The Khrave are a dangerous species of psychically-gifted xenos that has repeatedly clashed with the forces of the Imperium. They are a plague that prey on human worlds, enslaving entire populations to feast on them and strengthen themselves. In the days of the Great Crusade, it is said that some of the largest of the Khrave had grown terribly strong, surpassing the strength of the Space Marines and even rivaling the bulk of the mighty Primarchs of old, although perhaps thankfully for the Imperium, no such monstrosities have been encountered in recent years.
The Khrave are an old race and count amongst the oldest threats known to humanity. While it is unknown if humanity did encounter them during the first conquest of space in the Dark Age of Technology, what can be verified is that many human worlds and even powerful and technologically advanced pocket-empires of human survivors suffered under the Khrave during the Age of Strife. Alas, many of the records dating back to these times have been lost or destroyed, and it wasn't until the Emperor of Mankind launched His Great Crusade in the 30th Millennium that humanity's knowledge of the Khrave and their depredations became more common. Many times, the Legions of the Legiones Astartes clashed with the Khrave or liberated worlds which the Khrave preyed upon. In fact, the fear of resurgent, returning or awakening Khrave splinter-webs was so fierce in these days that they were one distinctive factor in the creation of the Imperialis Militia, the ancestor of today's Planetary Defence Forces.
As one of humanity's oldest enemies, it is surprisingly difficult to learn hard facts about the Khrave. Virtually nothing about their own history is known, nor if the species originated on a single homeworld or perhaps evolved from a common xenos gene-stock like the Mitu Conglomerate encountered in the Manachean Commonwealth and the Cyclops Cluster. Their interaction with humanity have always been violent and therefore the best way to learn anything about the Khrave is to consult the annals of the Great Crusade and the histories of war of the Imperium's armies. The Ordo Xenos of the Inquisition ranks the Khrave as a serious menace, both in terms of the Threat of Corruption and the Threat of Dominion as the Khrave prey and feed on humanity, conquer worlds and subjugate planetary populations through their immense psychic gifts.
Notable Encounters with the Imperium
- Counter-attack on Serreak 17 (Unknown Date.M30) - Amongst the earliest encounters with the Khrave was their conquest of the world of Serreak 17, which despite several previous attempts, had resisted the Great Crusade's efforts to liberate this world. In the end, it would be the Emperor's XII Legion, the recently rebaptized World Eaters under their Primarch Angron, that would succeed where others had failed. The Khrave were utterly destroyed.
- The Compliance of Indra-sûl (Unknown Date.M30) - Following the discovery of Kiavahr, and the reunification of the XIX Legion and their Primarch, Corvus Corax, the Primarch began to forge his Legion into what would become the Raven Guard. Almost fifty standard years after taking command, Corax and his Legion had been deployed to the Expeditionary Fleets in the far galactic North, pressing the Great Crusade's expansion past the reaches of the Segmentum Obscurus. It was here that the Raven Guard discovered Indra-sûl, and the greatest Khrave dominion encountered so far in Imperial history. Once Indra-sûl must have served as a mighty Explorator port for the fleets of the Dark Age of Technology, but upon its discovery, it had been reduced to a wasteland with the notable exception of a vast, glittering spire of silver many kilometres thick that reached from the ground to the void above, terminating in a series of branch-like docking tendrils that blanketed the sky of one hemisphere. Within this great structure the Raven Guard found the last survivors of Indra-sûl, and the creatures who now ruled them. In the dark years of the Age of Strife the xenos nightmares known as the Khrave had systematically harvested the population of Indra-sûl over the course of many centuries. Corax could not countenance the abject suffering of the people of Indra-sûl, no more than he could have left the people of Deliverance in bondage to the tech guilds of Kiavahr. Despite suggestions from some Terran-born Captains to release nerve-phage gas into the facility that would effectively kill both the xenos masters and their human slaves as the most effective solution, the Primarch laid plans for the salvation of Indra-sûl. Refusing to commit either his own Legionaries or the soldiers of the Therion Cohort to the war of attrition intended to take the spire level by level, the Raven Lord personally led a force of less than 2,000 Legionaries, selected from the ranks of the Raven Guard's reconnaissance and infiltration companies, into the structure. Infiltrating the massive spire at its midpoint by insertion from specially modified Shadowhawks and Darkwing gunships, the Space Marines were confronted with a vision of the past. The survivors of the human population of Indra-sûl were wretched and malformed, packed into chambers like cattle. Some detachments also encountered the Khrave, towering monstrosities gorged on centuries of captive bounty, impossibly strong and wielding foul Warp-glamours. Only with much slaughter were they able to slay such creatures. The Raven Guard both of Terra and Deliverance instinctively fell into the doctrines of guerrilla warfare, leaving their foes dazed and confused until they were finally slain. Discovering the hibernation chambers of the slumbering Khrave, soon the foul xenos began to stir from their slumber. The Raven Guard made a tactical withdrawal, while the Raven Lord and a demi-company of those who had fought at his side on Deliverance took the near-suicidal duty of providing a rearguard whilst the remaining Raven Guard accompanying him raced to deploy their teleport beacon array. Despite the slaughter that ensued, the Raven Guard held their ground, fighting to their last breath with only the desire to slay their foes until death claimed them. Finally, after a solar hour of non-stop combat, a flash of light announced the arrival of the Deliverers, a company of Terran-born Raven Guard clad in Terminator Armour, grim in aspect and wielding an array of fearsome weapons not usually favoured by the subtle tactics of the XIX Legion. The Deliverers' massed firepower pushed the Khrave back and the Terran Legionaries advanced, the ferocity of the Terran Raven Guard finishing what the stoic determination of their brethren from Deliverance had begun. Within hours the Raven Guard had cleansed the spire of the xenos' foul presence. Now secured as a base for the Great Crusade's push into the Ghoul Stars, Indra-sûl was given into the custody of the Mechanicum, and the Raven Guard made preparations for their next conquest. Unknown to the Raven Guard, the Iterators and other Imperial servants following on the heels of the XIX Legion's advance would later condemn the survivors to a living death as Servitor labourers, seeing them as corrupted in both mind and body.
- The Massacre of Kormarg (718.M39) - In a quite atypical show of agression, the Khrave assault and besieged the Fortress World of Kormarg II, located on the edge of the Sakkara Sector. The siege lasted for more than two standard centuries, before the Space Marine Chapter of the Star Phantoms responded en masse to the fortress' pleas for help. Kormarg had held out against the odds but the world had been laid waste in the process, its population devoured by the Khrave until only the last bastions remained. The battle began in orbit, the Khrave's nest-webs being swiftly encircled by the Star Phantoms' fleet and blasting them apart with concentrated fire from their Bombardment Cannons. Once they had scattered the remaining enemy snare-ships, the Star Phantoms launched a full drop-strike against the Khrave ground-troops, crushing them between the anvil of the extensive Kormarg bastion fortress network and the hammer of the Chapter's Drop Pod onslaught. As the defenders threw their gates open to welcome their liberators, it quickly became apparent that in their years of struggle against the alien, the human garrison had become genetically and spiritually corrupt. The Chapter Master of the Star Phantoms was swift in his judgement. With their defences already open to the Space Marines, the Kormargan bastions which had held out for centuries against the xenos became blood-drenched killing chambers as the Star Phantoms purged Kormarg II of its tainted people. After the massacre, the Star Phantoms used the macro-shell craters from the planet's long war as giant pyre-pits for the liquidated population, while the Chapter's Chantry Servitors sang solemn hymns to honour their martyrdom as the Star Phantoms consigned the bodies to the flame. Shortly after the Star Phantoms' actions, Kormarg II was re-garrisoned as a Departmento Munitorum penal colony.
- The Infestation of Amraphel (crica 900.M39) - Located in the now-revoked Orpheus Sector of the Segmentum Tempestus, the world of Amraphel fell prey to a minor Khrave infestation, when a splinter-web of this baleful race was openly invited by the Parliament of Amraphel to act as mercenaries on their behalf. Upon meeting the planet's ruling council, the Khrave revealed their true nature, subjugated the elected officials and added them to their larders. With the Parliament under their control, the Khrave begin to corrupt the world, but as the number of mysterious disappearances and discovered corpses rose, vigilant members of the Ecclesiarchy recognized the threat and made the civilisation rise up in revolt, thus thwarting the Khrave's plans.
- The Scouring of Lower Boria (unknown date.M40) - A Khrave infestation in the Imperium's Eastern Marches is violently put down by the Storm Wardens Space Marine Chapter under their Chapter Master Ward-Master Lorgath Maclir. This would be the first time Maclire would fight alongside later Lord Militant Achilus.
The Khrave have been encountered all over the galaxy and do not seem to be very territorial: once a planet's population has been consumed, the Khrave seek out new prey to fall upon. However, as the encounter at Indra-sûl testifies, the Khrave can consume a world over the course of several centuries, carefully monitoring and controlling their own population so as to not overstretch their resources. This can also readily be found with other semi-nomadic void-faring species such as the Nicassar allied to the Tau Empire.
Apart from this sort of cunning or social intelligence, little is known about Khrave society. Their nomadic lifesytle has led them to be designated most commonly as "Khrave Maraudeurs," but it could well be that a secular Khrave Empire may exist or may have existed in the past. Furthermore, it is unknown if the Khrave splinter-webs thus far encountered by the Imperium share a common ancestry or belong to the same political caste. In fact, while Khrave have demonstrated a strong social cohesion, it is unknown if these fleets are governed by a sort of chieftain or alpha-male, a council of influential individuals, or as their psychic potential might indicate, a form of gestalt psychic collective like that which governs the Tyranids. Like those xenos, the Khrave consume entire worlds before migrating to their next target, which has frequently led them to be compared to the locusts of ancient Terra. In any case, Khrave society seems to be devoted to the survival and strengthening of their race, as it allows for all individuals of the community to feed and grow strong, and not only an inner circle of selected individuals.
The Khrave have not tried to engage in any form of exchange or diplomatic relation with the Imperium of Mankind, the mind-eaters regarding humanity as little more than cattle, a food-source to be preyed upon.
The Khrave are a highly advanced alien race which mastered interstellar void travel in the distant past. Their fleets consist of larger and smaller vessels referred to as "web-ships" or "nest-webs" which seem to boast an impressive quantity of hibernation pods, both for the use of their own and that of their stored food. The Khrave's technology is not so advanced as to shield them from the Imperium's arsenal, but they are more than capable of defending themselves.
Like other species of psychically-powerful individuals, the Khrave's mastery of the Warp is far superior to that of humanity. Although no such thing as a Khrave battle-psyker like an Adeptus Astartes Librarian has thus far been encountered, the Khrave use their individual power to forge their weapons, so-called "Warp-glamours". Bladed weapons of every sort, these Warp-glamours use solidified Warp-matter as blades, making them inherently dangerous and easily capable of cleaving a fully armoured Space Marine in two. This same technology has been known to be used in projectile weaponry akin to the Imperial Bolter, where these Warp-shards serve as the weapon's ammunition. Some Khrave weaponry has been classified as the most potent tools of destruction, such as the much-dreaded Extinction Carabine which was used by several warbands of Blackshields during the Horus Heresy-era. The fact that humans are able to use this weaponry indicates that they are not psychically-fuelled, although their use has been strictly forbidden both by the Mechanicum and the Golden Throne.
- The Horus Heresy, Book One: Betrayal by Alan Bligh, pg. 88
- The Horus Heresy, Book Three: Extermination by Alan Bligh, pp. 151-152
- The Horus Heresy - Book Six: Retribution by Alan Bligh, pg. 247
- Imperial Armoury Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pp. 134-135
- Imperial Armour Volume Twelve - The Fall of Orpheus, pg. 21
- Deathwatch: Honour The Chapter, pg.20
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 196
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (4th Editon), pg. 139