Baal is the nominal homeworld of the Blood Angels Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. Baal itself is a dry, dusty Desert World, scarcely inhabited by anyone other than mutants and feral animals. However its two moons, Baal Prime and Baal Secundus, support notable human settlements and were once "paradises for mortal men" though now they are classified as savage Feral Worlds by the Imperium. Little is known about the past circumstances of these two moons, but at some time in the past (probably during the Dark Age of Technology or the Age of Strife) a cataclysmic conflict arose and led to the widespread use of both viral and nuclear weapons, destroying the ecosystems of both satellites and contaminating their biospheres with radioactive fallout, chemical pollution and biological agents. The mighty Fortress-Monastery of the Blood Angels was built on the world of Baal, and since the time of Sanguinius, the Blood Angels have continued to recruit from among the tribes of the Blood on Baal Secundus and Baal Prime (where a colony was established shortly after the time of the Horus Heresy).
The Blood Angels have been shaped not only by the personality and deeds of their Primarch Sanguinius, but also by the nature of their Chapter homeworld. Few worlds in the entire Imperium could have as devastating an impact on the human soul as Baal and its inhabited moons: Baal Prime and Baal Secundus. In ancient days Baal and its moons all had Earth-like atmospheres. Baal itself was always a world of rust-red deserts much like Mars but its moons were paradises for mortal men, where their people lived in harmony with nature and pursued lives of ease and freedom. The people of Baal became exceptional artisans, and spent their time creating mighty monuments, carving the mountains themselves into statues of their rulers and their gods. They even ventured onto the surface of desolate Baal itself, leaving colonies and breathtaking edifices in their wake.
No one knows exactly what happened to change this idyllic state of affairs. All that is certain is that during the fearful events that marked the downfall of interstellar human society and the end of the Dark Age of Technology, the moons of Baal suffered terribly. Ancient weapons of terrifying potency were unleashed. Cities became plains of smouldering glass. Lush grasslands became polluted deserts. Seas became poisoned lakes of toxic sludge. The people of Baal died in their millions and it looked as if humanity might become extinct in the Baal System. But somehow people survived. They clung precariously to life on the edges of the radioactive deserts. They became scavengers, picking through the scattered bones of their own once-great civilisation. In the dark time that followed the collapse of all order, some became worse than scavengers, and in their desperation turned to cannibalism.
Over the course of the following centuries, the accumulated chemical and radioactive toxins that built up in the survivors' bodies led them to devolve into mutants, shambling parodies of the noble men their forefathers had once been. There were some who held on to their humanity and preserved a semblance of sane behaviour, but these were the embattled few amongst a new and savage culture that evolved amid the ruins of the old. The only social unit left was the tribe. For human and mutant cannibal alike, the only folk they could rely upon were their own kin. The people of the Baal System became nomads, shifting from place to place, picking the ruins of their lost civilisation clean, warring to preserve the spoils they had gathered. The tribes fought constant wars, webs of alliances shifting constantly as each tribe strove for supremacy and survival. Extinction awaited the slow and the weak. Where once the moons of Baal had been near paradise, now they were living hells.
For the few surviving humans, existence was a constant struggle. They wandered the surface in ramshackle vehicles, desperately hoping that their patched-together radiation suits would save them, praying that they would never hear the hideous tell-tale clicking of their rad-counters, a sound that meant death was imminent. For a time it seemed that humanity was doomed and soon there would only be an endless desert ruled over by the feuding mutant tribes. Then, out of the star-strewn darkness of the heavens, came a sign of hope.
The Coming of Sanguinius
It happened that after the Emperor of Mankind created the Primarchs on Terra at the end of the Age of Strife, the infants were stolen from the chamber in which they lay. The Forces of Chaos made off with the infants and carried them through the Warp. Unable to destroy the Primarchs because of the powerful arcane protections laid on them by the Emperor, the daemonic powers nonetheless did their best to alter and mould the Emperor's work to their own evil ends. Thus it was that even the best of the Emperor's creations became corrupted at the outset.
The gestation pod that housed the infant Sanguinius came to rest upon the surface of Baal Secundus, at the place now known as Angel's Fall. The infant Primarch was found by one of the wandering tribes of humans who called themselves the Folk of Pure Blood, or simply the Blood. The young Sanguinius' life almost came to an end then and there, for the touch of Chaos had changed him. Tiny vestigial wings, like those of an angel, emerged from his back. Many wanted to kill the child as a mutant, while others wanted to absolve the boy, for in all other ways he was as perfect a child as had ever been seen. Eventually innate compassion prevailed and the child was spared.
The infant Sanguinius was a prodigy -- he grew quickly and learned everything his adoptive parents could teach him. After three weeks Sanguinius was as large as a child of three years. It is said that at this age he slew a giant fire scorpion with no weapon other than his bare hands, and that he never once showed fear at the colossal beast's attack. As Sanguinius grew, his wings also grew, changing from tiny vestigial things into mighty pinions that could bear him aloft upon the desert air. By the time he was a year old, he looked and acted like a man in his youthful prime. He could walk without a rad-suit in the most poisonous of Baal Secundus' deserts, and could shatter massive boulders with a single blow of his outstretched hand. In the use of all weapons he soon excelled his teachers. When a wandering band of mutants surprised the tribe, Sanguinius slew them all, although they numbered over a hundred. This was the first time the members of the Blood had ever seen him truly angry, for he felt his comrades' lives were in danger. When the blood-rage overtook him, Sanguinius was indeed terrible to behold -- his mighty Primarch powers awoke to fullness and a nimbus of light played about his head.
Sanguinius distinguished himself in the fateful days and years that followed. He soon rose to leadership of the Blood, and under his guidance they rolled back the mutant tide. For a time Mankind had a respite on the moon of Baal Secundus. Sanguinius was worshipped as a god by his followers who felt that he could once again create a paradise in that dreadful land. It was shortly thereafter that fate intervened once more. The Emperor had been questing across the galaxy in search of his lost children and his incredible psychic powers led him to Baal. His ship landed at the Conclave of the Blood, and he walked straight to Sanguinius' abode. Some amongst the Primarchs are said to have fought against the Emperor when first they met but this was not the case with Sanguinius. He immediately recognised the Emperor for who he was and bent his knee before the Lord of Mankind. The Emperor raised him up and looked upon his people and saw that they were fair and noble. The best of the warriors he offered to raise up into Space Marines. The others were to be honourably left behind to defend Mankind's birthright upon Baal Secundus. The Emperor performed the complex operation that would extract the gene-seed from Sanguinius' genetic codes and he implanted it into the warriors of the Blood Angels Legion. Thus were the Blood Angels and their Primarch finally made whole. They joined the Emperor's fleet to participate in the Great Crusade.
First and smallest of the moons, a human colony was established after the Horus Heresy and it is also inhabited by several tribes of feral humans worthy and genetically pure enough for the Blood Angels to recruit from them.
After the Emperor created the Primarchs, the Ruinous Powers made off with the infants and carried them through the Warp. Unable to destroy the Primarchs because of the powerful protections laid on them by the Emperor, the daemonic powers nonetheless did their best to alter the Emperor's work to their own evil ends. Thus it was that even the best of the Emperor’s creations became corrupted at the outset. The pod that housed the infant Sanguinius came to rest upon Baal Secundus, at the place now known as Angel's Fall. To ascertain who is worthy to join the ranks of the Blood Angels, the adolescents of the feral tribes of Baal Secundus who would be Blood Angels Aspirants take part in violent games and tournaments, battling against the harsh landscape and their peers. Baal Secundus has a large population (compared to the other worlds in the system) of feral scavenger tribes who have to compete with vicious predators such as the infamous Fire Scorpions. Needless to say, men from these tribes make for formidable Space Marine Aspirants.
The Devastation of Baal
Early in the first days of the 42nd Millennium, after sacrificing the Shieldworlds of the Cryptus System to fend off the xenos' earliest advance on the Baal System, the planet of Baal itself came under intense attack by Hive Fleet Leviathan. The Tyranid Hive Fleet was of such mass, even after its considerable losses, that it blotted the stars from the skies. Lord Commander Dante bolstered the formidable defences of the Blood Angels' homeworld and its moons like never before. Not one to await attack, he also sent forth scores of preemptive strike forces to delay, mislead, and whittle down the living armada. Hundreds of splinter fleets were thus defeated. Dante's call, beseeching the Blood Angels' Successors to send immediate aid to their parent Chapter, did not go unheeded. The Flesh Tearers were the first to arrive, and ultimately all the Successor Chapters save the Lamenters answered the call. Even the Knights of Blood, who had been declared Excommunicate Traitoris by the High Lords of Terra, arrived to bolster the defences. It was still not enough.
Learning at an exponential rate, Hive Fleet Leviathan could not be thwarted by the same strategy twice. Advancing steadily, their superior numbers cleared the entire surrounding sector of life before the xenos made planetfall upon Baal and her twin moons. The first nineteen waves, each larger than the last, were driven off at great loss to the Blood Angels and their Successor allies. Five Chapter Masters fell in that bitter fighting, three in the Battle at the Dome of Angels alone. The Tyranids began the process of absorbing all biomass from Baal and its moons, absorbing even the radiation-poisoned deserts of Baal Secundus. With their defences in ruin and Baal's moons stripped and broken, the remaining Space Marines retreated back to the rubble of the Blood Angels' sprawling fortress-monastery. There, they prepared for a last stand as the next wave swept downwards. Doom, it seemed, had at last come to the Sons of Sanguinius.
It was then that the Great Rift cracked open the galaxy in the wake of the fall of Cadia to the 13th Black Crusade, and the withered Baal System was blasted by the aetheric storms. Although no further attack waves came from the Leviathan Hive Fleet, not a single Imperial defender remained alive upon the last moon, Baal Prime. On Baal itself there were already enough Tyranids there to destroy the Imperial troops many times over. Even with no chance of victory, Commander Dante led his troops, each fighting retreat seemingly more hopeless than the last. As the final perimeter was broken, the stars reappeared. Looking skywards, the Tyranids on the surface of Baal sought contact with their Hive Fleet, but it was gone, replaced by a newly arrived Imperial fleet. Like an angel of vengeance came Roboute Guilliman and his Indomitus Crusade. After many more battles, Baal was finally cleared of the xenos threat. A great rebuilding of both world and Chapter was undertaken, for the Blood Angels and their Successors were sorely needed elsewhere in the beleaguered Imperium. What became of the Leviathan is a mystery, although a clue was found upon the now-barren moon of Baal Prime. Xenos skulls were piled impossibly high in the much-reviled, eight-pillared symbol of one of the Blood Angels' most terrible and ancient nemeses: the Bloodthirster Ka'Bandha and his army of Khornate daemons.
The indigenous peoples of Baal Prime and Baal Secundus suffered greatly from the aftermath of the ancient conflict that scored both moons and they gradually became degenerate, mutated and sickly, the survivors banding together into semi-nomadic tribes. These tribes people appear to have maintained some advanced technology as mention is made of rad-counters, rad-suits (self-evidently advanced technological equipment to protect from the effects of radiation), vehicular transport and advanced weaponry. Many of the tribes turned to cannibalism and became even further corrupted by the toxins endemic to their environment, but at least one tribe maintained a noble and enlightened outlook; known as the "Ones of Pure Blood", often contracted simply to "the Blood". It was the Blood who encountered the infant Primarch Sanguinius when he came to rest on Baal Secundus after being abducted through the Warp from Terra by the Ruinous Powers, and they adopted him as one of their own. The tribespeople were astonished at the young Primarch's rate of growth, constitution and strength, and he soon became a hero among them, on at least one occasion defending The Blood against an attack by another, mutant tribe, and killing many of them. It was in this capacity that he was discovered by the Emperor during the Great Crusade. Sanguinius instantly recognized the true Master of Mankind as his father and swore fealty to him, taking command of the Blood Angels Legion of Space Marines created from his own genome.
Blood Angels Recruitment
Since the time of Sanguinius, the Blood Angels have recruited from among the greatest tribes of the Blood on Baal Secundus and Baal Prime (where a colony was established shortly after the time of the Horus Heresy). Youths from the Blood take part in great games and tournaments, facing many hazards as they race across the desert, to fight and do battle against one other. These contests are usually held only once per generation at Angel's Fall, where a mighty statue of Sanguinius now observes the proceedings. Traditionally, the Time of Challenge is announced by heralds who visit each tribe in great flying chariots. Contestants must make their way to Angel's Fall across the rad-deserts, a process that in and of itself weeds out the weakest, for the hazards of the desert are many, and it takes a youth of extraordinary skill and courage to even reach the Place of Challenge. Once there they must vie for the fifty or so places that are available. Those who succeed are taken up in Sky Chariots; those who fail are left behind either to guard the place of testing or to make their way back to their own tribes as they choose. Those youths who are accepted as Aspirants are taken to the Blood Angels' fortress-monastery on Baal itself. There they see great wonders and look for the first time on the unmasked faces of their future Battle-Brothers, and possibly note with some consternation their sharp eye-teeth and sleekly beautiful features. It has to be said that the recruits are far from handsome at this stage. Most of the Aspirants bear the marks of their hard lives, for it is all but impossible for an ordinary man to dwell on those barren moons and not feel the terrible kiss of the ambient radiation. Many are marked by stigmata, most are short and stunted, their growth stifled by malnutrition and the constant hunger. Many more will be marked by rad-lesions and incipient carcinoma.
All the Aspirants are left to observe vigil in the great Chapel of the Chapter and then they will drink from the Sanguinary Chalice brought to them by one of the Blood Angels' Sanguinary Priests. They are told that they partake of the blood of their Primarch and they drink. Slumber soon overtakes them and the Aspirants are borne by Chapter Servitors to the Apothecarion where the gene-seed of Sanguinius will be implanted in their unconscious bodies. From the Apothecarion the aspirants will be taken to the Hall of Sarcophagi and each will be placed within a mighty golden sarcophagus. Life support nodes are attached to them and for the next year they will be fed intravenously with a mixture of nutrients and the Blood of Sanguinius while the newly implanted gene-seed organs do their work.
Many Aspirants die at this stage, their bodies unable to cope with the strain of the changes that now overtake them. Those who live will grow swift and true, echoing the rapid physical growth of their Primarch. They will put on muscle mass and acquire the extra internal organs that mark a true Space Marine. At this time too they will have many strange dreams, for the gene-seed carries within it many of the memories of Sanguinius. Thus will the essence of their Primarch begin to permeate the souls of his chosen warriors. Ever afterwards, when sleeping, and sometimes when awake, these dreams will return to haunt the future Blood Angels. When the Aspirants emerge from their sarcophagi they are forever changed. They will be tall, strong and superhumanly powerful. Their restructured bodies and features will have taken on a beauty that echoes that of their angelic forebear. Their senses will be keener, their muscles will be stronger than tempered steel. They will be ready to begin their training as Space Marine Neophytes.
- Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition), pp. 16-19
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition) (Ebook), pp. 25-28
- Codex: Blood Angels (4th Edition)
- Index Astartes II, "Angels of Death"
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (8th Edition), "Devastation of Baal", pg. 52-53
- White Dwarf 329 (US), "Warhammer 40,000: Blood Angels Official Codex," pg. 70