Index Astartes: Red Talons
As if you knew anything of war, Inquisitor. As if you knew the true weight of the words that you use. Betrayal. Punishment. Censure.
What could they possibly mean to you – you who did not witness the days of Truth; you who did not wrest all upon which you stand from the claws of mad psyker-tyrants and geno-despots? We were raised from Terra’s dirt. We built this Imperium and we were forced to watch it burn, so do not speak to me as though you fathom the things that we saw, felt and ultimately did in order to ensure that another day would dawn for the rest of you.
Censure? There will be no censure. Only utter annihilation. I will not rest until their gene-seed is poisoned, their flesh despoiled, their keeps broken open and their monasteries plundered. So yes, Inquisitor, the Red Talons will march at the behest of the High Lords. We shall take to the stars again and we shall visit the wrath of an age gone-by upon this filth that names itself Partisan.
But I want you to know and understand one thing, Inquisitor.
In a war such as this one, there can be no capitulation. We will not accept any such offers. There will be no repatriation, no forgiveness, and least of all mercy. Those that have been found wanting in their duty shall be bled at the edge of the sword – until the ashen soil sups upon their very last.
[//Lord Autek Mor, The Maimed, Chapter Master of the Red Talons/+]
Warcry “Rend the Heavens and raise the Bloody Storm!”
Cognomen A reputation for volatility precedes this most uncompromising of Chapters; and their tireless pursuit of war ensures that their name is spoken widely across the Imperium. Their ferocious nature means that not all of their identities amongst other Imperial institutions are entirely complimentary. Amongst the more frequently-used sobriquets are the High Gothic renderings Unguis Rubrum and the Manus Irae. Amongst the Chapter themselves, the Red Talons frequently refer to themselves as the Clan Unbroken, or – as a mark of the esteem in which the battle brothers hold their Master – simply the Brethren of Mor.
Founding Second [+//021.M31/+]
Gene-Seed Conflated Generune markers: [+/Xferrus_m/+];[+//occultatum duodecim//]
Successor Chapters None recorded
Chapter Master Iron-Commander Autek Mor [//epithetval: TRUE: 'the Maimed', 'the Breaker of Lords' +endlist+/]
Homeworld Bound by eternal winter, with hives that break through the glacier-crust and hide sprawling industrial fanes beneath them, Raikan is a planet that confounds the bureaucrats of Terra with its tripartite nature as a Hiveworld, Deathworld and Forgeworld multum minoris. Set at the locus of several stable and well-explored warp-routes, it was adjudged the perfect homeworld for a chapter that looked ever outwards for threats and would thus inevitably roam in its active protection of its domains. Thus, the Adeptus Mechanicus, under then-Fabricator-General Zagreus Kane, would cede this world to the Red Talons after its liberation during the Great Scouring – a tactically sound decision, and one long-rumoured as an attempt to indebt another Chapter of the children of Ferrus.
Despite its inhospitable weather, the people of Raikan were numerous, shielded by the macro-thermic structures and void-shields that had been part of their hives since the world had been settled in the Dark Age of Technology. Ever a world focused on mining and industrial output, the Red Talons would find a suitable recruitment pool to draw from, as well as a present infrastructure that could be expanded to serve the chapter’s need for war-material. There the Red Talons would rule, as harsh taskmasters and exactors of flesh, steel and life.
Fortress Monastery Following the Red Talons’ exile from Medusa, the Iron Lord Autek Mor had insisted on leaving only once all of his clan’s assets had been extracted and loaded onto the Land Crawler Unguis Rubrum, the home of his clan, wrested from its erstwhile owners in a night of darkest bloodshed. The Iron Hands were loathe to separate from one of the mobile fortresses that, to this day, continue to serve the Iron Hands clans as miniature chapter-monasteries. While not popular with their chapter-progenitor, this demand might have been granted bloodlessly – though not with the alacrity Mor demanded. The Master of the new Chapter would not be deterred from his request, nor would he accept delay. This was their fortress, the vault of their clan-culture and history. What more, it was home. Only after four Iron Fathers had accepted Mor’s challenge to ritual combat – and each in turn had lost – that the remainder of the Iron Council would finally acquiesce to his demands.
That very crawler would eventually be deployed to Raikan’s frozen surface. There, the Unguis Rubrum would nestle itself into the high cliffs of the Shatterback mountains, pushing its gravitic anchors deep into the rock and burrowing into the stone until it resembled a fat, smoke-belching chrysalis fashioned from oily-black steel. Henceforth the crawler would rest there, known as the Arx Cineri – the citadel of ash – and provide the Red Talons with a final reminder of the Medusa that they had left behind.
Appearance The Red Talons’ heraldry is one of moderate simplicity. Arterial red armour is trimmed with sable and dotted with the occasional accent of brass or silver décor. The armorial eagle born on most chests is fashioned from pure Raikanii steel, and is oftentimes polished to a mirror sheen by its wearers.
Uniquely amongst the children of Ferrus, the Red Talons do not inscribe his name upon their plate, nor do they carry many signifiers of Medusan culture with themselves. Instead, there seems to be a greater abundance of pre-primarch icons that adorn their armour and vehicles such as the Raptora Imperialis, or the chequerboard patterns so common amongst the forces of the solar reclamation. In any case, the Red Talons regard their direct fealty to the Emperor of Mankind as the highest duty there is and proudly bear their ancestral history upon the red and black.
Disposition during the War of the False Primarch
Though establishing a concrete timeline of this bloodied conflict is most difficult in the extreme, it is believed by this historiographer that one of the first – if not possibly the first – conflicts between Partisan and Orthodox Astartes would happen between the Red Talons and the Riven Lords. Predating the official Contact Mark by some weeks, the conflict is believed to have occured just as the former had translated into Sector Heliopolis via the wilderness reaches of Wegerer Space, in the corewards reaches of the Sector. The chrono-dilatory effects of empyreal travel introduce a considerable margin of uncertainty; but the implaction of this report is that the Red Talons claimed first blood in the conflict – prior to official declarationem belli.
Upon translation, the Red Talon fleet would be confronted by the Arhunt’s Gavel, a barge belonging to the Riven Lords’ 10th Company. Though it is not clear as to why the Riven Lords would consider confronting the amassed Red Talons, what is now known is that the red-clad Astartes responded with immediate aggression and boarding actions. The battle would see two of the Red Talons’ ships destroyed beyond any hope of repair and a third placed out of action for the first quarter of the war – but it would also see the Riven Lords’ 10th company gutted and consigned to the plasmatic fires of a collapsing ship.
With one fell swoop, the Partisan Chapter’s future was extinguished. Though they had dealt a significant blow to the Red Talons, their own wounds were of a most grievous nature. Few, if any, chapters could suffer such a loss and survive protracted warfare without a most rigorous recruitment and indoctrination scheme. The Riven Lords would never be given such a chance, which would result in undertaking measures that are detailed in a separate missive.
It would not be the last time that the Red Talons and the Riven Lords would meet. Many a skirmish would pass and eventually the crimson-skinned fleet would come to darken the skies above Icathus. The Maimed had come, his Red Talon held high.
And when it sank, the Icathan moons would descend with it.
The Red Talons, for their part, had licked blood and were craving for more, but the Voivode
’s orders would see the Chapter deployed to the Moreau Subsector, with orders to fortify and secure the region. Resentfully splitting his fleet to secure the key systems of Cmit Black, Moreaumunda and Bastard's Teeth, Mor
took the bulk of the Talons to the forgeworld of Heliopolian
where the exchange of secrets and promises would grant them access to one of the world’s cold forge-fanes. Quickly, this would become their hub of action in the subsector. More and more of Heliopolian would be bent to the production of materiel for the Pentarchy to utilize – bolt-shells, charge-cells, even a selection of vehicles would be produced within its many chambers; much to the chagrin of the Fabricator-General, who had been applying quiet pressure to the region's Forgeworlds to remain studiedly neutral during the conflict.
Resentful of what Mor regarded as mere sentry duty, the Red Talons would nevertheless enact their orders with typical zeal, sending out numerous small forces to ‘pacify’ any extant pockets and forces of rebels within the broader Heliopolis sector. Such raids were enacted with utter disregard for potential survivors or impact upon the wider population of the galactic area.
Unwittingly, the Red Talons would come to be spoken of in the same breath as the Flesh Eaters and the Charnel Guard when it came to terror-tactics – which was later noted as contributing heavily to anti-Orthodoxy feelings amongst the civilised worlds of the Moreau Subsector and the nearby Myrean League. It was with relish that the Red Talons continued to expunge what they saw as filth with fire and blade – one genocide at a time.
Seeds of conflict
Besides their rivalry with the Riven Lords, the Red Talons grew increasingly impatient with the trio of Chapters that patrolled the Abraxas subsector; the Iron Guard, Storm Tyrants and Star Wardens. Regarding the three as vacillating in loyalty, the Red Talons would begin to squeeze supply lines, diverting , interdicting or seizing materiel pledged to the Iron Guard and Star Wardens; forcing the two Chapters to resentfully look elsewhere in order to avoid conflict with the Pentarchy.
A typical skirmish was the scouring of the Greenfayre Conveyor, a bulk transport hauling armour destined for the Star Wardens. In typically direct and brutal fashion, the Sons of Mor eliminated all souls aboard and seized the supplies under authority of the High Lords. Later in the conflict, the Greenfayre would be used as a fireship against the Jade Talons.
|[//Nolan Vortigurn, aboard the Greenfayre Conveyor+]|
Largely immune to such tactics were the Storm Tyrants, owing to their position as overseers and patrons of the Myrean League 'pocket empire', which was both self-sufficient and insular. The frustration of the Red Talons would find its outlet here, with the increasing tension proving all the excuses Autek Mor needed to declare the Storm Tyrants 'recidivists bordering on traitors', and leading an Extinction Fleet in the Invasion of Lemmas in order to degrade the Tyrants' influence and re-establish Ecclesiarchical dominance over the region. The conflict is recorded in more detail elsewhere.
Entrenchment and enforcement
Far from the insult that Mor took it as, Master Velghor of the Flesh Eaters – the Pentarchy's overall commander – saw the securing of Heliopolis as critical to overall success; and an honour. Alongside the Death Eagles II, the Red Talons were integral to the Orthodoxy's security in Heliopolis. As the Flesh Eater saw things, the 'Primarch' clearly had expansionist plans. The Red Talons and Death Eagles' work was essential to fortify the region for what Velghor saw as an inevitable drive into the Sector. With an abundance of fleet-based Chapters pledged to or sympathetic to the Partisan cause, the worlds of Heliopolis Sector were under the continual threat of invasion. While Master Enoch clearly had delusions of a great staged battle, during which the colossal Extinction Fleets would smite its foe in a grand sweep, the Masters of the Pentarchy agreed that the threat was far more likely to come in detail, with pocket squadrons of the Partisan Chapters and allies moving to bracket and capture isolated planets and systems, turning them to the False Primarch's side.
In direct opposition to their preferred method of waging war, the Red Talons reluctantly divided into small garrisons for much of the early years of the war, demi-companies or even individual squads heading up elements of the Extinction Fleets to enforce the Will of the High Lords over planetary populations. They thus frequently worked in close proximity to the Imperial Guard, Navy and Ecclesiarchical forces and directed the construction of earthworks, bunker complexes and defensive positions designed to stall or baffle Astartes attacks across the Sector. Patrols of Red Talons worked as enforcers, concentrating their resentment and anger against resistance or groups sympathetic to the Partisan cause.
As the war erupted in Morqub, the counter-invasion the Pentarchy had anticipated began, with squadrons of Partisan ships translating into Rimward systems and attacking. Here, at least, the Red Talons could put their skills to use; and their fleet was critically important in warding off such attacks. One such attack, in the Qos Terminal system, saw the Red Talons driving fireships (the Greenfayre Conveyor mongst them) into Partisan lines, their warp drives rigged to trigger remotely. This rift opened amongst mustering ships caused a number of Jade Talon Cruisers to be crippled, earning the Talons the enmity of this Chapter. This system would later prove a critcial route into the Sector, and one that was heavily fought-over. That the Red Talons drove off their jade namesakes at this point undoubtedly delayed the Partisans expansion markedly.
Of Talons and Hands
To speak of the Red Talons is to invariably speak of the Iron Hands, for their shared histories are mired in a sentiment rarely seen amongst successors and progenitors – mutual rejection. That the Red Talons were born almost exclusively of remnants of Clan Morragul in the wake of the Great Fratricide is a matter well known to imperial records; a chapter born of legion-rejects marred by transhuman post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as a violent and spiteful disposition far in excess of any other scion of Ferrus’ blood. It is no surprise then, that the Iron Council would summarily exile this one clan from the dark highlands of Medusa.
One would be forgiven for assuming that the Red Talons’ rejection of their chapter-progenitors was solely born out of their branding as a dumping ground for unstable legionaries, but extant records reveal this to be less an issue of treatment and more one of ideology. It has been noted at numerous times that the Red Talons – while certainly containing the office of Iron Father in their chapter structure – firmly reject the imposition of any overarching structure reminiscent of the Iron Hands’ prytanus ferrum. Pict-Captures extracted from several suits of Morragul power armour found adrift in the cold void above Adamantine II reference an open detestation for the then-coalescing council, particularly in relation to an incident referred to as 'the Betrayal of Meduson'.
That these recordings are related to the demise of Shadrak Meduson – one of, if not the most, prominent leaders of the disparate Shattered Legion forces – is assumed to be the case by any knowledgeable in the history of the Iron Hands. Yet how exactly this crypticism relates to the erstwhile legion praetor is difficult to discern – it is known that Meduson, some-time towards the tail end of the Horus Heresy, would finally be trapped by traitor-elements and executed for his assaults against the Arch Heretic’s supply lines. That Autek Mor – usually known for his abject rejection of his legion and gene-father at large – was a staunch sup-porter of Meduson, is also common knowledge, viewing him as somewhat of an equal in worth, if not sentiment. It is thus assumed that the former lord of Clan Morragul – and thus by extension his clan as well – place the blame for Meduson’s capture at the feet of the Iron Council.
Consigned as such history is to the leaden weight of seals and the maw of historiographic oblivion, we may likely never know the conclusive answer – but more obvious examples of this ideological cleft between the two chapters are known to the Ordo Astartes.
The Iron Hands – famed for their doctrine of extreme isolationism and self-reliance – makes no secret of their mechanized nature. There exists no Iron Hand that has not replaced at least 5.5% of its body-mass with cybernetics, with the chapter-average sitting closer to 42-47%. Much like the Machine Orthodoxy, the chapter believes in a mantra of self-augmentation for the purposes of overcoming the perceived frailty and fallibility of flesh, yet it also carries this belief further in proclaiming that leaving their emotional – that is to say hu-man – side unsuppressed is to invite the same doom that had befallen their father-progenitor Ferrus Manus. As such, anyone who has interacted with the Iron Hands will have made acquaintance with a particularly tight-lipped, cold and stern chapter.
The Red Talons, in contrast to their sibling-successor chapter of the Brazen Claws, have not adopted any such mantra following the 2nd founding. While cybernetic implantation is still very popular, it is more owed to the sheer convenience of permanent grafting, the quality of the Red Talons’ forge-fanes and the Xth gene-lineage’s inherent acceptance of such implants, rather than to any primarily cultural factor. The chapter encourages focus and discipline, yes, but it makes no secret of its aggressive and spiteful nature. Where the Iron Hands are merely taciturn, the Red Talons are outright abrasive and unwelcoming. It has, at times, even been said that recruiting from the people of Raikan has managed to introduce an element of dry and sardonic humour. In this acceptance and focusing of their own nature, so they believe, the Red Talons have found an independent identity much closer to what Ferrus would have desired for his children – unlike the Iron Hands, whom they view as strong, but ultimately of very brittle character.
Through the Crucible of Betrayal; Unto the Anvil of Spite
There are those that specialize in hunting the many breeds of vile xenos that rampage across the stars. Indeed, no finer men to hunt the vile orks than the Crimson Fists. Few I’d rather see at my side combating the Eldar than the Silver Skulls. Then, there are those that focus inwards – men given to imposing discipline and loyalty upon mortals and willing to dig their hands deep into the morass of those too weak to resist corruption. None better to stir the hearts of a population than the Ultramarines and the Blood Angels.
We are given to a different purpose. We hunt our own – those that ascended the highest and fell the furthest from His grace. Those that swore eternal loyalty and forfeited it for their own goals and delusions. The Red Talons will find them, for there is no place in this galaxy where they can hide from our black hatred.
[//Lord-Moritat Perkûn, Equerry to Autek Mor+/]
That the Legiones Astartes were created with war in mind is as obvious of a truth as can be – yet even such a purpose has warped and changed through the millennia. As many breeds of xenos as there are, there exists at least one chapter that specializes in combating a particular species, or at least shows great aptitude for it.
Yet the Horus Heresy would see the breed of Astartes pitted against a foe unlike any they had met before – their own kind. From the fires of this conflict a select few chapters would emerge displaying an aptitude in combatting space marines that would see them sepa-rated from their cousin-chapters: the Revilers, sons of Corax that, to this day, lead a shadow-war against the Alpha Legion; the Nemesis, masters of atomic warfare, that hound the Word Bearers at each turn.
Unique amongst them stand the Red Talons, who do not pick and choose their rivals amongst the traitors, but instead reach out and reave their bloody toll amongst all who they deem to be in dereliction of duty and tainted by heresy. This, indeed, is of little surprise when one considers the circumstances of the Red Talons’ inception as a force.
While it is true that shattered legion forces such as those belonging to Shadrak ‘Bloody’ Meduson were undoubtedly just as efficient, if not more so, in disturbing the trai-tors’ war-efforts, it must also be remarked that they did so through indirect warfare and de-struction of supply lines. The Red Talons – Clan Morragul at the time – rejected such guerrilla warfare as unworthy of their attention and instead opted for full-scale assaults upon worlds and clusters held by the traitor forces. The dark fates met by the Gethsamaine Colonus, the Grail Abyss, Saria Majoris, Bodt – only a select few names in a long list of horrid, total anni-hilation. It was during these campaigns that the Red Talons as we know them today would be forged. None would come close to their proficiency in anti-astartes warfare before the for-mation of the Pentarchy, and since then only a select few chapters such as the Minotaurs would be spoken of in the same breath as them.
Following the Great Fratricide, the Red Talons became a byname for slaughter. A fragment of the Imperium that would never forget the treason it had suffered – and would relish any chance it had to mete out its dark vengeance.
The Clan Unbroken
Dozens of steel bars can make up a single blade – but they must be refined, forged together until they form a singular entity. Patterns and weaves of the original ingots will remain, but their lines will have become blurred, their individual impurities excised under the unifying force of heat and hammer.
[//The Patterning of Uralic Steel, p273+]
The chapter – one might say surprisingly – mirrors its progenitor chapter in the adoption of the Codex Astartes as the main structural tenet during the reorganization of the 2nd founding. That the Red Talons do not, however, keep their companies as more independent, sub-clan institutions like the Iron Hands is a small ideological divergence that has little bearing for any outsider not invested in the two chapters’ shared histories. The Iron Hands were born of many clans, the Red Talons were wrought of a singular one – far as this historiographer is concerned, this is where that difference begins and ends.
What is curious, however, is the chapter’s notable divergence from the Codex Astartes when it comes to the deployment of forces. The Red Talons – like the Nemesis chapter and the Guardians of the Covenant – usually deploy in as large a formation as possible. Indeed, old war-records show that they more often than not deploy to warzones in full strength. This may very well be owed to the chapter’s history as a large and unified force that could not afford to shear off fragments of itself for the purposes of more flexible deployment. It may also be an adaptation to their favoured modus operandi, as wayward Astartes forces will usually not exceed the size of one to two companies in a single location, thus allowing the Red Talons to attack from a position of overwhelming power.
A visual consequence of this is that the Red Talons eschews displaying company-membership via the identifiers suggested in the Codex Astartes, instead opting to merely de-pict squad numeral overlaid on tactical markings. As far as other iconography goes, one will find that the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant and captain are marked via the vambrace-arrows and helmet stripes native to the strictures of the Principia Bellicosa.
Their forced division into small groups during the early part of the War of the False Primarch demonstrated that the Red Talons were ever-adaptable, and a vital part of the High Lords' successes.
'Praise the God-Emperor that the Talons are on our side. I pray still harder that he sends them away from here.'
[//Trooper Cilun Carn, Cinctram Planetary Defence Force+]