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post #61 of 77 (permalink) Old 09-06-17, 05:07 PM
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Thank you! And that's... a lot of questions. It might take me a bit of time to get through them all. (Also, some responses I'll have to skip, either because of spoilers for BA and RG or because I genuinely have no idea).
No problems!

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That said, on the whole - it might well be that I talked the EC's successes up too much. Given their nature in LDLB, it's a fine line to tread. It's worth noting, for instance - in the Great Crusade, given their rebuilding time, they certainly weren't up there in total number of compliant worlds. Instead, when Fulgrim was made Warmaster, the Emperor took into account that they had one of the highest rates of compliances over the past ~decade, the highest with size taken into account.
It is not only a fine line to tread, but also right line, I dare say. I bear no grievance at all EC's successes, and on the contrary, tremendously satisfied by it, and genuinely surprised you mentioned they have experienced defeats and failures; since, well, true perfectionists never give in to arrogance, overconfidence or overextension.

I was simply curious at the key of their breakneck pace of conquest, far outstripping every other aggressive Legions combined; I sincerely love them being remarkable overachievers surpassing and exceeding canon SoH, DA and Ultramarines, and will be immensely disappointed if they are lesser.

And in in similar context why the Emperor appointed Guilliman as Warmaster? As opposed to canon, Ultramarines had(and have) never conquered many worlds, and suffered significant casualties compliance to compliance. They are basically downgraded version of their canon self, and I doubt Emperors Children would lag behind to Ultramarines in areas of post-war recovery and rehabilitation, either canon or LDLB.

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But what I think I got across reasonably well was the spirit of the Legion.
You captured it perfectly. In the most literal sense. That is the reason why the Emperor created Legiones Astartes. They are not simply champions of the Imperium - they are the noblest, the boldest, the purest, the most unadulterated embodiment of His ideal, and by extension, Imperium and humanity's.

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(And the differences of that spirit from canon's Blood Angels, who are in many ways outwardly similar but have significant distinctions - reflections, in some ways, of the gap between LDLB's and canon's Imperiums.)
Indeed. So much true.
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post #62 of 77 (permalink) Old 09-07-17, 03:16 AM Thread Starter
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I was simply curious at the key of their breakneck pace of conquest, far outstripping every other aggressive Legions combined; I sincerely love them being remarkable overachievers surpassing and exceeding canon SoH, DA and Ultramarines, and will be immensely disappointed if they are lesser.

And in in similar context why the Emperor appointed Guilliman as Warmaster? As opposed to canon, Ultramarines had(and have) never conquered many worlds, and suffered significant casualties compliance to compliance. They are basically downgraded version of their canon self, and I doubt Emperors Children would lag behind to Ultramarines in areas of post-war recovery and rehabilitation, either canon or LDLB.
On the first: note that this is post-Betrayal, and post-extended Scouring. It's still something that in retrospect I should decrement, because you're right that there are other aggressive Legions and that the ratio is far too high as I wrote it - but the point is that over the past 9 millennia, with a more slowly expanding Imperium, the EC have generally been the ones who have fought offensive wars far more than any other Legion.

On the second: because I need to rewrite the Ultramarines' Great Crusade section. The in-universe answer, though, is that during Ullanor, when the Emperor looked at the, so to speak, total economic productivity of the worlds each Legion conquered, the UM were easily on top. Above even the Luna Wolves, for all the difference in Legion size and time led by Primarch and all that. Guilliman didn't achieve the highest raw number of compliances, but in terms of population brought into the Imperium his Legion was up there.

It's a yin-yang point with Fulgrim in particular - in their partnership, Fulgrim was always the optimist and Guilliman the pessimist, and they complemented each other in that sense. Fulgrim would come up with a brilliant strategy, Guilliman would find and correct its flaws. But in the management of their Legion, each took on an aspect of the other. Fulgrim was very insistent on avoiding a repeat of what happened before he was found, and while the EC made a good pace on their conquests, he held the Legion back to limit losses, especially early on. Guilliman, meanwhile, felt he had something to prove - ergo he was willing to come closer to the edge, and take on major well-defended worlds, and leave them as major well-defended worlds that were now loyal to the Imperium. Both approaches worked - the Ultramarines did have higher turnover, but then they achieved more over the course of the Great Crusade (and losses were sustainable, and not the highest of the LDLB Legions - Guilliman wasn't canon!Perturabo to send his sons into meatgrinders unnecessarily, the Ultramarines as always fought smart).

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post #63 of 77 (permalink) Old 09-07-17, 10:07 AM
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On the first: note that this is post-Betrayal, and post-extended Scouring. It's still something that in retrospect I should decrement, because you're right that there are other aggressive Legions and that the ratio is far too high as I wrote it - but the point is that over the past 9 millennia, with a more slowly expanding Imperium, the EC have generally been the ones who have fought offensive wars far more than any other Legion.
So while EC's offensive wars are mostly focused on conquest, other aggressive Legions are mostly focused on defense?

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On the second: because I need to rewrite the Ultramarines' Great Crusade section. The in-universe answer, though, is that during Ullanor, when the Emperor looked at the, so to speak, total economic productivity of the worlds each Legion conquered, the UM were easily on top. Above even the Luna Wolves, for all the difference in Legion size and time led by Primarch and all that. Guilliman didn't achieve the highest raw number of compliances, but in terms of population brought into the Imperium his Legion was up there.
So during the Crusade, Lunar Wolves number of compliances were the highest, and Emperors Children were the second? Then who were the third?

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It's a yin-yang point with Fulgrim in particular - in their partnership, Fulgrim was always the optimist and Guilliman the pessimist, and they complemented each other in that sense. Fulgrim would come up with a brilliant strategy, Guilliman would find and correct its flaws. But in the management of their Legion, each took on an aspect of the other. Fulgrim was very insistent on avoiding a repeat of what happened before he was found, and while the EC made a good pace on their conquests, he held the Legion back to limit losses, especially early on. Guilliman, meanwhile, felt he had something to prove - ergo he was willing to come closer to the edge, and take on major well-defended worlds, and leave them as major well-defended worlds that were now loyal to the Imperium. Both approaches worked - the Ultramarines did have higher turnover, but then they achieved more over the course of the Great Crusade (and losses were sustainable, and not the highest of the LDLB Legions - Guilliman wasn't canon!Perturabo to send his sons into meatgrinders unnecessarily, the Ultramarines as always fought smart).
So what is primary difference between canon Ultramarines and LDLB Ultramarines during the Crusade? And why Gulliman felt he had something to prove? To redeem his perceived "failure" at Macragge? Also, had not LDLB Peturabo thrown his sons into meatgrinders unnecessarily? Finally, during the Crusade, Fulgrim intentionally avoided well-defended worlds to minimize loss while choosing relatively easier targets, and by doing so archived the highest compliance rates?

BTW, what is name of the Warmaster's flagship? Imperator Sominum? Bucephalus? Or Of Unity, perhaps? And where were the Imperator Sominum and Bucephalus during the siege?

Last but not least, what is Lucius' current office and title in the Emperors Children?

Oh, and had the likes of Lorgar and Ferrus get jealous at Fulgrim and his achievements, especially after the Phoenician become a Warmaster after the Ullanor Triumph?

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post #64 of 77 (permalink) Old 09-09-17, 09:40 AM
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Just one more question;

In canon, so-called Chaos Gods had already predestinated "their" Primarchs, and they had also preordained who will turn traitor and who will stay loyal; And with only two exceptions - namely the Lion and the Khan - they got exactly what they wanted.

On the contrary, in LDLB, history of Primarchs are not only divergent, but often radically, refreshingly *different* from canon from the very incipience; and because of that, canonically incorruptible Primarchs become corruptible, and canonically corrupted Primarchs remain pure.

Indeed, two thirds of loyal Primarchs are canon traitors. And those loyal Primarchs are proved utterly incorruptible even under extreme duress or underhanded means - as Magnus and Mortarion abundantly demonstrated. And it is rather doubtful LDLB Horus would rebel even if he choose to land and succumbed to the Anathame. Furthermore, LDLB Fulgrim will never pick Laeran Blade, and even if he choose to inspect it, he will never be perturbed, let alone corrupted, by its voices.

Canonically pre-determined Chaos Primarchs such as Angron, Magnus, Mortarion and Fulgrim have very little likelihood of corruption, and relatively "easy" targets such as Horus and Curze, odds are clearly not favoring the Dark Gods.

And in any case, Alpharius Omegon have never *truly* turned in canon, and in LDLB, their loyalty is nothing less exemplary and their single-minded dedication to the Emperor's dream is impeachable.

And since Chaos Gods are able to simultaneously perceive past and possible futures, and they should have known which Primarchs could be corrupted and which Primarchs are not. In addition, if they have observed Primarchs from their childhood in the same way as canon, they have to calculate probability of corruption of each Primarch, and adjust planning and strategy according to such observation.

That means either Chaos Gods hurriedly and abruptly changed and modified their *canonically arranged* plan, like the Dornian and Roboutian Heresy, or established fundamentally different plan from the very beginning, long before onset of the Heresy, and probably very creation of Primarchs.

Considering this AH's completely original, unhindered, unfettered and unbounded by canon direction, I strongly suspect the latter would be true, but to give Gods benefit of the doubt, I'm willing to wait and see what plan the Chaos actually conceived...

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post #65 of 77 (permalink) Old 11-24-17, 11:36 PM Thread Starter
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So... first of all, apologies about the long absence, but hopefully today makes up for it.


Second of all, this is part 1 of 4 in a quadruple post.


And with that, @Lunar , here are the answers to most of your 33 questions at last.


1. Not flawless, no, although he is largely remembered as such due to his martyrdom. He had his canon flaws to a lesser extent - his pride was much lesser than in canon, but he was still rather vain, if in a rather less extreme way. As to subtler flaws - some would consider him less than perfectly obedient to the letter of the Emperor's orders, and others would consider him overly fanatical with respect to their spirit.


2. In many ways, yes - due to the longer period of isolation he grew to embrace his 'engineer' side more, by necessity. Though he was quite capable of being close-minded at times.


3. Hmm. I haven't really thought about this in detail. I imagine Fulgrim had broadly the same issues with Horus as with Angron and Sanguinius, if perhaps to a lesser extent, but got along with Vulkan quite well because of his greater commitment. Lorgar... not the best relationship there. Corax and Fulgrim had a solid friendship, and I imagine the Phoenician simultaneously impressed by Curze's focus and repulsed by his approach. Mortarion I'm imagining a somewhat cool relationship with, due to Mortarion seeing Fulgrim as overly concerned with appearances, and Fulgrim seeing Mortarion's way of war as an unfortunate necessity - but they respected each other's successes.


4. Certainly possible - there has been no Fulgor apparition, but Fulgrim's soul has not (unlike Mortarion's or Lorgar's) been destroyed....


5. Combat injuries.


6. Not Emperor-tier; Fulgrim says that the only more powerful psychic aura he had felt was the Emperor's. But the Emperor usually suppressed his full aura, to contain side effects to regular humans, whereas Lorgar was in full war-mode.


7. Yeah.


8. My error, as discussed - they have conquered significantly more than any other Legion, though, for strategic rather than tactical reasons.


9. EC held the planet but suffered more losses.


10. Somewhat. As per the IAs, the UM have one more mainline ranks(Primarch-CM-Captain-Lieutenant-Sergeant) than the EC (LM-Tribune-Captain-Sergeant), and while the specialist orders are similar in the EC case they're larger (and thus somewhat less specialized).


11. No - they do have a large fleet in terms of firepower, but they're not comparable to the DG and UM in terms of specialization.


12. Well, the Pride is a fair bit bigger than the other flagships of the EC. In terms of mobile firepower (because, say, the UM or the TS have a great deal of immobile space defenses) they'd be higher on the list, but still below DG and UM. I'd say my original list was in terms of firepower, not numbers, or perhaps some combination of the two that accounts for large ships being impossible to split.


13. All of them, to some extent, because they're less specialized as a whole and because they can't rely on allied fleet assets even if they have them. But I'd say the Salamanders and White Scars lean that way, and the Dark Angels have their technological advantage brought to bear as always.


14. I'd say they do try to conduct 'perfect' set-piece warfare, but that aspect has grown slightly less emphasized over time. Still very much there, though, because perfection is expected of officers just like of all other EC.


15. Nominally 135 thousand, in practice slightly less. And every Millennial has the same nominal size, but with the First Millennial having seniority on mixed operations.


16. ...Let's go with that. But also there's the use of warbeasts and genetic modification to offset some of the role that would usually be taken by armor.


17. ...Again, what you imagined about the war-beasts is more detailed than my own thoughts were. That said, as to specialization, individual Apothecaries vary. The overall corps is the Apothecarion, with no dedicated sub-corps, but of course some Apothecaries do research in various areas and others don't and focus on actually being battlefield medics.


18. I'd say a slight majority of Legionnaires have some enhancement, but most of those are relatively minor - small enhancements to strength, dexterity, sensory precision, stamina, etc., though there's generally a slight cost as well (often in energy consumption). More serious tampering includes the implantation of additional organs, or experimental attempts to make larger improvements in physical ability.


19. Quite a few (more than in any other Imperial Legion if in part due to chance), though all in Dreadnoughts. Ultimately an Astarte body does generally deteriorate over the millennia - Lucius was entombed eventually, still undefeated, for that reason. Now, the EC's knowledge in fixing that has slowly advanced, but by definition someone that saw the Betrayal lived in a time before most of those advancements.


20. Well... 'orderly retreat' is how the IH paint it. Given that Ferrus's own Legion failed to lift him from Terra, it was more that he prevented an even worse outcome for the traitors, and made sure that most escaped. After the FS departed, there were enough First Fleet elements fighting alongside the Second Fleet that they still held a numerical advantage, but not by enough to win a long battle of attrition against the Imperial Palace's walls. Ferrus's 'nonviolent vengeance' was probably something minor to restore his pride - we don't know for sure, because he never finished planning it; while still in the throes of rage, he was contacted by Lorgar. If the timing hadn't worked out, and Ferrus'd had time to genuinely calm down and begin plotting, the IH might well have remained loyal.


21. Haven't thought about the Warmasters - but there have been some really good ones as well as some really bad ones, as in any set of a thousand leaders. The best made great conquests; the worst tried to make great conquests and in the process let the foes of the Imperium make greater ones. The War of the Beast, in its first stage, was largely fought by offensive forces from the Emperor's Children, Space Wolves, Thousand Sons, Luna Wolves, and Raven Guard - but that phase is not well-remembered because it consisted mainly of Imperial defeats, as the Imperium's formations were cut to shreds and such. Then there was a defensive stage, which involved all the Legions to some extent, but most prominently the Ultramarines and Alpha Legion, and then the clean-up after the Battle of Udine, which the Emperor's Children led (with a different Warmaster this time).


22. When taken to an extreme, the EC have issues with glory-seeking, as all Legions do. Due to the general culture of the Legion, more EC Legionnaires go too far in their glory-seeking. But the Course Glorious would not exist if this was an absolute prohibition.


23. So I haven't actually read Master of Mankind yet... but what I suspect is that LDLB!Emperor was, if nothing else, a better actor than in canon. And a better father, I suppose.


24. Oh, the Necrons are well-aware (at least the most powerful Dynasties are) of the threat the Imperium poses. Though both they and the Imperium underestimated each other at first.


25. LDLB Tau are generally let be by the Imperium, but there are skirmishes. A skirmish on a galactic scale can still be quite big, though. As for the Tau themselves -


In canon, the Tau got increasingly grimdarkened because certain fans whined about them being morally better than the Imperium. (I suspect the same attitude of refusing to admit any sympathetic non-Imperials causes a lot of the Eldar and post-5th-Necron hate.)


The LDLB Tau are still authoritarian, even totalitarian. They have a rigid caste system. But advancement and change of specialty within a single caste is common enough, and deviation is not usually punished by death. The Ethereals do exert chemical 'mind control' over other Tau, but this is subtle enough that it acts more to keep society running smoothly than to force their every order to be obeyed - a slight nudge rather than anything more. They're not significantly more doctrinaire than the Imperium - the LDLB Imperium, that is; while fanatically focused on the utilitarianism of the 'Greater Good', they have plenty of discussion about that that means in practice. They are expansionist but not especially bellicose; and while they have plenty of allies, which they try to spread the principles of the Greater Good among, they do not have subject species as tightly bound as in canon. And they are far from egomaniacal; their principles are if anything the opposite, even among the Ethereals. They're a weirdtopia, not a true dystopia.


And that idealism is precisely why they are a threat.


26. Cadia will fall (maybe) due to a commander's betrayal - not necessarily a DG commander's, though. There are plenty of Imperial Army leaders, and some from other Legions, that could satisfy the criteria. As to Sanctia - basically the war for the surface was lost, due to overwhelming daemon numbers. The fleet managed some minor evacuations, but a full one was not possible until the planet was pacified. How many Astartes... hundreds?


27. They're plenty arrogant and chauvinistic... publicly. But they understand perfectly well that the Imperium is a rival - one comparable to them, but currently stronger than either the eldar net or the Sautekh, and far stronger than the lesser groups of both or other ancients. The Necrons in particular see much of themselves in humanity.


28. Left deliberately vague because I'm not as brilliant as the Lion (and I don't have ten thousand years to come up with a Plan).


In general, because I don't want to give the wrong impression - I too get very annoyed by intentional "it's left as a mystery" approaches when taken to the extreme. With something like the canon II and XI Legions, so much has been written on them that I don't think there is even a solution possible that doesn't contradict one of the sources - that question should have been answered a long time ago. But because of the genre that LDLB is in, or perhaps more precisely the medium - I tried to avoid obscurantism, but also provide, so to speak, "plot hooks". That's a stylistic choice, in the end, and points to provide inspiration to others.


29. Psychic Abominable Intelligences... or perhaps they're organic enough to evade the Mechanicum's fury, and be classified as machine-spirits - it doesn't really matter. Truth is, they predate the STCs, and far predate the Men of Iron; deliberately designed to have a very long learning period before actually doing anything. Their databanks were copied to assist in the writing of the STCs. And then they were forgotten after the Men of Iron, with far shorter learning periods and no dangerous psy-tech in their construction, rebelled. Forgotten until the Grey Knights found them, and moved Titan out of Sol's orbit. They might well act in humanity's interests, as they were designed to, but those with high enough clearance to know of them tend not to rely on hope.


30. Most of the Great Crusade mentions were deliberately random minor xeno species to give a sense of the diversity of those in the galaxy during the Age of Strife. The Rangdan happened broadly similarly to canon.


The Volcierge were more powerful than the Isexat - indeed, there was a splinter faction of the Isexat in the Volcierge Pact.


The LDLB Pale Wasting... again I have to plead guilty to deliberate obfuscation. But it was bad. Very, very bad. Probably close to Tyranid-tier bad in potential. And extremely classified. But contained to a relatively small area (i.e. less than the Tyranids), because it struck mainly from above the galactic disk.


31. Alpharius Omegon know that the NL are altering themselves, but they didn't realize how bad it had gotten until now, and in lesser cases they prefer to let the Legions remain largely autonomous in recognition of not actually ever being appointed Regent. As to Curze, unfortunately, he can't control when he returns. It is known he will return before it is too late - but 'too late' for the Imperium, or for his Legion? As to curtailing activity... unfortunately it's a Legion culture issue. Still better than the ones they had in canon.


32. Mostly as canon; Fulgrim was found later, and Alpharius much earlier.


33. You'll have to be more specific - in principle that's what the Combat Doctrine section is supposed to show. Sometimes it doesn't do that too well, I know, but still.


PS. On the Chaos Gods' plans. They were not the same as canon - they deviated early indeed, shortly after the Scattering. But one contributing factor is that the Chaos Gods did not, ITTL, exactly have a single plan. Indeed, one might say that Khorne had his own plan, and the other three Chaos Gods a separate one, and they worked together... less well... than in canon. See Khorne's and Slaanesh's disagreement on who got the White Scars.


LDLB Chaos today is more united than in canon - but that was not necessarily the case up to the Escape.


(But Curze and Horus and Magnus could absolutely have fallen to Chaos, under different circumstances. They had decisive choices, and they made the right ones.)

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Post 2 of 4 today.
Index Astartes: Blood Angels



Origins



When, through the Chaos Gods' interference, the pods of the twenty Primarchs were stolen away from the laboratories of Luna and scattered across the galaxy, the pod marked IX landed on the poisoned moon Baal Secundus. Once Baal Secundus and its sister moon Baal Primus were prosperous world of grasses, seas, and great cities; but at the close of the Dark Age of Technology, great wars ruined and poisoned its terrain. Many of Baal Secundus's people were mutated by the radiations and worse that the wars left behind; others remained physically unchanged, but were reduced to nomads with scavenged technology. Despite the hostile conditions, the two sets of tribes found time for art - as well as time for war, with eternal hostilities of one against the other, though there was also no shortage of wars between pure humans or between mutants.


The infant Primarch, with his then-tiny angelic wings, was found by a tribe known as the Folk of Pure Blood, one of the non-mutated tribes; despite his visible mutation, they took him in and began to raise him as his own, giving him the name of Sanguinius. Yet scarce weeks after that, the Folk of Pure Blood suffered a raid by the mutants known as the Sludgereds. Sanguinius was already the size of a three-year-old child, and as strong as an adult human; yet that was not yet enough. The Sludgereds were forced back, but they took prisoners in their raid - Sanguinius among them - to eat most of them, as per custom. Seeing Sanguinius's inhuman strength and his wings as a sign of mutation, though, they thereafter raised him as their own.


Sanguinius thus grew among the Sludgereds, but never forgot his first guardians. Ultimately, he saw, life was much the same for both, and while both at times committed atrocities neither set justified the other. By the time he was one year old, Sanguinius looked like an adult; and it was then that the trucks of the Sludgereds encountered those of the Folk of Pure Blood once again. The stage was set for a new battle, one that could have destroyed both tribes - until Sanguinius shouted for parley.


It is unlikely that anything less than a Primarch's charisma could have made peace between the two groups; yet Sanguinius, soaring in the scorching noonday sun, managed just that. The tribes' chiefs drank wine together, and with an exchange of hostages and goods they settled past feuds.


And with that, Sanguinius gained his purpose. Over the next decades, he would travel Baal Secundus, making peace between the mutant and the pure human tribes. He studied the ruins and his own implanted memories, extracting technologies that, despite not being sufficient to cleanse the polluted surface of Baal Secundus, could filter its polluted waters and soils enough to allow sedentary and sustainable life once more. But he also united the tribes into a loose confederation, aiming above all to ensure that the war that devastated Baal Secundus the first time would not repeat itself. Sanguinius was not elected its unofficial leader due to his own ambition, but rather because both sides recognized that he was the only one who could do the job - after all, both sides saw him as their own. Those tribes that insisted on refusing to join, Sanguinius left alone, but made clear that raids against the confederation would not be tolerated.


Sanguinius floated in the meditation chamber. The sandy wind from below - purified wind, the best that the rebuilt engines of Baal Secundus could manage - rushed upward, pumped like a great fan. An undecorated fan. It would have been a waste to decorate it, here in a sanctum no other would ever see.


His thoughts were not on the arches around him, though. They were directed forward.


He had told no one of this talent. It was not that they would reject him for it, of course. Both mutants and purebloods distrusted foresight, but by now they would only worship him all the more for it.


And therein lay the problem. Sanguinius did not particularly wish to be worshiped, and he certainly did not wish to be worshiped for a gift he knew to be imprecise. His foresight, accessible in moments of stillness like this one - it showed the most likely paths that the future would take, but not what choices led to them. It had been a great aid in anticipating and averting betrayals and raids, in showing the possible ways for Baal to recover - but it would not do the work that was necessary for such things; only men could.


And today, as he soared in the artificial updraft, he knew that only he could. He saw a future where the civilization he had built bloomed, connecting to the stars once more - but also one where the men of those stars rained death upon his people.


He held the fate of Baal in his hands, and it weighed heavily indeed on his soul.


But he would bear that weight, and soar despite it.


Baal Secundus was recovering - not as far as Chemos, perhaps, but enough that it could could construct such things as crude space probes. And the very first of those detected a titanic incoming vessel.


The Imperium of Man had come to the Baal system.


The Great Crusade



It is unknown why the Emperor did not come to meet Sanguinius personally, as he did for most of his other sons. It is possible that he foresaw the entirety of the events surrounding Baal's entrance into the Imperium. It is equally possible that he was simply distracted by the war against the Panamarex that he was waging the other side of the Imperium, and that Lord Commander Tayinaka Duval of the Imperial Army acted of his own accord.


Tayinaka followed the beacon of the space probe to Baal system, and demanded the planet to surrender. But upon the realization that half the population consisted of mutants, he demanded their complete extermination. Likewise, he saw Sanguinius as merely a powerful mutant rather than a Primarch, and refused to negotiate with him.


Tayinaka allied with the renegade pure-blooded tribes and for a full Terran year, up to the Emperor's arrival, waged a war of extermination. With a massive advantage in manpower and technology, he achieved a number of early victories, but Sanguinius led a guerilla effort that shattered the 99th Expeditionary Fleet's operations. Said fleet responded with maximally destructive weaponry. When the Emperor found Baal, at the year's conclusion, the 99th Expeditionary fleet and life on Baal Secundus were both all but extinct.


Yet Sanguinius still lived; and somehow the Emperor convinced Sanguinius to join the Imperium. In great part, without a doubt, this was due to his own regret (feigned or otherwise) for Baal Secundus's tragic fate. It was also because the Emperor brought the Ninth Legion, and Sanguinius could not help but accept them as his sons.


But above all, it was because the Emperor spoke of his dream - a united, peaceful, utopian Imperium - and Sanguinius believed that no one else had as good a chance of achieving it.


And thus, reluctantly, Sanguinius joined the Great Crusade, at the head of a Legion whose leaders insisted - in his honor - on being renamed the Blood Angels. The Ninth had been known for brutal assault fighting, yet Legion and Primarch gelled far better than might have been expected. Expanded after Sanguinius's arrival, the Blood Angels nevertheless remained a small Legion - seventy-five thousand by Crusade's end.


Sanguinius did not want any compliances similar to Baal. Whenever possible, he found diplomatic solutions. When dealing with the Grid Kings of Solazan, for example - an empire spanning dozens of worlds that had beaten back two Expeditionary Fleets - he achieved such a solution by defeating their leader in ritual cyber-combat, and then arranging a highly complex treaty ensuring their integration into the Imperium. This applied to xenos as well; when faced with the migrating probotaurs of the Allarleon Cluster, Sanguinius had his Legion launch a probing attack and arranged for the probotaurs to afterward retreat to the galactic fringe, despite a lack of a mutually comprehensible language.


The Blood Angels retained their capacity for devastating assaults, though, and those xenos species that were truly impossible to negotiate with, they accepted the need to exterminate. More often, when necessary, the Blood Angels would launch a brutal attack at the crucial points of an enemy's defense, but follow it with negotiation with a now-broken foe. The Blood Angels became known as diplomats as well as soldiers - and artists.


Sanguinius encouraged art in his Legion as, above all, a means to connect with the humanity they flew above; indeed, the Blood Angels generally did their best to interact with the population of both newly conquered and securely Imperial worlds, to listen to their beliefs and dreams in the course of forming their own. This, too, was the case on Baal. The Bright Herald (as Sanguinius became known) did not rebuild Baal Secundus, but rather ordered the terraforming of the world of Baal itself, with the survivors of Baal Secundus (all pure-bloods), immigrants, and Legion staff living in orbital habitats for a time before the work was completed. Baal necessarily remained a cold desert for the most part, but one with great lakes and small seas, with towering forests beyond the cliffs of their shores.


And, of course, Sanguinius tried also to connect with his brother Primarchs. A number of them became close friends. Ferrus Manus, for instance, Sanguinius built a bond with due to their similar tactics. Horus and Angron, with Sanguinius, formed the so-called Triquetrum. Each of the three was among the most powerful of the Primarchs in hand-to-hand combat, as a number of implacable foes - notably the Orks of Gorro - learned to their detriment. Yet the three Primarchs was truly unified by their compassion and their uncertainty about the course of the Imperium.


"The Primarch sees that the Word Bearers might turn against the Imperium - but then, he sees the same for us. The future, as he emphasizes, is fluid and subject to interpretation. Personally, I firmly agree. Psychic powers, even those of the Bright Herald, should not be trusted fully - even if many in the Legion will dissent on that point. Nonetheless, the Word Bearers are not the most popular of Legions, among the Astartes.


"So why, then, is the Seventeenth counted among the Legions closest to us? They are courteous and no more blood-soaked than necessary, true, yet they also appear unable to understand the point of the Imperial Truth.


"The answer, I think, is because appearances can deceive.


"Humanity needs - not gods, not exactly, but angels. Ideals to believe in. The Imperial Truth aims to provide those ideals, but from talking to civilians, for many of them they are exemplified by a human face - the iterators, for instance. Or the Astartes. And we know how that might end. To prevent anything similar, Lorgar ascribes an inhuman face to the Truth - that of the Emperor, distant as he is. Because for humanity to be united, and at peace, we must have at most one god.


"I believe we will have zero in time, of course. That is the aim of Unity - no gods, only us. The distinction between men and angels will become a momentary one, for the men of tomorrow would be angels today. And I think that Lorgar believes that as well, as an end goal. Most of all... most of all, I desperately hope that it is a possible goal, that we are not working on a fool's errand. And that hope is one so fundamental to who we are that it might as well be faith."


- From the classified writings of High Warden Dahka Berus


The reason for this uncertainty was exemplified by some of the other Primarchs. Alpharius's vision for the future, for instance, was one of eternal strife. Konrad Curze was worse - near the end of the Crusade, he and Sanguinius met in a great debate over the course of the Crusade, where Curze promoted a ruthless tyranny that was always a hair-trigger away from unleashing maximum force. The debate ended with both Primarchs more distrustful of each other than ever before, and - crucially - neither the Emperor nor any of his close associates commented on who was right.


Thus, increasingly, Sanguinius saw that the Emperor's dream was a vague thing - that his father had told each of the Primarchs whatever they had wanted to hear, his true aspirations remaining inscrutable. The Bright Herald could sense lies well, and he believed the Emperor had told the truth to him - but perhaps not exclusively the truth, and surely not the whole truth.


This distrust was magnified, because Sanguinius was keeping secrets of his own, ones shared with only his inner circle of perhaps twelve Astartes. Prime among these was the Flaw of the Blood Angels' gene-seed - a weakness that arose rarely, but that caused the afflicted to degenerate into mindless berserkers. Sanguinius searched for a cure, but in vain. Over the last years of the Great Crusade, the Flaw became somewhat more common, and Sanguinius began to deploy the Legion more selectively for fear of the damage those afflicted by the Flaw might do, including that secret's revelation (which did not endear Sanguinius to the Warmasters).


It is perhaps for this reason that Sanguinius distrusted Fulgrim so. The Phoenician seemed the perfect son, but his fanaticism in prosecuting the Great Crusade was not matched by sufficient reflection on what that Crusade truly meant, a perspective uncomfortably like that of Lord Commander Tayinaka - such was the public line. Yet while the two Primarchs were very similar, privately Sanguinius admitted that he knew his own flaws, and suspected that Fulgrim had equal flaws of his own, ones yet unrevealed - perhaps unopened - but that would suffice to ruin the Imperium.


And then, rumors of a cure in the Signus Cluster - and Sanguinius rallied the Legion to him, even as the Imperium descended into the civil war its cruelty inevitably foretold.


The Great Betrayal



The Signus Cluster, conquered by the Imperium several decades before, rose in open rebellion approximately two years before the Betrayal; when (months later) this fact became evident, the Blood Angels chose to take on the region's pacification. This was brought on by the belief that the Signus Cluster held the key to curing the Flaw - a belief that was in a sense true, but in a sense far darker than the one Sanguinius had imagined.


To keep the mission's true motivation secret, Sanguinius began it by using mysterious means to weed out those in the Legion whose loyalty was not absolute, ordering them without comment to protect Baal and the Imperium while the bulk of the Legion fought on Signus. To his surprise, this scan revealed a fair number of Alpharius's spies among the Legion's attendants.


Sanguinius exposed and humiliated them before sending them back to Triton, for he knew that Alpharius's motivations and his own would yet become opposed.


Strange occurrences began as soon as the Ninth Legion's fleet entered the Signus Cluster. The stars of the sky around the jump point were simply wrong - far too many red stars compared to records, and indeed far too many stars in general. Moreover, the seven planets and fifteen moons of the cluster - and this took some time for the fleet's personnel to understand, for it made so little sense - had been stretched into great sheets that fluttered around the cluster's rearranged stars, as if detached wings around a human body. Finally, every member of the fleet, but especially the non-Astartes among them, began experiencing a severe psychic pressure.


The Blood Angels launched several automated probes, all nonconclusive. The configuration of the altered worlds made it impossible for the flagship Red Tear to safely approach them, so Sanguinius left tactical command of the void battle to First Captain Raldoron and, alongside several companies and the Sanguinary Guard, landed on the leaf that had been Signus Prime.


It was after this landing that the Blood Angels' fleet was attacked by a daemonic host, one composed of winged furies that soared in the void as if it was the sky. Raldoron responded quickly, using the implausible terrain to take apart the daemonic flocks without significant losses, but the assault served its role: Sanguinius was cut off from the Red Tear. Only a small squadron, led by Fifth Captain Nassir Amit, managed to fight through and get news of what was happening to the Primarch.


The Bright Herald, meanwhile, was warily welcomed by the now-mutated people of Signus Prime. They spoke of a peaceful secession from the Imperium in the name of Chaos, and looking on them, Sanguinius saw that they were indeed happier than they ever were under Imperial rule, as well as more hopeful, stronger, and tougher - all of this, he was informed, allowed by sorcery whose scale even Magnus would be shocked by. Sanguinius, Azkaellon, and the Sanguinary Guard were brought to the palace of the daemon Kyriss, one of the world's four rulers, who tempted Sanguinius by speaking of the Chaos Gods - but the Bright Herald refused to commit himself.


And then a commotion, as Amit's Fifth Company entered with blades unsheathed and bolters loaded, and Sanguinius heard of the attack on his fleet. Kyriss justified it as a rival faction, but with Amit's frankness the illusion that the daemon had woven unraveled before Sanguinius's eyes, and what had seemed to be a bright hall was revealed to be a charnel cathedral, corpses with ecstatic and agonized expressions scattered across the floor.


Thus the negotiations ended, and the Battle of Signus began.


Sanguinius's strike team suffered severe losses against the daemonic hordes and the now-hostile people of Signus, but escaped the encirclement through Captain Furio's sacrifice. Yet they remained stranded on Signus Prime's surface, which now warped to prevent them from getting out, and so the battle continued, though now with the Blood Angels in a better defensive position. The Blood Angels were reluctant to bring destruction on those they did not understand, but they knew that they had no choice.


After beating back seven lesser assaults, the Blood Angels were attacked by one of the four daemonic lords of Signus, the Bloodthirster Ka'Bandha. Sanguinius himself dueled the daemon, and barely defeated it - yet he was near death afterward, and that moment allowed two of the remaining lords of Signus, Scabeiathrax and Tarkh'ax, to seize control of the Flaw.


The Blood Angels' minds were crushed as never before. Even as Raldoron achieved final victory in the skies of Signus, nearly every Blood Angel of the fleet collapsed like a puppet with strings cut; fortunately, the human crew were able to maintain holding position. Those on the ground fared worse, driven into a berserker rage - only now with more than full awareness of what they were doing, tears dripping from their eyes as they rampaged across Signus in meaningless and suicidal slaughter.


This attack knocked Blood Angels unconscious throughout the galaxy, yet most of that galaxy paid it little heed. For the remnants of the Legion, without word from Signus or their Primarch, refused to take a side in the civil war of the Great Betrayal, and instead retreated to Baal, refusing to believe that Sanguinius was lost.


The only Blood Angels not affected by the attack were those Librarians able to use their powers to circumvent the Flaw; and one of them, Mkani Kano, saved the Legion by allowing his friend Apothecary Meros to overcome the altered Flaw, and to restore Sanguinius to consciousness, wresting the Flaw back to quiescence. The awakened Raldoron sent down half the Legion under Captain Dar Nakir as reinforcements, and the battle was once more even.


Yet as the surviving members of the strike team gathered back together, seeing what they had done - ruin even Chaos would be hard-pressed to match - one final parley took place. Kyriss, Scabeiathrax, and Tarkh'ax came before Sanguinius and parted, for an instant, the veil around Signus, revealing the events occurring in the outside galaxy. It was not enough to see the details, but sufficient to understand that the galaxy was at war, a profoundly terrible war that had the Imperium on its knees, Chaos among the forces now proving the Emperor's dream as hubristic greed. Yet -


The three daemon lords, and the gods they represented, offered Sanguinius the chance to intervene in all of this. For with Chaos and the Emperor both reeling, he could use its power to fix both worlds. It was not easy, for no enterprise of this scale could be, but the gods would cure the Flaw as a token of what they could in time promise.


Azkaellon stood at his Primarch's side, the remaining Sanguinary Guard arranged in a ring around the Bright Herald, as the daemons made their speeches.


They were silent. How could they not be? In the moment when their Primarch needed them most, the only moment when their nearly ceremonial function was profoundly necessary, they had failed. They had succumbed to the darkness within their souls, and instead of protecting their Primarch killed civilians who, in truth, were as much victims of all of this as anything.


But even deep in his regret, Azkaellon listened to the monsters' offer. Chaos was monstrous, but that could be changed. Sanguinius would have to be monstrous to accept its full power, but that would ultimately be for the best.


The same temptation as ever. What right did the Guard have, to decide whether Sanguinius should accept it?


No, that was the wrong way to think about it. What right did they have, not to protect their Primarch from it? Azkaellon had failed in his duty once.


He would not do so again.


"That's enough," he said, stepping in front of Sanguinius. "Enough time wasted. There is a battle yet to come."


"Shut up while your betters are talking!" the feathered one - Azkaellon was hard-pressed to remember their unpronounceable names - spat.


"Lord Sanguinius," the goat-like one said, in a more kindly voice. Kyriss - that name, Azkaellon knew well. "Control your son."


"Azkaellon," the Primarch said, looking down at him. "You believe this is an offer I should not waste my time listening to."


"I do," Azkaellon said, standing his ground.


And Sanguinius's expression changed. It was the subtlest of shifts, one that perhaps none in the galaxy save Azkaellon would have recognized; but Azkaellon had led the Sanguinary Guard for centuries, and he knew his Primarch's moods.


It was a change from diplomacy to war.


"And it seems it was," Sanguinius said, raising his spear. "You offer me the power to improve the galaxy - but only as you promised the people of Signus the power to improve their system. Power, aye... but at the cost of giving up purity of purpose. What the I that would be transformed by Chaos will wish will not be my utopian dream, but a nightmare worse than this cluster's."


The daemons did not attack - not yet. These ones had some respect for proper protocol, at least.


"Chaos is only the wishes of the galaxy," Kyriss said. "What would affect you is the mix of every sapient being's inner urges."


"A mix," Sanguinius acknowledged, "but a mix that is not any sapient being's true desire."


"That's enough, Kyriss - we've failed," the third daemon - the rotten one - said with a sigh. "Back to the first plan it is, and probably without the Blood God."


"We almost - " the feathered one insisted, having opened its beak to say more before Sanguinius interrupted it.


"But you didn't," the Ninth Primarch said, and the warped light of the monstrous chamber seemed to run off him like water, revealing the golden soul beneath. His white wings seemed to glow too, so that Azkaellon could not see the injuries his lord had suffered against Ka'Bandha. "Because so long as one true Blood Angel lives, he will remember the distinction between his own blood and that of others. That is the distinction that the Emperor has rejected - but that I will not. Even to kill war itself. For if I break the Skull Throne, I refuse to raise worse things from its dust." Sanguinius tensed as he spoke, as did the monsters, as did the Sanguinary Guard. A moment before battle. But it was to Azkaellon that the Bright Herald turned.


"In the end, Azkaellon, I must disagree with your definition, from Melchior. A fallen angel is an angel still. And that is why we must never fall."


Sanguinius' gaze turned to the enemy. For an instant, the three daemons seemed to shrink from him.


"If your gods offered me everything to fall, it is only because they fear what we may become if I rise! And when you meet them again, tell them they were right to fear Sanguinius so!"


And then, at last, there was only war.


The offer was true; and yet Sanguinius refused it. The details of what happened in that clash remain unclear; Sanguinius banished Kyriss and Scabeiathrax, driving Tarkh'ax back, albeit all of his Sanguinary Guard fell in the confrontation. And after, Sanguinius, with a heavy heart, ordered an orbital bombardment before leaving behind his and the Legion's crucible.


The Escape



As the Ninth Legion's fleet departed the Signus Cluster, Sanguinius conferred with his inner circle once more. The Signus Campaign had amply demonstrated to him fully the error that the Emperor had made in his secrecy and his tyranny. And for this reason, he made the decision that he would no longer keep secrets from the Legion, except for those (such as the specifics of his psychic abilities) that demanded operational secrecy.


So he spoke to the Blood Angels of what had truly happened on Signus, of his doubts in the Imperium, of his own psychic nature - and of the Flaw.


Yet on that last detail, his speech was far less pessimistic than could have been expected. For when the allied daemons had seized control of the Flaw, they had also revealed to Sanguinius its psychic nature. And what could be controlled by the Legion's enemies could also be controlled by the Legion itself. In time, study by the Legion's Librarians would reveal a solution, which allowed Sanguinius to take control of the Flaw when it came over a Blood Angel, freeing them from their effects - albeit the action of taking on his sons' burdens onto himself was not without effect on Sanguinius.


All that, though, would come in later months. For now, the Blood Angels merely looked outwards, and saw a galaxy aflame. Not wishing to commit the Legion to a course of action without an unbiased understanding of the circumstances, Sanguinius directed the great fleet to the place where the rebellion by all accounts began - the Isstvan system. There, he found a graveyard. It took several weeks, but gradually the Blood Angels understood that Lorgar had been tempted by Chaos, and had led half the other Legions into war as a pawn of those powers of malice.


But before Sanguinius could make a further decision, the Night Lords arrived.


Despite being outnumbered, Curze demanded the Blood Angels immediately surrender, under the presumption that their absence implied complicity in Lorgar's rebellion. Sanguinius, seeking to the end to avoid a confrontation, ordered a retreat to Baal while maintaining his innocence.


Curze gave the order to launch boarding torpedoes.


Sanguinius met his brother on the lower decks of the Red Tear, and the two spoke, in a place where none other could hear, of the future.


"No, Konrad, I will not kneel. And I will work to restore the Imperium, but... not as it was before. It must become something worth saving.


"Yes, yes, but we are all angels, all... fifteen of us. We were all meant to be exemplars, and we all succeeded in that. Did you ever think about what sort of monsters you inspired?


"Your foresight is not an excuse. Don't you understand? I - I know how difficult and unlikely the utopian dream always was, as well as anyone. That's why it was called a dream. But that doesn't mean we can stop trying, not yet. There is still time. You can still change, brothe-"


- Sanguinius to Curze, in the last seconds before the Primarchs' duel


Upon hearing Sanguinius out, the Night Haunter slashed at his brother's neck with his Lightning Claws - a blow that Sanguinius parried with ease, for the Bright Herald had expected this outcome. What the two Primarchs had failed to resolve in ink, they would now resolve in blood.


Both fought with stellar fury, as around them their sons; but Sanguinius proved the stronger. But with Curze gravely wounded and at his mercy, he hesitated, unwilling to kill his brother so quickly. That moment was one Curze used to make good his escape, and return to his fleet.


There was no further battle; the Blood Angels disengaged again, catching up with the vanguard of the fleet, and returned to Baal. This time, the Night Lords let them go.


On Baal, Sanguinius gathered the entire Legion. There, despite Horus's astropathic pleas, he made clear the path that the Blood Angels were already walking. The Imperium had most likely been built on lies and tyranny from the beginning, and with the Emperor comatose there would be no chance of redeeming it in the future, not with the likes of Alpharius, Curze, and Malcador at its helm.


The Blood Angels would no longer fight for the lesser evil of the Imperium. Sanguinius was the Bright Herald no more.


Now he was Sanguinius Malaklakhar, the last angel of a galaxy of darkness.


The Long War



The Blood Angels departed Baal, along with habitats repurposed to support the vast majority of its population that joined their exodus. Those that did not (human and Astarte), led by Captain Galan of the Sixteenth Company, would rejoin the Imperium elsewhere - the Astartes ultimately reinforcing the Luna Wolves - while Baal itself would be rebuilt from the ground up.


Since the Betrayal, the Blood Angels have for the most part been protectors of human and human-compatible civilization on the galactic fringe. They are peacekeepers and diplomats, but they are by design also warriors. While they have bound themselves not to wage offensive war on the Imperium (and remain on not entirely hostile terms with said Imperium because of that, despite an official classification of war), they have defended independent and effectively independent worlds - human and xeno - from the Imperium on numerous occasions.


Yet it has historically not been the Imperium that has been their main foe, for the Imperium's reach is not infinite and there is no shortage of foes on the rim. The most famous and infamous such conflict was the War of the Beast in M32. An overextended Imperium ran headlong into the greatest WAAAGH! seen since Ullanor, with the Beast cutting their supply lines to shreds with uncanny cunning for an ork. Yet while the Imperium retreated, worlds burned; and Sanguinius stepped in.


By then he had distanced himself from much of the Legion, for with every Astarte he freed from the Flaw the pressure on his mind worsened, causing erratic mood swings. Even as the ancient Raldoron led an assembled Legion fleet once more in the Udine system, Sanguinius confronted the Beast in a battle of titans.


In the end, the battle destroyed both. But neither combatant's body has ever been found, and the Blood Angels believe Sanguinius still lives, taking as evidence the regular appearance of Malaklakhar's apparent psychic image, known as the Sanguinor. In any case, the Flaw has not returned.


The Emperor's Children would wipe out the Beast's lieutenants, but though the Imperium prefers to forget, it forever owes a great debt to the Blood Angels for the Battle of Udine.


There have been other great campaigns over the millennia. In early M33, the Blackstar Sector - containing many worlds under Blood Angel protection - was covered by a Warp Storm that, upon abatement, revealed a land tyrannized by the Word Bearers alongside elements from other Chaos Legions. The Imperium would likely have responded with Exterminati, but in the decade-long campaigns of the Blackstar Liberation, the Ninth Legion freed the region once more - albeit at the cost of the mortal life of Raldoron, who effectively held the position of Legion Master, who had to be entombed in a Dreadnought after severe damage to his flagship. The campaigns against a potential ork resurgence in the first half of M35, culminating in a victory by Leonid Castivarus and his demiurg allies victory over Waaagh! Starsmasha, and the containment of the Vorsch-Raids of the dark eldar (early M40) also bear high places in the records of Blood Angel victories, though their defeats - such as the disaster against a daemonic tide on Hell's Hollow, in 266.M37 - are remembered as well.


But over time, the Imperium has recovered from the devastation of the Betrayal and the War of the Beast, its frontiers extending toward the galactic edges once again. Its march was glacial, but inexorable. And so more and more often, it was the Imperium that the Blood Angels were forced to defend themselves and their allies against.


And so they responded. In 700.M41, the Pact of Tau was signed by leaders of ten polities, among them Cervan Dante, Equerry to Sanguinius, before rapidly growing to encompass thousands of human and xeno civilizations into an association of mutual trade and defense - a pact symbolized and held together by the Blood Angels. The Imperium has tested the Pact of Tau more and more over time, most recently in the campaigns of the Damocles Gulf.


The Imperium has a great advantage against the Pact in numbers, unity, and overall industrial might. But the Pact has its own advantages, and not only technological - for diversity has a power of its own, and so do the founding ideals of holding to peace and openness whenever possible. The Blood Angels hope that a full-scale war against the Imperium can be avoided. And, what is more, they believe that if it is - and if the growing Ork, Tyranid, and Chaos threats do not come to destroy them both - then it is the Pact of Tau that would win an ideological debate.


Because it is precisely the frequency of death that means that, wherever life has a foothold, it is worthy of protection. Because the souls of sapients, when not corrupted by forces beyond reality - and sometimes even when they are - strive on the whole to both rise themselves and raise others. And because the shadows that made the Imperium seem necessary cannot, by their very nature, remain forever.


Organization



The Blood Angels' organization has historically been loose, but with the Pact of Tau has come a general reassertion of hierarchy. They are formally led by Sanguinius - as expressed by the visits of the Sanguinor - but in practice it is the ten members of the High Council that steer the Legion. These are the Equerry to Sanguinius (who chairs the Council, and also traditionally leads the Archangels company); commanders of the four specialist organization; a representative from the human and xeno support staff of the Legion (which are far smaller in number than in most Legions, as the Blood Angels do not have dedicated auxiliary forces, instead fighting alongside various allies of moment); three additional Councillors, as chosen by the Sanguinor, usually from among the Legion's Captains; and one spot reserved for the Dreadnought Raldoron. It is rare, but not unheard-of, for these ten to actually gather in one place.


The rest of the Legion mainly consists of fifty-one Companies led by Captains - which average slightly over three thousand Astartes each, but vary wildly in size - as the unit of organization directly below the High Council. Captains have a great deal of independence, but at least in principle acknowledge the authority of the High Council - though this is not always the only authority they recognize. Typically, Companies are subdivided into Wings led by Commanders, which are themselves subdivided into Feathers led by Lieutenants, and finally Squads under Sergeants, though many Companies have different names for any or all of these. Each Company recruits independently, but young recruits very often move between the Companies. The most infamous Company is the Deathstorm, currently led by one Gabriel Seth, which does not recruit for itself but takes in the most martially oriented initiates of other Companies. Its members believe that the most useful application of Astartes is in war, and so they leave aside all else and throw themselves into nonstop fighting to a level even Imperial and Final Shore Astartes very rarely match. Some whisper that the Deathstorm is the Flaw reincarnated, though it predates the War of the Beast.


Four specialist orders exist. Two - the Librarius and the Technicum - are organized very loosely, relying mainly on master-apprentice relations. Both often teach and learn from xeno species, in the former's case including the eldar - although while the Blood Angels have no qualms about working with the eldar, experience have shown them that they are never reliable allies (and Sanguinius's relation with Angandrir cooled greatly after the Betrayal, though the two remained in contact). The other two, namely the Sanguinary Order and the Creed of Echoes, are a different matter altogether. Both have organization and ritual that is more or less religious. The Order's cult is derived from the rites of flesh and blood of the ancient inhabitants of Baal Secundus (of both lines), as well as incorporating a mystical approach to the work typically done by Apothecaries. The Creed of Echoes incorporates elements of the Cult Mechanicus and guesses at pre-collapse Baalite culture, as well as being strongly influenced by the most ancient xeno species. Its practical role is in synthesizing the various cultures and beliefs of the Blood Angels and, especially, their allies into perspectives that can see each other well enough to cooperate.


Combat Doctrine



While the Blood Angels emphasize that violence is to be avoided wherever possible, they are still Astartes. They have retained a preference for close combat, as well as for air combat, though their specific doctrine is highly adaptable due to their ever-changing roster of allies. As protectors of the galactic rim, they have grown used to fighting alongside almost anyone, and their technology reflects this; schizophrenic compared to the Imperium's (or more accurately Mechanicum's) or the eldar's, albeit sane compared to Chaos, it reflects and tries (with varying degrees of success) to synthesize myriad influences. Thus, for instance, the Demiurg-based Trace-pattern Dreadnoughts, while preventing degeneration, require long periods of sleep avoided by the Imperial Eternal pattern, but outdoes it in defensive capability and - thanks to Loxatl technology - also it in fine motor control.


The Blood Angels do not believe in offensive war, but they are far from ignorant of the need for offensive operations even in wars started by the enemy - and since the formation of the Pact of Tau, this includes Imperial worlds. Generally, they favor a very public decapitation strike in such circumstances, aiming for a rapid surrender. Operations to contain guerillas are of lower priority, as planets dominated by resistance movements will not be kept past war's end anyhow; it is sufficient that the centers of power are transfered to Blood Angel control. In cases with pro-Blood Angel guerilla movements active, subtler approaches are taken.


More often, though, the Blood Angels are called on to protect allied planets, in recent times usually against Tyranid or Imperial forces. Typically they tend towards a mobile defense rather than guarding fortresses, seeking above all to not concede total air or orbital superiority, evacuating civilians where necessary, counterattacking to maintain uncertainty in the enemy, and trying to encourage defectors and splinter the enemy's unity of command - though some companies do specialize in siege warfare.


Homeworld



Sanguinius's original homeworld was the moon Baal Secundus, a Desert World whose civilization was in a post-apocalyptic state. Baal Secundus was devastated by the 99th Expeditionary Fleet, though many of its traditions live on in the Sanguinary Order.


Upon joining the Imperium, Sanguinius ordered the terraforming of Baal itself. The planet was characterized by high gravity and a cool equilibrium temperature; but by the time of the Betrayal terraforming had proceeded to the point of it being solidly habitable, with large stretches covered by forest - taiga, deciduous woods, and temperate rainforest alike - as well as tundra and desert. The scarps, canyons, and Nine Seas of Baal are etched into Blood Angel cultural memory, and the planet attracted many immigrants eager for a fresh start - lured by both the economic benefits of a Legion's presence and Sanguinius's charisma, and bringing the full technological expertise of the Great crusade. Nonetheless Baal remained sparsely populated, on the whole, and only moderately organized, leading the Blood Angels to recruit predominantly from other worlds.


Sanguinius ordered a retreat from Baal when the Legion left the Imperium, but most of the population joined the exodus fleet. While Baal remained an Imperial world until its destruction by Orks, Malaklakhar did not express a wish to return even briefly, and few of the Blood Angels themselves expressed particular interest in private pilgrimages - for the true essence of Baal was its people, and those remained with the Blood Angels in their flight. Since then the Blood Angels have been fleet-based, though some Companies have built small fortress-monasteries on specific worlds, and as of late the construction of a grand new Aerie has begun on Tau.


Beliefs



The core of the Blood Angels' disagreement with the Imperium's policy is in their rejection of Unity as a principle - they do not believe that forcing a single government on the human people of the galaxy is desirable, and moreover oppose the general policy of extermination and subjugation of xenos, with the partial exception of those (such as the orks and tyranids) with which diplomacy is effectively impossible, but without excluding even 'monstrous' species that can be reasoned with. To this is added a distaste for secrecy (there are only two ranks of security clearance among the Blood Angels' Astarte - Standard, and High Council) and a tolerance of various religions even within the Legion's ranks.


Nonetheless, on the whole the Blood Angels retain much of the Imperial Truth, above all its fundamentally optimistic view of the future. While they look down on the Imperium for the compromises it has made, the fundamental reason that the war between the Imperium and the Pact of Tau has remained contained is that both sides still see each other as less their enemies than the majority of the galaxy - though the Blood Angels also allot respect to the eldar, if somewhat less of it, as well as maintaining relations with some of the Necron dynasties (two minor dynasties having even signed the Pact). Above all, the Blood Angels despise Chaos, and while generally willing to engage in realpolitik even when orks or tyranids are involved, they refuse to deal with those affected by the Great Enemy's corruption.


"The use of blood is not merely tradition - though aye, it is that too, a tribute to the lost tribes of Baal Secundus where Sanguinius first took wing, mutant and pureblood alike. For some of our brothers, those whose omophagea bears the enduring remnant of the Flaw, it is also a necessity. And it serves as a symbol of our own humility - that though others may call us angels, we know that we have not fully left behind our darker history. Like any Legion, we must remain acutely aware of our sins, lest they consume us in place of the reverse.


"But above all, it is memory. Through the rites of the Sanguinary Order the blood of Malaklakhar still flows in the veins of his sons, in a manner more direct than the other Legions. And since we are Astartes, that has more than symbolic significance. To lie in the sarcophagus is to see, and more, to know the past. To know the path that has led the Blood Angels to where we are. For without that, we cannot know where that path might lead, let alone where it must.


"The essence is - we have long been a splintered Legion, in hierarchy and on occasion in dream, and even after the Pact we remain such. What unites us is in a sense blood alone. But the blood of Astartes runs thicker than any other, and the blood of Sanguinius thicker than any other Primarch's."


- Corbulo, High Priest of the Sanguinary Order


Gene-seed



The early gene-seed of the Ninth Legion was afflicted by a Flaw that drove a number of Astartes mad with anger. Sanguinius Malaklakhar took the Flaw unto himself in the aftermath of the Betrayal, and since then it has not reappeared. Nonetheless, since the War of the Beast, time and attrition have led to frequent deterioration in Blood Angel gene-seed, and it is impressive that the Sanguinary Order has kept it not only viable but strong. The Blood Angels' gene-seed does, however, often contain a nonfunctioning mucranoid and an ossmodula that gives somewhat less protection than usual, as well as occasional omophagea defects. At the same time, the omophagea's actual function tends to provide more memories than in other Legions, and the general longevity of Blood Angels has been greatly extended to the point of experiencing minimal physical deterioration over time.


Battle-cry



A number of common battle-cries exist in the Legion, often straightforward ones such as "For Sanguinius!" or "Angels still!". The cry present in all the Companies, though, is: "To battle, sons of Sanguinius! Rise! Rise!"


A/N: And you thought the meeting with canon!Angron went badly.... Also, a reminder that, even if it's a far better place to live than in canon, the LDLB Imperium is still a dictatorship ruled by the head of its secret police, and a nation sees it as its manifest destiny to conquer all human polities in the universe and destroy all xeno ones (albeit whether or not that spills into precisely 100% xenocide depends on who you ask). This IA took a long time to write, and some parts might seem a bit paradoxical - but then, that is the nature of the Ninth. For instance - are they the humblest of the Legions for how they interact with ordinary humanity, or the proudest for thinking they know better than the entire Imperium? And even if they are the latter - does it necessarily make them wrong?

Renegades Saga contributions
(https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...tions-cry.html)
(https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...s-scarlet.html)
(https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...lesh-weak.html)
The Emperor has turned to Chaos. The dream of the Imperium has become a nightmare. But Horus and his Coalition stand against the dark, here at the end of time.

Lorgar's Betrayal
(https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...te-heresy.html)
What was broken has been mended. And what was burned away can never be reforged.

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Index Astartes: Raven Guard



Origins



The scattering of the Primarch threw the nineteenth pod to the surface of Lycaeus, a desolate moon of the planet Kiavahr that was at the time being used as a prison for political dissidents and other criminals who were used as slave labor by the ruling Tech-Guilds of Nabrik, Kiavahr's capital, to mine the world.


Yet Corvus Corax, as he would be named in mockery of a legend about a raven that would free Lycaeus from the tech-guilds, would not long stay on Lycaeus, being quickly found by the prison overseers and brought down to Nabrik. He was immediately recognized as superhuman, and so the tech-priests who ruled Kiavahr chose to raise him to serve them as an assassin - perhaps even, someday, to take his place among their council - as they tried to study his blood to unlock the secrets of the Emperor's craft. In this last task they would succeed only in the smallest part, though even that, to them, recouped their investment with interest.


The man who was Corax's main teacher, and to some extent foster father, was Daus, a tech-guild leader who emphasized to his peers the need to ensure Corax's loyalty by treating him well. From him Corax learned the science of Kiavahr, fallen as it was compared to the wonder of the Golden Age of Technology, and made his own contributions to it.


But all in all Corax's upbringing was a solitary role, the Primarch being indoctrinated from a young age towards his role as a spy and assassin, particularly after his wraith-slipping ability to go unnoticed was discovered. He was trained to be distant, and to suppress emotional connections with those he listened to and at times pretended to befriend.


It worked, for a time. But Corax began to doubt, over time, that the tech-guilds were truly in the right in the conflict. Besides which, he rather quickly found that Daus had him going on missions against other tech-guilds as often as against dissenters. He first spoke of his doubts to Daus, who shrugged and said that the conflict was to him not ideological - that the only ideal he truly held to was the progress of knowledge, and that the rest of Kiavahr's tyranny was necessary to maintain that ideal while keeping Daus and the other guildmasters in power. Though perhaps, Daus conceded, not all of it.


It did not take much persuasion for Daus to agree to send Corax only against other tech-guilds' agents; and through that, and connections with remaining resistant cells, Corax ensured Daus and himself achieved control of the entire planet. He waged a campaign of terror, setting back industrial output greatly but finding improvised solutions, and in the end Daus was the only guildmaster of Kiavahr.


Daus hesitated at first, to bring about the reforms he had promised Corax; but Corax's knife-spring at his neck quickly forced him to reconsider.


"Not knowledge alone, father. Knowledge and freedom. Any other ideals can be twisted - survival into torment, justice into destruction, happiness into mindless bliss, and ambition into all shapes of hell. But so long as we have knowledge and freedom both, humanity's children will never fail."


- Corvus Corax


Kiavahr rebuilt, and the prisons of Lycaeus were metaphorically thrown open. Yet while Corax in practice ruled the system, he remained distant from his people. He walked among them more often than they believed, but invisibly, listening rather than speaking. And when he acted, it was abrupt and unexplained. Corax had saved Kiavahr from tyranny, yet its people saw him much as the Nostramans saw Konrad Curze.


Corax let that be, focusing as much on the reforms as on his own continuation of the gene-smiths' work, seeking obsessively to unravel the mystery of his own origin; and then, even as small-scale democracy began to be implemented throughout the system at last (in a move few attributed to the one they called Daus's Shadow), the Imperium came to Kiavahr.


The Great Crusade



The Emperor of Mankind came to Kiavahr personally, and after a full day of private discussion, Corax swore allegiance at sunset, for he knew that the Emperor's ideals aligned a great deal with his own. Kiavahr became a world of the Imperium, and on Lycaeus, Corax and Mechanicum enginseers led the construction of the Ravenspire, which would become the fortress-monastery of the Nineteenth Legion.


The Mechanicum in particular was a subject of fascination to Corax, and as many of his early years in the Sol system after contact were spent on Mars as on Terra. From the tech-priests he learned of the fallen golden age the tech-guilds of Kiavahr had retained only legends of - though he was disappointed that the Mechanicum in truth did not know much more. From the Mechanicum's archives, his inborn intuition derived from the Emperor's knowledge, and experimentation in the areas neither covered, he scrambled to unravel the secrets of the universe - with as much time as he had, for duty called.


(The Mechanicum's strict organization, he had less fondness for, and indeed some records say he chose to leave Mars and take command of the Nineteenth Legion after a spat with a high-ranking tech-priest on the matter of servitors.)


The Pale Nomads, Corax found, were a Legion much in their Primarch's image, their tactics swift, silent, and brutal, and their relation with the other Legions distant, Horus refusing to fight alongside them after a campaign in which their auxiliaries far exceeded Horus's orders in putting down a minor rebellion, killing thousands. Upon meeting his gene-sons, Corax jokingly proposed renaming them the Raven Guard in honor of the species that provided the ultimate origin to his own name, but the suggestion was taken seriously, and was instated before the error was noted - an understandable error, perhaps, as Corax was never one for quips, and the Pale Nomads had even less of a tradition of them.


To the Imperium at large, it seemed little changed in the operation of the Nineteenth Legion due to their reunion with their Primarch. And change, indeed, was slow. But even the early Raven Guard, under a Primarch known at the time as the Omnissiah's Shadow (by everyone except actual Mechanicum adepts), were noted for far greater consideration for the lives and rights of conquered civilian populations than the Pale Nomads, as well as being less often deployed to repress insurgency within Imperial borders. While Horus's first meeting with Corax did not go well, Lupercal did withdraw his refusal to fight alongside the Nineteenth five years after it, possibly due to hearing of a complaint by Curze about their insufficient brutality. And despite Corax's misgivings, he also maintained far closer ties to the Mechanicum than his predecessor Legion Masters, leading to the Raven Guard being always equipped with the best in armament suiting their combat doctrine of stealth and speed, in exchange for the Omnissiah's Shadow making a point of aiding the Quest for Knowledge as a main strategic goal (something that he would have done anyhow). Over time, as the Terrans in the Nineteenth grew fewer, both those trends became more extreme - bolstered, perhaps, by Corax's discussions with his brothers, particularly Jaghatai. The Nineteenth became a Legion that left behind among the least casualties in their conquests, aided in this by increasingly powerful and rare technology, much of it passed through their hands before ever making it to Mars. This also aided in preserving the Raven Guard's numbers, which by the time of the Betrayal exceeded a hundred and thirty thousand despite Corax being the last of the known Primarchs to be found.


Nonetheless, due to the Legion's secrecy, it maintained a dark reputation among much of the Imperium, which Corax was only happy to exploit. When targeting the human Kleie Empire, centered on gas giant atmospheric cities, he ensured a decade-long low-level campaign of rumors about the Imperium, centered on the Raven Guard's fearsome reputation, as soon as he learned of the distant polity. When the Imperium's borders finally touched those of Kleie, it surrendered after a (false) sighting of Corax in the planetary capital. As a side effect, three petty empires bordering Kleie surrendered soon after rather than face the Raven Guard in combat. Against the orks of the Jeannat sector, meanwhile, Corax managed the impressive feat of starving the chief Space Rok of the xenos, by stranding it in space and using stasis mechanisms to end it, while surgical strikes sent the rest of the WAAAGH! into a long civil war by removing essential leaders, allowing a small force of Raven Guard under Alvarex Maun to bleed them dry.


Within the Legion, though, Corax was faced with a dilemma. His sons were genengineered to obey him, which he despised; but at the same time, often, for the Terran Legionnaires in particular, that compulsion was the ultimate reason that they did not continue to act as the monsters they had at times been. Even then, he often could not entirely trust them to operate alone. This preference for Deliverance-born legionnaires was noted, and led to some resentment among the Terrans.

As to his brothers, Corax remained distant from them, as from much of the Imperium. He saw Guilliman and Magnus as potential tyrants - though oddly enough he seemed more or less neutral towards Curze, perhaps feeling some kinship with the Night Haunter. Jaghatai was his closest friend, perhaps because they were both distant from the main course of the Crusade; and Jaghatai, perhaps, was the only other Primarch Corax was willing to reveal his doubts to. Both toasted to knowledge and freedom, as well as to speed, in profound brotherhood. Corax's friendship with Mortarion, meanwhile, was founded in a gruff respect - neither bared their true face to the other, but both felt themselves similar under their mask.



As to Horus and Vulkan - they disagreed with Corax's basic beliefs. For the only foundations were knowledge and freedom, not abstract and unquantifiable humanity. Corax wrote much about his philosophy, but he refused to lie and claim that he was fundamentally the same as a common man or woman of the Imperium. It was his duty to ensure humanity would rise, and that meant that - like himself, the tech-priests of Mars, or even the Raven Guard - they would not long remain precisely human.


The Kiavahr-Lycaeus system became a test bed for such dreams. It became much like a Mechanicum Forge World, and indeed the Mechanicum had significant influence, but Daus, the Raven Guard, and the Omnissiah's Shadow himself greatly contained that influence. Great spires rose from the surface of Kiavahr, with the planet itself moving close to peaceful anarchy. Self-modification (cybernetic and biological) was perhaps more widespread on Kiavahr than any other Imperial world, and certainly less restricted, which on three occasions led to the Raven Guard (themselves increasingly modifying themselves, though generally in minor ways so as to not interfere with combat efficiency) having to pacify their home. Yet though tech-priests complained of chaos, Corax refused to tighten his grip.


Until betrayal came, and 'Chaos' acquired a new definition.


The Great Betrayal



Corax was not Alpharius, to see treachery at every corner. Moreover, he was close to the Emperor, and readily shared those concerns about the Imperium he did have with his father; and he subconsciously assumed other Primarchs would do the same. Yet he had some advance warning of the Betrayal nonetheless, from a number of machines that weakly violated causality - above all the vast sphere known as the Oracle of Elphinster.


Corax did not believe that a rebellion of Astartes was coming, but he was convinced that Terra would be threatened; and in preparation for that he called the Legion to the Forge World of Cavor Sarta, as a rally point before Terra. The Legion came to his call - not all, but more than half the Raven Guard was gathered within weeks, for while the Legion had been spread out most of it remained in broadly the same region of the galaxy, near Cavor Sarta but far from Terra.


And with them came an engine that Corax was deeply wary of - Tuchulcha, found in the Perditus System by a Raven Guard expeditionary fleet. It was, as best as Corax understood, an artificial intelligence, one with some integration with the Warp - something that made even the Omnissiah's Shadow wary. But now he needed it, and so he communed with Tuchulcha, convincing it to transport the Raven Guard fleet to a point near the Sol System.


For all but one ship, the transfer went perfectly. As to what precisely became of the exception - the cruiser Raptor - those who boarded it, including Corax, refused to discuss with any but the Emperor.


Tuchulcha claimed that the Raptor became what it did due to the well-known random dangers of the Warp. Yet Corax knew that suffering of that sort could not come about without malice. Nonetheless, Tuchulcha had done as it promised for the rest of the Legion, and so - imprisoned - it was towed towards Sol with the main fleet, as Corax's flagship, the Shadow of the Emperor, charged ahead.


What it found was a nightmare. Confused rumors of Isstvan were already trickling in, but the main concern for now was with the system itself - with Mars, which had descended into civil war, and with Terra, whose catacombs the Emperor had descended into for classified reasons. In truth, Malcador told the Omnissiah's Shadow, the Emperor was working on his Webway project, or more accurately sealing that work to ensure it could not be used against the Imperium.


Thirty thousand Raven Guard descended onto Mars, and forty thousand onto Terra. Corax himself would join the sorely pressed Emperor and Custodes in the Webway. While the Imperium had expanded its reach within that realm, its xeno and monster denizens had retreated from the light; but now that they sensed weakness, they came down in a tide, seeking to break through to the surface of Terra itself.


Corax was on Terra for a local month before Guilliman and Fulgrim, and soon after them the First Fleet, arrived; it felt like an eternity. But while he fought many monsters alongside his father, the worst of them the Emperor would face nearly alone, and suffer severe wounds in victory. The Emperor would have recovered eventually, but scarce days later, the First Fleet tore into the Sol System.


Gherith Arendi gasped as he rounded the corner, and beheld his father kneeling over the body of the Emperor of Mankind.


There was blood - that was the first thing he noticed. So much blood, red like any human's - he'd almost expected that the Emperor's blood would be golden as well.


"He's alive," Corax said without turning, though Arendi knew it was meant for him and Commander Aloni Tev. It was not as if there was anyone else it could have referred to. Tev turned back instantly, signaling with a silent nod that he was getting medical assistance - though whether any surgeon actually had the knowledge to operate on the Emperor was a different issue.


"Alive and conscious," the Emperor said, quietly but firmly, and with the same solemnity as ever, as Corax helped him into a sitting position. "Constantin took the blow. It was his duty, but that does nothing to change the fact that I owe my life to him."


Looking around, Arendi could not see the body of Captain-General Constantin Valdor. A moment later, he realized why. A blow that could have killed the Emperor of Mankind would not have left anything of Valdor to be recognized.


But he could see something of the body of the enemy the Emperor had vanquished.


Arendi took a couple of steps towards the silvery ooze that seemed to be the thing's corpse, before his gene-father put out a black-armored hand out to stop him.


"It is not gone entirely, not yet," the Emperor said. "It will be soon, though. I... had not thought there were any such monsters here, to be honest."


"What was it?" Corax asked.


The Emperor was silent for a long moment before replying. "A C'tan shard - a sort of xeno abomination far more ancient than humanity - that had been tainted by the power of the Warp. Not something I had considered possible."


"C'tan...." Corax mused, even as he worked to dress the Emperor's wounds. Arendi did his best to remain on the lookout, even though he knew that any danger would probably be noticed by Corax first.


"I do know more, though the matter is of little relevance at present," the Emperor said. "But that is knowledge you may seek out on your own. There is some knowledge, Corvus, that you must not."


There was a moment of silence, black silence that seemed to stretch like the expanse between the stars, where a ship might drift for billions of years without being noticed by a single soul.


"Chaos," Corax eventually and immediately said, and Arendi could not help but feel that this was a conversation he should not be present for. But neither the Emperor nor the Shadow made the slightest gesture for him to leave, and so he remained, watchful yet unable to turn his hearing away from the demigods' speech. "You speak of Chaos."


"I do," the Emperor said. "Some knowledge is dangerous, even to us. Chaos corrupts, even as merely a concept."


Corax frowned, the darkness seeming to stretch towards an intergalactic void, a silence unblemished by anything except the whiz of photons from fires millions of years old. "When I tried to destroy Tuchulcha, as you advised, it fled with ease, and I have no doubt that I will have to face it in battle in future years. Perhaps that was better than the alternative - but I have no way to be sure. For an engine, that is unfortunate. For our final enemy, it is unacceptable."


"One cannot fight Chaos without understanding some of it," the Emperor admitted. "The same as for any foe. But you know full well I do not speak of this."


Arendi didn't, but he was fairly sure he had already been forgotten.


"I am not Magnus," Corax said. "My path is not the psyker's."


"And yet you already know your paths will intersect before the end."


Darkness again, and by now Arendi was sure it was not merely in his imagination. Darkness that did not recede even as the Omnissiah's Shadow spoke.


"I will not stop," he said, voice almost breaking. "I do not think I can stop. But... I will slow down, and I will bid my Legion to do the same. Because we only have one chance, and because perhaps it is no longer a race."


Dorn's fleet headed straight for Terra, dropping only nominal reinforcements to the Martian rebels, who were led by Fabricator-General Kelbor-Hal himself. But though the Raven Guard under Agapito Nev had by far the greatest numbers of Astartes on Mars, the campaign was anything but easy. The combination of Mechanicum machinery and Chaos corruption led to Kelbor-Hal's faction posing a danger far greater than their numbers would imply. The Raven Guard who fought in the Martian Schism did, if nothing else, find that the campaign fit their tactics - it was a war of infiltration, rapid strikes, and singular technological artifacts. Yet it was also a war which set Imperial science back by as much as a millennium, due to the sheer scale of the destruction unleashed.


And it was a war of nightmares, for while Chaos had far less strength on Mars than on Terra, that strength was on the whole used far more creatively.


On Terra itself, the Raven Guard fought a war they were rather less suited for - and with the Emperor's wounds, Corax was forced to spend much of his time completing the Webway's sealing, leading to further uncertainty. Often the Raven Guard were seconded to formations of the Warmasters' Legions - but in an awkward manner where they outnumbered the units they were supposed to cover. But they fought no less valiantly and no less cleverly for all of that. Above all, they launched lightning sallies to keep the traitors off-balance. The greatest of these was also the first, as the Emperor himself charged the Salamander landing sites alongside Corax. But while the assault inflicted severe casualties and almost broke the Salamanders, it also saw the Emperor suffering yet another wound, this time from Vulkan's infected hammer, which nearly entirely restricted him to the Imperial Palace.


There were other raids after. Notably, Nykona Sharrowkyn led an assault that sabotaged Jaghatai Khan's prized armor, and later managed to snipe the Warhawk without being noticed to the extent of disabling him for a full day - but failed, perhaps expectedly, in killing the Primarch. Corax himself, despite the sundered friendship, expressed no desire for particular vengeance against Jaghatai, treating the matter with sadness in place of hate - that hate being reserved for the other Chaos Legions.


The Death Guard and Space Wolves provided respite for a time, but when the Second Fleet came Terra was reduced to a siege once again. On Mars, even as Captain Verano Ebb killed the traitorous Fabricator-General at the cost of his own life, Dark Mechanicum elements used the opportunity to flee the planet and join the traitor fleet, bolstering Lorgar's forces; Mars was secured, but the loyalists on it were stranded. Corax rushed to finish the matter of the Webway between raids, Horus rushed towards Terra, and events rose towards a crescendo.


Above all, in this time, the Raven Guard learned the true nature of Chaos. Here was a dark power spawned from the Warp - a power that twisted every ideal any sapient species ever had into a system that mocked it. And Kiavahr was not exempt from that corruption.


Branne Nev, Agapito's brother, led the Legion elements stationed at the Ravenspire, and he led what became known as the War of Deliverance against a Chaos Cult that had arisen on Kiavahr under the Raven Guard's notice. Its members were united by a nanite injection that ultimately turned them into shapeshifting monsters with minds mainly consumed by obsessive calculation of an increasing spiral that included the true names of summonable daemons - at least, that was the portion of the process that the Raven Guard could comprehend without losing their own sanity. The cult promised to be the only way to escape the Raven Guard's purge, offering deliverance from the suffering of the physical universe.


"Twisted mirrors of every concept. Freedom constrained to flow towards slavery. Knowledge that encourages the mind to forget. Endless suffering and endless struggle. That is what we now fight, yes. That is Chaos.


"But I refuse to give up the Legion's principles merely because any principle can be corrupted.


"The Tech-Guilds that ruled before Corax came... the slavemasters my parents spoke of... even they would have been revolted by these 'Ascenders'. But to us, to those who fight tyrants, the difference is not so severe. The Tech-Guilds were once founded for the right reasons, but in the end their iron hand made the world worse, as the Shadow's reforms proved. So it is here - people sought enlightenment, and found convenient darkness instead. So, perhaps, it was at the end of the Golden Age as well. We always knew that most of our enemies should always have been on our side - and whether it is the Warp's influence or merely societal luck that leads them to dreary midnight, we must light a fire either way."


- Commander Branne Nev


As the Raven Guard fought this and other flames throughout the galaxy, events on Terra reached their desperate climax. As Corax closed the last chink in the Webway, Ferrus Manus and Lorgar found a way into the inner sanctum of the Imperial Palace, and Lorgar, Fulgrim, and the Emperor fell in a single day.


The Escape



With the Betrayal's conclusion, the Raven Guard, as well as the other Legions on Terra, sought to prevent the traitors from escaping. Yet with Guilliman unconscious and Fulgrim dead, unity of command was somewhat unclear. In the end the broken forces of the First and Second Fleets successfully retreated, but were chased far away from Terra by the gathering might of the Imperium.


Corax himself took on the task of driving the Iron Hands from their homeworld of Medusa; yet in this he failed. As the main fleet of the Raven Guard approached the system, the Iron Hands unleashed a ritual that created a massive Warp Storm. Only a quick reaction from Corax to activate an experimental Gellar field variant prevented the loss of the fleet's bulk - but the Raven Guard still suffered severe losses, in men and in materiel.


The disaster at Medusa, though, was balanced by numerous victories, and the Iron Hands soon descended into infighting anyhow. The greater blow, perhaps, was the conclusion of the War of Deliverance. The spiraling madness of the cultists was defeated, but at heavy cost. In the end, victory was achieved when Branne Nev led a strike team into the Ravenspire, which had been taken over by the cultists, while Navar Hef - captured and brainwashed by the Ascenders - managed to hold onto something like sanity, and at the cost of his own life, break open a simultaneous breach in the subterranean and orbital fronts as well as disrupting a vast amount of summoning infrastructure.


But Kiavahr was left in ruins; and so was the idealism of the Raven Guard. Even among the Legion itself, more than a few had fallen to the temptation of Chaos. Many blamed this on human weakness, and even saw hubris in Branne Nev's continued belief in the Imperial Truth.


It was Corax's return that broke this melancholy. He spoke to the Legion, as lost as any of them - admitting, publicly, that he was not sure what the Legion should do. But he insisted, in the same breath, that uncertainty about means was not the same about ends, and that for a Legion as used to operating in the darkness and doing what was necessary as the Raven Guard, cynicism about ends would necessitate their fall. And regardless of precise formulation, the Imperial Truth said there were no gods, only the destined glory that was transhumanity.


If that was not true, then they would make it so.


The Raven Guard returned to battle at and beyond the front line, but they also took up Malcador's advice, naming engineering (to no one's surprise) as their non-combat calling. But their main partners in this work were becoming increasingly unreliable. The Martian Mechanicum was increasingly ruthless and obsessed with efficiency, while simultaneously sinking deeper and deeper into worship of the Omnissiah. When Corax looked at them, he was not sure if he saw incipient Tech-Guilds or incipient Chaos - but it did not matter.


In the wake of Malcador's death, as uncertainty and dysfunction gripped the Imperium, Corvus Corax appeared, unannounced, in the inner sanctum of Olympus Mons. From there, he proclaimed to the tech-priests that he was assuming command of Mars, even as Alpharius did the same on Terra.


There was fighting, as expected, but it was brief, for many on Mars preferred Corax to Fabricator-General Kane or else did not care. The raven banner soared everywhere on Mars within days. The Legion, too, adopted an altered iconography. Iron was a symbol in disrepute after the Betrayal, and Corax was not iron anyhow - he was darker, and altogether more reactive. So it was that the white raven of the Nineteenth Legion was set against a gear of darkest blue, and its Primarch became the Prince of Zinc.


The Long War



In the centuries following the Betrayal, as the Imperium expanded towards its earlier borders, the Raven Guard fought and built much like in the later years of the Great Crusade. This, for instance, marked the time when Corax and Chief Apothecary Vincente Sixx led the project to invent the Eternal-pattern Dreadnought, and when the Arc was crafted to carry Horus Lupercal, with whom Corax had long since made peace, out of the galaxy. In this time, too, the Mechanicum was reformed to be both more secular and less ruthlessly efficient.


Nonetheless, with Horus gone, Fulgrim dead, and Magnus increasingly silent, Corax found that the Imperium was stagnating, increasingly content with its status. Alpharius, Curze, and Guilliman were all more concerned with the preservation of the Imperium than with making it something more. Corax, meanwhile, became obsessed with something else entirely, setting his sights on understanding causality and its violations, for the sake of the distant and ultimate victory - because that victory was more important than anything of what led up to it.


Until, on the last day of M31, an explosion rang out of the Ravenspire centered at Corax's workshop, and the Prince of Zinc vanished.


The Raven Guard do not believe their Primarch is dead - there are devices that would have recorded that - but he has not reappeared since. Yet they have carried on, reorganizing under a Triumvirate (stationed on Mars, Kiavahr, and the Legion flagship). Over time, the distinction between the Legion and the Mechanicum has grown ever thinner, not so much in combat (for the Raven Guard do usually fight separately for skitarii) as in mission.


The Raven Guard are, however, warriors above all, and have achieved a long tally of triumphs. Among the most famous are Veonid in 883.M33, which shattered the Blood Cults of the Iron Warriors; Parocheus in 018.M36, against the dark eldar, despite heavy and irrecoverable losses among the Legion; or the Vengeance of Voldorius on Quintus, in 871.M41, which stopped the raider armada of Kor'sarro Khan and, unusually, managed to recover many of the people and relics that had been taken. There have been major defeats too, among them the infamous three-way Baran War against the orks and eldar, which fairly conclusively showed the ways in which psychic precognition remained superior to the technological kind.


"With all due respect, Targus VIII was not a hopeless battle, Lord General. Were it hopeless, after all, we would not have won.


"But as to why - to save the people, of course. Sometimes billions will be lost to the tides of war; such is their nature. But we must also remember just how high the worth of even a single life is. How much even a single person can become, and even if you care not for that, how much they can contribute.


"As to your battle plans? We were hardly unaware of them. I ran hundreds of my own simulations, Lord General, as did Commander Severax. Your strongpoint was the most common point for the orks to strike - but not by much. The strike might have come there, yet it could also have come at Donara, or at Yakhee, or (as it did) through the Rince Gap; but it was certain that Targus needed rescue, and so it was there that I chose to fight. Because regardless of strategy, the civilians and PDF that we saved are far from irrelevant in the calculus of war. Rather, they are the very answer to be maximized within it."


- Captain Kayvaan Shrike (later promoted to Commander of the Falcons)


The Raven Guard have made countless contributions to the armament and the infrastructure of the Imperium as well. The pace of these advancements slowed significantly after Corax's loss, especially as it led to cascading increased worry about risks; but as of late cultural change has reversed this trend somewhat. More and more, the Raven Guard see the Imperium as, despite everything, a nation under siege - and, more and more, there is a resentment that over ten millennia they have not managed to change that, have not even managed to surpass the glories of the Golden Age of Technology. The path forward is difficult, and the dangers of a false step grim indeed; and even the augmented minds of the Legion's Triumvirs wonder if they have been walking it too slowly, if the Imperium is out of time.


But the Imperium does not seem to be doomed, not yet; and while it is not, there will be hope to find in its shadows, hope that - when the dust has settled - humanity's legacy will weep at even the evil that the Raven Guard themselves, today, do without noticing, and that they will breathe easily as they enter a future with no more monsters in the dark.


Organization



Since Corax has departed, the numbers of the Raven Guard have remained somewhat low for an Imperial Legion - a matter not assisted by a trend of genetic instability, which experimentation has on net had a slightly negative effect on. At present, they number perhaps a hundred and thirty-five thousand.


The Legion is led by the Triumvirs, but operational command falls to the nineteen Commanders, each of which leads a Division named after a species of bird. Each Division is divided into ten Unkindnesses led by Directors; these are divided into ten Wings each, led by Captains. Each Wing contains either thirteen or fifteen squads of five Astartes each, depending on Force tradition. Due to the significance leeway the Divisions have, and the traditions that have evolved in each over the millennia, there are often slight deviations from this model.


The most prominent are specialist formations, which are typically subordinate directly to Commanders, except among the Owls, Hawks, and Pelicans, where they report to Directors. There is a deep history of such formations, as well as considerable fluidity; the most successful among them have been adopted Legion-wide. These include the Moritati, broken warriors who fight with suicidal fervor as shock troops; the Wardens, who travel alone outside the borders of the Imperium; the Shadowmasters, who inherited Corax's ability to shadow-walk; and above all the portion of the dedicated armored and air forces of the Legion that operates multi-Astarte machinery.


The matter of psykers in the Raven Guard is threaded with distrust. This is not to say that the Raven Guard are reticent to serve alongside them, but the nature of the Legion is to look deeper into all mysteries - and with psychic mysteries, doing so is profoundly dangerous. The Raven Guard use psy-tech only in limited amounts, and seek to limit recruitment of psykers (known constants such as shadow-walking aside). Those psykers that slip through typically train with another Legion (almost always the Thousand Sons) and hold no special rank - though by the same token they can rise through the ranks like any Astarte, and some have in the past served as Triumvirs.


While Legion command and Mechanicum command have significant overlap at the highest levels, at lower levels the biggest overlap concerns the Legion's gene-seed, which is not exclusively maintained by Astartes - indeed, the role fulfilled by other Legions' Apothecarion is usually instead performed by attached Mechanicus adepts.


The Legion does not maintain an official hierarchy in its non-combat pursuits, judging such a hierarchy as counterproductive as well as distasteful (except for new recruits who have not completed their basic hypno-training). It is emphasized that good ideas can come from anyone in the Legion (or indeed outside it), and that the same is true of misconceptions. At the same time, while combat organization retains some fluidity, the need for efficiency often takes priority there.


Combat Doctrine



The Raven Guard traditionally emphasize stealth and speed. While they do not seek open battle, they are not the Alpha Legion; their way is a large number of small skirmishes, not (usually) bloodless conquest. When it does come to battle, they again favor mobility, particularly jetbikes and single-pilot gunships; they adopt a similar doctrine in the void, with their Legion fleet being composed of relatively small and fast craft that make a point of hiding significantly variable capabilities under similar appearances. If they do deploy large quantities of armor, it is usually in a concentrated fashion, forcing a decisive battle with Titan-scale weaponry. It is not uncommon, of course, for such deployment to be in part a distraction; for the Raven Guard understand that a war should be resolved in some fashion other than the direct clash of arms whenever possible.


The sanctum was silent save for the single stream of water, just barely fast enough to not be a drip, along the side of the wall - a legacy of the recent rains. Below the alcove, the fortress walls dropped into the vast underworld of Calth.


Captain Aethon Shaan looked down from the ledge, taking in the seeming sinkhole. It had its origin in an orbital bombardment millennia ago, Guilliman had said.


Guilliman. Primarch and Warmaster. Some part of Shaan was still in awe at his presence, at the fact that even now he was surely fighting in the depths.


Most of his mind, though, was focused on the task at hand.


He pressed a few buttons on his helmet, injecting another dose of the drug - gamma-polymorphyl uranione, it was supposedly called - into his system. He knew having so much GPU was, at the moment, potentially dangerous. GPU augmented neuroplasticity - when dealing with someone like Vaanes, that could be a method of corruption. But ultimately, the risk was necessary, as so many risks were. He needed to understand Vaanes.


He checked the simulations again. They were still useless, though. Too convergent, too sure of an Imperial victory. It meant that they still didn't know what Honsou was really after.


As Shaan leapt from the ledge, hoverpack silently activating, he used his free left hand to massage his fifth lobe, which had only recently received a nanite refreshment. The flight trajectory was easy enough to plot - he could have devoted it to implanted instinct, of course, but he enjoyed being conscious of how he flew. And it was vitally important, to be aware of the processes of one's own mind.


He streaked through the sky, opening his wings only as he approached the ledge, a kilometer below his previous location, that held the prison entrance. Multiple security checks - but it was easier to get into the quarantine than out of it. He would not see another living soul for hours after this interrogation was concluded.


And then it was only an isolated cogitator that separated him from Aethon Vaanes.


"Aethon," the prisoner's voice said - and it was Vaanes' voice, no matter that the machine ensured the sound was entirely neutral. "You flatter me with the security."


"Ardaric Vaanes," Shaan greeted the former Director. "Why did you surrender?" He knew Vaanes could hear nothing of his intonation unless he had gotten into the cog - and in that case he had bigger problems than whether Vaanes could recognize his uncertainty. But for all of that, he was embarrassed by the way his voice trembled.


The truth was, this was a mystery, and for all that Astartes were supposed to feel no fear (and perhaps that was true of unaugmented Astartes), Shaan was terrified of what he was going to find at its end. Not that this could prevent him from searching for that end.


"Why would I not?"


"Because you knew full well you would be thrown into a cell like this."


There was silence for a long time. Minutes, in fact. He didn't believe that interrupting it would achieve anything. Every word he said gave Vaanes more information, after all.


"The restraints have been less than pleasant, it is true," Vaanes eventually said. "Frankly, I had hoped you would kill me."


"Why?"


"Why not?"


And something within Shaan cracked. Maybe it was just the dispassionate way the artificial voice said it, as if suicide was simply one more sensible option. "Because the entire Legion does not! Why run to Chaos, turn on everything you once stood for, and now embrace self-destruction? You cannot pretend this is the default, Vaanes. You cannot pretend it is normal. I know you made an error in your augmentations, but that is all I have been told." All anyone in the Nineteenth knew, actually, as best as Shaan could tell.


"Ah." A pause. "I did not make an error, Aethon. I merely entered truly correct algorithms of scale." Another pause. "Do you know, really, the forces arrayed against you? The Imperium is a bubble of foam on of the sea of reality." Pause. "The Warp we know is merely one of nearly infinite reflections. Do you understand what that means, Aethon? For our chances?"


"We always knew the odds were long." As he spoke, Shaan considered the implications, both of Vaanes' claim and of the rhythm of his speech.


"Knew, but did not understand." Pause - almost infinitesimal, but a pause nonetheless. "I understood, and yet I kept fighting. One cannot defeat Chaos by fearing it. Why suicide? Because I am tired." Pause - the computer was sending nothing. A regular rhythm. "Because I know too much to control the Warp. Because I am too free to - "


Vaanes' voice cut out as Shaan drove a fist into the cogitator, and the torture device beyond. As he suspected, there was nothing there. How Vaanes had managed to escape, Shaan did not know. Reprogramming the cogitator... that would have been easy by comparison. The rhythm might have matched a sentry gun or some such - it certainly wasn't consistent with the simple text-to-speech algorithm that he should have been using.


"Where are you?" Shaan asked, hoping to taunt the renegade, at least slightly.


"Walking to my doom," Vaanes said. "You know the coordinates. I will have true death, Shaan, which is more than you'll ever get. As to what Honsou wants... it's a distraction, of course. For what, I cannot say."


...He couldn't be sure, but that - had Vaanes genuinely returned to their side?


"What did you see, brother?" Shaan asked.


The connection snapped shut, with an angry crack of static that caused Shaan to whirl around. He was not looking forward to returning through the quarantine - but it would be better to miss the decisive battle of this campaign than to avoid it and cast doubt on everything he had ever done. Necessary martial inflexibility and all that.


But before he did, he bent down to look at the connecting cable, one of those that should have held Shaan in place.


A torn-out eyeball, colored the utter black of the Raven Guard, stared back at him.


"We will win, Vaanes," Shaan said to the empty room and the detached eye, but mostly to himself. "Don't you see? The universe is horrifying, we all know that. Yet horror is not evil, and humanity's children can yet become the greatest horror of them all."


In offensive warfare, the Raven Guard will operate under, generally, one of two doctrines, dependent on the scale of the conflict. Often, they will merely send a relatively small strike team to secure some specific objective. But when they lead a full-scale invasion, the ground trembles with the passing of their engines. The enemy's lines of supply and communication are disrupted as much as possible, ideally rendering them barely able to fight - and, meanwhile, those strongholds with the ability to hold out nevertheless are stormed, sequentially, by overwhelming power (ideally after their defenses have been drawn out). The Raven Guard seem to be everywhere, and the enemy is reduced to blind defiance at most.


In defense, there is likewise an emphasis on interfering with the enemy's ability to wage productive war. But there is also a more general emphasis on guerilla warfare, of allowing the enemy to achieve an apparent victory while laying the foundation to retake the world from within. It is perhaps for this reason that Raven Guard military technology tends to emphasize self-sufficiency to an extent that surprises some observers. When defending truly essential worlds, though, the Raven Guard tend to use a static defense instead, with the same disruptive and unpredictable strikes coming from a besieged center. At the heart of this is an admission of the strategic lesson of Terra: while losing a battle can in many cases allow one to win a war, in some cases humanity truly cannot afford to take one step back.


Homeworld



Kiavahr is the second-most-important Forge World of the Mechanicum, and in many ways a political counterweight to Mars, espousing a less conservative version of Mechanicum doctrine and greater integration into the Imperium at large. Great complexes of metal, ceramics, and composites rise from its surface - the largest ones actually leading to Kiavahr being, overall, as near a dodecahedron as a sphere. While many citizens of Kiavahr live their entire lives without seeing the surface, the arcology of the planet is far from being an industrial catacomb; great voids within, to which the light of distant suns is transmitted via Phexnitt quasifibers, are lined by stalactitic and stalagmitic towers, atop which gardens stretch to the unreachable centers. These voids, too, are ever filled by birdsong - though this detail is not everywhere a convenience, as the Kiavahr variety of the Legion's symbol has a distinctly discordant voice. In the unseen skies, connected mainly by teleportation and rail-shuttles, Lycaeus is much like a smaller version of its parent, save for the silent needle pointing directly away from Kiavahr - the Ravenspire, the central sanctum of the Nineteenth.


Kiavahr is ruled by the Raven Guard, or perhaps by its council of Forgemasters (which is composed mainly of Raven Guard) - it's hard to tell, sometimes. In truth, the planet's people are mainly left to their own devices, though far less so than before the Betrayal. The main functions the government does perform relate to coordinating infastructure maintenance, and (more dramatically) to shattering societal 'cancers', that is, organizations whose work hurts Kiavahr. First among them are Chaos and other cults.


Beliefs



The Raven Guard believe fervently in the Imperial Truth - but as an aspiration, not as a description. To them, the universe is not merely unjust, it is fundamentally anti-just, as symbolized by Chaos. They have been described as pessimists, but at the same time their fundamental belief in the yet-unfulfilled potential of humanity is as extreme as any Legion's. The Raven Guard do not consider themselves human, though; the more important distinction, to them, is that they are Imperial.


Technology is seen as less something to celebrate in itself and more as a means to an end - or, rather, as the only means to the only meaningful end. While the Raven Guard make up among the least spiritual elements of the Mechanicum, they do have a fair bit of respect for machine-spirits, and for the use of symbols as inspiration.


In the end, the Raven Guard's aims have been passed down from Corax: to maximize knowledge and freedom, for every descendant of Earth. Those aims, the Legion pursues through any means necessary, which to outsiders can look sometimes like callousness and sometimes like naiveté - and the Legion does not particularly feel the need to explain themselves to those outsiders, especially outsiders who are not clearly equals. But if they are seen as mavericks by governors, that very trait has made also some of their leaders folk heroes, as with Director Aajz "the Gambler" Solari. For the Legion's loyalty to the Imperium, and its consequent duty, lies at the foundation of all that it collectively is.


Gene-seed



The Raven Guard have the most ability to mass-produce gene-seed of any Imperial Legion; and that is a very fortunate thing, as they also have the most unstable gene-seed of any Imperial Legion (as, though the Space Wolves' and Thousand Sons' gene-seed is more deviant, it is not unpredictably so). Incautious experimentation in the wake of Corax's disappearance is blamed for this, as is enemy action, but a low yield rate is recorded from the time of the Great Crusade. Nonetheless, the history of mutation has also led to strict controls; modern Raven Guard rarely exhibit any sign of mutation except the Melanchromic Organ's tendency to create pure white skin and pure black eyes, and the occasional inheritance of some of Corax's psychic abilities.


The Raven Guard modify their gene-seed very sparingly, but individual augmentations are almost universal. Cybernetic and biological modifications are similar to those found in the rest of the Mechanicum, but the Legion is especially distinguished by a penchant for mental augmentations - a topic approached with special caution, but also special appreciation for the possibilities it opens.


Battle-cry



The Raven Guard often fight without a battle cry, and when they do use one it is often something generically Imperial, such as "For the Emperor!" - but it may also be the Legion's High Gothic motto: "Ad Infinitum!"


A/N: This was easier to write than the BA index, but I'm less confident about it. The divergence, of course, is Corax's upbringing, by the tech-guilds, leading to the science focus due to an isolated childhood, but also to an emphasis on reform over revolution. The Raven Guard are transhumanists at the core, and I've tried to do that justice in a fashion that the Iron Hands rather don't. There's a fair few analogies to other Imperial Legions, admittedly. In method the RG here echo the NL or AL, and in ideals they share much with both LW and EC. But in the end - they are a Legion built on technocratic optimism, who in the Betrayal lost that optimism. They confuse outsiders, both intentionally and not, and when they walk among humanity it is unseen. They stand on the edge between stagnation and uncontrolled growth, both technologically and personally. But if they have lost their humanity, they have not lost themselves.

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(https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...s-scarlet.html)
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The Emperor has turned to Chaos. The dream of the Imperium has become a nightmare. But Horus and his Coalition stand against the dark, here at the end of time.

Lorgar's Betrayal
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What was broken has been mended. And what was burned away can never be reforged.
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post #68 of 77 (permalink) Old 11-25-17, 12:50 AM Thread Starter
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Post 4 of 4 today.

And... that's all. Six and a half years later, Lorgar's Betrayal has been completed - well, its Heresy Online version has, at least. I... this feels like it should be a more meaningful moment, somehow. Sometimes it was a drag, sometimes it was placed on the backburner, but this is the longest thing I've written, nevertheless.

The project is not entirely complete. The fanfiction.net version (<https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10843065/1/Lorgar-s-Discovery-Lorgar-s-Betrayal> aka v2) is only halfway through, and the alternatehistory.com version (v3) is only 30% there. Those are, I believe, better - if nothing else they have been edited to be in touch with current fluff. But the story is finished on its site of origin, and all the Legions have received at least their basic characterization.

So, to close - thank you. Thank you to @Ecumene and @Lunar specifically, and more generally, thank you to everyone that read this, whether or not you commented.

And finally, with a song that inspired me in the final year of this project....


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(https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...s-scarlet.html)
(https://www.heresy-online.net/forums/...lesh-weak.html)
The Emperor has turned to Chaos. The dream of the Imperium has become a nightmare. But Horus and his Coalition stand against the dark, here at the end of time.

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What was broken has been mended. And what was burned away can never be reforged.

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post #69 of 77 (permalink) Old 11-29-17, 01:27 PM
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Brilliant. So so brilliant *tears*. Both are utopian, idealist, transhumanist Legions...so similar yet so different. Blood Angels are lovely, Raven Guard are even more so.

You have somehow managed to consistently outdone yourself. Again, you proved former masterworks are mere preludes of future glory.

Congratulations to you for (semi) conclusion of this magnificent project. This pivotal significance cannot be understated.

Blood Angels can easily fitted in Star Trek, while Raven Guard...well, they are basically an entire organization fleshed out form transhumanist, technocratic sci-fi!

As I have always expected, I have gotten a strong, compelling impression that that Raven Guard are definitely the most powerful, versatile and above all, intelligent Legion. They seem positively overpowered - and to speak candidly, I greatly appreciate it. Strength in knowledge, technology and stratagem. Indeed, Scientia potentia est!

And I cannot help to ask: how could they have suffered major defeats, setbacks and catastrophes, in spite of all those might, knowledge and intelligence they have accomplished?

I wish to present some questions. I hope after re-reading the entire AH I could formulate a bit more comprehensive list of questions.


1. Could you elaborate about the Pact of Tau? I would like to know its origin of name, location, power scope, politics, policy, society and religion. You also implied it does have technological advantage over the Imperium.

And how far advanced Raven Guard and Mechanicum compared to the Pact and other major xeno polities(Eldars, Necrons, etc...)?

I also hope to apprehend a little more concrete and comprehensive picture of LDLB equivalent of the Webway War, the Schism of Mars and the Damocles Crusade Would you elucidate and enlighten me about incipiency, progress and ultimate consequences?

Finally, did LDLB Dark Mechanicum have less presence and fewer sympathizerss on Mars compared to canon? Or had they enjoyed same overwhelming advantages on number, technology, firepower and general quality over loyalists, but arrival of 30,000 Raven Guard utterly screwed their relative superiority and doomed rebellion to fail?

2. I noticed that RG doctrine is primarily composed of "stealth, covert operations, precision attack at high speed" variant and "massed, overwhelming mechanical assaults" variant, though technological supremacy and ingenuity, out-of-box thinking theme is always presented, as well as putting emphasis on supply and communication disruption. It seems that at least until Siege of Terra and Mars, they typically relied on former, not dissimilar from their canon self, but after the Betrayal and subsequent Siege of Terra, especially counter operations against Salamanders and later Dark Angels, they have become to fully recognize importance of massive firepower, superheavy prowess and static defense in particular circumstances - is it correct?

In addition, do RG specialization include aerowarfare and precision bombardment? Those "titan-grade weaponry" mean super heavy vehicles, artillery, aircraft, and other more exotic, esoteric arsenals?

I have also noted that average number of Raven Guard squad is the smallest of Legions. Is there any reason behind such singular formation makeup? Do they operate in similar ways to modern fireteam?

And it seems BA specialization includes void, aerial and defense warfare as well as melee assault. Canonically, Ninth Legion are specialized at "high intensity warfare, strategic decapitation strikes, planetary interdiction campaign, multi-vector and sub-orbital attack", and while I'm sure that same could readily be applied on LDLB BA, I wish to ask you if is there anything to add, delete, edit or correct from the list.

3. So if the Nineteenth are essentially a part of Mechanicum, ideologically similar and even sharing technology each other, is there any notable technological difference between both organizations? And why Raven Guard do deliberately slow down pace of progress? If they consider they are no longer "human" in precise sense and humanity is indeed subjective, why they concern so much regarding so-called "uncontrolled growth"?

Also, does LDLB Mechanicum still utilize servitors and other unethical abominations? Has it ceased to be an affront to humanity and redeemed to ascend as true transhumanistic science institution? What exactly is modern Mechanicum's ideological foundation laid down by Prince Zinc himself? Are its members still called as tech-"priests"?

In addition, are LDLB 'machine spirits' true artificial intelligence? (well, at least some sort of)

4. Why fifteen exemplars, not eighteen or twenty? Does Sanguinius deem the likes of Lorgar, Dorn and Peturabo being "exemplars" while accusing Konrad "inspiring monsters"?

5. Why Sanguinius and Angron were estranged after the Betrayal? And how Sanguinius and his Angels regard the Aeldari and its kin? I suspect similar stance to the Thousand Sons, but could not be completely sure.

6. What separate Owls, Hawks, and Pelicans from other Divisions? Are they SPC corps or unique in certain other ways?

Do Raven Guard have Techmarine Order, or every Legionary being a trained Techmarine, like the Dark Angels? What is Warden's mandate? Are cause of Moritati an innate genetic flaw, just same as canon RG?

Finally, "the portion of the dedicated armored and air forces of the Legion that operates multi-Astarte machinery" - is this sentence referring a Legion-wide specialist formation operating titan-grade superweapons, doomsday devices and other strategic assets of the Nineteenth? What is the fotmation's name?

Besides, Raven Guard's command structure seems...well, quite efficient, flexible and technocratic. As always, you caught a Legion's nature and ethos perfectly in its org chart.

7. How proficient are the Nineteenth with the Webway? Do they still research and use it? How many tally victories they have accomplished, both in offense and defense(I suspect second only to the Emperors Children and possibly to Ultramarines - a far cry from the Raven's canonical obscurity). Finally, what are "heavy and irrecoverable losses" suffered the Legion at Parocheus?

8. So many, if not most, of LDLB xenos are human-compatible in criteria of Blood Angels? If xenos or human polity are resistant, or even outright hostile, to their efforts of diplomacy and inclusion, how they react? Is there any First Contact Protocol and suchlike? According to their IA, Angels sincerely believe that it is possible to reason with monstrous species...so are they attempting to co-opt Dark Eldars, Cythor Fiends, Cryptos, Barghesi, Khrave, Hrud, Lacrymole, Slaugth, Yu'Vath Fra'al and other diverse menagerie of xenos horribilis whose sole raison d'etre is to oppress, prosecute, torture, slaughter, butcher, devour and consume humanity and every other sentient race of the universe?

Hell, in fact, majority of xenos could be classified into xenos horribilis category. Galaxy of Warhammer is grimdark to ludicrous degree that even remotely "reasonable" species is consigned to be a precious minority, and considering everything, it is no surprise that vast majority of Imperial citizen are extreme xenophobes, even without ideological indoctrination, since the human species is constantly menaced and besieged, and those besiegers are monsters in purest sense both in body and in mind. And it is one of few, but crucial, justifications canon Imperium has; it enables and entitles the Imperium to claim its right of continued existence as an necessary evil, despite of everything.

Still, I don't think LDLB BA would be that naive. While goodness is an attribute frequently (unfortunately enough) associated with niceness or stupidity, that is far from the norm, even more so to the Astartes. So above "monstrous" terms limited to appearance, instead of mind or spirit, I suppose?

It brings up another intruiging question: I wonder in LDLB galaxy, proportion of "reasonable", human-compatible xenos is higher than canon milky way. When I read FW rulebooks, complete absence of even a single xenos could be reasoned with was rather preeminent, even Eldar Craftworlds went berserk and torching down innocent human worlds out of sheer spite, though BL novels provide a scant few exceptions, most notably Kinebrach. In LDLB, it seems the Crusade had been encountered plenty of reasonable, highly civilized species and a number of Legions strive to save or spare them.

9. Where Corax is gone? What was his intended destination? Somewhere vicinity to Horus and his ilk, perhaps?

Besides, is the LDLB warp an infinite multiverse in itself? I wonder how cosmology of LDLB verse is structured, and why insurmountable odds are stacked against to this Imperium. Is taint of Chaos encompassing not only the Milky Way, but also other galaxies and universes?

10. Are humanity the only race in the galaxy utilizing technology to enhance, improve and augment themselves, both physically and intellectually? Also, do Blood Angels seek to augment themselves in comparable way to Final Shore?

And how far Raven Guard augment themselves compared to Mechanicum adepts and technologist traitor Legions?

Furthermore, how many pre-Betrayal RG have remained? Has any of the Nineteenth vanquished death and archived technological immortality and/or singularity?

Finally, is there any Legion besides Raven Guard using technology to enhance and augment their own mind, intelligence and cognitive abilities?

11. Crusade era RG number - 130k - is much higher than canon - 83k -. What is the causes? Is it due to Raven Guard having far more extensive infrastructure and recruitment base while taking less casualties than the canon counterpart? Or are there other, more esoteric reasons? And how nomadic, fleet-based Blood Angels, whose gene seed is canonically among the most unstable, second only to Thousand Sons, have expanded their ranks more than twice while Raven Guard are stagnated in 135k despite of their vast technological foundation and infrastructure?

In addition, could it be epitomized that Night Lords have the most corrupted gene seed amongst Imperial Legions, while the Space Wolves and Thousand Sons' are the most deviant(also languished in the lowest spectrum of bonding success rate among loyalist Legions), and the Raven Guard's are the most unstable?

12. I found that RG 'exemplary battles' section of the Long War section are all reiterated from previous IAs. Is it intentional, to provide references and highlight each significant battle? And what is difference between canon Parocheus and Barans wars and LDLB equivalents?

13. What is name of the Raven Guard flagship, a part of the Triumvirate? Is it a veritable mobile moon and/or space station rivaling grandeur of Phalanx and Pride of the Emperor? Or is it more akin to compact but extremely potent relic of Golden Age of Technology like Dark Sovereign or Mirabilis? Finally, what was the Tuchulcha's ultimate fate? Captured? Destroyed? Managed to escape yet agian?

14. What is principal doctrinal and ideological difference between Raven Guard, Alpha Legion and Night Lords regarding war and other military affairs?

I also imagine LDLB RG, AL and NL would practice information and electronic warfare with utmost efficiency(or electronic warfare is a plenipotentiary of RG, other two Legions are inclined to disrupt of command communication via sabotage and misinformation rather than technology); do they, or any other Legiones Astartes, utilize nanite and memetics in war?

15. Where are Blood Angels recruiting? From the Pact of Tau and other independent polities, I conjecture? Do Raven Guard have Legion domains and recruitment grounds other than the Kiavahr-Lycaeus system?

16. Do Raven Guard physiology, psychology and mentality deviate significantly from other "unaugmented" Astartes? Are their average strength, endurance, intelligence and overall performance measurably better than normal Astartes?

17. According to Emperor's Children IA, "some say that we limit post-induction hypno-conditioning and neural implants because of cowardice." Those 'some' indicates Raven Guard, perhaps?

18. In secular, rationalist Imperium of LDLB, what is sobriquet of the Legiones Astartes? With both Angels turn traitor, I think 'Angels of Death' would never be their epithet.

19. Could you elaborate government structure and system of LDLB Imperium? With continuation of Great Crusade and reforms and overhauling implemented by Malcador and various Primarchs, I very much doubt Administratum and other mind-numbingly byzantine, excessively complicated and utterly inefficient bureaucratic monstrosity would even exist.

20. Does "current(i.e. 40k)" Imperium make extensive use of Corax's experimental Gellar Field?

21. Among the 'numerous victories' the Raven Guard had won after disaster of Medusa, which are the most notable ones?

22. Was Kiavahr Ascendancy Cult a Tzeentchian scheme? How the Cult managed to grow so powerful to storm the Ravenspire? How many Raven Guard garrisoned Kiavahr, and how many of them had fallen and corrupted?

23. Do Raven Guard deign to even use weapons as primitive as bolters? I wouldn't be surprised if standard armament of every Nineteenth legionary is volkite, graviton and quantum weaponry.

24. Why the Guilliman disliked feared Corax and in turn, Corax deemed Gulliman and Magus as potential tyrants? Had Corax reconciled with Horus, Gulliman and Magnus after the Betrayal?

25. What is difference between Raven Guard simulations and Ultramarines simulations? Do other Legions also run tactical/strategic simulations?

26. Hadn't sabotage on Jaghatai's prized armor conducted after arrival of Death Guard and Space Wolves, instead of during the first Siege of Terrra?

27. "On Mars, even as Captain Verano Ebb killed the traitorous Fabricator-General at the cost of his own life, Dark Mechanicum elements used the opportunity to flee the planet and join the traitor fleet, bolstering Lorgar's forces; Mars was secured, but the loyalists on it were stranded." How could Dark Mechanicum have succeed to run, despite of arrival of Death Guard, sally of Terran fleet and shattering of traitor blockade of Terra? At the same token, why loyalists on Mars had failed to extricate to Terra in spite of of loyalist supremacy of space adamantly maintained until arrival of traitor reinforcements. And even as the second half of traitor did pour into Sol system, there should have been enough time to withdraw before the Second Fleet making its way to Mars. And how many traitor Astartes landed on Mars? Had Second Fleet made any attempt to reclaim Mars, or retrieve isolated pockets traitors at the very least?

28. What had Raven Guard fleet been doing from beginning to end of battle for Sol? I haven't seen any reference on them during the both sieges. Or the Nineteenth fleet was tiny and weak back then and could make little difference?

29. Corax rushed to finish the matter of the Webway between raids. Do this sentence mean Chaos had harassed Imperial Webway to stymie its sealing or Corax himself had raided traitors in his spare times?

30. Why Blood Angels gene seed had deteriorated over time? Is the Ninth's functional immortality related with their ossmodula defect in some way?

31. What is ultimate goal and ideal of the Raven Guard, Emperors Children and Lunar Wolves?

32. What is ultimate goal and ideal of the Blood Angels?

33. Last but not least, why Corax sealed Imperial Webway, instead of the Emperor? And how could a major C'tan shard, supreme anathema of Immaterum have been corrupted by the Chaos?


3. Interesting. Could you elaborate more about friendship between Fulgrim and Corax? And why Gulliman feared and distrusted Corax? Has Warmaster's attitude regarding Prince of Zinc changed?

4. And where are Angrandir's soul residing?

6. Fulgrim states: The psychic aura was greater than Fulgrim had ever felt around one who was not his father - and even the Emperor rarely let his power show as strongly as this seeming demigod did. So I assumed Lorgar's psychic might would more or less rival to non-serious, fettered Emperor.

8. For what strategic reasons, could you more elaborate on? Particularly brilliant offensive strategies, perhaps?

12. Is same criteria applied to vehicles/aircraft comparison? Also, do Ultramarines and Thousand Sons have immense number of void outposts and watch stations? And is it safe to assume that while both UM and DG boast colossal fleets, the former is focusing on defense and the latter is geared for offense?

13. Indeed, canonically the Dark Angels and White Scars specialties include void warfare. So their doctrine and practice, both on the surface and in the void, are similar to their respective canon self?

19. How modern Kiavahr, Mars, Cthonia and Chemos looks like, from both inside and outside? How gargantuan are Ravenspire, Fusor, Fang and other Legion Fortress Monasteries? Do the Legion homeworlds and Forge Worlds have beanstalks, orbital rings and other similar megastructures? It seems that Kiavahr and its moon definitely possess more than one of such engineering marvels.

Does Imperium have any Dyson Sphere or megastructure of similar scale?

21. So how exactly War of the Beast had proceeded? You said War of the Beast in LDLB was largely a fringe brushfire, and the Beast was weaker than canon. But...canon Beast surprise-assaulted a woefully unprepared, disarmed, demilitarized, complacent, peacefully squabbling, cheerfully backstabbing Imperium; Imperial forces were composed of pitiful thousands of Astartes and a feeble navy...and still it ultimately failed to archive initial objective.

In sharp contrast to its canon self, LDLB Beast managed to repel the Great Crusade MK II, heap defeat upon defeat to multiple offensive-oriented Legions and fought to standstill against ALL of the Imperial Legion combined(well, to be fair, admittedly elements of each IL, not the Legions entire) and only vanquished through Blood Angels' intervention. IIRC, Ullanor Crusade was prosecuted by "mere" a hundred thousand Legionaries and two millions of Armymen, and that was a total, unadulterated success. And I hold serious doubt that initial Imperial plunge into the Beast's territory, comprised of elements primarily drawn from five offensive Legions, would be a weaker force than those assembled to celebrate Ullanor Triumph.

Is LDLB Beast truly lesser than canon one? And for that matter, I also would like to ask whether LDLB Beast comprised of one or six.

22. Even Alpha Legion, Raven Guard and Night Lords do?

24. How the Imperial Legions, especially Raven Guard and Thousand Sons, are interacting with Necron? I conjecture relationship between both parties would be...reasonably interesting. BTW, do the Thousand Sons still maintain its three Orders?

25. That is...an interesting theory to say the least. If true, I would be sorely disappointed to those "fans".

BTW, while I really hate canon 40k Imperium (and that is one of many reasons why I play only 30k, as well as I'm practically in love with your AH), I have never thought Eldar or post-5th Necron's causes are any more sympathetic than 40k Imperium...frankly, they have less justification than the Imperium. They do not hold moral high ground whatsoever, and I think is Eldar is one of the most vile and despicable races in fiction.

26. So fall of Cadia is a predestined fate? Or could it be defied and averted like any other such "fate"? And why support and evacuation were impossible till the planet itself pacified?

27. Far cry from canon "unworthy, abominable vermin race in dire need to be exterminated" treatment indeed. Then again, sadly, canon Imperial humans are little better than insects. On the contrary, LDLB humanity are masters of their fate, captains of their soul.

Besides, I can easily comprehend why LDLB Necrons see themselves in humanity.

29. So humanity hide an extremely potent wild card in their collective sleeves...If they are fully awakened and use their faculties in utmost efficiency, resultant ramifications would be no less than colossal.

33. Understood. Could you elaborate fleet composition and void warfare doctrine of the Ultramarines, Death Guard, Raven Guard and Luna Wolves respectively?

According to IA, fleets of the Raven Guard are mostly composed of small, compact and versatile ship. Fast and technologically superior, for sure, but rather fragile and suffer distinct disadvantages in terms of firepower, armor, durability, endurance, reliability and overall perfomance.

For instance, both canon Alpha Legion and Ultramarines possessed many number of ships, but both Legions hadn't been considered to have a strong fleet, since their fleets are largely comprised of frigate and strike cruisers.

In terms of overall tonnage and firepower, both Legions are firmly placed in thr middle.

On the contrary, while the Death Guard had few ships, most of these vessals are heavy line ships, and fleet strength of the Fourteenth was deemed considerable.

So I have to wonder - how the Nineteenth managed to achieve such ascendancy in naval power?

And why the Grey Knights have the weakest(or the fewest? Those are not necessarily same) fleet among the Imperial Legions?

P.S. Would you mind If I ask to you check my #59 and #63 posts?

Last edited by Lunar; 12-21-17 at 08:48 AM.
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post #70 of 77 (permalink) Old 11-29-17, 05:50 PM
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Thanks for writing this. It's been a long ride, but you've made things interesting, and set up at least a bit of light in the dark

Ask not the Eldar a question, for they will give you three answers; all of which are true and horrifying to know.
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