- "God-Emperor save me... I can still hear the screaming!"
- —Deranged Cadian Guardsman, shortly before receiving the Emperor's Peace
The Hell-Screamers are a Raptor Cult of some renown, consisting mostly of Night Lords. Led by the equally fearsome Acherius Erinyes, the Hell-Screamers sell their services to any Chaos Lord or Cult Leader in need of a powerful strike force, in return for technology, gene-stock, and the opportunity to sate their sadistic urges in battle. Because of their mercenary status amongst the forces of Chaos, this Raptor Cult has been present during some of the galaxy's bloodiest conflicts, and have caused quite a few atrocities during them.
Ancient OriginsDuring the Great Crusade, Hell-Screamers once known simply as the 35th Night Raptor Squad, a small group of fast attack specialists within the Night Lords' 13th Talon. That all changed with the arrival of a new recruit, a young Night Lord named Acherius Erinyes, who quickly integrated himself into the Night Raptors almost as if he had been one of their number all along. With the death of their Huntmaster (although there are still rumors that the ambitious Erinyes orchestrated his demise), Einyes became the new Huntmaster, establishing himself as a competent if unforgiving leader. Eventually, Erinyes would become known amongst his brethren as "The Vulture", due to his habit of picking off the fleeing enemy one by one.
With the onset of the Horus Heresy, the 35th Night Raptor Squad began to develop their own twisted tendencies, such as their habit of letting out primal shrieks and screams preceding their attack, as to terrify their enemy. This earned the squad itself a new name, as their fellow Night Lords began to refer to the 35th Night Raptor Squad as the Hell-Screamers.
The Cult is Born
After the death of Konrad Kurze, Huntmaster Erinyes' pride and massive ego took over completely. Feeling humiliatied that he was not the one to have avenged the Primarch's death, Erinyes made plans to depart from the bulk of the Night Lords entirely. However, In order to do that, he would need new followers, and thus The Vulture hatched a plan to transform his small Raptor Squad into a fully-fledged Raptor Cult.
Contacting Kyber Rann, a member of the Night Raptor Squad known as the Daemon-Reapers, Erinyes struck a deal with the disgruntled Night Lord. Then, he contacted the Huntmasters of both the Daemon-Reapers and the Night Blades Raptor Squads, requesting a meeting aboard the Strike Cruiser Avenging Shadow. Little did the two know that they were being led into a trap, as Erinyes killed the leader of the Night Blades and Kyber Rann, having been promised a position as Erinyes' lieutenant within the Hell-Screamers, literally stabbed his Huntmaster in the back. The rest of the Raptors, seeing how easily The Vulture had dealt with their respective Huntmasters, pledged their allegiance to Erinyes, and thus his Raptor Cult was born.
- Subjugation of Siren Primus (034.M30) - One of the Night Lords Legion's earlier campaigns, the 13th Company led by Naraka "The Bloodless" were tasked with utterly crushing the resistance put up by the Industrial World of Siren Primus. During the campaign, the 35th Raptor Squad spearheaded the assault on Siren Primus' capital city of Sirene, breaking open their defenses to allow the rest of the Company to proceed with the attack. Unfortunately, Squad Huntmaster Avem was killed during the final strike, and thus a young Night Raptor by the name of Acherius Erinyes was promoted to the rank of Huntmaster in his stead.
- Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V (006.M31) - The 35th Night Raptor Squad descend on their loyalist brethren during the Drop Site Massacre, tearing into the Loyalist forces with a savage glee. It is there that the Raptors earn the name "Hell-Screamers", due to their unsettling fetish for screaming their murder-lust to the skies during combat.
- Eastern Fringe Genocide (Unknown Date.M31) - Following the death of Horus during the Battle of Terra, the remains of the Night Lords Legion conduct a massive campaign of genocide and terror against the Imperium all across the Eastern Fringe. During that time, the Hell-Screamers participated in many a murderous assault, becoming addicted to the thrill of their sadistic tendencies.
- Butchering of Orion (Unknown Date.M31) - The Hell-Screamers conduct a brutal series of hit-and-run attacks of the planet Orion, breaking the spirits of the Orionite defenders through the sheer anticipation of yet another massacre. When their resistance finally does crumble, the Hell-Screamers run rampant through the streets of the Orinite capital of Orsonis, burning, looting, and killing on a tremendous scale. Imperial reinforcements arrive to find Orion transformed into a slaughterhouse, it's cities filled with corpses and burnt-down structures.
- Slave Wars (Unknown Date.M31) - Following the death of Konrad Kurze, the newly-formed Hell-Screamers retreat into the Eye of Terror to find their first contract awaits. Hired by Abaddon himself, the Hell-Screamers bolster the then-Sons of Horus' forces as they fight against the depraved Emperor's Children. After the conflict is resolved and the Emperor's Children routed, the Hell-Screamers are awarded with fresh equipment and gene-stock, and set out from the Eye as Abaddon consolidates his hold on the Sons of Horus.
- Assault on Argonar (197.M39) - On behalf of the Dark Mechanicus, the Hell-Screamers attack the Forge World of Argonar to recover a potent STC from the hands of Adeptus Mechanicus. During this assault, the Hell-Screamers are given a device known as a Code Killer, a digital weapon that overloads mechanical systems with a constant stream of junk data, allowing the Night Lords to easily breach the Mechanicus' defenses. Delivering to STC to their benefactors, the Hell-Screamers are in turn supplied with high-quality wargear, as well as being gifted with a Code Killer as a sign of appreciation for their efforts.
- The End of Valiance Secundus (002.M40) - Having been hired by Osiris Morvante and his Eternal Revenants Warband, the Hell-Screamers bolster their forces during the bloody assault on the Civilized World of Valiance Secundus. Later, it is revealed the entire campaign was bait to draw out the Living Saint Eira and her White Valkyries Order of Adeptus Sororitas, who arrive as Valiance only to spring the trap the Night Lords have laid for them. In the end, Eira is killed by Osiris, the White Valkyries are slaughtered down to the last woman, and Erinyes himself is gifted with the Saint's crucified corpse as an extra reward for his Raptor Cult's service.
- Corruption of Perta (997.M40) - In a joint venture alongside the piratical Brethren of Spite, the Hell-Screamers descend on the Shrine World of Perta. This assault would result in the planet's transformation into a Daemon World, the Chaos Lord Cain's ascension into a Daemon Prince, and the deaths of nearly an entire planetary population, and Adpetus Sororitas Order, and a Strike Force of Grey Knights. Needless to say, the Chaos Gods were quite pleased by the events that took place on that dark day.
Like most Night Lords Warbands, the Hell-Screamers are sadistic killers that delight in terrorizing their foes before slaughtering them. When they kill, they kill violently and slowly, savoring the fear and horror on their victim's faces as their life slips away in their grasp. They fight not in the name of the Dark Gods or even in the name of their own Legion, but simply because they revel in the panic and carnage that they create. However as Raptors, each and every member of the Hell-Screamers is a egotistical and self-serving creature, convinced of his own superiority and constantly trying to outshine his fellows.
While not very well-liked due to their selfish and generally untrustworthy demeanor (even by the loose standards of Chaos Space Marines), none can deny that the Hell-Screamers are extremely effective on the battlefield, each one an elite unit in his own right. Thus, the Hell-Screamers are mercenaries at heart, and so long as they are promised a satisfying reward, they will most likely fulfill their part of the agreement.
Despite the Hell-Screamers' small numbers and rowdy demeanor, they are surprisingly well-organized. Erinyes himself based their new formations around the original organization of the Night Lord's pre-heresy Night Raptors. His Raptors are divided into small, highly mobile Squads of four, led by a single Raptor known as a Huntsman. The Raptor Cult itself is controlled by Erinyes and his four lieutenants, who make up the inner circle of the Hell-Screamers known as the Night Raptors (in honor of the original Night Raptor Squad that became the Hell-Screamers).
Individual Squads are identified by the name of the Huntsman who leads the Squad. For example, the Squad led by Huntsman Varoth is known as Squad Varoth. The Hell-Screamers often divide their forces over a large area, thus all Squads are trained to work independently of each other.
Like most Night Lords, the Hell-Screamers are adept at spreading fear throughout the ranks of the enemy. However, the Hell-Screamers forgo the psychological aspects of sowing terror in favor of a more direct approach. Their typical method is to simultaneously attack the weakest points in the enemy's defenses, dropping from the sky via Thunderhawk in a series of brutal fast attacks. Once they've killed a sufficient number of the enemy, the Hell-Screamers retreat almost as abruptly as they came, leaving their opponent to survey the slaughterhouses that they have created. This usually goes great lengths to terrify and demoralize the enemy.
A trademark of the Hell-Screamers is the vox-boosted screams and yells that precede the arrival of their Raptors. These almost primal battlecries are both the Hell-Screamer's way of expressing their anticipation of the bloodbath to come, and a means to frighten the enemy.
The Hell-Screamers are small in number, and thus do not need a steady influx of recruits to sustain themselves. However, occasionally the Hell-Screamers will sustain extensive casualties and be forced to go through the arduous task of transforming some poor soul into one of their number. These, "pretenders" as they call them, are usually ostracized by their fellow Raptors, due to the fact that unlike them, they were never part of the original Night Lords Legion.
Base of Operations
The Hell-Screamers operate from the ancient Strike Cruiser Avenging Shadow. Being a light and mobile attack craft, the Avenging Shadow makes an excellent mobile command base, allowing the Hell-Screamers to spread terror across entire Sectors of space.
Both the leader and the original founder of the Hell-Screamers, Erinyes is perhaps the personification of what it is to be a Chaos Raptor. Selfish, sadistic, and completely convinced of his own superiority of others, Erinyes ego is so massive that he still refers to himself by his old Legion rank, Huntmaster.
He earned his title "The Vulture", during the Great Crusade, due to his habit of picking off fleeing opponents one by one.
Malthior Karnus, "Twoblade"
Erinyes' right hand man, Karnus has been his lieutenant since the days of the Great Crusade. Like most Raptors, Karnus is self-serving and unspeakably cruel, but next to Erinyes' ego he largely considered to be the "voice of reason" within the Raptor Cult. Needless to say, after nearly ten millenia of putting up with Erinyes' pride, Karnus has become somewhat exasperated...
The reason Karnus is known as "Twoblade", is due to the twin Power Swords he wields. In battle, very few last long against his swordsmanship.
Kyber Rann, "The Beast"
One of the Hell-Screamer's few Terran-born members, Kyber Rann was once the the second-in-command to another Huntmaster, whom he betrayed and killed when Erinyes promised him greater power within his warband. Despite being almost as ambitious as the Vulture himself, Rann was fanaticaly loyal to Erinyes, although why that was is still a matter of speculation.
However, Rann was the only Hell-Screamer who eventually degenerated into Warp Talon, and a fearsome one at that. He's now largely refered to as "The Beast", as he no longer acts human, but more like some fiendish animal. Rann cannot speak, he only communicates in hideous screeches and the occasional intelligible word in Nostraman. When not in combat, he crawls on all fours or hangs from the ceiling like a bat, an unerving sight to say the least. He can still take orders though, but only in the form of simple one-word commands.
In battle, Rann is near unstoppable, gliding through both the air and the Warp as he shifts in and out of reallity. The Lightning Claws he once weilded have become his own taloned hands, which can slice through almost any material. But, the Hell-Screamers rarely send "The Beast" on to the battlefield, as once Rann is loosed on the enemy, it is extremely dangerous to try and reign the Warp Talon back in.
The Hell-Screamers wear the colors of Night Lords; lightning-streaked midnight blue trimmed with dark gold. They proudly bear the bat-winged skull of the Night Lords, not to honor the Legion itself but rather as a tribue to their deceased Primarch. Also, like most Night Lords, they decorate their armor with bones, severed heads, flayed skins, and other gristly fetishes.
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The infamous Night Lord leader has had many run ins with the Hell-Screamers, both as friend and foe. The two Night Lord groups are hardly loyal brothers in arms, but a love for fear and torture is shared that is almost unmatched elsewhere. The two groups fell apart after the death of Variel, as the Hell Screamers where quick to pounce on the decimated warband's remaining ritches.
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- "Hell-Screamers, pah! It seems the only Night Lords worthy of the name join our ranks. This is what remains, degenerates, sellswords, and theives! If they wish to scream, then so be it! I will give them something to scream about! "
- —Kiong Shin, Draugar Lord of the 11th Storm prior to unleashing the infamous Corroding Plauge upon the world of Tehis V[src]