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The Shadow Talons are a 4th Founding Successor Chapter of the heroic Raven Guard, created sometime in the fifth century of the 32nd Millennium. Little is known about this Chapter in official Imperial records save that the Shadow Talons are known to be a reclusive and suspicious Chapter, who no longer trust other Space Marine Chapters not of their genetic lineage, nor the Imperial government, preferring to work alone and unobserved by all, save the foes of Mankind and the Emperor.
The Shadow Talons are a dark and mysterious Chapter that are not as well known as many other of their more renowned cousin Chapters. Primarily this is due to the fact that this Raven Guard Successor Chapter shuns accolades and recognition, preferring to fight their unseen shadow war against those myriad foes who would dare assail the worlds of the Emperor. Since their inception, the Shadow Talons have garnered a reputation as being both aloof and a reclusive chapter. Despite this reputation, they are highly active in the prosecution of the Emperor's wars, and are often deployed across the width and breadth of the galaxy in accordance to where they feel their presence is warranted the most.
This rare Raven Guard Successor Chapter was created in the wake of the dark times following the disastrous War of the Beast against the largest Ork WAAAGH! seen by the Imperium of Man since the time of the Great Crusade. Though the Imperium ultimately emerged victorious, it was a pyrrhic victory at best as they had sacrificed much, including severe losses amongst the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. The newly instilled Lord Commander of the Imperium decreed that the Imperium would raise as many new Chapters as they had gene-seed in the great vaults of Terra to sustain. All Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes were ordered to release a portion of their Veterans to provide the initial basis for this Founding, the greatest since the First Founding. Gene-seed tithing was doubled for the next standard century to replenish the vaults.
After several decades, they had raised enough gene-seed to provide for the initial inception of several Space Marine Chapters of what would become the 4th Founding. It was the intention of the High Lords of Terra to eventually create hundreds of Chapters to ring the Imperium in adamantium and ceramite instead of only dozens. These first Chapters were charged with helping to reestablish order to an Imperium rife with civil discourse and insurrection, and to restore the rule of Imperial law. The Chapters created during this Founding were brutal and ruthless in the extreme.
To help facilitate the creation of a new Successor Chapter, veteran warriors of the Raven Guard's 2nd Company were chosen to help form the initial cadre to help stand up the newly created Chapter. Their commander, the lauded and superbly-gifted Shade Captain Verys Summanus, was selected to lead the newly created Chapter. After much reflection and meditation the newly promoted Chapter Master Summanus received a vision of their lost Primarch Corax. When he finally emerged from his chambers, he told his command cadre that he had finally come to recognise the purpose and principles that they would endow upon their chapter. Summanus called them the Shadow Talons; for they would strike from the shadows and sow fear amongst the enemy against the backdrop of the chaos of battle. Utilising his formidable knowledge of stealth and sabotage to the fullest extent, Summanus and his command cadre trained their warriors to perform highly dangerous reconnaissance and guerilla missions deep behind enemy lines. Once trained to his satisfaction, Chapter Master Summanus despatched individual companies throughout the galaxy, wherever they were needed most. Without preamble, the Shadow Talons launched their unseen shadow war against the enemies of Mankind.
Sometime in the latter 600s.M32, rumours and unconfirmed reports soon began to circulate throughout the various Segmentae of unknown Adeptus Astartes units, clad in sable-and-white, carrying out targeted strikes, abductions and assassinations. The only evidence of their passing would be a mysterious sigil of a striking raven carved into the chests of their victims or burned into the blood-slicked walls by lascutter. These mysterious Astartes quickly earned a reputation as silent assassins who struck unseen from the shadows, killing pre-designated enemy leaders and ending many uprisings in their infancy, before they could become full-blown planetary insurrections. The fear these 'shadow killers' engendered throughout the various regions of the galaxy soon became quite palpable, as the mere rumour of their presence was often times enough to quell any sedition or heretical activities.
Throughout the next century, scattered and apocryphal reports of anomalous Adeptus Astartes activity came to light. These actions were uniformly tactical-scale operations, carried out far from the front lines of any major Imperial crusades or campaigns by small detached units, ranging between squad and company in size. The warriors who carried them out were doubtless transhuman in nature judging by their power, abilities and wargear, but their identity remained concealed. Through only a small number of obtained grainy pict-captures, these few rare images clearly showed an unidentified attacking force of Adeptus Astartes. These mysterious Space Marines carried little or no unit markings or heraldry, or in some cases bore unrecognised markings and iconography not in the official record. But always these dark clad Astartes left behind their foreboding sigil to mark their passing - a stark reminder to their foes that if they dared soil the Imperium with their foul presence, that they too, faced a brutal and bloody end at their hands.
Some sources posit a connection between these Astartes and certain shadowy events that occurred during the latter years of M32 that have never been satisfactorily explained by official records. Those Imperial worlds that were plagued with terrorist assaults, petty rebellions and the desperate plots of renegades and madmen, were quickly made into bloody, and oft times, brutal examples to serve as a dire warning to those who would dare renege on their sacred oaths to the Emperor or make truck with the Ruinous Powers.
Shadow Talons Revealed
Chapter Home World
The Shadow Talons are known to hail from the mysterious death world of Cymmeria located somewhere near the Halo Stars on the borders between the Segmentum Pacificus and the Segmentum Obscurus. There is little information on this obscure planet other than it was discovered sometime during the latter years of the Great Crusade by the 512th Expeditionary Fleet commanded by Shadow Captain Valdis Than of the Raven Guard Legion. With the outbreak of the galaxy-wide conflict known as the Horus Heresy, this backwater world was quickly forgotten about and eventually lost to most historical records. It is not known how the Shadow Talons became the caretakers of this long forgotten world, but it can be assumed it was bequeathed to them by their Progenitors during their inception. Since that time, the Shadow Talons have continuously remained quite deliberately vague in regards to their home world, as it is in their nature to be highly secretive and extremely wary of outsiders. The preservation of their Chapter home world is clearly a priority for the Shadow Talons, and discussions about it amongst fellow Battle-Brothers, even when not in the presence of outsiders, is considered strictly forbidden. Other Imperial forces who have fought alongside the Talons see them as a brooding and malign Chapter - describing the defences and security precautions taken by them even when dealing with supposed allies as obsessive bordering on the paranoid.
Specialist Ranks & Formations
- Dark Fury Assault Squads - The Dark Fury Assault Squads were utilised by the Raven Guard Legion to conduct focused decapitation strikes upon specific, pre-designated enemy leaders against the backdrop of the carnage of battle. The Shadow Talons have continued the traditions of these specialized squads within their ranks. Far from subtle assassins striking unseen from the shadows, the Dark Fury ascend into the very midst of the battlefield, equipped with vicious Lightning Claws fashioned after those carried by their Primarch Corax. These squads are often deployed from the holds of specialised transport vessels such as the Darkwing Pattern Storm Eagle Gunships or the open frame Whispercutters, leaping from great heights to descend upon silenced retro thrusters of their Jump Packs directly onto the heads of their unsuspecting target. Their squad leaders, known as the Choosers of the Slain for good reason, engage the target while the warriors cut down any retainers who dared attempt to intervene. The result of a successful decapitation strike causes utter confusion in the ranks of the foe, and the complete breakdown of the enemy's chain of command.
Many of the flaws of their predecessor Chapter continue to haunt the Shadow Talons. Like their Progenitors, the Battle-Brothers of the Shadow Talons Chapter gradually attain an ever paler skin tone as they age. After just a few standard centuries of service, some have skin that is very nearly translucent. At the same time, their hair colour darkens, so that the Chapter's Veterans are easily identified by their raven black hair and pale complexions. Again, like their genetic forebears, the Talons also lack a functional Mucranoid implant. However, they do have a fully functional Betcher's Gland. It is unclear if this organ was somehow recovered by the Shadow Talons or if their Founding occurred prior to the Raven Guard Chapter losing that organ from their standard array of Astartes organ implants.
Primarch's Curse: Lure of the Shadows
Like their Progenitors, the Shadow Talons also suffer from certain genetic deficiencies. The Shadow Talon's demeanour heavily reflects their combat doctrine. Generally reserved, Shadow Talons stay in the shadows until the right time to speak. When they do pitch in they tend to be very recalcitrant and terse, often condemning the more direct tactics of their fellow Chapters. As they become unstable, they begin to mimic the sullen nature of their Primarch before his mysterious disappearance. This usually occurs in three stages:
- Level 1 - The Battle-Brother is used to working in his small Raven Guard strike team, and finds the direct tactics used by other Chapters to be brutish and ineffective. When commanded into a direct attack that he finds foolhardy, the Battle-Brother is resistant, almost to the level of disobedience.
- Level 2 - Becoming increasingly intractable, the Battle-Brother is quiet and brooding. In mission briefings he stays in the shadows, only speaking when absolutely necessary. For example, the fellow members of a Deathwatch Kill-Team would feel uneasy around the moody Battle-Brother, tending to avoid him when possible.
- Level 3 - The Battle-Brother despises the tactics of his fellow Battle-Brothers, knowing that his more intelligent approach is the best way to victory.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
Like their parent Chapter, the Raven Guard, the Shadow Talons generally follows the dictates of the Codex Astartes, though there are a few differences in how it chooses to carry out tactical deployments. The Chapter specialises in guerrilla tactics behind enemy lines, using precisely coordinated attacks and refraining from frontal assaults or protracted attrition warfare.
As they prepare to engage their opponents, these Space Marines are always careful to identify all of their assets and utilise them to the fullest means possible. These often include assets that are not identified within the constraints of the Codex Astartes. Even when operating well within the strictures of that tome, these Battle-Brothers may choose to take measures that others might consider dishonourable.
This Chapter is known for hitting weak points in the enemy defences, performing lightning strikes upon locations of tactical importance, in order to cripple the enemy. The Chapter also relies heavily on their Scout Marines for pinpointing enemy positions and for reconnaissance to identify good drop sites for the rest of the Chapter's deployed forces.
Companies of the Shadows Talons and their captains are fiercely independent from one another and it is rare for the Chapter to deploy as a whole. Al the Shadow Talons companies often operate autonomously from one another. This behaviour leads some Imperial observers to question the tactical utility of the Chapter, but in fact this method of operation displays the extraordinary discipline of the Shadow Talon's captains and the trust that the Chapter places in them.
Even though Cymmeria is the Shadow Talons' home world, it is not the only planet from which they actively recruit. The Talons established the practice of recruiting on many worlds in the Halo Stars on the borders between the Segmentum Pacificus and the Segmentum Obscurus. The Chapter annually recruits from the surrounding system for potential Aspirants to bring back to Cymmeria and are forced to fight to the death to prove their worth. Those initiates who survive are then subjected to intensive hypno-conditioning and other harsh procedures designed to strip away any past loyalty, and replacing it with the will and attitudes of the Shadow Talons Chapter.
As masters of stealth, infiltration and sabotage, the Shadow Talons' Neophytes are trained by the finest Shadow Masters of the Chapter. Despite their transhuman-enhanced physiology and their cumbersome armour, they are taught to move with silence and invisibility, shifting from one pool of darkness to another within the shadows. This art of silent and stealthy movement particular to the Chapter is known as wraith-slipping. Shadow Talons' Neophytes are taught this art in the labyrinths of the fortress-monastery, The Raven's Eye. They learn how to muffle the noise they make, first with rags and packed earth, then with acoustic dampeners and pure skill at movement. They later use these techniques to baffle the sounds created by their own power armour, in what are known as the secret rites of silence, as every Shadow Talon must have mastered these abilities once they become full Initiates of the Chapter.
Each Talon warrior moves silently in his own way, and it is each warrior's understanding of the empty spaces between sounds that allows them to occupy them. Every Shadow Talon who practices the arts of wraith-slipping tests themselves, for without testing, the ability to wraith-slip begins to erode. Only by becoming one with the shadows can a warrior move through them without revealing himself. Only by being hunted can he reach that place within himself that allows the wraith-slip to become perfect camouflage. Such protection is not infallible, and no member of the Chapter is ever truly invisible, but veteran Shadow Talon Astartes, such as the Shadow Captains, possess such an affinity for the dark that they might as well be.
As a Chapter the Shadow Talons have a remarkably grim determination to survive, and one of the Chapter's hallmarks is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and respond swiftly to the fortunes (or misfortunes) of war. The Talons manifest the ability to change their tactics and withdraw to fight again where more prideful Chapters would perhaps chose to stand and die. The Talons value the art of concealment, and utilise secrecy and surprise as paramount weapons in their arsenal. As a result they have always cultivated in themselves an ability to see clearly through the fog of war and strike at the hidden heart of the enemy, where they can inflict the most damage and achieve their objectives.
The Chapter's Battle-Brothers are trained in a variety of ways that are remarkably inconsistent with most other Space Marine Chapters. Perhaps most critical of these changes is their attitude towards the Codex. The Shadow Talons consider the Codex Astartes to be a critical guide to strategy and tactics. They do not, however, consider that its words must be obeyed without question.
The Shadow Talons do not venerate the Emperor with the fervour or zeal of many other Astartes Chapters, viewing him as a distant figure, the master of the galaxy and the founder of the Imperium, but little more.
Notable Shadow Talons
- Shade Lord Phobetor Corvinus - Phobetor Corvinus is the current Shade Lord (Chapter Master) of the Shadow Talons Chapter. Corvinus is a fearsome, iron-hearted warrior with few equals. His honourific, the "Shadowdancer," is well founded. Blending in with the surrounding shadows, Corvinus remains unseen and unheard, until just the right moment. Then without warning, he strikes like a thunderbolt, his form a blur of motion as he carves his foes to bloody ruin with his pair of artificer-wrought lightning claws without hesitation or remorse before disappearing into the shadows once more. Little is known of the mysterious and shadowy Chapter Master of the Shadow Talons, save that he is rumoured to have been recruited from somewhere within the Ghoul Stars on a world called Nyx Primus, a savage and night-shrouded death world. His murder-honed skills as well as his innate skills in infiltration and 'wraith-slipping', saw him rise rapidly within the ranks of the Shadow Talons Chapter. Though Corvinus is hardly the most charismatic leader within the Shadow Talons' long history, his authority is absolute, and he remains a highly effective commander who is deeply respected by the Astartes who follow him.
- Marksman Combat Sight - As part of their exceptional marksman training, the Shadow Talons stationed in the Jericho Reach have developed a number of combat sights for use with their weapons, incorporating various aspects of standard Imperial sights but enhanced and improved by the skills of the Chapter's Techmarines. A Talons Battle-Brother may possess a Combat Sight specially developed for his own needs, one he will have trained with and adjusted to his own unique abilities. A Combat Sight has been specially configured for its user and will only grant its full effects to the Battle-Brother it was intended for, its size, shape, and focus matching that Battle-Brother's own physiology and marksman style.
The Chapter fleet of the Shadow Talons is known to contain the following starships:
- Lapis Corvus ("Stone Crow" - Unknown Class Battleship) - Flagship of the Shadow Talons' Fleet.
- Bellum Philo ("War Claw" - Battle-Barge) -
- Alas Mortem ("Wings of Death" - Battle-Barge) -
- Nigrum Praesidio ("Black Guard" - Battle-Barge) -
- Philos Regni Ira ("Claws of Wrath" - Grand Cruiser) -
- Tenebrae Aquila ("Dark Eagle" - Strike Cruiser) -
The Shadow Talons Chapter primarily wears black-coloured power armour with the trim of their shoulder pauldrons being painted a stark white colour. The open-faced white coloured squad specialty symbol on the right shoulder pauldron (Tatical, Devastator, Assault of Veteran) denotes which type of squad the Astartes serves in. A small white Gothic numeral on the inset of the right shoulder pauldron indicates squad number. Instead of utilising the Codex-proscribed colours or numerals that are commonly displayed on an individual battle-brother's power armour, the Shadow Talons instead display a unique heraldic device on the right poleyn (knee guard) or upper portion of the right greave which designates company number.
Some Shadow Talons' Force Commanders or high-ranking Veteran officers and Sergeants often have all-white shoulder pauldrons as well as helmets. Sometimes the entirety of the armour protecting their arms is painted all-white as well.
Shadow Talons Helm Markings
Helm markings are used to facilitate the quick identification of key individuals in the chain of command during the anarchy of war. They serve as vital back-up should more sophisticated power armour systems be rendered inoperative by battle damage.
The Shadow Talons' Chapter badge is a large stylised, white coloured raven centred on a field of black.
Almost from their inception, the Night Ravens formed a strong bond with their elder cousin Chapter, who admired their younger brethren for their tenacity and ability to persevere in the face of great adversity. The Night Ravens were one of several Chapters created during the mysterious and oft-maligned 21st Founding, the so-called 'Cursed Founding'. Shunned by many of their fellow Adeptus Astartes Chapters, due to the questionable auspices in which they were created, the Night Ravens were often forced to work unaided and alone. As Scions of Corax, this young Chapter found themselves well-suited to long-term isolation, as they often found themselves deployed deep behind enemy lines. Stalking the outer dark, the Night Ravens would launch swift surgical strikes without warning, catching their enemies unaware and utterly annihilating them in one fell swoop.
Utilising the inherent traits of their genetic lineage, the Night Ravens quickly forged a reputation for melding stealth and guile with vigilance, swiftness and adaptability. Unfortunately, like many Chapters created during this Founding, they too, developed unexpected genetic idiosyncrasies which almost saw their Chapter go extinct in the span of mere decades of existence. Despite their genetic curse, the Night Ravens have continued to stalk the darkness, bringing the light of the Emperor to the enemies of Mankind. Being of the same demeanour, these two brother Chapters of the Ravenlord have found it to be mutually beneficial to serve alongside the other, and on several occasions down the long millennia, have fought and died by each other's side in several notable campaigns. Taking vows of everlasting brotherhood, each haas sworn to answer the call to war, should the need arise - an oath both are more than willing to fulfill.
The Shadow Warriors are a brutal and fearsome 24th Founding Successor Chapter descended from the lineage of Corvus Corax. They are one of the few Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes that the Shadow Talons have willingly fought alongside. Both Chapters utilise similar combat doctrine - as masters of guerrilla warfare, both these Scions of the Ravenlord combine vicious assaults with cunning tactics. Exploiting their foe's most vulnerable points, they strike the enemy in a lightning assault, finally finishing them off with brutal efficiency. Though they have fought only on a handful occasions down the millennia, these ferocious Astartes have earned the respect of their elder cousins.
During their many sojourns across the galaxy, individual companies of Shadows Talons will deploy away from the main bulk of the Chapter, often times for decades or even centuries. Specialising in guerrilla warfare, the Shadow Talons primarily operate deep behind enemy lines in order to pinpoint key enemy positions and coordinate precisely timed lightning assaults. Performing such operations is a near suicidal prospect, at best, for most military forces of the Imperium. But for those Chapters that descend from the lineage of the Ravenlord, they seem to excel in such hazardous and deadly 'Zone Mortalis' environments. But for all their skills, fate is a fickle mistress, and the tide of battle can turn at a moment's notice. During such times, the Shadow Talons' extensive battle records have recorded the appearance of mysterious Astartes clad in sable and deep blue, appearing unbidden when all hope seemed lost, bringing forth retribution to the Imperium's foes, and then just as suddenly, vanishing back into the shadows.
There are many corroborated accounts down the millennia, of the intervention of these mysterious Astartes saving their fellow warriors from imminent disaster, and then vanishing once their bloody work is completed. For several centuries, the Shadow Talons did not know who these mysterious 'saviours' were. Their identity was only revealed through sheer happenstance, during the century-long Dimantine Crusades in the early centuries of M33. When the Dimantine Sector fell under the influence of the vile Plague God Nurgle and declared their independence from the Imperium, the High Lords of Terra were uncharacteristically quick to respond to the growing threat.
Several Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, renowned for their brutality, answered the call to arms when the Imperium launched a Crusade to retake the sector. The Shadow Talons were among these Chapters to answer the call, as were their elder cousins - the Void Ravens. The latter Chapter, which was usually taciturn and highly independent, in an uncharacteristic move openly worked alongside other military forces of the Imperium. They also shared their vital intelligence and data. Upon their first meeting, the Void Ravens introduced themselves to their fellow Scions of Corax, with a familiarity that the Shadow Talons, at first, found unsettling. But after conferring with their fellow Astartes in a private council of war, there was no doubt as to the identity of these sable and deep blue-clad Astartes. Grateful for their assistance over several centuries, the Shadow Talons agreed to fight alongside the Void Ravens, eager to prove to their elder kin of their fighting prowess.
Though they believed the sector was lost beyond hope, both Chapters fought for over century during the entire duration of the Crusade, despite suffering horrendous casualties. Thanks in no small part to the great assistance from the Void Ravens, the Imperial Crusade finally gained momentum. Both Scions of Corax Chapters saw the Crusade to its final, bloody conclusion, during the epic final battle on Arkidia Secundus. The Void Ravens earned great renown for themselves for their bold actions and tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds, earning the begrudging respect of the proud Shadow Talons. Since that long-ago campaign, they have come to regard the Void Ravens as bond-brothers, and will willingly answer the call to war should the occasion ever arise.
The Winds of Fury are a mysterious and aloof Raven Guard Successor Chapter created during the 23rd 'Sentinel' Founding. Highly proficient in the shadow arts of stealth and guerilla warfare, this Chapter is known for their fierce independence and refusal to work alongside other Imperial military forces, except for those who earn their respect. Surprisingly, the Shadow Talons are one of the few chapters that is viewed with great respect and is perfectly honored by the Winds of Fury. The Winds of Fury began to recognize this vaunted chapter during the Purging of Nwa'dar, which was fought against both the Bad Moonz Orks and Tau Forces of So'dar Sept. To venerate such allies, sometimes the officers of the Shadow Talons will visit the Winds of Fury's Chapter homeworld of Ryunkai. A Shadow Master of their Chapter will greet their honoured guests with a traditional silent ceremony and a gift of power katana. These two Chapters have formed bonds of brotherhood and everlasting friendship during several notable campaigns, and remain staunch allies of one another.
By the Shadow Talons
- "If this is my end, so be it! We should remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our fallen brethren."
- — Unknown Section Leader of the Dark Fury Assault Marines to an Imperial Guardsman
- "The art of war is simple enough. Seek out where your enemy is. Move swiftly to intercept him, strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on."
- — Phobetor Corvinus, Shade Lord of the Shadow Talons