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Juggernaut of Khorne

Juggernauts of Khorne charges into battle

Juggernauts of Khorne (known also as "Brass Behemoths," "Khorne's Unstoppable Rage" and "Bloodpounders") or simply known as Juggernauts, are the Blood God's steeds, a manifestation of his unbridled rage. A fusion of brass and beast, its limbs slam into the ground as it charges, spurring the creature forwards with staggering force. With its head tilted down, and its blade-horned snout at the ready, its crushing impact knocks foes from their feet before it tramples them into ruin.  

Massive daemonic beasts of brass and iron, Juggernauts are nigh-unstoppable brutes covered in metal plates. They crush foes beneath their brazen hooves and can shrug off direct blows from all but the strongest of weapons. In combat, the Juggernaut charges headlong into the fray, lashing out with its iron horns. Bulky and slow, Juggernauts use their size and strength to smash into enemy formations, send foes flying with a toss of their huge horns, and flatten entire ranks of mortal soldiers with ease. Stinging return fire bounces without effect from the armoured flanks of a Juggernaut, such pinpricks serving only to antagonize the already-belligerent nature of these rampaging beasts. Far more massive than normal steeds, Juggernauts resemble a rhinoceros, their hides plated in thick riveted sheets of brass. Its armour is bedecked with spikes and the eye-wrenching symbols of Khorne. The most lethal of all the Blood God’s war-mounts, Juggernauts sometimes serve as steeds for powerful mortals favoured by Khorne or particularly bold or battle-hungry Bloodletter daemons.

Anatomy of a DaemonEdit

Those who have come close enough to study a Juggernaut and survive tell of a beast that appears at first to be more machine than flesh. Its riveted brass hide is covered in needle-sharp spikes, and it is branded with the Marks of Chaos and Khorne, each sigil sizzling with fire. This toughened exterior ensures that the Juggernauts endure bolter fire with unnerving ease. There are few signs that might be considered flesh to be found on a Juggernaut, save for the eyes that burn with murderous intent and rows of savage-looking teeth that drip with their victims’ blood. The Juggernaut’s piston-driven tendons and ligaments are composed of Warp-tainted brass, as are the thick, sharp blades and serrated crest atop its muzzle. Yet the Juggernaut is most definitely a creature with a mind of its own. Its breath fogs the air with each snort, a grunt that resounds like thunder while its shod-hoofed kick rakes up ash and dirt.

Khorne's Hunting FieldsEdit

Juggernauts come from the realm of Khorne. The Blood God’s domain is a bleak and desolate landscape, where Daemons of Khorne lurk with violent intent. Few mortals have set eyes upon the place. Even if the gods were to summon mortals there for their own inscrutable purposes, and they survived the ordeal, the unfortunates would barely comprehend the madness of the Immaterium, let alone speak of it. So savage are Juggernauts that they are not permitted into the inner rings of the Blood God’s Brass Citadel; they are kept much further out, where they can gorge on intruders and further develop their bestial instincts for killing.

In the Cracked Land, extending out from Khorne’s vast citadel, the bones of fallen warriors, too numerous to ever count, jut out of an ashen wasteland. Further afield, bounding the Cracked Land, swamps of gore churn under crimson skies, and fanged geysers cough up great billows of sulphurous fumes. Rivers of boiling blood gush through the landscape, the flow rising and falling in a reflection of the slaughter being unleashed within the mortal realm. Further out from this region is a place known as the Hunting Fields. It is here that the Juggernauts prowl, forever in search of new things to kill.

Those Juggernauts whose ruddy hides are so dark as to be crimson or almost black tend to be the most aggressive creatures, dominating and killing many of their wild kin. The most violent Juggernauts are highly prized by the Blood God, for they are ideal for use in daemonic challenges of strength, or even as rewards for those who prove their value to Khorne. Juggernauts are intensely territorial, and are indiscriminate in their rage. Any being who approaches, whether summoned mortal or foolhardy Daemon, will find itself on the receiving end of a Juggernaut’s charge, and trampled beneath brass-shod hooves.

Conquer the DaemonEdit

Juggernauts seldom encroach into the material realm alone. In fact, a Juggernaut is often used as an immense war-mount ridden into battle by a Bloodletter -- a Lesser Daemon of the Blood God -- but only once Khorne himself has deemed a Bloodletter worthy of claiming one. Together, both steed and rider form the deadly combination known as a Bloodcrusher. They become Khorne’s cavalry, crushing and trampling their foes underfoot. To prove their value to Khorne and raise their standing to that of a Herald, a Bloodletter must undergo numerous challenges. One of many such trials is to go forth into the Hunting Fields and capture a Juggernaut. The Bloodletter is only successful in his challenge when he brings the Daemon-beast back to the pens of Khorne’s foundries, a great sprawl of smoke-spewing spires located within the smouldering volcanoes on the edges of the Blood God’s realm.

Khorne often orders his Bloodletters to undergo such missions, tracking down the beasts and sniffing for their blood. The Bloodletter uses whatever brute strength and keen wits he has at his disposal to survive, hunt, and eventually capture the Juggernaut. By the end of the encounter, the Bloodletter usually resorts to using his Hellblade to fight off the beast's attacks, using the language of violence to establish dominance over the Juggernaut until the beast exhibits a semblance of compliance. More often than not, however, the attempts are unsuccessful. The battered remains of would-be Heralds are torn up and scattered over considerable distances around the Juggernauts’ domain. It is not without reason that Heralds are significantly rarer than Bloodletters.

The Murder BondEdit

Bloodcrusher of Khorne

A Bloodcrusher -- a bonded Bloodletter and it's Juggernaut mount

Once a Bloodletter has successfully dragged his mount from the foundries, the Daemon must begin to break in the war-beast so it spends more effort trying to fight the Bloodletter's enemies rather than the Bloodletter itself. This process is within itself a battle of daemonic wills, as a beast of such considerable might does not submit easily. Many a Bloodletter has been found gored and trampled into the barren landscape of Khorne’s realm, its body driven into the ground by a long-departed steed.

As time is meaningless in the Warp, it is impossible to say how long this process takes. It is typical that the Daemons head across the Blazing Rampart and towards the borders of Tzeentch’s realm, an ever-changing place of dark sorcery. There, they war against the Changer of Ways’ minions, claiming grisly trophies for their master. The Bloodletter must keep his steed sated, lest it turn upon him in its search for slaughter.

Eventually, Juggernaut and Bloodletter both recognise that they are each driven by the same purpose: to satisfy Khorne’s bloodlust. Amidst the carnage, they discover each other’s aptitude for murder. They realize that working in concert as a Bloodcrusher, they become an unstoppable incarnation of slaughter, capable of greater deeds in Khorne’s name than either would be alone. When the Bloodcrusher has finally become a killing machine united in soul and body, the Murder Bond has at last been forged, and then the real carnage commences.

Bloodcrushers are a cruel symbiosis. In legions, Bloodcrushers form the first murderous punch from a wave of Daemons. Juggernauts act as brutal battering rams, plunging deep into enemy ranks. While the Juggernauts gore and pound defenders, turning their lines into a bloody quagmire, their Bloodletter riders use their Hellblades to harvest a grisly bounty of skulls for Khorne.

To Claim A DaemonEdit

To ride a Juggernaut into battle is one of the greatest honours that Khorne can bestow upon one of his Daemons. The beast is a vehicle of fury and therefore only the most favoured Bloodletters and Heralds are tasked by the Blood God to ride one forth from the pens of the foundries. Such a Daemon has earned this honour through long and violent service in Khorne’s name. Each will be a warrior of considerable might, that has spilled blood across numerous worlds and, more importantly, who has acquired a spectacular amount of skulls for Khorne. Of course, the collecting of skulls by Bloodletters is often achieved by nefarious means, lies and backstabbing, proving every bit as effective as rampant slaughter, but that matters little. It is skulls that interest Khorne, no matter how they are taken.

Bloodletters do not claim a particular steed through any conscious choice, but by instinct. In fact, perhaps only Khorne himself knows exactly who chooses whom. Honoured Bloodletters are simply beckoned forth into the dark labyrinthine pens, armed only with runic chains. The Bloodletter emerges much later – if at all – having restrained his beast, though the process of becoming a Bloodcrusher is only just begun.

So prized is the reward of a Juggernaut that unworthy Bloodletters have been tempted to steal one, even without the Blood God’s blessing. The Heralds who goad the Juggernauts always turn a blind eye to the intruders who step into the pens, for they know full well what happens to those unworthy in Khorne’s eyes. The remains of the intruder are rarely found, as whatever remains of them is ground into the red dust that blows through the enclosure. 

Foundries of RageEdit

Once captured, Juggernauts are kept within immense slab-sided pens, under smoke-choked skies that rain blood, and amidst the noise of metal being hammered into murderous new forms. The walls that hold the Juggernauts in are incomprehensibly dense. Even so, they are battered and cracked due to the constant attempts of Juggernauts to break free from their compound. 

Within the confines, large packs of enraged Juggernauts fight for domination. So violent are the strongest of their kind that they will soon trample and savage the lesser of their kin. But, for Khorne, murder is murder after all, and a Juggernaut skull is as prized by him as any other. For what seems like eternity, these brass and flesh Juggernauts roam the passageways of their pens, their eyes glowing in the darkness, their searing grunts echoing within the confines.

Whilst captive, the Juggernauts are goaded with burning instruments that penetrate even their armoured hides, ensuring that the beasts are at their optimum fury when a rider is summoned into the pens to claim his prize. Occasionally a Herald will become careless at this last stage, and slip in the pen, which is ultimately his last step. The fury that the Herald helped instill within the beasts is swiftly taken out upon him.

Notable JuggernautsEdit

As the Chaos Daemons have ravaged Imperial worlds for millennia, certain Juggernauts have entered legend for their acts of atrocity. The Factis Daemonum of the Ordo Malleus contains many records of these daemonic steeds, both individual horrors and noteworthy packs:

  • The Beasts of Bengoli - On the jungle-covered world of Bengoli V, Bloodcrushers spearheaded a vast daemonic incursion that gutted the shrines containing thousands of Ecclesiarchy relics. Despite focused retaliation from the Catachan CXXIIIth, the Juggernauts proved remarkably stubborn in their efforts to smash the well concealed defence emplacements; they trampled thousands of miles of the surrounding ironbark forests, gunfire pinging harmlessly off their brass hides. They stomped over clusters of defenders, pushing back though Imperial lines, and forcing the Catachans to make a tactical retreat into the holy shrines. However, within these spiritual confines, the Catachans would meet their deaths. The Daemon cavalry burst into the refuges, their riders' Hellblades sending severed heads flying through the air, covering statues of glorious ancient warriors in fresh blood. The concentration of slaughter amidst the holy relics caused a rift to open in the fabric of reality, allowing a whole legion of Khorne's followers to spill out into the material plane. So devastating was the attack on Bengoli and the scale of the invasion, that the Ordo Malleus had no option but to inflict Exterminatus on the doomed planet.
  • Khul'tyran - Of the known Juggernauts that have made a bloody name for themselves in the mortal realm, few are more infamous than Khul'tyran, steed of the legendary Skulltaker. Though Skulltaker frequently fights alone, he has also brought slaughter to the worlds of morals and beyond from astride Khul'tyran. Together they have caused havoc across the breadth of the galaxy, and the Imperium in particular has suffered greatly from the pairing's deeds. Indeed, they have cleaved an unfathomable number of skulls as offerings to Khorne. At the time the creature was claimed by Skulltaker from Khorne's infernal foundries, Khul'tyran was said to have been the toughest in the Juggernaut stockade. The Daemon-beast had killed more of his kin than any other before or since. He prowled the perimeter of the pens, regularly making bids for freedom -- he once shattered the compound's wall and would have escaped were it not for the dozen Heralds of Khorne who held him back. Skulltaker selected Khul'tyran from the pack when the Champion witnessed the beast goring three Heralds at once. It was a sure sign, by Skulltaker's reckoning, that they could take forth the Blood God's wrath in an appropriate manner. And so they did. The pair has stormed out of the Warp to harvest a bounty of skulls for Khorne. They have dueled others on countless planets in the mortal realm, never yet losing a challenge. They have claimed the skulls of Ork Warlords and Eldar Exarchs. While Skulltaker decapitates his foes with the Slayer Sword, Khul'tyran tears into metal armour as if it were soft flesh, and flesh as if it were dust. So pleased is Khorne with their murderous work, that while in the Immaterium, Khul'tyran is the only Juggernaut permitted to prowl the smoke-choked passageways of the Blood God's Brass Citadel, as its reward for unbridled destruction.

Notable Packs of JuggernautsEdit

  • Blood Stalkers - Amongst the most notorious daemonic steeds to have caused terror within Imperial lines were the Juggernauts known by the people of the Agri-World of Daya as the Blood Stalkers. Ridden by Heralds, the Blood Stalkers showed unusual behaviour compared to other Juggernauts. Whereas most Juggernauts assault defences in blistering charges, stampeding across their foes, the Blood Stalkers hunted carefully around the perimeters of the fortifications on Daya, a gateway planet to the Maxima Sub-sector. The creatures were famed for mauling isolated sentries and annihilating clusters of Scouts who were out on patrol, fatally weakening the Planetary Defence Force over a period of weeks. It was not long until the Blood Stalkers began to destroy isolated settlements and communication networks, leaving only the stains of murder as a sign that they were ever there. Word soon spread around the cities of Daya, each one an embellished tale of beasts that left only hundreds of battered, headless corpses as evidence of an attack. Soon, whole hives echoed with chatter about the beasts. It took the deployment of a full regiment of the Cadian 16th to instil discipline on the planet, but by the point the Blood Stalkers disappeared, the Daemon beasts had savaged a hundred thousand defenders. Moreover, the Blood Stalkers created so much fear and paranoia that the daemonic surge that followed the creatures' disappearance overwhelmed the Planetary Defence Force within a single day, and not even the might of the Cadian 16th could prevent Dava's collapse.
  • The Ghost Pack - In the slums of Brauldon's Gate, in 366.M38, 'eddies in the Warp resulted in the awakening of dozens of potent Psykers in the capital hive of Malanth. As a result of this energy, an pack of Bloodcrushers pounded forth from the Warp. Able to shimmer through both material and immaterial realms simultaneously, they rampaged through the hive’s many levels as ghosts, scouring the sprawl for signs of psychic activity and destroying all that stood their path, the Mark of Khorne glowing on their armour. Their pale ethereal forms materialized in numerous districts of Malanth as the Juggernauts sniffed out the blood of the psykers. Eventually, the Bloodcrushers hunted them down in a towering, thousand-spired shrine block. The Juggernauts proceeded to savage every single one of them with alarming ferocity, shredding their prey in multiple dimensions, and causing the stricken psykers to send a huge astropathic wail through the Warp. The nightmarish echo of the fallen psykers’ deathscreams endures to this day, looping around the Halkak star system. Those attuned to the tides of the Warp can just about make out the savage growls of the psykers' murderers amid their victim's lingering cries.

SourcesEdit

  • Black Crusade: The Tome of Blood (RPG), pp. 9, 15
  • Codex: Chaos Daemons (6th Edition), pg. 30
  • Codex: Chaos Daemons (4th Edition), pg. 40
  • Dark Heresy: Creatures Anathema (RPG), pg. 120
  • Liber Chaotica: Khorne
  • Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness (2nd Edition), pp. 28, 151, 182
  • Warhammer 40,000: Index Chaotica - Volume 1, "Juggernauts," pp. 54-70

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