colour: Orange, Badge: Orange Raven/Black Spear/White Background.
- 7th Company – Colour: Purple, Badge: Purple Raven/White Spear/Black Background.
- 8th Company – Colour: Grey, Badge: Grey Raven/Black Spear/White Background.
- 9th Company – Colour: Blue, Badge: Blue Raven/White Spear/Black Background.
Organization and Doctrine
The Sons of Corax have modified the teachings of the Codex Astartes to suit their own needs and to fit their role as a fleet-based crusading chapter. Company captains are referred to as Commanders as they have responsibility not only for the battle-brothers of their company but also have flag command of a particular ship and its attendant escorts of the chapter fleet. The chapter also maintains a large number of Thunderhawk gunships, Caestus assault rams and drop pods. With all the resources at their disposal, each company Commander is able to act autonomously for long periods when needed. Consequently, the fleet-companies of the chapter rarely come together as one, unless it is by the writ of the High Commander for a major campaign.
As one of the oldest chapters, the Sons are able to field sufficient quantities of the rarest arms, armour and vehicles meant for Astartes. All veterans are able to go to war in the revered suits of Terminator armour and several rare and advanced Land Raider variants like the Achilles, Prometheus and Ares. The Sons also maintain more Dreadnoughts than many other chapters combined, evidence of their close relationship to the Adeptus Mechanicus. Consequently, the Sons’ Techmarines are some of the most experienced and skilled of their calling.
The Sons of Corax trace their origins to the Primarch of the XIXth Legion and they remain dedicated and committed to his teachings. They place great emphasis on infiltration missions and swift lightning strikes. Scouts are used to identify enemy locations and harass the enemy troops. Terminators and Veterans then deep strike via teleport homers and locator beacons planted by the Scouts while other troops engage the main enemy strength and move into position. The Sons rely on fast moving troops like Assault marines and battle-brothers on bikes and Land Speeders almost as much as other Chapters rely on their Tactical marines. Devastators and Tactical marines are afterwards deployed via Thunderhawk or Drop-pod after which the Thunderhawks are used in a support role to achieve air superiority as soon as possible. However, with their assault-dependent tactics, the Sons field few Devastator squads.
The officers of the Chapter prefer to use lightning claws as their chosen armament and the Chapter possesses several sets of these weapons, thanks to their forge-ship, the Raven Song. The Chapter Master bears the Claws of Corax, a pair of master-crafted lightning claws forged in the time of Corax by Master-Magos Bachbergens of the Mechanicus for the Primarch himself. The Claws were instead bestowed by the Primarch to the Raven Guard First Captain and then later gifted to the first High Commander of the Sons of Corax by the Raven Guard Chapter Master at the time.
The Sons of Corax maintain a fighting strength of nine companies instead of the Codex-approved ten. These nine fleet-companies, as they are sometimes known, also do not fall into the typical categorization of Veteran, Battle, Reserve or Scout companies.
The First Company contains the highest concentration of the Chapter’s Veterans, six entire squads, as well as two full squads of the most experienced Scouts. The Company’s Scouts are often deployed as a vanguard force that allows the Terminator squads to strike with precision at the heart of the enemy’s force.
The Second through Fifth Battle-Companies are completely autonomous and self-sustaining forces in their own right. Each of these mainline Companies is able to field two combat squads of Veterans, six squads of Tactical Marines, three squads of Assault marines and two squads of Devastators and Scouts alike at full operational strength.
The Sixth through Ninth Companies are not just Reserve Companies but are nearly as powerful as a Codex Battle-Company. The Sixth and Seventh Companies can field five squads of Tactical marines, two and half squads of Assault marines and a squad and half of Devastators. While the Eighth and Ninth Companies are organized along the same lines, the Eighth replaces its Devastators with Assault Marines and the Ninth replaces its Assault Marines with Devastators.
Chapter records state that the first Astartes to bear the name Sons of Corax once belonged to the Raven Guard Third and Eighth companies that were still struggling to recoup their losses following the Horus Heresy. Captain Taimon Naskius of the Raven Guard Eighth was chosen by his Chapter Master to lead the newly formed Sons of Corax and continue to protect Humanity. In the age of the Imperium’s rebirth from the ashes of its devastating civil war, Space Marine forces were needed more than ever. Several new chapters were sanctioned for the Third Founding and they took part in some of the bloodiest battles in Imperial history. Captain Naskius took the title of High Commander, a former legion rank often bestowed by the Primarch Corax upon the most preeminent fleet captain. The Sons of Corax were gifted with the battle-barge Montisgarre, a warship of the Great Crusade that had served since the Heresy as a training vessel in the Deliverance system.
High Commander Naskius established the Sons as a crusading chapter and chose the Tempestus Segmentum as his eternal warzone. In the early years of their founding the Sons worked frequently alongside their predecessors the Raven Guard and several newly commissioned Imperial Guard regiments. The Sons established cooperative pacts with many of these regiments and cemented their ties to Raven Guard. Over the years the Sons have exchanged many battle honours with their allies and the Vault of Conquest aboard Montisgarre is home to the battle standards commemorating their victories. They have earned recognition across the entirety of the Segmentum for their dedication and loyalty as well as their relentless persecution of all enemies of the Imperium.
Yet for all their nobility and their glorious battle record they have had their moments of ill-repute and campaigns that have failed. During the Frannos Heresy of 119.M37 the Chapter slaughtered hundreds of thousands of civilians of Orlin IV in order to capture the traitorous Cardinal Frannos. The Ordo Hereticus demanded custody of the prisoner but the Sons refused and executed the Cardinal publicly, an act of defiance that earned them bitter enemies amongst the Ordo. This and other incidents have created mutual distrust between the Ordo and the Chapter and the Sons have ever avoided Inquisitorial control. Given the political connections cultivated by the Chapter, the Ordo Hereticus has avoided open confrontations, preferring to work covertly.
In 533.M39 the chapter participated in an Imperial campaign to drive out the forces of Chaos in the Becoun subsector and reclaim it in the name of the Emperor. However, incompetent leadership and political infighting doomed the campaign from the start with initial victories overshadowed by one disastrous defeat after another. The 8th and 9th companies who had taken part in the campaign suffered crippling casualties and were forced to withdraw three years later lest they be wiped out completely. Over a hundred and fifty battle-brothers had been lost and it took the chapter nearly seven decades to bring both companies back to full strength.
Over the millennia, the Sons of Corax have fought a great many different foes but of all of them they prefer most to fight the renegades and traitors of the Chaos Space Marines. The Chapter nurses a particular hatred for the Betrayers of Isstvan, the Traitor Legions of the Iron Warriors, Alpha Legion, Night Lords and the Word Bearers. The Sons have brought many of their enemies’ followers to justice and their fury when dealing with these accursed followers of Chaos is unmatched.