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The Dornian Heresy - Index Astartes: Dark Angels


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Aurelius Rex

Aurelius Rex

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This is the latest in the ongoing Dornian Heresy project, this time focussing upon the Dark Angels. For info on the rest of the articles, or to download the official B&C Legio Imprint PDF with the first half of the legions with amazing original artwork then check out the links in my signature at the bottom of the post.

I really enjoyed writing it and I hope it shows. Many thanks to Ferrata, Ace Debonair(e) :) Sigismund Himself, Strike Captain Lysimachus, Grey Hunter Ydalir, Hemal and Nephren-ka for the feedback and ideas during the development process.

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Index Astartes: Dark Angels

The Dornian Heresy

Unable to stand by and allow the Imperium to destroy their homeworld of Caliban, the Dark Angels were forced to rebel against the Emperor, and even their own uncaring Primarch, Lion El’Jonson. With the advent of the Dornian Heresy, Luther took the Astartes under his command to Istvaan, and publically allied the legion with the rebellion, assuring that the Dark Angels would forever be seen as traitors by the Imperium. Though they were able to defeat the Lion on his vengeful return to Caliban, the Emperor’s psychic intervention to save those Unforgiven Dark Angels who had remained loyal to Jonson reduced the planet to an uninhabitable ruin. With their homeworld destroyed, Luther and his Dark Angels wield the power of the Warp as a weapon in their search for the Unforgiven, that they might finally convince them of their error in supporting the Lion during the schism.

Origins
A
ll of the Astartes Legions have been shaped and defined by their homeworlds, but the influence that Caliban exerts upon the Dark Angels, even ten thousand years after its destruction, is surely the most profound. At the time the primarchs were scattered across the galaxy, Caliban was swathed in dense forests which were haunted by fierce and unnatural chimeras known as the great beasts. The embattled human colonists had long-since lost contact with the rest of mankind due to the warp-storms of Old Night, and much of their technological heritage had been forgotten. Even Terra itself had faded from memory to become little more than a myth.

However, in the face of such adversity the nobility of the human spirit still prevailed. Knightly orders, sworn to protect the people of Caliban, made it their calling to hunt down and destroy the great beasts. It was one of these expeditions that came across the infant primarch wandering deep in the heart of the forests. Having been starved of human contact, the boy was feral, and yet his presence and spirit was unmistakable. The leader of the knights, a great man called Luther, adopted the child as though he were his own son, and named him Lion El’Jonson, or ‘The Lion, the son of the Forest’ in their dialect. Many and varied were the tests and trials to be accepted into the Order, as the knights called themselves, but Luther was an excellent tutor, and the Lion a natural warrior and strategist. From Walking the Spiral, where they honed their sword-craft into a defence against any foe, to the Verbatim - their book of tactics and teachings - Jonson excelled. When he returned from the quest to hunt down and kill one of the great beasts, he did so bearing the body of the most feared and terrible creature on the planet; that of a Calibanite lion. Such a feat was more than enough to see him admitted to the Order as a full Knight.

Luther had always been seen as a future leader of the Order, but the arrival of the Lion had changed all that. Jonson had been gene-crafted to command the Emperor’s legions, and these innate skills saw him rapidly eclipse his mentor. But for all of the Lion’s peerless talents, an echo of the feral forest child still remained. There was a coldness and detachment from human emotion about him, his bonhomie always a fraction forced and stilted. To Luther’s credit, he was never taunted by petty jealousy, as within the Lion El’Jonson he saw the chance to do something more than simply continue the endless war against the great beasts. There was an opportunity to unite all of the knightly orders and eliminate the abominations from the face of the world once and for all. Certain that Jonson was the saviour of Caliban and its people, Luther put aside personal ambition, and made it his sole purpose to ensure their shared vision came to fruition.

Though it took many years of blood and toil, the great beasts were systematically purged from the forests, with the forbidding Northwilds their last refuge. The final sweep brought them into contact with a group calling themselves the Knights of Lupus, which had always been vehemently opposed to their crusade. Upon approaching their fortress, it became clear why this had been so. In their isolation, they had taken to the study of sorcery, and even held a menagerie of the great beasts. That a knight could ever fall to such corruption filled Luther with loathing, and the resulting war was crushing and swift. With their protectors destroyed, the crusade to purify Caliban continued apace, and inside a short span the very last great beast was put to the sword by the Lion himself.

Shortly after, as though it had been some form of knightly test of his worth, the Emperor arrived upon Caliban to greet His lost son. With Him came the Astartes of the First Legion, super-beings which had been patterned upon Jonson’s own genetic code. The Lion was named lord and primarch of the new Dark Angels, and Caliban became the legion’s new homeworld. Jonson decreed that the best of the Order be inducted into the legion, and to ensure that they always had a plentiful supply of arms and weapons, Caliban was to take its place in the Imperium as a ‘properly industrialised world’.

As only the youngest members of the Order were able to be fully transformed with the gifts of gene-seed, Luther was denied the chance to become a full Astartes. Instead he was given extensive augmentation using the new Imperial science, and made up for any deficiency with characteristic skill and resolve. By the time the Dark Angels were ready to take their allotted place in the Emperor’s Great Crusade, Luther had risen through merit to once more become Jonson’s second in command.

The Great Crusade
T
o the Calibanite Dark Angels, the Great Crusade was simply the logical extension of their quest to destroy the great beasts. Having already made their world safe for humanity, they relished the prospect of doing the same for the whole of the galaxy. However, before they could bring more than a handful of planets into Compliance, Luther and a cadre of his closest brothers were ordered to leave the Expeditionary fleets and return to Caliban. The Lion said that he needed to ensure a plentiful supply of new initiates for his armies, and who better for the task than the man who had raised and trained him. Luther applied himself to this vital task with diligence, ensuring that chapter after chapter of impeccably trained Astartes were sent to join the Lion.

Years turned into decades, and while the Astartes of the training garrison continued to perform their duties admirably, there was no sign of them ever being allowed to rejoin the Great Crusade, or even that the Lion would return to his own homeworld. Though it was not discussed openly, there was a growing unease that their primarch had turned his back on Caliban. Worse still was the way their beloved planet had been changed since the arrival of the Imperium. Its verdant forests had been all-but destroyed to make way for mines and manufactories, and its people had been forced out of their ‘unproductive’ settlements. Instead they were housed in grey, soulless hive-cities called arcologies. Despite the introduction of Imperial medical technologies, health and life expectancy had if anything begun to worsen, and simmering discontent had broken out into strikes, civil disobedience and even riots.

Luther recognised that Caliban’s true riches lay not in its minerals or war production, but in the courage and vitality of its people, yet time and again his protests over the devastation of their planet in despatches to the Lion were ignored. When the astropathic response finally came, it chilled Luther to the bone. Instead of throwing his support behind Luther’s calls, he seemed concerned primarily with ensuring that his expedition’s lines of supply did not become over-extended. Their success had taken the legion so far from the homeworld that Jonson had long considered recruiting closer to the front lines. If the industrialisation of Caliban had reduced their suitability as aspirants, then now would seem the prudent time for the training garrison to select a more productive world. The revelation that his primarch was willing to turn his back on their home so completely shocked Luther to the core. He had always considered Lion El’Jonson to be the deliverer of his planet and saviour of its people, but now it was clear that he was willing to see Caliban and its people pay the price for his naked ambition.

Tragedy was piled upon tragedy when an investigation into the riots at the Northwilds arcology revealed massed sacrifices and the practice of base sorcery. Such practices had echoes of atrocities they had witnessed on Warp-corrupted planets during their short time in the Great Crusade, although they never thought such things could occur on Caliban. While they were able to stop the rite from being completed, and the entity prevented from manifesting, it laid bare the canker at Caliban’s heart. The arcology had been built upon the remains of the Knights of Lupus’ fortress – the group which had sheltered the great beasts - but the corruption which permeated the area still endured. The Dark Angels were not alone in comprehending the grave nature of the situation, as Imperial investigators dug through the ruins, and came to the same conclusion. From having witnessed the purges the Imperium meted out to the populations of such warp-tainted planets, Luther knew that the same fate would befall his world if news of it got out. He could not stand by and let Caliban and its people be destroyed. Their only option was to break away from the Imperium.

At Luther’s command, all communication and travel out of Caliban was stopped, and the Imperial representatives preparing reports on the matter taken into custody. Non-indigenous workers and military personnel were hunted down and interned, and the few Terran-born Dark Angels among their ranks made to choose where their true loyalties lay. For a short while their secret was safe, but it was only a matter of time before the silence, or merely the interruption in the flow of recruits to the Lion’s expeditions, would be noticed.

... when I reached the place you told me you met them, my brother, I found that despite all the logging which had devastated the area, a small patch of the dark woods remained. Possibly the Watchers in the Dark had protected those trees, or it may simply have been that even the mindless logging servitors knew better than to desecrate that place. I felt them watching me for many minutes before they finally emerged from the darkness. There were three of them at least, but even with all the fascinating readings collected by my armour’s auspex, their faces remained concealed beneath their hoods.

I told them of the threat to our world and begged them for any aid they could give, but they were dismissive and aloof. They even said that the stain of warp-sorcery stained us all, and it would perhaps be for the best if Caliban was destroyed. It took all my self-control to keep from drawing my blade, but knew that you had said they were immune to such weapons. I instead retorted that they must also be tainted, to which they contemptuously said that their kind has knowledge which shields them from such things, before fading back into the gloom.

Clearly their kind will not aid us voluntarily.

Excerpt of personal message from Luther to Brother-Librarian Zahariel


In preparation for the inevitable Imperial response, every possible advantage was sought. This even included appealing to the mythical race of creatures known as the Watchers in the Dark, which according to folklore were said to be the guardians of the Calibanite forests. Even with all of the planet’s formidable defences at their disposal, and the armouries emptied to equip the civilian population, they would eventually be crushed by the might of the Imperium. Only then did Luther learn of another, much more potent source of power that could be wielded – that of the daemon which lay beneath the Northwilds.

The mysterious Lord Cypher proved to be not just the guardian of the legion’s traditions, but also the keeper of forbidden knowledge into the nature of Chaos. He claimed that the Knights of Lupus had made a close study of such things, and that their great library, which held all manner of arcane secrets, had not in fact been burned. Luther was revolted by the idea of embracing the power they had so long fought against, but with the shadow of death looming large, he regretfully accepted Cypher’s aid.

The Dornian Heresy
T
he silence from Caliban had drawn all manner of Astropathic enquiries, but the most unexpected of all was from the Primarch of the Imperial Fists, Rogal Dorn. Rather than the half-expected declaration of war, the Emperor’s Praetorian instead confessed that they were fellow conspirators against the Imperium. Dorn’s new masters, the Gods of Chaos, had noticed Luther’s studies of their realm, and were greatly impressed with the potential it showed. Dorn went on to say that the rebellion hung in the balance, and that the presence of Luther’s Dark Angels at Istvaan would be invaluable in crushing the Astartes legions which could not be convinced to join him.

Though Luther was unwilling to abandon his prepared defences, Dorn’s rebellion seemed to be their only chance at throwing off the oppressive yoke of the Imperium. Dorn made offers of aid in their fight, and pointed out that the Lion’s expeditions were so deeply entrenched within the Ghoul Stars that Luther’s forces would be able to make the trip to Istvaan and back comfortably before the loyalists would be able to get back to Caliban. Though the offers of aid were tempting, what finally convinced Luther to join Dorn at Istvaan was that it would be the perfect opportunity to irreparably blacken Lion El’Jonson’s reputation. By going to Istvaan, the Dark Angels – all Dark Angels - would be seen as traitors and heretics however vociferously it might be denied by their primarch.

Despite the relatively small number of Dark Angels present at Istvaan, the legion reaped a bloody tally against the loyalist Raven Guard. Corax’s desperation to find Rogal Dorn drove them to attack the rebel lines time and again, only to find their famed feints predicted, cut off and destroyed with consummate skill. When the slaughter was over, and the survivors spread the word of the rebellion across the Imperium, the name of Lion El’Jonson was spoken with the same contempt as that of Guilliman, Manus, Vulkan and Dorn. His task complete, Luther returned to his homeworld not with weapons or siege-masters, but with certain arcane devices crafted to his own specification, and a name. It was the true name of the daemonic entity which dwelled beneath the savage Northwilds of Caliban.

The last time that Luther had been to this place, the Watchers in the Dark had contemptuously dismissed his pleas for aid. This time, it would be different. Rather than going as a supplicant, he instead strode in boldly, as befitted a lord of the Astartes, and the wielder of great powers. Within seconds, the angry hiss of whispers cut through the silence, and they stepped from the shadows – more than a dozen of them – to surround him. From the depths of their hoods came accusations of sorcery and warp-craft, and outrage that he dare bringing such corruption into their presence.

Before they could carry out their threats of retribution, Luther raised the device that he had been given by Dorn in payment for his services on Istvaan. A marvel of the techno-aetheric craft, and constructed to his personal specifications, not even the Imperial Fist forge-masters who had created it could have guessed its intended purpose. There was only time for the Watchers to register but the briefest flicker of concern before the artefact activated, and the hooded figures dropped to their robed knees in shock. Pulling his pistol from its holster, he shot one of the diminutive creatures, and was gratified to see the bolt round tear apart what he could only assume was the figure’s hooded head. It seemed that the sensor data his auspex had collected on his first visit had proved to be valuable after all.

“When we spoke last,” said Luther, his face illuminated by the sickly glow of the device, “you said that you had knowledge that shielded you from the corrupting nature of the Warp. Tell me all you know of this...”



While the weak of mind were susceptible to the corruptions of Chaos, Luther proved to be naturally adept at wielding it as a weapon without being affected by its more self-destructive excesses. He taught this ability, which he called ‘Walking the Spiral’ due to its similarities to the Calibanite method of practicing swordplay, to the rest of the training garrison, the better to protect them against the coming storm.

So it was that Lion El’Jonson returned to Caliban for the first time in more than half a century, and he did it at the head of a massed war-fleet. Luther had dubbed them the ‘Unforgiven’, both by the Imperium for their perceived treachery, and for the way they had betrayed Caliban. The angry hails for an explanation, so long met with stony silence, finally received a response, as every orbital defence battery and missile silo opened fire. Almost ignored amongst the exchange of firepower, the true danger to the fleet was summoned from beneath the Northwilds, and unleashed against the Lion’s ships. Coils of warp-energy made daemon-flesh materialised around the vessels, constricting and crushing hulls like eggshells.

The sky was raked with fire as - in extremis - drop-pods blossomed from the dying ships. Countless thousands of Dark Angels rained down upon their homeworld not in their usual coordinated strikes, but simply to escape certain death in orbit. With no preliminary bombardment to suppress enemy ground fire, the result was similar to the catastrophe which had befallen the loyal legions at Istvaan. Those that reached the ground alive were met not only by Luther’s Astartes and a well armed civilian militia, but by spectral shades of great beasts which lurked within every shadow. Slowly but surely, the Unforgiven were surrounded, isolated and pinned down. They were losing, and yet despite all this, Lion El’Jonson still fought his way through to the fortress-monastery, and challenged Luther to a battle to the death. Though a primarch, Jonson was little match for the power his mentor now wielded, and after a titanic battle, he was left broken and bloodied, the Lion Sword shattered into pieces.

Though besieged inside His throne room by the very legion assigned to protect Him, the Emperor had been far from idle. Driven by savage necessity, the webway portal – the very project He had withdrawn from the Great Crusade to pursue – had been redesigned and reengineered to do things previously thought impossible. Malcador, of course, had counselled that they should use the portal to escape from Terra and rendezvous with Horus for a counter-assault, but it was not His way. He was the Master of Mankind, and could not slink away from His beloved Terra and leave it in the hands of the Ruinous Powers for even a day.

It had pained Him greatly to see the Lion so maligned and attacked for the offences of lesser men, but with the galaxy engulfed in civil war, there was no way to get word out about the mistake. While He had been unable to prevent the destruction of his loyal sons on Istvaan and Prospero, at least there was a chance to stop Caliban from being added to that list. In the hours that followed, the Emperor was forced to use every scintilla of psychic mastery and skill, and in return was able to pluck most of the loyal Dark Angels away from certain death. Better still, to have such a force alongside Him at this time might even be enough to break the siege before it could become entrenched.

As though the Chaos Gods had at last realised the scope of their defeat, the Warp around Caliban began to flux wildly with their fury. The very architecture of the webway network began to destabilise, tearing whole sections loose, flooding others with daemonic entities, and trapping each of the Dark Angels within their own drifting fragment of space-time. In the instants before the portal overloaded, the Emperor had just enough time to psychically imprint a fragment of Himself upon each of them, so that when they did finally return to the material universe, He would be able to sense it and reclaim them. The Ruinous Powers had been able to steal away the primarchs and hide them from Him, but this would not be repeated with the Dark Angels.


Before Luther could administer the final blow, a presence in the aether far different to the chorus of the daemonic made itself known. A great shuddering groan echoed through the fortress-monastery, shattering the very rock beneath their feet and plunging Jonson down into the depths of a bottomless chasm. All across the planet, the embattled loyalist Astartes were enveloped by mystic portals of psychic force and plucked from existence before they could be cleanly executed. Any celebration was short lived, as the remains of the portals pulsed and fluxed wildly in the warp-saturated environment. From across the planet they converged upon the Northwilds, all the while growing larger and more destructive. All of their attempts to divert or disrupt the vortices ended in failure, and when they at last reached a critical mass, the resulting explosion was the equivalent to that of an exterminatus device.

The Dark Angels had broken from the Imperium and made war against their primarch to save Caliban and its people, and yet still they had failed. In the scant hours before the end, there had barely been time for the Astartes to reach orbit, let alone evacuate the population to safety. In stunned silence they watched in horror as the planet’s crust disintegrated and the atmosphere boiled off into space, only leaving when the mountain-sized lumps of debris lifted into space by the explosion became too much of a threat. For a time they travelled without destination, simply letting the currents of the warp carry them. Though the civil war raged around them they fought for neither side, other than to defend themselves or to take supplies that they needed. They were lost souls, bereft of meaning or purpose.

When their aimless wanderings eventually threw them together with the Space Wolves, it seemed as though their prayers for oblivion were about to be answered. There had always been barely concealed enmity between Russ’ legion and the Dark Angel Expeditions, but instead of a battle, they instead found a reason to carry on. Like them, the Space Wolves had aligned themselves with Chaos, specifically the worship of Khorne, but had become locked into a downward spiral of self-destruction and bloodlust. Luther and Russ bonded over their shared hatred of Jonson, and the Space Wolf was particularly appreciative of the shattered Lion Sword, which had been rescued from Caliban as a trophy. Though the intricacies of Walking the Spiral were far beyond the comprehension of the Space Wolves, the Dark Angels were at least able to teach them the rudiments, so that they could channel their aggression.

Still content to meet annihilation and oblivion, the Dark Angels accompanied their new comrades on their journey to Terra, but their progress through the warp seemed as aimless as before. The currents of the Empyrean seemed particularly erratic, leaving them becalmed, or delivering them far from their intended destination. It was at one such wrong turn that they found themselves near to a backwater world, devoid of intelligent life but for a single reading of distinctly Astartes origin. To their amazement, the Dark Angels found that it belonged to one of Jonson’s Unforgiven, who had disappeared so mysteriously from Caliban. Only under the most excruciating of tortures did the man’s tongue finally loosen, to say that he had been saved by the grace of the Emperor Himself.

This revelation filled Luther and the Dark Angels with a drive and determination they had thought lost. Not only did they know who was to blame for the destruction of Caliban, but the Unforgiven were still out there to be captured and convinced to renounce the Lion. When the news that Dorn’s Heresy had been broken robbed them of the chance to kill the Emperor, it was at least tempered by the knowledge that they could still track down and enlighten their former brothers.

Walking the Spiral
W
hile the fates had conspired to keep them from the Siege of Terra, the Dark Angels knew that there were other, more subtle ways to destroy the Emperor. The Heresy was over, but it had left anarchy in its wake, which gave them the opportunity to undermine the Imperium not just through open warfare, but by instigating cults to the Gods of Chaos in all their varied aspects. Throughout all of this, they honed their ability to Walk the Spiral and stayed aloof from the actual worship of the Warp themselves. The cults they created were simply another weapon in their arsenal, with little thought given to what might happen to them after the Dark Angels moved on. Only on rare occasions did they expend the time and effort to educate them in even the basics of Walking the Spiral, as the messy and self-destructive trajectories of these uncontrolled cults provoked such a hysterical over-reaction from Imperial authorities.

The Fate of Lord Cypher
As befits a figure so shrouded in mystery, the ultimate fate of Lord Cypher is suitably ambiguous. No-one has borne the title within the legion since just after the end of the Heresy, and legion records on the matter are sealed. Some claim that he was killed in battle – the most common rumour being that it was against the Salamanders - while others say that he simply cast aside the name for his own reasons and instead put his pistol-wielding skills to use in one of the legion’s Assault squads. As always, the most enduring theory is also the most outlandish. It postulates that he became consumed by the theory angrily proposed by Leman Russ at the Conclave of Nikaea that the Soul-binding process left the Emperor vulnerable to corruption by sorcery, and went about trying to bring this to fruition.

Experimentation, including the attempted possession of soul-bound test subjects such as Astropaths, proved to be catastrophically messily failures, and indicated that the Emperor’s spirit was in fact immune to corruption by this method. Undeterred by these setbacks, Cypher is said to have attempted the possession of one of the Soul-bound Thousand Sons, and that the resulting psychic explosion incinerated them both, along with several adjacent decks of the ship on which they were travelling. While the truth may never be known, the Thousand Sons are noticeable by their absence from the groups of forcibly possessed Astartes used in battle by the Dark Angels.
On their travels, they also searched for any word of the Unforgiven, reasoning that the odds of them having encountered one on the way to Terra could not have been simple chance. After several years without even a hint of their quarry, this optimism started to fade, until Luther happened to make a pilgrimage back to the broken, airless ruins of Caliban. There, on the very planet from which the Unforgiven had been snatched away, Luther was able to use his warp-craft to divine what had become of them. It was clear that the Emperor’s intervention had not just seen them scattered not just through space, but also through time, and that it might be many thousands of years before all were returned to the material universe.

Even for one with Luther’s unearthly powers, the Runes of Caliban were all-but impossible to decipher. Only when one of the Unforgiven was on the verge of re-entering the physical plane does the precise time and place of this event become apparent. As soon as this occurs, the closest Dark Angels fleets break off from their current engagements – even leaving allies in the midst of battle - to track down and capture their erstwhile brother.

It was not long before the Imperium became aware that the Dark Angels had returned to Caliban, and although they remain ignorant of the true purpose of these visits, they took every opportunity to bring the legion to battle. Due to Luther’s interrogation of the Runes, he knows approximately when the next appearance will occur, and the legion fights with an unbreakable determination to destroy any defences that stand in their way. The length to which the legion goes to identify the arrival of one of the Unforgiven is similarly reflected in the care taken to ensure they capture their target alive, with masters who bring back a corpse frequently meeting the same fate.

Once safely back in the bosom of their legion, the Unforgiven are persuaded of their error in having sided with Lion El’Jonson and turning their backs upon Caliban. If they continue to resist, the Interrogator-Librarians are forced to use ever more extreme methods to ensure their enlightenment. For those subjects who continue to resist to the point where only death would silence their devotion to the Lion, there is but one possibility for redemption; their bodies and souls are given over to entities from the Warp. Although they see the need to possess their brothers as a great failure of their skills and oratory, sometimes such things are the only way for the Unforgiven to finally achieve forgiveness.

As Luther and the Dark Angels grew ever more adept at wielding the power of Chaos, their schemes to destabilise the Imperium became increasingly ambitious. They found that through the precise placement of cults and massed blood sacrifices, terrible and destructive resonances could be set in place within the warp to effects far greater than the sum of their parts. The most notable example of this came in M36, when the Dark Angels took advantage of a natural increase in the activity of the Empyrean to wreath almost the whole of the Imperium in debilitating warp-storms. The Astronomicon was obscured, war-fleets were lost forever, and whole sectors were completely cut off, raising the spectre of a return to Old Night.

With warp travel compromised, forge worlds sat idle without raw materials, the populations of hive worlds starved or turned to cannibalism, and Imperial armies could not arrive in time to crush dissent or repel Chaos attacks. As the walls between the real and the immaterial wore thin and a widespread loss of faith in the Emperor swept the galaxy, it was joined by the daemonic pandemic of living death known as the Plague of Unbelief.

Just as the Imperium teetered on the brink of destruction, the Dark Angels’ plans were thwarted by the self-sacrifice of Lorgar of the Word Bearers at Dimmamar. Just as the precise placement of cults had brought effects far beyond the sum of their parts, the events of Dimmamar disrupted the carefully orchestrated resonances, and averted it from reaching its full apocalyptic crescendo. The Dark Angels could, however, take comfort that through their actions they had caused the death of one of the few remaining loyalist primarchs, and better, the hated Ecclesiarch of the Emperor’s Ministorum.

Ever since that time, the Dark Angels have been patiently working to divine ever-more potent and destructive methods to destabilise the Imperium, and are certain that eventually they will be responsible for the death of their most hated foe – the Emperor Himself.

Combat Doctrine
W
hen the Dark Angels take to the field of battle, especially when it is to hunt down members of the Unforgiven, the first to arrive are most commonly the Ravenwing. Named after the knightly cavalry of old Caliban, these bike-mounted brethren operate far ahead of the main force. Through their knowledge of the intricacies of the Empyrean, they are able to locate the fastest currents through warp-space and reach their destination with unparalleled swiftness. Using their speed and skill they are able to run their prey to ground, and leave far behind anything they can’t overcome by surprise. However, if the Unforgiven continues to elude them, the arrival of the rest of the legion will seal their fate.

In combat, the Dark Angels are strictly controlled and intensely focussed upon their mission – a trait all-too often lacking in other Chaos Legions. While hunting down their former brothers, it is of the utmost importance that the target is taken alive. This precludes the use of orbital bombardments or artillery, but as soon as the Unforgiven has been secured, the full fury of the legion is unleashed to eliminate any witnesses. On more conventional battlefields, the power of Chaos is wielded to great effect. Their Interrogator-Librarians can hurl magicks at the enemy, conjure up terrible nightmares to stalk the battlefield or predict the path of future events. They can also anoint their brothers to carry the blessings of the Dark Gods for the duration of the battle.

Although the legion does not allow daemons to possess their own bodies, the practice is used extensively for normal humans. Be they willing cultists or captives, these highly unpredictable forces are used as terror-weapons and cannon-fodder. Treated with contempt, any survivors are forgotten as soon as the battle is ended, without even a bolt-shell to end their pitiful existence. Treated with more care are captured enemy Astartes, whose far more robust physiques mean that they can stand up to the rigours of daemonic possession for far longer than a single battle. Of all the legions, the capture and desecration of a Word Bearer is always the most satisfying, as to witness their devotion to the Emperor curdle is truly a sight to behold.

The most brutal and dangerous of missions, from the storming of Imperial fortresses to the boarding of enemy warships, are spearheaded by the veteran brothers of the Deathwing. In remembrance of the forests of Caliban, their Terminator armour is of the darkest green, and nothing can stand against their implacable advance.

Organisation
A
lthough the Dark Angels still retain a semblance of their original organisational structure, the requirements of their situation have necessitated the inclusion of certain subtle changes. Luther holds the position of Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels, as well as the title of Master of Caliban. This is not simply a relic of history or bitter reminder of past failures, as the remnants of the planet are vital to the legion’s future. The First Chapter, under Luther’s personal command, is notable in that it is composed entirely of Terminator-clad veterans. Known informally as the Deathwing, they are responsible for securing the Caliban system while their lord divines the runes for signs of the Unforgiven.

The legion’s other chapters are far more conventional, being composed of up to a thousand power armoured battle brothers. The chapters are self-sufficient, their fleets spread throughout the galaxy and each containing a contingent of Ravenwing the better to respond to the emergence of one of their erstwhile brothers. The masters of the chapter are supported by Interrogator-Librarians, who study the intricacies of the Empyrean and harness the power of the Warp in all its forms. The legion’s most senior members may be inducted into a group which is privy to the deepest secrets of Chaos. To enter this Inner Circle is to risk madness and death, and only those most adept at Walking the Spiral are permitted to transcend to this new level, and unlock the gifts therein.

Once the captured Unforgiven are convinced of their mistake in having followed the Lion, and of having turned their backs upon Caliban, either through persuasion or by possession, they are presented before Luther, and then returned to a place of honour within the chapter that found them. While these individuals are rarely allowed to rise to any position of authority, they are an important part of the chapter as they symbolise the reason why the Dark Angels continue to fight their Long War.

Recruitment & Gene-Seed
S
o haunted was the legion by Lion El’Jonson’s threat of recruiting from worlds other than Caliban, that in the wake of the destruction of their homeworld they stubbornly refused to take any new initiates. Though it took many decades, the decline in their numbers eventually forced Luther to decree that the Dark Angels would have to recruit once more, or face extinction. This was done only grudgingly, and rather than taking initiates from wherever they found suitable stock, as is common with other fleet-based legions, they have instead returned time and again to less than a score of planets.

Now, with Dorn’s Heresy ten thousand years behind them, the overwhelming majority of the legion draws its heritage back to the new recruiting planets, such as Kimmeria, Tessera Rubis or Klades Tertius. Despite this, through their training and psycho-conditioning all brothers carry with them a deep sense of bereavement for the loss of noble Caliban. The legion pointedly avoids sowing the seeds of Chaos close to their recruiting worlds, so as to prevent their future brethren from becoming corrupted, and over the millennia the Dark Angels have become fiercely protective of these planets. Despite most of them being under Imperial rule, many a Dark Angel has fought and died in their defence. Be it against the Orks at Piscina IV or to purge the Plains World of Genestealer infestation, each brother is similarly driven to ensure that the nightmare of losing a homeworld is not repeated.

The Dark Angel’s skill at keeping the corrupting influence of the Warp at bay is reflected in the quality of their gene-seed, which is by far the least corrupted of any of the Chaos Legions. This is due mainly to their ability to Walk the Spiral, but it is also a tribute to the zeal of the legion’s apothecaries. Progenoids are harvested from the battle-brothers as soon as they mature to minimise the possibility of corruption, are minutely scrutinised, and stored inside specially shielded vaults until required. Although all of the implants continue to function, the gene-seed has accumulated a number of flaws. While not sufficient to noticeably impair their performance, the difference is apparent on the rare occasions they are able to compare it to progenoids harvested from captured members of the Unforgiven.

Beliefs
T
he Dark Angels utilise every aspect of the Chaos pantheon, but far from being blind zealots, they are instead coldly analytical in their approach. It is their belief that through the study and application of the Warp, they can harness and wield it as a potent weapon to further their own ends, in particular bringing about the downfall of the Emperor, and the capture and conversion of the Unforgiven. Through the teachings handed down by Luther, they have limited their exposure to its most corrupting properties, although they are more than happy to subject others to its effects, and are instrumental in the propagation of cults to the Ruinous Powers throughout the Imperium.

They have also attempted to educate the other Chaos Legions in aspects of their chosen paths, most notably in the case of the Space Wolves, but also the Raven Guard, who they tutored in the ways of Tzeentch after the loss of their mysterious progenitor. Other legions, such as the tortured Blood Angels and the self-loathing Salamanders, are less receptive to their insights, and are even openly hostile, for which they are all the poorer.

While Chaos is the means by which the Dark Angels carry out their plans, the thing that drives them is their endless hunt for the Unforgiven. Luther’s obsession, as the other Chaos Legions see it, with trying to obliterate any sign of his dead primarch’s existence, to the point of convincing the Lion’s followers of the righteousness of their cause at all costs, is seen as a dangerous distraction. There are countless examples where they have been fighting alongside other legions, only to break off from the assault at a critical juncture to investigate word of one of their brethren, and in the process handing their enemies a victory. This self-destructive urge has soured otherwise warm relations with allies, and has even been cited by outsiders as an unconscious manifestation of Malal within their character.

As soon as the niceties of the formal presentation had been dispensed with, the room was cleared, leaving Luther alone with Marthes, the newly Forgiven member of the Dark Angels. Ostensibly this was to allow the two to talk, but there was little conversation to be had apart from the endless repetition of how Caliban was the man’s home. The Interrogator-Librarians of the Fifth Chapter had been artless, but effective enough in their own fashion... it pained him so when they lost one to possession.

It obscured the psychic imprint left behind by the Emperor’s soul.

Poor Cypher had paid with his life to find that Soul-binding was not the way, but his researches had opened up a far subtler path. With every member of the Unforgiven they captured and broke, Luther gained a clearer understanding of the Emperor, and each piece of the puzzle brought him closer to corrupting and destroying Him. Luther’s last attempt had caused a disruption in the Astronomicon for more than a week. He was certain that a real breakthrough was within his grasp.

So important was the need to keep this secret that the rest of the legion, even those of the Inner Circle, believed the lie wholeheartedly. Let the other legions think that the search for the Unforgiven was merely the result of flawed characters, desperate to punish their primarch. Let them believe it, and leave the Dark Angels to their ‘pointless diversion’. Better derision than having to battle the entire galaxy for the future of the Emperor’s soul.


Battle Cry
U
pon the battlefields of Istvaan, the Dark Angels declared that they fought “For the Lion, and for Caliban” to blacken their hated primarch’s name. Now, though, a multitude of battle cries are used, with the honour of choosing and initiating the chant offered primarily to one of the redeemed Unforgiven.
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#2
ANGRYMARINE

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FAN-BLEEDING-TASTIC!!!

If I am correct we should be expecting the Imperial Fists or the Night Lords next? And do you have a date set for their predicted release? :)

#3
Midgard

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Beautifully done, much kudos on this latest installment!

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#4
Ace Debonair

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I really enjoyed writing it and I hope it shows. Many thanks to Ferrata, Ace Debonair(e) ;) Sigismund Himself, Strike Captain Lysimachus, Grey Hunter Ydalir, Hemal and Nephren-ka for the feedback and ideas during the development process.


Huh? I thought I'd done away with that imposter! :P


That's top stuff you've got there, no doubt about it.
I second the call for Night Lords next, too. :D

#5
kiwitexansfan

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That was pretty epic.
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#6
Aqui

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Only thing I could see wrong with it was that in my view at least it should be Great Beasts rather than great beasts.

Other than that, I enjoyed it, although I was expecting Luther and Cypher to be Loyalist than Traitors :)


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#7
Aurelius Rex

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Only thing I could see wrong with it was that in my view at least it should be Great Beasts rather than great beasts.

Other than that, I enjoyed it, although I was expecting Luther and Cypher to be Loyalist than Traitors :P

It was Great Beasts in the very early drafts, until I noticed that Mitchel Scanlon pointedly seemed not to use the capitalisation, so I bowed to his enterpretation in this case. The article tried to follow the events laid down by Descent of Angels and Fallen Angels... so many thanks to Mr Scanlon and Mr Lee if they ever read this. ;)

Because of following the plots of the books - suitably tweaked to send things down a path where Luther won - he and Cypher seemed destined to walk the traitor's path. This was a chance to see how things might have turned out if the Lion had been defeated and the 'big secret' of half the legion falling to Chaos had been promoted as common knowledge.

Edit: Oh, and following the plan to alternate loyalists and traitors, it is the turn of a loyalist... the Night Lords. I've been looking forward to writing this one. :o

Edited by Aurelius Rex, 11 April 2011 - 10:38 PM.

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Iron Warriors +++ Iron Hands +++ Alpha Legion +++ Dark Angels

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#8
Ace Debonair

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Edit: Oh, and following the plan to alternate loyalists and traitors, it is the turn of a loyalist... the Night Lords. I've been looking forward to writing this one. :huh:

I've been looking forward to reading it. :D

And I suspect I'm not alone. :P

Let the litany of 'is it finished yet' commence! :)

#9
Aegnor

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Sooooo.... it's been 10 hours. Is it finished yet? ;)
Fbm7BxJ.jpg SWyTedd.jpg

WIP - Salamanders and other randomsIt's not more guns or tactics this army needs, it's Thunder Hammers, and lots of them!

#10
Aqui

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Only thing I could see wrong with it was that in my view at least it should be Great Beasts rather than great beasts.

Other than that, I enjoyed it, although I was expecting Luther and Cypher to be Loyalist than Traitors :whoops:

It was Great Beasts in the very early drafts, until I noticed that Mitchel Scanlon pointedly seemed not to use the capitalisation, so I bowed to his enterpretation in this case. The article tried to follow the events laid down by Descent of Angels and Fallen Angels... so many thanks to Mr Scanlon and Mr Lee if they ever read this. :)

Because of following the plots of the books - suitably tweaked to send things down a path where Luther won - he and Cypher seemed destined to walk the traitor's path. This was a chance to see how things might have turned out if the Lion had been defeated and the 'big secret' of half the legion falling to Chaos had been promoted as common knowledge.

Edit: Oh, and following the plan to alternate loyalists and traitors, it is the turn of a loyalist... the Night Lords. I've been looking forward to writing this one. ;)


Fair enough then ^_^

And as Ace has already started the vigil, I can only echo the sentiment of "Is it ready yet?" ;)


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#11
Aurelius Rex

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Not done yet. :unsure: :lol:

Seeing as the whole project is coming towards its conclusion, it might be a longer gap then the usual 2.5 months between recent IA postings. There will be two more IA's posted here, then the last three will be held over especially for the Legio Imprint PDF, with the fancy artwork and easily readable format. Basically, the last two will probably get spread out a bit more over time so that there isn't such a big gap between the last one posted here (Sals) and the PDF arriving with the whole second half of the legions. :evil:

TL;DR... It will probably be August before the Night Lords gets posted, but by that time I will also have one of the three PDF exclusive IA's done as well, so you will have a shorter time to wait for that. :evil:
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#12
Evil eyeball

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Must Collect Unforgiven ZOMG!!! MUST DO IT,
Any way we can have ideas of colour schemes before the second pdf?

#13
Ace Debonair

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Well, the Deathwing's Green in the DH.

Presumably that means the Dark Angels themselves are still in pre-heresy black.
And I reckon the Unforgiven haven't changed their colours much - their loyalty to Jonson didn't change, after all. So I'd stick with pre-heresy black again.

As far as I know, Aurelius' internet is still on the blink, so the official answer might be a long time coming, but I'd guess pre-heresy black is probably your best bet. :cuss

#14
Brother Cambrius

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I think only the legend Murray Walker can echo my opinion on this:

"FAAAAAAAANTASTIC! ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE!"

Excellent work indeed! Much kudos to you!

Cambrius

#15
Aurelius Rex

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Well, the Deathwing's Green in the DH.

Presumably that means the Dark Angels themselves are still in pre-heresy black.
And I reckon the Unforgiven haven't changed their colours much - their loyalty to Jonson didn't change, after all. So I'd stick with pre-heresy black again.

As far as I know, Aurelius' internet is still on the blink, so the official answer might be a long time coming, but I'd guess pre-heresy black is probably your best bet. ^_^


Thanks for fielding this in my absence, Ace! This does about cover the situation with the armour colour. Pre-heresy black for most, with the Deathwing - Luther's first Grand company composed of Terminators - do in dark green.

The Unforgiven are an interesting one... they would initially had the pre-heresy black armour, but who knows what individuals had decided to do to it afterwards. It would be seen as a mark of the traitor to the Imperium, and if the Dark Angels got whispers of their reappearance they would pull out all the stops to catch them. Doubtless some would repaint their armour or hide it entirely to try to avoid detection.


It's a shame that the Unforgiven colourpieces I had planned for the IA got cut out due to length, and that they didn't add enough to the article to justify pushing the wordcount even higher than it already was. :D
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Click here for the Legio Imprint download thread
Iron Warriors +++ Iron Hands +++ Alpha Legion +++ Dark Angels

Index Astartes: Scions of Dorn

#16
Ace Debonair

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It's a shame that the Unforgiven colourpieces I had planned for the IA got cut out due to length, and that they didn't add enough to the article to justify pushing the wordcount even higher than it already was. :(

I'll be the first to vote for a 'deleted scenes' compilation on the special edition DVD release. ;)

Also, happy to help. :D