- "We step forth on your path. Our Emperor be before us. Our Emperor be beside us. Our Emperor be in our tread."
The Red Hunters is a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter of unknown origins and Founding that has strong ties to the Inquisition. The Red Hunters Chapter has a long history of putting itself at the service of the Inquisition and the entire Chapter has been known to serve under the command of an Inquisitor Lord on certain occasions.
What little is known about the Red Hunters Chapter suggests that it may have been founded immediately following the Horus Heresy, and was intended to hunt down and eliminate the Traitor Legions. So strong is the link between this Chapter and the three great Inquisitorial Ordos that rumours abound that it has been founded at the request of the Inquisitorial Representative on Terra, and that there was a secret pact between the Inquisition and the Chapter for mutual support. The Chapter is tied to the Inquisition by ancient bonds of honour and duty and is often called upon to face the servants of the Ruinous Powers and other fell enemies of Mankind. Fighting in Inquisitorial strike forces and providing honour guards for the most senior Inquisitor Lords, the Red Hunters have confronted numerous horrors no mortals can face and be allowed to live should they survive, lest they taint others.
When Imperial forces serve alongside certain units of the Inquisition, many witness the full horror of a daemonic incursion or similar phenomenon. When those of the Imperial Guard or similar types of Imperial warriors witness such things, a common protocol that is utilised is that they are often put to death soon after, a mercy considering the corruption and insanity that will inevitably have taken root in their mortal hearts. As such, the Chapter's line brethren are routinely subjected to a mnemonic purgation ("mind-wipe") rite, a protocol that preserves their souls and their physical abilities, albeit at the cost of their memories, skills, experience and personality. This makes them an even more valuable weapon in the hands of the secretive and often necessarily brutal Inquisition.
Many of the vehicles within the Chapter armoury appear to have served in many Inquisition-led operations, for their hulls are often etched with countless battle honours. Yet, key honours are often deliberately removed while others are unknown to the Red Hunters Chapter archives. What glories go unrecorded, having been expunged from the minds of the Chapter's brethren, as well as redacted from such rolls of honour as adorn the armoured flanks of their vehicles and assault craft, must remain unknown forevermore for the sake of the Imperium and those who shelter within it.
The Red Hunters' most famous exploits came during the Siege of Vraks, an Imperial Armoury World that was seized by the Forces of Chaos under the control of the Apostate Cardinal Xaphan in 812.M41, and was liberated by the Imperial Guard with aid from the Inquisition and numerous Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes in 830.M41.
- Second Abonian Genocide (688-698.M40) - Inquisitor Halan Jentz of the Ordo Hereticus declared the entire population of the Abonian Sub-sector diabolos inculcatus and gathered together an Imperial Crusade army that included elements of the Red Hunters, War Bearers and Subjugators Chapters, as well as the Order of the Blue Robe and the Order of the Black Sepulchre of the Adepta Sororitas. The Crusade raged for a standard decade before the Inquisitor declared the sub-sector's crimes had been washed away in the tide of blood.
- Months of Shame (444-445.M41) - Although they had defeated all that the Forces of Chaos had thrown at them during the First War for Armageddon, the victorious soldiers of Armageddon were doomed from the start. They had gained knowledge of the existence of Chaos, a forbidden secret of the Imperium, and been exposed to its corruption. The Inquisition had no intention of letting the wider Imperium discover the true nature of the daemonic foe that had attacked Armageddon, or of the ways and means victory had been achieved with the aid of the Grey Knights; the Inquisitors present voted to sterilise (to prevent the passing on of Chaotic mutations) and quarantine-for-life in Adeptus Arbites work camps the remaining population of the Hive World even though it was generally considered untainted, and ignorant of the truth concerning the existence of Chaos. The valiant Imperial Guard, PDF regiments and other human defenders of the world were to suffer the same fate or be liquidated. The Inquisition ordered all of the people who had fought on the planet, except for the Space Marines, to be rounded up at gunpoint, sterilised to prevent any possible Chaos-induced mutations in their offspring and placed in Adeptus Arbites work camps across the galaxy, with their world to be re-colonised by people from other regions of the galaxy with no knowledge of the war. Over the strident protests of the Space Wolves and their Great Wolf Logan Grimnar, the Inquisition followed through with this plan, and the Grey Knights Frigate Karabela still in orbit of Armageddon was ordered to disable the first Imperial Guard troop transport to leave Armageddon as it approached a Warp jump point off-world. Following this first incident, a months-long cat-and-mouse campaign took place between the Space Wolves and their human charges from Armageddon on one side, and the Inquisition and Grey Knights on the other. It was characterised by increasingly deadly fratricidal actions by both sides, and rapidly escalated into a full-fledged Imperial civil war between the Space Wolves and the Inquisition that became known as the "Months of Shame". Grimnar saw the Inquisition's actions following the war as betraying the very people who had honourably fought for their homes and for the Emperor, and if the Imperium did not protect those who fought for it, he did not believe it had any purpose. Finally, in an attempt to bring the conflict to an end, in 445.M41 the Inquisitor Lord Ghesmei Kysnaros ordered his growing Inquisitorial armada, including Grey Knights Chapter fleet vessels, to Fenris, the Space Wolves' lightly defended homeworld, in a last-ditch gambit to force those Astartes to comply with the Inquisition's wishes concerning the liquidation or imprisonment of Armageddon's survivors. Kysnaros' armada, including a multitude of Inquisition warships, Grey Knights vessels, and the entire Chapter fleet and strength of the Red Hunters Space Marine Chapter led by their Chapter Master Daemar, arrived at Fenris and surrounded the planet in high orbit whilst targetting The Fang, the Space Wolves' fortress-monastery, for a devastating orbital bombardment. The planet was virtually undefended as the vast majority of the Space Wolves and their Chapter fleet were dispersed on missions across the galaxy. Kysnaros again asked for a parlay with any ranking Space Wolves present. A delegation consisting of Kysnaros, the Grey Knight Hyperion (who commanded respect amongst the Space Wolves as the "Bladebreaker") and Inquisitor Annika Jarlsdottyr, a native Fenrisian, arrived at The Fang for the meeting. The Space Wolves had awoken the Venerable Dreadnought Bjorn the Fell-Handed to deal with the Inquisitorial party. The ancient warrior who had once fought beside the Primarch Leman Russ during the Great Crusade immediately received the unbidden respect and reverence of the Inquisitorial delegation, and was thought to be a more temperate and wise representative for the Chapter than Logan Grimnar. Kysnaros asked for the Space Wolves' express obeisance to Imperial authority and the chain of command, and a Penitent Crusade to be undertaken to expiate the Chapter's guilt for their attacks upon the servants of the Inquisition. In exchange, the Inquisition and the Imperium at large would take no other action or censure against the Chapter. Before negotiations could go further, to the surprise of everyone, the Space Wolves' Chapter fleet under the command of Logan Grimnar translated from the Warp near Fenris. As the Inquisition's delegation made haste to their flagship, a short, brutal fight ensued over the planet. Eventually Grimnar and his Wolf Guard teleported to Kysnaros' flagship's bridge, where the Great Wolf unceremoniously beheaded the Inquisitor Lord. Grimnar then proceeded to maul the last survivor of the Grey Knights' Squad Castian who had survived the conflict on Armageddon. To save his brother, Hyperion confronted Grimnar, and in the duel that followed, he used his psychic powers to crack Grimnar's ancient, venerated Frost Axe Morkai. As Hyperion then confronted Grimnar and twenty Space Wolves alone, Bjorn the Fell-Handed teleported to the bridge and put an end to the fight. Bjorn told Grimnar that the internecine war between the Chapter and the Inquisition on behalf of the survivors of Armageddon had to stop. The Inquisitorial force should be allowed to leave Fenris unscathed, and the Space Wolves should reach an understanding with the Imperium. He then addressed Hyperion and Inquisitor Jarlsdottyr, as the ranking Inquisitorial representatives present, and told them that no Inquisition vessel should ever again appear above Fenris. Additionally, the Space Wolves who had acquired knowledge of the existence of the Grey Knights would not be mind-scrubbed, as was customary, though the remaining Armageddon survivors would be handed over for mind-wiping and dispersion across the galaxy. The Inquisition accepted the terms, and shortly afterward, the Inquisitorial force left the system. Yet, as a result of what they continued to believe was a betrayal of the Imperium's core values, the Space Wolves have never again trusted the Inquisition and move to frustrate Inquisitorial designs at every opportunity.
- Siege of Vraks (812-830.M41) - The Siege of Vraks saw the deployment of a significant force of Red Hunters centred on the 3rd Company to aid the Imperial Guard Regiments deployed to retake that Armoury World from the Forces of Chaos led by the heretical Cardinal Xaphan. The Red Hunters force was never deployed as a single unit and instead individual squads of Red Hunter Astartes were divided amongst a group of Ordo Malleus Inquisitors to act as an elite cadre of shock troops to aid the reconquest of Vraks. Hence, Red Hunter squads and vehicles could be found at many places all along the front lines of the campaign, and Red Hunters were present at most of the major battles fought during the eighteen-year-long siege. The Red Hunters saw extensive action during the final stages of the Siege of Vraks, primarily in the climactic Imperial offensive against the remaining bastion of Chaotic forces on the world in the great fortress known as the Citadel. A particularly dark day for the Chapter during the campaign saw roughly 150 Red Hunters Battle-Brothers perform an ill fated Drop Pod assault on the Citadel's Armoury Gate, which led to the fortress' Undercroft. Unfortunately they were beset by a Chaos Reaver-class Battle Titan of the Traitor Legio Vulcanum and hordes of Traitor soldiers. Despite attempts by the 269th Death Korps Siege Regiment's efforts to breach the gate and provide an escape route for the Red Hunters trapped in the "Death Pit" before the Armoury Gate, the entire force was wiped out to the last Astartes. The Red Hunters saw action once again alongside Inquisitor Lord Hector Rex, fellow Astartes of the elite Grey Knights Chapter, and the Krieg Grenadiers of the 150th and 158th Death Korps Regiments. This engagement would be more successful than the assault on the Armoury Gate and successfully breached the Citadel's Cardinal Gate and banished the Bloodthirster Greater Daemon An'ggrath, summoned by the Apostate Cardinal Xaphan, back to the Warp. During the final offensive against the Citadel, Red Hunters Terminator Squads proved instrumental in assisting the Krieg Death Korps engineers' efforts to clear the Citadel's Undercroft of the remaining and most powerful of Xaphan's renegade troops. The 3rd Squad of the Red Hunters' 1st Company, Squad Zokura, achieved a ratio of 97:1 kills during this operation.
- The Red Hunt Begins (915.M41) - By order of the Inquisitorial Representative and as ratified in council by the Senatorum Imperialis, three task forces drawn from the Red Hunters Chapter, along with elements of the Officio Assassinorum, the Inquisition and other Adeptus Astartes units, were withdrawn from current deployments and ordered to shadow the Penitent Crusades of the three rebel Chapters, the Executioners, Lamenters and Mantis Warriors, that sided with the Astral Claws during the Badab War.
- Hunter's Moon (956.M41) - The task force assigned to track the Mantis Warriors after the Badab War vanished traversing the lost moons of Lomea. It is thought that an entire company of the Red Hunters Chapter formed part of this task force, as well as several high-ranking Inquisitors and their own retinues. Whatever fate befell the task force was not shared by the Mantis Warriors and the results of all subsequent investigation were sealed by the highest possible authority.
- The Hunters Turned (993.M41) - When the Lamenters Chapter engaged Hive Fleet Kraken they sustained terrible losses. The Red Hunters Chapter suffered losses too, for the task force assigned to track the Lamenters on their century-long Penitent Crusade also had to make a stand against the Hive Fleet.
- The Reapers at Bay (999.M41) - A reclamator fleet of the renegade Night Reapers Chapter, thought destroyed earlier in history, was cornered by Inquisitor Celaeno of the Ordo Malleus in the bleak expanse of the Caligulan Nebula. With a full company of the Red Hunters Chapter at his command, spearheaded by the ancient Fellblade Tellum Veritatis, Celaeno forced a confrontation on one of the many barren worlds found in the nebula and was met by the warp-tainted armoured vehicles of the Night Reapers. As the Tellum Veritatis dueled with the Daemon-touched Typhon Heavy Siege Tank Nidhoggr amid a plain strewn with the broken remains of battle tanks, Celaeno was slammed by an errant shell and the Red Hunters retreated, carving oaths of vengeance into the armoured flanks of Tellum Veritatis.
Although still a Chapter of Space Marines that looks to the Codex Astartes for its organisation and spiritual guidance, the Chapter makes its squads available for rapid responses to Inquisitorial calls for assistance. Often times, an honour guard of Red Hunters squads is called forward to the frontlines to provide personal protection to high ranking Inquisitor Lords.
Notable Red Hunters
- Chapter Master Daemar - Daemar was the Chapter Master of the Red Hunters who accepted the request from the Inquisitor Lord Ghesmei Kysnaros to join the Armageddon Containment Fleet intended to punish the Space Wolves for their obstruction of the Inquisition's efforts to sterilise and quarantine the survivors of the First War for Armageddon in 445.M41. Daemar led the entirety of the Chapter fleet and its complement of Astartes to the Space Wolves' Chapter homeworld of Fenris to force them to comply with the Inquisition's wishes in the final days of the Months of Shame campaign. It is unknown if Daemar is still the Chapter Master of the Red Hunters at present.
- Veteran-Brother Sameer - Sameer served in Squad Zokura (3rd Squad), 1st Company. Squad Zokura was attached to various Inquisitors for those missions it participated in during the final battles for the Citadel of Vraks during the Siege of Vraks campaign. It was held in reserve during the assault on the Cardinal Gate and stood down before being deployed, therefor becoming one of the few units assigned to that battle to survive it. Later on, Squad Zokura fought alongside the warband of Inquisitor Verily Wroth, earning her commendation when they saved her from certain death during a daemonic incursion. During tunnel clearing operations in the Undercroft, the squad achieved a kill ratio of 97:1.
- Sergeant Tenorius - Tenorious was a veteran squad leader for Squad Tenorius (2nd Tactical Squad), 3rd Company. During the Siege of Vraks, Squad Tenorious was attached to Inquisitor Giaus Kahn's strike force, and committed to the audacious, but doomed attempt to capture the Citadel of Vraks' armoury gate. It was cut off and annihilated in the battle; its deeds known only to the Emperor.
The Red Hunters Chapter fleet is known to contain the following starships:
- In Sacred Trust (Battle Barge) - The In Sacred Trust serves as the flagship of the Red Hunters Chapter. It participated in the Inquisition's Armageddon Containment Fleet after the First War for Armageddon and aided in the Inquisition's assault upon the Space Wolves homeworld of Fenris during the final days of the Months of Shame.
- Purity of Loyalty (Strike Cruiser) - The Purity of Loyalty was one of the Red Hunters' twenty ships sent to punish wild Space Wolves during the Months of Shame. Unfortunately, it was destroyed while fighting in the orbit of Fenris.
The Red Hunters follow the dictates of the Codex Astartes in most regards. The Red Hunters' Power Armour is painted red with golden trim on the shoulder plates and a silver Aquila. The eyes of a Red Hunter's helm are green. According to the Insignium Astartes the Red Hunters originally denoted what Company a Battle-Brother belonged to by the colour of the trim on their shoulder guards. It is notable that in recent decades they have ceased displaying company-specific colours, all companies sporting golden trim instead. The white squad specialty symbol (Tactical, Assault, Devastator or Veteran) is indicated on the right shoulder guard. The black Gothic numeral centred on the squad specialty symbol designates squad number. The Roman numeral on the yellow, left knee guard indicates company number.
In the line companies, the golden helm stripe marks individuals as a veteran squad leader. The elite brethren of the 1st Company bear either white or silver heraldic bands on their helms, squad sergeants often rendering the entire helm in the chosen colour. The Chapter's iconography is prominently displayed on the left shoulder guard. In the case of the 1st Company, the Crux Terminatus is born on the left shoulder guard, while the Chapter's iconography is born on the right one.
The Red Hunters' Chapter badge is unique amongst Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, as it bears the symbol of the Inquisition prominently on the the Chapter's heraldry: a large white skull, indicating the formalised bonds between the two bodies. This skull is centred on a field of red.
- Imperial Armour - The Siege of Vraks (Compilation)
- Imperial Armour Volume Two, Second Edition - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, pp. 9, 19, 22-23, 143
- Imperial Armour Volume Seven - The Siege of Vraks Part III, pp. 38-39, 64, 104-109
- Imperial Armour Volume Thirteen - War Machines of the Lost & The Damned, pg. 25
- Insignium Astartes: The Uniforms and Regalia of the Space Marines, pg. 61
- The Emperor's Gift (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden