The Charnel Warhawks are a newly founded fleet-based loyalist chapter of Primaris Space Marines. Their specialty is rooting out cults, be them Chaos, Genestealer or some other variant. This has led to close ties with the Ordo Hereticus, who value their ability to protect mankind from itself. Given the urban locale of many cults, the Charnel Warhawks have become brutally efficient at urban warfare. This has gradually grown to resemble guerrilla tactics, preferring to deploy a multitude of small, autonomous units each with specific objectives, not dissimilar to Deathwatch kill-teams.
The Graveshead Cult
Whilst documents containing the exact events surrounding the Charnel Warhawks' founding have sealed by the Inquisition, the general circumstances are known. In short, Umbran Ero, 6th Captain of the Dark Hunters, and part of his company were requisitioned by the Ordo Hereticus. Captain Ero was subsequently briefed of rumours which had reached the ears of the Ordo Hereticus, that a Chaos cult had successfully infiltrated Graveshead's infrastructure. A contingent of Dark Hunters was then ordered to quietly make planetfall and await further instruction. Meanwhile the Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor, Gabriella Orpha, investigated the rumours. Initially she found little evidence of corruption - least of all within the planet's infrastructure. However, she was made aware by the planetary governor of a wave of terrorist attacks against the Graveshead PDF. Gabriella, assuming these attacks were engineered by the Chaos cults she sought, quickly tracked down the terrorist organization known as 'The Ebbing Light'.
The Graveshead Resistance
Soon thereafter Gabriella, flanked by Captain Ero and his Dark Hunters, marched on the terrorist headquarters only to discover it besieged by hundreds of Graveshead PDF guardsmen. Unexpectedly, it was the Graveshead PDF who panicked at the Dark Hunters' approach, opening fire into their unsuspecting ranks. Gabriella Orpha was hit by las-fire and fell, wounded at the feet of Captain Ero. Captain Ero scooped up the Inquisitor and got her into a nearby building. Unable to contend with the hail of las-fire which befell them, the Dark Hunters scrambled to follow Captain Ero into the nearby buildings. Only a handful succeeded. Realising that the Graveshead PDF, and likely the planetary governor, had been tainted by Chaos, the remaining few held their position in the building, protecting the wounded Inquisitor to the best of their ability. Nevertheless, one by one the remaining Dark Hunters began to fall. A shockwave permeated the building as the wall at the rear of the building was blown out. A man beckoned the Dark Hunters to fall back through the newly opened exit. Carrying the Inquisitor, Captain Ero, his Dark Hunters, and now the newcomer made a tactical retreat, repelling the PDF where necessary, until they reached the sewers. The newcomer introduced himself as Nathaniel Amon, the appointed leader of 'The Ebbing Light'. Nathaniel explained that his organization, consisting of those who knew of the corruption permeating Graveshead's infrastructure, had been fighting the traitor guard for years. However, only 2000 members remained after the seige - they were losing. Hearing that the Dark Hunters' ship was facing resistance Inquisitor Orpha ordered the withdrawal of the remaining Space Marines. Thankful, Inquisitor Orpha also allowed the 2000 members of 'The Ebbing Light' to return to the Dark Hunters' ship, deeming them free of corruption. Facing down an amassed traitorous Graveshead Imperial fleet as well as planetary defenses, the Dark Hunters were forced to flee the system, Inquisitor Orpha and the members of the Ebbing Light in tow. Soon thereafter Graveshead was among the planets to be engulfed by the Cicatrix Maledictum and is currently believed to be destroyed.
Inquisitor Orpha later made requests that the remaining members of 'The Ebbing Light' be made use of. She deemed their faith and determination against impossible odds to be invaluable. It was decided that viable members of 'The Ebbing Light' would be granted the opportunity to form a new chapter consisting entirely of Primaris Space Marines under the guidance of Captain Umbran Ero of the Dark Hunters, the Charnel Warhawks. The name of Nathaniel Amon's organization, 'The Ebbing Light', was later repurposed as the name of the Chapter flagship. Sadly, in the tumultuousness of the beginning of the 42nd Millennium, it was not long before the Charnel Warhawks suffered many casualties in the wake of the 13th Black Crusade. Chapter Master Ero soon died along with the rest of the Dark Hunters who became Charnel Warhawks, leaving only 167 of the original 321 Graveshead-born members of the chapter who successfully underwent the transition from mortal to Primaris Space Marine. The Charnel Warhawks are attempting to find new recruits but being a fleet-based chapter who have been assigned to cult eradication on Imperium-controlled planets on the Great Rift they rarely come into contact with worthy candidates making the process slow. For this reason each and every Primaris Space Marine is a precious resource the Charnel Warhawks would rather not spend.
The Charnel Warhawks' primogenitor is confirmed to be Jaghatai Khan. However, whilst they may have retained the Warhawk's hunter's instinct (albeit a unique variation), they do not retain many White Scar traits. They tend to prefer the use of Rhino APCs rather than bikes and have a strikingly dour personality on account of the circumstances of the Chapter's birth. Similarly, they have not inherited the Dark Hunters' distrust of technology, gladly engaging with the Adeptus Mechanicus when necessary.
Unlike the majority of White Scars successors, the Charnel Warhawks suffer from two flaws in their gene-seed. The first of which is with the Charnel Warhawks' Belisarian Furnace (The Revitaliser), the organ which connects the dual hearts of Primaris Space Marines that allows for rapid regeneration in extreme circumstances. In Charnel Warhawks, the Belisarian Furnace does not respond to extreme stress or physical trauma as intended. The second flaw is with the Sus-an Membrane (The Hibernator), the organ which would typically allow a Space Marine to enter hibernation in the event of extreme physical trauma. For the Charnel Warhawks, the Sus-an Membrane does not activate as an automatic reaction to trauma. In other words, Charnel Warhawks must endure mortal wounds while conscious and are unable to rapidly regenerate from such wounds. As a result of these flaws in conjunction with their time as a rebel militia, the Charnel Warhawks tend to be protective of their kin, often fighting to protect their wounded brethren. It should be noted that, unlike the Belesarian Furnace, the Charnel Warhawks' Sus-an Membrane does still partially function, allowing them to enter hibernation at will. However, to do so after suffering grievous wounds is difficult to master and takes years of training.
Being freshly founded and yet to claim a homeworld of their own following the loss of Graveshead, the Charnel Warhawks do not yet have enough Primaris Space Marines to become fully codex compliant. There is only a single company consisting currently of 150 Primaris Space Marines. The remaining 17 members of the Chapter fill various roles in the Honour Guard, Apothecarion, Reclusiam, Armoury, and Librarium. To be specific, there are two Honour Guard (who act as surrogate Captains), six Apothecaries and a Master of the Apothecarion, one Chaplain, two Techmarines and a Master of the Forge, and three Epistolaries and a Chief Librarian.
Apothecaries and Librarians are noticeably overrepresented in the Charnel Warhawks. The former is due to the dual role Apothecaries play as both medics and torturers, extracting gene-seed from fallen comrades and information from captured cultists. The overrepresentation of Librarians has also benefited the Charnel Warhawks' information gathering, with Telepathy being one of the two dominant disciplines within the chapter (along with Telekinesis). However, the cause for the increased number of Marines manifesting as psykers is not known. Some puritanical Inquisitors posit that the Chapter's origins on a corrupted world which was subsequently engulfed by the Cicatrix Maledictum has corrupted them, and that Inquisitor Gabriella Orpha was a fool to use her authority to have them ascend to the newly developed Primaris Space Marines. However, these Inquisitors are in a minority when compared with the many Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors who deem the Charnel Warhawks an indispensable resource.
Interestingly, Nathaniel Amon, opting not to abandon his post as an Apothecary given the Chapter's limited resources, is simultaneously the Chapter Master of the Charnel Warhawks and one of its Apothecaries. Technically, this makes Alastair Vino, Master of the Apothecarion, the second most powerful member of the Chapter being as Nathaniel must answer to Alastair in his capacity as Apothecary. However, this is nothing more than a ceremonial idiosyncrasy. Alastair has no desire to lead the Chapter in any capacity and is beholden to Nathaniel, owing him a life debt from their time in the Graveshead resistance.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
The Charnel Warhawks are fairly unorthodox tactically, with their preference for small, independent kill teams over large fighting forces. But alongside these relatively innocuous tactical decisions are a set of sinister approaches to removing the cancer at the heart of the Imperium. Given their specialty, the Charnel Warhawks have been forced to adopt a series of less-than-savoury techniques. Almost all of their members carry small, crude instruments carved from bone and discarded metals. These tools are not intended as side arms, they would be of little use when compared with the rest of their wargear. These crude instruments are carried for two purposes: intimidation and torture. Successfully rooting out cults hinges on the gathering on intel, and those holding the intel are typically members of the cults they stalk. Unfortunately, cult members are typically zealous, protecting their demagogues until their last breath. The Charnel Warhawks, using their crude instruments, have learned to get even the most zealous cultist to reveal all. Their white gauntlets serve as a means of demoralization, the blood of the Emperor's enemies starkly contrasting with their pearlescent hands as they mete out the Emperor's justice.
Aligning with their pragmatic nature, the chapter's Librarians specialize in telekinesis. Of note, the chapter's Librarians have learned to manipulate their force weapons mentally, allowing them to project their force weapon of choice toward their foes using intricate hand movements, extending their weapon's reach and maneuverability. That being said, this ability has its limits. On average, force weapon manipulation only extends four or five feet before their telekinetic grip on the weapon weakens such that blows begin to glance off of all but the weakest armour. Furthermore, beyond seven or eight feet their grip on the weapon falters and will not return. Thus launching their force weapon as a projectile is reserved only for the direst situations.
In their service to the Ordo Hereticus, the Charnel Warhawks have begun adopting the Recongregator Inquisitorial philosophy. In short, the Recongregators believe the Imperium has stagnated, becoming a bed of corruption and decay. It is not too surprising this belief resonates with the Charnel Warhawks given their founding and specialization. Problematically, the Charnel Warhawks' growing adherence to this philosophy is resulting in an overstepping of bounds which has made them particularly unpopular with Imperial planetary elites. Initially, to the Charnel Warhawks, rooting out cults was a reward unto itself. However, it is becoming a popular belief within the chapter that they are only curing symptoms of the real problem: corrupt planetary governance. As a result, when pairing with Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors, as they often do, it is not uncommon for Nathaniel Amon and other high ranking members of the Charnel Warhawks to press the matter of supplanting planetary governors, claiming they are unfit for their post.
Notable Charnel Warhawks
The now Chapter Master of the Charnel Warhawks, Nathaniel Amon was the leader of the Ebbing Light resistance on Graveshead before it was engulfed by the Cicatrix Maledictum. A dour, stern, and unforgiving mortal, these traits have only been emphasized by his ascension to Primaris Space Marine. Being as the Charnel Warhawks consist almost entirely of Ebbing Light rebels, Nathaniel was quick to climb the ranks, already having earned the respect of his peers ten times over. Naturally, when Umbran Ero, formerly of the Dark Hunters and first Chapter Master of the Charnel Warhawks, died, Nathaniel was quickly elected as his successor. This was a fairly unorthodox transition being as Nathaniel had become one of the Chapter's first Apothecaries, calling on his surgical experience during his past life. Consequently, Nathaniel is both Chapter Master and Apothecary, still opting to bear the symbol of his prior office, his Narthecium.
The Charnel Warhawks wear deep maroon coloured Mk. X Power Armour with aged white arms and shoulder plates trimmed with gold. The aged white colour of their arms is to contrast with the blood of slain cultists as a method of intimidation. Their aquila or imperialis is gold. It is also worth noting that Charnel Warhawks are often shrouded in tattered brown or black robes, giving them an almost bloody spectral appearance as they dismember their foes.
The Charnel Warhawks Chapter badge is the silhouette of a swooping hawk atop a blood red moon. The extended talons of the swooping hawk are intended as a reminder of the Chapter's tendency to take cultists alive in order to extract information. The blood red moon is a reminder of Graveshead, where the billowing pollutants of manufactorums have dyed the moon red.
Other users are welcome to leave quotes about the Charnel Warhawks by characters of their own devising.
- "Death is coming on swift wings, but we will not make it quick."
- —Nathaniel Amon, Chapter Master of the Charnel Warhawks
- "Finally. I've been waiting for these guys to show up for centuries. At least this chapter is standing up to the hype."
- —Inquisitor Jacob Flux