- "They are what they need to be. None can fault them for that."
- —Supreme Grand Master Azrael of the Dark Angels
The Marines Baleful are a 15th founding Dark Angels successor chapter, one with a dark and shrouded history. Originally known as the Angels of Valiance, a proud and arrogant chapter obsessed with their own superiority. However, after their arrogance nearly became their downfall, the chapter underwent drastic changes to it's structure, livery, and and culture, renaming themselves the Marines Baleful. They have since become a mysterious and potent force against the enemies of the Imperium, striking fear into the hearts of their foes.
- "We do not need a reminder of how we failed, only the knowledge that we did."
- —Attributed to the current Grand Master of the Marines Baleful
The Angels of ValianceVery few of the earliest records of the Marines Baleful's existence remain, most due to the Chapter's own efforts to destroy any records of the time before the Re-Founding. Regardless, what the higher echelons of Imperial bureaucracy do know is that the Marines Baleful were originally known as the Angels of Valiance, a Chapter created during the Fifteenth Founding from the gene-seed of the Dark Angels chapter, although it is still unknown whether the Angels of Valiance were birthed directly from the ranks of the Dark Angels or were instead sired by one of the First Founding chapter's many successor chapters.
In 432.M36, shortly after the Chapter's creation, the Angels of Valiance claimed the Fuedal World of Telrath as their new homeworld. Telrath boasted medieval level of technology and culture, complete with various Knight-Orders that divided the planet through various baronies and fiefdoms known as Knight-Houses, making Telrath a world of constant political tension that always seemed on the brink of all-out war. To settle disputes between Houses and thus prevent such a calamity, the Houses had established a system in which Telrathi Knights would fight in ritualized one-on-one duals to the death, the winner's Knight-House winning whatever argument or claim through right of combat. It should also be noted that Telrath was in many respects similar to the Dark Angel's destroyed homeworld of Caliban, which is perhaps the primary reason why the Angels of Valiance chose the planet as their new recruiting ground.
Establishing their fortress-monastery within the Great Skypiercers, the largest mountain range on Telrath, the Angels of Victory immediately began to recruit from the Telrathi populace, eager to bolster their numbers so that they might begin their galactic conquests in the name of the Emperor and Imperium. As the years passed the Angels of Valiance began to recruit exclusively from the squires and noble sons of the Knight-Houses, as these adolescents were trained to fight in the name of their respected Houses from the moment they could walk, and thus they made capable and able-bodied recruits. However, this had the unintentional effect of instilling a sense of entitlement and aristocratic self-assurance amongst the Angels of Valiance, their noble-born recruits continuing to act like nobility even after becoming fully-fledged Space Marines.
Soon the demeanor of the Chapter had become a pompous and arrogant one, one that wholeheartedly believed in the innate superiority that came through their bloodlines. Quite simply, the Angels of Valiance thought themselves to be better than everyone else, better warriors, better tacticians, even better hunters of the Fallen, a statement which angered many of their fellow Unforgiven chapters. They refused to fight alongside those they considered "unworthy", and even began to deliberately avoid battles they considered to be minor and therefore not worth their time, much to the misfortune of many a beleaguered planet. The Imperium eventually began to distance itself from the Angels of Valiance, it's many defenders having long since grown tired the Chapter's condescending ways, leaving the Angels of Valiance to sink ever deeper into the cesspit that had become their own arrogance...
Corruption from Within
The ultimate demise of the Angels of Valiance was ironically birthed from their own self-assurance, specifically the hubris of the Chapter's Librarius. The Librarians of the Angels of Valiance had always been reckless when consorting with the powers of the Warp, so caught up in the delusion of their own incorruptibility that they recklessly delved deeper into the Immaterium than any self-respecting psyker would dare. Such action could only end in catastrophe, and it did, with the promotion of the Epistolary Desparaux D'Argentan to Chief Librarian of the Chapter. A nobleman's brat who had become a Space Marine mostly due to his own psychic ability, D'Argen lacked even the slightest shred of humility, believing himself to immune to the temptations of Chaos because of the near-divine power that his bloodline gave him.
Of course, his ego and psychic power made his soul glow bright in the warp, particularly to those who served the Dark Prince Slaanesh. D'Argentan's constant delving into forbidden arcana heedless of the risk made it all too easy for him to be possessed by the Keeper of Secrets Slaries, who feasted on the arrogant Librarian's soul, a tasty morsel to the Greater Daemon. He twisted and corrupted D'Argentan's very being, painstakingly drawing out his essence into his fell clutches and replacing it with his own, until their was no distinguishing the Daemon from the Space Marine. Unbeknownst to the Angels of Valiance, their Chief Librarian was fast becoming something vile and corrupt, something that plotted the Chapter's downfall.
Soon after, summons came from the Chief Librarian for the Chapter's Librarius to gather on Telrath, to discuss an urgent matter that concerned corruption within the Chapter. Fearing the worst, every single Lexicantum, Codicer, and Epistolary rallied within the confines of the Chapter's fortress monastery, where D'Argentan revealed that he had detected an unseen cancer clawing away at the minds of his battle-brothers, trying to draw them into the embrace of the Ruinous Powers. In order to cast out this warp-born malady, he needed the combined strength of every single psyker within the Chapter, all focused through a ritual of his own devising. Agreeing to their Chief Librarian's proposition, the Librarians of the Angels of Valiance submitted themselves to D'Argentan's ritual, and unknowingly fell into his trap.
The ritual ripped the souls from each Librarian, their combined essences given up as tribute to the Dark Prince while at the same time reducing their bodies to fleshy husks ripe for possession. Momentarily satisfied by the tormented psyker-souls, the Dark Prince chose to reward his new servant by granting him new followers, which came in the form of a horde of Slaaneshi Daemons that burst from the Immaterium on to the surface of Telrath, falling upon the Telrathi people like a tidal wave of ecstatic madness.
However, hope was not yet lost, for in their final moments a group of the Chapter's senior Librarians had pooled their remaining strength to send a single astropathic message across the stars, so they might contact their battle-brothers in a last ditch attempt to destroy D'Argentan before his madness was unleashed into the greater Imperium. The message was received, though fraught with psychic disturbance, by none other than the Chief Astropath of the Chapter's mighty flagship Glory of Telrath. The transmission consisted of only two words; TELRATH FALLS.
The Battle for Telrath
Chapter Master Gideon Arenbourne quickly mobilized the remainder of the Chapter and made all haste to their homeworld, only to find they had arrived too late. D'Argentan's corrupting influence had spread far and wide in the Angel's absence, what little of the planet that had not been overrun by the forces of Slaanesh was instead overrun by the maddened Telrathi, who had long since been warped and corrupted by the power of the Dark Prince. Knowing they had to cut off the head of this threat before it was to late, the Angels of Valiance rained down upon their former Fortress-Monastery in a hail of Drop Pods and Thunderhawks, only to be assaulted in turn by the fortresses' now daemonically-powered anti-aircraft defenses. Nearly a third of the Chapter's attack forces perished before even reaching the battlefield, cut down mid-air by the very same formidable defenses that they had once boasted could not be penetrated.
Touching down within the confines of the fortress, the Angels of Valiance quickly discovered a new threat; their former Librarius. The shells of these once venerable psykers had been twisted and corrupted by their new daemonic hosts, the psychic powers now brought to bear on those they had once called brother. The possessed released waves of shrieking sonic force and gibbering warp-energy that ripped entire squads of Space Marines to shreds, radiating discordant waves of pain and pleasure so strong that battle-brothers began to keel over in the midst of battle, their very souls overwhelmed with sensory overload. Yet despite their formidable resistance the Angels of Valiance broke through their lines through sheer strength of numbers, though numerous lives were lost in the process.
As the battle for Telrath waged in the halls of their corrupted fortress, Chapter Master Arenbourne, alongside Master of the Forge Arcanus and Reclusiarch Tenshire, broke away from the chaos and confronted D'Argentan within the cavernous expanse that had once been the fortress-monasteries meeting hall, now transformed into a dark place of worship. The warp throbbed within the confines of this place, ready and waiting to spill forth so it might claim the planet for the Dark Prince, and in the midst of it all stood the Chief Librarian. He was barely recognizable, his armor having fused with pinkish muscle and sinew that stood out on his surprisingly lithe form, mimicking the curves of his musculature in a riot of gaudy shades and obscene symbols. Yet despite all his transformed flesh, D'Argentan's face had been left untouched, save for the orbs of burning witchlight that served as his eyes. The Chapter Master demanded to know why he had betrayed his Chapter, to which the Keeper of Secrets inhabiting D'Argentan replied that he had not corrupted the Librarian, it had merely pushed him in the right direction. Enraged by the daemon's response, the Angels of Valiance drew their weapons, and the battle began.
The Reclusiarch died first, scythed into bloody meat by a vortex of screaming kenetic force released by the Possessed Librarian. Wary of suffering the same fate, the Master of the Forge circled to the left while the Chapter Master flanked from the right, hoping to close the distance between them and their foe. D'Argentan was more than happy to oblige their wish, summoning a pair of warp-forged blades into his hands and rushing into their midst in a whirlwind of slashes almost too fast for the eye to follow. Power armor rent open like paper, both Marines fell to their knees before the Possessed. He could have finished them both of them right then and there, but some of D'Argentan's old arrogance shined through, and thus he stopped to gloat over their prone forms. That was the corrupted Angel's undoing, for his taunts allowed Arcanus just enough time to recover, and attack with his prized Conversion Beamer. Momentarily surprised, the Possessed threw up a wall of fell energy to defend himself from the deadly beam... leaving him open for Gideon's attack. Snatching up Arcanus' Omnissian Power Axe, Gideon struck D'Argentan's head from his shoulders, and crushed it into a puddle of gore underneath his boot.
Yet even with their leader dead, the forces of Slaanesh still dominated the planet, and began to converge upon the fortress-monastery guided by the psychic clarion call that was the Possessed Librarian's death cry. The Angels of Valiance were forced into a fighting retreat, having lost nearly half their numbers in the preliminary onslaught alone. Withdrawing to the safety of their fleet, the Angels of Valiance looked down upon the dammed world they had once called home, and realized the scope of their tremendous failure. With a heavy heart the Chapter Master ordered a Cyclonic bombardment of Telrath, scouring of the planet of life, and aborting it's transformation into a Daemon World forevermore. Their homeworld now a charred ruin, the Angels of Valiance readied themselves to face the Imperium's judgement.
Overseen by the Inquisition's Ordo Hereticus, the Imperium's judgement was both swift and merciless. The Angels of Valiance were publicly censored for their failing to stop the corruption within their own ranks and for the destruction of their own homeworld, which they had subjected to Exterminatus without the Inquisition's consent. Chapter Master Arenbourne was sentenced to death, a punishment he surprisingly accepted with reverence, claiming that he was "unworthy to live" because of his failings. After Gideon's inglorious death, his gene-seed was returned to the remnants of the Chapter, who were then charged with a Penitence Crusade through the Eye of Terror. Eager to atone, the Angels of Valiance complied without hesitation, their fleet plunging into the depths of the Eye, never to be seen for nearly half a millennia.
In 149.M38, a lone Battle-Barge emerged from the depths of the Eye of Terror, identifying itself as the Glory of Telrath. It's one-hundred Space Marine occupants were rigorously screened for potential corruption, in which gene-testing confirmed that these were indeed the Angels of Valiance. They were then offered a new planet to set up operations, but the Angels declined, stating that they were not worthy. The then departed within their battered warship, disappearing the cordons sight and from from Imperial Records.
In 502.M38, rumors of a Chapter of Space Marines calling themselves the Marines Baleful began to surface, having been seen fighting alongside the Dark Angels and other Unforgiven Chapters in various locations across the galaxy. At this point it is theorized that after returning from their Penitence Crusade the Angels of Valiance sought the help of the Progenitors in order to rebuild, though the Dark Angels have neither confirmed nor denied these claims. In 784.M38, the Marines Baleful begin to surface independently gliding in and out of Imperial Space to combat the enemies of the Imperium before once again vanishing into the blackness of the void. An Inquisitorial investigation later revealed that the Gene-Seed of the Marines Baleful was an exact genetic match to that of the supposedly extinct Angels of Valiance, giving the Imperium solid proof that the Chapter was nowhere near as dead as the rest of the galaxy had previously thought, though many questions still remain.
The Marines Baleful refer to this period as the Re-Founding, though once again the exact details of this event are known only to the Chapter, the sons of the Lion having downright refused to divulge any information regarding it on more than one occasion. However, due to the sheer amount of changes that their doctrines, structure and even very identity underwent since the Chapter's return from the Eye, one can only assume it was a time of great change for the Marines Baleful. There is a prevalent particularly rumor that these reforms were instigated on the orders of the Dark Angel's Supreme Grand Master himself, though like most of the theories concerning the Marines Baleful this is only a rumor, or at least it is according to the Dark Angels and their fellow Unforgiven.
All that is known is that the Marines Baleful have become a Chapter shrouded in mystery and suspicion, drawing further away every time the Imperium attempts to unearth their secrets. Many wonder what they have to hide, and many more wonder why they are so intent on keeping said secrets...
(MORE TO COME)
After their penitence crusade, the Marines Baleful underwent several major changes to the structure of their chapter. However, like most Dark Angel Successors the Marines Baleful is structured largely the same way as their Progenitor, with Captains referred to as Company Masters, and Companies identified through heraldic markings rather than numerals. As is tradition for Unforgiven Chapters, they also retain both a Deathwing and Ravenwing Company.
- "Our history must never repeat itself."
- —Animostitas, Sanctriarch of the Abscondium
After during the Chapter's reformation into the Marines Baleful, the source of their downfall, the Chapter's Librarius, was completely dissolved, never to be reformed. In it's place rose a new organization, known as the Abscondium, from which the rank of Absconder would be created. A hybrid role between Chaplain and Librarian, Absconders are non-psychic warriors charged with chronicling and safeguarding the history and traditions of the Marines Baleful, as well as serving as the Chapter's spiritual guides. Absconders are also responsible for the capture and interrogation of the Fallen hunted down by the Chapter, a task they undertake with grim determination.
The Abscondium is lead by the Santriarch, the commander of all Absconders within the Marines Baleful, and a member of the Chapter's Inner Circle.
Absconders are typically identified by their jet-black armor and bone-white robes, both of which are sparsely adorned, decorated with nothing save the symbol of the Marines Baleful on the left shoulder and company hereldry on the left knee. Like Codex Chaplains, Absconders wear skull-faced helms, and usually wield staff-variants of the traditional Crozius Arcanum, which serve as both their primary weapon and their symbol of office.
Like most Dark Angels successors, the Marines Baleful's 1st Veteran Company is known as the Deathwing. Arrayed in the traditional bone-white Terminator Armor and bearing the Broken Sword icon upon their chestplates, the Deathwing are responsible for hunting down the Fallen and delivering them into the hands of the Absconders, so they might pay for their crimes against the Primarch. Shattering the enemy lines through sheer firepower and brute strength, very few can withstand a full on assault by the 1st Company.
In addition to the Deathwing, the Marines Baleful's 2nd Company is organized into the elite assault force known as the Ravenwing. Clad in midnight-black armor bearing the Winged Sword icon, and fighting astride powerful Assault Bikes and Land Speeders, the Ravenwing are a highly mobile strike force whose sheer ability as shock troops has been the end of many an enemy. Like the Deathwing, the Ravenwing are responsible for hunting down the Fallen so that they might face judgement for their sins.
The Marines Baleful are known to have the following ships in their Chapter Fleet:
- Umbra Vigilemus (Battle-Barge) - The mighty flagship of the Marines Baleful, the Umbra Vigilemus has served as the Chapter's impromptu fortress-monastery since the re-founding. The Battle-Barge also contains the Chapter Librarius, the repository of all the Marines Baleful's knowledge and history, and thus is considered a sacred vessel by the Abscondium.
- Redemptor (Battle-Barge) - The Redemptor serves as a prison-ship of sorts, in which the Chapter's Fallen captives are imprisoned, interrogated, and made to repent within the darkened confines of it's lower decks. It also oftentimes serves a meeting place for the Chapter's Inner Circle, where the Marines Baleful's leaders might discuss the Chapter's more secretive matters away from prying eyes.
- Dark Harbinger (Strike Cruiser)
- Wrath of the Lion (Strike Cruiser)
- Alterius Aevi (Strike Crusier)
The Marines Baleful have learned from their time as the Angels of Valiance that pride is a weakness, and so they are a very humble chapter, never going into battle seeking glory but simply victory. They also "give up" their names after being initiated, giving up all sense of individuality in an ultimate act of humility and are only referred to by the High Gothic names that they give themselves in order to tell one another apart. These names usually refer to a certain aspect of the marine, like "Brother Ultorious (Vengeful)" or "Brother Contritus (Penitent)". They do not decorate their armor or weapons, and members of the Marines Baleful only receive honors after their deaths. Others, even their fellow Unforgiven Chapters, tend to find the Marines Baleful's lack of the concept of individuality unnerving.
While the Marines Baleful may be humble, but they are also cruel. They believe that the only way to fight the enemies of Man is to break them completely, and so they never give any quarter or mercy no matter what the circumstances. Anyone who is in the least affiliated with the enemy is an enemy themselves and is killed on the spot. They also do not barter or make deals with those they consider to be enemies, not even with more benevolent factions such as the Tau or Eldar. In addition, The Marines Baleful strongly dislike psykers, as they were nearly the death of their chapter, and thus they believe them to be easily corrupted. This does not mean they will not associate themselves with psykers, but they will keep a close eye on them, ever wary in case of potential corruption.
The main aspects of the Marines Baleful's creed are centered around the belief that they are merely the Emperor's weapons of war, and nothing more. They believe that things like battle-honors and even their own names are superficial in the grand scheme of things, as only purpose in life is to kill the enemies of the Imperium, and they do so with great zeal. Simply put, the Marines Baleful do not want to be honored or respected, they are content with being feared by mutants, heretics and xenos alike. The Marines Baleful also dislike the overly proud or boastful, knowing that their pride will be their downfall just like it was almost theirs.
The Hunt for the Fallen
Like all Unforgiven Chapters, the Marines Baleful are on a constant search for the Fallen, capturing them and breaking them through the ministrations of the Absconders before executing them. Also like their fellow Chapters, the only members of the Deathwing, Ravenwing, and Abscondium are aware of this secret quest, the leaders of these factions alongside the Grand Master himself making up the Marines Baleful's Inner Circle. The rest of the Chapter is unaware of this hidden agenda, unless they are brought in to the Abscondium or Veteran Companies, in which case they are informed of the sons of the Lion's secret shame as part of their initiation.
The Marine's Baleful combat doctrine has always put emphasis on the division of one's forces, as to "divide and conquer" as the saying goes. Thus before entering combat, the Marines Baleful split their forces into smaller kill-teams each tasked with a different objective. Some kill-teams strike at the enemies resources, conducting hit-and-run attacks on outposts and supply depots to weaken the enemy forces. Other will take a more direct approach by using heavy support units such as carious tanks, Dreadnoughts, and Devastator Squads to destroy enemy fortifications and overwhelm the opposing forces with sheer firepower. Whenever the enemy tries to retaliate, they will quickly find the tables turned on them as other kill-teams will be lying in wait to ambush the inevitable counter-attack. Only when the enemy force has been sufficiently weakened will the Marines Baleful re-join their forces, collecting into a formation referred to as a "Spearhead", a single devastating wave to overwhelm whatever opposition still remains.
If the opportunity is present, the Marines Baleful will also resort to terror tactics to demoralize their foe, striking at civilian centers and medical refuges and slaughtering all within. Scouts will plant explosives in major centers of activity in order to yield mass casualties when the bombs are detonated, resulting in mass panic and hysteria as the enemy begins to dread to next inevitable massacre. Some might call the tactics unnecessary and overly cruel, but none can deny it demolishes the opponent's morale. However, these sort of tactics are the main reason why the Marines Baleful are not a very well-liked Chapter.
- "Your souls are forfeit, but are you prepared to pay the price? In the coming days, we shall see..."
- —Derisus, Master of Recruits
The Marines Baleful are a Fleet-Based Chapter, and thus they have no homeworld to recruit from but rather recruit from a variety of planets. As a result, each recruit has a unique cultural background, one that is beaten out of them over the course of his trials, all of which are designed to make the initiate accept that he is no longer a person, he is an instrument of the Emperor and the Primarch's will, nothing more. As a result the Marines Baleful's trials are hash to an inhuman level, and thus only the strongest, most devoted recruits survive. While this does ensure the quality of new Scouts to be initiated into the Chapter, it also means that the Marines Baleful receive a low input of new Battle-Brothers.
Once the Initiate has passed his final trial, he is taken aboard the Umbra Vigelimus, where before the Grand Master himself does he take his final oaths, including forgoing his old name in place of a new one that shall identify him forevermore. This ceremony, known as the Last Rite, is considered a sacred occasion, and oftentimes the entire Chapter will gather simply to watch the aspirants take their final oaths.
The Grand Master
Company Master Sanctor
Company Master Silentium
The Amissae Memoria
After the Angels of Valiance re-emerged from the Eye of Terror, only one hundred of their number remained, the rest having fallen to the many perils of their penitence crusade. As the Chapter's Inner Circle began to reform their Chapter in an event known as the Re-Founding, Master of the Forge Arcanus was embarking upon a project of his own. Gathering up the shards of Power Armor taken from the bodies of his fallen battle-brothers, the Techmarine smelted them down and reforged them into a suit of Artificer Armor unlike any other. On the final day of the Re-Founding, Arcanus emerged from the forges to present his tribute to those who had died to absolve the Chapter of it's sins. He called this armor the Amissae Memoria.
It's name literally translating to "Remembrance of the Lost", the Amissae is the master-crafted armor passed down from Grand Master to Grand Master since the Marines Baleful's Re-Founding. While beautifully crafted, this armor bares no ornamentation; it's pauldrons bare, it's helmet a faceless mask save for a pair of burning red eye-slits. It's only decoration is the Winged Skull of the Chapter, proudly displayed on it's chestplate. To the Marines Baleful, the Amissae Memoria not only represents the authority of the Grand Master, but also is a symbol of the Chapter's repentance, of their re-forging into the deadly force they are today through the sacrifices of their valiant brethren, and thus it is a highly coveted artifact worn only by the Marines Baleful's Grand Masters.
The Baleful Tome
After the Re-Founding, the first Grand Master of the newly named Marines Baleful penned a book compiling the newly-created culture of the reformed Chapter, a book that would later become known as the Baleful Tome. A revered repository of the Chapter's complied traditions and teachings, the Baleful Tome has been revised and re-written many times over the millennia, each new Grand Master adding his wisdom to the ancient book with each passing generation.
Three copies of the Baleful Tome exist; the original copy lies within the Librarium of the Battle-Barge Umbra Vigelimus, kept safe within the Abscondium's vaults. Another copy is always in the possession of the current Grand Master, and the third and final copy is carried by the Sanctriarch Animositas, who often reads from it's pages during important sermons.
Feel free to add your own!
- "Tell me Inquisitor, if our roles were reversed and I was to demand that you turn over the secrets of your Ordo; to reveal every lie, every atrocity, every dark truth that the Inquisition keeps hidden from the masses, would you comply with my wishes? No? Then we have nothing more to say to each other."
- —Attributed to the Grand Master, during an debriefing by Lord Inquistor Hiram Burex
- "Hubris is born out of an assurance of the self, the belief that one as an individual is greater than his fellow man. Our past failings are proof that the idea of the the self leads to arrogance, which culminates in ruin, and therefore must be expunged from the mind and soul if one wishes to his truly serve His Emperor, Primarch, and Imperium..."
- —From the Baleful Tome
- "Mercy? There is only one kind of mercy; the mercy of a quick death. Be thankful for that small kindness if nothing else."
- —Company Master Sanctor, before the slaughter of the surrendering Rebels of Scylla IV
Feel free to add your own!
- "There is no more pathetic sight than the repentant lapdog with his tail wedged between his legs. I, Baail Deurtog, will show them the price of such foolhardy repentance."
- —Baail Deurtog, Draugar Lord of the 5th Storm[src]
- "Come my nameless brothers, let us us go and bring death to the foes of the Emperor, let our bolters roar and swords flash. You may not yet trust my abilities and resolve brothers, but let us grow trust through the strength of our steel, and the skill of our arms."
- —First Librarian Leadros Kerventes of the Wings of Salvaxes chapter.
- "I do admittedly feel a measure of kinship towards them. Like us, they are not ashamed of neither try to hide who and what they are. Yet I cannot escape the feeling that there is something they do not reveal of themselves... just like us."
- —A Marine of the Angels Crepuscular