The Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter
Since the founding of their Legion at the birth of the Imperium, the Space Marines of Dark Angels have been feared by their enemies and held in awe by those they protect. Stubborn and relentless in battle, ever vigilant and zealous in pursuit of their duties, the Dark Angels are among the Emperor's most faithful servants. Yet it was not always so. For ten millennia, the Dark Angels have harboured a sinister secret, an act so terribie and shameful it threatens everything the Dark Angels hold most dear - and may yet bring them eternal damnation.
Dark Angel Chapter, Progenitor Legion M.31
(PLAYING DARK ANGELS ARMY)
The true origins of the first founding Chapters are intrinsically tied up with the birth of the Imperium and the legendary times when the divine Emperor still walked among men. The truth of what occurred in those distant ages is lost now, preserved only in the ancient tales of Chapter history maintained by Space Marine Librarians and, perhaps, within the endless vaults of the Library Sanctus on Holy Terra. But against the terrible weight of ten millennia of history, facts are rare and supposition is commonplace. Know then these few facts.
The Dark Angels have the honour of being the first Space Marine Legion, created by the Emperor to fight in his Great Crusade to liberate the Human race from aliens and the domination of dark gods. Their victories are the stuff of legend and despite whispered rumours concerning the Chapter's history, they are considered by many to be the greatest of all the Space Marine Chapters. The character of each of the First Founding Chapters is strongly shaped by the personality of its Primarch, or First One, and the Dark Angels are on exception.
The Librarians of the Space Marine possess stories of the creations of the first Primarchs by the Emperror. They tell how the Emperor, unstoppable in His blessed divinity, reunified the tribes of war-torn Terra and led them into the light. He knew the time was coming to reunify all Mankind, scattered across the galaxy by the Age of Strife. He also knew that such a great undertaking could not be achieved alone, for even one as mighty as he could not be in all places at once. And so he began to forge for himself the Primarchs, the first ones. They were sons of his blood, yet not mere copies. Each was engineered to be a leader of men, a warrior and a hero tempered by wisdom and strength , both physical and spiritual. These progeny of the Emperor would lead Mankind away from the dark powers and into a golden age.
But some disaster is known to have befallen the Emperor's works on Luna before they were complete. The unborn Primarchs were lost, scattered among the stars. Many stories and legends have risen about the scattering of the Primarchs. Some tell that the Dark Gods foresaw the Emperor's plans and sought to destroy their unborn foes, but only succeeded in dispersing them. Others maintain that it was the Emperor himself who cast the Primarchs adrift on the tides of the galaxy that they might learn to live truly away from the chrome and ceramite of the laboratorium. Other still maintain that it was the nascent Primarchs themselves who chose to depart the Emperor's care, seeking knowledge alone.
It is likely that only the Emperor himself knows the truth. What is known is that after this date he turned his hand to genetically enhancing and modifying Human subjects using the template of the lost Primarchs gene strands. In this way the first Space Marine legions were created and it was they who accompanied the Emperor on his reconquest of the galaxy.
The Librariens of the Dark Angels recall ancient tales of how their Primarch, he who would become known as Lion El'Jonson, was found on their lost home world - the beautiful but blighted world of Caliban. The mutation and corruption of the Chaos realm cursed Caliban and made it one of the deadliest worlds in the galaxy. By all rights the infant Primarch should have died within minutes of his arrival. How he managed to survive is a mystery as Jonson never spoke of his early years on Caliban.
The inhabitants of Caliban are said to have been a proud, martial people, brought up to live and die by the sword. The surface of Caliban was covered in lush forests, inhabited by all manner of terriflying beasts that had been warped by Chaos. The ferocity of these creatures forced the planet's inhabitants to build brooding stone fortresses in huge clearings hacked from the forests and it from these castles that the warrior elite of Caliban ruied.
The Lay of Luther tells how a band of knights from a group known only as the Order discovered the Primarch-child deep within the forest. Their leader, a young man named Luther, brought the Primarch back to the fortress monastery of the Order and gave him the name Lion El'Jonson, which in the tongue of Caliban means "The Lion, the Son of the Forest". Jonson easily adapted to the ways of humanking, learning the customs of his race and adopted home world in a remarkably shot time. As time passed, Jonson and Luther became like brothers, each seeming to complement the other's abilities and skills. Tales of their exploits and victories spread around Caliban and the number of young men wishing to join the Order grew every year.
Imperial scholars believe that Jonson led a planet-wide crusade against the taint of Chaos that dwelt within the forests. The Grand Master of every monastery joined Jonson and the Order in their crusade, and within a decade the entire world was rid of the dark power that had once plagued it. Free from the tyranny of Chaos, the planet of Caliban flourished like never before and, in recognition of his triumph, Jonson was proclaimed Supreme Grand Master of the Order and ruler of Caliban. It is also whispered that, although openly he was proud of Jonson's achievement, Luther felt the first faint stirring of jealousy that was to fester and grow until one day it would almost destroy everything that he and Jonson had built.
As Jonson and Luther were battling against the Chaos creatures of the forest, the Emperor was reconquering the galaxy on the Great Crusade with his Space Marine Legions. When the Emperor reached Caliban, it is said that he and Jonson immediately recognised the bond between them, and the Emperor was united with one of his lost Primarchs. According to the Apocrypha of Skarros, Jonson was given control of the Dark Angels Legion of Space Marines which had been made in his image, and Caliban was decreed the home world of the Dark Angels. The warriors of the Order clamoured to join their ranks and in time the entirety of the Order became Space Marines. It is believed that it was Luther who would be the first to become so enhanced, and he became second only to Jonson in command of the Legion. Yet when the Emperor left Caliban to continue the Great Crusade, he took Jonson and the majority of the Dark Angels Legion with him. Luther and the remainder of the Legion were left to protect their home world and guard against the return of Chaos. This much can be found in the archives of the Imperium, but the remainder of the Dark Angels earliest history and their terrible betrayal is well hidden. Only the inner circles of the Dark Angels themselves and, perhaps, the highest members of the Inquisition know of Luther's subsequent treachery and the sundering of the Legion itself.
The Great Crusade continued and world after world fell to the Dark Angels. Word of Jonson's victories and fame reached every corner of the galaxy. On Caliban, the smallest embers of jealousy and envy in Luther's heart were stoked info a raging inferno with each tale of his brother's valour and skill in battle. His role as warden of some forgotten planet grew in his to become a vile stain on his honour, and the noble knight that Luther had been was lost in a morass of bitterness and spite.
When the Horus Heresy erupted and many of the Space Marine Legions turned against the Emperor, Jonson was fighting alongside Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves, on the far side of the galaxy. When the two Primarchs learned of Horus's betrayal, they put aside their feuding, gathered their Legion and began the journey back to Earth. But the journey was long and beset by difficulties so that by the time they arrived, the battle for Earth was over and traitors had been defeated. The cost of the victory had been high. The Imperium lay in ruins and the Emperor's wounds forced him to ascend to the life-preserving mechanism of Golden Throne. Jonson was stricken with grief that he had not been able to guard the Emperor against Horus's treachery, and it was in sorrow that he returned to Caliban for the first time in many years.
But as the Dark Angels' ships moved into orbit over their home world at the end of an arduous voyage, a withering salvo of fire blasted from the planet's surface, sending crippled ships burning into the atmosphere like falling stars. The fleet pulled away from the planet in confusion and Jonson attempted to discover a horrifying tale of betrayal. It is this tale which has remained the Dark Angels' terrible secret for over ten millennia, and which they will take almost any action to conceal.
Over many decades Luther had corrupted the warriors of Caliban, projecting his bitterness and jealousy onto the Dark Angels left in his care. His powerful oratory had twisted them with an all-consuming hatred of those who had stolen their glory and abandoned them to be little more than caretakers. Like Horus and the other traitors, Luther had been corrupted by the insidious lure of Chaos. His pride and hubris had been all the Dark Gods needed to make him theirs.
The Primarch's thoughts can only be imagined, but Jonson had fought his way across the galaxy at the Emperor's side to rid countless planets from the taint of Chaos only to find his beloved home world lost to those same forces. When he discovered the truth, his fury was a terrifying thing to behold. His ship moved to destroy those who had betrayed him and began ruthlessly bombarding the planet's surface, regardless of the planetary defences. The forests burned and the ground shook with the fury of the battle as ships and defence-towers smote each other with the power of suns. Little by little the defences were shattered, until Jonson finally ordered the invasion and personally led the assault on Caliban, his heard burning with the thirst for vengeance.
The fallen Dark Angels had taken refuge in the vast fortress-monastery of the Order and now Jonson led his warriors against his home, knowing that Luther would be waiting for him.
The Primarch faced his former brother and knew that he was lost to him, that the dark power had destroyed the honourable man he had once been. The Primarch was a living god amongst men, but Luther had been elevated by the Chaos powers to be his equal in almost every way. The two warriors fought in a battle the like of which had never been seen before and has never been witnessed since. The ancient home of the Order was reduced to rubble in their epic battle as the Dark Angel fleet continued to bombard the planet, flattening the citadel of every remaining monastery. Caliban's surface began to crack and heave under the constant shelling, the fury of the Dark Angels blinding them to the devastation they were wreaking on their own world.
Only the Master of the Dark Angels know more than this, and they tell it to no one. However the ancient Codicium Astartes Mortis or Book of the Angels of Death describes the battle between Luther and Jonson. "[They] fought with superhuman strength, equally matched in all but purpose… eventually Luther stumbled, his neck exposed to his brother's [righteous blade]. As Luther fell, Jonson raised his sword high, but [even in his rage] could not bring himself to deliver the killing blow. Luther had no such qualms and, as Jonson hesitated, he unleashed a terrible sorcerous attack that mortally wounded the Primarch … Luther towered above [The Lion] and as he watched the Primarch struggle to stand, his face contorted in agony, the veil lifted from Luther's eyes and he realised the full horror of his betrayal. Not only had he forsaken his frend, his Legion and Emperor, he had betrayed the nobility within himself. He cast his weapon aside and collapsed next to Jonson, his sanity shattered by the enormity of his actions."
Around Caliban the warp convulsed as the dark powers realised that they had once again been thwarted. If accounts are true, their titanic rage tore a rent in the very fabric of space around Caliban and a warp storm of utmost fury spewed forth from the rent to engulf the planet.
A swirling vortex of unleashed warp energy swept across Caliban. Furious, planet-wide earthquakes wracked the surface of the planet and it began to split open. The relentless bombardment by the Dark Angels' fleet had already weakened the planet and to their horror it broke apart and was no more, the debris of its death spasms sucked into the maelstrom of the warp.
The Dark Angels maintain that the ruined fortress was empty, but the Codicium Astartes Mortis states "When the Dark Angels descended to the dead rock, they discovered Luther, curled in a foetal ball, endlessly repeating the same phrase. Over and over he told the Dark Angels that the [Watchers in the Dark] had taken the Primarch and one day they would return him to forgive Luther his sins. The Space Marines searched the drifting asteroid but could find no trace of their Primarch. Lion El'Jonson had vanished."
In the aftermath of the fall of Caliban the senior members of the Chapter assembled in a secret conclave and decreed that knowledge of the fall of their brothers should forever remain with them. No one must learn of the schism that had split their Chapter or that Space Marine of the Dark Angels had turned to Chaos. Should this dreadful secret become known, the Chapter would surely be destroyed and all hopes of expunging the stain to their honour would be forever lost.
An Inner Circle of the Chapter's most senior officers was formed to guard this dangerous knowledge and every man swore oaths of unspeakable binding. Luther's traitors, the fallen Dark Angels, had disappeared deep into the warp during the cataclysm, the Dark Gods' fury scattering them throughout space and time. Until every Fallen Angel was captured and made to repent, there would be no peace for the True Sons of the Lion. So long as even one of the Fallen remained alive and unrepentant, the Chapter would be Unforgiven, cursed by their brothers to eternally atone for the sins of the past.
After the titanic battle between Luther and Jonson, all that remained of Caliban was the rock upon which stood the ruins of the Order's fortress monastery. Drilling deep into the bedrock, and rebuilding the fortress ruins, the Dark Angels transformed the dead asteroid into their new home, called The Tower Of Angels in High Gothic, more commonly called The Rock. Countless tunnels, halls and chambers were constructed and, in time, even warp engines were constructed to allow the Rock to move from star to star. As a result, the Rock does not stay in one place for any length of time and Dark Angels recruits come from a variety of different worlds. Each recruit is screened thoroughly and from the moment he becomes a Dark Angels his past life is irrelevant. All that matters to him now is the Chapter.
Many dark secrets lie deep within the Tower of Angels, dungeons that have remained unopened in centuries, secret cave that are sealed with adamantium doors and bound with holy sigils. Only the most senior members of the Dark Angels, the Masters and the Inner Circle are aware of these chambers and may unlock their dread secrets.
With the break up of the Space Marine Legions after the Horus Heresy, the Dark Angels were split into Chapters according to Roboute Guilliman's Codex Astartes. With the exception of the Deathwing and the Ravenwing, the Dark Angels follow standard Space Marine combat doctrine and their dogged resistance against overwhelming odds is legendary. In situations where even other Space Marines would fall back, the Dark Angels will fight to the bitter end rather than give ground to their foes. This is also reflected in their stubborn refusal to move in the face of the enemy, even in situations where it would something be tactically beneficial for them to do so.
The Dark Angels are also notoriously intolerant of non-humans and will refuse to fight alongside armies that include alien raced. They are highly suspicious of outsiders and often appear unreasonably aloof and intransigent. Indeed there have been a number of occasions where the Dark Angels have withdrawn suddenly and with no explanation from a warzone when confronted by an Imperial Inquisitor or Missionary.
To an outsider, the organisation of the Dark Angels is much the same as Codex Chapters, ten Companies each of a hundred man. It is at the higher levels of command that the Dark Angels become quite different to other Chapters. Each Chapter has a number of senior officers and specialist troopers who stand apart from the main body of Space Marines, and in the Dark Angels these men are known as the Inner Circle. Only warriors who have fought through the ranks for many years and have proved their loyalty to the Chapter time and time again are allowed to progress into the Inner Circle. It is these sinister individuals who shoulder the burden of the Dark Angels' secret shame and it is they alone who decide who is worthy to join their ranks. Each company of the Dark Angels is led by a Master of the Chapter who has passed through the Deathwing into the Inner Circle.
The first two Companies of the Dark Angels are where the greatest difference between other codex Chapters lies. The 1st Company is known and feared as the Deathwing, veterans who only ever take the field of battle in bone-white Terminator armour. Original the armour was black, but after a single squad of Terminators freed their home world from Genestealer infestation, it was forever decreed that their armour would be white to honour their valour. The 2nd Company is the Ravenwing, and the Space Marines that make up its ranks are masters of the high speed attack. Every warrior is mounted on a bike of Land Speeder and they are organised into squadrons of five vehicles rather than ten man squads. Rather than the normal dark green color scheme of the Dark Angels, the Ravenwing's armour is painted jet black.
The remainder of the Chapter is organised along strict Codex lines, with the 3rd, 4th and 5th Companies forming the Battle Companies, the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th the Reserve Companies and, lastly, the 10th Company is made up of Scouts.
The Dark Angels Chapter gives praise to the Emperor of Mankind but, much to the chagrin of the Ecclesiarchy, do not revere him as a god. Like most First Founding Chapters, the Dark Angels venerate their Primarch as much as they do the Emperor, who they worship as the founder of the Imperium and as their creator. To the Dark Angels the Emperor is a man, not a god.
The driving force of the Chapter is the hunting of the Fallen Dark Angels who were swept into the vortex that destroyed Caliban. Only by hunting down and capturing each and every one of the Fallen Angels will the shame of the Dark Angels be absolved in the eyes of the Emperor. The Fallen have been scattered throughout time and space and thus the Dark Angels' ten millennia quest is far from over. It is this quest that drives the Dark Angels and they will follow up any rumour, no matter how slim, if it offers them the chance of recapturing one of the Fallen. Should one of the Fallen be captured, he is taken back to the Rock and thrown in the darkest dungeon where the fearsome Interogator-Chaplains attempt to make him repent his past sins. Should the Fallen repent, his death will be swift and relatively painless, but in most cases he will refuse and the Chaplain will be forced to use any and all methods to force him to repent. Often this will result in the Fallen's death, but this is a small price to pay for adding his name to the Book of Salvation.
As the first Space Marine Legion, the Dark Angels' gene-seed is one of the purest and least degraded of all. With the break-up of the Space Marine Legions following the Horus Heresy, the Dark Angels gave rise to there successor Chapters, the Angels of Absolution, the Angels of Redemption and Angels of Vengeance. Collectively these Chapters are known as the Unforgiven and each continues the work of the parent Chapter in hunting the Fallen.
There are no know aberrations in the Dark Angels' gene-seed which makes the reluctance of the High Lords of Terra to utilise it in the founding of new Chapters perplexing. No doubt there are other successor Chapters of the Dark Angels, but their names and when they were founded are unrecorded.
"Repent! For tomorrow you die!"