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Thunder Warriors

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This page contains spoilers for: The Outcast Dead (Novel)
Mk.I 'Thunder' pattern Power Armour

The Thunder Warriors (also known as the Thunder Legion[7]) were the genetically-engineered warriors of Terra created by the Emperor of Mankind to unite the homeworld of humanity beneath His rule in the 30th Millennium. They were gene-enhanced warriors created by the Emperor and served as the precursors to the present-day Space Marines. Wrought to be living weapons, the Thunder Warriors were known to be physically stronger, more savage and more potent in combat than the later Astartes, though they were not as long-lived.


Thunder Warriors were the elite super-soldiers that marched with the Emperor to conquer Terra in the Wars of Unification. The engineering that the Emperor used to create the Thunder Warriors, whilst creating superior fighters, was not as efficient as what was used later to create the Space Marines[3], nor was the technology as advanced or the geneticists as entirely willing.[5a] These proto-Astartes were organized into twenty regiments of no more than a few hundred warriors, each named by the Emperor himself.[4]

The Thunder Warriors battled throughout the Unification Wars and united Terra for the first time in millennia under the rule of the Emperor. According to myth, they were all killed during the final battle of the Unification Wars, the Battle of Mount Ararat.[2]

Appearance and Abilities

Thunder Warrior miniature[6]

Thunder Warriors were large, greater in size than most Space Marines. Despite physical deterioration, the few Warriors that survived the end of the Unification Wars were easily more than a match for an Astartes, and had even outperformed Custodians during combat engagements. They were made highly resistant to psychic attack, perhaps because of the sorcery they would regularly face during the Age of Strife. They had tremendous upper body strength that was considered to be unparalleled, which, when coupled with their early model of power armor, made them virtually unbeatable in close combat.[2][5b][8]


Imperial history records that the Thunder Warriors had all died in the final battle of the Unification Wars, the Battle of Mount Ararat, and the Legiones Astartes were created to replace them.[2] However, according to a surviving Thunder Warrior, Arik Taranis, the Emperor didn't replenish their numbers, or may have in fact massacred the hyper-violent and short-lived Thunder Warriors to make way for his stable, mass produced Astartes warriors, fabricating the tale of Mount Ararat as a cover-up, or using the battle to expend the last of the Thunder Warriors. The Thunder Warriors were suitable for conquering Terra, but did not fit the Emperor's vision of warriors who would take the entire Galaxy.[2] It is implied that the purges were carried out by the Custodian Guard.[7] Another source states that upon discovering their short lifespans, the Thunder Warriors revolted against the Emperor, causing the Custodes to annihilate them.[9]

Early in the Great Crusade, a small group of surviving Thunder Warriors calling themselves the Dait'Tar were among the renegades of the Cerberus Insurrection. The Emperor dispatched the XII Legion (later known as the World Eaters) to quell the uprising and punish the traitors. Despite their physical decline, and being severely outnumbered by one of the greatest Space Marine Legions, the Thunder Warriors managed to slaughter four to five times their number in Astartes. The Insurrection was eventually stopped however, after several hours of intense close quarters fighting.[5b]

At least one Thunder Warrior survived to the time of the Horus Heresy, Arik Taranis, who had taken many names in the interim, including Babu Dhakal. Taranis had learned some of the techniques the Emperor had used to create him and tried to make his own army.[2] He suspected that the Emperor had deliberately engineered his kind with a limited lifespan, though he personally hoped it was simply a defect; Thunder Warriors that did not die in battle suffered from cellular degeneration or mental instability, and often had relatively short lifespans.[5a]

Eventually, after another Thunder Warrior, Ghota, encountered a group of traitor Astartes known as the Outcast Dead and slew one of its members, Taranis was able to cure the genetic instability of the Thunder Warriors, though not before suffering considerable degeneration himself.[2]

Four Thunder Warriors had also survived on Terra to serve as gladiators in depths of The Maw, near slums known as the Swathe, for despite their physical deterioration they were still mighty warriors. One of them (Kabe) eventually died in a gladiator battle, two (Vezulah Vult and Gairok) died fighting a demonically possessed Alpha Legion warrior, and the last (Dahren Heruk) was given an honoured death by a Custodian after he defeated the possessed legionary. They were kept alive by Tarrigata, a former astropath, who served as their master and helped keep them alive through transplanting the organs of the deceased Thunder Warriors.[8]

Historic Thunder Warriors

Canon Conflict

  • Both Thunder Warriors and Custodians have been stated to be superior to each other at some point. Thunder Warriors were described as being unparalleled in physical might during the time of the Custodes. Conversely Inferno! (Magazine), described Custodians as being stronger than Thunder Warriors.