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Literature / Dark Angels

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Repent! For tomorrow you die!

The Dark Angels are a Chapter of Space Marines in Warhammer 40,000. They were the first legion of Space Marines. Their homeworld was Caliban, where their Primarch, Lion El'Jonson, grew up. However, half their number rebelled following the Horus Heresy, and they ruthlessly hunt these "Fallen Angels" while keeping the Fallen's existence secret.

They feature in the novel Angels of Darkness, the The Legacy of Caliban trilogy, and the Space Marine Battles novel The Purging of Kadillus, all by Gavin Thorpe. They also feature in the Horus Heresy novels Descent of Angels and Fallen Angels.


Not to be confused with Dark Angel.

Also check out the Character sheet.


  • Better to Die than Be Killed: With a doomsday virus having been tampered with, and unwilling to sacrifice the planet to escape their base, the squad in Angels of Darkness decide that it would be better to kill themselves than show weakness when their power armor fails to sustain their lives.
  • Career-Ending Injury: In Master of Sanctity Telemenus suffers a daemonic plague infection, forcing the Apothecaries to cut his right arm and everything below his waist to remove the infection. Telemenus later realizes that his fighting days are over. The Unforgiven drives the point home; he can't just replace everything with machinery like the Iron Hands would have done, since too much damage happened too quickly, including minor brain cell damage right up until they subvert the entire trope by putting him in a Dreadnought.
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  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Cypher flat out tells Azrael that the great sin of the Dark Angels isn't the Fallen - pretty much every Astartes Legion was split to some degree in the Horus Heresy - but their continuous efforts to conceal the fact that the Fallen exist. If the Dark Angels would just own up to the fact that yes, some of the Lion's followers betrayed him, as had happened with every other loyal Primarch, and asked for help in dealing with them from the Inquisition and the other Astartes Chapters, they'd all be better off. Even just admitting the truth to their own rank and file would simplify matters, as they wouldn't have to force entire units to hold back so that they won't encounter a Fallen. Unfortunately, the pride of the Dark Angels and their Successor Chapters prevent them from doing so.
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  • Death World: Caliban was not a nice place before it blew up. Mostly due to warp taint and the vicious beasts that resulted from it (at least until the Lion led a crusade to kill them all). These days, the Dark Angels get their recruits from a number of Death Worlds, such as Piscina V, which is deliberately left untouched by the Imperium so the Dark Angels can recruit its inhabitants.
  • Heroic Blue Screen of Death: In Angels of Darkness Boreas has such a massive one following his learning that the Chapter never told him about the annihilus virus bomb, proving that Astelan's claims of Lion El'Jonson's mistrust of the Dark Angels was right, that he nearly kills himself.
  • Ignored Epiphany: After nearly destroying Piscina IV over his obsession with the Fallen in Angels of Darkness, Boreas realizes that the Dark Angels have lost their way, and makes a recording of an impassioned speech begging the Dark Angels to stop being so obsessive over the Fallen. When the Dark Angels arrive to investigate his death in Ravenwing, Sammael considers Boreas a heretic for failing to pursue the Fallen.
    • Hope Spot: He doesn't comment on it, but Belial seems to have taken Boreas's words closer to heart. In Master of Sanctity he splits his forces in the battle of Tharsis, leaving a transport escorting a captured Fallen vulnerable in favor of having troops left over to defend the Imperial citizens.
  • Interservice Rivalry: In Ravenwing the Fifth Company begin developing a rivalry the Ravenwing over deployment, with the Fifth Company feeling that the Ravenwing get the more glorious deployment with the Fifth being placed in a support role. Sammael does have a good reason for deploying the Ravenwing, specifically to hunt for renegade Space Marines, but he can't tell the Fifth that.
  • Legacy Character: Cypher insists that Lord Cypher is his title, not his name, implying that he may not be the Lord Cypher who lead the Fallen during the Horus Heresy.
  • Lost Common Knowledge: Astelan is able to identify the presence of another Fallen in a spaceborne fleet by the strategies it employs — strategies that were common sense at the time of the Heresy but have been all but forgotten in the present day. Even Belial, a recognized master of space combat in modern times, has trouble keeping up with his explanation.
  • Old Shame: Invoked Trope. The Fallen. The Dark Angels and their successor chapters are obsessed with dealing with them without the Imperium as a whole learning they exist.
  • The Reveal: In Angels of Darkness The Fallen on Piscina IV were after the gene-seed being stored in the Dark Angels basilica, which Nestor was guarding. And they tampered with a virus installed as a fail-safe after the Ork invasion. All of which was kept secret from Boreas.
  • Sinister Minister: Interrogator Asmodai, who firmly believes The Ends Justify The Means. It's believed he doesn't care about "saving the souls of the Fallen" anymore, just collecting more black pearls. It is hinted that Asmodai has gone off the deep end and is simply a sadist who enjoys inflicting pain; notably, despite his long service, he only has two black pearls for redeeming Fallen - the greatest of Interrogator-Chaplains had 13. Master of Sanctity final has some Asmodai's point of view: he legitimately believes that the Fallen need to be stopped, as his first encounter with the Fallen saw one wipe out an entire planet (Never mind that Asmodai himself considers destroying a planet an acceptable price for stopping the Fallen). At the same time, Master of Sanctity also reveals that Asmodai's first encounter with the Fallen did drive him insane, and he's fully aware of it.
    • Averted with his boss Sapphon, the Master of Sanctity, who belives that The End Does Not Justify The Means and that the Dark Angels need to be a lot more careful about how they hunt the Fallen, and much less willing to do whatever it takes to satisfy their own honour. His greatest fear is Asmodai taking his place and bringing the Dark Angels into conflict with the Inquisition and other Astartes Chapters, something that previous events involving Asmodai show is not a hollow fear, it's a very legitimate one.
  • Stable Time Loop: Thanks to a millennium-spanning warp rift, the Hunt for the Fallen caused the destruction of Caliban and the scattering of the Fallen during the Horus Heresy, which is what inspired the Hunt in the first place.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: A major plot point of The Purging of Kadillus, where the Orks are using tellyportas to transport Orks and material to the surface of Piscina IV.
  • Treachery Cover Up: Following the rebellion, the Dark Angels have hidden all information regarding the destruction of Caliban and the Fallen's existence. This includes up to and including killing Inquisitors who investigate Caliban's destruction. In Ravenwing it's revealed that the Inner Circle keep a lot of the truth about the Horus Heresy from the rank and file battle-brothers, such as it's existence.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Because of the numerous layers of secrecy surrounding Dark Angel history and lore, the senior members have adopted a number of indirect manners of referring to classified matters in places the rank and file might hear.
  • Wham Episode: In Pandorax, Kaldor Draigo lets Azreal know the Grey Knights know about the Fallen, and have known for quite some time. It gets better from there: one of the eight founding Grey Knights was a Dark Angel, and at some point had "switched fates" with either Zahariel or more likely Cypher, in turn implying Cypher is a powerful psyker!
    • Combined with a massive The Reveal in The Unforgiven when Annael detonates his Dark Talon's warp engine over the rift that connects the present to the past, specifically the Battle of Caliban, and in doing so closes the rift in the present but aggravates it in the past, sending it towards Caliban. Though the narrative doesn't say it out loud, it very heavily implies that it was that moment that caused the destruction of Caliban and the scattering of the Fallen through time and space, which would explain why so many of the Fallen arrived in 40k. Azrael and Sapphon both see this and it's hinted the former actually understood what he saw, since he alone knows what really happened to Caliban, but he knows he can never ever tell anyone else in the Chapter what he now knows is the truth: The Chaos Gods didn't destroy Caliban, the Dark Angels did.
  • Wicked Cultured: Throughout his appearances, Astelan is consistently polite, highly educated (only the extremely erudite Sapphon and Azrael are depicted as capable of matching wits with him and even then, it's questionable), snarky even under 15 years of torture, and a master of both ground and fleet combat.
  • World Gone Mad: In Ravening Piscina IV two months after the Fallen's attack and the suicide of Boreas's squad in Angels of Darkness. The planet is in pretty much in open revolt, the Imperial Governor has been executed, and Orks are rampaging through the city. The Dark Angels response? Head for their chapter keep and then go chasing for rumors about Fallen Angels.
  • Would Hurt a Child: When one of the potential Aspirants balks at the prospect of Nestor opening him up, Boreas takes him aside and explains that if he refused, his family would be shamed. The kid realizes he has to do this, but Boreas says there are no second chances, and calmly snaps the kids neck, leaving him in a room filled with decayed bones, implying that the Dark Angels have been doing this for as long as they've been recruiting from Piscina V.

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