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Fear and the Fearless (now with Cliff's Notes, post 9)


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#1
FerociousBeast

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The fearless nature of those of the Deathwing and the Inner Circle--and, to a lesser extent, that of their uninitiated brethren in the Battle Companies--is well known. A valiant brother of the Deathwing will think as little of falling back under the assault of a Bloodthirster as of a diminutive grot. Retreat is unthinkable. Even were it tactically advisable, a Dark Angel will refuse to give his enemy the satisfaction of seeing him fall back. No, for the brethren of the Deathwing, there are but two choices: victory or death. Of the majority of those throughout history who have known something of the Dark Angels' tenacity, their bravery was labelled insane after it brought them inexorably to the latter. Fortunately, the chapter's continued existence for 10,000 years bears witness to their battle prowess having ensured they are brought just as inexorably to the former, time and time again. A glorious history of unbroken victory stretching back millennia, blemished with record of neither retreat nor fear.

And yet. And yet for all that. What other emotion could motivate such secrecy? What dictate could call the Unforgiven to suddenly leave allies alone to weather the coming firestorm? What source the impulse to hide truths from one's own battle brothers? From one's own self? What, if not fear?

What do the fearless fear, and in its face how can we, the students of the Unforgiven, reconcile such a paradox?

The beginnings, perhaps, of an answer may be found in the dark places of that ancient, world-spanning forest. As the truth of a thing can be glimpsed only in its source, so must we return to the source of all things of especial import to the Unforgiven. We return to Caliban. Under the permanent gloom of the thick and gnarled trees dashes an immense shape, loping from shadow to shadow, wild, bestial eyes peering through a tangled mane, seeking threat and prey. One of the great beasts of Caliban. A creature born of impossible artifice, able to tear a man apart or crush him with a blow. Life on Caliban is a constant struggle, even for one such as he. He is hungry.

Coming upon a path rough-hewn through the forest, he pauses, curious, considering the beings who must have claimed it, set its order apart from the tangle all about. He looks up and down its length, and all such ruminations are laid aside as he spies another of his order. A brotherhood of dissimilarity, a fellowship of mutual enmity and discord. As the other creature spies him in return and bellows its challenge, the great beast considers their kinship. A strange kinship, for they are alike in only one way, but that the most important. They are both utterly alone on this planet. In physical form, they are both unmatched. The great beast contrasts his four thick, muscular limbs with his opponent's seven scuttling legs and single claw-arm held aloft; his mane-crowned head with the other's snapping beak. In relationship, both are unclaimed. They hate all and are hated by all. They hunt alone, choosing their prey without prejudice or preference, and bringing their victims to bay without aid of pack or mate. In morals, both follow but one single law: kill or be killed.

His brother guards a freshly killed meal. A heaving heap of a long-necked, black animal, not yet dead, its four legs shorn at the knees. A smaller black-armored creature that had recently sat astride it, its helmed head pinced from its shoulders, its lifeless limbs twitching on the ground. The beast lacks the obvious killing appendages of his cousin, but he has immense strength in his hands and is swift of foot. And, most importantly, there is the fierce intelligence that shines behind his eyes. He knows from which side of his brother's lopsided body the attack will come, and with speed the other cannot hope to match rushes to the other. In vain his foe wards off the great beast's rush with his comparatively spindly legs, but the great beast brushes past, leaping astride his quarry's back in strange imitation of the fallen warrior over whose corpse the two titans wrestle. With a bunching of immense muscles, the beast rips his screaming cousin's claw arm from its socket, then severs its head with a single swipe of the claw's razor edge.

The beast pauses a moment to savor the manner of his victory, the weapon turned against its master, then turns his attention toward his prize, the horse and its fallen rider. For he is very hungry. The details of this feast, and countless others like it, will be lost in time as the great beast joins the human society on Caliban, learns the humans' language, enters the Order, and ascends its ranks, for the beast will never speak of those times again and will himself endeavor to forget them, to convince himself that he is one of those around him, separated at birth only by unhappy circumstance. But the lie convinces no one. The Lion, the Son of the Forest, is still a being apart. Separated from his comrades by his own towering superiority.

Though clothed in the manner of the Order, though of human figure and aspect, Lion el'Jonson yet resembles none on Caliban so much as the great beasts in the unescapable fact of his uniqueness. The most ferocious beast of them all, perhaps, but nevertheless a beast. And though he may strive to forget and deny, in his core he cannot. He knows. He knows what he was, what he did. He knows how it felt. To be free, unmatched, beholden to none. A creature of unrestrained violence and savage freedom. He knows that side of himself that he rejects and suppresses, and he fears it.

And with a resolution unmatched not only on Caliban, but among the galactic diaspora of humanity as well save for one luminous figure, he turns against what he fears and swears to wipe it from his sight. So begins the Great Crusade of Caliban, a microcosm of the Greater Crusade of the Emperor. The Lion joins the planet's clans to his side, rallying the knightly orders in his quest to build a better world, a world free from the fear of the great beasts, united in service to a glorious future. But known only to the Lion, he fights also to expunge a taint from his world that he cannot purge from himself.

For so long as he fights the great beasts, he cannot succumb to the lion within. The beasts cannot claim him as kin.

Can they?

There is a resolution for the Son of the Forest, however. The truth, when it came, brought freedom. With the Emperor came tidings that the Lion was no longer alone, nor unexplainable. Though his past would forever haunt him, he could turn his resolute gaze to his glorious future among the heavens, secure in the knowledge that he was not a cursed creature of Caliban. His perfection was justly wrought, his existence had purpose. But the forest taught the young Primarch what to fear, and it taught him what to do with it.

Lessons his progeny learned well at the feet of their master. For when their brethren turned from the Emperor's path toward Chaos, the Dark Angels in wrath turned their hands against them. Swearing mighty oaths that have bound them for millennia on end, the Sons of the Lion hunt the Fallen as the ancient Order hunted the great beasts through the dark forests of Caliban. The Masters of the Rock will never rest until each of their fallen brothers are accounted for, just as the Lion 10,000 years prior never tired in his pursuit of the beasts of Caliban until each one had been erased. To do any less would be to stare into the faces of the Fallen Brethren, and see there their own visage staring back.

The implacable Deathwing care nothing for external threat. Death and pain are accepted in equal measure with life and glory. But the fearless yet know fear. Though quail they not before blade or bullet, within the secret places of their soul is hid knowledge most foul. A knowledge which must be resisted with all the desperation they can muster. A knowledge at odds with all they love and respect. They tread the narrow bridge over the chasm with steady step, but the void calls to them. They resist it with fire and blade and the crash of bolters and crimson blood drawn screaming from the flesh of traitors. For as long as they fight the manifestation of their guilt, they know they can never themselves fall.

But for the Unforgiven, there is no resolution. There is no truth waiting in the wings to set them free. For they betrayed the Emperor. If not they themselves, then those just like them, and in the deepest and darkest pits of their souls, they know the Fallen and they call them kin.


Edit 1: that title had to go.
Edit 2: added reference to Cliff's Notes in post 9 to the title.

Edited by FerociousBeast, 06 October 2010 - 01:00 PM.

Dark Angel Codex Project:
Project Redemption/Project Unforgiven: The Bolter & Chainsword Dark Angel Forum's effort towards updating the Unforgiven

FB's Greatest Hits:
My Beef with Codex Space Marines: Constructive criticism and proposed solutions
Fear and the Fearless: Just what do the Dark Angels and their primarch fear?
The Role of Terminator Squads in Codex: Space Marines: An analysis

#2
Alastor

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Very nice FB, I will comment after I get off work.
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#3
con-fusion

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Excellent, FB. It really fits the feel of the DA and ties together some of the concepts we've been looking at in the Unforgiven Phase 1 thread. I hope that you will add this there.

#4
BoonKin

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Very well written !!

I suppose you meant that the worst enemy that the Dark Angels has to face is ultimately the Fallen and their actions all this while, which I believe is true, since the worst enemy had always been yourself (in reality).





#5
Isiah

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since the worst enemy had always been yourself (in reality).


:) a very interesting reveal there Boonkin.

Yes entertaining, thought-provoking and beautifully put together FB. We need more of that here please.

Cheers
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#6
FerociousBeast

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Thank you for the comments, everyone, and I apologize for the essay's length. I realize that's probably putting some readers off and making it harder for others to get a grasp on what I'm trying to say. I am offering at least three fairly controversial ideas up for discussion.

To reply to BoonKin's comment, I didn't mean to convey the impression that the worst enemy of the Dark Angels is the Fallen, actually it's quite a bit different than that. I meant to suggest instead that the hunt for the Fallen is actually a means to the end of combating a greater threat.

It's always seemed to me that the Dark Angels rather over-react to the truth of the Fallen. After all, most other chapters have had brethren fall to Chaos. There's even the suggestion in Codex Space Wolves that whole Great Companies have succumbed to Chaos over the millennia (see the fluff on the black stone representing the 13th Company). So why do the Dark Angels go so overboard when other chapters seem to take it in stride? This essay is an attempt to explore just that question.

Edited by FerociousBeast, 29 September 2010 - 01:58 PM.

Dark Angel Codex Project:
Project Redemption/Project Unforgiven: The Bolter & Chainsword Dark Angel Forum's effort towards updating the Unforgiven

FB's Greatest Hits:
My Beef with Codex Space Marines: Constructive criticism and proposed solutions
Fear and the Fearless: Just what do the Dark Angels and their primarch fear?
The Role of Terminator Squads in Codex: Space Marines: An analysis

#7
BoonKin

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Well, that was the first thing that came into my mind after reading your work. One thing about DA is (I think) that the way they behave and act reflects certain aspects of our human character, the psychology that is.

Perhaps I think too much. But then again, isn't that what our chapter does? :P

I believe the reason why DA goes overboard is all stemmed from the Lion himself. In Fallen Angels, we can see that he takes treachery and betrayal very seriously, and that by fluff he would influence the culture of the Legion (via gene-seed). After all, it was nearly half the Legion, quite a sizeable chunk. Other chapters don't go overboard probably because its just a "handful" (few individuals to a company), not a very serious threat instead.

Putting fluff aside, I think its just a "gimmick" of sorts by GW to paint the spirit of being a DA :)





#8
Master Ipharion

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Hello together.
This is an interesting view on the psychology of the Lion. I agree that the Lion did some things in the wilderness, that he should not speak of, but i am not sure, if he regretted anything of it.

My personal opinion is, that Johnson did not felt shame, because he had no reason to do so: A human usually learns the value of life from his parents. They care for him and give him the feeling, that he worth something. This usually happens when children are small and its one of the first experiances humans make. Later he extrapolates the value of life from it ("If I am worth something, your life must have a worth to"). Johnson had no parents that would care for him. There was nobody, who told him, that his life was valuable or that any other life has a value. In fact he was hunted through dark woods by terrible monsters instead. So he got a feardriven raw instinct for survival at any cost instead of an sensibel sense for the value of human life. There is even fluff, that might point in my direction: Astelan in "Angels of Darkness" made a similar observation.

Sure, you will point out, that Johnson met Luthor later, who would teach him all the aspects of human living, but i would say, that it was already to late: Johnson was already nearly grown up, when Luthor found him. Yes, the Lion was learning, but it was a rather intellectual learning. That does not mean, that the Lion acted without honour, but this honour was born out of his mind and his heart had no connection to it. Or to say it otherwise: He did, what he did, because he thought, that it was expected from him. The only thing, that he did with passion, was the termination of the beasts (or later the Fallen, who are basicly the spiritual offspring of the beasts). A good part of his life he was hunted by these abominations and he knew, that they pose a serious threat for him and his life: The fear for these beast would have his mainmotivation. If you read a bit about psychology, than you will learn, thar fear and hate are linked.

These same fear would also be the source for a Black-and-White-view of the world: In Johnsons early life there was only survival or death, to be swift and to escape or to be slow and to be eaten. This terror would have left an big imprint on the psyche of the young Primarch and might have an deep impact on his judgement. And i really doubt, that he later was able to change his sight. (No Therapists on Caliban :tu: )
The only thing, he could do was to suppress his emotions alltogether for a certain time. But as we all know, emotions will come back through the backdoor. This would explain Johnsons obsession for some things. Also it would explain, why he had problems to understand the inner motivations of those around him: They are far to alien from his own feelings.

Thats my view on the Lions psyche.

By the way: I dont think, that Johnsons inner battles would be mirrored one to one in his Legion. His leadership had an impact an the Dark Angels, that is for sure. But to say "The Geneseed did it" on every occasion is a bit lame in my eyes.
The Backround of our chapter is also forged by a lot of marines (The Fallen, The first inner cycles, The Terrans, the Order,... etc.) and i think that this is the way it should be. If you want an Primarch as an reason for everything, I suggest to paint your minis blue with an white turned Omega on their shoulderpads :P .
My two imperial credits,

Ipharion, Master of the Dark Angels 4th Company

Edited by Master Ipharion, 30 September 2010 - 05:24 PM.


#9
FerociousBeast

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Since I was hoping to inspire some conversation with my heretical musings, I will provide an outline of the points I'm trying to get across.

1) The Lion, after his integration into human society, must still have doubted whether or not he really belonged among humans. His reticence to speaking about his time before Luther indicates that he did things in the darks of the forest that he would see remain dark. And, though he resembled a human, from a Calibanite's view he must have seemed more like a great beast of Caliban in his fierce physical superiority and size. He certainly resembled none of them.

2) The Crusade against the beasts that the Lion so tirelessly promoted and then executed therefore came not solely from feelings of altruism in the Lion's heart. The deepest motivation was fear. Fear of what his true nature might be. To prove to himself and all those around that he was not a beast, he made war upon the beasts.

3) In a similar way, the Dark Angels fear what the Fall of their brethren might mean for them, and so, like their primarch, they refuse to speak of it. The Interrogator-Chaplains of the Inner Circle speak of redemption and vengeance and even salvation for the souls of their brothers, but what has truly driven them for 10,000 years without ceasing is fear. Fear that if they were to stop for even a moment, to take a measure of peace and comfort, the same plague that proved itself in their ancient brethren might prove itself in them.

In joining the initiates of the first circles of the Inner Circle, a new Angel of the Deathwing partakes, as it were, of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. For such knowledge snatches away the shroud from his true enemies, but it reveals also to him the fearful potential of his own nature. Sin was nigh impossible in ignorance; now it can be resisted only with a great and consuming effort, a zeal that cannot be allowed to slacken.

That they have resisted for so long is a testament to their dedication and the ministrations of the Inner Circle. But it is a testament most of all to fear.

Edited by FerociousBeast, 06 October 2010 - 01:08 PM.

Dark Angel Codex Project:
Project Redemption/Project Unforgiven: The Bolter & Chainsword Dark Angel Forum's effort towards updating the Unforgiven

FB's Greatest Hits:
My Beef with Codex Space Marines: Constructive criticism and proposed solutions
Fear and the Fearless: Just what do the Dark Angels and their primarch fear?
The Role of Terminator Squads in Codex: Space Marines: An analysis

#10
Tanhausen

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Just a quick impression but the idea that the Lion fears himself and what he might be... sounds awfully similar to the Black Rage or however its called... you know, the Blood Angels that fall into a "primitive" psyche.

Its nice reading though :drool:

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#11
Arioch

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Very interesting thread. I would like to contribute a little.

Shame, fear and guilt are heavy themes of the Dark Angels. This is finely described here, and there could very well be a truth in this "fight the darkness to avoid becoming it". Was it not Freud that said something about that if you stare into the abyss the abyss will stare back at you? But I would say that these emotions are linked to another great concept: The concept of pride. Because a proud individual will always have things to fear- like failure or dishonoring behavior. There is an artefact kept by the Unforgiven to this day that symbolises their shame, that reminds them each day, that they musnt fail: The Lion Helmet, the only true item that is left from the Lion (exept his sword, but thats another story). In the medival ages, each part of a knigths armor had an symbolic value- and the helmet symbolished the shame that he would bear if he failed. So it kind of symbolised his fear of failure. Fear of failure could also be what have driven the Unforgiven for 10000 years. Maybe. It could also be linked with their fear of becoming what they try to destroy (hence leading them to failure).

The truth that has been pointed out very clearly in this thread is that even though the Deathwing may be fearless in battle, they fear what would happen if they should fail, they fear the shame that they would bear. It would be a shame even greater than the one they carrie to this day. So I would not go against what FB wrote, rather ad other perspectives. Im not quite sure on why he really exterminated the great beasts. Maybe he just did it because they where a menace to the people, and it was the best way to protect them?

"Forward, brothers! For honour and Glory! For Terra! For the Emperor! Forward!"
- Lion ElĀ“Jonson

"I do not care who knows the truth now, tomorrow, or in ten thousand years. Loyalty is its own reward"
- Lion ElĀ“ Jonson

"NONE SHALL PASS!"
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#12
Master Ipharion

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Hello again.

@FerociousBeast:
You hit the nail on the head on all four points. All fluff that i read (Angels of Darkness, Descent of Angels, Fallen Angels, Index Astartes and various Codizes) indicates that you are right. On the other hand this leaves not much room for discussion. :lol:

@Arioch:
An interesting idea, that Azraels helm has an deeper meaning. It also fits well into the Dark Angels lore.
And regarding the Lions motivation: I guess, that only El'Johnson himself will know what motivated him. My estimation is still fear. But Pride could also be an explanation. After all he tried to become Warmaster (in Fallen Angels). Maybe he became a bit to used to the cheers of his men? Who knows?

Ipharion

Edit: It came to my mind, that the Dark Angels might be one of the few chapters, that knows the true meaning of fear:
As a result they would basicly violate against one of the mainimperatives for Space Marines: " And they should know no fear..."
On the other Hand this same fear drives them to deeds that other chapters never could achieve. Funny, isnt it? :)

Edited by Master Ipharion, 08 October 2010 - 11:59 PM.


#13
Emperors Immortals

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Sorry for resurrecting a dead thread, but i really enjoyed reading these ideas.

Do you think its posible that Johnson perhaps led the crusade against the beasts as a manner of testing his ability to lead people? That is, in convincing these seperate groups to work together under his leadership he fulfilled the greatest challenge? After all, there the only creatures on Caliban with a similar intelligence to himself.

In other words, like Freud said, its only through others confirmation that we know we are human - how much more so for a primarch left to kill and live in a feral state?

Also, do you think that the fallen are hunted simply because they represent a possibility for failed honour or also because they have become almost irrelevant, its the hunt alone that unifies the faith?

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forte @ Sep 26 2012, 03:55 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Personally, I'd rather be captured by Night Lords than even fight against Slaanesh Marines. 

 

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