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

Origins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allegedly, the tribe ate well that night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Angels of the Blood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Horus Heresy

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

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

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

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

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

And thus it is that the Blood Angels alone know the details of their Primarch's fate. The sacrifice of their founder is echoed in the soul of every one of their number, and their souls burn with troubled dreams of Sanguinius's death. These inherited memories are so powerful that the Blood Angels are known to lapse into a fugue state known as the Black Rage, experiencing horrific visions of death and pain that they share with Sanguinius himself.

It is true that as a Blood Angel ages, as he sees more bloodshed and battle, he becomes more and more prone to the onset of the Black Rage. Chaplain Lestrallio, a great and tragic martyr of the Blood Angels, instigated a method that enabled those unfortunate few who fell into the Rage when the Chapter was in deep space to be of service nonetheless. The Lestrallio Procedure involves giving oneself to the Sanguiniary Priests when all attempts at stemming the Black Rage have been unsuccessful, and there are no enemies for the victim to slaughter in the throes of a heroic death. The volunteer is restrained, shackled in adamantium often at the cost of many Blood-Servitors, and brought fnto the bowels of the craft. There, in the darkness of the ship's Apothecarion, he is encouraged to talk of what he sees around him, his visions echoing those witnessed by Sanguinius within the unholy depths of Horus's battle barge.

The following account is an excerpt from the descriptions of Chaplain Lestrallio himself, recorded by a Blood Servitor in 2432053.M36. It remains the longest recorded example of the visions granted by the Black Rage, a testament to Lestrallio's great strength of will.

"It's dark... aagh! It bums! The taint is so strong... the smell... rot, foul rot and death... it's hot. So hot... I feel my feathers singe, furling against me to avoid touching the walls, the walls... this is Hell... thorns, spines pushing through wet flesh..."

<subject goes into spasm> <subject screams in rage>

"What's that... What's that!? So fast! Aaaaah! For the Emperor! Die! DIE!"

<subject falls still, mutters unintelligibly, possibly a prayer>

"Where is he, where is he, you cannot stop me foul CHAOS FILTH! AAAGH!"

<subject spasms, gnashes teeth>"curse this light..."

"Burn! BURN! All of you! <indecipherable> the walls, there are no walls, this tunnel made of flesh, rotted flesh, bursting underfoot, bleeding, the stench of pus..."

<subject screams, then calms>

"I will find you, coward."

<six seconds pass, subject's eyes open>

"I name you Traitor! Face me! For the Emperor! FOR THE EMPEROR!"

At this point, after a violent spasm that lasted longer than any before and nearly shook his body to pieces, Chaplain Lestrallio died of massive physiological trauma. This is a regrettable side effect of the Lestrallio Procedure, but one deemed fitting by many among the Blood Angels.

THE DEATH COMPANY

Deeply ingrained within the Blood Angels' gene-seed is the encoded experience of Sanguinius, and many say that most deeply imprinted of all is the memory of his final battle with Horus. Sometimes an event or circumstance will trigger this race memory This appears to happen only rarely, often on the eve of battle, and it is likely to be a fatal experience for the warrior whose mind is suddenly wrenched into the distant past. What has become known as the Black Rage overcomes him, the memories and consciousness of Sangumius intrude upon his mind, and dire events ten thousand years old flood into the present. This we know to be true.

To others a Space Marine overcome by the Black Rage appears half mad with fury: he is unable to distinguish past from present, and does not recognise his comrades. He may believe he is Sanguinius upon the eve of his destruction, and that the bloody battles of the Horus Heresy are raging around him. As well as Sanguinius`s memories, the Space Marine is touched with a small portion of the Primarch's unearthly power, boosting the warrior's already prodigious strength and vitality to superhuman levels.

In order to keep the Black Rage in check, on the eve of battle the Blood Angels bend their thoughts to prayer and to the sacrifice of their Primarch so many centuries ago. Chaplains move from man to man, blessing each in turn and noting those amongst the brotherhood whose eyes may appear a little glazed, or whose speech is slurred or over excited. Some, almost all. overcome the ancient intrusion into their minds. All their warrior`s training is directed at controlling it, beating it down into the depths of their being. But for some the imprint of Sanguinius is too strong, the memories too loud and demanding. As the Chaplains chant the Moripatris, the Mass of Doom, the chosen ones fall into the arms of their priests, and are taken away. The afflicted Space Marines are formed into a special unit called the the Death Company.

Suffused with the dying memories of their Chapter`s Primarch, the warriors of the Death Company seek only one thing: death in battle fighting against the enemies of the Emperor. The Death Company paint their armour black with red saltires, crosses of blood red which symbolise the sacrifice of Sanguinius. The company is led into battle and directed towards the foe by the Chapter`s Chaplains. The warriors fight with the certainty of death and are completely fearless, ignoring wounds that should fell even a Space Marine Should they survive the battle they will probably die of their wounds afterwards, once the frenzied slaughter is past. It is thought that the Blood Angels welcome this death, as they fear their madness will later lead them down the darkest path of all. Better by far to die cleanly and quickly in battle than suffer such a fate...

From the collated results of these experiments, it is possible to draw conclusions from the valuable evidence provided by those suffering the Black Rage. Sanguinius is thought to have undergone unimaginable psychic damage at the hands of the Warmaster who, it is believed by many Blood Angels, could not best him in personal combat.

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

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

Home World

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

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

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

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

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

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

Organisation

Although the Blood Angels share much of their organisation with their brother Space Marines, adhering in many ways to the precepts of the Codex Astartes, there are notable exceptions. The Blood Angels have several specialist units they do not share with any Chapter other than their successors; the Angels Vermilion, Angels Sanguine, Angels Encarmine, Blood Drinkers and Flesh Tearers. It is worth noting that, unlike the others mentioned here, the Blood Drinkers are strict followers of the Codex Astartes. Their markings are similar to those of the Ultramarines chapter.

Perhaps the most notable exception that the Blood Angels exhibit in their ranks is a preponderance of close combat troops. The chance to become one of the Blood Angels' Assault Marines is much sought after, as it is in close combat that these Space Marines can exorcise the ghosts of their ancestral memory. Even Devastator squads, those entrusted with the duties of fire support, have been known to run towards the enemy in an attempt to engage them in close combat (cf. the Trachesai Massacre, 230.M34).

The members of the Blood Angels 1st Company fight as assault troops when not equipped as Terminators, rather than as tactical squads as is the case with many of their brother Chapters. The entire 8th Company is dedicated to close combat, many of their members being amongst the finest assault troops in the Imperium. Those Space Marines not equipped with jump packs often make use of Land Speeders and Bikes to support their brethren. The 10th Company, consisting of a variable number of Scout squads, is unusual in that its members are extremely aggressive. They work their way into forward positions, infiltrating enemy positions and relishing every opportunity they can take to close quarters and tear their enemies apart in a storm of blood. The other companies of the Blood Angels conform to the structure established by the Codex Astartes, although many of their Rhinos are customised with over-charged engines so that their passengers can reach the front line with haste. (Note: No doubt this straying from the precepts set out in the Rhino STC has an adverse effect on the vehicle as a whole). Specialist squads are distinguished by the colour of their helmets: Tactical squads are marked in red, Devastator squads in blue and Veteran Assault squads in yellow.

The Blood Angels Headquarters division includes a number of ranks that are not found in any other Chapter, reflecting their unique nature and organisation. These include the Sanguinary Priests, custodians of the holy blood of Sanguinius. It has been known for a Sanguinary Priest to administer a potent blood transfusion to a battle brother with his Exsanguinator, even in the midst of combat.

Another exception to standard Codex organisation is the inclusion of squads of Honour Guard, the high elite of the close assault cadres of the Blood Angels and the bodyguard of their most revered heroes. These warriors take the place of the usual command squad, and may include a Standard Bearer or Sanguinary Priest. It is said by some that few more formidable units exist in the entire pantheon of the Adeptus Astartes. The members of the Honour Guard are denoted by their helmets, marked in shining gold, a sign of hope for their allies and despair for their foes.

The Blood Angels are also famous for the Furioso pattern Dreadnought, a design perfected by the Chapter's Lord of the Forges many millennia ago to grant the opportunity of slaking the blood lust of Space Marine heroes even when their bodies are broken beyond salvation. The mighty twin power claws of the Furioso are a match for any opponent, and are capable - of tearing open the adamantium hide of a Land Raider when the Furioso is gripped by battle-lust.

Finally, and perhaps most notably, the organisation of the Blood Angels is often disrupted by those who suffer from the Black Rage. These unfortunates are formed into the infamous Death Company. Alas, there is no way to predict exactly how this phenomenon will affect the Chapter's organisation until the battle itself.

Combat Doctrine

The companies of the Blood Angels generally fight as one would expect from a disciplined force of the Adeptus Astartes. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th are Battle Companies, and these four companies form the main battle lines and generally bear the brunt of the fighting. The specialist companies are kept in reserve and only deployed when necessary.

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

Armageddon

Upon hearing of the invasion, the Blood Angels Third Company immediately re-routed to Armageddon. After the events of the Second War, Chapter Master Dante realised that it would be futile to deny Tycho his vengeance against the Orks. The Salamanders Chapter, also veterans of the last war, had sworn to defend Armageddon should the shadow of Ghazghkull ever again fall upon the planet's surface.

Joined by the Storm Giants and Marines Malevolent, elements of these Chapters are stationed on the outskirts of Hive Tempestora in preparation to retake it from the Orks.

BROTHER-CAPTAIN TYCHO: AN APPRAISAL

For the attention of our Revered Lord, Commander Dante.

Fourth day of Maleficus, One Thousand, Nine Hundred and Ninety Nine Years of Our Emperor's Benevolence - 5/721999.M41

Thought for the day: The Emperor knows your every deed

It was with great chagrin that I read your proclamation concerning Brother-Captain Tycho's diversion into the midst of the Third Armageddon War, given that he is in current command of the entire Blood Angels Third Company. Although I too believe it would be worse than futile to deny Tycho his revenge against the Orks for his shattered face and the violent indignities that he and his men suffered in the last Armageddon War, I implore you to consider the consequences.

My continued study of the damaged psyche of Tycho clearly shows that the cause of his nigh-uncontrollable rage stems from the after-effects of his brutal scarring at the hands of Warlord Magrot's War Horde. Last time we spoke on the matter Captain Tycho was barely able to calm down, and resorted to punching his fist clear through a reinforced plasteel door to quell his anger. It has been impressed upon me many times by Tycho that his need for revenge goes far deeper than this physical grievance, and it is painfully obvious that should he be restrained from following his bitter quest, the Black Rage will consume him completely. Therefore it is imperative that he is assigned to combat duty on Armageddon from this point forth.

However, it is the depth of this personal hatred towards the Orks, in particular those of Magrot's retinue, that I believe will compromise his effectiveness as a Captain. Needless to say, my Lord, you are aware of this possibility, but I would counsel you further on this matter having spent many long months watching Tycho's condition deteriorate.

I believe Brother-Captain Tycho to be unsuitable as a leader of the Blood Angels Third Company. His vision is clouded by hatred, and this will be at its peak when surrounded by the aliens he despises with all his soul. Cold logic and reasoned strategy are the tools needed to win this war, and Tycho's impatience to wreak his vengeance upon his mortal enemies is not conducive to a responsible command position. Imagine a situation where, in the crucible of combat, Tycho is able to hunt and destroy Warlord Magrot. The Third Company would find themselves bereft of their hero and Captain until the matter is resolved beyond all doubt. I also fervently believe Tycho may well divert the might of the entire Blood Angels Third Company to this end. At a time when our most holy warriors are sorely needed, we cannot afford to let personal grievances, however deep, cloud our divine purpose.

May Sanguinius watch over your soul, Chaplain Lemartes

Battlecry

"By the blood of Sanguinius!"

Beliefs

Sanguinius was a visionary. During his early life he desired to lead his people to a new and better life. When he joined the Great Crusade he transferred this vision to a greater arena, but did not abandon it. He wanted a better life for all Mankind and an end to the strife brought on by the collapse of human civilisation during the Dark Age of Technology.

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

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

Physically the Blood Angels are among the longest lived of all the Space Marine Chapters. One of the peculiarities of their gene-seed is that it has vastly increased the lifespan of those who possess it, so it is not uncommon for Blood Angels to reach a thousand years of age. Indeed, the current Chapter Master, Commander Dante, has lived for nearly 1,100 years. These vastly extended lifespans allow the Blood Angels to perfect their techniques in art as well as in war. They have centuries in which to perfect the disciplines to which they turn their minds, and this accounts for the fact that Blood Angels' armour and banners are among the most ornate ever produced.

Perhaps the strangest of all the Chapter's traits was witnessed by Inquisitor Garillion on his sojourn to the fortress monastery on Baal in 1929734. M40. The Blood Angels have a habit of sleeping whenever possible in the sarcophagi used to create them. They apparently believe that in this timeless slumber, they are one step closer to Sanguinius, and seek to gain some insight into the psyche of their forefather. While the Blood Angels sleep in their sarcophagi their blood is cleansed and purified. The Chapter thus hopes to slow the long process of possible genetic degeneration until a permanent solution for the Black Rage can be found.

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

Gene-seed

This Chapter, once among the most blessed of all the Chapters, now shuns the company of the other Adeptus Astartes where possible. Some Imperial officers have reported suspicions that they are afflicted by a terrible thirst, a craving for blood, which paranoid scholars claim may be the first signs of a descent into Chaos. It is known that the Blood Angels themselves spend much of their time seeking a cure for their condition, but surely this does not mean that they are a Chapter trying in vain to keep the insidious tendrils of Chaos from their very blood.

The trials of their inheritance may well be the Blood Angels' greatest salvation, for it brings with it a humility and understanding of their own failings which make them the most truly noble of the Adeptus Astartes.

The fate of those unfortunates overtaken completely by their Primarch's legacy is known only to the Chapter itself. There are tales of a secret chamber within the Fortress Monastery on Baal, and of howling cries that demand the blood of the living. Unsurprisingly, none are willing to say for certain what secrets lie hidden in this haunted, desolate place.

There have been incidents when the Blood Angels have been stationed on distant worlds, where members of the local population have gone missing only to turn up later drained of blood (Rukh's Paradise, Amerialla Belt, Q34/9/4503/RT/Ultima Segmentum, 6569347.M36). It is possible that this is the work of cultists seeking to discredit the Chapter. It may even be that some of the more superstitious local citizens have taken to offering up sacrifices to their god-like visitors. However, those Imperial historians possessed of dark and fervent imaginations claim it is possible that these folk have been killed by Blood Angels overcome by an unholy thirst.

Some among those who entertain such unwholesome beliefs say that it is because Sanguinius was more touched by Chaos than the other infant Primarchs. They cite the fact that he possessed wings - an obvious mutation - to support their case. Their argument runs that the gene-seed which was extracted from him was flawed even before the first Blood Angels were created, and thus terrible consequences were preordained.

At the time when the First Founding Chapters were created, the Emperor himself oversaw the process of transferring gene-seed from Primarch to Space Marine. However, since the Emperor's interment in the Golden Throne,' each Chapter has had a different method of controlling and managing the change. The Blood Angels originally practised Exsanguination, a process initially triggered by injecting aspirants with tiny samples of the Primarch's blood. Alas, this process ground to a halt after Sanguinius's death, but fortuitously some of his blood was kept in the relic known as the Red Grail. This living blood, even possessed of such incredible power, could not last for long in an unprotected state. Thus it was that the vitae of their dead Primarch was injected into the veins of the Sanguinary Priests. They became living hosts to the power of their Primarch. Even today, drinking the blood of the assembled Sanguinary Priests from the Red Grail is part of the ritual used in inducting new Blood Angels Priests. In turn, it is from these custodians of the pure lineage that the blood given to aspirants is taken.

It is possible that over the countless generations since the time of the Heresy, the cells within the blood of the Sanguinary Priests have mutated, slowly at first, but more quickly in recent years. As it is, the blood used in the induction of the aspirants to the Chapter is technically vulnerable to degeneration. It is theorised by some that errors in replication have resulted in the Blood Angels' development of a genetic flaw.

There are very few records of the occurrence of genetic instability in the early years of the Imperium, or throughout the long millennia during which the Blood Angels were shaped. In the present day, however, it is for their unstoppable thirst for battle that the Blood Angels are considered unstable. Their fearsome reputation precludes them from many alliances with other Imperial forces. Thus it is that the curse has spread like a cancer not only through the Blood Angels' body and psyche, but also through their honour.