The Apostasy Gambit
“For the Emperor and Sanguinius! Death! DEATH!”
- Common warcry of the Blood Angels
The Blood Angels are one of the 20 First Founding Legions of the Space Marines and were originally the IX Legion before the Second Founding broke the Legiones Astartes up into 1000 separate Chapters. They are well-known across the galaxy for their bloodthirsty nature in battle, and feared for the curse of flawed gene-seed they carry. The Blood Angels are amongst the longest-lived of the Adeptus Astartes, with some of the Chapter’s Space Marines having served the Emperor of Mankind for over a thousand standard years. Thanks to recent events, the Blood Angels’ numbers have been severely depleted. Under the threat of extinction, and in order to quickly replenish their numbers, the Blood Angels were forced to ask their kindred Successor Chapters from subsequent Astartes Foundings for a tithe of warriors from the related Chapters’ pools of Neophytes, their candidate Space Marines. With these tithes of new recruits, the Blood Angels were able to replenish their losses, though they still face a time of trial like none the Chapter has known since the days of the Horus Heresy.
Sanguinius, also sometimes referred to as the Angel during his lifetime, was the Primarch of the Blood Angels Legion of Space Marines. He was killed during the climax of the Horus Heresy during the Battle of Terra defending the Emperor of Mankind from the Warmaster Horus aboard his flagship, the Battle Barge Vengeful Spirit. Though Horus slew Sanguinius, who had once been one of his closest friends amongst the Primarchs, legend holds that it was the chink in Horus’ armour created by the Angel that allowed the Emperor to slay the Arch-Heretic and thus prevent Mankind from falling to the corruption of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos.
If Sanguinius was adored by all in the Imperium as an angelic, graceful and perfect warrior, it is safe to say that his sons Blood Angels were fanatical. When Sanguinius was killed, the entire legion felt the loss. This had a lasting psychic and emotional effect on every Space Marine in the legion and has been passed on to their descendants.
Although it is known to but a few, the Blood Angels and their Successor Chapters are a dying breed, for they suffer from a dreadful genetic Flaw. It is true that the Blood Angels now shun the company of their fellow Astartes whenever possible. Some Blood Angels, it is said, are driven by a terrible deathseeking madness called the Black Rage, brought on by visions of the death of their Primarch. Others are afflicted by the terrible Red Thirst, a craving for blood which some claim may be the first signs of corruption by Chaos. It is known that some amongst the Blood Angels themselves spend much time seeking a cure for these conditions, although most have resigned themselves to the slow and terrible decline of their Chapter. Some savants say that it is because Sanguinius was more touched by Chaos than the other Primarchs during his gestation capsule’s flight through the Warp after he and his superhuman brothers were stolen from the Emperor’s gene-laboratory. They cite the fact that he possessed wings—an obvious mutation—to support their case. Their argument runs that the gene-seed that was extracted from him was genetically flawed and corrupted even before the first Blood Angels Space Marines were created from it by the Emperor, and thus terrible consequences were preordained. Other savants of the Astartes deny this, citing that the Emperor Himself trusted Sanguinius implicitly, and personally oversaw the creation of the Blood Angels. Certain Heretics counter this with the argument that the Emperor also once trusted Horus above all others in his Imperium, and that even He could make mistakes.
The Black Rage
The Blood Angels and their Successor Chapters still suffer from the psychic imprint left by Sanguinius’ death. This can cause them to go insane prior to or during battle and feel the rage that Sanguinius himself felt during the Battle of Terra.
The condition is largely irrecoverable and only a few Blood Angels have managed to defeat the “Gene Curse”. This insanity is known as the Black Rage. Rather than let them face a slow, insane death, Blood Angels will form those who have newly succumbed to the Black Rage into a special unit known as the Death Company. They wear specially painted black Power Armour, and are often led by the few Chapter officers (notably Blood Angels Chaplains) who are still able to communicate orders to the insane troops. The members of the Death Company are then sent out to perform the most dangerous assaults, hoping for a quick and honourable death in combat.
A side effect of the Black Rage is the Blood Angels’ greatly feared vampiric tendencies. They generally have pale skin, and a potent urge to drink the blood of their enemies that can emerge at any time during combat. This genetic flaw is known as the Red Thirst. These traits have also been passed on to their Successor Chapters, such as the Flesh Tearers, Blood Drinkers, and Angels Sanguine.
The Blood Angels and their Successor Chapters adhere to the proscriptions of the Codex Astartes in general, but deviate in several regards. The most obvious of these is the Chapter’s preponderance of close-combat troops. The role of Assault Marine is heavily sought by Blood Angels Astartes, and the entire 1st Company fights as assault troops when not deployed as Terminators. The entire 8th Company is also tooled towards assault combat; the Space Marines that do not gain access to Jump Packs before a battle often deploy in support of their rapidly moving brethren, through the use of Land Speeders and Attack Bikes. Even the Librarians of the Blood Angels Chapter excel at hand-to-hand fighting.
Blood angels display a heraldic difference to the Codex Astartes standard however; they tend to adorn the helmets of various units within the chapter with different colours as shown below.
Black Power Armour: Death Company (entire power armour painted black)
Black Shoulder Pads: Sergeant (Inner shoulder pads only)
Gold Power Armour: Sanguiniary Guard (entire power armour painted gold)
Gold Helmets: Veteran (particularly the honour guard or assault veterans)
Yellow Helmets: Assault marines
Blue Helmets: Devastator marines
The remaining companies of the Chapter deploy as per the Codex Astartes, but often modify the engines of the Rhino APCs assigned to them in order to increase their speed. These modifications have a negative effect on the vehicle as a whole, and the Blood Angels’ Rhinos are prone to breakdowns if their engines are pushed too hard. Other vehicles have been modified by the Blood Angels. The Baal Predator mounts a twin-linked Assault Cannon, and is modified to lay down a torrent of fire as the Blood Angels advance, devastating infantry and light vehicles. The Blood Angels’ Furioso Dreadnought variant eschews the heavy weaponry normally carried by Space Marine Dreadnoughts, replacing it with a second close combat weapon.