- "They are coming, they are coming..."
- —A traumatised Cultist to Chaos Space Marines of the Black Legion
The Night Terrors, also known as the Astartes Vareor, Those Who Lie Beyond, Haunted Angels, Children of Dread or the Dead Ones, are a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter founded during the turmoil of the mid-35th Millennium. During these times, such as the events of the Nova Terra Interregnum, the Imperium was in a time of disorder and chaos. The Ur-Council of Nova Terra no longer recognised the rule of the High Lords of Terra and had broke away from the Imperium of Man, forming their own empire in Segmentum Pacifiucs. This division would last for nine standard centuries. During this time, there were multiple Foundings of Space Marine Chapters created to counteract the many threats to the unstable Imperium during this tumultuous period in Mankind's history.
The Night Terrors were born of such chaos, moulded from the very fabric of disorder and hatred that had torn the Imperium in two. The Astartes of the Night Terrors are more vengeful murderers then soldiers, walking the line between necessary evil and unchained horror. The Chapter quickly gained a reputation as bringers of terror and death, not from every dark corner, but any dark corner.
The earliest records of the Night Terrors date their founding to be around M35, assumed during the 11th Founding considering their modus operandi. While the details of their conception are either lost or carefully concealed, their black history is much more difficult to hide. The earliest "sightings" of these infamous Space Marines was midway during the events of the Nova Terra Interregnum, appearing on hundreds of planets as threatening spectres amongst even the most menial of locations. Various factory workers reported seeing fully armoured "giant demons" working the jobs of their colleagues, only to vanish entirely. On the Hive World Valmos Prime, the planetary governor reported his entire retinue being replaced by Space Marines bearing dark cloaks when he viewed them in a reflective surface, but from his own eyes they were simply men. Everywhere, these shadow-draped figures with baleful eyes simply watched. Subsectors away from the Imperium's battle lines, these Astartes would appear. Then, finally, they would strike.
Marines cloaked in flowing darkness, with clawed hands and the wings of a bat descended from the skies. Eight foot titans walked from the shadows or appeared to rise from the very ground, clawing their way out of hell. Weapons would miss, deflect or simply be absorbed by these horrible spectres. Men would be simply swallowed up by the invaders, their cries of fear echoing in the minds of their witnesses. In hundreds of planets, the Night Terrors appeared and struck, throwing worlds into chaos. Dark clouds wreathed by lightning would choke the skies for a night, even in worlds were such events are never seen. When daybreak came, the bodies would be found. News of these Night Terrors would reach both the highest echelons of both the Imperium and Nova Terra council, generating a layer of fearful superstition to creep over every war zone. None knew when or where these haunting Space Marines would appear, but when they did, whole worlds would tremble. Surrender or downright evacuation of worlds would commence if one trustworthy figure would so much as glimpse one of these Astartes in some occasions. When a world would resist, it would suffer a nightmare such that it would bring even the hardiest of warriors to their breaking point.
Usually such a dark reputation would somewhat ostracise the Chapter from their lighter brothers, but this is not exactly the case. The Night Terrors themselves are ever solitary, working with their brethren only when the situation absolutely demands it. Encouraging more unease then distain, many other Chapters refuse to fight with them due to simple unease. Not even they are comfortable with their unflinching brothers with pale eyes, even with the knowledge of their kinship. In a sense, the Terrors exclude themselves from any sense of brotherhood, further increasing the fear of the unknown they thrive upon.
The customs and practices of the Night Terrors are heavily interwoven into their Chapter's structure, resting behind the basic skeleton of the common structure. In terms of numbers, the Chapter complies to Codex Astartes practices, but from there the similarities end. The multiple companies of the Night Terrors bear little visual distinctions, with all centred around the delivery of massive psychological warfare and rapid offensive capacity. As such, the squads and units of the Night Terrors are fundamentally unique and specialised. While anecdotal evidence suggests the principal idea behind each companies structure is largely unmodified, they appears to always contain a dedicated attachment of Scouts and Veterans, but lacks many forms of static or slow-moving units. Many defensive operations are taken by automated Tarantula sentry guns or a skeleton crew of Astartes, with the overwhelming majority of the force geared for deep infiltration and stealth. While from keeping to the formations of the 10th and 1st company, Reserve companies appear entirely eschewed in favour of eight fully autonomous forces.
In terms of squad modification, every unit was designed for maximum psychological effect. Eye witness reports state almost every soldier bears the same intangibility of the other, regardless of psychic talent or other perceivable causes. Due to the nature of conflict with the Night Terrors, the only reliable reports of exact deposition come from their allies. From this, a set of distinct units can be observed. Tactical Marines remain the backbone of the average Company, serving as the seen and relentless terror. These squads can be seen equipped with typical to exotic armaments, often modified to the specifications of an individual. Often these marines will fight in somewhat "direct" combat, purposefully slow in movement but seemingly evaporating to appear elsewhere instantly. Smoke grenades, fear inducing toxins and various other tools assist in their role. Assault Squads meanwhile strike quickly, cloaked in bat winged cowls designed for raw intimidation. Appearing as threatening silhouettes, the Assault Squads glide through the skies in near silence but almost perfect view. In terms of actual armament lightning claws are commonplace weapons, but on occasion these Astartes appear unarmed to beat their foes with bare hands. Devastator Squads are absent, in their place is a unit designed for the elimination of heavy targets through direct infiltration. While typical devastators would take out heavy armour with a bombardment of firepower, these would simply appear inside the tank and murder it's occupants. Those very occupants would be found by their allies in the most shocking of fashions in plain sight.
With the absence of Devastators, one would assume most heavy vehicles are also missing from the Night Terror's formations. While not seen commonly, the Night Terrors do field these vehicles when required, but prefer aerial support by means of Land Speeder or Stormraven over Predator and Whirlwind. Oddly absent on the battlefield in physical form are the Chapter's Scouts, however this simply means they are performing their roles perfectly. The scouts operate as deep cover agents, analysing every detail of the enemy to determine what will cause maximum effect. If they are seen, they risk an entire operation. Vanguard and Sternguard veterans are also present, two sides of the same coin. Primarily used for assassination or elimination of specific targets, both Veterans also act as emergency support for important Night Terror units.
The command structure of the Chapter is unusually similar to standard Codex Asartes formation. Each company is headed by a Captain, known to the Terrors themselves as a Watcher. These Watchers are backed by a Librarian (The Keeper) and Chaplain (The Lost), with the trio serving as the commanders of a Company. The Chief Librarian and High Chaplain equivalent are oddly not attached to their Chapter Master however. Champions, Techmarines, Apothecaries and similar components of the average Command Squad or Honour Guard are also missing. The Chapter Master himself is a figure of legend, a half spied shadow with an aura of fear and myth.
Specialist Ranks and Formations
Haunter Squads: When the Chapter designates a foe for something worse then death, these vicious squads are the ones dispatched. Bloody handed, cold and darkly imaginative, the Haunter Squads are responsible for acts of psychological warfare and direct as they are ambitious. Acts deemed to savage, unsubtle or downright unstable are attributed to this cadre of torturers and executioners. Anything from torture or calculated genocide, justified as simply a means to an end. However, unlike their comparable "brethren" in the ranks of the Night Lords, this task is taken to with the cold indifference of justice and macabre acceptance of their position.
Moritus Est: Among even the Night Terrors, there are those so shrouded in myth and superstition that even their brothers speak of them with unease in their eyes. These lone shadows bear long, bat-like cowls with strange blade-like protrusions from shoulders and forearms. Masters of their own martial prowess, stealth, interrogation and fear tactics, these lone warriors are the pinnacle of the Chapter's idolised sense of twisted justice and strength. Often these Astartes wield micro-serrated throwing blades, which double as improvised lightning claws if used correctly. These take the place of conventional firearms, used to kill or maim. Alongside these come Fear grenades, modified jump packs and miniature frag grenades.
The central focus in any Night Terror's operation is the application of immense psychological pressure. Commonly, a campaign is divided into three distinct stages. The first is known to the Chapter as "ghosting", and is commonly undertaken by the Scouts and Moritus Est of a force. During this point, Scouts work to not only determine enemy strength and analyse weaknesses, but to create maximum unease and tension among their targets. Their greatest weapon of all is the simple fear of the unknown. The fear of things that stray from the daily norm, the fear of shapeless things that move in the dark, the fear of an impending invisible doom. Man or Xenos, this simple truth holds strong. The Moritus prey on those fears, appearing as terrible shadows from the corners of ones eye. A myth begins to develop, a whispered rumour of "winged demons" as the missing persons multiply.
The next stage is wider scale intimidation, in which much more of the Chapter's force is brought to bear. Globally transmissions are suddenly cut short, and several scenes of dozens of ominous Scary Marines standing in the city's town square, outside guard sentries, atop important government buildings, and suchlike are shown. The power to the city/district of the city suddenly go out, and upon reactivation, the bodies of several previously missing citizens are found in a very open or otherwise hard to reach places such as atop spires and bridges. Important or public figures are hunted, to be either brutalised or eliminated to increase terror. No place is safe, no place is private, and no defence is strong enough, and when this simple fact has settled itself in the minds of those stricken victims, the Marines come forth en masse, coming out of homes and hidden alleyways, as if from the shadows themselves.
This third phase is known as the Nightmare stage. The clouds darken and lightning wreathes the sky as the Night Terrors emerge from the dark, Tactical Marines move slowly through the streets before disappearing to reappear right beside their foes. Assault Squads appear and strike from the sky, their silhouettes swooping over their prey. Their most documented ability, however, is how they instil raw terror upon their first true appearance. After weeks or months of constant barrages to their targets mental health, the Marines step forth from within the enemy's own ranks, soundless as ever, and with their glowing eyes focused on all enemies in sight. Most of the time, this last move is enough to quell any attempt at resistance, but when the enemy still lusts for battle, the call to battle is sounded. This is the one time any sound is made by the Night Terrors. It is said that when you hear the Chaplain's scream and see his white-skulled face, all hope is truly lost. Few survivors remain from these events, but those that are live with the knowledge that the Chapter allowed their survival, to spread their legend.
Obviously these tactics are less effective against "fearless" foes, such as Tyranids or Necrons. When faced with these foes, the intangibility and relentless power of the Chapter wins the day. In these times, the psychological strength used against their foes is channeled inward, turning every Astartes into a untouchable deliverer of cold wrath. Ruthlessness and immense pressure physically is always the less preferable than the original psychological methods, the Night Terrors do appreciate
Chapter Beliefs and Culture
The sole purpose of the Night Terrors is to deliver their own brand of particular justice. Key to their code of "honour" is a simple sense of morality. The universe is very much in black and white, ally and enemy, with no room for the grey areas many in the Imperium allow for. Their is the enemy, who must be broken to ensure mankind's survival. Then there is the ally, who must be watched to ensure his cooperation. Every fibre of the Night Terrors cries their enemies to feel a truth, to understand the dark universe as the Terrors themselves see it. As such, the objective of the Night Terrors is not to obliterate their foes with fire and steel, but to break them by simply revealing the truth of the universe.
Unusual for a Chapter of their reputation, the Night Terror's encourage the exploits of the common peoples and the people themselves. A strong belief in the potential of the common man to strive for justice runs deep in the psyche of every Night Terror, and a stringent moral code keeps the Chapter from directing their horrors at civilians. It is unknown if this belief in the common man is true, or simply a mask for the Terrors to bear. Vigilantism on their home world is encouraged, which both keeps the world internally secure and provides a source of strong recruits. These vigilantes themselves are closely controlled by the Chapter, with those who show the same understanding of justice and wrath as the Terrors. This wrath and power will later become tempered with self control, which in itself is core to the doctrines of the Chapter. In addition to this extreme discipline, the Night Terrors are somewhat fatalistic realists. They recognise the degrading state of the Imperium, the minds of their every foe and even the utter chaotic nature of The Warp. The Night Terror's fatalism extends to the Emperor himself, who they believe cannot win in his unending battle against Chaos. Nevertheless they fight on for the Imperium, not out of any realisation that they can create a change, but on general principle.
In fact, martyrdom and nihilistic resilience are very much key to the entire culture of the Terrors. It can be said that the martyrdom of leaders fuels the driving spirit of other Astartes in the Chapter, spurring them to become greater then the legacy their predecessors left. While this may border hubris and obsession, this determination is likely the cause of their success and pure psychological effect. They do not rely on tricks to terrify a foe, but a pure mental attack. By directing their own fears, anger, despair and pain, they create a weapon capable of destroying races.
In tandem with their "indirect" approach to dealing with their foes, the Night Terrors emphasis on intangible stealth borders on the supernatural. Through the power of their psykers, ancient technology or some other darker method, every Astartes seems to appear as if forged from nothingness. Their unwillingness to engage in open combat is considered almost dishonourable, although none have dared say this directly.
Chapter Gene Seed
The gene seed of the Night Terrors is the most intriguing of mysteries, with it not only containing no clear markers of any Chapter, but a number of near unique mutations. Not unusual for Space Marine chapters, the Melanochrome of the Chapter is damaged, oddly causing the skin to become stretched and gaunt. The Occulobe is also affected, to a point where the eye appears pale and glassy. It is unknown if this mutation has a notable effect on the sight of the Astartes, and the Night Terrors are not forthcoming about such details.
Mechanicus samples are, in truth, suspiciously low. The tithes sent by the Night Terrors are infrequent at best, and often vary in their size. In addition, most samples lack major markers consistent with the physical evidence of Night Terror mutations. Some apparent traits of the Night Terrors are completely unexplained, such as their apparent intangibility and invulnerability. Some have theorised repressed psychic abilities, while others some level of bionic enhancement. It is likely the wider Imperium will never know the exact truth in the foreseeable future.
The Hive World of Gothelion is a storm wracked world of darkness and crime. A sunless world bordering the edge of Segmentum Solar, Gothelion is a world ruled by strength and inhabited by the ruthless. Each city is ruled by a baron, who maintains order through a cadre of enforcers known as the Overseer's, each the equivalent of a highly trained PDF soldier. The Night Terrors themselves watch these Barons for any signs of corruption, giving the common people the training and tools needed to depose them if, or when, the power eventually corrupts them. They then harvest a generation of new recruits from these rebels, training them in the arts of the Night Terrors.
The main five main hives on the planet are separated by expansive, irradiated wastes where only the insane or the sentenced venture. Inhabited by vicious wraiths and deadly creatures of the night, the land itself is often wracked with lighting storms of immense scale, electrically charged tornado's and immense volcanos adding to the near toxic atmosphere. As a result of this atmosphere, the Hive Cities of the planet are encased in life sustaining hab-domes. Any human outside these domes will face a most gruesome death. The Night Terrors often use the brutality of the land to test their Neophytes in a rite of passage. The Asartes are required to survive a week in the wastes, with the most basic of armaments and tools. They must rely on their training and intuition to defeat the many challenges opposing their continued existence.
The Tower of Sorrow is a place of superstition and well deserved fear. A structure towering into the sky, made of a combination of ancient stone and reinforced platings, the Fortress Monastery of the Night Terrors is an imposing sight to behold. The Fortress itself is located inside a dormant volcano, hollowed and supported by giant columns of immense proportions. At the base of the volcano is a bog, laced with mutagens, toxins and various minerals in liquid form. The bog is mainly used to power the entire structure due to it's rich properties, but has other strange and darker qualities, such as being a potent mutagen.
The energies channeled from this swamp are then sent upwards. In their ascent, they pass multiple gun emplacements and hidden defences lining the sharp walls of the spire. The Fortress itself is concentrated in the upper levels of the Tower, with each spire being it's own small palace. At the tops of every spire are hefty orbital and aerial defences, protecting the many facilities below. At the highest point of this intimidating structure is the Throne of Curses, the highest echelon of the Chapter. It is here the Dread Lord of the Night Terrors resides, cloaked in a pall of shadows as he oversee's his forces. In the spires around the Dark Throne reside the Librarius, Reclusiarch and other important command divisions.
The Tower of Sorrows has only been faced by a foe on two occasions. Both times they have been repelled and utterly destroyed. The survivors would either drown or mutate into ghastly creatures, most of those still stalk the swamp, naught but mindless beasts and decaying husks.
The fleet of the Night Terrors follows a similar structure to that of the common Chapter layout. However, the majority of the fleet is divided to support individual companies, as they operate as singular entities. This structural discrepancy is immensely beneficial, as it allows companies either alone or in a group to form into battle-groups. Each battle-group can consist of either a single Strike Cruiser with a single Company to the entire Chapter fleet, depending on the nature of the conflict. Oddly, the exact size of the Night Terror's fleet is clearly recorded, with each ship in the fleet being documented with at least minor detail. Just like the Chapter on the ground, the Night Terrors are the embodiment of unseen terror in the void. Invisible to sensors and near impossible to distinguish from the black void, most ships broadcast untraceable and haunting distress calls to a foe, launch dead ships into the lines of the enemy, or even detonate moons or planetoids to simply induce fear.
The Black Glaive (Battle Barge): The Capital Ship of the Night Terrors, the Black Glaive is the heart of the fleet and as such the most powerful. With all ships in the fleet, the Black Glaive is known to appear from the void right on top of an opponent using ancient stealth technology, but also carries the heaviest and deadliest weaponry of the Chapter. Capable of planetary destruction, the Black Glaive is both renowned and feared throughout the Imperium.
The Voidwing (Battle Barge): Voidwing is a high powered and notorious vessel, second only to the Black Glaive in it's standing and age. The Voidwing is known for being the unseen terror to the Black Glaive's direct methods of terror. In addition, the Voidwing is responsible for the larger scale rapid deployment operations or boarding.
Echo Of Darkness (Strike Cruiser)
Night's Retribution (Strike Cruiser)
Sightless Revenant (Strike Cruiser)
The Lesser Evil (Strike Cruiser)
Incarnate Vengeance (Strike Cruiser)
Various Escort ships, unnamed due to their presence in covert operations or general expandability.
Notable Night Terrors
Tenebrum, Dread Lord:
Tenebrum is the Chapter Master and public face of the Night Terrors. A figure of terror and awe even within his own Chapter, Tenebrum resides in the ancestral home of all Dread Lords in the tip of the Tower of Sorrow. A callous, cold and brutally creative warrior, Tenebrum is one of the greatest and darkest minds ever located in this office. Tenebrum has served as Chapter Master of the Night Terrors for nearly 400 years, following in the footsteps of his predecessors. Clad in ancestral power armour of all Dread Lords, the Nightmare Plate, he strides the field as a spectre of fearful proportions. Armed with the Power Scythe Despair and Agony Razors, Tenebrum continues to carve a place for himself into the darkest recesses of a foe's very soul.
If Tenebrum is the embodiment of the seen fear, then Nostrom is the unknown that stalks the shadows. Nostrom is more rumour than fact, a whispered rumour or fearful thought lingering in the very corners of the mind. The appearance of Nostrom is heavily contested, with none knowing for sure except those present in the highest echelons of the Night Terrors. Remembrancer depictions are commonly wildly varying, which is attributed to possible hallucinogenic or memetic tactics used by the Night Terrors to install fear into the mind. What is clear is that Nostrom holds a high command status in the Chapter, likely with equal standing to the Dread Lord.
Chiro Ptera, The First:
The original Chapter Master of the Night Terrors, Chiro is a figure of near mythological status. While the Emperor is seen as a falling matyr, a lost ideal of man, Chiro is seen as the fear left by his loss. The figure himself was said to have forged the foundations of the Chapter, even carving the Throne of Curses himself. The legacy of the first Dread Lord is such that none have surpassed his shadow, which continues to hang over the entire Chapter, like a shroud of boiling darkness waiting to release.
The Nightmare Plate:
A set of artificer armour deeply rooted in the history and mythology of the Night Terrors, the Nightmare Plate is a relic passed down since that Chapter's inception. The entire amour is entirely of grey plate but for the gauntlets, greaves, helm and chest iconography. The armour also bares wing-like protrusions on the pauldrons, gauntlets and greaves. A jump pack, all black with similar winged protrusions, is also consistently attached to the legendary armour. In this, an Astartes resembles some form of daemonic bat over man. In a sense, this is the embodiment of the brooding fear the Night Terrors perpetuate.
Despair is a Power Scythe of great renown, wielded by the dispassionate Tenebrum. The Power Scythe is made of glassy, incandescent metal that appears to phase in and out of reality. The scythe has been shown to rend flesh and metal asunder like most power weapons, but in the hands of a master the blade becomes an instrument of massacre.
Strange weapons with dark implications, the Agony Razors are small powered daggers given to every Night Terror. The most famous are commonly ornamental dirks used in ritualistic interrogations and more brutal terror tactics. The dirks themselves are an anomaly, as the blade itself appears to be shattered. Bonds of dark energy seem to hold the fragments of the blade together, which are said to dissipate with the death of the owner.
- "There is a truth in fear, a truth felt by every being with a soul. For those that lack such an essence, violence will have to do. "
- —The First, Chiro Ptera
- "Watch them run, they cannot escape."
- —Moritus Est operative