The Red Corsairs are a Renegade Chapter and warband of Chaos Space Marines who lead a vast fleet of pirates composed of mortals and other Traitor Marines that threaten Imperial shipping and Imperial worlds near the Maelstrom Warp rift in the Ultima Segmentum, a region known as the Maelstrom Zone to Imperial astrocartographers. The Red Corsairs were once a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter called the Astral Claws who were based on the world of Badab Primaris in the Badab Sector of the Ultima Segmentum. The Astral Claws were, ironically, raised during the 10th Founding in the 35th Millennium to guard against the numerous daemonic and alien threats emerging from the Maelstrom. Under the leadership of their Chapter Master, Lufgt Huron, the "Tyrant of Badab," in the late 41st Millennium, the Astral Claws sought to have the Badab Sector secede from the Imperium of Man. This was in protest against the Imperium's continued attempts to use the resources of the Badab Sector outside the region to fill the pockets of greedy Imperial merchants and manufactoria rather than dedicating them fully to the defeat of the Chaotic and xenos threats that menaced the Maelstrom Zone. The Astral Claws and the Tyrant of Badab were able to convince several other Astartes Chapters also dedicated to the protection of the Maelstrom Zone, including the Executioners, Lamenters, and the Mantis Warriors, to stand with them against the Imperium in what they believed to be a just cause. This alliance of Astartes also attempted to maintain the traditional autonomy of the Adeptus Astartes in the face of unwarranted interference from the Imperial nobility, economic interests and the often hated Inquisition.
Unfortunately, Lufgt Huron had slowly been corrupted by his desire for power into the service of Chaos, and eventually the Imperium was forced to respond to the so-called "Secessionists" in the Maelstrom Zone by unleashing its full might in the terrible civil war that became known in the Imperial record as the Badab War. This conflict was fought between 901.M41 and 912.M41 and ended in the complete destruction of the Astral Claws' defences and the devastation of their Chapter homeworld of Badab Primaris. Only 200 Astral Claws survived the final Imperial assault, and these Astartes, all corrupted by Chaos, fled with the maimed body of their leader into the Maelstrom, where they founded a new Chaotic empire. The other Astartes Chapters who had served the Secessionist cause were eventually forgiven by the Imperium since they had only been misguided and not corrupted, in return for launching themselves upon a series of Penitent Crusades. But Lufgt Huron swore his soul and the souls of his remaining Astral Claws to the eternal service of the Ruinous Powers in return for the restoration of his health and the power needed to make war upon the Imperium that he believed had betrayed him and his fellow Astral Claws. Replacing the ravaged portions of his body with bionic augmetics, Lufgt Huron, now calling himself Huron Blackheart, led his corrupt Astartes, now the Red Corsairs, back into the Maelstrom Zone to become the piratical raiders that he had so long fought against. In time, the Red Corsairs became the leaders of a vast Chaotic pirate force of Renegades and Traitors that represents a major continuing threat to the Imperium in the Ultima Segmentum.
After rebelling against the Imperium of Man's authority in an attempt to have the Badab Sector secede from Imperial control, and being defeated in the ensuing Badab War in 912.M41, the Astral Claws Chapter's 200 survivors fled the world, becoming the core of the Chaos pirate warband called the Red Corsairs.
The Astral Claws Chapter Master and former Planetary Governor of Badab Primaris, Lufgt Huron, is now a Chaos Lord known as Huron Blackheart. In response to the Badab Sector's huge debt in tithes and to the Chapter's tardiness in submitting its usual 5% tithe of gene-seed, an Imperial Adeptus Mechanicus Explorator vessel, the Righteous Quest, had entered Badab's orbit in 901.M41. Huron's first overt act of rebellion was to order his world's planetary defences to fire upon the intruders, starting the civil conflict later named the Badab War. The Mechanicus vessel was destroyed.
The Astral Claws found themselves outnumbered by the Loyalist Imperial forces raised against them by the Inquisition after this incident and so called for aid from other Space Marine Chapters. They were foolishly joined by the Executioners, the Lamenters and the Mantis Warriors who were unaware of the Astral Claws' corruption by Chaos. Eventually, the weight of the Imperium crushed the so-called "Secessionist" rebels and Badab fell. The Executioners, Lamenters, and the Mantis Warriors were granted the Emperor's forgiveness, however the Astral Claws were declared Excommunicate Traitoris and became one of the Renegade Space Marine Chapters.
The surviving 200 Astral Claws broke through the Imperial blockade and fled to the Maelstrom where they became the Red Corsairs. They had taken the broken and battered body of Lufgt Huron with them, and he is said to lead them in raids against the Imperium, although he is now more machine than man.
The intent of the Red Corsairs' raids are to build Huron's army with captives who turn Traitor and swear themselves to Chaos. The Chaos Lord Huron Blackheart is feared and despised by the Imperium as well as honoured by the other Traitor Legions for the thumb he poked so successfully into the eye of the False Emperor. Huron Blackheart's empire within the Maelstrom has become a great threat and a Chaos power that rivals the Traitor Legions within the Eye of Terror. One of the planets under their control is New Badab, where the tournament dedicated to the Blood God Khorne called the Skull Harvest is regularly held.
- The Gildar Rift (998.M41) - The Chapter fleet of the Loyalist Silver Skulls Astartes encounters and destroys a Red Corsairs strike force comprising several Executor-class Grand Cruisers. The surviving Renegades made planetfall on several planets in the Gildar System including the primary world in the system, Gildar Secundus, but the Silver Skulls were not to be thwarted so easily. In a matter of weeks, the Gildar System was declared free of the Red Corsairs' influence.
- The Fall of Vilamus (999.M41) - In 999.M41, Huron Blackheart of the Red Corsairs hatched a plan to steal large amounts of Astartes gene-seed alongside the Night Lords warband led by the Chaos Champion called The Exalted to create new Chaos Space Marines to refill the Renegades' ranks, which had been depleted by the Badab War. The Marines Errant's fortress-monastery of Vilamus, created by the fleet-based Chapter to serve as a secure base for its gene-seed repository, was targetted due to its relatively small garrison size. Luring the bulk of the Chapter away from the world, the Red Corsairs managed to disable the fortress' Void Shields and launched a determined assault that neutralised the fortress-monastery's power network and its automated defences. This attack led to the loss of nearly all of the Marines Errant's stockpile of precious genetic material, dooming them to a long, slow demise as a Chapter, unless the gene-seed could be recovered. However, the Night Lords and the Red Corsairs soon fell upon each other as the Night Lords tried to reclaim one of their Strike Cruisers, the Echo of Damnation, and lay claim to all of the recovered gene-seed.
- The Maelstrom Threat (980.999.M41) - A vast Chaos Space Marine fleet under the command of Huron Blackheart emerges from the Maelstrom and besieges the Chogoris, Kaelas and Sessec Systems. Rumours report Huron's force is as large as the Space Marine Legions of old, and several Chapters are tasked with its destruction.
The Red Corsairs are organised into a large pirate fleet, able to deploy small, elite warbands of Chaos Space Marines supported by larger groups of human reavers who are essentially spaceborne Chaos Cultists. The Space Marines among the force are supremely proficient at the boarding actions favoured by the Chapter whose ship-to-ship fighting prowess was long infamous when they were the Astral Claws. Huron Blackheart maintains a substantial fleet consisting of vessels captured over numerous engagements, ranging from a single Adeptus Astartes Battle Barge, a number of Strike Cruisers, many and varied Escorts and a huge number of interceptors and bombers. Rumours suggest that Huron's command ship, salvaged when it was drifting on the edge of the Maelstrom, was originally a Word Bearers Traitor Legion Battle Barge.
Hounds of Huron
The Hounds of Huron are Lord Blackheart's harbingers of dark fury. The Hounds are composed of Chaos Space Marine Bike Squads ideally suited for hit-and-run raids and they use their speed to hunt down their prey. They lash out at their intended targets with roaring Chainswords and slash with these scythed blades. The Hounds of Huron are often used to destroy isolated targets as well as tracking down and executing fleeing enemies. Imposing and powerful Chaos Lords within the ranks of the Red Corsairs known as Huntmasters are able to temporarily gain the allegiance of large warbands of Chaos Space Marine Bikers from across the Maelstrom with the promise of delivering to these Renegades a great bounty. These imposing figures answer only to the Tyrant of Badab himself. The Huntmasters are able to rally a sizeable pack of followers shortly before a major engagement is to occur. There are no more than 4 Huntmasters within the Red Corsairs at any given time, for all of them are bitter rivals vying for glory in the eyes of their dark master. The rewards for obedience to the Tyrant are great but the punishment for treachery is fatal. Amongst the Hounds' tasks is to hunt down those Renegade Space Marines who were once members of the Red Corsairs and have since put their own agenda above that of the Tyrant's -- a common flaw amongst the servants of Chaos.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
The Red Corsairs fight primarily as an expression of their twisted faith in Chaos Undivided. In order to save what was left of his Chapter and his hideously wounded body, Lufgt Huron made a terrible pact with the Ruinous Powers, pledging eternal service in return for the blessings and patronage of Chaos. With limited numbers at their disposal, the Red Corsairs spend much of their time as space pirates, but also launch brutal raids on Imperial shipping and outposts. These raids are not for plundering, but for the sheer pleasure of raiding the areas that they once swore to protect. Though piratical in the extreme, the renegade master leads the Red Corairs on savage attacks on Imperial shipping and outposts not because they have any overriding need for plunder, but because the very act of looting the regions he was previously sworn to protect pleases Huron as much as it does his diabolic patrons.
Notable Red Corsairs
- Huron Blackheart (Chaos Lord) - Huron Blackheart was originally Lufgt Huron, the Chapter Master of the Astral Claws Space Marine Chapter and the Imperial Governor of the world of Badab Primaris in the Ultima Segmentum. Huron Blackheart, as he became known, ultimately turned to Chaos in his ambitious pursuit of power and corrupted most of his Chapter as well, leading them in a rebellion against the Imperium that was known as the Badab War (901-912.M41). He is today the Chaos Lord who leads the surviving Astral Claws, who are now the piratical Red Corsairs. Huron Blackheart has great ambitions to unite all the Chaos Renegades of the Maelstrom under his leadership and create a Chaotic empire that will rival that of the Traitor Legions within the Eye of Terror. Blackheart was badly wounded during the surviving Astral Claws' retreat from Badab Primaris at the end of the Badab War, and large parts of his body have been replaced with cybernetic enhancements.
- Garreon "The Corpsemaster" (Chief Apothecary) – Garreon was one of the Veteran Battle-Brothers of the former Astral Claws Chapter that survived the final assault on Badab Primaris during the closing days of the Badab War. The Red Corsairs call Garreon "The Corpsemaster", not because he harboured any desire to see the dead walk, but because he took a pathological interest in the biology of the dying and the dead, both of whom provided him with a harvest of precious gene-seed. He believed, as had many Apothecaries throughout the history of the Adeptus Astartes, that the future of their brotherhood lay in a better understanding of human genetics and xenobiology. He performed regular dissections on enemies and Red Corsairs both – in some cases whilst his subjects were still living. He could keep his victims alive for a phenomenal length of time, reducing them to skeletal, still-living things that begged for a release that was an eternity in coming. All Apothecaries of the Emperor's Space Marines have heard of Garreon of the Astral Claws. His research scrolls and early documentation were once lauded for their extraordinary insight and understanding of Space Marine physiology, and many Apothecaries have studied Garreon’s earlier works. The idea of meeting such a legendary figure might once have filled an Apothecary with interest and reverence, but now it fills them with nothing but revulsion because of Garreon's corruption and betrayal of the Emperor. Garreon was taller than most of his comrades but possessed a leanness that would have made him seem thin had he not been a Space Marine. Sharp, angular cheekbones stood out prominently in a scarred face whose most striking feature was the eyes. An impassive, unreadable dark brown, the colour of Garreon’s irises were so dark that his pupils were barely visible. His hair was a tawny brown mane that fell to his shoulders, streaked through with grey that hinted at his advancing years. It was a face that was filled with great intelligence but also underlined with the terrible cruelty born of a hunger for forbidden knowledge.
- Variel "The Flayer" (Former Apothecary Secundus) - Variel served as an Apothecary Secundus of the Astral Claws and later the Red Corsairs after the events of the Badab War ran their course. It was Variel, his mentor Chief Apothecary Garreon and Armenneus Valthex who treated their mortally wounded Chapter Master Lufgt Huron. It was they who oversaw the reconstruction of Huron's severely damaged body, helping him to be reborn as the mighty Chaos Lord Huron Blackheart. After the Astral Claws had been cast out of the bosom of the Imperium, and forced to flee into the hellish realm of the Maelstrom, Variel also undertook additional duties as an infamous torturer who oversaw interrogations, contriving inventively malignant punishments and keeping his "subjects" alive and lucid far longer than they wished to be. This earned him the sobriquet "The Flayer." Late in the 41st Millennium the infamous Talos Valcoran, called the "Soul Hunter", Sergeant of the 1st Claw (squad), 10th Company of the Night Lords, and his warband came to the Maelstrom seeking to repair his damaged vessel. At this time, the conflicting loyalties of Variel's past and present persona began to emerge. Ultimately, he went on to betray Huron Blackheart and assisted Talos in reacquiring the Red Corsairs' warship Echo of Damnation, a former vessel of the Night Lords Legion that had been captured by the Red Corsairs. Variel would go on to faithfully serve under Talos' command, and would be one of only a handful of survivors of his warband when the Night Lords' former adoptive homeworld of Tsagualsa came under attack from the Ulthwé Eldar, who sought to eliminate Talos, who had become a dire threat to them. Talos instructed Variel to escort his valued mortal servant Septimus and the pregnant Navigator Octavia off-world aboard one of their Thunderhawk gunships. Once in orbit, both of Talos' servants eventually escaped back to the planet's surface. This forced Variel to pursue them. The Apothecary was badly wounded when he encountered the Eldar Phoenix Lord Jain Zar, losing both his legs in the process. Afterwards, he would later rejoin the Night Lords under Decimus' command, becoming one of his most trusted followers.
- Armenneus Valthex, "The Alchemancer", Honoured Patriarch of the Forges - Valthex was the Astral Claws' Master of the Forge, the chief Techmarine, and so an individual of great importance to the Chapter during the Badab War as Lufgt Huron's chief Armourer and most loyal servant. Valthex's skills as a crafter of poisons and chemical weaponry were as infamous as his abilities as a forge-wright and tech-smith were famed. During the Badab War, Valthex fought as a field commander and as the Astral Claws' chief siege engineer, and it was believed that it was he that carried away his fallen lord's body into the Maelstrom after the apocalyptic final battle for the Palace of Thorns during the Loyalists' final assault on Badab Primaris.
- Garlon Souleater (Chaos Sorcerer) - The cadaverous and cruel Garlon is Lord Blackheart’s most powerful Chaos Sorcerer within the Red Corsairs.
- Oneius Prayd (Captain) – Oneius Prayd was once a Captain of the Red Scorpions, but he threw aside his vows of fealty after his peers refused to choose him as Chapter Master. A greater part of his Company joined him when he seceded from his former Chapter and joining the bloody reavers known as the Red Corsairs. Oneius has led his renegade Company on a rampage across the various alien worlds near the Veldin Sector, attracting all manner of outcasts and Renegades, including being bolstered by a squad of Chaos Space Marines from the Disciples of Ruin and another squad from the ill-fated Wolf Brothers. The Dark Gods eventually appeared to him in a vision and commanded him to fight on Makenna VII as a true test of his new loyalty.
- Crassus (Khornate Champion) - Crassus was a Renegade from the Ultramarines who was Khorne's chosen Chaos Champion amongst the Red Corsairs. Crassus was a bloody-handed psychopath a full head taller than the average Astartes, with few equals in hand-to-hand combat.
- Taemar (Chaos Sorcerer/Warband Champion) – Taemar's roots did not lie with the Astral Claws. Once, a lifetime ago, he had belonged to another Chapter. Like many of the Renegade Space Marines from other Chapters that joined the Tyrant of Badab’s warband in the Maelstrom after the Badab War, Taemar had attempted to disguise his original allegiance by obliterating the sigil of his former Chapter, but the core colours of his Power Armour proclaimed that Taemar had once belonged to the Executioners. But the less he thought about his betrayal of his former Chapter, the less it bothered him. He had fought and murdered his way through the ranks of the Red Corsairs until he served as one of Blackheart’s champions within the warband. History suggested that this was no coveted position -- death would be his only reward, whether it came at the hands of another ambitious Traitor Marine or in battle against Huron Blackheart's enemies and he knew it. Taemar was also an accomplished Chaos Sorcerer who possessed powerful psychic abilities. He ultimately was slain at the hands of Prognosticator Brand of the Silver Skulls Chapter on the bridge of the Loyalist Strike Cruiser Dread Argent during the Red Corsairs' failed campaign to take control of the Gildar Rift.
- Huntmaster Galvaron – There are no more than four Huntmasters at any one time; all are bitter rivals vying for glory in the eyes of their master. The rewards for obedience are great, the punishment for treachery fatal. It is amongst the Hounds' tasks to hunt down renegades that once flocked to the Red Corsairs' banner and have since put their own agenda above that of Huron's. Large squadrons of Chaos Bikers provide a violent thunderbolt of destructive force, although they tend to group together under the command of a particularly powerful Chaos Lord. It takes an individual who can promise to deliver the renegades an even greater bounty to temporarily gain their allegiance. Huron's Huntmasters are men such as this, imposing figures in the Red Corsairs who answer only to Lord Blackheart himself. Huntsmaster Galvaron is one such ruthless individual, for he is truly one of Huron's chosen agents, one of his favoured heralds of terror.
- Vollsanger (Battle-Brother) – A former Space Wolves battle-brother, he served aboard the Strike Cruiser Wolf of Fenris which was captured by the vile Red Corsairs during fierce fighting near Parenxes. In the final assault, the remaining Space Wolves faced annihilation. In an act of desperate betrayal, he turned upon his own battle-brothers and slew them. He recanted his oaths to his former Chapter, his Primarch and the Emperor of Mankind, and swore new pledges of loyalty to Huron Blackheart. In return, Blackheart granted the traitorous Wolves the command of the Wolf of Fenris.
- Sartak (Chaos Sorcerer) – Sartak was once a former Librarian of the Astral Claws but later became a Chaos Sorcerer of the infamous Red Corsairs. Sartak felt that he had followed the easy path for far too many years. Sartak remembered those dark days on Badab, when Huron had poisoned the Astral Claws against the Emperor. Sartak, loyal to his Chapter Master, as a Space Marine should be, followed him into heresy. Along with 200 other battle-brother he escaped his destruction when he fled Badab Primaris at the end of the Badab War. But the years of reaving had taken their toll on the once idealistic warrior. Like a sleeping man jarred to consciousness, Sartak had opened his eyes to the depravity and corruption of the man once known as the Tyrant of Badab. With this shocking awakening Sartak had realised that there was only one way to make good his betrayal of the Emperor.He had been found unconscious on the bridge of a White Scars’ cruiser following a Red Corsair raid by the White Scars battle-brother, Arghun. Sartak claimed that he was allegedly through with being a blood-handed reaver and had betrayed his oath of fealty to the Tyrant. If was allowed to infiltrate and find his friend Lothar on Blackheart’s flagship, he would be able to tell the White Scars where the next attack would fall. Brother Arghun and Sartak make their way into the Maelstrom and are eventually captured by the Red Corsairs and brought before their Chaos Lord. The Tyrant queries Arghun for the reasons he has betrayed his oaths of fealty to the Emperor. Unconvinced of the supposes traitor’s intentions, he orders Sartak to slay the White Scar in order to prove his loyalty. Reluctantly, Sartak does as he is told. After the execution, he seeks out his contact aboard Blackheart’s ship – his friend Lothar. Unfortunately, he finds Lothar in a deadly gladiatorial contest against the reigning Khornate Champion, Crassus. Hopelessly outmatch, Lothar is summarily beaten. As he lay dying, Lothar informs his friend of the Red Corsairs’ next target – the planet Razzia. Retreating to his quarters, Sartak reaches out to the aether of the Warp and finds the mind of a White Scars Storm Seer waiting for him. Sartak then informs him of the Tyrant’s next target. After sending his astrotelepathic message, Sartak is confronted by Garlon Souleater, the Tyrant’s chief psyker, as well as Blackheart himself. They inform Sartak that they were aware of his betrayal and that they had used him to misdirect the White Scars for their next intended target which was the Imperial world of Santiago, not Razzia. Facing his doom, Sartak attempts to attack Blackheart but loses both his hands to the deadly Tyrant's Claw for his trouble. Garlon then psychically attacks Sartak and knocks him unconscious. When Sartak finally reawakens he finds himself confined in some kind of container and in utter darkness. His limbs are restrained and tubes have been shoved down his throat. He tried to cast his mind into the Warp, but found that his powers had been suppressed. Sartak comes to the bleak realisation that he might be sealed into some sort of escape pod and jettisoned into space. But much to his horror, he comes to the sickening realisation that a worse fate has befallen him. Horrified, he realises that he is sealed within a sarcophagus of a Chaos Dreadnought, never to be installed into the nigh-indestructible adamantium shell of a Dreadnought body. Kept barely alive, he is doomed to slowly rot for all eternity. With this shocking revelation Sartak’s sanity flees his once rational mind in a silent scream.
- Lothar (Battle-Brother) - Lothar was a formidable warrior within the ranks of the Red Corsairs for he had won a place amongst Huron’s inner circle. A friend of Sartak, Lothar wanted to give up the ways of being a bloody-handed raider. But by the time Sartak returned to the Tyrant’s ship, he found Lothar in gladiatorial combat against the Khornate Champion, Crassus. Lothar is mortally wounded in the duel and as he lay dying, whispers to Sartak the location of the next planet the Tyrant planned to raid. But unfortunately for both of them, they had been duped. For the Tyrant's true target was the Agri-World of Santiago.
- Remulus (Battle Brother) - Remulus was a formidable warrior in his own right. He wears the Terminator armour of a 1st company veteran with the Corsair's red obscuring the yellow and black of his former Chapter, the Scythes of the Emperor. He is the Captain of the No Redemption.
- Might of Huron (Slaughter-class Cruiser) - Former flagship of the Tyrant of Badab, destroyed in the Fourth Battle of the Sunward Gap in 959.M41.
- Spectre of Ruin (Unknown Class) - One of the chosen transports of the Tyrant of Badab.
- Hope’s Sunset (Executor-class Grand Cruiser)
- Midnight Solitude (Executor-class Grand Cruiser)
- Nightmare’s Dawn (Executor-class Grand Cruiser)
- Wolf of Fenris (Strike Cruiser) - Astartes Strike Cruiser seized from the Space Wolves by Blackheart himself.
- Deathblade (Murder-Class Cruiser)
- No Redemption (Murder-Class Cruiser)
Huron Blackheart's dreaded warband of Chaos Space Marines known as the Red Corsairs were named after the blood-red colour they used to obliterate their old Imperial heraldry and symbols. The artifice pleased Huron greatly, and all of the Renegade Space Marines who have joined him since have taken these colours as their own to show their new allegiance. They are also known to incorporate the colour black as well as brass trim on their Power Armour. Otherwise, most Renegade Astartes that join the Red Corsairs usually obliterate or deface all of their former Imperial icongraphy by hastily painting over them with red saltires (a diagonal 'X').
The Red Corsairs icon is that of a clenched, ebon-clawed gauntlet, reminiscent of Huron Blackheart's Tyrant Claw, on a crimson background. While the sigil of the blackened, closed fist is often taken to refer to the Tyrant's Claw, it is also an oblique reference to the corrupted inheritance of the Red Corsairs as the remains of the former Loyalist Astral Claws Chapter.
- Apocalypse (Rulebook), pg. 171
- Apocalypse Reload (Rulebook), pg. 56
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 56-57
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, Revised Codex), pg. 7
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition)
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two
- Warhammer 40,000: Compendium, "The Badab War" by Rick Priestley, pp. 33-35
- White Dwarf 303 (UK) "Index Astartes: Rogue Sons" by Andy Hoare
- White Dwarf 101 (UK) "Index Astartes: The Badab Uprising" by Rick Priestley
- Blood Reaver (Novel), by Aaron Demski-Bowden
- Heroes of the Space Marines (Anthology), "The Skull Harvest" (Story) by Graham McNeill
- Into The Maelstrom (Anthology), "Into The Maelstrom" (Story) by Chris Pramas
- The Gildar Rift (Novel), by Sarah Cawkwell
- Pandorax (Novel) by C. Z. Dunn
- Tyrant of the Hollow Worlds (Novel) by Mark Clapham