The Ghost Raiders are a Codex adherent, 39th millennium founding Adepteus Astartes Chapter located in the Segmentum Pacificus, their Fortress Monastery stationed on the feral world of Munsu. In war, their tactical specialities largely consist of stealth warfare, lightning assaults, and precision strikes. The Ghost Raiders are not held in esteem by other Chapters that call the White Scars their progenitors; a divide in tactical speciality, strange esoteric beliefs and a dour attitude serves to strain relations between the Ghost Raiders and their cousin Chapters.
The Ghost Raiders' gene-stock is derived from the 1st Founding White Scars chapter. On the most part, purity of the Ghost Raider gene seed is standard of that expected of a White Scar successor Chapter. Regrettably, two Astartes implant organs, namely the Omophagea and the Betcher's Gland, have been found to develop only limited (or non-existent) functionality in Neophytes and Astartes. These slight deviations in the gene-make are closely watched for signs of change or further mutation. However, frequent testing has reiterated the stability in the Chapter's source of gene-seed and it's circulation within recruitment cycles, showing no signs of major degradation or mutation.
The Ghost Raider's loyalty to the Emperor of Mankind is unquestionable; as unquestionable as the loyalty of any of the Angels of Death to their father. Although not as venerated or dedicated to, they still hold their Primarch Jaghatai Khan with great respect and recognition. Though the Ghost Raiders may lack the outwards personality of passion and zeal, they are nevertheless devoted, diligent and dutiful servants of the Emperor and his subjects. Their entire purpose, as is the purpose of all Astartes, is to be the greatest weapon in the Emperor's arsenal in the war against His enemies.
But along with their clear intentions, alliances and devotions, there exists, seen rarely by those outside Astartes status, the rituals, practices, and beliefs of the Ghost Raiders that would be described in the polite terms of a governor as esoteric and interesting, or the suspicious terms of a fellow Astartes officer as enigmatic and strange. The full extent of these esoteric practices remains to be known (except by those with sufficient authority to be privy to such information), but it is widely held that influence comes partly from the Chapter's recruitment population, the backwards and primitive people of Munsu, and partly from tenants laid down by their first and founding Lord Master, Ascan Asco.
These beliefs, seemingly existing alongside and concurrent with devout reverence for the Emperor and their Primarch, may be seen reflected in the rituals and practices. Rife they are of morbid or enigmatic themes, reverence for dead and passed on battle brothers, namely in their bones and remains, either entombed and meditated upon in deep crypts, or strewn about the Fortress Monastery in shrines. Rituals involving hooded robes, scriptures, and an excessive amount of candles are rumored to be frequent items of the Ghost Raiders' daily duties. And perhaps the most obscure (yet intriguing) of hints exists within their warcry - uttered only when the Ghost Raiders decide to strike from the shadows and reveal themselves to the enemy - "The Ghost rises!"
Settled in the Age of Strife initially as a mineral resource planet, the landmasses of the Munsu's northern hemisphere were ripped up eons ago by colonists in a savage rush to extract the world's mineral resources - this crude mining process, profitable as it was, slowed as warp storms increasingly made travel, and thus trade, to and from the system a dangerous undertaking, until outside contact had vanished completely. At some point after the system's isolation, an internal cataclysm occurred (some form of xenos incursion has been suggested by archeo-historians) which caused the small population of colonists to revert to a primitive, tribal level of society, living in the myriad jungles and deserts of the planet's remaining landmasses in the southern hemisphere.
Most of the native population of Munsu live life in almost constant fear of death, and in a way, what lies beyond death - believing that wraiths and ghostly beasts from the Otherworld ( a concept argued by anthropologists to be either a physical place on the "Black Mountain", or a spiritual underworld) prowls the jungles in the blackest nights, to take the souls of sleeping men. Such a spirit may only decide to prey upon a village every ten years or more...but when they do, it marks a dark time indeed for the tribe. Every three nights, a soul will be taken by the wraith - every three nights, a life lost, unless a young hunter takes up the Blood Oath.
This oath is one of the ultimate determination and sacrifice. Once a hunter swears a Blood Oath in front of the elders and the village, they cannot rest, eat or sleep until they have tracked down and slain the wraith that haunts his people. Once this challenge is taken on, the hunter will either track and kill the wraith before it's next return, or the hunter will be the next victim, his body left at the edge of the village, horribly dismembered.
For the hunter, the Blood Oath truly dooms himself for the chance of saving his tribe - for even if he slays the wraith it is not enough; he must bring it back to the village, and undergo a ritual and is given powerful psychoactive drugs from his elders, ones that lets himself become receivable to spirits. He must crawl inside the carcass of the beast that night, sleep in it, and dream. In the dream he will be visited, and told the directions to the dreaded Black Mountain, and that he must take the corpse of the wraith with him. Upon reaching the mountain with the wraith, he is told, his tribe will be spared for another generation, but he will forfeit his own soul on the Black Mountain. Tribe elders hold fast to the tradition that the man who slays a wraith must take it's material vessel back to its otherworldly abode, the Black Mountain, else the body would draw in other wraiths, enraged and vengeful, hungry to wipe out the tribe entirely, unless the hunter returns the slain beast to the Black Mountain, and ultimately to their own doom.
The trail to the Black Mountain many consider to be the most challenging of the entire ordeal, not from the physical endurance needed, but the psychological control - the hunter knows that to offer his own soul on the Black Mountain begets a fate less desirable than mere death. It must take everything the young man has to willingly approach, climb and enter the Otherworld, knowing what awaits him there. If he fails, he will fail his tribe, the wraith will rise again and resume its haunting of the village until another hunter takes the Blood Oath.
Upon approaching the Black Mountain, the hunter's psychoactive drugs increase in their hallucinogenic effects, as the hunter sees (or suspects to see) things that freezes his heart greater than any nightmare could hope to do. The final test is to enter the mountain's gaping chasm itself, to enter the Otherworld, to the blacker-than-black phantoms that he can see waiting for him beyond the precipice.
If he passes that final test, the spirits will greet him in the hunter's own tongue in a chilling, otherworldly voice - "You have come with the beast you have slain. It will not walk again, not for a time, and in that you have spared your home. But you will not be spared. Your soul is ours now. You belong to the Otherworld, now. You belong to the Mountain. Your body will be stripped down, and we will weave it again, but you will not be your own self. You will become a Ghost,"
It will be then that the hunter is taken into the Fortress-Monastery, the Hall of the Jaguar, and become an Aspirant, and possible future Space Marine of the Ghost Raiders.
Like their forebears, the Ghost Raiders are also regarded as a Codex Astartes-compliant Chapter, as their organisation, order of battle and tactical operations adhering to the tenets laid down in that most sacred of tomes to the Adeptus Astartes. There are, however, several noteworthy deviations from the Codex's prescribed doctrine. Most notable are the use of certain honourific ranks and titles within the Chapter in place of the standard Space Marine ranks.
The Ghost Raiders are a Codex Chapter who generally adhere to the Codex Astartes in their organisation. Some ranks, titles and other honourifics are unique to the Chapter;
- "Lord Master" is the title held by the Chapter Master
- "Crow" is the name given to any member of the Chapter's Librarium
- "Crowsire" is the title given to the Ghost Raider's Chief Librarian
- "Spectre Veteran" is the name given to veterans operating a a part of a Vanguard Veteran Squad, which are called Spectre Veteran Squads or Spectre Squads
- "Shadow Veteran" replaces Sternguard Veteran similarly
- "Jaguar Scout" is the name given to scouts operating a a part of a Scout Marine Squad, which are called Jaguar Scout Squads or Jaguar Squads
- "Hawk Scout" replaces Scout (equipped with Sniper Rifles) similarly
Like all Codex chapters, the Ghost Raiders are divided into ten Companies. Each Company is led by a hero of the Ghost Raiders who bears the title Captain and who - in addition to his Company command - is in charge of a particular aspect of the Chapter's logistics.
However, Companies who would usually be dedicated to a specific support role, as the Codex intends it, maintain a small amount of core tactical squads, and thus Companies are largely able operate independently of one another.
The inner circle of Chapter lore holds that Ascan Asco, the founding Lord Master of the Ghost Raiders, insisted to be unaccompanied by any form of guard during his first visit on the surface of Munsu. He met the human denizens of the jungles, and though deemed them worthy stock for his Chapter's recruitment, found that they held a persistent superstitious fear about ghosts and wraiths.
He thought nothing of it, until one moonless night, when staying in one of the villages, he awoke (not technically being asleep at all) and indeed found something monstrous stalking the village. What exactly it was he would not describe in any great amount of detail in later accounts, but in any case he deemed the creature to be much more than mere native fauna. After questioning the villagers, and then the elders, he gathered the bravest souls to hunt down the phantasm.
After facing multiple ambushes from the creature, Ascan conceded to adopt this "way of the hunter" that the men were insisting on acting by - to be completely undetected, to become one with the environment, and gain the ultimate upper-hand in destroying the enemy. Ascan adopted this tactic, and he perfected it completely. None of the other hunters, being merely human, could have ever hoped to achieve the level and finesse only an Astartes could push himself to.
From then on Ascan encountered the "wraith" multiple times in the shadowy jungle, but never being noticed. True to the doctrine he had adopted for this cause, he observed and followed the creature instead of slaying it as soon as he could. Eventually the creature led him and his small group to higher and higher ground until a great, foreboding cluster of hills rose into dark clouds before him. The tribesmen, enthralled in their superstition, would not go any further without the most stern persuasion from Astartes.
All else that is accounted, is that Ascan and the few tribesmen left climbed the mountain, and entered a chasm they find in its side. Ascan emerged, alone, some time later from within, having lost the men to what he would not say, and immediately called his forces to the ground. What they found in the mountain caves can only be implied from the records, but a source of some foulness or evil was removed from there and destroyed, and in its stead Ascan insisted the Fortress Monastery be constructed; the home of his Ghost Raiders.
Upon their inception, the Ghost Raiders sent an envoy to the White Scar's homeworld of Chogoris, consisting of their 1st Captain and two squads from his Company. They requested audience with the White Scars upon arrival, and there they pledged fealty to their progenitor Chapter. Although the First Founding Chapter welcomed the gesture, they have since deigned to call upon the bond of fealty in any formal sense.
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Enemies of Mankind
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By the Ghost Raiders
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