- "We live in His Imperium, and by His decree there is no room for Xenos in it! We must purge them all!"
- — Kelgerous the Grim, 1st Chapter Master of the Dark Talons
The Dark Talons were a Loyalist Chapter who are aggressive, mistrustful and, as is with their progenitors, employ bionics to a massive extent. They also abhored the psyker, seeing them as a weakness they cannot afford. The Chapter was also considered an oddity since they are a hybrid of a Fleet-Based Chapter and a Homeworld-Based Chapter, a relatively unique hybrid that sees the employment of a Homeworld as well as Crusade Fleets reminiscent of those used by the Black Templars.
Very little is known about the Chapter's Founding and training, but it is known that their gene-stock was taken from the Iron Hands, who also were responsible for their training as well as a number of their attitudes and characteristics. Their original purpose was also unknown, but their mistrustful and aggressive nature eventually led them to be stationed in the Eastern Fringe where their aggressive nature and bionic enhancements made them well-suited to fighting the hyper-aggressive strains of Xenos found there.
The Destroyers and Fall of Tellias Prime
In the earliest years on the Eastern Fringe, the first Homeworld was overrun by a hyper-aggressive strain of Xenos that was never officially identified or properly studied by the Imperium, but known to the Dark Talons as The Destroyers.
The Destroyers were a reptilian race that shared many traits with the Megarachnids such as biologically produced metallic substances which gave certain parts of their body extra resistance as well as afford a pair of their limbs (which for all intents and purposes served as their melee weapons) the ability to comfortably cut through most armour with the exception of Ceramite (the cutting of which The Destroyers had mild difficulty).
How The Destroyers achieved their interstellar capabilities remained a complete and utter mystery, but from the little that was recorded, it appeared that they used space-faring ships made of some bio-metallic compounds that were inexplicably capable of Faster-Than-Light travel.
The Destroyers conquered Tellias Prime as well as all of the Imperial worlds in that sector of space. Within a relatively short amount of time, the Dark Talons crusaded against The Destroyers with the help of several Astra Militarum regiments. Despite having the superior technology as well as superior numbers thanks to their human auxiliaries, the Dark Talons soon realised they could not win out against The Destroyers in conventional warfare. As a result, all the worlds that The Destroyers had inhabited and conquered were subject to a variety of types of Exterminatus, some planets remaining useful with such purposes as mining worlds with a limited artificial atmosphere while others were reduced to nothing more than asteroid fields orbiting their suns.
The human auxiliaries had been decimated to the point where, out of over a hundred and fifty regiments totaling over a million soldiers, there were less than ten regiments with a combined total of for just under thirty-seven thousand soldiers. As a reward for their extraordinary efforts during the campaign, the Dark Talons made arrangements for all the surviving men and women to settle in the Xentarius System.
As soon as practicality allowed after the arrangements for the soldiers were made, Xentarius IV became their new homeworld with their Fortress Monastery being rebuilt on the planet's moon. The ex-soldiers settled in the Hive World of the Xentarius System - Xentarius Prime - which also served as the system's capital planet.
Lost Brothers and the STC Machine
Some time during the 37th Millennium, the Dark Talons came across an empire consisting of twelve worlds found within three systems a stone's throw outside the reach of the Astronomican but still well within range of an unguided, random jump. The civilisation was human with some abhuman characteristics, the most predominant one being their greater than average height which put them at similar levels to the Astartes. They were, however, rather skinny and relatively weak for their size. The empire called themselves the 'Dionices Empire'.
The Dark Talons were initially met with skepticism and actions bordering on mild aggression, but the tensions were soon put at ease after several diplomatic meetings. To the Dark Talons' surprise, the Dionices Empire was just as advanced as the Imperium and, in a select few areas, were even more advanced. They soon discovered this was the result of an STC Machine that was still in their possession. The Dark Talons immediately alerted the Adeptus Mechanicus who promptly flew out a vast fleet to help secure and study the STC Machine.
However, within an alarmingly short time period after the arrival of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the system was attacked and subsequently overrun by a vast Chaos Force of unknown origin, the STC Machine ultimately powerless against the sheer weight and force of numbers that the Force of Chaos possessed. It was never confirmed where the Forces of Chaos came from, but it is suspected that there were a number of worlds well beyond the reach of the Astronomican that were less civilised and less resilient to the influences of the Ruinous Powers were corrupted where the taint of Chaos was allowed to spawn and prosper.
The Dark Talons and Adeptus Mechanicus, who were ill-prepared for such a war, were of relatively little help, with the Dioneces Empire were similarly incapable of fending off the invaders. The Dark Talons' forces eventually withdrew after suffering extensive losses, while the Adeptus Mechanicus fought to the very last man, woman and servitor, and with them fell the Dionices Empire.
In later years, the Dark Talons and the Adeptus Mechanicus made two more crusades into the depths of the systems once held by the Dionices Empire, but they never found the STC Machine and only ever found traces of the enemy that had driven them from the sector. Both the Dark Talons and the Adeptus Mechanicus came to believe that the STC Machine had been lost forever. Neither the Dark Talons and the Adeptus Mechanicus could explain the disappearance of the Chaos Forces, either, later coming to assume they had returned to their Tomb Worlds to slumber.
The Innovative Years
Following the retreat from the territories of the Dionices Empire, the Dark Talons had been able to make some technological innovations as a result of designs taken from the STC Machine before its presumed destruction. They managed to retrieve a number of designs that formed a generic 'picture' of current bionics. In this 'picture' these designs formed, there were a number of technologies that the Imperium was not aware of.
Over the next hundred or so Terran years, the Dark Talons and Adptus Mechnicus both made their own advancements base on this information, with improvements to the bionic technology being made. These innovations and discoveries were by no means 'big' innovations and discoveries, but they were enough to make noticeable improvements to the bionics that both Factions used. They also managed to develop new types of armour plating that could be used to protect bionic limbs. It would be another fifty Terran years before these improvements trickled through the system and found their way to the Dark Talons' parent Chapter, the Iron Hands.
Times of the Great Crusades
From late in the 37th Millennium onward, the Dark Talons embarked on a number of crusades as far as practicality would allow along the Eastern Fringe as they attempted to combat and destroy all Xenos races. On many occasions during the last century, they came across Necron Tomb Worlds and the systems the Necron Lords controlled. The Adeptus Mechanicus would often support the Dark Talons on their crusades, their history of collaboration and technological advancement playing a key role on their continued participation.
The Coming of the Tyranids
When the Tyranids came into the galaxy, they represented a threat that overshadowed all others. Between the years of 819.M41 and 835.M41, the Dark Talons had their first encounter with the Tyranids. Their dealings with both hyper-aggressive strains of Xenos as well as the numbers of the Necrons helped them greatly in this initial encounter. This prior experience was their only saving grace, with victory and the protection of an entire sector being won by the thinnest of margins. This war, later designated 'The War that Heralded Evil', took the lives of over four hundred Astartes from the Dark Talons and is one of the darkest wars in the Chapter's history.
In the years and wars that followed, the Dark Talons became very cautious, relying heavily on their Adeptus Mechanicus allies as their numbers were replenished. In 999.M41, their Chapter Master - Antonius Greyheart - led two companies including the Dark Talon's 1st Company in a crusade against the splinter the Hive Fleet Kraken alongside their Adeptus Mechnicus and Astra Militarum allies in the hopes of not only purging them but also preventing them from collapsing on the rear of the Dark Talons' 6th and 8th Companies who are concurrently fighting against an unnamed Necron Dynasty.
When the Great Rift formed, the Chapter was thrown into dire circumstances. The 6th and 8th Companies were wiped out after Daemons emerged on the planet they were fighting on. Fragmented Astropathic Communications suggested a horde headed by Bloodthirsters, but the exact nature of the Daemonic Incursion is unknown.Chapter Master Greyheart and a small portion of the 1st Company escaped the destruction that their brothers did not. By the time Antonius had made it through the overly-treacherous Warp, less than four hundred Astartes had made it to Xentarious IV.
Cut off from half of the Imperium while the rest could not be relied upon due to the chaos that ensued from the formation of the Great Rift, the Dark Talons were truly isolated...
Fallen Sons of The Gorgon
When Antonius realised that no more of his Chapter were likely to arrive at Xentarious IV, he began making defensive preparations. This - however - was doomed to fail before it started whether Antonius knew it or now. With the chaotic nature of the emerging Warp Rifts throughout the galaxy, micro-rifts formed on the surface of and above Xentarious IV with legions of daemons and heretics vomiting forth. Within hours the planet was swarming with daemons and - by the end of the second day - the remaining four hundred odd Astartes of the Chapter had been wiped out.
With such a swift and catastrophic defeat, the Dark Talons not only joined the Chapters that were unaccounted for, by they joined many other Chapters in extinction.
Fall of Tellias Prime [ < Unknown > ]
During the early days of the Dark Talons, they lost their first Homeworld Tallias Prime to the Xenos known only to them as The Destroyers, with the human auxiliary forces that aided them suffering losses on a scale that was equivalent to near-total annihilation.
The Fall of the Dionices Empire [ < Unknown > M37 ]
The Fall of the Dionices Empire was one of the most costly wars the Dark Talons ever fought. It was also the only time the Dark Talons ever came across an STC Machine.
The Crusade to the Edge of Darkness [ < Unknown > M39 ]
This crusade saw the Dark Talons enter a sector filled with a number of Maiden Worlds and Dead Worlds where the not only met with several Exodite Factions, but unintentionally woke a set of three Tomb Worlds that formed one of the smallest dynasties ever recorded. Many of the Maiden Worlds were saved with a few falling to the destructive powers Necrons before the Tomb Worlds and remaining Necron forces were destroyed. The Exodite Eldar, being desperate allies in a war that was now won, were all executed, their worlds resettled by Imperial citizens.
The War that Heralded Evil [ 819.M41 -- 835.M41 ]
This was the Dark Talons' first encounter with the Tyranids and one of the single most costly wars in terms of Astartes lives lost that the Dark Talons ever fought.
Fallen Sons of The Gorgon [ 999.M41 -- < Unknown > M42 ]
With the appearance of the Great Rift and the emergence of Daemons across the galaxy, many Astartes of the Chapter were caught unaware and killed. The four hundred remaining Astartes made a brief final stand on Xentarious IV that barely lasted two Terran days. This conflict saw the destruction of the Chapter, leaving them to history's pages.
Kelgerous the Grim
First Chapter Master of the Dark Talons. He is known not only for the aforementioned, but also because some still consider him responsible for not doing more to prevent the destruction of Tellias Prime.
Antonius was the last Chapter Master of the Dark Talons. His actions in The War that Heralded Evil earned him the honours that led him to his promotion to 1st Company Captain and then onto Chapter Master in 891.M41. He was killed along with the last remnants of his Chapter after their homeworld Xentarious IV was invaded by a daemonic horde.
Captain of the 1st Company after Antonius' ascension to Chapter Master and fought alongside Antonius in their crusade against the splinter of the Hive Fleet Kraken. After retreating alongside Antonius and what was left of the 1st Company, he was killed along with the last remnants of his Chapter after their homeworld Xentarious IV was invaded by a daemonic horde.
The world Xentarious IV is a massive planet designated as a Death World in the Xentarious System. It's characterised by extreme and volatile weather conditions that rage across the planet as well as incredibly dangerous environments of varying types. A select few of the environments are difficult even for an Astartes, which means these areas are effectively uninhabitable. Like many planets with the Death World classification, the population is tribal and tends to be very hostile, but they are skilled warriors and well suited to becoming an Astartes.
After the defeat of the remaining Astartes of the Dark Talons and the disappearance of the Warp Rifts, Xentarious IV became a Dead World and was - for all intents and purposes - forgotten by them Imperium.
Due to the occasional crusade that proved to be costly for the Dark Talons in terms of Astartes lives lost, Xentarious IV is not the only world the Dark Talons recruited from. Their partial fleet-based nature allows them to recruit from a number of worlds that they travel to, with Death Worlds within their 'Home Sector' always being preferred.
The Dark Talons' Fortress Monastery - Castrum de Caliginoso Ignis - was built deep in the ravines of the largest of the two moons of Xentarious IV. The ravines afford the Fortress Monastery a unique structural design as well as natural defenses since it is at least partially built into the walls of the ravines with it's gun emplacements built on the lips of the ravines. Beyond that, the Castrum de Caliginoso Ignis boasts no features worthy of note.
After the defeat of the remaining Astartes of the Dark Talons and the disappearance of the Warp Rifts, remnant of the fortress can be found in the ravines of the planet.
The Librarius as it exists in most other Chapters does not exist in the Dark Talons' Chapter structure, instead replaced by a group of human auxiliaries that go by the same name and whose role is the documentation of anything and everything to do with the Chapter. As time went on, their role also began to include the spreading and reinforcing of the Imperial Truth to all the worlds the Dark Talons went to, but even in the 41st Millennium this is still a relatively minor role, especially given the extensive activities of the Chapter which require proper documentation.
Given they fulfilled no combat role within the Chapter, they were instead hunkered down inside Castrum de Caliginoso Ignis while the invasion of their world took place. They all eventually fell when the Fortress Monastery was destroyed.
The Dark Talons have a deep mistrust and hatred towards psykers in general as a result of the apparent weakness the Chapter sees in them, but this is not always the case. In the cases of psykers such as Astropaths and Navigators, the Chapter has a dislike for them rather than deep mistrust and hatred since they realise that without the work of such psykers, the Imperium could not function.
Therefore, all psykers that fulfill roles such as those of an Astropath or Navigator are tolerated and employed by the Dark Talons, but all other psykers such as Librarians of other Adeptus Astartes Chapters or the Sanctioned Psykers of the Astra Militarum are not tolerated.
There is nothing special per se about the tactics they use, but they did specialise against a variety of Xenos - predominantly the Necrons and later on, the Tyranids.
Given their complete lack of psykers and unwillingness to work with a vast majority of their Adeptus Astartes brethren, they did often excel at fighting the Tyranids since they are not quite as hindered by the presence of the Hive Mind as their Battle Brothers, instead allowing them to focus more on mechanical tactics and victory through martial skill rather than through any reliance on sorcery.
As another inherent trait developed by fighting Necrons and other Xenos with high-populations and/or standing armies, the Dark Talons weree often good with making planetary assaults and succeeding where others may have employed an Exterminatus by default.
The Dark Talons were very aggressive as a general rule and also often don't communicate well with those who are not a member of the Chapter. The older, more senior Astartes such as Company Captains and the Chapter Master tend to be more experienced not just on the battlefield, but also reigning in their aggression, meaning that they are more stoic than aggressive when dealing with outsiders.
Culturally, they were all about honour and purity, which is part of why they continue to use bionics. Bionics are incorruptible and thus pure, while the pursuit of martial prowess on the field of battle against all Xenos was considered very honourable. As a result of both of the aforementioned, it was not uncommon to see melee weapons that are unique in their nature which are also bonding to the bionics of its bearer. For example, a typical Assault Marine whose specialisation is close combat will often have a variant of a chainblade which is mechanically attached to one of their bionic arms and was typically only removed when the battle is finished.
They generally had a poor relationship with most others. However, they did have a few friends within the Imperium, the most notable of which is the Adeptus Mechanicus. Their only other true friends within the Imperium tended to include Astra Millitarum forces and Planetary Defense Forces local to the Eastern Fringe.
The Adeptus Astartes
The Dark Talons tended to keep very much to themselves, even among their Adeptus Astartes battle brothers, and often have a poor opinion of many Chapters - especially those who have an above average number of psykers.
The Inquisition has always been suspicious of the Dark Talons, with many attempts to find fault with the Chapter being made. The Inquisition always suspected that there was a reason beyond simply adopting their progenitor's view points that led the Chapter to their love bordering on need for bionics. But given the Dark Talons' modus operandi as well as the region of space in which they operate, the Inquisition never found anything fruitful.
Members of the Dark Talons almost never serve as part of the Deathwatch, with the strenuous relationship between the Dark Talons and the Inquisition being among the primary reasons. On the rare occasions where a Dark Talon Astartes will serve the Deathwatch, their service is often short-lived and problematic at best.
They have also often been noted as only communicating with members of the Deathwatch which hail from the Iron Hands (and any other Iron Hand Successor Chapters) as well as, on some occasions, refusing to follow orders because their commander was a psyker. Occurrences such as these have led to more than one occasion where a Dark Talons Astartes has been indicted for treason against the Inquisition and, by extension, The Emperor Himself. This has added a high level of strain on the relationship between the Inquisition and the Dark Talons to the point where by the end of the 38th Millennium, the Dark Talons no longer served in the Deathwatch and simultaneously earned the Inquisition's eternal suspicion of them.