"Fire and Bone!"
Cursed 21st Founding (36th Millennium)
Unknown (Allegedly the Salamanders)
Unknown (Allegedly Vulkan)
Black with a white Aquila and markings
The Black Dragons are one of the Loyalist Space Marine Chapters created during the Cursed 21st Founding; their gene-seed is suspected of having originated with the Salamanders. They were censured by the Inquisition due to the mutation of the Chapter's gene-seed, which causes certain Astartes of the Chapter to develop blade-like outgrowths of bone on the head and forearms. Some Black Dragons afflicted in this way sharpened these bone growths and sheathed them in adamantium for use in close melee combat. These Black Dragons are then grouped together into specialist Jump Pack-equipped Assault Marine squads known as Dragon Claws within the Chapter.
Little is known of the Black Dragons in official Imperial records but they have been noted in several classified resources as belonging to the 21st Founding (the so-called Cursed Founding) of the 36th Millennium. The Chapter was Founded just prior to the Age of Apostasy, a time of internecine warfare and bloodshed on a galactic scale, the like of which had not been seen since the dark days of the Horus Heresy. The Imperium was nearly destroyed during this time by the whims of the insane and renegade High Lord Goge Vandire.
During the 21st Founding, the Tech-priests of the Mechanicus sought to "improve" the character of Astartes gene-seed by perfecting and removing the existing, identified deficiencies through various methods of bioengineering, and the result was the Founding of a series of Astartes Chapters who have a long history of being plagued with rampant mutation and Chaotic corruption. None can tell the number of Cursed Founding Chapters that are in existence, as all record of their creation has been expunged from Imperial archives. It did not take long before the flaws inherent in the Black Dragons' altered gene-seed manifested themselves. While their parent Chapter has not been confirmed, the Magos Biologis of the Adeptus Mechanicus believe that the Black Dragons' gene-seed originated from the Salamanders Chapter. Those that have been witnessed in battle appear to possess distinct abilities and mutations. The Black Dragons were censured by the Inquisition due to the mutation of the Chapter's gene-seed, which causes certain Astartes of the Chapter to develop blade-like outgrowths of bone on the head and forearms and to grow long, poisonous fangs. These obvious physical mutations make long-term cooperation with other (less tolerant) Imperial bodies impossible. The Black Dragons are a Chapter who push the Inquisition to the limits of tolerance. Although they have fought alongside Imperial forces in conflicts as recent as the Third War for Armageddon, they rarely remain part of a standing force for long.
- Death of Antagonis (Unknown Date.M41) - When the Curse of Unbelief broke out on the planet of Antagonis, the Black Dragons answered a plea for help from Inquisitor Werner Lettinger, to combat the plague of undeath that threatens to engulf the planet. Despite their presence and the assistance of an Order of Sisters of Battle, the planet had to ultimately be declared Perdita and evacuated, before being scoured of Nurgle's taint by an Exterminatus order.
- The Third War for Armageddon (998.M41) - When the infamous Ork Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka led the largest Ork WAAAGH! against the Hive World of Armageddon, this began the massive conflict known as the Third War for Armageddon between the Greenskins and the forces of the Imperium. The Black Dragons committed 9 out of their 10 Companies to the Imperial efforts to repel the massive Ork invasion.
One of the many gene-seed zygotes Black Dragon Neophytes are implanted with is the Ossmodula. This small organ has a complex function within the body of a Space Marine. It monitors and secretes hormones affecting epiphiseal fusion and ossification of the skeleton while engineered hormones encourage the forming bones to absorb ceramic-based chemicals administered in the Astartes' diet. Two Terran years following implantation, the Neophyte's long bones will have strengthened considerably and there will have been a general increase in the overall size of the recipient's skeleton. Extreme ossification of the chest cavity caused by growth of ribs forming a solid mass of interlaced bone plates provides a Space Marine with an armoured layer to protect his secondary heart and lungs. But the Ossmodula zygote of the Black Dragons functions in an abnormal way as the result of a mutation of its DNA, causing the growth of bony crests on the head, and blade-like protuberances from the forearm and elbow. Like the Death Company of the Blood Angels, Black Dragon warriors afflicted with such mutations are formed into a separate fighting unit within the Chapter. Known as the Dragon Claws, they sharpen these additional protrusions to a killing edge, and sheath them in Adamantium to turn them into deadly close-combat melee weapons. This level of mutation strains the tolerance of the Inquisition and there are many recorded instances of other Space Marines Chapters (notably the Dark Angels and Marines Malevolent) refusing to fight alongside the Black Dragons.
It has been rumoured that the Black Dragons' Apothecaries deliberately encourage the mutational growths which results in rampant ossification growth, going so far as to knowingly implant genetically aberrant gene-seed zygotes into some Neophytes. This is exceptionally dangerous, and the practice is strictly forbidden by Imperial edict, but old traditions die hard as the sheer ferocity of the Dragon Claws is much valued by the Black Dragons' Chapter Masters.
Every Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes is required to send 5% of its gene-seed's genetic material to the Adeptus Mechanicus on Mars. This 'tithe' serves two purposes: enabling the Adeptus Mechanicus to monitor the genetic health of each Space Marine Chapter, and storing Adeptus Astartes gene-seed with a view to founding new Chapters as needed by the Imperium. The Adeptus Mechanicus has on several occasions threatened the Black Dragons with military action unless it complies with this decree and even when the Chapter has submitted genetic data, its veracity has often been considered suspect as each sample provided has passed the most stringent genetic purity checks without fail. Without being able to prove anything, many Mechanicus Adepts believe that the Black Dragons submit genetic material culled from other, more pure, sources. How this can be possible is unknown and the Adeptus Mechanicus is eager to fully investigate the medical practices within the Black Dragons Chapter.
Notable Black Dragons
- Volos - Current Captain of the Black Dragon's 2nd Company.
- Toharan (Deceased) - Traitor Black Dragon who formed the Disciples of Purity sect within the 2nd Company. Toharan was slain by his former Battle-Brother and close friend Volos at the conclusion of the Antagonis campaign.
- Vai'tan Ushorak - Vai'tan Ushorak was a Chaplain of the Black Dragons Chapter who fell to the corruption of Chaos and turned Renegade. He later served as a mentor to the Renegade Salamanders Librarian Nihilan in the ways of sorcery. Ushorak was slain when a strike force composed of the Salamanders' 3rd Company, under the command of Captain Ko'tan Kadai, caught up Ushorak and the warband of Chaos Space Marines he had gathered around himself on the Cemetery World of Moribar while they were hunting Nihilan. While Ushorak delved into the secret crypts beneath the sepulchre world, the Salamanders and the Renegade followers of Ushorak fought savagely through the crematoria of that ash-blanketed world. At the height of the fighting, Ushorak was plunged into the central furnaces at the heart of the planet, while Nihilan tried to save his mentor but failed and was horribly burned in the process, barely surviving his horrific wounds. Eventually, from the tattered remnants of Ushorak's followers, the newly christened Chaos Sorcerer Nihilan forged the Dragon Warriors warband, determined to exact vengeance on the Salamanders and the people of Nocturne. The vengeful Nihilan was particularly determined to gain vengeance against Kadai, and proceeded to engineer the heroic Salamander officer's downfall as revenge for his own horrific wounds. Nihilan also sought the sorcerous knowledge required to resurrect his mentor from the dead, no matter the cost.
Black Dragons Battle-Brothers are known to display a variety of tattoos and scars on their arms, which hint at the less than salubrious backgrounds these warriors may have had before their indoctrination into the Adeptus Astartes. The terrifying mutations that their enhancement has wracked on their bodies have become almost a badge of honour for these Space Marines, and they now modify their armour to allow them to use these retractable blades in combat.
The Black Dragons' Chapter badge is a white dragon head facing to the left.
- Chapter Approved: The Fourth Book of the Astronomican, "The Cursed Founding" by Andy Hoare, Graham McNeill and Phil Kelly, pp. 4-9
- White Dwarf 260 (UK), "Index Astartes: The Cursed Founding"
- Death of Antagonis (Novel) by David Annandale
- Third War for Armageddon Worldwide Campaign - Forces Disposition, Imperial Forces: Black Dragons
- Black Library Blog: The Art of Antagonis