Raven Blades Chapter
"Remember; even the Light casts a Shadow."
The Raven Blades were created during the Second Founding, shortly after the Horus Heresy and the Great Scouring.
During the Horus Heresy a Raven Guard Legionnaire named Aeris Falx became a noted hero. Before the Alpha Legion's infiltration and assault on the Raven Guard survivors of the Istvaan massacre Aeris Falx was a mere line Legionary, considered to have few prospects of leadership. However, during the Alpha Legion's surprise assault on Deliverance Aeris Falx personally slew six Alpha Legion infiltrators. For this action he was promoted to Sergeant by the Primarch Corax himself.
As the surviving Raven Guard took the fight to Horus' armies across the galaxy Aeris Falx demonstrated a flair for subterfuge, stealth and leadership that few who knew him would have thought possible. As his actions drew him more renown he was promoted through the ranks, eventually reaching the position Shadow-Captain. However, all was not well. His men adored him and would follow him to the very gates of hell, but his commanders, including Corax, viewed him with mistrust. His tactics were brutally clinical, displaying a lack of concern for the common humans of the Imperium.
Once the Heresy was over and the Great Scouring complete Aeris Falx was given a Successor Chapter to command. However, this honour was for appearances only. The newly founded Chapter contained all those Raven Guard who had fought besides and for Tristan Morn, as well as more that had earned the ire and distrust of their Primarch. Effectively banished from the Legion, this new Chapter sailed the stars looking for a home.
Aeris Falx and his followers believed themselves to be their Primarch's guilty secret, his blades in the dark; having performed his dirty work and effectively been banished for it. As such they named themselves the Raven Blades.
New Thespia was a thriving Imperial planet, having joined the Imperium in a bloodless and willing Compliance conducted by the Raven Guard. Under Corax's guidance and patronage New Thespia boomed, becoming wealthy and content. During the Horus Heresy the people of New Thespia eyed both sides warily and elected to remain neutral, refusing calls for aid from the beleaguered Imperium and ignoring demands for support from the Traitor Legions.
The newly formed Raven Blades emerged from the warp and saw New Thespia for what it was. Grown fat and lazy under the protection of the Imperium they refused to fight for their Emperor in his moment of need.
Without a word the Raven Blades began an orbital bombardment of the planet's major cities. Within hours the planet's infrastructure was destroyed and billions were slain. The Raven Blades followed this savagery with surgical strikes on what remained of the planet's command structure and government.
Days later the Raven Blade retreated back to their ships, leaving New Thespia's population reduced by 90%. They then turned their attention to New Thespia's only moon. This moon was arid and dead, devoid of any life and barely sustaining a primitive atmosphere. The Raven Blades settled here, building a fortress monastery and manning it with serfs taken from New Thespia. They named this moon Duty's Shadow.
By M33 New Thespia thrived again. The people of the world were industrious and diligent, never again forgetting their duty to the Imperium. From the ashes of their previous, decadent civilisation arose a perfect Imperial planet, forever watched over by the Raven Blades. The people of New Thespia would never dare invoke their wrath again.
New Thespia is now home to several Hive Cities and has a huge industrial output. The planet provides a huge quantity of Imperial Guardsmen, recruited from the savage gangs and underhivers that wage perpetual bloody war in the Hives.
The Raven Blades encourage dissent on New Thespia; their operatives forge pacts and commit assassinations in order to keep the rulers of New Thespia in a state of constant flux. This is to prevent laxity and lethargy amongst the ruling elite. Their meddling extends down to the low-caste gangs and guilds, encouraging them to continue their lives of bloody strife in order to keep up the supply of battle-hardened men for the Imperium's armies. Some chosen youths found and used during these actions are recruited into the Chapter. Others are recruited from missions on other worlds, all across the galaxy.
A youth who passes training and survives the genetic manipulation is inducted into the Chapter's Scout cadre. These Scouts are the Chapter's eyes and ears and are expected to excel at both battle and subterfuge.
The Raven Blades are far from a standard Codex Chapter. They are not organised into Companies as expected in the Codex Astartes.
Instead, the Chapter consists of roughly 100 squads, each acting with a large degree of autonomy and known as Claws. In addition to the Claws are vehicle crew, fleet crew, Scouts, Techmarines, Chaplains and Librarians. On top of the Claws are varying amounts of Scout units. These Scouts spend their time attached to differing Marine Claws, aiding them and learning from them.
It is rare for more than one Claw to see action alongside another; most Claws conduct their own operations on their own initiative unless ordered to do otherwise by Chapter command.
The Chapter is led by 11 Commanders, who plan every Chapter action to the smallest detail and oversee each Claw’s results. Of these 11 Commanders one is elected every decade by the others to lead the Chapter, they are known as the . They lead for this decade unless killed in action or they are voted out by the other Commanders.
All Marines throughout the Chapter are trained in all disciplines of Astartes warfare - every Tactical Marine is also expected to be able to wield heavy and assault weapons with consumate skill.
At all times, approximately 10 Claws, and supporting units are based on Duty’s Shadow to defend the Fortress Monastery and watch over New Thespia. This is an honourary position and those that bear it are known as the Dutiful.
As the Claws operate largely independently they are often unable to replenish casualties in a timely manner. A Claw will always replenish its casualties when its mission is over and it returns to Duty’s Shadow; however, if ever a Claw is reduced to one lone survivor their Claw is disbanded and a new one formed from scratch. The surviving Marine, now Clawless, is then judged by the Commanders. Those that are found wanting are punished, with the punishment’s severity depending on whether they are judged to have failed or not. Extreme failures result in execution, while minor failures are punished by the survivor’s induction into special ‘penal’ units. These penal units are referred to as ‘Carrion’ and are kept aside for frontal assaults and suicidal defensive actions. All Carrion Marines have their gauntlets and helms daubed in gleaming bronze. Survivors of the actions the Carrion undertake can, in extremely rare situations be promoted back to service with an understrength Claw if they had shown particular courage or skill in combat.
Those judged and found innocent of failure are instead inducted into the Chapter’s elite - known as the Scale-Keepers. Scale-Keeper units consist of veterans from many disbanded Claws and act as battlefield elites and bodyguards for Commanders taking the field.
The Raven Blades operate from the shadows. Infiltration, assassination and information gathering are their areas of expertise. They rarely engage in pitched battles, preferring to destroy their foes in a slower, more secretive fashion. When they do commit themselves to battle they carry their subtle skills with them; organising ambushes and utilising cover and camouflage to disrupt their foes as much as possible.
he Raven Blades never deploy to war via drop pod and rarely by planetary assault at all. Their drop pods remain, rusted yet imposing, on the world of New Thespia, standing as mute testament and warning of what happens to those who slack in their duty towards the Imperium.
Raven Blade forces are usually deployed in secret and in small groups. Each group tasked with its own set of missions and objectives, which may take years, or even decades, to complete.
Where possible the Raven Blades will arrange for other Imperial organisations to fight their battles. This can be done by manipulation, trickery, request and sometimes even threats.
he Raven Blades are a Chapter of many mysteries. They view the Imperium as a stagnant waste of potential, far from the ideal set by the Emperor. The Raven Blades believe that through great periods of change and anarchy greater strength arises. As such, their webs of deceit and subterfuge are often aimed at otherwise stable Imperial planets, in order to manipulate worlds they view as decadent and weak into becoming stronger. This is achieved by various means, commonly by encouraging civil dissent and the overthrow of ineffective planetary authorities, but sometimes by forcing planetary authorities into states of extreme paranoia in order to strengthen their grip.
Their view of the Imperium has caused them to be respected by certain groups within the Inquisition, mostly proponents of the Istvaanist doctrine. While the Raven Blades welcome Inquisitorial help they are careful to tread the thin line that separates Radical from Puritan.
The Raven Blades believe that all Imperial citizens must work towards the betterment of mankind. The Imperium is beset from all sides by enemies keen to see it destroyed and the human species exterminated; the Raven Blades believe it is their mission to ensure humanity fights back.
The Chapter are often accused of lacking the empathy of their Primogenitors the Raven Guard, who view them with thinly veiled disgust. The Raven Blades are not truly inhumane though; in their own view they simply believe that the betterment of mankind as a whole matters more than the lives of the few. Raven Blade actions are conducted with ruthless efficiency. Civilians in their way are slaughtered without mercy, but the Chapter is nothing if not clinical – excessive casualties are avoided if they add nothing to the mission.
If anything, the Raven Blades are more obsessed with shadows and secrets than their forebears. The belief preached by their Chaplains is that the Emperor and his Imperium are the righteous light of mankind’s future, radiant and glorious. But, all light creates shadows, and it is up to them to sacrifice their chance at embracing the Emperor’s light in order to police the shadows it casts.
Unknown to any except the Chapter’s commanders and the Scale-Keepers Aeris Falx was not what he seemed. His real name was Samel Scalekeeper and he was a highly regarded operative of the traitorous Alpha Legion. One of many Alpha Legionnaires tasked with the infiltration of the Raven Guard and the destruction / retrieval of their engineered geneseed he had, over time, come to love the Raven Guard more than his own Legion. When the time came to betray the Raven Guard Samel found he could not. He slew his fellow infiltrators when summoned by them and arranged his own death, fully taking on the alias and life of Tristan Morn.
During the Horus Heresy and Great Scouring Samel / Tristan utilised tactics and methods taught him by the Alpha Legion, gaining great success as a commander but earning the mistrust of his newly adopted Legion.
The Raven Blades number around 1,000 Marines, split into 100 Claws. However, records are kept extremely secret and there are no clear figures for the true size of the Chapter.