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The Great Crusade > IX: Blood Angels > Index Astartes: Blood Angels


Title: Index Astartes: Blood Angels
Description: ANGELS OF BAAL


Benedict Arnold - January 22, 2008 02:41 AM (GMT)
The Blood Angels were once regarded as the most blessed of all the Legions of the Adeptus Astartes, possessed of the bravery and puissant skill of their Primarch, Sanguinius. But the events of the Horus Heresy dealt them a terrible blow, the loss of their angelic forefather himself. His death was so terrible that it left a deep scar in every member of the Legion, and ever since that dark day, it is whispered that the Blood Angels have carried a terrible curse within their veins.

Origins
Perhaps the most heretical belief whispered in the shadowy corners of the Imperium is that the Primarchs were touched by Chaos from their very infancy. It is generally thought, among Imperial scholars, that the genetic predecessors of the Adeptus Astartes were indeed taken from their cryo-chambers by the powers of Chaos. Some give credibility to the belief that the powerful magics ensorcelling the infant Primarchs, wrought by the divine Emperor himself, protected them from the depravations of these powers. Yet others would have you believe that, instead of being destroyed, they were cast out to the far corners of the galaxy, denied the shelter and succour that Terra could bestow.

It seems plausible that the powers of Chaos had attempted to pervert and distort the perfect works of the Emperor, but the possibility that one or more of the Primarchs were altered by Chaos at the very beginning of their lives must surely be preposterous.

The inhabitants of the desolate planet of Baal and its twin moons has never been culturally advanced enough to maintain written records of their history. Nevertheless, the oral tradition of the Baalite tribe known as The Blood describes the infant Sanguinius as bearing tiny vestigial wings even when he was first found, in the place now known as Angel's Fall. And not without reason, for Sanguinius was indeed angelic, not just physically, but also within his unblemished soul.

Many of the parables and psalms still recited by The Blood have been transcribed by Blood Angels Librarians over the years (the contemporary equivalents of the first Baalite tribe claim to house remote descendants of the original line), and are kept with reverence in the most holy shrine-archives of the Blood Angels.

Alas, the history of the tribe is unrecorded until the time of Sanguinius's descent. It can only be assumed that they were typical of the tribes of Baal Secundus, a miserable, godless group of individuals attempting to eke out some kind of existence upon their harsh, irradiated world. Baal Secundus has levels of radiation that would debilitate an unprotected man in seconds. As such, it can be surmised that when the tribe-brothers of The Blood found an unblemished cherub lying safe but naked on the scalding sands of their home world, his back adorned with tiny feathered wings, they considered him a mutant.

Ironically, it is said that many of the tribe wanted to put the one who would later show them salvation to a quick death. Although such ultimate blasphemy is difficult to credit, it must be remembered that at this stage the inhabitants of Baal were little more than barbarians. However, they must have felt the divinity of Sanguinius even before he could speak; compassion prevailed and the child, in every other respect more perfect and complete than any of those around him, was taken in.

Although the details of Sanguinius's early life are lost to time and memory, the notable events of his childhood have been told and retold so many thousands of times by the Baalite tribes that they are ingrained in racial memory. One of these tales describes how, before he had seen three weeks, he was the size of a child of as many years, fully capable of walking. He exhibited this capacity by wandering from the tribe's vigil, as curious as he was fearless. When his wards finally found him, he had strayed into the lair of a Baalite Fire Scorpion, a grotesque predator which, when rearing up, is twice the height of a man. The unarmed infant bested the creature, despite repeated blows from a sting coated with virulent poison that is said to burn a man from within in seconds.

Allegedly, the tribe ate well that night.

Like the other Primarchs, Sanguinius grew at an incredible rate, and his wings grew also. The feathers were as white and pure as a swan's, but as strong as those of the Imperial Eagle itself. His wings ultimately became mighty pinions that could bear him aloft through the scorching desert air, inspiring awe and devotion from the lesser beings beneath.

A single year after his discovery at Angel's Fall, Sanguinius stood taller than any man the tribes of Baal's shrivelled moons had ever seen. His form was perfection, his beauty such that many could not look upon him lest their impure gaze be blinded. He could walk under the fiercest rays of the sun whilst his adoptive family scuttled at his feet, encumbered by the weight o1 their rad-suits. He could smash a path through a rockfall with the blade of his hand, best wild animals with but a glance and soar high into the sky on his mighty wings to observe the land below from the perspective of a god.

As Sanguinius reached maturity, the tribe prospered and grew under his guidance.

The transcription of Baalite myth provided by the ancient and venerable scholar Hyriontericus Lucidio (2342345M33) has been preserved with the greatest care since its internment in the altar-tomes of the Blood Angels. Hence, the following quote remains in its rawest form, transcribed from the words of Elder Imrait'il'thax directly into Lucidio's Baalite Scripture.

"They, the cannibal-mutants, numbered in their hundreds, far more than we. Blade sprouted from mouth, curdled eye stared, buckled hand clutched rusted sword. We knew death in that moment. Then the Angel started his work.

He, the Pure One, wanted no harm to befall us. He raged, at first a white, blazing light, then, as death walked beside him, a terrible red thing. His eyes and crown seemed to burn, intense, a corona of bright violence, a sandstorm of destruction. We were caught in the deadly beauty of his dance. And then there were no mutants, only silence, and he stood before us, dripping, still as the cairn."


Sanguinius soon rose to the pinnacle of society upon Baal Secundus, and under his leadership, the pure-blooded Baalite tribes soon united against the infestation of mutants that had begun to plague the radioactive wastes of Baal. Despite being grossly outnumbered, those of the pure blood won the war against the foul mutants. Sanguinius's perfect and divine leadership, coupled with his total mastery of physical combat, drove back the tide of filth that threatened to drown the true people of Baal Secundus. In battle, his wrath was total and unstoppable. Perhaps inevitably, Sanguinius was worshipped as a god by his followers. They were convinced that paradise would follow in the crimson footsteps of the Angel.

And so it came to pass that, by the time the Emperor came to Baal, his lost son sat at the head of the Conclave of Blood. The High Majesty of Mankind had correctly divined the presence of one of his Primarchs upon the blighted planet of Baal Secundus, and led the finest of his men to the surface.

Note: At this point, scholars cease having to rely upon conjecture and the myths of primitives (however diligently recorded), as the entourage of the Father of Mankind included many distinguished persons and scrivener-artisans.

It is therefore known that, at the climax of the Conclave of Blood, the Emperor entered the massive natural amphitheatre carved from Mount Seraph by the ponderous tides of Baal's geology. Those of the pure blood attended Sanguinius' address in their tens of thousands. The Emperor stood within their ranks, a shining golden figure among the tattered warriors of The Blood. But the Emperor knew humility as well as divinity, and he listened as intently as any warrior there. Sanguinius gave a speech which lifted the very souls of his people, giving them more than hope, at its conclusion soaring into the air above them with a shout that every man there echoed. Thus, the Emperor was convinced without a doubt that this was indeed one of his missing sons.

It is also recorded that, when approached, Sanguinius recognised the Emperor immediately. Many believe that Sanguinius's reputed ability to forsee future events informed him of the Emperor's visit, explaining his reaction. He fell to his knees, crystal tears falling from his cheeks into the dust. Where they fell, alabaster flowers thrived upon the barren and foul soils of Baal Secundus. And so the Emperor bade him stand, and looked upon the myriad faces raised unto Him, proud and resolute. He saw that they were both fair in mind and deed, possessed of a small part of the nobility and strength of their leader.

So it was that, under Baal's blistering sun, the Blood Angels were born.

Benedict Arnold - January 22, 2008 02:43 AM (GMT)
The Angels of the Blood
Imperial history recognises that the Emperor subsequently selected the best of Sanguinius' warriors and took them into his Great Crusade, raising them up into a full Legion of Space Marines. They were implanted with the very core of the Primarch's physical being; his pure and precious gene-seed. Under such a blessing no man could fail in his duty, and the Blood Angels added their might to those already fighting in the Emperor's crusade.

Those that remained upon Baal Secundus were entrusted with the holy duty of defending Mankind's birthright upon the planet, and ensuring that future generations of warriors were taught the Imperial creed and the truth of the gods that once walked amongst them. So it is that even now, with millennia passed since those fateful days, the Blood Angels take their new recruits from the moons of Baal.

To ascertain who is worthy to join the ranks of the Blood Angels, the youths from the tribes of the pure blood must take part in violent games and magnificent tournaments, battling against both the harsh landscape of their home world and, ultimately, their peers. This has been established practice since the very first time new recruits were summoned from The Blood, and the rituals remain much the same even now. The contests are held once every generation at Angel's Fall, the forbidding cliff where Sanguinius was first found, and are announced by 'great flying chariots' (the Thunderhawks of Veteran Blood Angels).

Aspirants must reach the Place of Challenge by whatever means they can, a process that itself weeds out the weaker warriors hoping to join the ranks of the Blood Angels. They must race across uncharted miles of hostile desert and leap from high cliffs with only their Angels' Wings to support them, a primitive assembly of skins and thin canes barely able to support the aspirant's weight. They must find their way through canyons infested with gigantic Fire Scorpions and Thirstwater, a liquid species that drains moisture from anything it comes into contact with. The dessicated husks of previous hopefuls speak well of those who have underestimated the danger posed by this threat. Once they reach the Place of Challenge, gladiatorial contests similar in scale to those held in the Ultramar system are held. Only the most skilled fighters survive.

Once the fifty or so victors have been separated from the unsuccessful aspirants, they will be taken up in the Thunderhawks to fulfil the next stage of their trials. Those that fail go on to occupy places of honour in their society, or to guard the Place of Testing until the next generation of aspirants is ready.

The successful aspirants are taken to the fortress-monastery of the Blood Angels upon Baal itself, where they see sights of such magnificent glory that many lapse into speechless states of awe. They are marched in front of their future battle-brethren, and it is here that the contrast between aspirant and Space Marine is truly made clear.

The atmosphere and climate of Baal's moons are known to have severe and debilitating effects on those who have lived on their unforgiving surfaces. Most of the aspirants bear the physical marks of their old lives; it is all but impossible for an ordinary man to live in such conditions and not feel the terrible kiss of radiation. Despite their youth, they are often bent and stunted, their ropy physiques riddled with lesions and blemishes, their growth stunted by malnutrition and constant hunger. In contrast, the towering physiques of the Space Marines around them are a sculptor's ideal of beauty, with smooth skin, sleek features and fine white teeth.

The aspirants are taken to the Great Chapel of the Blood Angels, where they observe a vigil for three days and three nights without rest. Some fall asleep despite their best efforts, and are taken away; their fate is unrecorded. Soon after, the Sanguinary Priests enter the candlelit chapel. These noble individuals fulfil the role of Apothecaries for the Blood Angels, but with a far more unusual duty. The Sanguinary Priests are entrusted with the care of Sanguinius's own blood. The chalice they offer the aspirants at the conclusion of the vigil is said to contain a small portion of this precious liquid. Once the aspirants have partaken of the Sanguinary Chalice, they fall into a profound, timeless sleep, and their heartbeat all but stops. They are then taken by hooded Blood-Servitors to the Apothecarion, where the holy gene-seed of Sanguinius himself is implanted into their recumbent bodies.

The Blood-Servitors, chanting the Credo Vitae, take them to the Hall of Sarcophagi. This breathtaking chamber resembles a gilded cathedral in design, but could house many lesser structures with nary a spire touching its embossed roof. The walls are adorned with a vast array of mighty golden sarcophagi, each twice the size of a man. The sleeping aspirants are entombed within, dwarfed by the size of their caskets, and attached to a large network of life-support nodes. There they remain for a full year, fed intravenously with nutrients and injected with the Blood of Sanguinius.

Many aspirants die at this stage, their feeble forms unable to accommodate the incredible changes wrought upon them by the gene-seed. These unfortunates are best left undescribed. Those able to stand the trial of the blood grow swift and true, reaching proportions reminiscent of their spiritual forefather in a similar timescale. It is rumoured that occasionally an entombed aspirant will awaken well before the casket is opened, and live out a hideous existence of claustrophobic, blood-sodden darkness, emerging from their imprisonment catatonic, insane or worse.

If the aspirants' bodies adapt, they put on extra muscle mass and assimilate the organs implanted into them in the Apothecarion. As they slumber, they are gifted by vivid and strange dreams depicting the memory of Sanguinius himself. Thus the very essence of the Primarch permeates the minds of his new sons, and ever afterwards these potent emotions and memories will be permanently imprinted upon their souls.

When the aspirants are finally removed from their sarcophagi, they have changed so thoroughly that few could believe they were once the twisted creatures rescued from the living hell of Baal Secundus. They have become tall, immensely strong and superhumanly powerful. Their restructured bodies have taken on a haunting beauty reminiscent of their angelic forefather, their senses keener and their muscles stronger than tempered steel.

And yet, they have only completed the first step on the road to becoming a Blood Angels Space Marine.




Benedict Arnold - January 22, 2008 02:46 AM (GMT)
The Horus Heresy
Perhaps more than any other Loyalist Chapter, the terrible events of the Horus Heresy had a horrifying and permanent effect upon the Blood Angels, and it is this tragic fate that has shaped the Chapter since that time. Warmaster Horus, once the Emperor's most trusted and beloved son, turned to Chaos, and plunged the dagger of betrayal so far into the heart of the Imperium that it is yet to recover from his evil deed.

In a tragic sequence of events, the corrupt and evil being that Horus had become managed to manipulate and coerce several other Primarchs, turning them against their own father and mentor, the Emperor himself. These events culminated in the combined attack of Warmaster Horus's forces upon the Emperor's Palace. Space Marine fought Space Marine, traitor battled loyalist until the fortifications of Terra's finest monument to divinity itself looked set to fall. Chaos was ascendant; the powers that Horus had allied himself with had given him power beyond imagining at the cost of his immortal soul.

Sanguinius is immortalised in the magnificent stained glass windows of the Sanctus Praetoria Imperator as fighting high above the raging battle, facing daemons so powerful they could unhinge the minds of great heroes with but a word. He single-handedly held the crenellations from the tides of daemonic filth attempting to wash into the holy chambers of the Emperor's Palace. Many accounts of the time praise the Blood Angel's valour and unceasing efforts in their defence of the Eternity Wall space port. Although hundreds of Blood Angels died, they stemmed a sea of foulness the like of which had never been seen before. Many speak of the bright light bathing Sanguinius' sons as the Primarch slew his foes in the skies above with his mighty blade of fire. And yet, it was upon Horus's battle barge that Sanguinius was to fulfil his greatest duty.

In his victory, Horus became complacent, watching the battle from the bridge of his bloated leviathan of a command ship. He wanted to experience the Emperor's defeat first hand, to force him to his knees before he fed on the father of Mankind's soul. And in his folly, as his forces breached the defences for the last and final time, spilling into the corridors and chambers of the palace, Horus relaxed the psychic defences around his ship. At the speed of thought, the Emperor was aboard the hellish craft, Sanguinius close behind him.

It is known that Sanguinius was gifted with the power of foretelling, able to see visions of what lay ahead. His soul was pure, and the prophesies he spoke of inevitably came to be. It can thus be surmised that he knew full well he was going to his doom when he confronted the Warmaster, and yet he went without hesitation. Whether this act was prompted by fatalism or loyalty to the Emperor is a point debated by many Imperial theologians lacking in faith, however there is no doubt in the minds of the Blood Angels. They maintain that he walked into the lion's den out of duty, knowing full well what the outcome would be.

And thus it is that the Blood Angels alone know the details of their Primarch's fate. The sacrifice of their founder is echoed in the soul of every one of their number, and their souls burn with troubled dreams of Sanguinius's death.

Sanguinius is thought to have undergone unimaginable psychic damage at the hands of the Warmaster who, it is believed by many Blood Angels, could not best him in personal combat.

Horus, in his limitless malice, made sure that Sanguinius's death was the most painful and foul that the boundless evils in his service could administer. The Warmaster's psychic assault echoed not just throughout space, but also throughout time, resonating in the souls of his children. The Primarch's sacrifice is thought to have kept Horus occupied long enough for the Emperor to reach the traitor in the very depths of his lair, where the Emperor eventually bested him at a terrible cost. The pain inflicted upon the Primarch was so total that every one of his sons carries the echo imprinted deep within their soul to this day.

And so it was that the Blood Angels came to bear their blood-curse, and they bear it still.




Benedict Arnold - January 22, 2008 02:48 AM (GMT)
Home World
In ancient days Baal and its moons all had earth-like atmospheres. Several Explorator teams, equipped with state-of-the-art rad-suits, have studied Baal's moons in some detail. Beneath their blackened crusts was a wealth of information, as the strata bear very different patterns to what was originally expected. It was concluded that Baal itself was always a world of red rust deserts, but its moons could potentially have been paradises for mortal men, where folk concentrated on art and science rather than survival and conquest. The surface of Baal is dotted with ruined edifices, incredible monuments that must have been constructed with incredible skill to have stood the test of time. It is obvious that the people of Baal spent their time creating mighty monuments, carving the mountains themselves into statues of their rulers and their gods. Thus the Imperium was able to build a picture of life on Baal through architectural remains.

It is still unknown as to what exactly happened to change this idyllic state of affairs, a cause of great consternation among Imperial historians. All that is certain is that the cataclysmic and fearful events that changed the face of Baal forever happened at roughly the end of the Dark Age of Technology. The moons of Baal suffered terribly. Evidence of ancient weapons both viral and nuclear have been found, perhaps accounting for the incredible rad-count of the moons. The strata of these planets include plains of blackened glass and vast tracts of polluted desert. What were once seas became poisoned lakes of toxic sludge, now covered in layers of pallid dust. The folk of the system must have died in their millions. But somehow humanity has prevailed. The populace became scavengers, picking the bones of their own once-great civilisation. Without their now characteristic rad-suits many must have perished still, growing sickly and feeble as the atmosphere was radically altered. It is theorised by many Imperial scholars that in the dark time that followed the collapse of all order, some became worse than scavengers, and turned to cannibalism.

One side effect from the ensuing radioactive atmosphere was inevitable, however. In time, the accumulated chemical and radioactive toxins that built up in the survivors' bodies led to them devolving into mutants, shambling parodies of the men their forefathers had once been. The disintegration of society can be seen depicted at the Lasquo Caves of Baal Primus, grotesque images of mutants and madmen butchering the more wholesome members of the populace, drawn in ancient blood onto the parched walls.

But, as we know from the Baalite Scripture, there were some who held on to their humanity and preserved some semblance of sane behaviour, forming tribes the like of which adopted Sanguinius upon his descent. But these were the embattled few, as a new and savage culture evolved amid the ruins of the old. The only social unit left was the tribe. For human and mutant cannibal alike, the only folk they could rely on were their own kin.

The folk of the Baal system became nomads, shifting from place to place, picking the ruins clean, warring to preserve the spoils they had gathered. The tribes fought constant wars. Webs of alliances shifted constantly. Extinction awaited the slow and the weak. Where once the moons had been close to paradise, now they were close to hell.

For the few surviving humans, life must have been a constant struggle to exist. For a long time it must have seemed that Baalite humanity was doomed, and soon there would only be an endless desert ruled over by the feuding mutant tribes. Although we can only guess as to when, the miracle of Sanguinius's descent onto the planet introduced a new hope into a barren world.

Benedict Arnold - January 22, 2008 02:49 AM (GMT)
Combat Doctrine
The companies of the Blood Angels generally fight as one would expect from a disciplined force of the Adeptus Astartes. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th are Battle Companies, and these four companies form the main battle lines and generally bear the brunt of the fighting. The specialist companies are kept in reserve and only deployed when necessary.

However, these Companies cannot be relied upon to fight in the structured, disciplined way of the Imperial Fists or the Dark Angels, for the strength of their genetic curse can turn even the most taciturn veteran into a berserker, wishing only to rend his enemy apart and slake his overriding thirst for battle. The Black Rage can possess any and all Blood Angels during the heat of battle, be they a Devastator squad or the driver of a Vindicator. As such, it is always uncertain as to whether a Blood Angels contingent will hold a position. It is just as likely that they will run screaming forward in an attempt to rip the enemy limb from limb with their bare hands. This has in the past led to the total massacre of the Blood Angels' foes on unnumbered occasions. Possibly one of the most famous of these was the Battle at Hive Tempestora, where the Blood Angels assaulted en masse with such undaunted ferocity that their charge smashed apart the enemy line, enabling them to establish a beachhead in a situation considered hopeless by Imperial tacticians. It is said that the fanatical zeal of the Blood Angels also enabled them to achieve the impossible throughout the Armageddon campaign. This unpredictability makes them extremely unpopular with other Imperial commanders, but the Blood Angels care not. They know that their constant struggle against the Black Rage makes them stronger, not weaker.

Benedict Arnold - January 22, 2008 02:52 AM (GMT)
Beliefs
Sanguinius was a visionary. During his early life he desired to lead his people to a new and better life. When he joined the Great Crusade he transferred this vision to a greater arena, but did not abandon it. He wanted a better life for all Mankind and an end to the strife brought on by the collapse of human civilisation during the Dark Age of Technology.

We have established that the outlook of Sanguinius did much to shape his Chapter. There is a mystical streak to many of the Blood Angels' doctrines, and also a strong belief that things can be changed for the better. After all, the process of transforming a scavenger into a tall, proud and handsome warrior is living proof of this tenet.

This belief can be seen in everything the Blood Angels do: they strive for perfection. Their works of art are things of beauty and symmetry. Their martial disciplines are practised unceasingly. Their doctrines are permeated with a sense of mortality and the fallen greatness of Man.

Physically the Blood Angels are among the longest lived of all the Space Marine Legions. One of the peculiarities of their gene-seed is that it has vastly increased the lifespan of those who possess it, so it is not uncommon for Blood Angels to reach a thousand years of age. These vastly extended lifespans allow the Blood Angels to perfect their techniques in art as well as in war. They have centuries in which to perfect the disciplines to which they turn their minds, and this accounts for the fact that Blood Angels' armour and banners are among the most ornate ever produced.

Nevertheless, it is clear to any who study the martial record of the Blood Angels that they enforce the Emperor's will with a fervour and zeal that equals or exceeds that of any other Legion. In fact, these records point to the fact that the Blood Angels are responsible for many of the Imperium's successful actions, and that the number of aliens and heretics they have killed in the name of the Emperor is beyond count.

Benedict Arnold - January 22, 2008 02:55 AM (GMT)
Gene-seed
This Legion, once among the most blessed of all the Legion, now shuns the company of the other Adeptus Astartes where possible. At the time when the First Founding Chapters were created, the Emperor himself oversaw the process of transferring gene-seed from Primarch to Space Marine. The Blood Angels originally practised Exsanguination, a process initially triggered by injecting aspirants with tiny samples of the Primarch's blood. Alas, this process ground to a halt after Sanguinius's death, but fortuitously some of his blood was kept in the relic known as the Red Grail. This living blood, even possessed of such incredible power, could not last for long in an unprotected state. Thus it was that the vitae of their dead Primarch was injected into the veins of the Sanguinary Priests. They became living hosts to the power of their Primarch. Even today, drinking the blood of the assembled Sanguinary Priests from the Red Grail is part of the ritual used in inducting new Blood Angels Priests. In turn, it is from these custodians of the pure lineage that the blood given to aspirants is taken.

Benedict Arnold - January 22, 2008 02:56 AM (GMT)
Battlecry
"By the blood of Sanguinius!"

Benedict Arnold - January 22, 2008 02:57 AM (GMT)
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