Corvus Corax is the currently missing Primarch of the Raven Guard Chapter of Space Marines and all their Successor Chapters. After the near-destruction of his XIX Legion during the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V at the start of the Horus Heresy, Corax was desperate to rebuild his Legion. With the Emperor's permission, he and his Astartes delved deep beneath the Imperial Palace to recover the advanced genetics knowledge that the Emperor had used to create the Primarchs. Corax then made use of these techniques and a recovered original Primarch genetic template to accelerate the development of new Raven Guard Astartes. The repercussions of those actions came back to haunt him, leading Corax to eventually grant the Emperor's Peace to all the twisted, mutant spawn who emerged as the result of his experiments. Corax then vanished into the Eye of Terror in search of penance for his shame. His current whereabouts and status remain unknown to the Chapter and the Imperium.
Corax was separated from his father the Emperor of Mankind while still an infant in the Emperor's gene-laboratory beneath the Himalayan Mountains on Terra by the machinations of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos. The Chaos Gods snatched the infant Primarch's gestation chamber and flung it through the Warp half-way across the galaxy. Corax was eventually discovered on the world of Lycaeus, the desolated but inhabitable moon of the planet Kiavahr. At this time, Kiavahr was a technologically advanced Forge World, providing its city-size factories with minerals extracted from the non-atmospheric moon by legions of mine slaves.
Under the iron watch of heavily armed guards, the enslaved inhabitants of Lycaeus, who included criminals, political opponents and workers who had failed to meet their quotas, had long provided the rulers of Kiavahr with a free and unlimited source of manpower. When they discovered the pale-skinned child who became Corax, "The Deliverer" in the Kiavahran tongue, they kept him from their masters, training him in the various skills they believed a leader and warrior needed: urban warfare, close combat and demolitions as well as political and philosophical matters. Ultimately, the Primarch's abnormally fast maturation comforted the slaves and fixed Corax in their belief that he was the savior they had long waited for.
Educated to be a leader of men as well as a rebel guerilla, Corax began his task by organising the Lycaean workers into fight teams, promoting the best to squad leaders. He began building huge stockpiles of weapons, concealing them in numerous secret caches across the moon. He ordered a campaign of psychological warfare, launching riots and strikes to increase the number of followers for the workers' rebellion and to stretch the Kiavahran garrison's strength and morale to the breaking point. Waiting for the most opportune time, Corax's forces eventually launched their attack, taking key security points and destroying them by crude force or sabotage, killing every man of the Kiavahran defense forces stationed on Lycaeus.
When Kiavahr's rulers struck back, Corax was ready for them. He outmanoeuvred and ambushed their forces on Lycaeus with his battle-hardened warriors, crushing their supply lines and striking Kiavahr with atomic mining charges via a supply gravity well. Soon, their forces nearly destroyed, their vast factories unable to produce anything due to the minerals shortages, the Tech-Guilds of Kiavahr collapsed in civil war. Celebrating their victory, the inhabitants of Lycaeus renamed their rugged homeworld Deliverance.
It is said that the Emperor appeared on Deliverance that day and, after a day and a night spent with his son, appointed Corax the Primarch of the XIX Space Marine Legion that had been derived from his genome, which he renamed the Raven Guard. Nothing is known of the pair's conversation, but one condition of Corax's acceptance was the help of the Emperor in the task of bringing peace to Kiavahr. Soon the Adeptus Mechanicus stepped in to retake control over their ancient colony world and the planet was rebuilt to the benefit of the Imperium while the black tower which had once housed the Kiavahran garrison of Lycaeus became the Ravenspire, the fortress-monastery of the Raven Guard.
During the Great Crusade that reunited all the colony worlds of Mankind scattered across the galaxy beneath the rule of the Imperium of Man, Corax's talents for planning and sabotage were put to great effect and the Raven Guard, fighting frequently under the orders of the Warmaster Horus, became renowned for their unmatched ability among the other Space Marine Legions in covert operations, sabotage, guerilla warfare, infiltration and lightning strikes. But the pair never saw eye-to-eye, and after an argument, the two Primarchs nearly fought each other. Corax ultimately left Horus' command.
Istvaan Compliance Action
One of the more notable campaigns carried out by Corax and his Raven Guard Legion during the Great Crusade was the Imperial Compliance of the Istvaan System, located in the northern reaches of the Ultima Segmentum, far beyond the established heartlands of the Imperium. Though cut off, scout vessels ranging ahead of Corax's 27th Expeditionary Fleet had found evidence that human life on Istvaan III had managed to maintain a largely cohesive industrialised society that had endured the millennia intact, making it a high priority for contact and absorption into the Imperium.
A long-standing autochthonic culture was prevalent on Istvaan III, which included endemic local mysticism and religious practice. This, coupled with a history of independence, meant that once contacted by the forerunners of the Great Crusade the Istvaanians had first demured and then denied compliance with the Imperial Truth. Given the strategic importance of gaining the life-sustaining and industrialised system with its large human population for the Imperium, a priority was given to achieving the compliance of the Istvaan System. The War Council had once caveat when issuing this order that precluded the use of overwhelming force in order to avoid excessive collateral damage that would spoil this valuable prize.
The task of bringing the Istvaan System into compliance fell to Corax and his Raven Guard Legion as the warriors of the XIX Legion had a reputation for the use of surgical strikes and precision in such matters. The black-hulled Strike Cruisers and gunships of the Raven Guard attacked without warning, systematically destroying Istvaan III's military infrastructure and taking charge of its seats of governance. The military forces of the indigenous Istvaanians were professional soldiers who did not break easily, even when confronted with the might of Space Marines. There was some resistance, but the last elements of the aggressive faction were destroyed by the Raven Guard at the Redarth Valley on Istvaan III. An Istvaanian delegation formally surrendered before the Primarch Corax and the 800 companies of Raven Guard Space Marines that comprised his XIX Legion.
The Istvaanians kneeled before the sable-armoured conquerors as a defeated foe but were welcomed into the fold as men of the Imperium. Though they had waged war against one another, the Imperial Truth had prevailed and the Istvaanians had sworn to accept its teachings. By proving themselves men of wisdom and civilisation, they were deemed fitting partners for the many other worlds of the nascent Imperium. The Remembrancer Order had not yet been foisted upon the Space Marine Legions by the Council of Terra at this time, but a substantial civilian contingent was left behind to begin the integration of the Istvaanian population with the Imperial Truth. Vardus Praal was left behind as the world's Imperial Planetary Governorto command Istvaan III in the name of the Imperium, to ensure continued compliance and manage the dismantling of the traditional religious structures that defined the planet's autochthonous society. The established capital located at the sprawling proto-hive of Khry Vanak -- Istvaan III's political and cultural capital ("Choral City" in translation) was chosen at the site of Imperial power. Unbeknownst to Corax and his Raven Guard, they would return fifteen standard years later to the Istvaan System, to the world of Istvaan V, to bring the rebel Horus to account.
Drop Site Massacre
During the Horus Heresy the Drop Site Massacre occurred on the planet Istvaan V when the Emperor dispatched a large force of what he believed were seven Loyalist Space Marine Legions to the Istvaan System to end the rebellion unleashed by the Warmaster Horus and the other known Traitor Legions who had turned to the worship of Chaos, including the World Eaters, the Emperor's Children and the Death Guard. The Loyalist Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard Legions were deployed in the first wave of the assault. housands of Drop Pods and Stormbirds were deployed for the initial assault. The first wave was under the overall command of the Primarch Ferrus Manus and besides his own X Legion, the Salamanders led by Vulkan, and the Raven Guard under the command of their Primarch Corax joined him. Vulkan's Legion assaulted the left flank of the Traitors' battle line while Ferrus Manus, the Iron Hands' First Captain Gabriel Santor, and 10 full companies of elite Morlocks Terminators charged straight into the centre of the enemy lines. Meanwhile, Corax's Legion hit the right flank of the enemy's position. The odds were considered equal; 30,000 Traitor Marines against 40,000 Loyalists. Horus was aware of the location of the Loyalists' chosen drop site and his troops fell upon the Loyalist Legions.
The battlefield of Istvaan V was a slaughterhouse of epic proportions. Treacherous warriors twisted by hatred fought their former brothers-in-arms in a conflict unparalleled in its bitterness. The mighty Titan war engines of the Machine God walked the planet’s surface and death followed in their wake. The blood of heroes and traitors flowed in rivers, and the hooded Hereteks Adepts of the Dark Mechanicum unleashed perversions of ancient technology stolen from the Auretian Technocracy to wreak bloody havoc amongst the Loyalists. All across the Urgall Depression, hundreds died with every passing second, the promise of inevitable death a pall of darkness that hung over every warrior. The Traitor forces held, but their line was bending beneath the fury of the first Loyalist assault. It would take only the smallest twists of fate for it to break. The forces on the surface have been embattled for almost three hours with no clear victor emerging. Even now, the loyalists wait for the second wave of 'allies' to make planetfall, believing they would be reinforced for their final advance. The Traitors all knew their parts to play in this performance. They were all aware of the blood they must shed to spare their species from destruction, and install Horus as the new Master of Mankind.
Though the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders had managed to make a full combat drop and secured the drop site, known as the Urgall Depression, they did so at a heavy cost. Overwhelmed with rage, the headstrong Ferrus Manus disregarded the counsel of his brothers Corax and Vulkan and hurled himself against the fleeing rebels, seeking to bring Fulgrim to personal combat. His veteran troops -- comprising the majority of the X Legion's Terminators and Dreadnoughts -- followed. What had begun as a massed strike against the Traitors’ position was rapidly turning into one of the largest engagements of the entire Great Crusade. All told, over 60,000 Astartes warriors clashed on the dusky plains of Isstvan V. For all the wrong reasons, this battle was soon to go down in the annals of Imperial history as one of the most epic confrontations ever fought.
The Urgall Depression was churned to ruination beneath the boots and tank treads of countless thousands of Astartes warriors and their Legion’s armour divisions. The loyal primarchs could be found where the fighting was thickest: Corax of the Raven Guard, borne aloft on black wings bound to a fire-breathing flight pack; Lord Ferrus of the Iron Hands at the heart of the battlefield, his silver hands crushing any traitors that came within reach, while he pursued and dragged back those who sought to withdraw; and lastly, Vulkan of the Salamanders, armoured in overlapping artificer plating, thunder clapping from his warhammer as it pounded into yielding armour, shattering it like porcelain.
The traitorous primarchs slew in mirror image to their brothers: Angron of the World Eaters hewing with wild abandon as he raked his chainblades left and right, barely cognizant of who fell before him; Fulgrim of the lamentably-named Emperor’s Children, laughing as he deflected the clumsy sweeps of Iron Hands warriors, never stopping in his graceful movements for even a moment; Mortarion of the Death Guard, in disgusting echo of ancient Terran myth, harvesting life with each reaving sweep of his scythe.
And Horus, Warmaster of the Imperium, the brightest star and greatest of the Emperor’s sons. He stood watching the destruction while his Legions took to the field, their liege lord content in his fortress rising from the far edge of the ravine. Shielded and unseen by his brothers still waging war in the Emperor’s name. At last, above this maelstrom of grinding ceramite, booming tank cannons and chattering bolters – the gunships, drop-pods and assault landers of the second wave burned through the atmosphere on screaming thrusters. The sky fell dark with the weak sun eclipsed by ten thousand avian shadows, and the cheering roar sent up by the loyalists was loud enough to shake the air itself. The traitors, the bloodied and battered Legions loyal to Horus, fell into a fighting withdrawal without hesitation.
The second wave of "Loyalist" Space Marine Legions descended upon the landing zone on the northern edge of the Urgall Depression. Hundreds of Stormbirds and Thunderhawks roared towards the surface, their armoured hulls gleaming as the power of another four Astartes Legions arrived on Istvaan V. Yet the Space Marine Legions of the reserve were no longer loyal to the Emperor, having already secretly sworn themselves to Chaos and the cause of Horus. The Night Lords of Konrad Curze, the Iron Warriors of Perturabo, the Word Bearers of Lorgar Aurelian, and the Alpha Legion of Alpharius represented a force larger than that which had first begun the assault on Istvaan V. The secret Traitor Legions mustered in the landing zone, armed and ready for battle, unbloodied and fresh.
The Iron Warriors had claimed the highest ground, taking the loyalist landing site with all the appearance of reinforcing it through the erection of prefabricated plasteel bunkers. Bulk landers dropped the battlefield architecture: dense metal frames fell from the cargo claws of carrier ships at low altitude, and as the platforms crashed and embedded themselves in the ground, the craftsmen-warriors of the IV Legion worked, affixed, bolted and constructed them into hastily-rising firebases. Turrets rose from their protective housing in the hundreds, while hordes of lobotomised servitors trundled from the holds of Iron Warriors troopships, single-minded in their intent to link with the weapons systems’ interfaces. The Word Bearers bolstered their brother Legions on one flank of the Urgall Depression while the Night Lords took positions on the opposite side. Down the line, past the mounting masses of Iron Warriors battle tanks and assembling Astartes, First Captain Sevatar of the Night Lords and his First Company elite, the Atramentar took up defensive positions. Both the Word Bearers and the Night Lords were to be the anvil, while the Iron Warriors would be the hammer yet to fall. The enemy would stagger back to them, exhausted, clutching empty bolters and broken blades, believing their presence to be a reprieve.
Dragging their wounded and dead behind them, Corax and Vulkan led their forces back to the drop site to regroup and to allow the warriors of their recently arrived brother Primarchs of the second wave a measure of the glory in defeating Horus. Though they voxed hails requesting medical aid and supply, the line of Astartes atop the northern ridge remained grimly silent as the exhausted warriors of the Raven Guard and Salamanders came to within a hundred metres of their allies. It was then that Horus revealed his perfidy and sprung his lethal trap. Inside the black fortress where Horus had made his lair, a lone flare shot skyward, exploding in a hellish red glow that lit the battlefield below. The fire of betrayal roared from the barrels of a thousand guns, as the second wave of Astartes revealed where their true loyalties now lay. Ferrus Manus looked on in stunned horror as Fulgrim laughed at the look on his brother's face as the forces of his "allies" opened fire upon the Salamanders and Raven Guard, killing hundreds in the fury of the first few moments, hundreds more in the seconds following, as volley after volley of Bolter fire and missiles scythed through their unsuspecting ranks. Even as terrifying carnage was being wreaked upon the Loyalists below, the retreating forces of the Warmaster turned and brought their weapons to bear on the enemy warriors within their midst. Hundreds of World Eaters, Sons of Horus and the Death Guard fell upon the veteran companies of the Iron Hands, and though the warriors of the X Legion continued to fight gallantly, they were hopelessly outnumbered and would soon be hacked to pieces. The Iron Hands had damned themselves by remaining in the field.
The Raven Guard front ranks went down as if scythed, harvested in a spilling line of detonating bolter shells, shattered armour and puffs of bloody mist. Black-armoured Astartes tumbled to their hands and knees, only to be cut down by the sustained volley, finishing those who fell beneath the initial storm of head- and chest-shots. Seconds after the first chatter of bolters, beams of achingly bright laser slashed from behind the Word Bearers as the cannon mounts of Land Raiders, Predators and defensive bastion turrets gouged through the Raven Guard and the ground they stood upon. The Iron Warriors and Word Bearers kept reloading, opening fire again, hurling grenades and prepared to fall back. The Word Bearers Legion had taken up landing positions on the west of the field, ready to sweep down and engage the Raven Guard from the flank.
The Raven and the Urizen Clash
The Raven Guard were confronted by the treacherous Word Bearers, with their Primarch Lorgar, the First Captain Kor Phaeron and the First Chaplain Erebus at their vanguard. The two Legions fought one another in bitter combat. Amidst the carnage and the slaughter, the anger of a demigod was released -- beyond anger, beyond rage. It went beyond both, for it was wrath, in physical form. Lord Corax, Primarch of the Raven Guard charged into the ranks of the Traitorous Word Bearers, a blur of charcoal armour and black blades, butchering with an ease that belied his ferocity. Soon the voices of dying Word Bearers became a conflicting chorus over the Vox as they screamed for help. Argel Tal, the Crimson Lord and leader of the daemon-possessed Astartes known as the Gal Vorbak, Lorgar's "Blessed Sons," led the Possessed Chaos Space Marines forward to meet their end at the hands of a demi-god. Meanwhile, Lorgar mirrored his brother Primarch's actions, and slaughtered enemy Astartes with contemptuous ease. Just as the Word Bearers struggled to stand before Corax, so too did the Raven Guard fall back and die in droves. Suddenly, the Urizen halted his attack. He noticed that Corax was wading through the Gal Vorbak, ripping his daemon-possessed crimson warriors apart. Given a blessed respite from the Primarch’s murderous advance, the Raven Guard were falling back from him in a black tide. They left their dead in a carpet at the primarch’s feet.
Despite the protestations of both Kor Phaeron and Erebus, Lorgar disregarded their counsel and sprinted forwards across the churned earth and dead bodies of his brother's Legion to engage in a battle he had no hope of winning. He saw his brother – a man he had barely spoken to in two centuries of life, a man he barely knew – butchering his sons in a vicious rage. There was no thought of conversion. No hope of bringing Corax into the fold, or enlightening him enough to cease this murderous rampage. Lorgar’s own anger rose to the fore, burning away the passionless killing of only moments ago. As the Word Bearers primarch hammered his way through the Raven Guard to reach his brother, he felt power seethe within him, aching to rise out. He felt his unchained power reaching out, not only to enhance his physical form, but reaching to his sons across the battlefield. And there he stood at the heart of the killing fields, winged and haloed by amorphous contrails of psychic fire, shouting his brother’s name into the storm. Corax answered with a shriek of his own – the call of the betrayer, the cry of the betrayed – and the raven met the heretic in a clash of crozius and claw.
The Primarchs fought in furious combat -- Corax fighting to kill, while Lorgar fought to stay alive. During their duel, Corax hurled insults and accusations at his former brother. He wanted to known why Lorgar and his Legion had committed such treachery? Lorgar shared with his brother of the future visions he had seen of their father -- a bloodless corpse, enthroned upon a throne of gold and screaming into the void forever. Angered by his brother's lies, Corax lashed out furiously with his pair of Lightning Claws across Lorgar's face, cutting the meat of his cheeks deeply. Even should Lorgar somehow manage to escape his ultimate fate this day, he would bear these scars until the day he died. The two primarch traded vicious blows, but the Raven Lord had the advantage not only speed and finesse, but of also being a penultimate warrior with decades of fighting experience. Lorgar did not, for he had always been more of a scholar than a warrior, and his lack of experience cost him dearly as Corax impaled Lorgar through his stomach, the tips of his metre-long talons glinting to the side of his spine as they thrust out his back. Such a blow meant little to a primarch – only when Corax heaved upwards did Lorgar stagger.
The claws bit and cut, sawing through the Word Bearer’s body. Illuminarum slipped from the impaled primarch’s fists. Those same hands wrapped around Corax’s throat even as the Raven Lord was carving his brother in half. Even as he tightened his grip on Corax's throat, the Raven Lord remained untroubled by his weaker brother's grip. Lorgar crashed his forehead against Corax’s face, shattering his brother’s nose, but still he couldn’t free himself. The Raven Lord gave no ground, even as a second, third and fourth head butt decimated his delicate features. The claws jerked, snagged against Lorgar’s enhanced bones. Corax tore them free, inflicting more damage than the first impaling had done. Blood hissed and popped as it evaporated on the force-fielded blades. Lorgar fell to his knees, hands clutched over the ruination of his stomach. As Corax stepped closer, he raised his one functioning claw to execute his brother. Lorgar screamed his defiance at Corax, lost in the irony that of all the sons of the Emperor, he was the one soul in twenty who'd never wished to be a soldier. And now here he would die, at the heart of a battlefield. As the claw fell, it struck opposing metal.
Corax looked to meet eyes as black as his, in a face as pale as his own. His claw strained against a mirroring weapon, both sets of blades scraping as they ground against each other. One claw seeking to fall and kill, the other unyielding in its rising defence. Where the Raven Guard primarch’s features were fierce with effort, the other face wore a grin. It was a smile both taut and mirthless – a dead man’s smile, once his lips surrendered to rigor mortis. It was Konrad Curze. Corax sought to wrench his claw free, but the Night Haunter’s second gauntlet closed on his brother’s wrist, so that Corax would be unable to fly away and escape his fate. Curze looked upon his prostrate brother and ordered him to rise from his knees, disgusted at his cowardice. Corax was not idle as this exchange took place. He fired his flight pack, burning his fuel reserves to escape Curze’s grip. The Raven Lord’s claw ripped free, and Corax soared skyward, carried on jet thrust away from Curze’s rising laughter. Curze then shoved Lorgar back towards his Word Bearers. Around them both, the grey Legion warred with the warriors in black.
Lorgar thanked his brother for saving his life. But Curze warned him that he would let him die next time. As bit out another retort, his words halted as he took in the scene of the the transformed Gal Vorbak - their armour was crimsom and ridged bone. Great claws, both metallic weapons and fleshy, jointed talons, extended from bestial arms. Every helm was horned and every faceplate was split by a daemon's skullish leer. Disgusted by this horrific site, Curze turned his back on Lorgar and commented that he was so much more than merely foul, he was rancid with corruption. Though grievously wounded, Lorgar would live. The traitors had carried the day and dealt the Emperor and the Imperium a grievous blow. As the Horus Heresy began in earnest, Horus now possessed nine Space Marine Legions and had all but destroyed three of the remaining nine Loyalist ones. The path to Terra was now wide open, and the decisive Battle of Terra and the Siege of the Imperial Palace would follow after seven more years of blood and terror as the Traitor Legions penetrated to the very heart of the Imperium of Man.
The outnumbered Loyalists were then surrounded and brutally butchered. Refusing to surrender, the remaining Raven Guard and Salamanders Astartes stubbornly defended themselves, trying to hold off the inevitable slaughter for as long as possible. Though they suffered an atrocious number of casualties, the Loyalists managed to hold their own, until the Primarchs Mortarion of the Death Guard and Angron of the World Eaters joined the fray. Bolstered by the support of the infamous Imperator-class Titan Dies Irae, the Traitors killed tens of thousands of Loyalist Astartes. At the height of the massacre the Warmaster Horus entered the fray, at the head of the elite Sons of Horus Terminators known as the Justaerin, slaughtering the Loyalists in wrathful anger.
Any hope for escape for the Loyalists was quickly crushed when the traitorous Iron Warriors destroyed the first wave's drop ships. The Loyalist starships still orbiting the embattled planet were also largely annihilated by the vastly superior numbers of the Traitor's fleet. Despite the odds arrayed against them, some of the Loyalists on the ground managed to survive against these odds—they miraculously escaped through the tightening cordon of Traitors that surrounded their position. The Raven Guard fared better than the Salamanders in escaping the brutal massacre. But the Salamanders managed to assist a few surviving Astartes from the decimated Iron Hands Legion to also escape the slaughter. Imperial history does not record the fate of these surviving Salamanders or their missing Primarch Vulkan. The Raven Guard's Primarch just barely managed to board a fleeing Thunderhawk gunship to make good his escape, but was thwarted in the attempt when it was shot down almost immediately by the gunfire of the Traitors. The badly damaged ship crashed on the outskirts of the Urgall Plateau.
Corax had survived the crash and quickly ordered the remaining warriors of his Legion to regroup. He learned to his shock that a large percentage of his Legion had been utterly annihilated during the ensuing slaughter. They took to the highlands of the surrounding hills and took to the shadows, hiding from their relentless pursuers. During their flight, their position was nearly discovered by a roving armour column of traitorous Iron Warriors, but they were destroyed in a Raven Guard ambush and wiped out before they could report what they had learned.
Thirty days after the initial planetary assault, the future looked grim for the fleeing Raven Guard survivors. They had received no word from either the surviving Iron Hands or Salamanders Legions. Corax ordered his warriors to dig-in and hold position at Lurgan Ridge while he undertook a lone reconnaissance of their original drop site to determine their options. Utilising his innate psi-abilities to escape detection, Corax successfully conducted a reconnaissance of the Traitor Legions' positions around the heavily fortified drop site. Though the Primarch informed his men that his mission was to reconnoiter the drop site, his primary objective was to scour the Urgall Plateau for the bodies of his fallen sons, but he failed to find them.
After 98 days of relentless pursuit, the Raven Guard survivors were finally backed into a literal corner. Caught upon the windswept mountainside, Corax's Legion remained resolute. Behind the peak stretched the great salt plains that had forced them into this last, defiant stand. Ahead of them massed the might of the World Eaters, the rage-driven Astartes Legion of Angron, who strode at their head roaring for the blood of his brother. A sea of white and blue World Eaters Astartes spattered with the red of gore swept up from the valley intent on the destruction of the Raven Guard. Maddened by their neural implants and driven into a battle-frenzy by inhuman cocktails of stimulants, the berserk warriors of the World Eaters pounded up the sloping mountainside while their tanks and guns provided covering fire; every warrior bellowed his eagerness to fulfill the blood oaths he had sworn to his Primarch.
But before they could utterly eradicate the surviving Raven Guard Astartes, the World Eaters were attacked from an unexpected quarter. Broad-winged aircraft plunged down from the scattering of clouds, missile pods rippling with fire. A swathe of detonations cut through the ranks of the World Eaters, ripping through their advance companies. Incendiary bombs blossomed in the heart of the approaching army, scattering white-hot Promethium over the steep slopes. Corax looked on with incredulity as blistering pulses of plasma descended from orbit, cutting great gouges into Angron’s Legion.
The roar of jets became deafening as drop ships descended on pillars of fire: black drop ships emblazoned with the badge of the Raven Guard. The Legionaries scattered to give the landing craft space to make planetfall. As soon as their thick hydraulic legs touched the ground, their ramps whined down and boarding gateways opened. The Raven Guard met their rescuers in stunned disbelief. These drop ships were part of a desperate rescue mission that had been devised by Commander Branne, a Raven Guard Captain who had been left in charge of the Legion’s homeworld of Deliverance. Without further delay the Raven Guard survivors quickly prepared for embarkation and escaped aboard the drop ships, breaking for orbit and leaving behind the frothing berserkers of the World Eaters, their angry Primarch futilely baying for blood.
Corax's Act of Desperation
With his Legion severely depleted from the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V and the Imperium teetering on the brink of destruction, a critically wounded Corax was brought back to Terra in a stasis tube. Healed in body but not in soul, Corax eventually returned to his homeworld of Deliverance to rebuild what remained of his Legion. While traveling from Istvaan V, Corax dwelt upon why he had fled from the confrontation with Konrad Curze and Lorgar, and realised that he had felt fear when facing the Night Haunter. Not fear of death, but the realisation that but for a twist of fate, Corax could have landed upon Nostramo instead of Lycaeus, and become a monster as savage as Curze. Consumed by the loss of over 75,000 of his Legion's Astartes, his flight from the Night Haunter, and obsessed with thoughts of revenge against Horus, Corax ordered his survivors to return to Terra, where he intended to ask the Emperor for help in rebuilding his devastated Legion. Following a number of delays and setbacks, and despite the disagreement and displeasure of Rogal Dorn and Malcador the Sigillite, Corax psychically communed with the Emperor, who was devoting all his time battling Chaos within the Warp and what remained of the secret Imperial extension into the Webway in the aftermath of Magnus the Red's catastrophic psychic intrusion into the Imperial Palace. The Emperor revealed certain truths to Corax: the existence of the Imperial project to control portions of the Webway, the nature of Chaos, and the truth behind the outbreak of the so-called Heresy—which in reality was an all-out campaign by the Chaos Gods to defeat the Emperor and enslave Mankind, using Horus and the Traitor Legions as their pawns. The Emperor decided to help Corax, and had another, astonishing revelation to make: the Primarch Project's genetic assets had not been destroyed, as everybody thought, but still existed and were dormant—including living samples of the original gene-stock the Emperor had used to create the 20 Primarchs. The Emperor, who offered no explanation as to why such facilities and the gene-stock still existed, demanded only one thing: this genetic material could never be allowed to fall into the wrong hands.
Accompanied by several Raven Guard squads, a contingent of Adeptus Mechanicus specialists, and a number of Custodians to serve as the Emperor's "overseers", Corax managed to locate and enter the Emperor's well-protected gene-laboratories deep beneath the Imperial Palace in the Himalazian Mountains, after his strife force suffered a number of casualties. The Primarch gene-stock and related technical information was secured, and Corax and his Raven Guard warriors returned to Deliverance to begin remaking the Legion.
After several weeks of effort by Corax, Chief Apothecary Vincente Sixx, and Magos Genetor Nexin Orlandriaz, a breakthrough was achieved, and a new reservoir of stable Astartes gene-seed was extracted from the Primarch DNA. The gene-seed was more pure than "normal" Raven Guard gene stock as it came from undiluted Primarch DNA before it was broken down to the 20 different recombinant strands that gave birth to the Primarchs. It was implanted using an extremely accelerated development schedule within 500 Aspirants, with excellent results. The resulting Astartes, though lacking combat experience, were even more capable than typical Raven Guard Space Marines. They were assigned the name "Raptors", and placed under overall command of Captain Branne, who served as the Legion's Master of Recruits. Following a baptism by fire in a successful attack against a Word Bearers intelligence outpost/listening station, the prospects for the reconstruction of the XIX Legion looked bright indeed.
The Alpha Legion had other plans. Patiently waiting until the Raven Guard had achieved the genetic breakthrough, they were fomenting rebellion among the old tech-guilds of Kiavahr, the Forge World that the moon of Deliverance circled, while assembling an Alpha Legion force nearby, and simultaneously misleading both their nominal allies among the other Traitor Legions and their supposed allies in the Cabal about their true purpose. With the help of Adepts from the Dark Mechanicus the Alpha Legion operatives within the Raven Guard contaminated the pure Primarch gene-stock held by the Raven Guard with a virus that was tainted with daemonic essence. The nature of the virus was unknown to the Alpha Legionaries until after the gene-stock had been contaminated, as their Dark Mechanicus allies had insisted the virus could be easily extracted once the Primarch gene-stock came into their possession.
The next cadre of 2,000 Raven Guard Astartes was predictably a disaster. All manifested hideous Warp-related mutations after they were implanted with their gene-seed organs, and many had to be kept imprisoned. Corax announced that mutation or not, he considered them as much a part of the Raven Guard as the rest of his Astartes, and vowed to find a way to reverse the mutations. At the same time, the Alpha Legion's plans were reaching their climax. As the Legion fought in isolation against Horus' forces during this period, isolated from the other Imperial forces, nothing is known for sure of the initial results of Corax's program, but an element of truth is found in the Space Wolves' Saga of the Weregeld, which tells of ferocious monsters lead to combat by their Raven Guard Battle Brothers.
The Kiavahr rebellion was well under way, supported by the newly arrived Alpha Legion force, who were camouflaged as Raven Guard, bearing the XIX Legion's badges, insignia, and armour. These tactics were only diversions intended to allow the Alpha Legion operatives already within the XIX Legion to steal the Primarch gene-stock and to completely destroy the original Raven Guard gene-seed, crippling the Loyalist Legion. The first objective was successful: the Primarch DNA and all information about it was secured by Omegon, who had been secretly on Kiavahr all this time, manipulating events as needed. To save the gene-seed, Corax intended to go to Ravendelve himself, but Commander Branne begged him not to, saying that he was prepared to destroy Ravendelve to prevent the guilders from gaining the gene-seed, but Corax's presence would prevent him from doing so. Branne's voice cut through the anger in Corax's heart, and listening to a voice he had trusted for so long, Corax realised that he was seeing the face of Konrad Curze, and could not allow his obsession with rebuilding the XIX Legion to consume him as utterly as hatred had consumed the Night Haunter. Recognising that he must live for the good of his warriors, Corax agreed to remain at Ravenspire while the Legion moved on Ravendelve. Yet the destruction of the Raven Guard's gene-seed was prevented by the Raven Guard Mutants, who were tasked by the dying Chief Apothecary Vincente Sixx to save the future of the XIX Legion. Corax subsequently allowed the Mutants who were able to fight to join the Legion's Raptor Squads. They participated with the rest of the Raven Guard, a small force of Imperial Fists, and the reconstituted Therion Cohort in the first counterattack against the Traitors, and the Raven Guard's successful campaign against the garrison of an Emperor's Children-held planet near the Kiavahr System.
Unfortunately the attempt to rebuilt the XIX Legion's strength was now in ruins. With a heavy heart, Corax decided that his attempt to use a shortcut to refill his Legion's ranks had been a mistake. He determined that the XIX Legion would rebuild its ranks in the traditional way, slowly and painstakingly transforming human Aspirants into Space Marines over many years of genetic alteration and training. But the price would be that the Raven Guard would not be able to participated in a meaningful way in defending the Imperium against the Traitor Legions.
Following the later reorganisation of the Space Marine Legions into the Second Founding Chapters after the end of the Horus Heresy, the Raven Guard was left largely inoperable as a combat unit and was forced to spend decades recruiting new members and rebuilding itself. Finding itself woefully undermanned and under-equipped following the massacre on Istvaan V, the Raven Guard honed and perfected the use of covert small-unit, guerrilla tactics that utilised little fire support, armoured support or other heavy equipment that the Chapter and its Successors lacked. Even today, the Raven Guard's lack of Predators, Land Raiders, and the latest patterns of Power Armour reflect these conditions of the Chapter's past.
After the Horus Heresy, Corax remained unable to forget the growling, monstrous aberrations of humanity that he had personally created. When Corax finally managed to rebuild his Legion to anywhere near its pre-Heresy strength, the Horus Heresy had ended and Roboute Guilliman's Codex Astartes edicts required that the Legion be split into smaller, more flexible 1000-man units known as Chapters. Never again would one man wield the power of an entire Space Marine Legion. Knowing that Guilliman's vision was true, Corax grudgingly split his remaining forces into the new Second Founding Successor Chapters, but after pondering for hours as to what should be done to atone for his sins, he decided to administer the Emperor's Peace to the remaining aberrant Raven Guard mutants personally, praying for both their souls and his. Wracked with guilt following the executions, Corax locked himself in his personal chamber in the Ravenspire, the Raven's Tower, begging for the recently-ascended Emperor's mercy. Nobody knows if Corax received the absolution he prayed for, but a year to the day after he had locked himself into the Ravenspire, he left the tower and the world of Deliverance itself on a course toward the Eye of Terror, never to be seen again. His last recorded words were "never more."
- Corax's last word before he departed for the Eye of Terror, "Nevermore," is a reference to the well-known poem of Edgar Allen Poe, "The Raven", of which the last line is "'Quoth the Raven, Nevermore'".
- The name "Corax" translates to "Raven" in ancient Greek and is a play on the Latin word Corvus, which also means "Raven."
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 8
- Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 8
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 14-15, 37
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- Horus Heresy: Visions of War
- Imperial Armour - The Horus Heresy Betrayal - Book One, pp. 38-39
- Index Astartes IV, "Claws of the Raven - The Raven Guard Space Marine Chapter"
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Age of Darkness (Anthology) edited by Christian Dunn, "The Face of Treachery" by Gav Thorpe
- Deliverance Lost (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Corax: Soulforge (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Raven's Flight (Audio Book)
|Horus • Leman Russ • Lost Primarchs • Ferrus Manus • Fulgrim • Vulkan • Rogal Dorn • Roboute Guilliman • Magnus the Red • Sanguinius • Lion El'Jonson • Perturabo • Mortarion • Lorgar • Jaghatai Khan • Konrad Curze • Angron • Corvus Corax • Alpharius Omegon|