Heritage: Successors of the Dark Angels
Founding: 3rd Founding
Homeworld: Iritral, Delta-Class World (Dead World)
Fortress Monastery: Aeterna Vigilantia (Located in the Ashen Wastes of Iritral)
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“Millions of souls cry out for salvation into the darkness of the galaxy, but it is not our duty to respond to their cries and to grant them hope. That is the Emperor’s task alone. Our purpose is to descend onto the battlefield as those who bring uncompromising annihilation to the foe. Not one enemy will remain standing. Not one blasphemous building shall continue to defile the soil upon which it is built. We will stand together with those who can still serve Him and against the most perilous of odds, we will prevail or pay the steep price of failure with our defiant deaths.”
-3rd Company Captain Kandra Bahardt of the Angels of Annihilation shortly before his company’s deployment onto the war-torn world of Holius II
As an ancient chapter that hails from the 3rd Founding, the Angels of Annihilation can count themselves amongst the most ancient and revered chapters to exist in this current day and age. Founded directly after the successful subjugation of the Laploemian Sector to ensure permanent imperial control, the chapter’s name came to be by the choice of their first Chapter Master, a former Angels of Vengeance Captain named “Pyriel” that was chosen to supervise and lead the fledgling chapter. Renowned for the merciless and righteous purgation of his foes, legends say that Pyriel let not a single enemy stand, regardless if they were soldiers or civilians, let alone let them escape the vengeful retribution the Imperium would bring. Despite eventually being slain himself, his legacy was never forgotten as it was successfully passed on. To this day, his teachings continue to shape each Space Marine inducted into the chapter.
The chapter was born from the genetic legacy of none other than Lion El’Jonson, the Primarch of the venerable 1st Legion. As such, the chapter was blessed with a very pure and unmutated gene stock, still closely linking them to the Dark Angels to this day. However, this is not the only way that these two chapters are strongly tied together. The chapter is also part of the Unforgiven and bears the many secrets that come with this fact as a result. The hunt for the Fallen remains amongst one of the most important and yet most secretive objectives that the Unforgiven have to continuously tackle.
The chapter has earned a reputation for being secretive and reclusive, similar to the many other Sons of the Lion. However, the reports of those that fought alongside the Angels of Annihilation and survived have described them as being dependable, tenacious and awe-inspiring warriors despite their cynical tendencies, who continue to fight even against the most perilous of odds and the overwhelming darkness of despair-filled battlefields. In complete contrast to the Angels of Redemption, the chapter never once completely abandoned its allies, choosing to split its forces apart and fighting with decreased numbers if the need arises, for reasons unknown to those not aware of the chapter’s history. This has nevertheless resulted in them being reprimanded by their primogenitor on several occasions, though both their loyalty to the Imperium and to the secret agenda of the Unforgiven remains ultimately unquestioned.
Iritral was the last world that offered resistance against the Imperial forces during the Laploemian Subjugation, with the Angels of Vengeance contributing an exceptionally great portion to its success, earning the Dark Angel’s lineage a further right of succession by the end of their conquest. populated by both a squalid human and a prosperous xenos population. Tensions between these unalike races were high and several disputes had erupted into full-fledged wars in the past already, but the humans were never able to overthrow the aliens, let alone free themselves from their controlling grip. This unsightly race saw itself as the destined rulers of the planet, but their rule would end in an inglorious massacre, their name, appearance and deeds forgotten, their existence only made apparent by brief passages, scattered across the historical documents of the chapter.
It is told the planet was described as quite beautiful in its appearance and possibly could have fit the description of a so-called “Paradise World” in the past, were it not for the Laploemian Subjugation that turned the planet into a mere shadow of its former self. Much of its natural beauty was lost and sacrificed in the battles that ensued to free the humans from the grip of the vile aliens. However, the young chapter had no interest in assisting the human population, choosing to only focus on their own growth and the duties that they would have to fulfill, for there was little reason for most Astartes chapters to bother with the needs of their homeworld’s population.
The struggling humans, unable to keep up with their own basic needs, slowly came to resent their so-called “Angels” and many would begin to walk the path of damnation out of vengeance and spite, for they thought they had been abandoned by the promised light of the Emperor. The hatred seeped deep into the minds of most people, as they began to conspire against the chapter and by extension, the Imperium, with what little resources they had. The attempt was never made, however, as the Librarian’s prognostications foresaw this simple-minded betrayal.
Upon hearing the news, several civilians were simply abducted by the chapter’s Interrogator Chaplains to make them confess their crime and to gather more detailed information on the attempted uprising. It turned out that too many civilians harbored corrupted thought, many actively participating in the preparations for the rebellion while many more simply supported the notion and made no efforts to intervene. Both were equally seen as treacherous actions. Thus there remained but one verdict to be issued, approved ultimately by none other than Chapter Master “Rezan Salrich” himself: Annihilation.
With not enough time and information at hand to be able to make an effective distinction between the few remaining loyalist citizens and the treacherous majority, the chapter, at the behest of the Interrogator Chaplains’ advice, could not possibly spare anyone’s life. Cities and villages were both indiscriminately bombarded from orbit by the chapter’s fleet as the entire population was to be subjected to a thorough purge. That day nobody had the honour to die directly by the hands of the Astartes, the population’s demise was simply carried out from orbit. To those that were unfortunate enough to be the target of the chapter’s wrath, it seemed like the heavens themselves turned wrathful at the thoughts they had and no amount of pleading would earn their forgiveness.
All that would be left afterward was a planet covered in dark ashes. Life had been eradicated and the only place where life still existed was the chapter’s Fortress Monastery, which survived the indiscriminate bombardment thanks to its shields. But this act, this atrocity, would affect the chapter in more ways than one. Despite their transhuman nature, the Astartes still felt a mixture of disgust and sorrow at the actions taken, for many of the Astartes were born on this world and were related to those very humans they incinerated. Though each Battle-Brother experienced those feelings at varying degrees, nobody was able to truly support the actions taken. Even the cold and fearsome Interrogator Chaplains, infamous for their willingness to go any length to ensure the Unforgiven’s secret agenda and their chapter’s future, could not help but feel an unpleasant aftertaste.
Rezen Salrich condemned the actions that the chapter had to take. While he was aware they were necessary and he himself had not hesitated to give his verdict, the outcome of the situation would have been completely avoided if the chapter assisted the people of their homeworld instead of ignoring them outside of recruitment purposes. Though any guilt and accusations from external factions were quickly disproven with the evidence of confessions, the Chapter themselves have held onto the memory of their failures far longer than the greater Imperium. While they may not have changed their name or their colour scheme, retaining both over their countless millennia of service, their own beliefs did change dramatically. Never would they repeat the mistake of ignoring and abandoning their allies ever again. They would not allow those on humanity’s side to suffer despair or harbour treacherous thoughts regardless of the time and place, even if it meant the sacrifice of each Battle-Brother to accomplish that. This would be their way to atone for their deed. Annihilation with a greater purpose than mere satisfaction of having slain the emperor’s foes.
How exactly these treacherous thoughts came to remain largely unclear to this day, as more modern accounts do not detail the intricacies behind the uprising. Some ancient documents actually suggest the idea that it was the influence of an external force that implanted those seditious thoughts into the humans of Iritral. The confessions from men that have long since perished kept referring to a group of mysterious individuals that apparently were at the center of it all. Describing them as tall-standing, hooded individuals who never revealed their faces, it has been suggested that the original perpetrators of the rebellion were indeed not even human in nature, but instead were a surviving cult consisting of members that belonged to the original native xenos species of Iritral that was thought to have been completely wiped out. While no exact conclusion can be drawn due to how no detailed accounts were ever made, the mere thought and possibility that it was the work of vengeful xenos that brought about the end of the world’s human population has enraged many within the chapter and has only served as further reasoning as to why no single alien should be given the right to live and how no survivors must remain once a foe has been successfully defeated.
“Hoping for a miracle is foolish. The Emperor answers no one’s pathetic pleas for help. Use the time that you waste on prayers to stand and fight with the rest of us. Only then shall your resolve and devotion be acknowledged, either by us or His Grace.”
-1st Company Master Ambriel Exanor responding to the sight of a praying priest
Despite committing a planet-wide cleansing campaign that reduced much if not the entire planet to mere cinders, the chapter refused to abandon their homeworld, choosing instead to continue to live on their dead and desolate planet. While the Fortress Monastery “Tower of Blades” emerged unscathed from the planet-wide bombardment thanks to its powerful shields, it would not remain unchanged. Great construction projects would be undertaken to expand the size of the monastery, raise many defensive fortifications, reinforce the existing structure and a plethora of countless other noteworthy deeds. The biggest change was the replacement of its singular large tower with two large spires that reached above the dark ashen clouds of Iritral. Finally, the name of the monastery itself was also changed and it was reborn as the “Aeterna Vigilantia” (Eternal Vigilance). An imposing sight in the midst of a forsaken wasteland, the Eternal Vigilance has stood for almost as long as the chapter itself has existed. With the passing of many millennia, many weapons of various archaic designs, sometimes even those whose knowledge of construction is now deemed lost, have been added to the many defensive installations of the monastery.
Despite the Eternal Vigilance being located within a dark grey wasteland, it is not seen as an excuse to give it a similar appearance. The entire twin spire’s structure is said to be inspired by a mixture of gothic and baroque architecture, further decorated with lush, overgrown and uncanny plant life, whose maintenance is part of the chapter serf’s daily routine.
Several great bridges connect the two twin spires together, forming something almost akin to a sprawling hive. Banners of fallen warriors whose feats were not forgotten and statues of great heroes are also not uncommon, gracefully accentuating the chapter’s attempt to defy the otherwise all-consuming monotone dark grey that surrounds them.
At the top of the twin spires the chapter’s Reclusiam and Librarius, which
simultaneously holds the chapter’s Astropathic Choir, can be found, the former recognizable thanks to its large ancient banners fluttering in the high altitudes and being constructed from marble, as well as being adorned with many golden details, while the latter is constructed from black stone and lit with bright blue flames that light the otherwise dark atmosphere.
The Eternal Vigilance continues to grow in its size, complexity and defensive capabilities to this day in order to face the countless foes that the chapter encounters on the borders of the Imperium, keeping eternal watch over Iritral’s wastes and it is ready to defend the last shreds of the chapter’s honour that are buried beneath the planet’s layers of ash.
Chapter Belief and Culture
The words “Atonement” and “Annihilation” form the imperishable cornerstones of the chapter’s beliefs after the Burning of Iritral, with both of these expressions having become mirrored in the gigantic twin spires of the Eternal Vigilance: The spire with the Reclusiam naturally represents atonement and the spire that holds the Librarius embodies the chapter’s wish for the annihilation of mankind’s enemies, holding knowledge collected over many millennia with which the chapter has gained insight on the many weaknesses that plague their enemies.
The destruction of the enemy outweighs any collateral damage that is suffered at the chapter’s hands. In the eyes of the Angels of Annihilation, humanity will always conquer that which has been destroyed. That which is reduced to ash may be rebuilt. Destruction and Construction are both needed for improvement, one cannot create something great without having both. This philosophy does not merely exist as an excuse however but also extends deep into the chapter’s culture and their training.
Aspirants as well as Initiates and Brothers that wish to ascend even further into the secret order of the Unforgiven, the Inner Circle, are continuously broken mentally and physically several times during their training, enduring it all in order to grow and be further re-forged into warriors without flaw with impenetrable minds of steel.
A particular addition to these beliefs that has formed over time, however, not too dissimilar like the overgrown lush plant life of the chapter’s monastery, is the fact the chapter has resolved themselves to never abandon any allies that they fight with. Having experienced first hand how darkness and corruption took root while not paying attention to their surroundings, the chapter has sworn to never let such events repeat themselves.
Even if Fallen activity has been discovered, the chapter abandons no one it fights with. At worst they may dedicate a portion of their units to the pursuit of the Fallen and fight on with decreased numbers. There have been numerous accounts of mere squads inspiring platoons of guardsmen to hold the line by showing off their own tenacity, or times when the chapter rescued a surrounded entrenched gun line from an endless swarm of foes and many other deeds that have earned the chapter praise.
Some may see those as heroic and noble actions, but the truth behind these actions is rather different. The chapter saves people not because they see themselves heroes or because of humanitarian morals, but for the simple reason that they expect those that they saved to become resolved to continue to fight on for another day. It is better for them to steel their minds against corruption and die in service of the Emperor, rather than to fall to despair and become the very thing they at first swore to destroy. While the original intent of Rezen Salrich was for the chapter to better itself, the belief of saving and standing with their allies has largely changed into a cynical and pragmatic mindset over time, for the chapter has lacked any true connection to humans and their own humanity outside their own Chapter Serfs and recruits for many millennia.
Despite having purged their own homeworld many millennia ago, the chapter has inherited and continued on the traditions of the now-extinct population. The people of Iritral prided themselves in their sword making arts and offered some of their blades as sacrifices to the Emperor periodically. The sword in itself is the purest form of mankind’s ability to wage war, a truth that has not changed since mankind’s original dawn and has become a symbol associated with purity and strength in the eyes of the Angels of Annihilation. Each Techmarine of the chapter crafts a blade every 5 years to both commemorate the progress of their own skills as well as to offer up the blade to be used as a sacrifice to the Aspiration’s Summit.
In addition, every Battle-Brother, upon the completion of his training, is awarded a newly crafted short sword that fits his personal fighting preferences. Much like the Gladius, which is used by several Space Marine chapters, it is a type of combat knife. However, these blades are not uniform in their shape or composition, as those are heavily dependent on their users. Each sword is a reflection of the marine that wields it and to lose one’s own personal blade is to bring great dishonour.
On the other hand, to have one’s blade break during combat means that the blade has fulfilled its purpose and served until the very end of its capabilities, which also signifies that the Battle-Brother in question himself has grown and has become far more experienced. So important is their value, that it has been known that these blades are recovered alongside a fallen brother’s gene-seed, or in unique circumstances, only the blade if the battlefield situation allows not for careful gene-seed extraction. Successfully recovered blades are added to the many other blades of the Aspiration’s summit, signifying the death and thus completion of a marine’s duty.
Although being a monastic chapter, the Angels of Annihilation shun the notion that the Emperor was truly a god. The great feats accomplished by mankind and the Emperor in the past were not the works of prayers being answered by false deities, but simply the work of humans who realized that their greatest gifts were their will and resolve. Despite not being humans anymore themselves, having sacrificed their humanity to become Angels of Death, the Astartes of the chapter have made it their purpose to carry out the will of the Emperor, while also avenging a dream that died long ago, when the Great Heresy took place.
Unlike most important areas of the chapter, the Aspiration’s summit is not located anywhere near the Eternal Vigilance. It is a remote location to which all neophytes must travel in order to be considered true Angels of Annihilation. Journeys undertaken by foot can take anywhere between a few days to over a week, depending on the frequency of ash storms that continuously plague the surface of Iritral. These journeys are led by a Chaplain put in charge of training the fledgling neophytes, who himself is accompanied by an Apothecary as well as a handful of chapter serfs.
It is a place that acts both as a sacred training ground and yet as a graveyard for the souls of the people that the chapter condemned on that fateful day many ages ago and their own Battle-Brothers that have fallen in combat all across the galaxy over the many millennia ever since.
It is a sorrowful image of a grey mountain covered and surrounded by blades, whose purpose vanished with the death of their wielders, along with war-torn banners of past Battle-Brothers who accomplished great deeds during their lifetime as well as those of entire marine companies that fell in brutal wars. Some blades are heavily worn and partially eroded, a befitting testament to their age, while many others either are or seem like newly crafted additions.
It is here in this desolate landscape of cold steel and colourless ash that the neophytes learn the ancient martial honour of Lost Caliban and not only begin to find great appreciation for the craftsmanship that goes into a weapon but also manage to discover their own particular preferences for said weapons as well as their own combat style. Countless weeks, maybe months will be spent here with neophytes fighting each other to hone their skills. As there are no standardized rules or schedules, the Chaplains often create their own systems as they see fit and they won’t allow the neophytes to leave until they themselves are satisfied with the results. While the chapter generally prefers training neophytes in cooperative manners, this is the one exception that cannot be negotiated with and has become an integral part of the chapter’s way of life. The neophytes that return to the monastery are completely reforged into warriors that are indeed worthy of being part of the Lion’s gene-lineage.
The Aspiration’s Summit serves some additional purposes as well. Given its symbolic value, it is also a place to where new Wrathwing initiates are drawn to in order to prove their worth, having to pass through several excruciating trials that seek to test the marine’s strength of will and resolve thoroughly. Atop the peak of the mountain is where the Master of the Wrathwing has to take the Heaven’s Oath to ensure the cooperation of the ancient machine spirit that dwells in the Paragon Blade named “Oathkeeper’s Blade”. Yet despite all these important rituals and trials that take place there, the Aspiration’s Summit certainly remains not a place to be actively yearned for and with each new blade added to its already countless numbers, that fact is only further cemented.
"My brothers and I cannot promise you hope. The Emperor created us as his soldiers, as Angels of Death. But to vanquish the shadows of despair, that we can deliver"
-Lead Interrogator Chaplain and Master of Sanctity Lexaander Enderson
Much like their primogenitor, the chapter fights as a normal codex-oriented chapter barring the chapter’s Wrathwing (1st Company) and Thunderwing (2nd Company), with tactical flexibility and rapid deployment at the forefront of their abilities. However, the chapter additionally places great emphasis on combat efficiency, encouraging each battle brother to fight at the peak of their capabilities.
To that end, the chapter, unlike the Dark Angels, tolerates the notion of each fully trained Battle-Brother being able to customize their panoply of war.
The Wrathwing and Thunderwing resemble the Deathwing and Ravenwing respectively, one completely clad in Terminator Armour and dedicated to the ruthless destruction of any foe that dares to oppose the Angels of Annihilation while the other snatches air superiority from the enemy and hunts down those that would try to flee from their well-deserved demise, be it combatants or non-combatants. To the chapter that distinction makes no difference, because with the utter annihilation of each foe, there is one less burden for the Imperium and thus the Emperor to handle.
The chapter fights neither like savage barbarians nor noble warriors, it fights neither for pride nor for distinction, but simply seeks to exterminate their foes quickly and efficiently, viewing a quick death as the greatest mercy that the Emperor can offer to those that oppose mankind. To that end, the chapter has expressed a clear preference for Plasma weaponry, for being equally versatile on the battlefield and equally as deadly, reducing the chapter’s opponents to ash or boiling them inside their own armour with a mere blast. These weapons are seen as the avatars of the Emperor’s fury made manifest and each howling blast released is an innocent soul avenged. Rumours indicate that the chapter has inherited a great deal of knowledge about plasma weaponry from their founding chapter as well as having either traded or gained additional knowledge through other means over the many millennia, which would possibly explain their ability to maintain such a great amount of those particular special weapons.
Rarely has a foe ever been recognized as possessing outstanding honour of their own, but in those rare times that the enemy has proven worthy, the chapter is willing to send out their own champions to test the resolve and strength of will that belongs to the foe.
Chapter Armoury (Angelus Ferropera)
While more exotic technologies are requisitioned from the local forge world known as Berethral, located in the same sector as the chapter’s homeworld, most of the gear and vehicles at the disposal of the chapter are crafted in the “Angelus Ferropera”, the chapter’s own forge located directly in the middle between the giant twin spires of their monastery. Giant metal gears can be seen on the outside, ceaselessly turning, indicating the constant and diligent work that is undertaken by the Techmarines that are housed there. Yet it is not merely just home to the chapter’s Techmarines but also to a myriad of great ancient technological secrets and relic war machines protected in stasis fields. Due to the ancient nature of the chapter, hailing from the 3rd founding, some long-forgotten relics that once served on the battlefield at the time of the Great Crusade and the Great Heresy can be discovered here, slumbering in stasis until their time is needed once more.
A great deal of those relic vehicles that were inherited once served within the bygone formation of the Dark Angel’s legion known as the Dreadwing. These vehicles, whose machine spirits seem to be commonly plagued by the horrible experiences of the Great Heresy, await the moment they may be reawakened once more to serve on the battlefields of more modern times. Their hulls, irreversibly tainted by the weapons of Destroyer Marines, consistently release ominous radiation that can be measured by nearby Geiger counters, forever reminding the chapter’s warriors that these venerable vehicles are stained by their deeds of the past, just as the chapter itself is stained with both sin and shame.
Yet it is not the exotic and rare relic weapons that win the majority of wars, but those that can be built and have proven reliable. The “Angelus Ferropera” ensures that the chapter’s demands are completely met and thus the Chapter's armoury is continuously well-stocked. Regarded with great reverence for the quality of its manufactured armaments and vehicles, it truly showcases the chapter’s dedication to the wars that they wage. Apart from also being the chapter’s greatest source of Plasma Weaponry, the forge is also in miraculous possession of construction knowledge for ancient types of Power Armour, albeit only able to create and maintain in rather limited amounts. At the forefront of this ability is the hardly remembered yet incredibly durable MK III Power Armour design, favoured by the chapter for its additional frontal protection and commonly issued to Veteran Battle Brothers. Due to the original template’s arguably outdated systems however, each newly produced suit’s systems and sensory equipment are individually modified at the hands of an experienced Techmarine to be up to modern standard. This practice extends far back into the chapter’s history and as such the most venerable examples of MK III suits have become invaluable relics.
"On the battlefield the fearful and weak will be slaughtered by those that act akin to predatory beasts, filled only with blind rage and desire to hunt. Yet it is those that are filled with resolve and beyond emotion who strike down the fools overcome by their petty instincts. Such is our duty as sons of the Lion, to enforce the truth of the battlefield."
-1st Company Master Ambriel Exanor
Due to Iritral’s inhospitable nature, recolonization efforts outside the monastery have borne little fruit. As such, the chapter has instead opted to recruit from neighboring systems, favouring but not necessarily limiting themselves to hive worlds and feral worlds. The chapter shuns the notion of societal prejudice, for such things ultimately do not decide the
capabilities of an initiate, and instead chooses recruits based on their
pre-existing resolve and tenacity, which are determined by allowing the potential initiates to complete several trials, some of which are created on the spot at the whims of the recruiter. From the depths of the Underhive to feral villages located in the mountains, no place is off-limits for potential candidates whose survival instincts, as well as their skills and will to survive, are hardened beyond any conventional breaking point.
Yet only the chapter can re-forge this potential into the terrifying prospect of an Astartes. To become an Angel of Annihilation is to relinquish whatever previous ties one possessed prior to his ascension, to seek nothing else but the destruction of mankind’s enemy as well as to earn the Emperor’s forgiveness for the chapter’s sin and the shame shared across all Unforgiven.
Edited by Valerius Spero, 21 June 2020 - 08:06 AM.