NAME: Iron-hearted Angels.
PRIMARCH: Sanguinius, via the Flesh Tearers' lineage.
FOUNDING: The Third Founding (M32) is claimed. The 21st (M36) is the earliest for which there is evidence of their existence.
SYMBOL: A silver heart on a red field, with four golden rays extending from the center, like sparks from a forge. Previously, the symbol had a golden heart on a silver field, with four red rays extending from the center, like a fountain of blood.
COLORS: Silver with blood-red gauntlets. Previously, the colors were blood-red with silver gauntlets.
BATTLE CRY: "Purge the corruption!" Previously, Chaplains said, "Give us your cowards, your weaklings, your massed hordes yearning to free their souls!" and the brethren answered, "Our blood will cleanse them of their sins!"
The Iron-hearted Angels demonstrate how far Sanguinius' sons may stray from the Primarch's example. Originally named the "Bleeding-hearted Angels," and famed for their compassion towards Imperial citizens, they became as merciless and unforgiving as the Iron Hands after 689.M41: the year a Chaos warband attacked and destroyed their fortress-monastery, and the entire Chapter went on a crusade in penance for their negligence.
The penitent crusade saw all but 170 Angels fall in battle. The Bleeding-hearted Angels only survived because of the direct intervention of the Sons of Medusa (Iron Hands successors) in the final battle.
The Chapter returned from the penitent crusade in 899.M41, unrecognizable to those who called them "brothers." The new name "Iron-hearted Angels" not only distinguished them from the Angels of Iron (Dark Angels successors), it expressed hatred towards any weakness; where the Angels once risked their lives to aid embattled allies, they now voice contempt towards those who ask for help, and ignore pained cries from those who fall beside them. The new colors remind the Angels "there is blood on our hands," in their own words.
Most alarming is the Iron-hearted Angels' new beliefs: they view their own genetically enhanced flesh, the Primarch's gifts to his sons, with disgust. The Angels adopted a ritual the Iron Hands enacted for those promoted from the Neophyte Company: a Marine will amputate his left hand and replace it with a mechanical limb. The longer an Angel serves, the more augmetic organs will replace those of flesh-and-blood, as he attempts to "purge the weakness."
When the Blood Angels' High Chaplain voiced concern over these new rituals, the Iron-hearted Angels' Master of Sanctity answered:
"The flesh is weak; it is saturated with passions that distract us from our duty, with lusts that threaten our souls. Only by purging ourselves of this weakness-- by uniting our pure spirit with the strong machine-- can we rise to Sanguinius' expectations, and do our duty to the Emperor."
<> HOMEWORLD 1
Argentum, the third planet orbiting a star known as "Falk's Eye," is a civilized world in Segmentum Obscurus. Originally a mining colony (primary export, the silver for which it was named), its industries diversified to include cogitator components, foodstuffs, medical supplies, and textiles used in Astra Militarum uniforms. Laws protecting the environment (and the agriculture industry in turn) forced the Adeptus Mechanicus to establish Manufactorums in space stations.
A "Ruling Council" (emulating the Council of Terra) governs the planet with the Mechanicus representative, the Argentum Planetary Defense Force (PDF) and Falk's Eye System Defense Force (SDF) commanders. Council members represent the agriculture, jewelry, medical, mining, and textile industries' interests; when these interests conflict, council members must negotiate, show humility before their peers, and compromise.
In 376.M37, the Mechanicus, the Apothecaries and Jewelers' Guilds fought to allocate more silver for their respective industries; this paralyzed the government. Industrial harvesters received no fuel, allowing crops to rot in their fields; food preservation systems received no power, wasting what was already harvested. Thousands starved to death in what was known as the "Silver Winter," and tens of thousands rebelled against the Ruling Council for allowing this to occur.
Lord General Tiergail Leopold, Supreme Commander of the Falk's Eye Defense Forces, seized power in 377.M37; the other Ruling Council members were arrested, tried for "dereliction of duty," and then executed. Leopold began welfare programs to aid those who suffered during the Silver Winter, which initially won him the Argentum public's support. When he received news a Chaos warband attacked Astra Militarum garrisons in nearby star systems, Leopold ordered a "Planetary Reorganization Process," preparing his own to face the Great Enemy.
The Process demanded more resources than were available, for the Falk's Eye Defense Forces. Manufactorums were established on the planet's surface to arm the PDF, without thought to their environmental impact-- on water for irrigation, soil for farmland, air the farmers and their crops breathe-- leading to poor harvests, famine, food riots, and then open rebellion. Leopold imprisoned and then executed any who criticized him-- including relatives of many PDF and SDF service members, who rebelled in turn. Millions died before the Bleeding-hearted Angels, answering Leopold's call for aid in crushing the "rebels," overthrew the Lord General in 403.M37.
The Ruling Council was reconstituted; the Chapter Master enacted laws to prevent the government paralysis that caused the Silver Winter, and was named a Dominus-- "Lord," a title the Argentum colonists gave to Ministorum Priests-- and council member for his services. The Angels built a fortress-monastery on the White Sentinel (Argentum's highest mountain); the Manufactorums were moved into the fortress-monastery, to serve the Marines.
When the White Sentinel was destroyed, the Bleeding-hearted Angels asked the Blood Angels to serve as Argentum's custodians, before they went on a penitent crusade. The Blood Angels Chapter Master held an honorary position on Argentum's Ruling Council, until the Bleeding-hearted Angels (now known as "Iron-hearted Angels") returned.
<> HOMEWORLD 2
The San Valmi asteroid field lies between the third and fourth planets orbiting Falk's Eye. Scholars believe the asteroid field is the remains of a planet destroyed 60,000,000 years ago. Rogue Traders made sporadic efforts to mine the asteroids' mineral wealth, but all suffered high accident rates, lost factory ships, and were forced to terminate operations. This alarmed the Adeptus Mechanicus, who felt each factory ship was the Machine God's gift to mankind; at its request, the Bleeding-hearted Angels quarantined the asteroid field in 404.M37.
When the Iron-hearted Angels returned to Argentum, they left their first fortress-monastery in ruins, and built a second on the nickel-iron asteroid designated "1870 Solano." Nicknamed the "Rib Cage" for its unusual appearance, the asteroid has docking facilities between each "rib" for the Angels' warships.
The Sanguinala, a holiday to commemorate the Blood Angels Primarch, is most celebrated on Argentum. The colonists hold athletic competitions that day, demonstrating their readiness to fight for the Emperor. The "Sanguinala Games" were suspended from 385 to 403.M37, and reinstated after Lord General Leopold was overthrown. From 404.M37 to 688.M41, the Bleeding-hearted Angels sent a Chaplain to attend each game, judge the competitions, and recruit athletes for the Chapter; the Iron-hearted Angels reinstated this practice in 900.M41, taking recruits to the fortress-monastery they named "Heart of Iron."
The Iron-hearted Angels operate 59 ships in total: one battle barge, 16 strike cruisers, and 42 frigates. The large number provides redundancy, allowing the Chapter to continue the mission despite equipment malfunction, loss of communication, unforeseen delays, and other vagaries of war.
The battle barge "Burden of Truth" provides transportation and logistics support for First Company's 100 Marines (160, if one counts Techmarines and vehicle crewmen). Originally designed to transport 300 Marines at once, an arms manufactory now occupies much of the interior space, allowing the Company to sustain itself on extended campaigns; the barge is capable of smelting ore, forging metal, and assembling equipment the size of Thunderhawk Master gunships. Two of 10th Company's frigates accompany this monument to Nassir Amit's memory at all times.
Second to Ninth Companies each operate two strike cruisers and four frigates. Each cruiser is responsible for 48 Marines' transportation and logistics support; integral manufactories, capable of assembling equipment the size of Land Raiders, provide the latter.
10th Company operates 10 "scout frigates." Each frigate is responsible for 10 Marines (16, if one counts Techmarines and vehicle crewmen); their integral manufactories can assemble equipment the size of Predator battle tanks. When Second to Ninth Companies' ships sail, one of 10th Company's frigates will be attached to their flotillas; this allows the Neophytes to learn from others' experiences, and to serve as attrition replacements in case of heavier-than-expected casualties.
<> HISTORY 1
The Iron-hearted Angels claim to be a Third Founding Chapter, descended from Sanguinius via the Flesh Tearers' gene-seed. The Inquisition suspects the Angels to be a 21st Founding Chapter-- cursed, like their peers-- the Angels are not mentioned in any records prior to M36.
The Flesh Tearers' records state they seconded officers to the Adeptus Mechanicus in M36; these officers trained recruits for Chapter Number 9-21-002, selected the trainees most qualified to lead the new Chapter, and then returned to the Flesh Tearers' ranks. Afterwards, the Flesh Tearers washed their hands of this; they deny having evidence to support the Inquisition's claims "Number 9-21-002" and the Iron-hearted Angels are the same Chapter.
The Angels were a fleet-based Chapter until they arrived on Argentum. Space Marines bearing their Chapter symbol were first seen in 901.M36, when they fought against a Black Legion warband in the Sixth Black Crusade. The name "Bleeding-hearted Angels" was first mentioned in 266.M37, when a combined force of Blood Angels and their successors engaged the Great Enemy on the archeotech world of Hell's Hollow.
<> HISTORY 2A
In 603.M41, the Bleeding-hearted Angels' Fifth Company engaged Chaos Marines of the Word Bearers and World Eaters Legions in the Corrientes system. The Chaos warband was completely destroyed; Fifth Company lost 31 Marines, including its Captain. Afterwards, Sixth Company's Captain became the Fifth, the Seventh Captain became the Sixth, etc., in accordance with their interpretation of the Codex Astartes.
Franco Lopez (Veteran Sergeant of the Angels' Fifth Company) distinguished himself on Corrientes, and was named 10th Company's Captain.
Antonio Carlos (Fifth Company's late Captain) lay in state on the strike cruiser's flight deck. Red silk enclosed his body, hiding bloodstains from the wounds that ended his life; an Aquila, embroidered with silver thread, embraced the Captain's mortal remains with its wings. Carlos was nude beneath the burial shroud; his artificer armor would be given to his successor as Fifth Company's Captain, upon the return to Argentum.
The successor was not found among the veterans who formed Carlos' Command Squad, and now served as an honor guard for his funerary procession.
"I deserve the Captaincy!" ranted Franco Lopez, whose power armor seemed to deform as the Veteran Sergeant's muscles strained against their confines. "Did I not demonstrate tactical proficiency when I anticipated the traitors' flanking maneuver, and planned our defenses accordingly? Did I not demonstrate valor when I faced their Forgefiend?" He raised Blood Vengeance-- a chainaxe taken from a World Eaters Champion, its blasphemous symbols scoured with acid and then replaced with a silver Aquila-- over his head. "Did I not demonstrate strength when I cut down the Daemon Engine before me?" Lopez slashed at the floor, drawing sparks.
"Check your pride, Brother," the Sanguinary Novitiate (Apothecary) admonished. "The Codex Astartes states a leader must temper his emotions-- courage and cowardice alike-- or he will lead his brothers to their dooms, and himself to dishonor."
Lopez's hands shook with suppressed emotions-- and something else. "Yes, Brother-Novitiate." With that, the Veteran Sergeant's arm rose to magnetically lock the weapon across his back.
Lopez hid his bitterness from all but his closest confidants, and served with honor for a time. He become the Ninth Captain in 644.M41, and the Eighth in 671.M41.
In 688.M41, Eldar pirates attacked the planet Mato Prime; the Bleeding-hearted Angels' Fourth and Eighth Companies were ordered to defend the agri-world. Favorable Warp currents allowed the Eighth Company to arrive earlier than planned, taking the Eldar by surprise. After eliminating the enemy, Lopez ordered his men to punish the Mato Prime PDF for "cowardice before the enemy," killing thousands before the Angels' Fourth Company arrived and arrested him. The Eighth Captain was confined aboard the Fourth Company's fastest ship, and returned to the White Sentinel to stand trial.
Unfavorable Warp currents delayed Lopez's arrival until 689.M41.
Lopez, his hands bound before him, stood before a jury of his peers: eight Captains of the Bleeding-hearted Angels. The Eighth Captain's fingers clenched and then loosened, aching to hold his favorite weapon-- displayed on a table with other pieces of evidence-- as the accuser stood with his back towards the accused.
As the accuser, Fourth Capt. Jose Francia spoke first. "Dominus Josefo," he bowed to Chapter Master Josefo Camara, "Brother-Captains," he bowed to the jury, "sons of Sanguinius and grandsons of the Emperor--"
"Sanguinius was not the Emperor's son, he was Khorne's!" Lopez interrupted, shocking the others into silence. "The Anathema-- the Emperor stole our Primarch from the Blood God's essence! He made Sanguinius fight his brothers-- those faithful to Khorne-- and perverted the cause for which our Primarch was born! The Blood Angels Legion was meant to serve the Blood God!"
Sensing the Eighth Captain's passion-- honey to the Daemon bound to the chainaxe-- Blood Vengeance flew from the table, shattering the armorcrys of the booth enclosing its master. His hands still bound, Lopez gripped the weapon and flew from the defendant's cage, the chainaxe teeth reaching for his accuser's throat.
As the Eighth Captain beheaded the Fourth, Dominus Josefo felt an emotion he'd not felt in centuries. 'I'm afraid,' the Dominus realized. Then rage-- at Lopez for the Eigthth Captain's blasphemy, at Francia for carelessly letting the traitor break free, and at himself for allowing this weakness to paralyze him-- burned away the fear. Before Francia's severed head hit the floor, Dominus Josefo drew a hand flamer and rendered Lopez's face a blackened ruin.
The Eighth Captain screamed in pain, anger, and hatred. As his eyes' aqueous and vitreous humours boiled, Lopez had a vision: the Chaos God of Battle and Bloodshed rose from the Skull Throne, pointing a battleaxe at Lopez.
"My Champion, the skulls you must take will not be found here. Let vultures have this barren field; take to the stars, and shed blood in my name," the Chaos God demanded.
"Khorne!" Lopez called. Hearing the Blood God's name, Bleeding-hearted Angels Terminators-- their Chapter symbols defaced with the Chaos Star bursting from a black heart-- entered the courtroom, caught the falling Eighth Captain, and teleported away before others could render justice to the traitor.
Lopez's followers acted as his accuser died; scouts (10th Company members) attached to other companies, attacked Sergeants and other leaders to decapitate the Chapter. Fifth Company tore itself apart as Lopez's former brothers-in-arms fought those still loyal to the Emperor. Eighth and Ninth Companies' warships opened fire on those docked in the Chapter's space port, destroying 21 (half the Bleeding-hearted Angels fleet) before the space port's defenses returned fire.
Lopez and his followers boarded Eighth Company's strike cruisers amid the literal Chaos they wreaked upon their former brothers-in-arms. Bleeding-hearted Angels loyalists boarded Thunderhawk gunships, Dominus Josefo and the surviving Captains determined to launch their ships and give pursuit; this saved many lives when Ninth Company's strike cruisers, their gun batteries rendered molten slag in the space battle, suicidally dived into the White Sentinel, the mountain rendered a smoking crater in turn.
Lopez's final insult was to vox the Falk's Eye Defense Forces Headquarters, report a Chaos warband (bearing Bleeding-hearted Angels colors to disguise themselves) infiltrated and then attacked the fortress-monastery, and the Bleeding-hearted Angels "loyalists" blackened their Chapter symbol to differentiate themselves. The Eighth Captain ordered the Falk's Eye Defense Forces to attack the "imposters" still bearing the original colors; fortunately, the Falk's Eye Defense Forces officers voxed Dominus Josefo for clarification. Nassir Amit's sons shed no more blood that day, innocent or tainted; the confusion allowed Eighth Company's strike cruisers to escape into the Warp.
A fortnight after the White Sentinel's destruction, the Chapter learned the "Heartless Angels" (Lopez and his followers, now sworn to Khorne) bombarded Mato Prime with cyclonic torpedoes, destroying the planet. Dominus Josefo knew he could've prevented this tragedy; wracked with guilt over his dereliction of duty, he swore to hunt down and destroy the traitors. The Bleeding-hearted Angels described the mission as a "penitent crusade," as none were willing to share their greatest shame, not even with the Blood Angels; they described Lopez as a Chaos infiltrator, confirming reports an enemy attack destroyed their fortress-monastery.
<> HISTORY 2B
Lopez taunted his former battle-brothers with astropathic messages and vox broadcasts, claiming Khorne wanted him to take Sanguinius' place at the Blood God's side; the Heartless Angels were on a pilgrimage to the Eye of Terror, during which they'd kill the strong and cull the weak, honor Khorne and demonstrate their worth. Such claims infuriated the Bleeding-hearted Angels, who pursued the traitors with reckless abandon.
In 701.M41, the Heartless Angels laid siege to the star fort Corumba II, intending to harvest its defenders' skulls for Khorne's Skull Throne. Dominus Josefo ordered his ships to dock at the fort, so the Bleeding-hearted Angels may cleanse it of the traitors' presence; he didn't think to destroy Lopez's ships and trap the traitors "behind enemy lines," where they may be dealt with at the loyalists' leisure. Were the Bleeding-hearted Angels facing any other opponent, their leaders would notice the warning signs, but-- impatient to bring the traitors to justice-- they followed their Dominus into a trap.
Dominus Josefo gasped when he caught sight of his former Eighth Captain. "What have you done to yourself?"
Franco Lopez's face was not healed, but mutated; scales and scutes covered what was once burnt skin, making him resemble a bipedal alligator. He smiled, revealing teeth filed to triangular points. "I only accepted the embrace of our grandfather, Khorne, and agreed to serve Him in Sanguinius' stead."
Dominus Josefo was freed from his shock when he heard the Primarch's name. "You're not worthy to speak that name!" He raised his power sword and charged, determined to bring justice to Lopez.
Blood Vengeance-- the silver Aquila defaced with the Blood God's mark-- rose to Lopez's defense. "You betrayed our one true master-- our grandfather, Khorne-- now face His judgment." He released the axe-- instead of falling, the Daemon Weapon remained airborne, locking the Dominus' sword in place-- to draw a second bolt pistol.
Dominus Josefo didn't cry in pain as the traitor opened fire at point-blank range, perforating his breastplate-- he couldn't, for he was drowning in his own blood. With his last breath, he spat in Lopez's eyes, blinding the traitor.
Lopez licked the blood flowing down his face, feeling newfound strength-- Khorne's gift to him-- flow through his body. "Blood for the Blood God." He holstered a bolt pistol and reached for his chainaxe. "Skulls for the Skull Throne." He swung Blood Vengeance, the chainaxe teeth reaching for the Dominus' throat...
"Traitor!" First Capt. Bartholomew Braganza-- who approached unseen while Lopez was blinded-- fired an heirloom storm bolter to sever Lopez's right hand.
"Shrieeeek!" Without its master's guidance, Blood Vengeance missed its target. Lopez's lifeless hand fell from its grip as the Daemon Weapon hovered in midair, confused and disoriented.
Lopez's left hand caught the weapon, which shivered as Capt. Bagranza fired another burst, bolt shells beating a tattoo upon the chainaxe head. "I'll kill you later," Khorne's Champion swore as Heartless Angels interposed themselves between their leader and the First Captain, allowing the wounded Lopez to escape.
After the Battle for Corumba II, the Inquisition suspected the Heartless Angels were Bleeding-hearted Angels members-- grounds for declaring the entire Chapter "Excommunicate Traitoris," ordering its destruction, and subjecting the Chapter planet to Exterminatus-- but as a First Founding Chapter, the Blood Angels were able to prevent the Inquisition from doing so. As evidence for the defense of their successor, the Blood Angels presented the testimony of Bagranza (named Dominus after Josefo Camara fell in battle), who dutifully reported the battle's outcome to Argentum's custodians, gave the reasoning behind his predecessor's decisions before battle, and justified his battle-brothers' actions during it.
When Bagranza died in battle, the Second Captain succeeded him. When the former Second Captain died, the Third succeeded him. When the former Third Captain died... The Bleeding-hearted Angels lost all their Captains by 871.M41, along with the cyphers and keys to maintain secure communication with their homeworld and its custodians. With the Blood Angels themselves uncertain of their successor's loyalty, the Inquisition ordered the Bleeding-hearted Angels brought to account.
Pedro Mitre saw red when he awoke; the Bleeding-hearted Angels Chaplain removed his skull helm to wiped blood from his forehead. "What happened?" he asked, noting the odd angle the Baal Predator turret was in.
"The traitors downed our transporter," answered the Marine who served as driver and hull gunner. "The rear grapples prematurely released us."
"We will honor the Thunderhawk transporter and its crew for their sacrifice," 'if we survive,' he didn't say, hiding his bitterness towards the apparent futility of the Bleeding-hearted Angels' efforts. Mitre opened a hatch, his head rising above the pulpit mounted atop the Baal Predator turret (itself mounted atop a Land Raider Redeemer) to take advantage of the higher vantage point. "For they brought the traitors within our reach." He put on the skull helm. "Advance!" The Chaplain braced himself as the Redeemer's sponson-mounted Flamestorm cannon-- which Mitre dutifully blessed this morning, as he prayed to the Emperor for guidance-- pushed the tank off its side.
The battle was already fierce when the modified Land Raider Redeemer arrived. "What in hell is that?!" the driver exclaimed.
The sight rekindled hatred in the Chaplain's hearts. The approaching Daemon Engine skittered on eight metal legs outboard of its caterpillar tracks; its heavy bolter sponsons had mutated into scorpion-like claws; its Flamestorm cannon had mutated into a stinger, the turret into a tail curving over the machine-turned-beast's head; but was still recognizable as Eighth Company's Reclusiam field shrine, a Baal Predator formerly serving as a Bleeding-hearted Angels Chaplain's pulpit.
"It is an insult to our Primarch's memory." Mitre pushed a joystick behind his pulpit, making the turret traverse as the Daemon Engine's passenger-- a Dark Apostle of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion-- aimed a power maul at the Bleeding-hearted Angels Chaplain. "Fire on my target!" Mitre ignored the heavy bolter shells reaching for him as he squeezed the trigger, turret-mounted assault cannons hammering the tank-turned-scorpion. The hull-mounted weapons opened fire a split-second later, shattering the enemy's armor to reveal the mutated bodies of two Marines: the tank's gunner and driver, fused to their crew stations when the vehicle transformed.
The Daemon Engine stopped firing; its sponsons-turned-claws rose to shield its exposed flesh, but not before Mitre beheaded the mutated gunner. The Dark Apostle inhaled loudly, but the Redeemer's Flamestorm cannon spoke first, reducing the traitors' last words to agonized screams. The Bleeding-hearted Angels Chaplain drew a bolt pistol, shot and killed the Word Bearer-- not to relieve the traitor's suffering, but to prevent him from mutating into a Chaos Spawn and fighting on, as many Heartless Angels did. The Redeemer turned away from the burning Daemon Engine, escaping its projected blast radius.
Mitre stood still as the enemy vehicle exploded, only for a blazing axe to sever his left hand, the blow launching the Chaplain from his pulpit. "Argh!" 'The enemy used the fireball,' from the exploding Daemon Engine, 'to hide his presence,' he realized as the ground rose to meet him.
"Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!" Feathery wings rose from Lopez's shoulders. His missing hand was replaced with a transparent talon, visible only because the air around it was Warped; this "ghost talon" phased through the Land Raider Redeemer's armor to pluck the tank crewmen from their stations, allowing Blood Vengeance to harvest their skulls. Bolt shells reached for the Heartless Angels leader's head, but the ghost talon rose, freezing the projectiles in midair.
"Khorne rewarded my loyalty, blessing me with godlike strength!" Lopez exclaimed as the shells harmlessly detonated within a Warp energy field. "This strength could've been yours." The traitor flew from the Redeemer-- the crewmen's torsos still phased through its roof, leaving headless bodies half in, half out of the hull-- and landed before Mitre, who struggled to reloaded the pistol with one hand. "It can still be yours." The ghost talon extended as a gesture of friendship. "Renounce the Anathema-- the Emperor, and join your true brothers..."
Boom! The explosion drew Lopez's eyes upward. "My Thunderhawk!" he cried as his flaming gunship fell before those bearing a skull within an iron halo-- symbol of the Sons of Medusa. While he was distracted, the Redeemer's Flamestorm cannon traversed-- on its own, as the servitor gunner's headless body was visible above its barrel-- to strike the Heartless Angels leader's head, knocking Lopez onto the ground. Engines roaring, the Land Raider Redeemer moved itself, crushing the traitor's legs beneath its tracks. "Ahhhh!"
Blood Vengeance rose to its wielder's defense, but the Flamestorm cannon opened fire, bathing the Daemon Weapon in blessed fuel. The Daemon bound to the weapon, shrieked as the chainaxe shattered, forcing it-- and Khorne's blessings upon its wielder-- from the material realm.
Mitre let his pistol fall to the ground as he rose, drawing a crozius arcanum, his staff of office. "Die!" The Chaplain repeatedly swung the crozius, flattened Lopez's skull, crushed the Chaos Marine's chest, shattered his pauldrons to erase the defaced Bleeding-hearted Angels symbol, broke his arms, tore off the mutant's wings, until everything above the traitor's waist was ground into dust.
A shadow fell over Mitre. "Are you a Bleeding-hearted Angel?" the shadow asked. The Chaplain nodded, too tired to speak. "I am Codicier Taprik of the Sons of Medusa. By Inquisitor Ward Thornton's order, under the Ordo Astartes and Ordo Hereticus' joint authority, you are to surrender to our custody."
Chaplain Mitre took off his helm as he climbed to his feet, meeting his captor's eyes with grim determination the skull helm and its ruby lenses could not express.
<> HISTORY 3
Mitre confessed his sins to the Sons of Medusa Chaplains, and ordered his battle-brothers to do the same; they admitted the Heartless Angels were Bleeding-hearted Angels turned traitor. Sons of Medusa apothecaries provided Mitre an augmetic hand to replace the one he lost, as a sign of trust; other Bleeding-hearted Angels received augmetic organs as a "favor."
Lord Inquisitor Ward Thornton (Ordo Hereticus) died before he could report his findings to the Inquisition.
Hearing the blast doors open, the Fourth Captain of the Sons of Medusa, an Iron Chaplain, and Codicier (Librarian) Arbin Taprik turned to see Lord Inquisitor Thornton enter the strike cruiser's bridge. The Sons of Medusa saluted the approaching Lord Inquisitor (their acting commander), expressing no anger when Thornton and his four bodyguards failed to return the gesture.
"The Bleeding-hearted Angels counted the Heartless Angels-- traitors and heretics-- as brothers. Therefore, they are guilty by association," Thornton declared. Forgiveness did not come easily to Ordo Hereticus' members. "In the Emperor's name, I order you to execute the Bleeding-hearted Angels in your custody-- destroying your own ships if necessary, to erase these traitors and heretics from memory. Then we will continue to Argentum, and subject that world to Exterminatus," orbital bombardment to destroy all life on a planet.
"I disagree. The Bleeding-hearted Angels punished the Heartless Angels for their sins, willingly paying a heavy price..." the Iron Chaplain began.
The Lord Inquisitor drew his plasma pistol, aiming it at the Iron Chaplain's head. "Traitor!" The weapon exploded in a blast of roaring flame, reducing Thornton's hand-- his entire body, and those of his bodyguards-- to ash, before he pulled the trigger.
The Sons of Medusa stood behind a Telekine Dome the Librarian erected, watching the fireball extinguish. "He failed to observe Rites of Maintenance for the plasma pistol, allowing the weapon to catastrophically malfunction," Taprik stated. The focused witchfire he shot at the weapon should not have such great effects.
"To prove their loyalty and redeem themselves," the Iron Chaplain finished. "You just paid a heavy price to prove your idiocy."
A Tech-Priest Enginseer testified the Lord Inquisitor, fearing sabotage, prevented Tech-Priests from observing Rites of Maintenance for his weapons; this allowed the tragedy to occur. Thornton's deputy, Inquisitor Liam Doria (Ordo Astartes), absolved the Chapter. The surviving Bleeding-hearted Angels returned to Argentum, verified their identities with the planet's custodians, and reclaimed their homeworld in 899.M41.
Upon his ascension, Chapter Master Pedro Mitre (styled "Dominus Pedro" in Argentum custom) renamed the Chapter the "Iron-hearted Angels," and ordered a "Reforging" to eliminate mental and spiritual weaknesses responsible for Lopez and the Heartless Angels' descent into Chaos. He led his battle-brothers on a pilgrimage to the San Valmi asteroid field, seeking raw materials with which to build the new fortress-monastery, isolation from "subversive influences," and time to plan for the future.
The Iron-hearted Angels strike cruiser "Phoenix" was destroyed the moment she entered the asteroid field. Of 218 loyalist Marines to survive the penitent crusade, "ghost weapons"-- so named because the Space Marines' shipboard sensors were unable to detect their discharges-- instantly killed 48. Two Sons of Medusa frigates transformed into fireballs a split-second later; the ships' destruction were the only signs the ghost weapons were firing.
Based on the destructive patterns made before the ghost weapons' targets were destroyed, the Sons of Medusa tracked each invisible beam to its origin, deducing the defenses were centered around an asteroid known as the "Rib Cage." Codicier Taprik proposed using a precisely calculated Warp jump to bypass the Rib Cage's defensive gauntlet. Acknowledging the dangers in Warping into an asteroid field, Taprik boarded the Iron-hearted Angels scout frigate "White Swan" and personally navigated her towards the Rib Cage, allowing Dominus Pedro and his Sanguinary Guard to board the asteroid.
The Techmarines-- two Sons of Medusa and an Iron-hearted Angel-- were Deathwatch veterans: their left arms were silver-plated, the back of their hands branded with a black "I". The monitor bathed them in a sickly green light; the Techmarines were wraiths in the metal-lined catacombs, haunting it instead of working within.
"We have deactivated the xeno defense grid. The fleet may proceed," Iron-hearted Angels Techmarine Pedro Matthies reported.
Dominus Pedro nodded. Matthies joined the Deathwatch in 693.M41; when the White Sentinel was destroyed, Dominus Josefo ordered the Techmarine to remain as a living memorial to the Bleeding-hearted Angels, while his battle-brothers fought and died to redeem themselves. Although the former Chaplain thought Matthies' spirit was untested, he knew the Techmarine's skills and experience were needed to defeat this new enemy, and planned to promote Matthies to the rank of Captain. "Argent Arrow, this is the Dominus. Advance towards the Rib Cage, full speed ahead," he voxed to a strike cruiser.
"Dominus, this is the Argent Arrow. Order acknowledged." The cruiser accelerated towards the asteroid that was no asteroid, but a star fort of alien construction. Minutes passed; the ghost weapons remained silent. Her Captain sighed in relief before voxing the ship's estimated time of arrival.
Codicier Taprik led Dominus Pedro down the catacombs. Metal bones lay in each niche; dismemberment did not diminish the malevolence each skeleton radiated. "The tomb world's automated weapon systems remained functional despite the passage of 60,000,000 standard years; its stasis system evidently suffered a catastrophic failure, killing the warriors it once preserved. We were most fortunate."
The former Chaplain picked up a metal skull, looked through its lenses, and saw only a soulless void. "What are they?"
"These mechanical xenos are known as 'Necrons.' We had no name for them until 897.M41, when the Necrons perpetrated the Massacre at Sanctuary 101-- an Adepta Sororitas convent in the Vidar Sector," Taprik explained. "The xenos arrogantly left a message, naming themselves and stating their goal: to reclaim this galaxy, subjugating or exterminating all non-Necron life forms."
The Dominus' mechanical hand crushed the Necron's disembodied head, which showered him with green sparks. "They dare challenge mankind's claim over the stars? Their very existence a sin!" The former Chaplain threw the metal skull at a wall, denting it. "We need allies in the Adeptus Mechanicus to help us study these xenos and their weapons. We must learn everything we can about this new enemy, to defeat them."
"The Magi," the Adeptus Mechanicus' senior members, "will not act on a whim-- not even on ours."
The Dominus pointed at the living metal wall, which was repairing the damage inflicted when he threw the Necron's head. "They will act on this evidence. We will each keep a 'ghost weapon' for study; the rest will be bartered to the Mechanicus in exchange for their aid."
The Iron-hearted Angels committed a strike cruiser, two frigates, and their crews (half the Chapter) to the loyalists' cause in the Badab War, honoring the debt they owed the Sons of Medusa. The Inquisition was reluctant to accept the services of a Blood Angels successor, as another (the Lamenters) supported the secessionists. The Sons of Medusa vouched for their allies, and agreed to share a traitor's fate if any Iron-hearted Angel turned against the Imperium.
To prove their loyalty, the Iron-hearted Angels ambushed a secessionist flotilla as it approached the planet Cygnax, boarded the Lamenters strike cruiser "Haemolacria", set melta charges upon the ship's reactor, and destroyed her from within. In a scene that was thrice repeated during the war, the Iron-hearted Angels attacked the Lamenters with fury only the Minotaurs could match, ignored the secessionists' accusations of fratricide, and outraged the Blood Angels.
By Sidewinder (firstname.lastname@example.org), 2015-2016. Based on the franchise created and copyrighted by Games Workshop. Flaying knife profiles by Frater Antodeniel (www.bolterandchainsword.com/to…
). Reclusiam field shrine created by Brother Casman (www.bolterandchainsword.com/to…