- "They were despatched into the Outer Darkness upon that first Day of Exile, there to ravage the foes of mankind until their final atonement. Their Forgotten One gave them remit unbound, to set about the Traitor, the alien and the Renegade without mercy, and to harrow them in their places of strength. So began their long hunt. They hunt still."
- — Chapter 17, Paragraph 98, the Mythos Angelica Mortis, ca. M36
The Carcharodons is a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter of an unknown Founding though it has been alleged to be either an ancient Chapter born as early as the Second Founding, or a relatively new Chapter raised during the 23rd Founding. The Carcharodons is an alleged Successor Chapter of the Raven Guard. They participated in the latter stages of the Badab War, returning from the outer void to punish those they saw as Traitors to the Imperium and the Emperor. The Carcharodons have always been a fleet-based Chapter, following the far rarer Nomad-Predation pattern rather than the more common Crusading pattern adopted by countless other mobile Space Marine Chapters.
In recompense for their role in the Badab War and with the tacit agreement of the Fire Hawks -- the new masters of the Mantis Warriors Chapter's territory in the Endymion Cluster -- the Carcharodons received permission to "harvest" new recruits from this promising group of Feral and Feudal Worlds of the Maelstrom Zone. Ransacking the Mantis Warriors' hidden armouries and bases, the Carcharodons then departed from the Ultima Segmentum, embarking again on their solitary crusade. The Carcharodons may actually be the same Chapter as the Space Sharks; the term Carcharodons might simply be a fragment of their name translated into High Gothic as "Carcharodons Astra" for that same unit of Astartes.
The Founding of this Space Marine Chapter remains shrouded in the mists of long-lost antiquity, thousands of standard years in the past, though it has been stated in Imperial and Chapter records that the Carcharodons have been serving the "Void Father" (the Emperor) for ten standard millennia. This alone would not be enough to warrant special consideration, but the Carcharodons' mystery has not lessened in recent centuries. Rather it has grown with each bloody deed and unexpected strike the Carcharodons perform. Now, the very name of this Chapter is synonymous with the cold, dark depths of the void and the hungry predators that lurk within.
The Carcharodons is a mysterious and enigmatic Chapter of Astartes, having forged for itself a dark and bloody legend in the minds of those that survived the conflict known as the Badab War. Returning from the black void of space beyond the farthest reaches of the galaxy as strangers to both friend and foe alike, the Carcharodons sided with the Loyalists against those that would challenge the Imperium of the divine Emperor.
The exact origins of this infamous Chapter are hard to pinpoint in Imperial archives as the Carcharodons have left no records of their activities in recent history. They feature nowhere within the open Imperial records, and likewise the Chapter has no officially-recorded battle honours. Furthermore, this Chapter is oft misidentified with other lesser-known Chapters operating with similar nomenclatures and symbology (i.e. "Void Reapers", "Blood Sharks", etc.).
However, sealed and secured records within the Inquisition may shed some light as to the true origins of this Chapter. The oldest of these ancient treatises on the wars of the Imperium of Man may be found within the pages of the Mythos Angelica Mortis written by the savant-scribes of the Secretariat Militum of Terra late in the 35th Millennium. References are made in this oft-vague and incomplete work to a Space Marine Chapter identified as the Carcharodon Astra. They were despatched into the "...outer darkness...upon an endless voyage... to ravage the foes of Mankind..." and to "...set about the Traitor, the alien, and the Renegade without mercy, and harrow them in their places of strength."
This text stems from a far older work, now lost, dating back to the unknown era that surrounds the Astropath Wars of the late 32nd and the early 33rd Millennia. This is a time now shrouded in myth and allegory, and its true nature has been purged from Imperial history so thoroughly that less is known of it than of the Horus Heresy or the Great Crusade. Other records give this Chapter variations in name or title, such as the Space Sharks, but all the accounts are consistent on certain similarities of iconography and operation, and in their description of the Carcharodons' bestial but calculated savagery in combat. To this Chapter was afforded the sacred and unending duty to travel the interstellar night beyond the Imperium's borders to locate and destroy the enemies of Mankind before they could penetrate Imperial space.
The only other tantalising clues to the Chapter's origins can be offered up by those few Imperial servants who have had the dubious honour of encountering the enigmatic Carcharodons in the flesh. For the most part, these individuals have been those despatched to explore the outermost bounds of the galaxy: Explorators, Rogue Traders and the like. However, beyond these rare encounters recorded in various fragmentary Imperial data-vaults, the only information forthcoming on the Carcharodons are the stories of their often bloody deeds across the galaxy.
- Vengeance from the Void (ca. M32) - Across a hundred scattered systems in the western marches of the Segmentum Solar, Chaos Cult uprisings led by a core of Chaos Space Marine warbands drawn from the Iron Warriors, Night Lords and World Eaters Traitor Legions brought entire planetary governments to their knees in a year of blood and anarchy. With whole sectors on the brink of collapse, events took a dramatic turn when a combined force of the Adeptus Astartes emerged from the black depths beyond the spiral arm and launched a sudden and overwhelming attack directly upon the uprising's command. Though many Loyalist Space Marines fell in glory, the warlords of the Traitor factions were slain and the uprising fractured into a thousand localised rebellions which were soon put down by local Imperial forces. Subsequent Inquisitorial studies claim that these Space Marines were drawn from several Chapters, including the Carcharodons, Minotaurs, Death Eagles and Angels of Absolution. Other evidence, however, including their estimated Founding and projected deployment dates, contradict these assertions, consigning the entire event to conjecture.
- The Pentarchy of Blood (860-940.M33) - During the dark and bloody episode of Imperial history known as the War of the False Primarch which plunged the Segmentum Pacificus into anarchy and is now largely lost to myth and purged from the Imperial record, the Pentarchy of Blood was convened by the High Lords of Terra to enact their judgement. Five Chapters, the Carcharodons, the Charnel Guard, the Death Eagles, the Flesh Eaters and the Red Talons, were used to systematically destroy eleven Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes judged Traitoris Perdita and lay waste to their homeworlds, finally drawing the eight-solar-decade-long conflict to a close.
- 7th Black Crusade (811.M37) - The 7th Black Crusade was one of the Black Crusades led by the infamous Warmaster of Chaos Abaddon the Despoiler and his Black Legion, launched out of the Eye of Terror in 811.M37. When the Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter battled against the Chaotic horde at the world of Midian, Abaddon singled them out with implacable fury. He led a band of Khorne Berserkers into the teeth of the Blood Angels' Devastator positions. Even the Blood Angels' own Assault troops could not dislodge the frenzied warband and recapture the bodies of their comrades. But there is an obscure reference to the Blood Angels being saved by an unidentified Space Marine Chapter of mysterious origin. Written within the The Canticle of Cassandria Lev - Vol. CVI is the eponymous Sainted Sisters' highly mythologised and oblique account of the wars of the 7th Black Crusade. Within them is found mention of a "grey-clad" Space Marines Chapter who came from "The outer night" to aid the Imperium, and whose "Jagged maw did swallow the stars..." and whose "... black gaze did mirror the void of oblivion". In the course of the canticle this Chapter's ships set upon Abaddon's forces following the disastrous defeat and routing of the Blood Angels at Midian and attacked the pursuing forces as Saint Lev writes: "... fell upon the servants of the skulled-one with great fury from the darkness, unseen as the beast that lurks beneath the black waters, death for death, blood for blood... thus were the Sons of Sanguinius bought respite, and did turn back upon their pursuers and so were the damned traitors of the false gods driven unto their ruin." Images of these events can be found upon the walls of the crypt-world of Hypasitis created to house the honoured dead of that war, depicted in repeated fresco and bar relief, but curiously the faces of the intervening Space Marines there depicted are obscured with featureless disks of black obsidian. Given the largely unknown history of the star-faring Carcharodons Chapter, accounts of their activities can only be constructed from recorded historical incidents and fragmentary records that are believed to have involved the Carcharodons on balance of evidence. This notable engagement is listed by Imperial savants as a "[Special] Probable Encounter/Recorded Sighting" of this notorious Chapter.
- Angevin Crusade (322-384.M39) - During the Angevin Crusade that conquered the Calyx Expanse and founded what would eventually become the Calixis Sector, the Rogue Trader Basil Horothis led his ship, the Stark Venger, and a considerable force of naval armsmen against the debased Dark Eldar pirates on the world of Loth. However, Horothis found his forces much reduced in the fighting on that world of perpetual night. Beneath the eternally roiling clouds, and illuminated only by the intermittent flashes of lightning, the Rogue Trader's armsmen suffered greatly from the savage hit-and-run raids of the Kabal of Shadowed Thorns. Even as Horothis realised his error and made plans to withdraw from Loth's accursed surface, the Kabal of Shadowed Thorns struck the Stark Venger. A sudden attack from a flight of Razorwing fighters crippled the Cruiser's main drives, slewing the starship out of low orbit. The damage left Horothis with only one choice. Testing his considerable skills as a ship handler, he attempted planetfall aboard the Venger. The ship did not reach the ground easily, and only through the considerable skills of Horothis and his master helmsman Orgef Keel did the Venger survive at all. However, their landing left them in an arguably worse predicament than mere death. Trapped within their beached vessel, Horothis and his crew found themselves surrounded by capricious foes. Quickly, the Dark Eldar encircled the ship and its hasty defensive fortifications, striking at random to kill and capture slaves. All Horothis could do was send out an astropathic plea for deliverance and use the ship's batteries in an attempt to keep the xenos pirates at bay. After a solar month, the Venger's guns were all but spent, and many of her crew whisked away into the darkness. The Kabal of Shadowed Thorns grew bold, and began to press a sustained attack into the downed voidship. The fighting reached the bridge, but as Horothis and his retainers struggled desperately against a press of cavorting Wych gladiators, help arrived. Suddenly two bolts of bruise-coloured lightning split the mass of Wyches, slaying some outright and scattering the rest. The strikes left behind two hulking, gray-clad figures, fuming with hoarfrost and reeking of ozone. Without a pause the two Space Marine Terminators tore into the Wyches with hissing Lightning Claws. In moments, the decks were slick with gore, and the panicked remnants were fleeing for their lives. The same happened all across the vessel. The survivors told of hundreds of Assault Terminators -- though there could not have been more than a dozen -- appearing wherever the battle was thickest to rip through the invaders with savage butchery. So fierce was the counterattack that the Dark Eldar quickly fled the Venger. On the shadow-shrouded plains beyond the hull, Thunderhawks disgorged three score gray-clad warriors armed with Bolter and blade. Confusion, fear, and rage overtook the Dark Eldar pirates and they flew towards the Space Marines. No doubt they intended bloody vengeance. However, the Space Marines awaited the assault implacably, drawn up in loose ranks outside their gunships. They did not fire a single shot, even when beams of dark energy began to crackle overhead. When the fastest Scourges were no more than a hundred metres from the Space Marines' lines, the Emperor's Chosen sprung their trap. The gloomy surface of Loth knew light for the first time in aeons as searing Lance beams split the clouds. In an incredible display of precision targeting, they scoured the ground around the Venger and the Space Marines to boiling lava, incinerating the Dark Eldar to ash. Only then did the Space Marines spring into action, hunting the survivors until they fled wailing back to their Webway gates. In the aftermath of the incident, Horothis spoke briefly with the commander of the Space Marines. Horothis later described this Astartes as deathly pale of continence, with blank, black eyes and sharp teeth. Speaking only in ancient High Gothic, he informed Horothis that reinforcements from the Crusade were inbound, and politely but firmly requested a tithe of war supplies from the Venger's vaults. He refused to identify himself or his men, and departed three solar days before the arrival of Imperial Navy outriders. It was only after the Crusade's Inquisitorial representatives questioned Horothis (now busy establishing his estates on Loth) that they realised these Space Marines belonged to no Chapter affiliated with the Crusade, and drew connections between ancient myths of a long forgotten Chapter.
- Badab War (910-913.M41) - Arriving without warning in 910.M41 the sudden appearance of the Carcharodons' Chapter fleet caused alarm for both the Loyalist and Secessionist forces operating within the Maelstrom Zone. An unidentified, fire-blackened Space Marine Strike Cruiser identified itself with ancient, though still valid, Imperial authorisation protocols. The unidentified Space Marine force had come to offer its aid to the Loyalist cause against the Secessionists, claiming to have come in answer to a summons from Terra itself. They identified their Chapter as the "Carcharodons Astra", using the ancient High Gothic form of their name (or the "Space Sharks" in Low Gothic), and formally requested the Loyalists' permission to enter the war zone and draw blood. Upon their arrival, the Carcharodons' Force Commander Tyberos presented the Inquisitor Legate in charge of prosecuting the Badab conflict with Notices Patent provided to the Chapter affirming the rights and titles issued to it by several High Lords of Terra and Inquisitors now long dead. Tyberos even submitted himself for psychic probing and gene-sampling. The Inquisitor Legate vouched for the Carcharodons. Lord High Commander Carab Culln of the Red Scorpions, the Magister Millitant or supreme commander of all the Loyalist forces, accepted the Carcharodons into his line of battle, although he was still wary of their loyalties and their deviations from the Codex Astartes during their long voyage beyond Imperial space. The Carcharodons were initially deployed to the Endymion Cluster after their return to Imperial space, the territory governed by the Secessionist Mantis Warriors Chapter, rather than to the Badab Sector. They systematically annihilated planets in the Cluster known to have harboured the Mantis Warriors to force that Chapter to stop using their hit-and-run tactics and mass their forces in defence of these worlds, a strategy that spared the Carcharodons from having to pursue them across the Cluster to places where their foes held the advantage of support and local knowledge. In 913.M41, during the final battle of the Badab War on Badab Primaris, the homeworld of the Renegade Astral Claws Chapter and Lufgt Huron, the Tyrant of Badab, the Carcharodons sabotaged the ancient atomic and geo-thermal reactors which powered the world's hive cities and fed its hungry planetary defence batteries with energy. This resulted in a planetary tectonic upheaval, with entire hive city sectors collapsing into yawning chasms that opened up in the ground beneath them, replaced by seas of molten lava. After the death of Badab Primaris, the remaining Secessionists from the Astral Claws, Executioners, Mantis Warriors and Lamenters Chapters were put on trial before a specially convened Consistorial Court of their peers in the Adeptus Astartes. Before departing the Maelstrom Zone for good, the Carcharodons Chapter fleet returned to the Endymion Cluster. There, with the agreement of the Fire Hawks, they struck at the Tranquility System, whose worlds were once the primary recruiting and training grounds of the Mantis Warriors. From these worlds they harvested an entire generation of recruits to renew their own losses, forcing those they selected to fight to the death to prove their worth in order to survive as Carcharodons Neophytes. Thus paid in blood, the Carcharodons fleet departed, the last known sighting of them made by an Explorator augury-beacon, which marked them tacking course through the Warp, ascending above the galactic plane and into the blackness of the outer void once more. The current whereabouts and operational activities of the Carcharodons remain unknown. The Fire Hawks' own disappearance while travelling through the Warp thus left the Mantis Warriors free to return to their ancestral Chapter domains once their century-long penitent crusade was over.
- The Corcyran Massacre (910.M41) - The event that became known in Imperial records as the Corcyran Massacre was discovered by an Imperial Navy patrol in 910.M41. The wreckage of a smugglers' base was discovered in the dust wastes of the forlorn world of Corcyra II. Within the base was a nightmarish scene of carnage and destruction rarely witnessed before by men. A bloody battle had been fought between two sub-company-sized forces of Space Marines from the Executioners and the Carcharodons Chapters. These two Chapters, both infamous for their savagery and unyielding stances towards their foes, had fought each other to mutual annihilation. The base around them was ripped apart, its former inhabitants now mouldering into dust. Many of the bodies of both sides showed signs of having fought on despite suffering horrendous wounds, severed limbs and massive trauma that should have felled even an Astartes, and several were found locked in deathly, gore-splattered embraces, striking at their foes with their last ebbing strength. It is not known which Chapter's last warrior survived to the end to claim a bitter victory. Neither Chapter has acknowledged any survivors of the massacre living to tell of what happened at Corcyra II.
As previously mentioned, what few Imperial records exist about the Carcharodons suggest they are entirely fleet-based, which in turn would suggest they have fundamental differences from most, more conventional, Space Marine Chapters. Their long isolation may also have an effect on the Chapter's wargear. The few starships observed to be serving the Carcharodons were wildly different in design and even the era of their construction, indicating the Chapter likely makes use of whatever vessels it can find, and performs extensive modifications and repairs in order to keep them sailing as long as possible.
This carries over into the individual Battle-Brothers as well. Those Carcharodons who have been seen often sport arms of ancient providence. They are far more likely to carry weapons such as the ancient Phobos R/017 Pattern Bolter or the Mark V Heresy Pattern Power Armour from ten thousand years in the Imperium's past, alongside other weapons and gear that span the entirety of that ten millennium history. Again, it is likely this is a by-product of the Chapter's enforced self-sufficiency.
These attitudes seem to apply to the Chapter's overall organisation. Although anecdotal evidence indicates the Carcharodons roughly conform to the tactical and squad doctrines of the Codex Astartes, this does not carry over to its command structure and company arrangements. Instead, the Carcharodons seem to split their Chapter into a number of Battle Companies designed to operate independently. Each has an augmented auxiliary force of Scout Marines for reconnaissance and evaluation of the enemy, and a dedicated spearhead of Terminator Veterans who serve as the company Captain's bodyguard. It seems likely the Carcharodons eschew Reserve Companies entirely.
Those accounts which purport to be of the Carcharodons indicate that they often seem to have abandoned the Codex Astartes-prescribed symbols and insignia that signify rank and assignment in a Battle Company. In their place, the Battle-Brothers use a wide range of personal and totemic markings, corresponding with their primitivist tendencies. This is naught but conjecture, however, as again, the Carcharodons are quite unwilling to discuss the intricacies of their Chapter's organisation. The Carcharodons have been observed to make use of Chaplains and Librarians, with little deviation from their roles in other Chapters. However, Apothecaries and Techmarines seldom appear outside the Carcharodons' nomad fleet. It's very likely that the Carcharodons recognise the vital role these Space Marines play in preserving and maintaining their Chapter's very existence, and keep them on hand whenever possible. These last two cadres may have been held in reserve in the Chapter's fleet, a not uncommon practice for fleet-based Chapters who spend large periods in isolation. This structure puts the effective strength of each company at around 100 to 120 Initiates and 20-30 Neophyte Scouts, although the exact size and disposition of the Carcharodons Chapter as a whole remains unknown.
Only a few intelligible accounts of the Carcharodons exist that tell of the Chapter's very disciplined order of deployment and battle, despite the evidence from casual observers that they are a barbarous and savage Chapter in nature. Their tactical deployments and use of shock-assault tactics is highly reminiscent of the Black Templars. Although these Chapters are diametrically opposed in character, they both tend to display an overriding desire to close with the enemy and shatter their foes in bloody personal combat.
The Carcharodons' order of battle contains several officer positions not present in other Space Marine Chapters, though they largely resemble the standard Codex ranks:
- Shade Lord (Chapter Master)
- Company Master (Captain)
- Strike Leader (Sergeant)
- Void Brother (Battle-Brother)
During the Badab War the Carcharodons Chapter demonstrated a number of highly distinctive traits and trappings that set them apart from their brethren fighting on both sides of that conflict. Their equipment was observed to be of ancient provenance. Much of their arms, vehicles, wargear and other technology were of designs and patterns that covered the span of the Imperium's breadth and history. Examples include such ancient weapons as the Phobos R/017 Bolter and the widespread use of Mark V Heresy Pattern Power Armour by the Chapter's Battle-Brothers. The Chapter also seemed to possess an unusual contingent of Terminator Armour suits, of which many appeared to be heavily modified or augmented in unorthodox ways to keep them combat-worthy.
Like many of their fellow Chapters, the Carcharodons have been observed making use of Librarians within their ranks, with little deviation from their roles in other Chapters. Most Chapters train and test chosen psykers following the ancient ways laid out in the Codex Astartes. Librarians of the Carcharodons are trained in this way, and, with few minor traditional variances, have been taught to live by the word of the Codex. Carcharodons Librarians have a number of unique psychic abilities only used by the psykers of their Chapter, including:
- From the Depths - The Carcharodons Librarian clouds the minds of his adversaries with a choking mental darkness, amplifying their fear and surprise so that it paralyses them. Their minds writhe with images of watery depths of numbing cold and writhing pelagic shapes, leaving them vulnerable to assault.
- Rending Maw - The Librarian calls forth the avatar of a great oceanic predator whose maw erupts from the very ground beneath the enemy. The very stones and earth reform into the shape of jaws and teeth that snap shut, consuming all within in a shower of gore.
Though it has happened only rarely, lone Space Marines in dark grey livery and speaking ancient variants of High Gothic have, on occasions, arrived at the fortresses of the Deathwatch in the Jericho Reach (and perhaps elsewhere) in order to "fulfil the obligations of their sworn oath." When pressed, some of these Space Marines have said they hailed from a Chapter known as the Carcharodons. However, beyond these rare encounters recorded in the dusty data-vaults of Watch Fortress Erioch, the only information forthcoming on the Carcharodons are the stories of their fell deeds throughout the Imperium.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
Tactically, during the Badab War, the Carcharodons operated almost exclusively as a rapid-strike force, disdaining any kind of protracted engagement whenever possible, preferring to approach their targets either with extreme speed or by stealth, which allowed them to strike with the element of surprise on their side whenever possible. Those few who observe a Carcharodon assault and live would be forgiven for assuming that they are mindless berserkers, unconcerned with tactics or planning. In fact, the Carcharodons rely on a series of tactics that at their heart are both simple and reliable.
Though the Carcharodons seem both competent and familiar with armoured vehicles, the core of their tactics rely on large detachments of mobile Space Marine heavy infantry. In this way, the Carcharodons make use of the bloody prowess of their combat brethren to carry the day in battle. The Carcharodons often endeavour to be the initiator of combat actions and prefer not to fight on the defensive. Tactical operations often begin with a Battle Company using its integrated Scout Marine forces and other reconnaissance units such as Land Speeder and Bike Squads to probe enemy positions and identify weak points and any target with strategic value. Once identified, the main Carcharodons forces hit these points with overwhelming attacks, eschewing preparatory bombardments or armoured spearheads in favour of complete and overwhelming surprise. They may use Drop Pods, Thunderhawks, or massed teleportation to make these attacks, and the assaulting forces are often a mix of Tactical and Assault Marines, as well as Terminator Veterans.
Depending on the success of these assaults, the Carcharodons usually follow two responses. If the targeted positions prove well-defended, the Carcharodons withdraw. These withdrawals happen almost as quickly as the prior assault, and the Carcharodons fade from the battlefield like ghosts. They patiently re-evaluate the strength of the enemy positions, then launch another lightning assault at a different point they perceive to be weak.
Eventually, one of these assaults succeeds, and then the Carcharodons press the attack to the hilt. Once they commit fully, they dig deep into the enemy's vitals, endeavouring to do as much damage as possible (especially to vulnerable rear areas), as quickly as possible. At this point, the full fury of the Carcharodons is all too apparent, and little survives this stage of the assault. The Carcharodons prefer fighting at close range, either attacking with point-blank weapons fire, or in melee when they have broken through the enemy line.
There is one other interesting and somewhat disturbing detail about the Carcharodons' assaults: Their battles are conducted in complete silence. Any commands from the Chapters' leaders are transmitted over a locked and encrypted Vox net, and the Battle-Brothers abstain from issuing any word or sound to friend or foe. To see such carnage enacted without a word or cry is chilling, to say the least.
When undergoing boarding operations during ship-to-ship void battles, the Carcharodons are known to employ an ancient and crude, but unique weapon known as Ursus Claws -- large barbed lances that are the size of smaller Escort ships in their own right. Fashioned like massive harpoons, these massive lances puncture through an enemy vessel's hull, and once impaled, the immense spears become active, locking to their prey's ravaged insides with magnetic strength. With malicious slowness, the Carcharodons vessels can then recall their spears, as the lances ratchet back towards the vessel that fired them, dragging them home on massive chains. Once the doomed vessel is within reach of the Carcharodons, they then disgorge their Astartes into the bowels of the impaled enemy ship, and the blooding could begin in earnest. This technique was first pioneered during the Great Crusade by the barbarous and bloody-handed World Eaters Legion.
- "Solitary contemplation offers the best opportunity for revelation."
- — Shade Lord Arkhas Fal, from the foundational text, Beyond the Veil of Stars, Chapter III, Verse XI
Despite their long isolation from the Imperium, the Chapter and its Battle-Brothers seem deeply, almost incredibly, loyal. Most of the Carcharodons encountered have shown reverence towards the Imperial Creed and places of Imperial worship. Many also make a habit of carrying devotional items such as prayer scrolls on their wargear. To the Carcharodon Astra the Emperor was Rangu, the Void Father, sire of the Forgotten One. Like the Carcharodons, His vigilance was eternal, a beacon in the night, the bane of the encroaching shadows. Their Chapter had left humanity for the emptiness of the Outer Dark when He had still walked among mortals, and they would not return until He did so once again. Only with the coming of the Forgotten One could the Edicts of Exile be overturned, and the Chapter's eternal crusade in the darkness be brought to an end.
The Carcharodon Astra are a faithful brotherhood, even by the standards of the Adeptus Astartes. Their creed is an old one, older than the superstitions and misbeliefs of the current Imperial Cult. Theirs is not some blind faith based on hollow praise and lavish donations. Their memories of the Emperor are of a living, breathing titan, and Terra is far more to them than some distant hub of galaxy-spanning bureaucracy. Their connection to it is ancient and primal. It has sustained their loyalty and their determination for ten thousand standard years, amidst the loneliness of the Outer Dark. When they had first been banished, none had expected them to survive, let alone remain united as a Chapter. But survive they had, their disparate heritage bound by their faith in Him on Earth. Nothing could shake that.
Many Carcharodons Battle-Brothers carry abstract scrimshaw talismans, or decorate their armour with intricate and abstract line-work. These talismans, etchings, and traceries often depict highly stylised images of fanged maws, death's heads, oceanic predators, and the like. This primitivism likely evolved as part of the Chapter's unique and impenetrable culture over millennia of isolation. However, all this stands in contrast to the savagery they show to their foes. "Merciless" is perhaps the best descriptor for the Carcharodons in combat, but even that does not describe the depths of blood-soaked slaughter to which they are willing to descend. They fight with a wild abandon that could make even the most impetuous Space Wolves Blood Claw take pause, and do not ask for or grant mercy to their opponents beyond a quick (though seldom clean) death. In a way, they seem to see the universe very much in terms of black and white, enemy and ally. Anyone who stands against the Imperium, for whatever reason, can only expect a brutal demise at the hands of the Carcharodons.
The fragmentary records of the Carcharodons indicate that the Chapter has no set homeworld. This is not uncommon for Space Marine Chapters; the renowned Black Templars Chapter, for example, operates solely from its substantial warfleet as part of a perpetual Imperial Crusade. However, the Carcharodons do not appear to follow the Crusade Chapter pattern of operations, relying instead on a much rarer operational strategy known as the “Nomad-Predation” pattern. The Nomad-Predation pattern evolved in use by Space Marine Chapters and certain Rogue Trader fleets operating beyond the Imperium's boundaries for extended periods of time. It refers to an entirely self-contained force that can sustain itself without any Imperial support whatsoever. A Nomad-Predation fleet may contain as many support vessels as true warships, or it may contain voidships capable of both combat and maintenance repairs. This second possibility may be more likely in the case of the Carcharodons; given the bellicose Chapter's propensity for combat, it seems unlikely they would tolerate vessels in their fleet's ranks that could not hold their own on the battle line.
A Nomad-Predation fleet voyages endlessly, pausing only to identify and engage its foes. It must choose its targets carefully, selecting those within its means to destroy without threatening the fleet's viability as a fighting force. Once it selects the appropriate victims, it can descend upon them quickly and savagely, engaging and destroying potential threats or launching spoiling attacks against foes too large to attack in force. The fleet obtains resources from the vanquished foe before vanishing, safe from any potential retaliation.
Though one cannot be certain that this is the means by which the Carcharodons operate, the tactics do seem to perfectly fit their observed behaviour. If this is the case, the Carcharodons most likely replenish their ranks in the same manner as other Chapters that follow the Nomad-Predation pattern. Namely, they cull potential Initiates from amongst the young of the survivors of their assaults, provided those survivors are human and free of the corrupting influence of the Warp. This culling for potential Aspirants is known amongst the Carcharodons as a Red Tithe. These Initiates must be subjected to intensive hypno-conditioning and other harsh procedures designed to strip away any past loyalty, replacing it with the will and attitudes of the Carcharodons.
If they successfully passed their induction trials, initial surgery and indoctrination, these Initiates become Scout Marines. When not training with their fellow Scouts in the 10th Company, often times they will be attached to one of the Chapter's nine Battle Company commands, in order to gain combat experience. After being bloodied in battle over the course of a solar decade or more, they will begin to earn their first Exile Markings, jagged tattoos that often spiral in loops up their bared forearms and across their pale, shaved scalps. When they are on the cusp of becoming full members of the Chapter, they will eventually leave behind the number designations all Scouts are known by in favour of a true void name, swapping their grey carapace plates and black multiweave fatigues for the coveted Power Armour of a full Void Brother (Battle-Brother).
Nobody knows what Primarch's gene-seed led to the creation of the Carcharodons. Opportunities to study the organs involved have been exceedingly rare, and the Carcharodons themselves are singularly unhelpful in this regard. The only clues to their origin that the Deathwatch have are from a gene-seed extraction performed on a slain Battle-Brother, recovered from a massacre site. The body was purportedly from the Carcharodons. The Apothecary who performed the extraction later noted that the gene-seed seemed untainted, if subject to some long-term degradation. More interestingly, the gene-seed bore several genetic markers reminiscent of the Raven Guard bloodline. These markers are uncommon, and a link to the Raven Guard would explain several other details about the Carcharodons as well.
The appearance of all Carcharodons shares some singular details. They all have greyish, pale skin with an almost deathlike pallor. Some of the most venerable and ancient Carcharodons have liquid black eyes, without iris or sclera. Beyond this, however, there are no common phenotypes amongst encountered Carcharodons. This suggests that the Carcharodons do recruit from a wide variety of sources, and that their skin colour and eye mutation is a result of their gene-seed. These traits are similar to some of the physical traits of the Raven Guard. However, even if the Chapter does count Corvus Corax as its progenitor, many standard millennia of genetic drift will have likely created distinct differences.
When traveling in the void, most Carcharodons Battle-Brothers sleep in individual cryo-tanks. It is how the Chapter's Battle-Brothers spend a great deal of time in voidspace. Existing in the lifeless dark beyond the stars is no easy thing. The Carcharodon Astra have been roaming it for ten standard millennia, cut off from all contact with the wider Imperium. The normal avenues for recuperation and replenishment utilised by Space Marine Chapters are rarely open to them. The suspended hibernation afforded by the cryo-tanks provides the Chapter with a method of rest between combat operations and training cycles, and helps preserve its strength. Typically, it is the younger brethren and Initiates who utilise the tanks the most, overcoming deep void sickness through the meditational activities of their newly implanted Sus-an Membrane. Older Carcharodons usually find it increasingly difficult to rest, even through the longer voyages. It is said that the eldest of their kind haven't used the tanks for centuries.
- Company Master Tyberos, "The Red Wake" - Tyberos was the Captain of the fabled Battle Barge Nicor, and serves as Company Master of the Carcharodons' 1st Company known as the Red Brethren. Tyberos was the Force Commander of the Carcharodons during their unlooked-for and savage intervention in the Badab War. Wearing an archaic suit of Terminator Armour (which made his rapid combat style all the more impressive) and wielding a pair of unique gauntlet-based Power Weapons dubbed "Hunger" and "Slake", he often led his so-called "Red Brethren" Terminators of the 1st Company in bloody assault after bloody assault, carving a path of mangled corpses through the rebel forces of the Badab campaign. Each of these gauntlets incorporates the howling Adamantium teeth of a Chainfist with the multiple blades of a Lightning Claw. If these extraordinary weapons do exist, they would go a long way to explaining the tales of butchery that surround this nigh-mythical "Lord Reaper of the Void".
- Company Master Bail Sharr - Reaper Prime and Captain of the Carcharodon's 3rd Company.
- Company Master Akia (Deceased) - Former Captain of 3rd Company and Sharr's predecessor.
- Chief Librarian Te Kathurangi - Known as the Pale Nomad, Te Kathurangi is the Chief Librarian of the Carcharodons Chapter. With the exception of the slumbering Greats in their white suits of Dreadnought armour, Te Kahurangi was by far the oldest member of the Chapter. It was said that he was only three generations removed from the Wandering Ancestors, the first to have gone into the void, alone, at the behest of the Forgotten One.
- Chaplain Nikora - 3rd Company Chaplain, 1st Squad. Wounded in action during the assault on Centrum Dominus on Zartak, suffering numerous broken bones.
- Apothecary Tama - 3rd Company Apothecary, 1st Squad. Interestingly, he has continued to uphold a Vow of Silence for almost a century.
- Techmarine Uthulu - 3rd Company Techmarine.
- Red Tane - 3rd Company Champion, 1st squad. In battle, he carried the Coral Shield and the Void Sword, both ancient Terran relics that had been with the Chapter since the very first Day of Exile.
- Signifier Niko - 3rd Company Standard Bearer, 1st Squad.
- Strike Leader Kahu (Deceased) - 1st Company Veteran and Commander of Terminator Squad Red Wrath. Kahu was a warrior whose reputation for savagery was well founded. In battle his violence was implacable, ceasing only when the enemy had been utterly annihilated. He embodied the Chapter's savage relentlessness. He was one of Lord Tyberos' enforcers, assigned to the roaming Battle Companies to ensure they followed the overall directives of the Chapter and the Nomad Predation Fleet. There was no doubt in many Carcharodons leaders' minds, that Kahu was only with a company not to supplement its fighting power or provide tactical advice. He was often present to ensure that an important objective was carried out in full. He was the eyes and ears of Lord Tyberos, and his orders would be to allow nothing to interfere with an operation's primary objective. While temporarily assigned to the 3rd Company, he was killed in action on Zartak during the Red Tithe operation being conducted there.
- Strike Veteran Dorthor - 3rd Company, 1st Squad Leader.
- Strike Leader Nuritona - 3rd Company, 2nd Tactical Squad Leader.
- Strike Leader Ruak - 3rd Company, 3rd Tactical Squad Leader.
- Strike Leader Ekara (Deceased) - 3rd Company, 4th Tactical Squad Leader. Killed in action in assault on Centrum Dominus on Zartak.
- Strike Leader Kartli - 3rd Company, 5th Tactical Squad Leader.
- Strike Leader Waraki - 3rd Company, 10th Devastator Squad Leader.
- Strike Leader Ari - Known by his combat designation, Omeca-three-nine-Ari, Ari serves as Squad Leader of 3rd Company's Scout element. Even by the standards of most Carcharodons, Ari is known as a bloodied veteran.
- Eti (Deceased) - 1st Company, killed in action on Zartak.
- Narcoti (Deceased) - 1st Company, killed in same ambush as Kahu, Tuvo and Maro on Zartak.
- Tuvo (Deceased) - 1st Company, killed in action on Zartak.
- Maro (Deceased) - 1st Company, killed in action on Zartak.
- Soha (Deceased) - 3rd Company, 1st Squad. Killed in action in the assault on Centrum Dominus on Zartak.
- Kordi - 3rd Company 4th Tactical Squad.
- Rua (Deceased) - Known by his combat designation, Beta-eight-three-Rua, Void Brother Rua served in the 3rd Company, 4th squad. He was killed in same ambush that killed Pahu.
- Haru (Deceased) - 3rd Company, 4th Tactical Squad. Killed in action in assault on Centrum Dominus on Zartak.
- Tonga (Deceased) - 3rd Company, 4th Tactical Squad. Killed in action in assault on Centrum Dominus on Zartak.
- Ungu - 3rd Company, 4th Squad, Ungu, known by his combat designation Omecra-three-three-Ungu, served as his squad's anti-tank specialist.
- Imau (Deceased) - 3rd Company, 5th Tactical Squad. Killed in action during ambush of Chief Librarian Te Kathurangi's strike force.
- Loa - 3rd Company, 5th Tactical Squad.
- Lorro (Deceased) - 3rd Company, 5th Tactical Squad.
- Marcu (Deceased) - 3rd Company, 5th Tactical Squad. Killed in same ambush that killed Pelu and Lorro.
- Pelu (Deceased) - 3rd Company, 5th Tactical Squad.
- Torrik - 3rd Company, 5th Tactical Squad.
- Shipmaster Teko - Captain of the White Maw, flagship of the Carcharodon's 3rd Company.
The Carcharodons fleet, though extensive, is inconsistent in makeup. The vessels of the Carcharodons are a mismatch of old and heavily modified classes and capabilities. Within its line of battle are numerous examples of either very ancient, salvaged or extensively repaired vessels. Many fleet-based Space Marine Chapters use the conventional Crusade Chapter pattern (which consciously imitates the example of the Space Marine Legions of old). Instead the Carcharodons follow the rarer, so-called "Nomad-Predation" pattern. This is used exclusively by Chapters operating for long durations beyond the Imperium's borders, acting as self-contained forces which function without recourse to the Imperium for support at all. These types of fleets voyage without end, pausing only to attack targets that are within their means to destroy without threatening their own viability as an effective space-borne fighting force. The majority of the Carcharodons Nomad Predation Fleet has been in service since the first Day of Exile, that dark time when the Wandering Ancestors had been banished from their home world and the ranks of their brethren, and ordered out beyond the galaxy's edge.
- Nicor (Battle Barge) - The Nicor was the Carcharodons' notorious flagship during the Badab War and serves as the Chapter's mobile fortress-monastery. Though nothing is known about the vast majority of the Carcharodons' fleet, certain records unearthed on the Segmentum Pacificus fleet base of Hydraphur detail at least one of their warships, the Nicor. A cadre of archivist-savants in the employ of Battlefleet Pacificus, studying these ancient records in 703.M40, reported that the Nicor was a relic of ancient heritage. Deck plans identified its make as a heavily modified Charibdys-class Grand Cruiser of the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras, and if any of its sister ships still exist in the Imperium, they are exceedingly rare. The Nicor is slightly smaller than the traditional Battle Barges of more conventional Space Marine Chapters, but if the records are to be believed, the ship is both swift and lethal. Its armour is comparable to a Battle Barge but the ship sports far stronger Void Shields, rivalling those of an Imperial Navy Battleship. The ship packs a solid long-range macrobattery broadside, with a forward array of torpedo tubes able to launch conventional plasma torpedoes or the boarding torpedoes favoured by many Space Marines in naval actions. In place of the more common Bombardment Cannons, the archivist-savants found the Nicor appeared to be armed with an unorthodox weapon-system known as a "Plasma Destructor". Two Tech-priests spent three solar months in supplication and prayer amongst the Cogitator stacks of the fleet archives and determined that such a weapon, though short-ranged, could exceed the sheer destructive power of a Bombardment Cannon's magma-bombs. Finally, the Nicor's plans indicated the voidship traded traditional Thunderhawk hangar space for a vast array of mass teleporter systems. If the blueprints of these archeotech devices are accurate, these teleporters would not only be able to teleport whole Battle Companies at once, they could do so with a degree of accuracy almost unheard of. In summary, the Nicor is a perfect flagship for the Carcharodons; fast, well-armoured, and utterly lethal in close quarters. Such a starship, if it still sails the void under their command, could easily prove a match for the heaviest space fortifications the Imperium has to offer.
- White Maw (Tyrant-class Cruiser) - The White Maw is an ancient Exile-era Tyrant-class Cruiser. Its original design had been both rebuilt and expanded down the centuries. Most recently, it served the Carcharodons' 3rd Company during the collecting of the Red Tithe on the Mining World of Zartak. It was also used two standard centuries later, when the Carcharodons' 3rd Company had returned to the now Penal World of Zartak, when they fought against the invading forces of a Night Lords warband led by the Chaos Lord Amon Cull.
- Scylior (Frigate, unknown class) - The Scylior is a warship known, albeit infrequently, within the Jericho Reach. The ship itself is the rough size and make of a Frigate, similar in design to the Imperial Sword-class Frigate. It does contain powerful, even oversized, Plasma Drives capable of propelling it at impressive speeds, and appears to trade some of its weapon batteries for expanded hangar bays capable of holding Thunderhawk gunships. The remaining macrobatteries appear to be a medley of types, ranging from the traditional laser-based weapons found aboard a Sword-class Frigate to archaic macrobeamers and magno-carronades. Characteristically, the Scylior has never allowed non-Carcharodons aboard her, and only identifies itself by name, never by Chapter. That she belongs to the Carcharodons at all is conjecture. Nevertheless, the ship has been sighted in the Reach at least twice since the beginning of the Achilus Crusade. Long-range Imperial Navy patrols reported a voidship matching its description off the Black Reef, engaged with two Tau Defender-class Escorts. Though outnumbered, the Scylior managed to cripple one with macrobattery fire and ram and board the other (with the results one would expect from a Space Marine boarding action). Even when its task is transport, it seems the Scylior is unwilling to pass up a chance for blood. Recently, Inquisitor Adrielle Quist unearthed some information from Watch Fortress Erioch's data-vaults pertaining to a possible origin of the Scylior. A voidship matching her description named the Prowler was reported to have hunted the space lanes of the Jericho Sector many millennia ago. According to the crumbling data-tape, the Prowler vanished with a number of other pirate vessels during a decade of "mysterious disappearances" amongst reavers plaguing Imperial shipping.
- Grey Harvest (Sword-class Frigate) - The Grey Harvest is a Sword-class Frigate that was part of the White Maw's Escort fleet during the Zartak Campaign.
- Void Revenant (Wrath Hammer-class Escort) - The Void Revenant is a Wrath Hammer-class Escort that was part of the White Maw's escort fleet during the Zartak Campaign.
- Scrimshaw Talismans - These bone talismans are covered with intricately detailed line-work carvings, to the point where the original shape of the bone is lost and the entire surface is a maze of ink-work. These talismans come in a variety of shapes, though they often are worked into stylised death's heads, sea-going predators similar to the Carcharodons' Chapter heraldry, teeth, gaping maws, and other disturbing iconography. It is likely these are worked into the Chapter's primitivist traditions. At least some of the Battle-Brothers are known to carve their own to celebrate accomplishments, frighten foes, and ward off the malefic.
The Carcharodons' Chapter colours are primarily grey. In many instances the more conventional emblems of the Imperium are found alongside idiosyncratic markings, often abstract or depictive images and tokens concerning fanged maws, death's heads, oceanic predators and bloody wounds.
The Carcharodons' Chapter badge is a great white shark motif, jaw curling towards tail fin to form a razor-toothed crescent set upon a void of black.
Though not officially confirmed, it is implied throughout various sources that the Carcharodons are more than likely a Successor Chapter of the First Founding Raven Guard Legion. Their origins might harken back to the bygone era of the Great Crusade. At the time, Shade Lord Arkhas Fal was the Terran-born Master of the XIX Legion before they were united with their long-lost Primarch Corvus Corax on the world of Deliverance. Once given command of his Legion, Corax began to impose the style of war he had perfected upon Lycaeus over that which had defined the XIX Legion of old, particularly by purging the more cold-blooded ways of the Terran Xeric tribes which had once defined the Legion culture. The Legion had so often served in oppression, repression and occupation forces that Corax saw in some of the Terran members of his Legion something akin to the slavers of Lycaeus. Several of the Legion's highest ranking officers were displaced or reassigned to non-command roles, including Shade Lord Arkhas Fal, who had commanded the XIX Legion for three solar decades before the coming of the Raven Lord. Under the Primarch's guidance, distilled into a series of battle-mantras, the Raven Guard developed their skills to preternatural levels. A small number of mostly Terrans of the Legion of old had been assigned to many of these posts beyond the fringes of the Imperium, some in independent nomad fleets, other attached to various Rogue Traders Militum or other so-called "lone wolves". One of these fleets was in fact commanded by the Legion's former commanding officer -- Shade Lord Arkhas Fal -- on the direct order of the Primarch when Corax took over the Raven Guard. What became of the Shade Lord, his fleet and the other elements may never be known, and the fact that Corax appeared to have made no effort to recall them suggests they were considered a body apart from the bulk of the Legion. This story appears to be a veiled attempt by Forge World to more or less reveal that the Carchardons are, in fact, Raven Guard in origin, through both their appearance and the brutality that the ancient Terran-born Astartes of that Legion displayed.
Prior to the publication of Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, the Space Sharks, who are probably the older name for the Carcharodons Chapter, were said to have been given the homeworld of the rebellious Mantis Warriors following the conclusion of the Badab War, thus becoming the new masters of the Endymion Cluster and ending their existence as a fleet-based Crusading Chapter. The Space Sharks were noted to have extensively used Drop Pod assaults against the hive cities of Badab Primaris, and had nursed a longstanding distrust of the Mantis Warriors and Lamenters Chapters.
- Adeptus Astartes: Successor Chapters (Limited Release Booklet), pg. 22
- Deathwatch: Honour the Chapter (RPG), pp. 89-96
- Imperial Armour Volume Two (Second Edition) - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, pg. 17
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 13–14, 19, 60-61, 69, 86, 114-123, 127, 178
- Imperial Armour Volume Thirteen - War Machines of the Lost & the Damned, pg. 21
- The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination, by Alan Bligh, pp. 134, 138, 140
- White Dwarf 101 (UK), "Index Astartes", pg. 71
- Angels of Death: The Judges, In Their Hunger (Short Story) by David Annandale
- Carcharadons: Red Tithe (Novel) by Robbie Macniven