The Angels of Pestilence, are a chaos space marine warband drawn from the Death Guard traitor legion and dedicated to the plague god Nurgle, in particular his role as master of the cycle of life. Led by the infamous chaos apothecary Siktar, the Angels of Pestilence are believed to be one of the larger Death Guard warbands in existence, although no one really knows their true strength. Based in the subterranean laboratories beneath the surface of the daemon world Mortaguard, the Angels wage an unending quest for genetic fodder. Although the warband's purpose seems noble - to save the human race from certain destruction through acceptance of nurgle- 10,000 years of chaos corruption have turned these once stoic warriors into predatory psychopaths. In their quest to unlock the secrets of life, the Angels perform gruesome experiments on living captives-whether they be humans, xenos or other followers of chaos- giving them a sinister reputation. After 10,000 years of constant experimentation, the surface of Mortaguard now writhes with undead dismembered bodies that retain a low sentience. The warband crafts some of the most devastating biological weapons in existence and are adept at the art of producing new plague marines in a prolific manner. These traits have made them highly sought after by ambitious chaos lords, who seek to use their power for their own means. In return the Angels receive more captives and gene seed. However, this is a massive risk - the Angels are just as likely to turn on their allies and harvest their bodies.
The Angels of Pestilence can trace their origins back to a feral world whose name has been lost to history and a young man who later become the warbands feared leader, Siktar. Born on a backward planet with a name that is unknown today, Siktar's early childhood was racked with sadness and despair. His mother died of childbirth. He was raised by his father alongside three brothers and a sister in a bleak landscape. He learned from an early age of the horrors of the galaxy around him. As a young boy he watched as his older brother succumbed to a pox. Sitting there by his brother's death bed he prayed for a cure, yet none came. At the age of twelve his father died in a local dispute. Orphaned, the young man was taken as an apprentice to the village healer. Siktar considered it his duty to find a cure and soon showed himself as a masterful student excelling in the arts of healing. However, he could not save all of those he treated from death.
Siktar's fate was decided on the day the Death Guard, the sons of Mortarion, arrived to bring the world under Imperial compliance. Although the legion had exclusively been recruiting from Barbarus, heavy casualties had forced the legion to take new recruits from the worlds they conquered. Siktar, though a young boy, was already the village's healer and the legion was in desperate need of a new apothecary. Although reluctant at first, Siktar was initiated into the legion. His first decade within the Death Guard was one of coldness and despair. Most of the legionaries looked at the new a recruit as a mud blood, since he was not from Barbarus. In these years the young apothecary found solace in the arts of space marine genetics, in particular perfecting the Death Guard's gene seed. He soon found that he excelled at such craft and his skill was eventually recognized by the first captain of the Death Guard, Calas Typhon. Under the legendary warrior's wing, the apothecary gained the respect of his fellow astartes. He forgot his old name, for that man was now dead, and he would forever be known as "Siktar", which translates in his home language as "he who tricks death". Siktar climbed the ranks becoming the legion's First Apothecary and a figure of legend amongst the Apothecarium.
As the great crusade raged, the Death Guard fought on, but the legion's reckless tactics had caused it to suffer horrendous casualties. In response to this, Mortarion, the legion's primarch, contracted Siktar with a quest: to perfect the Death Guard's gene seed. Siktar did this, but even as new generations of astartes came out better and tougher than the last, the Legion continued to take mass casualties. It was his feeling of concern for the well being of his fellow astartes that drove him into darkness. One day, Siktar watched in horror as one of his fellow apothecaries died from wounds in a recent campaign and was racked with self guilt by his failure to save him. Every night since then he suffered horrible dreams of his dead brother, succumbing to the plague that had taken his life, and in him he saw the faces of his battle brothers. These drove him to the brink of insanity.
One fateful day, Calas Typhon pulled the apothecary aside, telling him that there was another way to save his brothers, a way that was more effective than any that was given by the Emperor: chaos. He became a regular member of the warrior lodges and soon found renewed zeal in his new found faith. In secret he began to corrupt his fellow apothecaries into their dark service and began heretical experiments on the legion's gene seed. Eventually this led him to work with another legendary apothecary: Fabius Bile. Together they worked on enhancing the gene seed of their respective legions. This partnership would last through the ages, but the clone lord and the blighted would be cursed with a rivalry that exists to the present day, that varies between close cooperation to all out war.
In the aftermath of the Istvaan campaign, his ambition grew, gone were the days of the concerned doctor as he was consumed by the belief that only through accepting chaos could humanity survive. In particular, he found loyalty to the chaos god of plague, pestilence and decay: Nurgle. Once again he fell into the schemes of Calas Typhon, who told him of a way to perfect the Death Guard's gene seed forever: acceptance of Nurgle. On their way to Terra for the final battle between Horus and the Emperor, Typhon slew the navigators. Siktar helped to persuade his fellow legionaries that the situation was fine and that Typhon would guide the fleet to safety - only to betray his own brothers into their final damnation. As the legion transformed, Siktar watched first in horror at what he had allowed to happen but that horror turned to satisfaction, as his brothers arose as undead plague marines - the unstoppable chosen of the plague lord. Rejoicing the apothecary soon grew in size, his body rotting away for all eternity. Fungus grew from his white armor and four antler-like horns grew into a crown. The blighted was born.
In the aftermath of the battle of Terra, the traitor legions retreated into the eye of terror. While the other legions limped on, the Death Guard marched in an organized fashion - devastating many worlds. The Legion settled on the Plague Planet from which it launches raids to the present day. But not all of the plague marines followed their Primarch and the legion slowly fractured. Typhon, now Typhus, was the first to set out on his own. He formed the infamous Plague fleets. Siktar followed him at first but tensions began to rise. Siktar felt just as responsible for the legion's "salvation" as Typhus and bitter resentment between the two followed. While Typhus wished to wage unending war on the realm of man, Siktar sought to further improve upon the blessings that grandfather nurgle had bestowed on the legion. The transformation of his legion did not make him complacent, it only made him more ambitious. He believed it was his duty to not only perfect the genetics of the plague marines but mankind as a whole. Taking with him a cabal of the legion's apothecaries and heretical scientists, Siktar struck out on his own with a small party of ships to the northeastern edge of the eye and far away from the plague planet. There they settled on a dark swampy crone world, naming it Mortaguard or "death's fortress". The Angels of Pestilence were born.
Since their founding, the Angles of Pestilence became one of the eye of terror's greatest success stories. After millennia, Siktar the Blighted has managed to perfect the art of genetic modification, through mass experimentation of captives, including captured space marines. The warband has managed to create Plague Marines with Death Guard gene seed, by reverse engineering the corruption inherent within the gene seed. Although this process has a low success rate, the sheer amount of test subjects have allowed the warband to produce plague marines on a scale rivaling some space marine chapters.
The success of these experiments has allowed Siktar to focus on his goal of saving the human race. The Angels go about doing this through massive raids in order to gain more captives for their experiments. It is rumored that some fanatical worshipers of Nurgle have even volunteered themselves to be the next on slab.
The Angels have appeared countless times to hamper the efforts of the Imperium of Man. It is rumored that they were involved in the "cursed" 21st founding and the events that lead to the Abyssal Crusade. They have been seen fighting alongside Black Crusades, Typhus's Plague fleets and even the Dark Eldar Haemonculi. The warband is widely sought after by powerful warlords for their mastery at biological warfare and their devastating Plague marines. The Angels often times hire themselves out as mercenaries in return for more bodies for experimentation. But only a fool trusts the Angels, they are just as likely to harvest their allies for their experiments when given the chance. Only the strongest of chaos lords can afford to buy their services without fear of meeting this fate. This is not done out of some scheming attempt for more power like the followers of Tzeentch. 10,000 years in the eye of terror has rotted away more than just the Angels' bodies. An Angel of Pestilence is little more than an opportunistic hunter, preying on the weak and waiting for the right opportunity to strike.
- Battle of Loktus Prime (331 M34): The Angels of Pestilence, in tandem with the Iron Warriors 34th Great Company, were contracted to help lay waste to the Fortress world Loktus Prime, near the eye of terror. A company of Plague Marines launched a surprise attack from Thunderhawk gunships on the lightly defended command center, killing the Imperial commanders defending the world and sabotaging the water supply within the fortress. This allowed the Iron Warriors to successfully take the world.
- The Desecration of Lion's Fury (419 M34): Elements of the Dark Angels second company, the Raven Wing, had recently captured one of the Fallen, Zachariah Markeaus, from an unknown feudal world near the frontier of Imperial space. But on there way back to The Rock, their fleet was ambushed by a force of 300 plague marines and an unknown number of lesser troops under the command of Siktar himself. Although the Dark Angels fought valiantly, taking many of the traitors with them, they were hopelessly out-numbered. Slain to less than a dozen men, the survivors met a grisly fate beneath the surface of Mortaguard, with only Zachariah, the fallen, being spared. It is rumored that Zachariah remains a prisoner of the warband to this day. Needless to say, the Dark Angels have never forgotten this insult.
- Raid of Plybus VI (226 M35): During the dark days of the Nova Terra Interregnum, the Imperium was beset by constant civil. In such times the Angels of Pestilence truly thrive, taking advantage of the slaughter to take large amounts of defenseless captives. One such raid happened on the proto-hive world of Plybus VI. While Imperial and heretical forces fought for control of the world, the Angels slipped pass their defenses and proceeded to ransack the growing refugee camps for more captives. However, the Dark Angels, who were not far away from the carnage, were keen on revenge and launched a devastating surprise attack on the traitor forces. Although the Angels of Pestilence managed to escape, the relentless fury of the sons of Lion El'Johnson took a heavy toll on the traitor strike force, eliminating half of their number. Still, the Angels made way with their gruesome trophies.
- The Muridian Genocide (Unknown date M36): The Muridian Genocide, was the first time the forces of mankind witnessed the horrid work of the Angels of Pestilence first hand. During the age of Apostasy, the world of Muron III was cut off by warp storms for over two centuries. While this did save the world from the mass destruction of the insane High Lord Goge Vandire, it left it defenseless to the perils of the warp. After a century of peace, a mysterious plague broke out. The first symptoms of the epidemic came in the form of rashes and small tumors, but out of these grew into strange twisted limbs. Cutting off these limbs only made the mutations grow faster and the plague spread at a rapid pace, consuming much of the planet's population within a few standard years. Mass panic ensued, and the world's government took harsh steps to repress the unrest. However, before they could pacify the planet, the Angels attacked, destroying the planetary defense forces with ease. The entire population was then rounded up at gun point and herded into make-shift laboratories, disguised as hospitals. When Muron III was rediscovered by Imperial rogue traders in 602 M35, they returned as broken men, driven to insanity by what they had seen. The Inquisition came to investigate, finding horrifically disfigured mutants, crafted from the bodies of multiple people sowed together. Only exterminatus ended their suffering and the Inquisitors would forever be haunted by the events that transpired on Muron III.
Siktar the Blighted, Master of the Angels of Pestilence
At the warband's heart lies its leader, Siktar the Blighted. Rising from an outcast in his own legion to a mighty chaos lord, the fate of the Angels and their master are one. Siktar has lead the warband from his laboratory since the founding of Mortaguard, 10,000 years ago. Born on a planet lost to the annals of history, the footprint of the Blighted haunts the Imperium and by extension the galaxy to this very day. His rule over the Angels is absolute, with its members referring to him as their "father", most of them being a direct result of his own experiments. Since his final corruption on the voyage to Terra, he has convinced himself that he is the living embodiment of Nurgle himself and that it is his mission to lead humanity to a golden age in acceptance of the one true god of humanity and by extension himself. The once noble healer has shape shifted into a seething pit of madness, who justifies his actions in the name of natural selection and saving human race. The pain and destruction caused by this debased killer does not resonate to him, because in Siktar's mind his victims are little more than animals, to be weeded out so that the strong may live. To him his experiments are for the greater good, even as the surface of his world-where the dismembered bodies of his victims crawl for eternity-stand testament to the horror he has unleashed upon the galaxy. While Siktar claims to save humanity, the people he claims to save mean nothing to him as individuals. Even his "children", the Angels of Pestilence, are only extensions of himself. Even if he cares about their well being it is only because they are his own constructs and a testament to his own power.
Abulard the Abnormal, Chief Apothecary
Born three decades before the Horus Heresy, Abulard the Abnormal was the son of two geneticists who had worked in the Emperor's secret laboratories on Luna. Abulard excelled at the arts of genetics and was given the great honor of been sent to work alongside the legendary Apothecary Fabius Bile. The geneticist proved his worth to the Clone Lord, becoming one of his trusted acolytes. Abulard followed his master into heresy and beyond, learning from his dark arts and perfecting the craft of space marine genetics, in particular the creation of chaos space marines from corrupted gene seed. Eventually however, Bile began to view Abulard as a liability, feeling that he held too much information. The Clone Lord started to murder his former colleagues and acolytes to prevent his secrets from reaching the wider forces of chaos, and fearing a similar fate, Abulard fled. Thought to be killed by Bile, his ship came crashing down into Mortaguard's writhing surface sometime during the 33rd millennium. Accepting Nurgle as his god and Siktar as his master, Abulard carried Bile's secrets with him and with it has been working in tandem with his new master ever since. With their combined knowledge of biology, genetics and plague, the two have managed to make the Death Guard gene-seed more usable, allowing the corrupted gene seed to be injected into the host's body. While most will become spawn, a lucky few will become full fledged Plague Marines, capable of spreading the rot of Nurgle further into the galaxy.
Abulard is known as the commonly as the Abnormal, for his habit of storytelling while conducting experiments on the living and his horrifically disfigured face. Although not a true space marine, he has none the less received genetic enhancements through gene-seed therapy and drugs. While on the battlefield, he wears a modified, dirty white suit of MK III power armor commonly worn by Death Guard astartes, but is more commonly dressed in garb similar to that of Imperial Medicae personnel, although covered in blood and filth. This would imply that he still has the ability to remove his armor unlike most plague marines. He is described as a pale gaunt figure, with deep cuts along his cheeks and eyebrows with parasitic worms eternally crawling through his scars.
While any loyal servant of His Holiness despises the Angels of Pestilence, one chapter in particular is the Dark Angels and their Unforgiven successors. The root of this hatred can be traced back to a legendary story about one of the Fallen. Apparently, a fallen Angel by the name of Zachariah Markeaus, had fled to an peaceful isolated world, and went into hiding disguised as a villager. Over time, he forgot his role as an astartes and lived a peaceful life in the village, according to more scrupulous accounts even raising a family. Eventually however, the Dark Angels caught on, and massacred all the villagers, taking Zachariah as prisoner. But on their way to the Rock to make the fallen repent, the Dark Angels strike force was ambushed and never returned. Although not confirmed by the Inquisition, rumor has it that the Angels of Pestilence led by Siktar himself intercepted the fleet, killing the Dark Angels but sparing the Zachariah and he is being kept as a prisoner to this day, deep beneath the surface of Mortaguard. The Unforgiven have since sworn vengeance, and many servants of Siktar have met their ends in the vaults of the Dark Angel's fortress monastery, the Rock.
Followers of Tzeentch
The followers of Tzeentch and Nurgle have never been on good terms, and the Angels are no different than all of Nurgle's worshipers in this respect. Such is their hatred, that the Angels will refuse to sell their services to any Tzeentchian lord, whether it be Ahriman's Prodigal Sons or Magnus the Red and his cabal of sorcerers. Outside of the Imperium, they are the Angel's favorite targets. Still, being the pragmatists they are, there are rare occasions where the two might work for a common goal, but this will always end with the two sides turning on each other.
Although they both follow the plague god, the Purge and the Angels of Pestilence have hated each other since the Purge's inception. Their hatred comes from diverging beliefs and can be seen in the difference between Plague cults and Death cults. While the Purge seek to destroy all life so the galaxy can be reborn, the Angels seek to sort out the weak from the strong, so they can reshape humanity in their god's image. Their rivalry is not just ideological, the warbands have fought each other in grueling wars of attrition that have resulted in massive casualties on both sides, with neither side coming out on top. The bloodshed has only dissipated because Mortarion threatened both warbands with attack if they didn't cease the fighting. Still clashes are a common sight throughout the Eye of Terror.
Due to their psychopathic tendencies and their usual status as mercenaries, the Angels of Pestilence have no true allies in the traditional sense. The closest thing they have are their fellow Death Guard legionaries. Despite their many differences, the Angels still view their gene cousins as brothers and will join them in crusades to ravage the Imperium.
Typhus, Herald of Nurgle
Despite their split, it seems that the two champions of Nurgle have a close relationship and managed to put their differences aside of late. The Angels were sighted in Typhus's plague fleets during the onset of the 13th Black Crusade and fought alongside the Herald of Nurgle during the Gothic War. The Ordo Malleus believes that the relationship is purely mutual: Siktar has been providing Typhus with some of his secrets in return for access to some of Typhus's most devastating plagues. Whatever the case, their relationship is one that has been a thorn in the side of the forces of the God Emperor for quite some time.
Another Nurglelite warband with close connections to the Angels of Pestilence is the Tainted. They have been seen fighting alongside each other during multiple different campaigns. They both use very similar tactics, relying on large numbers of chaos spawn.
Lords of Decay
The Angels of Pestilence and the Lords of Decay maintain a steady, if uneasy alliance. While the larger Lords of Decay do not trust the Angels of Pestilence, both are part of the Death Guard legion and worshipers of Nurgle. They undertook joint operations during the 12th Black Crusade and played an important part of Typhus's Plague Fleets at the start of the 13th Black Crusade. The Lords of Decay are also believed to be one of the Angels many clients that receive support in creating new Plague Marines.
Despite their differences, the Angels have been known to associate themselves with the sons of Konrad Curze, although they have not always been on good terms. Since there are many different Night Lord warbands, it is not easy to distinguish their relationship from the many different factions. However, judging by the amount of times seen fighting alongside each other it can be safely assumed that the Angels maintain close ties to most Night Lord warbands. However, both the Angels and the Night Lords seem to be incapable of long term alliances due to their predatory natures. There have been many occasions where after the fight, the warbands turn on each other to fulfill their own depraved urges.
During their many campaigns against the Imperium, the factions of the Alpha Legion have made use of the Angel's services many times. They were observed fighting with the Alpha Legion during the Battle for the hive world Taramathoris, which ended in a chaotic victory, where the Alpha Legion warlord ascended to daemonhood. They have also been contracted as mercenaries by the sons of Alpharius during the 4th Quadrant Rebellion, the Achilius Crusade and more recently the Night of a Thousand Rebellions in Segmentum Pacificus. Still, they have come to blows over multiple different campaigns.
Cult and culture
With a thousand plague marines, millions of diseased cultists and hordes of monstrous constructs, the Angels of Pestilence are a formidable fighting force. But they are not warriors. They are scientists and explorers. Madmen who seek to unlock the secrets of the human race in order to save it. They do not fight for conquest. Their tactics are meant to test their new weapons while moving their plague marines into the right place to maximize their destructive capabilities as well as minimize their own casualties.
These opportunistic plague marines prefer to attack weaker positions, using their beasts, biological weapons and lesser cultists to distract the main force. Whether fighting as mercenaries or launching their own raids, the Angel's attack begins long before the first wave. Certain captives-called carriers-are mind wiped and infected with a dormant form of a select disease and then released off world to find a suitable target or to the world of their employer's choice. Most of them do not make it, but those that do have no idea what they are a part of. These have a tracking device, allowing the Angels to zoom in on their target. The carriers spreads the disease, insuring that the world is weaken before the actual attack. When conditions are right, the Angels launch their first wave, usually made of cultist operatives, who rile the populace into revolt and spread the disease further. This only weakens the defenses. When Angel's fleet arrives, they send their beasts to cause havoc, while pelting the enemy with biological weapons, before sending the third wave of insurgents that engage in guerrilla warfare. Only when the enemy has been severely weakened and the time is right do the Angels strike, making use of dread claws, thunder hawk gunships and plague marine bikers strike at the enemy quickly. Specialized gangs of cultists travel behind corralling prisoners into large transports.
In battle, the Angels make heavy use of their "creations" to cause confusion, soak up enemy gun fire and cut a path into the enemy lines. Their cultist are meant to chorale these beasts, infiltrate enemy lines to spread disease and add to their marines fire power. Genetically modified bands are usually seen fighting directly alongside their plague marine counterparts during assaults in order to better overrun enemy positions. Biological weapons are used to cause confusion, panic and to destroy large portions of enemy troops at a time. Their weapons are devastatingly effective and have been compared to the chemical weapons used by the Purge. But while the Purge's weapons are meant to kill, the Angel's weapons are meant to demoralize, mutate and incapacitate the enemy, so their still living bodies can be transported back to Mortaguard for further research.
Although not the largest of warbands, the Angels of Pestilence are one of the most widespread. They have been found on battlefields in all of the segmentums of the Imperium with the heaviest concentrations being around the Eye of Terror and Maelstrom warp rifts. As well as plague marines, the warband has a sizable network of operatives spread out across the galaxy. Unlike most Death Guard cult networks, whom are active in the lower and under classes of the Imperium, the Angels have managed to infiltrate many areas of the middle class- trade unions, merchant guilds, shipping unions and the community of sanctioned Imperial geneticists, including the Magos Biologis. They use these operatives to provide information, smuggle contraband chemicals, sabotage and steal gene seed tithes, spread disease and comprise the defense of entire systems. The Angels recruit these operatives from the native serf population of Mortaguard, and in turn these informants are oblivious to their true purpose or who is really receiving the information.
Like all chaos warbands in the eye of terror, the Angels of Pestilence suffer from massive gene-seed defects. The Death Guard gene-seed has become extremely corrupt, and it has become hard to implant new initiates with its gene-seed, forcing most warbands to raid the stores of loyalist chapters unless the warband in question has a masterful sorcerer. In spite of this the Angels have managed to find a stable source of new marines in the form of Abulard's elixir. The elixir is easy to produce, requiring only half the amount of gene seed normally needed in order to make new plague marines.
However, these benefits do come with a cost. Only one and 800 initiates will become full fledged plague marines with most being reduced to chaos spawn. Individual marines tend to become far more mutated than the standard Death Guard astartes, often growing insect like appendages out of their forearms and heads. These defects are not just physical. They seem to be mentally imbalanced, even by chaotic standards. Although their tactics are meant to limit casualties, some of the more afflicted battle brothers engage in highly risky behavior to sate their predatory urges, exposing themselves to enemy encirclement. The Angels place their most aggressive brethren in biker squads, so that their urges might be used to devastating effect, but it also results in an exceptionally high casualty rate among these groups.
The Angels of Pestilence are primarily based on Mortaguard, a daemon world deep in the eye of Terror. A tropical, swampy world buzzing with flies, Mortaguard's surface is entirely made up of undead dismembered bodies of humans and xenos alike, the remains of those the Angels have experimented on. Top most level of the surface is made mostly of arms, so that anyone foolish enough to come without an invitation is dragged under by the sea of undead corpses. It is unknown how the Angels have managed to arrange the surface in this matter or how they can walk on the surface without fear of this threat, but it is most likely due to some form of vile sorcery. In some parts, the sea of corpses give way to pools of green water. These pools lead to the Angels underground bases, a vast sprawl of laboratories, bases and small cities separated from the water by shield generators.
In the first level, closest to the surface, lies a network of bases and laboratories. These are connected to chutes that lead to the surface, allowing unlucky intruder to fall strait into the laboratory so they can dissected. A few lucky will be found "superior" and allowed to join the damned population of the world below. It is here that the Angels reside. In one particular spot, the network reaches strait down to the core of the world. It is here that Siktar resides in a massive throne complex, complete with a personal laboratory and guarded by a force of 7 plague marine terminators and 28 augmented human warriors.
Below the laboratories lives a fairly large population of diseased serfs that form the vast majority of plague marine recruits, auxiliary soldiers and operatives that make up the warband. They are described as pale and gaunt, with emaciated faces, giving them a zombie like appearance. Some of the more "favored" are fat and bloated. Unlike most chaos space marines, the Angels seem to treat their serfs well, calling them their "children" and allowing them unlimited freedom, leading to lawlessness. Undead beasts, formed from numerous captives stitched together, roam between these settlements and the serfs must fight these monsters for survival. This breeds a tough resilient population, perfect for astartes recruits. The Angels encourage the different groups of serfs to fight against each other, to ensure that only the strongest survive to be recruited into the warband's growing forces.