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Dark Angels
Legion Number I
Primarch Lion El'Jonson
Homeworld Caliban (destroyed); Fleet-based
Fortress-Monastery The Rock
Chapter Master Azrael
Colours Pre-Heresy: Black; Post-Heresy: Dark Green;

Deathwing: Bone; Ravenwing: Black

Specialty Combined arms,[78] Plasma Weaponry[4f]
Deathwing: Terminator veterans and hunting the Fallen.

Ravenwing: Fast attack
Experimental weaponry & tactics, extermination (pre-Horus Heresy)[33]

Strength ~1000 marines
Battle Cry "Repent! For tomorrow you die!"[1] or "For the Lion!"[25b]

The Dark Angels were the I Legion of the twenty original Space Marine Legions. Their Primarch is Lion El'Jonson. After remaining loyal to the Emperor during the Horus Heresy, this legion was later re-organized and divided into several Chapters during the Second Founding. One of these chapters would keep the original legion's name and assets, though all of the Dark Angels descendants continue to work together to hunt The Fallen as the Unforgiven.[22]


Unification Wars

Dark Angels Space Marine, original colours
The winged reaper, the original symbol of the 1st Legion[63d]

The Dark Angels have the honour of being the first Space Marine Legion created by The Emperor of Mankind. Their origins are however shrouded in mystery and secrecy, though it is said their Gene-Seed was in production a century before the end of the Unification Wars. During their earliest days Prototype Space Marines such as Abraxus Ghent were created from the Gene-Seed of Lion El'Jonson and served as the template for later Astartes to come. Known as the Primordial Strain, almost none of these initial prototypes are known to not have survived the process of becoming Space Marines but they nonetheless formed the basis of the initial culture of the First Legion. The subjects of these early experiments were recruited from genetically pure and uncorrupted inhabitants of Terra, themselves hard to find amid the many Atomic wars and genetic plagues. The Emperor mainly acquired such subjects through captured foes and purchasing slaves from nomadic clans. As a result the earliest Dark Angels were diverse culturally and recruited from across Terra, in contrast with most of the other Legions during their earliest days. The First Legion became the crucible in which all the cultures of Old Night combined with the Emperor's genetic prowess to create a new and formidable strain of warrior. Most of the new recruits threw aside their former cultures and instead took on new names drawn from the tales of Old Earth, such as Gilgamesh, Heracles, Tarchon, and Hengist.[63c]

The Dark Angels first known engagement - and indeed the first combat engagement of the Legiones Astartes - was combating the Palace Coup at the end of the Unification Wars.[58] These earliest warriors quickly gained a reputation amongst the disparate armies of the Emperor as the Uncrowned Princes. Fighting at first as small groups within the Emperor's own hosts, these Crowns inspired both unity and a certain arrogance in the first Space Marines and spurred them to lead the way amongst the growing Astartes brotherhood. The Uncrowned Princes would become the first Hosts of the First Legion and were later refined into the Hexagrammaton by Lion El'Jonson. These Hosts were not bound by Company or Commander and existed throughout the Legion, at any given battle at least some small number of a given Host would be present to advise and lead their comrades. As many as 18 Hosts were known to exist in the Legion's early years, though by the end of the Great Crusade only six existed. These early hosts gained fame in battles of the Unification Wars such as the Third Siege of Antioch in 603.M30, in which nine Hosts spread across four Companies saw action, though they numbered less than 30 warriors each. In these actions the First Legion became the testbed for the various tactics and doctrines that would later become the Principia Bellicosa of the Legiones Astartes. As other Legions grew in size, some of the more specialized Hosts became obsolete and were disbanded while others were simply destroyed in combat due to their inadequacies. Far from harming the Legion, it left the First Legion a well-honed weapon forged by a bond between disparate warriors. This bond was based upon a sense of superiority and distinction instilled in them.[63c]

The First Legion was by far the largest Astartes force by the later of the Unification Wars, numbering 10,000 while the other Legiones were often a few hundred each. At the Siege of Samerkend in 668.M30 the First Legion took to the field en mass publicly for the first time. With the Emperor himself at their head, the First Legion faced its first true combat test as all 10,000 Astartes backed by contingents from four other Legions took to the field against 200,000 gene-forged Udug Hul of the Great King of Akkad. It took only ten hours for the First Legion to emerge victorious and slay the Great King of Akkad, whose head was given to the first Legion Master Hector Thrane. This first victory was to set a pattern of the First Legion's battles during the Unification Wars and the Sol System, pitting them against the most horrific of foes with orders to eradicate them completely. This process repeated itself at Fortress Thirty-One in the Thulean Wastes and the Battle of Karnakon amid the cryo-volcanic mountains of Sedna. To prosecute these horrific campaigns the Emperor granted the First Legion the most forbidden and ancient weaponry from his vaults. These included biological weaponry which assailed the enemy at the genetic level, radiation weapons, nanite scourges, magna planet-breakers, and vortrex weaponry.[63d]

Thus among the armies of Unification it was the First Legion which became synonymous with death and were feared and regarded with ominous superstition by their mortal allies. This reputation eventually found its way into the Legion itself, and they adopted the skeletal icon of death as their own. While other growing Legions were granted lesser honorous of standing triumphant in mundane wars of conquest, the First realized that they were the left hand of the Emperor himself and took pride in their solitary self-imposed exile and dour demeanor. In time they became known as the Angels of Death, a title that has since become synonymous to all Space Marines but was originally theirs alone.[63c]

Great Crusade

In the earliest days of the Great Crusade the First pushed out of the Sol System, cleansing the Oort Cloud and keeping watch along the Heliopause border for terrors that sought to slip into the Emperor's new realm. They also liberated the outermost edges of the Sol System, recovering whatever few Human survivors could be found. By this point the Legion had become isolated and developed a complex culture of ciphers and rituals alongside the creation of the first specialized Orders. Upon their return from the outer Sol System their grey armor had been changed to pitch black. Upon their return they mustered at Saturn, where the Emperor gifted them a fleet of ancient but highly advanced warships. In the ensuing Great Crusade across the greater Galaxy the First Legion continued their role as exterminators, using forbidden Archaeotech such as Gene-Phages and Rad-Waves to annihilate enemies deemed too terrible to face in open battle. As other Legions and Expeditionary Fleet oversaw the colonization and compliance of countless worlds The First fought nightmarish creatures and Xenos without hesitation or complaint. Many of their campaigns, such as those as Behtelgen IV, have been deemed classified and thus to many the early career of the First Legion seems lacking.[63c]

These trials would face the Legion into a fearsome weapon and its Legion Master stood as the Left Hand of the Emperor. This role continued even as early Primarchs such as Leman Russ were rediscovered, with the Legion Master being 3rd in the Imperial Court after Malcador and Horus. However amid the countless battles the Hosts of the Hexagrammaton, once an ever-shifting body of knowledge that changed to meet each challenge, had become stagnant. The warriors of the First assumed they had reached the apex of skill and could learn no more. Recruitment from outside their enclaves on Terra was minimal and each battle led them further down the path of arrogance. Tradition and ritual became more valued than innovation, and each Order and Host jealously guarded their small fragments of lore. The Legion began to turn in upon itself as other Legions such as the Luna Wolves, Ultramarines, and Imperial Fists had grown in prestige and number of triumphs. The final blow for the Legion's fragile pride came at Canis-Balor where the First was overcome by an unknown Xenos breed and Exterminatus was enacted at the cost of Grandmaster Thrane's life.[63c]

In the aftermath of the Canis-Balor debacle turmoil swept the Legion as the various Orders and Hosts struggled for primacy. To settle this problem the First Legion held a great Council at Gramarye that saw bitter vitriol and admonition. The Council was unable to choose a new Grandmaster, forcing Malcador to intervene and choose Urian Vendraig. Vendraig's new task was to unify and rejuvenate the Legion and in an unprecedented move allowed Remembrancers to stay by his side and document the First Legion's ascension. Shortly therafter, the Imperium encountered the vicious Rangda. In their initial campaigns against the Rangad at Advex-Mors the First Legion lost 5,000 Astartes over four months. In the initial Rangdan Xenocides the divisions of the Legion were only exacerbated. At Karkasarn the First Legion attempted to regain its glory, only for Grandmaster Vendraig to meet his end after launching a hasty assault.[63c]

Vendraig's death stung the First Legion hard, as did Roboute Guilliman's scolding of them at the end of the battle. Command of the Legion fell to the Council of Masters who split it across the stars to seek vindication in conquest. They gave battle without remorse and without regard for their own life. The 9th and 14th Chapters took the coral citadels of Melnoch from the Fra'al in a single night at the cost of a tenth of their own, all to outpace the Luna Wolves elsewhere in the cluster. Upon Vorsingun a force of 1,000 Initiates and 4,000 war engines of the Host of Iron battled an Ork horde over three times its size. They prevailed, but again at a fearsome price. Yet for each victory the Legion could not regain its former reputation. By the mid Great Crusade they had become known as grim death-seekers as each Chapter, Host, and Order waged its own independent wars.[63c]

The Coming of the Lion

However the fortune of the Legion changed dramatically when the First Legion's Primarch Lion El'Jonson was discovered on Caliban. Upon reunion with his Legion The Lion tested his sons mettle by dueling the captain of the company presented before him. Though not clad in Power Armour and facing a Terminator-clad captain, The Lion bested his foe and it is said both sides learned respect for the other. From that day forth The Lion renamed the Legion the Dark Angels. Announced by the Primarch, the connotation was in fact first drawn by his mentor Luther, who quoted a section from the legend upon first seeing Astartes descending using jump packs: "And the angels of darkness descended upon pinions of fire and light...the great and terrible dark angels."[12] The first 500 Warriors to stand alongside The Lion on Caliban would become known as the Five Hundred Companions.[63d]

The Council of Masters however became anxious at the news, with some worried what their Primarch would think regarding the state of the Legion and and others remaining prideful. However The Lion granted new purpose and vision for the fractured Legion, his first act being to merge the many teachings of Caliban with the First Legion's Hexagrammaton. He combined both to create something new and more refined. Alongside his Xana allies the Lion then took a newly mustered host of 20,000 Legionaries - a third of the Legion - and embarked on a Crusade of his own. He sought out the scattered Companies of Dark Angels across the Great Crusade. Each Company encountered accepted their Primarch with dour allegiance and each had their Captain tested in battle by The Lion. The Lion demonstrated his worth by actions and skill rather than words and vague promises, allowing those that might doubt him to match their blades against his in honest combat. Within a few short years The Lion had gathered 100,000 Legionaires to his side and mustered them at the Legion's ancient stronghold at Gramarye.[63c]

At Gramarye another Legion Council was held and this time The Lion dueled the ceremonial Council Champion Pyrhus Calagat, master of the Host of Fire. In an hour long legendary duel the Primarch won the trial and accepted the titles of Grandmaster of the First Legion and the six Wings of the Hexagrammaton: the Deathwing, Ravenwing, Dreadwing, Firewing, Ironwing, and Stormwing. Before his Legion the Lion took a final oath before his sons, and they in turn swore oaths of their own to their Primarch. His oath sworn, the Lion placed new masters over each Wing and formalized the various informal Orders in the style of Caliban's Knightly Orders. By this time the new recruits from Caliban were ready and The Lion swiftly incorporated them into The Legion. The Lion's first act was to move on Karkasarn, which had since rose in rebellion against its Ultramarines garrison. The reorganized Dark Angels under The Lion fought brilliantly, sweeping aside any memories of their earlier humbling on the world and saving their Ultramarines allies from being overwhelmed.[63c]

As though to answer The Lion's call the Rangda renewed their invasion of the Imperium. In the Rangdan Xenocides waged on, this time with The Lion leading his Legion alongside his brother Leman Russ.[63c] As the first of the Astartes Legions, the Dark Angels were quite large during the early to mid Great Crusade. However during the Rangdan Xenocides the First Legion lost 50,000 Battle-Brothers saving the northern Imperium, a steep cost they would never truly recover from. This contributed to the Dark Angels eventually losing their status as the most powerful Space Marine Legion, a title that would ultimately be claimed by the Ultramarines.[36]

Caliban was made the homeworld of the Dark Angels and the whole of the Order moved to join the ranks of the Astartes. Those knights who were still young enough had the Legion's gene seed implanted within them. Those too old for this process underwent surgery to transform them into elite warriors of the Imperium. Although they were not full Space Marines, their enhancements granted them special abilities and a lifespan beyond those of normal men. The first to be brought into the Legion in this way was Luther, who became Jonson's second-in-command, just as he always had been within the Order. However, the Dark Angel's contributions to the Great Crusade had barely begun when the Lion sent Luther and a small contingent of Dark Angels back to Caliban, purportedly to garrison the world and increase the speed and quality of the training given to the Legion's recruits. Whatever the reason, the force sent back felt disgraced and rejected.[12]

Dark Angels Space Marines on Caliban.[12]

The Great Crusade had to go on: there were countless human worlds that were still under the influence of Chaos or suppressed by the harsh rule of alien races. In an infamous episode of the Great Crusade, the Lion and Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves Legion, came to blows over the latter's action during the siege of the Crimson Fortress. This event began a feud that still continues strong in the 41st millennium, usually taking the form of a ritualistic duel between two elected champions,[2b] although it has been known to manifest itself in a very violent manner.[14] As Jonson's fame spread throughout the galaxy and reports of his great deeds and prowess in battle reached the Legion's homeworld, Luther felt robbed of his share of the glory. He wanted the fame and recognition that he felt he deserved as Jonson's equal. His role as planetary governor of some half-forgotten backwater world seemed more and more to him like an insult. The seed of jealousy and dissension that had been planted within Luther when Jonson was made the Grand Master of the Order now began to grow and rankle within his heart as the Primarch became more and more celebrated and famous.[1]

The seeds of heresy were further planted during the Dark Angels crusade against the Sarosh, who managed to sneak a nuclear warhead onto the Lion's flagship. Invincible Reason. Luther discovered the plot and for a moment, overcome by jealously, wondered if he should leave Jonson to his fate. However he quickly proved his loyalty by foiling the Sarosh assassination attempt, but somehow The Lion discovered his hesitation. Luther and a portion of the Dark Angels were sent to Caliban, but left to aid Horus during the Zaramund Campaign. The Lion was furious at this unapproved deployment and angrily demanded Luther return to his banishment. Feeling abandoned on Caliban and dealing with a rebellion by the landless nobility and Chaos agents, Luther, and his forces would slowly turn against their Primarch.[13] However the many internal Orders and sects of the Dark Angels made them all but immune to the Warrior Lodges of the now-treacherous Horus and the Word Bearers, allowing them to be immune from the subversion that befall other Legions.[63d]

The Horus Heresy

Heresy-era Dark Angels

By the end of the Great Crusade the Dark Angels had a strength slightly under 200,000 Space Marines, but many of these were spread out across the Galaxy and unaware of the greater galactic developments.[63d]

During the Horus Heresy, the Dark Angels were far from Terra, campaigning on the Gordian League shield worlds, and were unable to participate directly in the events taking place there. Nonetheless, The Lion was able to lead a small strike force to the Forge World of Diamat, denying traitor forces an important supply base.[13] Once the bulk of the Legion was free from the war against the Gordian League, Warmaster Horus ordered the Night Lords to intercept them on the Eastern Fringe and stop them from aiding the Emperor, but after ambushing and destroying much of the Night Lords fleet in the Thramas Crusade. During the battle, Night Lords Primarch Konrad Curze became stranded aboard the Dark Angels flagship Invincible Reason, eluding capture and killing every search team sent against him. While the Lion hunted Curze himself, the Dark Angels fleet set course for Terra but became lost due to the Ruinstorm.[Needs Citation]
Lion El'Jonson leads the Dark Angels during the Horus Heresy[61]

During their battles against Daemons in the Warp, the Dark Angels violated the Council of Nikea on direct orders from The Lion by reestablishing Librarians.[32a] Due to the Warp Storms plaguing the Eastern Fringes the Dark Angels followed the Pharos and moved to Ultramar and joined with Roboute Guilliman and his Ultramarines, helping form the brief Imperium Secundus.[31] During the Lion's obsessive hunt for Curze, the Dark Angels were used to enforce martial law on Macragge and the Dreadwing hunted the Night Haunter across Ultramar.[40] Meanwhile, another detachment of Dark Angels under Captain Ormand reinforced the Space Wolves against the Alpha Legion at the Alaxxes Nebula[33] while another under Corswain was tasked by The Lion with hunting down Calas Typhon following the Battle of Perditus.[40c]

Ultimately after a number of disasters, clashes between Guilliman, Sanguinius, and Lion El'Jonson, and a vision by Sanguinius that the Emperor was alive, Imperium Secundus was abolished. The three Primarch's led their Legions in an attempt to breach the Ruinstorm and reach Terra. Through an arduous journey, they eventually reached Davin, the nexus of the Ruinstorm, and engaged a vast Daemonic host. After the battle and the destruction of Davin, a way to Terra through the Ruinstorm was clear. However, in their way stood many enemy blockades as Horus had foreseen this route. Sanguinius and the Blood Angels raced directly for Terra, as was their destiny, while Guilliman and Lion El'Jonson led the Ultramarines and Dark Angels in diversionary attacks against Horus' blockade.[45] By the time of the Siege of Terra the Lion hoped to draw away traitor forces from the Throneworld by striking at their own homeworlds. As a result, the Dark Angels destroyed several traitor homeworlds such as Chemos, Nuceria,[60] and Barbarus.[49] Meanwhile Corswain's fleet of Dark Angels was able to reach Terra and aid the loyalists.[60] Rendevouzing with Admiral Niora Su-Kassen and using the Imperator Somnium to break the traitor blockade of Terra, Corswain and his 10,000 Dark Angels were able to land upon the Throneworld's surface and recapture the Astronomican.[70a]

The Dark Angels main fleet was eventually able to set course for Terra.[19] Their impending arrival, closely following that of the Ultramarines and Space Wolves legions, (who had overcome similar obstacles), forced Horus to gamble everything on a duel with the Emperor, his former master. Horus was defeated by the Emperor, although the Emperor himself was fatally wounded and had to be entombed within the life-preserving mechanism of the Golden Throne. Lion El'Jonson was stricken with grief over the fact that he had not been able to protect the Emperor against Horus. After the Heresy, the Dark Angels helped restore order to the Imperium. However, during this time, the Dark Angels who had been left behind on Caliban became agitated at being forced to essentially babysit a backwater planet. This led to the leader of the garrison, Luther, turning to the Gods of Chaos, who had just been defeated with the death of their champion Horus during the Heresy.[Needs Citation]

The Great Betrayal

Main article: The Fallen

The Dark Angels returned to Caliban after the war, but they were fired upon by the planetary defences. They were forced to assault their own homeworld, where they found that their brethren had betrayed them. In a duel which mirrored that of the Emperor and Horus, Luther and Lion El'Jonson fought, resulting in Luther mortally wounding his former friend. Luther went insane upon realizing he had struck down his close friend and was captured. In a fit of rage at being defeated once again, the Chaos Gods opened a warp rift in the planet which scattered the traitorous "Fallen Angels" throughout the galaxy.[1] Other sources state that the Warp Rift was caused by a causal loop in the 41st Millennium after Azrael, Cypher, Typhus, and others attempted to rewrite the history of Caliban with the Tuchulcha Engine.[35] Regardless of the truth, one of the "Fallen Angels" who escaped is Cypher, who reportedly took with him the Lion Blade, the sword of El'Jonson, when he was sent through the warp[Needs Citation].

The Betrayal on Caliban.[13]

The Dark Angel space fleet also bombarded the planet mercilessly, and this caused the structure of the planet to collapse. The bombardment, combined with the newly formed warp rift, broke the planet up and it is now an asteroid field[Needs Citation]. This betrayal has tainted their honour in the eyes of the Dark Angels themselves. Given that the event was purely within the Legion itself, and was on a world far from Terra, nobody outside of the Legion knows it occurred. Within the Chapters itself, only the elite veterans are permitted this knowledge - in the modern Dark Angels Chapter, only the Deathwing and senior officers know this secret. The Chapter leadership will go to great lengths to ensure that this knowledge does not reach the Imperium at large, even at times going so far as to disobey direct orders from Inquisitors and cause overly curious individuals to "disappear"[Needs Citation].

Only the most senior members, known as the Inner Circle, know the greatest secret - that Luther, the great traitor, is still alive and insane, living in a stasis cell deep within the Rock. Lion El'Jonson's body was supposedly never found; Luther claims, in his near-senseless mutterings, that the Lion is near and will return and forgive him. The Lion actually sleeps in the most secret chamber in the rock, his presence known only by the Watchers in the Dark and the Emperor himself, until the time he will awaken and lead his chapter on a new and even greater crusade. That day, so Luther said to current Supreme Grand Master Azrael, is almost at hand[Needs Citation].


Caliban was destroyed during the Betrayal, shattered by the warp rift and orbital bombardment. The remains now form a sizeable asteroid field. The largest piece, which survived due to the massive void shields in operation around the largest fortress-monastery, called the Tower of Angels, was hollowed out and became a gigantic spaceship/monastery which is now the home of the Dark Angels. This ship is known simply as The Rock. Sometime after the Betrayal, the Dark Angels changed their primary heraldry colour from black to dark green. Lion El'Jonson had previously decreed that Dark Angels could change their armor to green in memory of the war against the Great Beasts of Caliban.

This story of treachery and betrayal is the Dark Angels' secret shame. None know of it other than some of the Dark Angels, their Successor Chapters, and, maybe, the Emperor on his Golden Throne. Within the Chapter itself very few Brother-Marines know exactly what happened during those fateful days[Needs Citation]. At the Council of Farith, the first Chapter Master of the newly christened Dark Angels Chapter, Farith Redloss, proclaimed that the Sons of the Lion could never be forgiven of their shame until all of the Fallen are hunted down and forced to repent. The Dark Angels and their successor Chapters, the Unforgiven, have never ceased in this quest.[68a]

Recent History

The Deathwing battles the forces of Chaos.
  • 560.M33: 2nd Mortis Gate Campaign — Almost the entire chapter deploys for battle.
  • 732 - 822.M33: Red Stars Campaign
    • After the Red Stars Campaign, Supreme Grand Master Morderan is convinced by the word of Luther to seek parlay with Cypher. However the Fallen Angel leads the Dark Angels to a disaster that naerly destroys the Chapter and led to Mordrean's fall to despair.[68b]


A Dark Angel

As the first Space Marine Legion, Dark Angels Gene-Seed is among the purest and least degraded. Remarkably, Dark Angels Apothecaries have observed that gene-seed carried by Primaris Space Marines is universally of the highest quality they have ever seen, and so the Chapter's stock is qualitatively and quantitatively in excellent health. There are no known aberrations in the Dark Angels gene-seed, which makes the historic reluctance of the High Lords of Terra to use it in new Foundings perplexing. In the Era Indomitus, however, this policy appears to have been relaxed. Some in the Inquisition argue that Roboute Guilliman was involved in this decision, while others claim that there is a desire in Terran and Martian circles to counter-balance the amount of Ultramarines successors.[53]


The Dark Angels and their successor chapters are collectively known as the "Unforgiven" and generally maintain close links with each other. The Chapter Masters of each chapter belong to the Inner Circle and also carry the honorific of "Grand Master of the Inner Circle". The Dark Angels Chapter Master is also the Inner Circle supreme leader and every member of the circle answer to him when it comes to the hunt for the Fallen.[16]

Dark Angel's Successor Chapters, much like themselves, will abandon everything for the hunt of the Fallen. It's known that the Dark Angels Legion sired at least three Second Founding chapters, although several others are also thought to hail from this Founding.[16]


A Dark Angels Space Marine

The organisation of the Dark Angels Chapter has been shaped primarily by events in its history; as a result, it is different from that of any other. The Chapter is monastic in nature with much time being given over to worship and prayer. There are also many different levels within the Chapter that individuals may gradually rise through. On attaining each level, they find out a little more about the truth behind the Dark Angels' origins. Most Dark Angels themselves know nothing about the beginnings of the Chapter. It is only those at the very top who have learned the whole truth[Needs Citation].

The Dark Angels are known for their bewildering array of ancient rites and rituals, such as the Feast of Malediction and the Rite of Sins Renounced to the three-day Mindchant of the Iron Penance and the Liturgy of the Thrice-avenged. Most of these rituals are led by Chaplains and are all cold and solemn ceremonies. None of these are without meaning, and are heavily tied to ascension deeper into the Inner Circle.[67e]

The Dark Angels have accepted the new Primaris Space Marines out of necessity, but the Inner Circle remains skeptical of their presence as they have not gone through the strict rituals and tests of loyalty present to the rest of the Chapter. The Inner Circle debated over what to do about initiating Primaris into the Deathwing.[46d] However, this issue was resolved when one of the existing Deathwing members, Lazarus, survived the Rubicon Primaris and a newer Primaris named Apharan was vouched for to take the trials by Azrael himself.[53] Since then, more Primaris have joined the ranks of the Deathwing, including Primaris Bladeguard Veterans.

Combat Doctrine

In the same vein as their father Lion El'Jonson, Dark Angels officers are expert tacticians and specialists and have been quick to capitalize on the skills of Primaris Space Marines and the particular varieties of their squad types. New specialized formations have been developed alongside ancient patterns such as the Hammer of Caliban and Scout Recon Stalker Strike. Caliban's Reach is but one example, which combines the firepower of Hellblasters and Devastators with Centurions to devastating effect. The advanced infiltration and reconnaissance skills all Primaris Space Marines learn as part of their Vanguard training is of great value to a chapter seeking hidden foes. The Omniscramblers of Infiltrator Squads can severely disrupt enemy communications, allowing Ravenwing squadrons to strike without their quarry being warned. The Divinator-class Auspexes of the Incursors collect data from battlefields that previously would have been almost impossible to extract. This yields new information to the Inner Circle to act upon without Vanguard Space Marine's knowledge.[53]

In addition, the Dark Angels are known to have access to a disproportionate amount of Plasma Weaponry.[4f] During the time of the Great Crusade the Dark Angels were known for their strategic flexibility thanks to the Hexagrammaton as well as vaults of forbidden weaponry. They also sported perhaps the largest fleet of the Space Marine Legions including highly advanced relic capital ships including multiple Gloriana Class Battleships. The demands of the Crusade combined with the Legion's own strategic flexibility saw it deployed over a wide swathe of the Galaxy over a single warzone, and thus they maintained few in the way of major strongholds.[63d]


The various Dark Angels titles of the Heresy era[63d]

Great Crusade & Heresy-era

Initially during the Unification Wars and Early Great Crusade the Dark Angels Legion was divided into a number of Hosts and Orders. Most of these Hosts were later reorganized by Lion El'Jonson into the Hexagrammaton, although the Orders of the Hekatonystika endured all the way into the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy.[63] The Hekatonystika served as the hidden counterpart of the Hexagrammaton and was charged with keeping its most dangerous secrets safe.[63b] Publicly, the Dark Angels maintained traditional Chapters and Companies, but each of their Commanders secretly held allegiance to one of the Dark Angels Orders. There were hundreds of Dark Angels orders, which varied in size; some only had a dozen or so members. Each Order had its own strict hierarchy, and unlike the Hosts they were far more secretive. Members of the Orders communicate with one another via ciphers and cryptic signals.[63d]

By the time of the Horus Heresy the Hexagrammaton consisted of six specialized "Wings": the Deathwing, Ravenwing, Dreadwing, Ironwing, Firewing, and Stormwing.[31] These formations were a legacy of the Unification Wars.[63d]

Members of the Heresy-era Dark Angels often had allegiance to three different bodies: That of their Order, that of their Hexagrammaton host, and that of their Chapter and Company. It was only through superb skill, familiarity, and long-term indoctrination that the Dark Angels were able to avoid chaos with such a system and indeed used it to their full potential.[63d]

Supreme authority of the Legion rested with its Primarch, Lion El'Jonson. Before this, a Grandmaster ruled but, after two successive deaths of these figures during the Great Crusade, the Council of Masters (consisting of the six heads of the Hexagrammaton) took over strategic operations of the Legion. Even after Lion El'Jonson's arrival, the Council of Masters continued to play an important role. Below these were the Conclave of Preceptors from the various Orders. The Preceptors took on a strategic leadership role only when their specialist skills were demanded by the conflict at hand. This created a flexible chain of command that allowed for a multitude of simultaneous deployments rather than massing in a single warzone. It played to the strengths of The Lion, who had little interest in micro-managing his Legion's strategies and instead excelled in direct battlefield command.[63d]

Post Heresy-era

To outside observers, the Dark Angels seem to follow the standard Codex Astartes organization - comprising 10 companies of roughly 100 Marines plus Headquarters Staff, however, they do have several organisational differences which are unique to them and their Successor Chapters -

  • Inner Circle: It is in the organization of the Dark Angels' higher levels that the chapter deviates from the dictates of the Codex Astartes. At the highest level of the Chapter is the Inner Circle, which consists of a number of officers who stand apart from the company organization, and include the Chapter's Librarians and Interrogator-Chaplains. Companies are each led by a Master, who is part of the Inner Circle.[30b]

The first two companies are also uniquely organized[30b]:

The remainder of the Chapter is organized along Codex lines, though they are not deployed as such. Rather than being deployed on the Company level, the Dark Angels frequently deploy as Strike Forces based around the lore of Caliban such as the heavy assault Beastslayer Strike Force and Scourge of Caliban many-pronged assault force. The most frequently used type of strike force is the Lion's Blade, a demi-company formation supported by elements of Deathwing and Ravenwing. It is often strengthened by drawing squads from the 10th Company as well as Scouts.[30a]

Chapter Disposition


Chapter Command
Inner Circle
Reclusiam Librarius Armourium Apothecarion Fleet Command Others

Grand Master of Chaplains

Grand Master of Librarians

Master of the Rock[10]

Master of the Apothecarion

Grand Master of the Fleet

Warden of the Gates

Brother Apharan
Warden of the Rock


The current Companies and their Captains are as follows.[46a]

1st Company 2nd Company Battle Companies
"The Deathwing" "The Ravenwing" 3rd Company 4th Company 5th Company

"The Unmerciful"

"The Feared"

"The Unrelenting"

Master of the Deathwing

Master of the Ravenwing

Vengeance Patterns
and Darkshrouds).

Master Astoran
Master of the Arsenal[30b]

Master Korahael
Master of the Fleet

Master Lazarus
Keeper of the Unseen Ritual[18]

Reserve Companies Scout Company
6th Company 7th Company 8th Company 9th Company 10th Company

"The Resolute"

"The Unbowed"

"The Wrathful"

"The Remorseless"

"The Redeemed"

Master Araphil[30b]
Master of the Rites

Master Ezekiah
Master of the Watchers[30b]

Master Molochi
Master of Condemnation

Master Xerophus
Master of Relics[30b]

Master Ranaeus
Master of Recruits[30b]


Deathwing Terminator

As the Dark Angels are no longer based on an actual world, they draw their recruits from a variety of planets, mainly highly primitive worlds. The Dark Angels have sworn oaths to protect thousands of worlds which, in return, supply potential aspirants for the chapter.[52a]

Representatives of the Dark Angels visit each recruiting world once within a normal human's lifetime and take the strongest juveniles from the population. Each recruit is thoroughly screened, and from the moment he is accepted into the Chapter as a Space Marine his past becomes irrelevant.[1]

After the Heresy, the Dark Angels recruited from a single planet (known as the Plains World). Sometime before the 41st Millennium a group of returning Deathwing found that their planet had been overrun fifty years earlier by Genestealers, with only a few untainted humans remaining. The Terminators, whose duty and honour required the extermination of the genestealers, prepared themselves for battle. Because the odds of their success were nearly non-existent, the Terminators engaged in their native death ritual. Instead of anointing their skin with white ash, they anointed their armour. The Terminators cleansed the world and rescued the enslaved populace, and in honour of those few Terminators, their armour was ever after white. Meanwhile, the Dark Angels leadership, the Inner Circle, recognized the folly of relying upon one planet for manpower and so diversified their recruiting grounds.[9]

Known Recruitment Worlds

The Dark Angels recruit from thousands of worlds across the galaxy.[52a] Known recruitment worlds include:

In addition, the Dark Angels are known to maintain fortified bastions on other worlds, including Piscina IV.[25a]


The ruins of Caliban are located in the Cadian Sector, close to the Eye of Terror. Prior to the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy, the planet of Caliban was covered with lush forests inhabited by creatures warped by Chaos. The humans of the planet were a proud, martial people forced to live in great fortress monasteries of stone.[Needs Citation]

The Dark Angels rebuilt their fortress-monastery on the asteroid that had borne the old one, drilling deep into the bedrock and rebuilding the ruins. The new fortress is known officially as The Tower of Angels but is more commonly referred to as The Rock. The Rock has been equipped with warp engines, enabling faster-than-light transit through the Immaterium.[1]

The warrens beneath The Rock are where the Dark Angels bring their fallen brethren to be redeemed by their Interrogator-Chaplains. It is believed by the Inquisition to hold many other secrets.[Needs Citation]

However, even this pales in comparison to the greatest secret held by the Dark Angels. This secret is known only to the Watchers in the Dark and to the Emperor himself. Deep within the bedrock of the asteroid which is their home, there is a solitary chamber. In this chamber, attended to by the Watchers in the Dark, lies the sleeping form of Lion El'Jonson.[Needs Citation]

Noted Elements of the Dark Angels

Dark Angels, including Primaris Space Marines, battle the forces of Chaos




Notable Members

Heresy Era
Post Heresy

Notable Fallen Angels

Unique Troops & Vehicles (Also used by Successor Chapters)

Alternative colour schemes


Conflicting sources

In the novel Angels of Darkness by Gav Thorpe, a different version of the events on Caliban is presented: instead of Luther, the order to open fire on the Lion's fleet come from Astelan, a Terran "Chapter Master" of the Dark Angels. This terrible truth is uncovered by the Dark Angels Chaplain Boreas[Needs Citation].

This version is partially reconciled with the previous version in the novel Fallen Angels by Mike Lee, where Luther leads the Fallen's revolt against Lion El'Jonson and the rest of the Dark Angels, while Astelan is Luther's subordinate and placed in charge of Caliban's entire defence.

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