During this lockdown period, I've been immersing myself somewhat into the lore of the 1st Legion. It started off with a simple question - who are the current Company Masters? - but has now evolved into something a bit deeper: what happened immediately after the Destruction of Caliban, how was the Legion split in line with the Codex, and who were the key indidviduals involved?
During my "research", I've also potentially uncovered a possible identity for Cypher...more on that later!
But first, what happened immediately after the Destruction of Caliban. The codexes essentially tell the following:
Internalising their grief, the Dark Angels pulled together, their Masters forming a plan of action. They were still the Sons of the Lion - tenacious warriors who, once stirred to action, were never short of zeal. 'In a way, the Dark Angels were born again, single-mindedly rededicating their lives to the service of the Imperium.
They decided the true story of treachery behind the destruction of Cali ban must remain secret; no outsider must learn of the schism that split their Legion, or that any Dark Angels had ever turned to the Ruinous Powers. Should the truth be revealed, the Dark Angels would be labelled Excommunicate Traitoris and never given a chance to redeem themselves. The senior members of the Legion formed a secret conclave- an Inner Circle of the Legion's Masters. They created an overlapping system to watch over their own Brothers, and also themselves. Everyone must be scrutinised for signs of corruption. Thus started a spiral of mistrust and secrecy that continues to this day.
Based on the events of Dreadwing and Ruinstorm, at this point I would speculate that the "Legion Masters" would be the 6 Hexagrammaton Voted-Liuetenants, as they appear to serve more as the Lion's council than any of the Chapter Masters. Dreadwing identifies these Masters and their voted successors (pre-Destruction of Caliban) as follows:
- Deathwing - Holguin, Carorlingus
- Ravenwing - Aloceri
- Ironwing - Venerable Titus
- Dreadwing - Redloss, Danaeus, Gawain
- Stormwing - Calloson
- Firewing - Vastael
Also likely to be included is a representation from the Librarius - mirroring the 40k Inner Circle structure.
Again, based on the events of Dreadwing we know there is a deep level of mistrust between the Voted-Lieutenants - notably the Dreadwing and Deathwing. It would thus make sense that they would mutually agree to an "overlapping system" of Legion command. At this point, the Legion is making every effort to keep secret all of the events that took place on Caliban. This would lend itself to a certain amount of focus, allowing tensions to be set aside.
The next event to happen is the discovery of the existence of the Fallen. Quoting from the codex:
The Grand Masters of the nascent Inner Circle swore that so long as even one of the Fallen remained alive and unrepentant, the Dark Angels would be Unforgiven, cursed by their brothers to atone for all eternity.
The suggestion here is that the Inner Circle remains united. I would speculate that this actually re-opens the old tensions: the Inner Circle are now faced with the possibility of their secret being discovered, and there is disagreement between the Inner Circle on how to proceed. This is based on the distinct differences that we see in the attitudes of Holguin (Deathwing) and Redloss (Dreadwing) during Dreadwing. It is also based on what we currently know about the Second Founding chapters.
The Dark Angels acquiesced to the order to split, as doing otherwise would raise suspicion at a time when they could ill afford any scrutiny. From their Legion, they sired the Angels of Absolution, the Angels of Redemption and the Angels of Vengeance, each new Chapter led by its own Grand Master.
At this point we have 4 1st Legion successor chapters...but 6 "Wings". There are some interesting points to note here:
- All of the chapters appear to have adopted the Deathwing/Ravenwing organisation;
- At the point of Dreadwing, Aloceri - the Ravenwing Voted-Lieutenant - was a direct choice of Holguin.
Why is this important? In my mind, it indicates that Holguin's camp prevailed over Redloss's camp, with Holguin's influence prevailing over the adoption of the Codex Astartes and the splitting of the Legion into chapters.
Here comes the controversion bit: at this point, Redloss's camp split from the Legion, unbeknownst to the Imperium.
(For clarity, at this point it may be that Holguin/Redless et al have since died, but their allegiences are maintained by their successors).
What is the evidence for this?
- The previously identified dominance of Deathwing/Ravenwing structure in the successor chapters;
- The lack of identifiable Dreadwing operating protocols in any of the successors;
- The Star Phantoms;
- The potential identity of Cypher.
Point (1) we have covered above.
Point (2) could be due to adoption of the Codex Astartes and use of such weapons being outlawed.
Point (3) is an interesting one. Supposedly, the Star Phantoms are a 23rd Founding chapter...who happen to share the same heraldry of the Dreadwing, exhibit behaviours similar to that of the Dark Angels, and have a penchant for non-traditional weapons such as plasma and melta. Oh and when you ask them (and the Dark Angels too), they "vehemently deny" any association to the Dark Angels. Oh no, absolutely not! Which is the sort of thing that you might say if you've had a really big falling out, resulting in an ideological split.
The speculation here then, is that at the Second Founding the Dreadwing completely split from the imperium, either staying low for some 8,000 years or perhaps being stuck in the Warp during that time...at which point they re-emerge and manage to convince the Imperium that they're a 23rd founding chapter. What have they been doing during this time? Perhaps they are on their own redemption path, split from the Imperium to wage war against the Fallen without any restriction.
At this point, it's worth noting the difference between Holguin and Redless. From Dreadwing:
Redloss: "We are th Angels of Death...For the Lion and Caliban, we destroy everything."
Holguin: "Loyalty and honour, my brothers! For the Throne!"
I appreciate it's only a single batte cry, but I believe this gives rise to the possibility of the Deathwing camp wanting to remain within the Imperium (and thus abide by all of the different restrictions) in their pursuit of the The Fallen, while the Dreadwing camp want to instead split from the Imperiu and hunt The Fallen unbound, as they are used to doing.
Now on to point (4). Within Dreadwing is this very brief mention:
'Kastael,' greeted Danaeus, his paired bolt pistols aimed at the palidin's chest.
Admittedly they're both bolt pistols, but this is an interesting reference. More so given that Danaeus is one of Redloss's voted successors.
The things we know about Cypher is that he is on some unknown quest, heading towards Terra. Whether it's to kill the Emperor, or to seek redemption is unknown. However, we do know that he is essentially his own man; he will align with other Fallen / Chaos agents when the need arises, but he will also provide support to Imperium factions - including the Dark Angels themselves. We also know from the early lore that nobody knows the true identify of Cypher. Given the existence of two voted successors - Gawain being the other - it is not inconceivable that Danaeus is appointed the role of Lord Cypher immediately after the Destruction of Caliban.
If we follow the assumption of the Dreadwing completely splitting from both the Dark Angels and the Imperium, then we can see why Cypher would become the "neutral" agent that he is. Exactly what his mission is is an answer I still do not have. But I am hoping that whenever Black Library tackles the Destruction of Caliban and the 2nd Founding, then we may get answers to some of these questions.
Anyway, that's all I have. I hope you enjoyed reading, and would welcome your thoughts / challenges / additional references.