- "Flame, hammer and blood – so is meteoric iron worked, so were the Heavenfall Blades tempered. So too shall I test the Unforgiven."
- — Cypher
Cypher is one of the Fallen Angels of the Dark Angels Space Marines Chapter, and one of the few members of that Loyalist Chapter who are believed to have turned to Chaos during the Horus Heresy in the early 31st Millennium. Cypher has been on the run ever since the end of the Heresy and has been pursued by the Dark Angels for more than ten thousand standard years. Cypher is a being wrapped in shadow, an entity whose every move is cloaked in mystery. His motives and methods are themselves an enigma; even the name or title by which he is known seems to conceal something, although whether it is a metaphor or yet another conundrum is unknown. To the Imperium at large, Cypher is either wholly unknown, or a being of shadowy rumour that seems to be somehow connected to or sought by the Dark Angels and their Successor Chapters. To the Unforgiven, Cypher is a being of legend and untold speculation. Cypher is the one whom the Masters of the Dark Angels seek above all others, for he is their most hated foe.
The Dark Angels have been chasing Cypher since the catastrophic fall of Caliban, eluding capture for nearly ten thousand standard years. During that time, Cypher has appeared in each of the five Segmentums, materialising as if from nowhere. Wherever he surfaces, he brings with him death and destruction, although whether he is the culprit or merely a herald of woe is unclear. Cypher seldom instigates the violent acts that invariably occur when he is present; it is rather that he seems to act as a catalyst, fanning the hatred and mistrust of those around him into a raging fire. Cypher vanishes from the scene as abruptly as he arrives. Worlds burn in his wake.
Besides havoc and ruin, there is another trail that Cypher leaves behind; legend and rumour abound after the passage of the mysterious robed figure. The intrigue over his rapid departure is magnified by the inevitable wave of ensuing questions. Sometimes these interrogations are conducted by Inquisitors or their agents, while at others Chaos Space Marines seek more knowledge about the cryptic figure that weaves in and out of their strongholds. The Dark Angels always turn up along the trail. Grim-faced and taciturn as to their purpose, they query any who were in contact or might have spoken with Cypher. Those who have some knowledge, or are even suspected of having some, are taken away by black-armoured Interrogator-Chaplains. Few return.
As to who or what Cypher truly is, none can say. Those who have witnessed him in action report that he wears simple ceremonial robes, much like those of the Dark Angels. Beneath his garment can be seen the thick plates of dark Power Armour. Stranger still by far, however, is that no matter where in the galaxy Cypher surfaces, it is only a matter of time before the Dark Angels or one of their Successor Chapters follow.
Despite the constant search for Cypher, none have yet been successful in capturing or destroying him. Or so it would seem. The Dark Angels have believed Cypher neutralised on numerous occasions, yet he always returns. His loyalties and motivations remain impossible to guess at, for though he has fought by the side of both Imperial and Chaos forces over the millennia, he nearly always betrays his allies after a time. Some believe that Cypher follows some vast plan that no other can guess, save perhaps the Emperor Himself. Others think his appearances and acts are random, the caprice of a being whose very existence should be an impossibility. Whatever the truth, none have ever captured the mysterious Space Marine for long enough to find out.
- "I know not if he represents the greatest threat or greatest hope for the future of the Imperium. I only pray we stop him before we find out."
- — Inquisitor Bastalek Grim
The Fall of Caliban was one of the last major catastrophes suffered by the Imperium during the bloody days of the Horus Heresy. This is the terrible secret borne by the Dark Angels these last ten millennia; that the incorruptible Ist Legion fell to corruption when the Legion's second-in-command, Luther, corrupted many of their brethren through the foul lure of Chaos. The Traitors were eventually defeated in a climactic battle that resulted in the destruction of the Dark Angels' homeworld of Caliban, but many of their number survived to be cast into the Warp and scattered throughout space and time by the Ruinous Powers. The events of Luther's betrayal are known only to a select few senior members amongst the Dark Angels and their Successor Chapters, the so-called Inner Circle. These defeated survivors are known as the Fallen Angels or just the Fallen, mercilessly hunted down by the elite Deathwing and Ravenwing companies and made to repent by the fearsome Interrogator-Chaplains of the Dark Angels before they are executed.
Since that time, the elusive Fallen known as Cypher has been on the run, eluding capture for nearly ten thousand years. During that time, Cypher has appeared in each of the five segmentums, materialising as if from nowhere. Wherever he surfaces, he brings with him death and destruction, although whether he is the culprit or merely a herald of woe is often unclear. Although the accounts are often tainted with bias, it appears that Cypher seldom instigates the violent acts that invariably occur when he is present; it is rather that he seems to act as a catalyst which fans the hatred and mistrust of those around him into a raging, uncontrollable fire. In each case, Cypher vanishes from the scene as abruptly as he arrived. Worlds burn in his wake, yet he leaves no clues as to where he will turn up next.
Besides havoc and ruin, there is another trail that Cypher leaves behind; legend and rumour abound after the passage of the mysterious robed figure. The intrigue over his rapid departure is further magnified by the inevitable wave of ensuing questions. Sometimes these interrogations will be conducted by Inquisitors or their agents, while at others Chaos Space Marines seek more knowledge about the cryptic figure that weaves in and out of their strongholds, never revealing his true name or purpose. Regardless of whether other factions arrive to ask questions, the Dark Angels always turn up along the trail. Grim-faced and taciturn as to their own purpose, they query any who were in contact or might have spoken with Cypher. Those who have some knowledge, or are even suspected of having some, are taken away by a black-armoured Interrogator-Chaplain. Few return.
As to who or what Cypher truly is –- none can say. Those who have witnessed him in action report that he wears simple ceremonial robes, much like the many of the Dark Angels. Beneath his garment can be seen the thick plates of dark power armour. More damning still, however, is the fact that no matter where in the galaxy Cypher surfaces, it is only a matter of time before the Dark Angels or one of their successor Chapters follow. The Dark Angels ask many questions, but give no answers themselves. Despite the constant search for Cypher, none have yet been successful in capturing or destroying him. Or so it would seem. The Dark Angels have considered Cypher destroyed on numerous occasions – yet he always returns. The Red Corsairs, still seething after what they believe was their betrayal during the Escovan Campaign, thought they had cornered the elusive Cypher on the Strike Cruiser Rapier. In the deep emptiness of space, they halted the Rapier, yet when they boarded they found only Chaos Cultists. Before they were all slain, none of the Cultists could verify the whereabouts of the mysterious Space Marine who had been in their midst, nor could they tell of how he escaped.
The Dark Secret
- "Damn you Luther – how could you betray us? We were your brothers, and now we must join you in eternal damnation."
To better understand at least part of the mystery of Cypher, one must first know the tale of the Dark Angels. To outsiders, this is an insurmountable quest, for the Dark Angels Chapter hides its secrets well, masking all activities in a shroud of ritual and clandestine operations. Indeed, even amongst their own Chapter, only the Company Masters and most distinguished veterans -– the self-styled Inner Circle –- are privy to the truth.
In ages past, in the latter years of the Horus Heresy, the Dark Angels home world of Caliban was corrupted. The legion's second-in-command, Luther, betrayed the Dark Angels and turned many of their brethren from the Emperor. These traitors attacked their Primarch, Lion El'Jonson, and the remainder of the Legion upon their return to Caliban. Although the Primarch's followers were victorious, the cost was high. Their very home world was shattered, their Primarch gone and presumed slain. In the death throes of Caliban, the swirling eddies of a Warp Storm opened up –- a perilous gateway to the Realm of Chaos. It was this rent in the fabric of space that consumed the remaining treasonous Dark Angels. It is presumed that Cypher was amidst those heretics swept into the Immaterium. To the great frustration of the Dark Angels, there is no full list or account of who or how many had heeded the dark whispers of the Ruinous Powers and turned against their brothers.
The days following the Horus Heresy were the most turbulent of times, for the galaxy-wide empire of Mankind had teetered on the very brink of total collapse. Although Horus was defeated and his remaining followers were on the run, the armies of the Imperium were full of bitterness and recrimination. The unforeseen betrayal of Horus had profound after-effects that are still in existence today. Shorn of the Emperor's guidance, the condemnation of the guilty was totalitarian and egregious, and the Imperium grew ever more repressive. The grim realisation that the Space Marines –- the ultimate warriors of human kind –- had proven vulnerable to corruption was a severe shock. Fully half of the Space Marine Legions had betrayed the Emperor. If the Dark Angels had admitted that some of their members had turned, their entire legion would have been condemned. In this paranoid atmosphere, the surviving Dark Angels debated their options even as they paid tribute to their lost Primarch. In the end, they felt there was no choice but to hide the truth of their brothers’ betrayal. It was decreed by the most senior members of the Legion that no outsider must learn the dreadful truth – none must know that members of the Dark Angels had proven corruptible and turned to the Ruinous Powers.
In the wake of the Fall of Caliban, there was much to do, and many secrets to keep. The Dark Angels found that it was easier to avoid the barrage of questions by fully immersing themselves in rigorous duty. However, they were eventually forced to explain the loss of their Primarch and their home world of Caliban over and over again, telling their fabricated tale to the High Lords of Terra, and eventually the newly established Inquisition. As no fighting formation carried the war against the rebels forward with more furious resolve than the Dark Angels, no one pressed the grieving warriors too closely. The Sons of the Lion continued the fight, chasing the remnants of Horus’ armies into the Eye of Terror and enacting many savage acts of revenge. Meanwhile, the largest chunk of what remained of shattered Caliban was chosen as the new headquarters for the Dark Angels. In time, the Rock, as it came to be known, was outfitted with Warp engines, allowing its reach to span the galaxy.
It was at first believed that all their traitorous brethren had been destroyed at the Fall of Caliban, yet it was not so. Eventually, the Dark Angels Librarians picked up the telltale traces of their lost brethren. Thus it was revealed that those defeated Dark Angels traitors -– known as the Fallen Angels, or just the Fallen –- were not all destroyed when they were sucked into the Warp. Instead, the Fallen had been cast across time and space, for the Librarians picked up evidence that many of the traitors had returned, their psychic signatures shining out briefly from many scattered places across the galaxy. At this point, the Dark Angels merely classified all the Fallen together, for they had not yet recognised or picked out the most mysterious and prolific of their number: the one known as Cypher. That the traitors escaped their loyal brethren's vengeance was a torment for the surviving Dark Angels. As long as the Fallen lived, the Legion’s great shame would live on as well. They might spread knowledge of the Dark Angels' treachery. Any who encountered the Fallen would bear witness not only to the original betrayal, but also the Legion's ensuing cover-up.
In an instant, when Caliban was breaking apart from cataclysmic battle, the Fallen were cast into the Warp. Anywhere from mere moments later to thousands of years in the future, many of the Fallen awoke to find themselves on some far distant and unknown planet. The eddies of the Warp are fickle. As time in the Realm of Chaos does not flow according to any rules, the time in transit for the Fallen might have felt like it was mere seconds, although millennia would have passed. Conversely the individual may have spent ages in the Immaterium experiencing untold torments and long journeys through nightmarish landscapes, only to awake back in realspace within seconds of Caliban's destruction. To this day, there are even some of the Fallen that have not yet been released back into the galaxy. Truly, the Ruinous Powers are cruel; their capricious plans beyond the ken of mortal understanding.
Although some of the Fallen had been mere novices-in-training at the destruction of Caliban, most were seasoned Space Marines. Indeed, some were first generation troops created in the First Founding, as overseen by the Emperor himself. These were veteran warriors, many of whom survived multiple actions during the Great Crusade. With their wealth of combat experience and superhuman attributes, these individuals found it easy to carve their own paths to greatness out in the wider galaxy. Some rose to rule over planetary empires while others sought immediate revenge against the Imperium. It can only be surmised by Cypher's abilities and combat prowess that he was a fully trained and already well seasoned Space Marine at the time of Caliban's destruction. This ties in with clues, which the Dark Angels would later discover, that allege Cypher was an important officer with a distinctive role in the Legion's traditions.
Across the galaxy the Fallen set planets, systems or even whole sectors ablaze with war. Yet more ominously to the Dark Angels, they raved aloud of those very secrets that the Sons of Lion El'Jonson had sworn to keep silent. Those Fallen carried on from the teachings of Luther -– believing the Emperor to be false and thinking that their own superhuman abilities gave them the right to seize what they wanted, and to rule over the weak. The Fallen saw no reason not to fight for themselves. It offered a better fate than acting as enforcers for a thankless and repressive regime.
Unlike Any Other
- "He weaves in and out of my vision – I see one who is many, I see they who will test the Unforgiven. In one hand he carries hope, in the other despair. I speak of Cypher. He is coming closer all the time."
- — Luther, the Dark Oracle
Of all the Fallen, none is as hated, or indeed feared, by the Dark Angels, as the enigmatic individual known as Cypher. After their very first few encounters, the Dark Angels began to realise that this Fallen might be different. Because of his unknowable motives, and because of his supernatural ability to escape time and again from their clutches, the Sons of the Lion began to regard Cypher with growing wariness. As Space Marines they feared no enemy, and their Legion has maintained its reputation for being stalwart in battle. But despite this, they began to fear Cypher –- fearing what he perhaps represented, fearing what he reflected back upon themselves and fearing that he was nothing less than their own doom made manifest.
The majority of those that know of Cypher believe he is villainous. If his incalculable plan is successful, who knows what destruction he is capable of? Some rumour that his end goal is to slay the Emperor himself. A few of those in the Inner Circle – not the Interrogator-Chaplains, but those of more open minds –- consider another possibility. Perhaps Cypher is trying to repent, trying to redeem his Fallen brethren’s deeds, or to steer Humanity away from some predestined course known only to himself? Those who feel this way are silent, for this is actually a more frightening thought –- it would mean the Dark Angels are on the wrong side once again...
Whenever or wherever Cypher appears, trouble and disaster follow. His appearance heralds the arrival of more Fallen, although whether they answer his summons or he has some foreknowledge of their activities is unknown. At times, Cypher has been linked with demagogues, those who rise up to agitate the masses, while at others he has been associated with military commanders. With unnerving regularity, Cypher will arrive at some critical flashpoint, his presence kicking off a violent chain of events time and again.
Cypher has been seen alongside kill teams or even entire armies, although whether he is truly a member of the force or even their commander can never be properly ascertained. More deadly than the most highly trained master saboteur, Cypher's appearance in even the most benign of situations has wreaked havoc that has changed the course of major wars. More than any other of the Fallen, Cypher has been a shadowy, cloaked assassin, leaving behind a trail of powerful victims, even though it is rarely Cypher who pulls the trigger. The Dark Angels go out of their way to assume these targets were chosen and slain by Cypher himself, but often the facts that led them to these conclusions are ambiguous. Certainly, destruction and death follow in Cypher's wake.
Cypher's targets and destinations are as inscrutable as everything else about him. Among his confirmed kills (according to Dark Angels records) have been planetary governors, Chaos Space Marine Warlords, Space Marine Chapter Masters, sorcerous covens, cult leaders and high ranking Inquisitors. Naturally, the Dark Angels have never shared any of this so-called proof with any outside of their own close-ranked successor Chapters. It is a paradox how, within a span of only fifty years, Cypher’s deeds could result in the slaying of the evil and corrupt Warlord Favian the Golden of the Flawless Host, as well as the stout and loyal Bartholomew Loxlor, Supreme Grand Master of the Angels of Absolution. The Imperium had sent fleets, armies and assassins to end the rule of Overfiend Tyrannex, Scourge of the Drakeburn Sector, and all efforts failed with lives in the hundreds of thousands lost. Yet Cypher alone was able to locate the Overfiend’s fortress, penetrate its defences and gun the miscreant down -- instantaneously freeing billions from Tyrannex's unnatural subjugations.
Cypher's trail weaves in and out of the Dark Angels' path, and he crosses it with deliberation. After slaying the Overfiend Tyrannex, riddling him with holes and leaving behind bolt shell fragments and unique plasma burns that are the signature of Cypher's bolt and plasma pistols, he had the nerve to plant a Dark Angels homing device. Within a matter of hours, the Rock was near enough and Deathwing Terminators teleported into the Overfiend's throne room. Yet of Cypher, there was no trace.
Indeed, Cypher's continued existence bears testimony to his seemingly mystical ability to avoid capture. Every time pursuers got close, he has shown an uncanny ability to escape. Down the ages, the Inner Circle of the Dark Angels has suggested that Cypher is under the protection of some higher power. The fact that his lifespan has continued since the days before the Horus Heresy speaks of unnatural powers at play, although it was for a time posed by the then Grand Master of the Dark Angels Raphelous that Cypher was not one person, but many. How else to explain both his longevity and his seeming indestructibility? Perhaps Cypher was but a mask, a persona assumed when the last one was destroyed? Ironically, Raphelous was one of two Grand Masters to lose his life in the pursuit of Cypher –- although whether or not the nemesis of the Dark Angels was responsible for their deaths in either case has never been proven.
Down the long ages the Dark Angels have found many of their Fallen brethren. Some have committed heinous acts, debasing themselves and their honoured Primarch. But none have garnered the sheer hatred as has Cypher. The Inner Circle of the Dark Angels hates Cypher with a loathing beyond reason. Not even Marbas, who alone of the Fallen has been raised to a Daemon Prince, is regarded with such rage. The Dark Angels would willingly perform any act, no matter how vile, in order to capture Cypher.
Like nearly everything to do with Cypher, it is difficult to pinpoint his origins with any conviction. Deep within the dungeons of the Rock, behind many locked doors of adamantium, can be found the Enigma Chamber. There, the remains of the Order's ancient records are kept. On carefully preserved scrolls, faded writings can still be read. Each of the Dark Angels' Grand Master of Librarians has, in successive turns, tried to wring meaning out of those ancient parchments. Of certainty, the title of Lord Cypher before the Horus Heresy was a title of high office in The Order, the order of knights created on the feudal Death World of Caliban to fight the terrible Chaos-mutated beasts that roamed the planet's myriad deep forests. There, long before the coming of the Primarch Lion El'Jonson, the lordly designation was given to a single knight of the Order.
The Order can trace its beginnings back to the period when Caliban was a death world, as deadly an environment as any in the galaxy. Cut off from Terra during the Age of Strife, civilisation had regressed to a feudal state. Since the Warp storms had ravaged it, Caliban was almost entirely covered in monster-haunted forests. To travel the paths between the disparate fortifications of human society was to invite almost certain death. As the forests spread, so was Humanity confined into isolated communities, each based in an ancient keep. There, in the shadows of their stone fortresses, peasants could hack clear patches out of the encroaching woodlands and eke out a living through farming. The nobles, who fought in archaic powered armour, were the rulers of the land. It was their duty to guard the perimeters of their cleared zones from predatory beasts. Caliban bred a hardy people, and they honoured martial skill and bravery. It was a demanding and often cruelly short existence, a constant fight against packs of savage creatures and horrifically mutated beasts. In such times, many brotherhoods of knights were formed, the most famous of which was known simply as the Order.
The Order had won an excellent reputation amongst the noble houses and knightly organisations. It was known for the integrity and the martial skill of its members, and the Order was also famed for its recruitment methods. On Caliban heredity was everything for the noble houses, yet the Order selected its brothers by merit and skill at arms as opposed to inheritance. Contingents of brother-knights from the Order travelled from keep to keep, aiding each in the never-ending struggle to clear land of forest and monster alike.
The Order was austere, their many rituals simple but exacting. To ensure their proud traditions were maintained, the ruling Masters secretly selected a single member. The bearers bore a variety of arcane titles: Master of Mysteries, Keeper of the Truth, the Lord of the Keys, or else simply Lord Cypher. Upon taking the title, the Lord Cypher renounced his own name, enshrouding his very appearance beneath cloak and hood. It was forbidden by any others to recognise his old self either, for the Lord Cypher was to forsake his very personality, and from that day onwards was to instead embody the laws, customs and strict disciplines of the Order. To him was tasked the responsibility of ensuring the traditions of the Order never faltered, that the recruits and Masters alike were never allowed to degenerate from their lofty ideals. The Lord Cypher advised the Masters on all matters of protocol and officiated at many important ceremonies. The Lord Cypher was a lofty position, one which the Order took extremely seriously, for it was known that it was the nature of the galaxy to recede and structures to collapse. The Cypher that appears as a herald of destruction embodies many of these ancient tenets, although there has never been any absolute connection.
Although the records taken from Caliban and preserved in the Tower of Angels are incomplete, none are more so than those scribed during Luther's turning from the Emperor's light. Many Dark Angels Librarians and Masters have studied them, seeking, but not finding answers. The title of Lord Cypher is mentioned, but who took the post, or when it might have changed are not documented. These ancient records seem to imply that this last Lord Cypher is the last bearer of the title, and that therefore Cypher is not his birth name. This knight was even more of an enigma than most, not least because of his youth and lack of seniority within the brotherhood. When Lion El'Jonson became Grand Master of the Order it had been expected that he would name Master Remiel to the position of Lord Cypher; instead, he raised up a little-known knight younger than Luther or many other high-ranking peers. It was said that the new Cypher had been trained at one of The Order's lesser fortresses, near the beast-haunted Northwilds, but even that was little more than rumour. No one could fathom Jonson's decision, but no one had found cause to complain about it, either.
By all accounts, the new Cypher was more of a reclusive, scholarly figure than previous bearers of the title, spending long hours poring through the libraries and record vaults hidden within the main hold of The Order – though the paired pistols at his belt hinted that he was as capable a fighter as anyone else in the brotherhood. Master Remiel and Sar Daviel, two esteemed members of The Order, claimed that Cypher was formerly a member of the rival monastic order known as the Knights of Lupus. He was allowed to join The Order under an assumed name after the Knights of Lupus were defeated and their order eradicated by Lion El'Jonson at the end of The Order's war against the Great Beasts of Caliban. The Lion’s motives for leaving the Lord Cypher behind on Caliban remain a mystery, as was his purpose in what would happen within the mighty walls of Aldurukh, the former fortress of the Order that had become the Fortress-Monastery of the Dark Angel’s Legion.
Patchy records do seem to indicate that a few of Luther's charges -– both veterans and new recruits alike –- rejected his newer teachings, remaining true to the Legion, Lion El'Jonson, and their Emperor. These individuals who did not join the betrayal are not named, but seem to have begun the fighting before the Dark Angels’ fleet appeared in orbit. To show their rejection of Luther, some of the loyalists seem to have repainted their armour. This, perhaps, gives a hint as to the real reason why the Legion switched from black to green colours in the aftermath of the Fall of Caliban. There are a few sections within those ancient tomes that remain unread, for they have been written in some cryptic code. Some suggest that these are but nonsense -- likely the raving-mad scribblings of Luther himself. Thus far they remain indecipherable, and so nobody can truly know if indeed the Lord Cypher present at the destruction of Caliban was the same individual that had been ordained by the Lion.
A Nemesis Unveiled
The Dark Angels believe it is their duty –- their penance –- to track down their treacherous brethren. So long as a single member of the Fallen remains alive and unrepentant, the Dark Angels would refer to themselves as the Unforgiven. This held true even as their proud Legion underwent the dismantling process imposed on all loyalist Space Marines in the wake of the Horus Heresy known as the Second Founding. Across the Imperium, it is no longer known exactly how many successor Chapters were made from the existent Legions. Although many of those newly created organisations still exist, some have since been destroyed, and others have lost their records and history over ages of war and turmoil. This is a convenience which the Dark Angels have taken advantage of, for by claiming their records were damaged in a plasma reactor overload as they outfitted the Rock, they could veil a fraction of their past. It was another lie, for the Dark Angels destroyed those records themselves.
The Dark Angels are aware of the scrutiny they are under for the close relationship shared by their many Chapters, but there is another matter that they wish to keep from being uncovered: the loss of the last of the Second Founding Chapters created from the Dark Angels gene-seed, the ill-fated Lions Sable. Of that time, the Unforgiven do not speak. It was one of their first encounters with the one who was named Cypher, and the history of the long campaign that is referred to as the Forgotten Wars is known only to the highest of the Inner Circle. It was only at the end of this gruelling series of hunts and battles that many came to the realisation that Cypher was something more dangerous than just another of their Fallen brethren.
It began innocently enough. While in pursuit of the remnants of an Ork fleet, elements of the Angels of Vengeance entered the Gothic Sector. Under the guise of scanning for remnants of the greenskin fleet they had been commanded to destroy, the Angels of Vengeance searched for clues that might lead them to any Fallen. This was standard procedure for all Unforgiven Chapters –- to pursue their secret goals whilst ostensibly following mission edicts as passed down from the Lords of Terra. Gathering long-range scans and widely collected reports, the Angels of Vengeance Strike Cruiser uncovered nothing untoward save for an encrypted signal beamed from the mining world of Lemnos. Once decoded, the message described exactly what the Unforgiven were seeking. The world of Lemnos was embroiled in a bitter war over mining rights –- a battle of greed, rather than ideology. As Imperial tithes were met, there were no orders to intervene, and the matter was to be left for the planetary governor to handle. Rival noble factions were using private armies to enforce their ownership over the richest veins of mineral wealth. It was of these battles that the signal spoke. The mysterious message was sent in one of the older battle codes used by the Dark Angels and provided just the kind of clues that fit the modus operandi of one of the Fallen.
According to the message, the leader of one of the mercenary warbands fighting on Lemnos was turning the tide of battle almost single-handedly. He also fought in what seemed to be an old mark of power armour. Hiding the signs of extensive genetic modification is not easy, and the Unforgiven are trained to investigate legends of humans with superior abilities. On the most promising trails, the Unforgiven will attempt to get one of their Librarians close to the quarry, for they can employ the most damning method of testing. At close ranges, Librarians from the Unforgiven Chapters can pick up the unique psychic signatures of those who bear traces of their shared Primarch. Even the most spliced or tainted gene-seed of Lion El'Jonson emits a distinct signal powerful enough to detect. This is not a foolproof method, as such readings can vary due to Warp flux or be blocked by psychic dampeners. Also, not all the Fallen bear the Legion's pure gene-seed. When the First Legion reached Caliban and reunited with their Primarch, they accepted many members of the Order into their ranks. Those young enough to survive the ordeal received the full gene-seed implant, while others –- like the arch-traitor Luther -– were otherwise augmented into elite soldiers.
In the Lemnos case, the Librarians reported multiple readings. The original target –- a towering man known as "the Mauler" -– had raised alarms with his superhuman feats of strength in battle. When subjected to a remote psychic probe by an Angels of Vengeance Librarian, the telltale signs of someone bearing Dark Angels Legion gene-seed appeared. Terminators from the Angels of Vengeance 1st Company were sent in to apprehend him. There were, however, other readings picked up from the vicinity as well. One of these signals flickered –- a phenomenon associated with Warp storms, although none were reported at that time. This was the first recorded encounter with the unique signals that would later be associated with Cypher. Whether he had been there first and brought in another Fallen or was working with the Mauler from the beginning is not known.
The strike team was successful in capturing the Mauler, although in doing so, they sustained high casualties. As the Terminators closed upon the surprised mercenary band, there was one amongst their number who shot his way out. At the time, neither the robed stranger, his unusually lethal pistol shots, nor his subsequent escape and disappearance were the known trademark that they have since become. At the time, it was merely noted that the loss of so many Angels of Vengeance Terminators seemed out of place. The veteran warriors in their nigh-impervious armour rarely fell in battle, and when they did, it was to titanic weaponry or some mighty champion, not a rogue soldier from an outlaw band of third-rate mercenaries.
As the Rock was in an adjoining sector, it was not long before the Mauler was secured in its deep dungeons. Persuaded by the harsh methods of the Interrogator-Chaplains and the relentless mind-probes of the Librarians, the Mauler eventually revealed that he had been known by another, older name. Here was Brother Sytrx, a Dark Angel returned to the fold. Before finally recanting and being relieved of the burden of living, Sytrx revealed more. He named a dozen of the Fallen that he had seen in the sector. Elements from the Angels of Vengeance, the Dark Angels and the Lions Sable followed these trails. Each stop along this new journey -– from planetfalls to the boarding of a derelict hulk floating in the midst of deep space, led the Unforgiven towards still further clues. At each point, some new revelation was ascertained. As each new scrap of information was reported back to the Rock, a larger and more sinister plot was slowly revealed.
Originally, the Unforgiven had begun their mission seeking only to apprehend individuals. What was revealed was a corruption spread through six systems of the Gothic Sector. Running through the collusions and inter-planetary trysts was a coherent and sinister thread that bore many of the hallmarks of an elaborate plot by the Alpha Legion –- although that group of traitors had, at the time, erroneously been declared destroyed by the Inquisition. Weaving through the clues and criss-crossing trail of evidence scattered across the Gothic Sector was the individual with whom Dark Angels Librarians had a fast-growing obsession –- the one called Cypher.
Sometimes, the cowled figure produced the psychic signature of a Fallen, evincing the blood of their Primarch, the Lion. At other times, however, the mental probes of the Librarians could detect nothing save for a brief flickering of that signal, as if it were overtaken by some other being. Prolonged searches discovered something new –- a hollow, null void, a cold emptiness that moved through the Immaterium like a shadow left behind by Cypher. His apparent ability to mask himself has since been observed many times, but whether it comes from innate psychic powers or some unknown artefact has never been determined. The chase for Cypher stretched from years into decades, until it came to a grinding halt when the trail led to the densely populated world of Brigia. It had been determined that the commander of the Planetary Defence Force –- Grand Captain Tylius –- was most probably one of their Fallen brethren. He had certainly been in recent contact with Cypher. As if he had been forewarned that he was being hunted, the Grand Captain was wary. He remained within Brigia's most formidable fortress system, an entire army acting as his personal bodyguard.
With his forces spread thin across the Gothic Sector, Purson, the Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels, gathered all the Unforgiven within range. At the time, the Angels of Absolution were to the galactic east and could send no aid -– however, the Angels of Redemption and the Lions Sable answered the summons. The Space Marines descended from Lion El'Jonson have always been known for their well-crafted and flawless war plans, and the assault upon Brigia's best-defended fortress was no different. With precision timing and deadly accuracy, the Unforgiven made headway through the outermost defences, working their way inwards. They were poised for the second phase of the operation –- a final attack on the central keep where Grand Captain Tylius was hidden -– when the unexpected happened.
There were two factors that Supreme Grand Master Purson had not anticipated. First, a new target of opportunity appeared on the battlefield – Cypher. The Unforgiven had followed his trail for so long and had been so frustrated by his escape at every juncture that all efforts shifted from the battle and Tylius to apprehending Cypher. His appearance in the trench line immediately drew in Purson's Terminator reserves, as they teleported in an attempt to surround their quarry. Grand Captain Tylius was a cunning tactician, however, and he chose this moment to release his hitherto unsuspected reserve force. A large formation of Chaos Space Marine Terminators teleported to aid his fortress defence, while mobs of Cultists were called up from the nearby population centres. Tylius was indeed a Fallen, and he had made a fell pact, fully immersing himself in a labyrinthine Alpha Legion scheme. This was nothing like the previous covert or skirmish actions the Unforgiven had engaged in throughout the Gothic Sector. The war that erupted over the fortified bunkers was intense, prolonged and destructive.
As the Unforgiven attempted to flush out their prize, Cypher made good his escape before the Deathwing could reach him. Soon, the Unforgiven were too hard-pressed to follow, as the heavily armoured Dark Angels clashed with their traitorous kin, trading titanic blows. Although the fight was fierce, and their quarry had likely already fled, the Unforgiven Chapters did not retreat. Notoriously stubborn-minded, the true Sons of the Lion mowed down the Cultist hordes as they swept forward. The clash of Terminators was at first evenly matched, but the Unforgiven were driven by righteous fury, and in the end that proved decisive. Eventually, the last squad of debased enemies was taken out by a single, well-placed burst of energy from a Land Speeder Vengeance's Plasma Storm Battery. Only then could the Unforgiven return to the pursuit of Cypher and the final stronghold assault to prise out Tylius. Both ventures proved too late –- for Cypher and Tylius had made good their escape.
Into the Eye
Upon Brigia it was established that Chaos Space Marines were deeply involved with the Fallen, and it was no real surprise when the clues that had been leading the Unforgiven across the Gothic Sector now led towards that most hated of refuges: the Eye of Terror. Reports of the Dark Angels' actions on Brigia had already reached Terra and questions began to filter back to the Rock. Even as answers were crafted to explain why elements from their Chapters had appeared so far from their assigned missions, the Unforgiven were plotting their courses towards the forbidden zones - the most dreaded part of the galaxy -- the Eye of Terror. This hellish realm was a relative safe haven for many of the Chaos Space Marine Legions. It was perilous even to track the signal, for psykers that open their mind in the direction of the Eye of Terror risk falling prey to fell things from beyond. Dark Angels Librarians, however, dared the attentions of the darker powers in order to achieve the trace –- following the trail to the outermost of the twin planets Cocytus I and II. These were not fully contaminated planets immersed in the chaotic energies, but rather astral bodies that maintained orbit at the edge of the Sentinel Sector -– a region of space that was only occasionally enveloped by the Immaterium.
To travel too close to the Eye of Terror was forbidden by the Imperium, yet a council of the Inner Circle was called to discuss that very plan. That region was notoriously unstable and dangerous, and to enter it they would have to navigate around temporal eddies, space anomalies and perhaps Chaos Space Marine battle fleets. Additionally, an Imperial presence surrounded the Eye of Terror –- from listening posts and floating mine fields all the way to heavily fortified worlds. This would make it difficult to enter the Eye of Terror without being observed. After the action on Brigia, several Inquisitors had already been dispatched to look into the reported presence of the despised Alpha Legion. The Unforgiven Chapters could ill afford to draw further attention to themselves.
All the Dark Angels successors had inherited their Primarch's legendary tenacity, however, so they did not back away from the ever-growing challenges. Although of reserved mien, they raged inside at the narrow escape of their quarry. That their long and winding path through the Gothic Sector might end without satisfaction was unbearable. The Dark Angels and their successors thirsted to respond – to take the fight to their foe. Supreme Grand Master Purson agreed to send a task force to the very edge of the Eye of Terror. The Unforgiven sent a single Strike Cruiser, the Sable Lions' Fury of Caliban, into the swirling mists. It carried companies gathered from the Dark Angels, the Angels of Vengeance, Angels of Redemption and the Lions Sable. At first, all went well – they successfully ran the gauntlet of Warp storms and emerged in realspace to bypass all of the Imperial stations. Transmissions to the Rock were patchy and unreliable, but the Fury of Caliban had reached the orbit of Cocytus I. A strike force immediately made planetfall.
So close to the Eye of Terror, all readings and ranged scannings were corrupted, and comms faded in and out. Not knowing what to expect on a world that had so often been encompassed within the swirling madness of the Eye of Terror, the first drop team was to probe the site of the last signal emission. They found a mist-shrouded planet, its rocky surface largely barren. Here and there stood stone archways or toppled pillars, the remnants of some ancient culture. Weathered and timeworn, the rocks also bore signs of the corrupting Warp –- leering faces or symbols of death were etched within the stonework itself. Carefully, the Unforgiven advanced through the eerie landscape, unsure of what they sought. When they saw it, however, they knew they were on the right path.
There, towering out of the roiling fogs, was what looked like the same style of fortress stronghold that topped the Rock itself. Clad in plasteel and adamantium, the walls and ramparts bristled with weapons. The great tower bore the unmistakable icons of the Dark Angels –- the hooded and winged figure bearing a sword. Upon closer inspection, it was obvious that the stronghold was constructed not as tribute, but in mockery –- a Tower of Fallen Angels. A grim skull-faced visage peered out of the cowl, skulls adorned spikes and several iron cages hung above the ramparts. No few of these gibbets bore skeletal remains inside mangled Dark Angels power armour.
Reinforcements were requested –- for here was found a den of Fallen if ever there was such a thing. Yet the Dark Angels were cautious -– for it was only a matter of time before the ebb and the flow of the Warp once more wholly consumed both Cocytus I and II within its raging storms. When it was reported that the distinct signal of Cypher was on the planet, Supreme Grand Master Purson gave both the order to attack and the command that sent a second ship. So began the Forgotten Wars – a raging battle upon Cocytus I that drew in half of the Dark Angels and the Angels of Redemption, three companies of the Angels of Vengeance, and the entire Chapter of the Lions Sable.
The corruption grew worse and storms quickly drew over the twin planets. Battle raged as the Unforgiven razed den after den of Cultists, mutants and renegades –- always pressing more deeply into the wasteland continents of both planets. Twice Cypher had eluded them. What was even more infuriating was that he had sent them messages, urging them to depart and warning that they were heading into a trap. Begrudgingly, Purson had to admit that it looked as if Cypher was correct. He gave the command to retreat as the Warp storms crashed over the region. He was loath to abandon the battles, but he knew his time was running short.
The Lions Sable, however, refused. Since splitting into Chapters, each successor was meant to remain autonomous, but the Dark Angels had always maintained more control over their progeny than was laid out in the tenets of the Second Founding - another secret they kept hidden. So many times had their Primarch Lion El’Jonson stubbornly held onto a position or refused to give ground that the Lions’ defiant act seemed more in character with their mighty forefather, and for a moment Purson hesitated. Taking with him only his bodyguard, the Supreme Grand Master headed back down to the planet. He commanded the fleet –- for there were now six of their ships in orbit -– to get clear of the Eye of Terror. He would contact them when the storm cleared. None knew it then, but that was the last anyone would ever see of Purson or the Lions Sable.
The storms had become so violent – the ever-spinning spiral arms growing wider and wider as raw Chaos vomited from the Eye of Terror's centre –- that the frigate Vendetta was lost into the Warp. The tumult provided one advantage: the Unforgiven fleet escaped out of the Eye of Terror and past the Cadian Gate unobserved in the impenetrable murk. They alone survived to bring word of these events back to the Rock. They were dismayed to find that although they had been gone for but the span of a few years as measured inside the storms, in realspace over a thousand years had passed. Many small sorties had attempted to penetrate that murk, but none ever succeeded. When at last the tempests ceased, a small task force was sent into the Eye of Terror once again -– but no sign of Cocytus I or its twin could be found. It was as if the Eye of Terror had swallowed them.
Cypher, however, did return, and much more quickly. His telltale signal appeared in the same system as the Rock, which quickly scrambled hunt-teams to seek him. Once again he eluded them, but not before leading them into an empty cathedral to the Emperor on a ruined and desolate planet. There, they found neatly placed where they could not miss them the returned Sword of Secrets and the Lion Helm -– the most potent icons of the Dark Angels and tokens carried by their Supreme Grand Master.
Whether trap or test, the Unforgiven Chapters suffered serious losses upon Cocytus, and those events were to have profound effects upon the Sons of the Lion. To cover up their immediate losses after their warriors were thought lost to the Warp, the resources of the recruiting world of the Lions Sable –- the ebon orb of Nachwald -– were usurped to replenish the Angels of Vengeance and the Angels of Retribution. The Dark Angels staged a false plasma explosion aboard the Rock to explain their loss of records, for it was decided by the Inner Circle to destroy all records relating to the event. In this, they were greatly aided by the distraction caused by the largest Ork invasion recorded in the Imperium and the political upheavals of the Beheading, when assassins struck at the High Lords of Terra. Unknown to any, they were also fortunate when the three members of the Inquisitional inquiry secretly tasked with reviewing the strange activities of the Dark Angels were lost due to a variety of inexplicable accidents.
As for the survivors of Cocytus that did eventually return, they were spread out amongst the Unforgiven Chapters so their sudden influx would not be noted. For the rest of their lives, each was closely monitored by Company Chaplains to ensure the prolonged Warp exposure had not contaminated them in any way. Of the Forgotten Wars, the Dark Angels do not speak, nor has it entered into the apocryphal tales told to their initiates. They have gone to great lengths to ensure all references to that campaign or to the Lions Sable have been stricken from the records available to the Adeptus Terra. Yet it is the custom and battle cry of the sons of Lion El’Jonson to "Never forget, never forgive". Deep in the dungeons of the Rock are secreted the only remaining accounts, and only those of the Inner Circle ever learn of that heroic sacrifice that must forever go untold.
Trail of Revelations
- "I know not why, but I believe Cypher is testing us, seeking always to take our measure, to push us beyond our boundaries. Those found wanting do not live long."
- — Grand Master Folcalor, Angels of Vengeance 1st Company
Over the millennia, Cypher’s trail has, time and again, led the Unforgiven Chapters to some new revelation. This has included unveiling evidence that leads to the capture of a Fallen, the detection of a hidden vein of corruption that has wormed its way into the Imperium, or even the discovery of an ideal new recruiting world. If not for chasing Cypher, the Dark Angels would never have landed upon the feral world of Kimmeria, and the Angels of Vengeance would not have realised that the death world of Damnia could serve as one of their main recruiting worlds. Yet not all the revelations during the hunt for Cypher have proven beneficial. Many a bold and eager Ravenwing commander has been lead badly astray by Cypher's appearance on the battlefield. Only those who prove their ability to aggressively pursue, but at the same time anticipate the enemy's traps and ruses, survive for long in the Dark Angels 2nd Company.
There are instances when it is difficult to understand whether the Unforgiven Chapters are hunting Cypher or if it is the other way around. It is a favoured tactic of Cypher to appear upon a battlefield involving the Sons of the Lion, materialising suddenly at moments so inopportune that it has proven impossible to apprehend him. Perhaps the most famous of these instances occurred during the final battle of the Red Stars campaign. In desperation to cut the head off a rising Ork WAAAGH! the entire Dark Angels Chapter was deployed en masse. It was their hope that the Deathwing could draw out and destroy the Ork Warboss Zogax da Great before the Space Marines were overwhelmed by the green tide. Alas, these hopes were dashed when Zogax's Meks deployed some sort of jamming device that prevented the Deathwing from teleporting down anywhere near the Warboss' vicinity.
Defiant, Supreme Grand Master Alloken led his own command squad and the 3rd Company in an attempt to cut through the heavily armoured bodyguard of Warboss Zogax. However, aided by all manner of hulking mechanised fighting machines, the Orks proved too powerful. The Dark Angels' impetus was all but spent by the time Alloken appeared before the chainaxe-wielding Ork Warboss. Tragically, the Supreme Grand Master was cut down, but as Zogax reached down to claim the Lion's Helm for his own, his hand was vaporised by a bolt of plasma. Howling in anger and surprise, the towering Ork Warboss looked up just in time to take a rapid volley of bolt pistol shots through both his good eye and his bionically enhanced one. Even devoid of the back part of his huge cranium and the majority of his brains, Zogax fought on for a few more moments before he fell, twitching.
Cypher appeared, spinning in a circle while his twin guns blazed away. The plasma pistol was powerful enough to melt holes through the thick plating that covered the Mega Nobz, while his bolt pistol shots struck more vulnerable points, such as joints or the Orks' open-faced helms. Many went down beneath that cascade of fire, spouts of Ork blood, steam and black oil jetting out from the collapsed piles of blocky armour. Holstering both pistols, Cypher dragged Alloken and his treasured artefacts to a nearby trench, then sprinted off even as the nearest Dark Angels closed in. Ignoring the remaining Orks, the Dark Angels concentrated fire on the robed figure, but he was soon hidden behind the smoking hulks of wrecked vehicles. Within moments, the forcefield jamming device that prevented the Deathwing from teleporting down was nullified and the 1st Company arrived to secure victory. Of Cypher, no further signs could be found.
Voice of Discord
Across the galaxy, the legend of Cypher –- the mysterious loner who fights for freedom –- has been known by many names. He has sometimes been confused with the Saviour of Praxus, the Robed Rogue of the Nova Terra Uprisings and more recently the Voice of the Emperor. Whether Cypher actually ever assumes these aliases, or if his presence has merely begun another series of rumours is another mystery. When Cypher arrives upon a planet he has proven an ability to persuade and cajole the disaffected masses into rebellion. This has alarmed the Imperium, but they cannot pinpoint if he is using manipulation, the power of his mystique or some hitherto unidentified psychic power. Likewise, it is often difficult to discern whether Cypher's message to countless billions is to rise up against harsh oppression, or for justice across the galaxy, or if he merely arrives at the same time that another delivers such a message. What is sure is that Cypher's presence provokes a swift and inevitable response.
Whether Cypher employs meticulous planning or some Warp-born ability to shift the odds, it is often one of the Unforgiven Chapters that is sent to quell the worst of these rebellions. At times, they have uncovered Chaos Cultists or some machination of the Alpha Legion running like an undercurrent beneath the agitator's message. In several instances, such as during the Nova Terra Interregnum, there were one or more Fallen amidst the rising anarchy. Only by following the trail of Cypher did the Unforgiven find and capture the guilty –- but at other times he seemed determined to aid the Fallen to escape. It is the Dark Angels' belief that Cypher is an expert at manipulating others into his schemes. Some serve as bodyguards and are willing to lay down their lives for Cypher. Others, however, would be appalled to realise whom they have aided, and have been duped by an erstwhile ally who is not all he seems.
In battle, rebels, squads of Chaos Terminators and Daemon Princes have all accompanied Cypher. He has gathered and led squads of Fallen that have campaigned together since the Fall of Caliban, and he has fought alongside the towering war machines of the Dark Mechanicum. Cypher has fought shoulder to shoulder with the Forces of the Imperium –- frequently directing Imperial Guardsmen, squads of Space Marines or any number of planetary defence forces, while under the guise of a Space Marine loyal to the Emperor. The one thing they all have in common is that they serve a purpose in Cypher's plans and he easily abandons them to their fates as befits the circumstances of his mission. He will not hesitate to spend their blood if it grants him but a further second needed to escape the clutches of pursuit. For their part, the forces of the Unforgiven seek to hunt Cypher regardless of whom he surrounds himself with. This has, more than once, brought the Dark Angels and their successor Chapters into direct conflict with their own allies. There are some –- such as the Silver Skulls and the Black Templars -– who have a bitter enmity with the Unforgiven and will go out of their way to avoid working alongside them.
Dichotomy of Purpose
- "Those found wanting shall not return."
It is obvious to those few Dark Angels Librarians who have studied the compiled data that Cypher's actions seem to follow some pattern or mission known only to himself. It is not even possible to deduce whether Cypher is for or against the Imperium, an ally or enemy to those who betrayed the Dark Angels. Cypher does not always work alone, at times seeming to ally or associate himself with others. His presence upon a planet draws dangerous elements to him from across the galaxy. Whether this is through his bidding is unclear, but it is too recurrent to be mere happenstance. Ultimately, no matter if he is surrounded by others: Cypher is a loner, a rogue agent whose true intentions are unknown to those he has served alongside.
Cypher's ability to coerce others into helping him only adds to the frustrations of those in pursuit. After following such a labyrinthine trail to find them, there is seldom anything of value to be learned from those whom Cypher enlisted to aid his hidden agenda. Cypher has left behind entire cult armies dedicated to establishing new rulers, pirate bands seeking to amass wealth, and far-distant colonies merely wishing to survive the wilderness. Once, he subverted an Inquisitorial death squad –- for only in the aftermath of the action was it determined that it had been Cypher who had slain and replaced the cowled Inquisitor Arnuldus. Further investigations revealed that the Inquisitor, who wore a cowl to cover his hideous injuries, had been slain months previously. In the guise of the Inquisitor, Cypher took control of his web of agents and misdirected the defence of Septius VII –- resulting in the complete collapse of an Imperial Hive World. While the Planetary Governor and his entire ruling system was determined to have been corrupt and unjust, he was the rightful ruler and the planet's tithes had always been honoured. The uprising brought brief freedom to the citizens of Septius VII, before the inevitable bloodbath suppression that followed once again crushed the will of the people under the Imperium's yoke.
Some of the recorded contacts with Cypher are brief –- his appearance only registering at the onset of a conflict. In others, Cypher has seemed more deeply involved. From the Dark Angels' records, it is believed that Cypher had spent some twenty Terran years in the Cult of the Red Heresy, a growing anarchic movement that was drawing in agitators from seven systems. Accounts differ as to whether he was leading the cult or was merely manipulating their actions. During the same period he was also identified as having joined the Zargosoan smuggler fleet. In both cases he made no effort to disguise himself. Cypher appears always as a cloaked and cowled figure, bearing pistols of ancient and expert craftsmanship, and a sword which none have ever seen unsheathed.
It can reliably be said that Cypher works almost exclusively with other humans. Although there are instances of xenos alliances, the frequency of these is slight. Yet what can be learned from such a paradox of information, other than the fact that he is apparently as likely to work with as against the forces of the Imperium? During a raid upon the Forge World of Voss Prime, Cypher arrived in the centre of a formation of Chaos Space Marine Terminators from the Black Legion. They fought their way through adamantium gates into the cramped corridors of the Irontower. There, they stole ancient STC documents before teleporting away once more. Save for cavorting with Daemons, there is perhaps no transgression more damning to the eyes of any agent of the Imperium than to associate with those arch-heretics. There are dozens of similar entries placing Cypher in action alongside known traitors. Sightings corroborate what blurry vid-captures show: that the robed one is often not a mere accomplice, but can be seen actively leading warbands as varied as rabble-rousing Cultists, Renegade Space Marines and the arch-enemies of the Imperium, the Chaos Space Marine Legions themselves.
Conversely, there are numerous instances where Cypher has undeniably worked alongside forces of the Imperium. He has operated countless times alongside planetary defence force battalions, Imperial Guard regiments and Space Marine Chapters. It was Cypher who guided the Silver Skulls Space Marine Chapter in their suppression of the Red Heresy during the Plague of Unbelief. To what purpose Cypher aided and then betrayed the cult has never been determined. On Monarch Prime, just as the last lines of defence came under attack by surging rebel forces, the mysterious figure of Cypher appeared to aid the beleaguered Cadians. According to statements by Sergeant Grunhelm, the last surviving member of his squad, their Commissar had just gone down in a bloody heap when a new voice shouted out orders along the trenchlines. The new arrival wielded twin pistols, and had the bearing and command of an Imperial officer. The Cadians, eager to believe that Space Marine relief had at last arrived, rallied behind him. And so Cypher personally led the last defence, holding the foe at bay before the very bunker in which the planetary governor had taken refuge. The Cultists were gunned down so thickly that the trench system filled with bodies. Like waves of the sea, squad after squad of the foe charged up only to break and recede. There were but a few Cadian soldiers left –- each injured, but still fighting. They would not have survived were it not for the cowled figure whose blazing pistols could not miss their mark. Only when the black-armoured hulls of Ravenwing Land Speeders could be seen approaching the bunker at speed did the stranger duck behind the heaped piles of the slain and vanish.
It is impossible to track the deeds of Cypher with any degree of accuracy. Most confirmed sightings come, not surprisingly, from the Unforgiven Chapters. They keep painstaking records on Cypher -- codifying every rumour, documenting every potential sighting –- so that entire chambers of the librarius are devoted to mere speculations about their nemesis. Over the millennia, there have been a few Inquisitors who have brushed upon the possible existence the Fallen Dark Angels, though they have not recognised it as such. In no more than a handful of their datascroll records, there are even mentions of Cypher in particular -- although he is not always identified by name. There are several missing documents in these collections, which is largely due to intervention of Cypher himself. If anything, Cypher's movements with other renegade forces are even less well documented. The main reason there is any visibility into these dealings comes from the Logbook of Condemnations seized from the Scourged by the then Grand Master of the Deathwing, Valefor, during the Battles of Grimtide:
- First Contact? (Unknown Date.M31) - It is likely the Dark Angels experienced their first run-ins with the Fallen identified as Cypher during their quest to discover new recruiting worlds. There are over a dozen entries recorded citing mysterious circumstances, acts of sabotage and casualties amongst both the Dark Angels and their potential recruits. These attacks influenced which worlds were originally chosen (or not chosen, as the case often turned out to be). In hindsight, several Librarians have suggested these attacks were instigated by Cypher. Certainly the Massacre on Olney and the loss of the Legion's last remaining Stormbird on the moons of Sestus bear his mysterious hallmarks.
- The Forgotten Wars (580.M31-632.M32) - The Dark Angels, along with successor Chapters the Angels of Vengeance, the Angels of Redemption and the Lions Sable, embark on the trail of multiple Fallen. The clues lead them through Segmentum Obscurus and deep into the Gothic Sector. Only in hindsight do the Dark Angels realise the extent of the trap that had been laid for them. It was known that Cypher existed for hundreds of years before this campaign, but it was this event that shocked the Unforgiven Chapters into realising the true magnitude of the danger he represented.
- Truly Forgotten (ca.M33) - The Apocrypha of Davio lists the following as Second Founding Chapters derived from the Dark Angels: Angels of Absolution, Angels of Redemption, and the Angels of Vengeance. By this time the name Lions Sable has already been lost.
- Battle of Vermilac Prime (822.M33) - Cypher's timely intervention prevents the Orks from looting the Lion Helm and the Sword of Secrets from the slain body of the fallen Supreme Grand Master Alloken.
- Saviour of Praxus (997.M33) - The Angels of Redemption find sedition upon one of their own recruiting worlds. Cypher, under the guise of the Saviour of Praxus, has been manipulating recruiting practices, hand-selecting and training the feral warriors to increase their chances of being chosen. He escapes before he can be apprehended.
- The Nova Terra Interregnum (257.M35) - Secessionists of Nova Terra declare a new rule, claiming to take over from the High Lords of Terra. Cypher weaves through the anarchy, his trail highlighting the many Fallen that have taken positions of power during the uprisings in Segmentum Pacificus. It is even rumoured that Cypher himself has taken a position on the Ur-Council –- the ruling body of Nova Terra. A daring Ravenwing strike assaults Nova Terra, but fails to apprehend any prisoners.
- The Red Heresy (290-310.M36) - During the Age of Apostasy, the Red Heresy Plague erupts across the Don'lorth Sector, a foreshadowing of the later battles that would become known as The Plague of Unbelief. Deep in Segmentum Tempestus is a star cluster that supports the heavily populated Don'lorth Sector. It is here that the Cult of the Old Gods rises. Agitators and anarchists stir up the hives into open rebellion. Workers in their untold billions are urged by red-robed priests to cast off their shackles, to reject the corpse-god Emperor. The horrific slaughter of all agents of the Adeptus Administratum and Adeptus Ministorum is enough to draw in vast fleets of Imperial armed forces. Seeking a quick way to end the rebellion, the Silver Skulls Chapter deploy en masse in a desperate attempt to kill the leaders behind the rising cult. The hunt is disastrous –- with Drop Pod assaults ambushed and multiple Thunderhawks brought down en route to their objectives. Only the arrival of Dark Angels Deathwing and Ravenwing forces, along with the 3rd Company of the Angels of Vengeance, staves off certain defeat. However, the Silver Skulls observe the Deathwing forsaking the battle in pursuit of a mysterious robed Space Marine. Before Cypher escapes, an Angels of Vengeance Librarian detects several Fallen ensconced within the red-robed hierarchy of the Red Heresy. The Silver Skulls are left to dig themselves out of their own predicament. They do so, but openly condemn the Dark Angels; another formal protest is filed to the High Lords of Terra.
- A Blade out of Time (624.M36) - Although impossible to fix in time, this seems to be the first recorded instance where Cypher is seen carrying the C'tan phase knife -– a weapon similar to the C'tan phase sword used by the Callidus Assassins. The blade of the knife can phase in and out of real-space by dimensional realignment, so it is capable of bypassing armour and protective fields. The knife was at some point lost in battle with the C'tan known as the Deceiver in the opening stages of the 13th Black Crusade, however, the battle occurred in the Warp and seems to have been subject to a strange loop in either the time continuum or reality itself. Cypher is most often seen without the blade, but true to its name, the knife occasionally phases back into being beneath his cloak.
- The Black Gulf Mines (157.M37) - The few survivors of the Zargosoan smuggler fleet break under pressure from a Dark Angels force led by Master Interrogator-Chaplain Molochia. They relate a tale of how a cloaked stranger fought his way aboard their flagship, the Black Needle, claiming parley. He knew the smuggler's code and invoked the rites of combat -– winning his duel and taking the place of a seasoned mate. Within a year, the stranger had risen to the very top, besting the previous captain in single combat. Under his leadership, the Zargosoan fleet -– five ships in all -– concentrated their raids along the Black Gulf Mines. There, amidst the sprawling asteroid fields and orbital man-made platforms, the smugglers raided mining complex after mining complex, hauling off many tanker-ships filled with sought after minerals and gasses. As it turns out, the leader of the mining colony -– known as the Black Gulf Tyrant –- is a figure greatly sought after by the Dark Angels.
- Inquisitorial Intrigue (665.M38) - While on a secret mission Inquisitor Arnuldus, who wore a cowl to cover his hideous injuries, is supplanted by Cypher, who acts in his stead. Arnuldus has never since been found. After using his new guise to destroy many sensitive records pertaining both to himself and the Unforgiven Chapters, Cypher takes control of Arnuldus' chain-of-command and redirects the defence of Septius VII –- resulting in the complete collapse of an Imperial hive world. Only the Alpha Legion can trace the action back to Cypher.
- Within the Eye (200-500.M39) - Although it is unknown to the Unforgiven, Cypher spends this period inside the Eye. There, for a time much greater than the years that pass in realspace, he makes contact with various groups of Fallen. It is during this time that he makes further alliances with the Legions, in particular the Alpha Legion. Reports of Cypher continue to haunt the galaxy, with the Dark Angels and their successor Chapters chasing false rumours -– some planted long ago by Cypher himself.
- Hundred Planet Rebellion (518.M39) - Too often dealt with falsely by the Alpha Legion, Cypher takes a measure of revenge upon them. He purposefully leads the Dark Angels onto the path of the priest Alldric the Subverter. Alldric has, through great effort and long planning on behalf of his Alpha Legion allies, led a swathe of planets on the borders of the Veiled Region to reject the rule of the Imperium. Within a decade, the Dark Angels and several of their successor Chapters suppress the Chaos Cultist uprisings and slay their leaders. Such actions are doubly pleasing for Cypher, for not only is he revenged upon the Alpha Legion's machinations, but he further frustrates the Dark Angels. For their part in the campaign, the Dark Angels are awarded many honour badges and campaign ribbons for their actions by the High Lords of Terra. The austere Dark Angels infrequently bear such commendations, but feel pressured to do so in this case. Deep down, the Inner Circle seethe at the dishonour –- for they know the truth, that the badges are but a sign of their failure to capture Cypher once again.
- Liberation of Amadis (976.M41) - Cypher makes an appearance during the final battle of the liberation of Amadis, arriving in time to rally the last few defenders in the face of Chaos Cultist wave assaults. Only a single trooper from the planetary defence force survives and he swears an oath to the mysterious robed stranger never to reveal the truth of what has happened, never to mention the rogue Space Marine's presence. When the lone survivor greets the Dark Angels as they arrive to mop up the remaining foes, he does not mention his mysterious saviour.
- Escovan Campaign (989.M41) - Little is known about this series of events, except that following several bloody battles the Red Corsairs vowed to slay Cypher.
- Rise of the Voice of the Emperor (995.M41) - This is the first recorded instance of the one known as "the Voice of the Emperor". A self-proclaimed oracle of the Emperor himself, this individual begins to broadcast across the Agripinaa Sector. On many planets, new cults rose up, answering his call to clash with Ministorum officials.
- Assassins Dispatched (997.M41) - Alarmed at the growing popularity of "the Voice of the Emperor" the Imperium assigns multiple agents of the Officio Assassinorum to dispatch the heretic. None return. At least one gets close to his target, his last communication describing the target as a robed and hooded figure, concealing dark power armour shorn of livery beneath, and bearing a sword and two pistols of great antiquity.
- The Black Templars Incident (998.M41) - A Black Templars' Strike Cruiser, Ophidium Gulf, assists a Dark Angels force in pursuit of the individual known as "The Voice of the Emperor". After hard fighting, the Black Templars succeed in capturing him -– although are later embroiled in a dispute with the Dark Angels, during which both Chapters briefly engage in battle. Although ultimately taken into custody by the Dark Angels, the robed captive mysteriously escapes and the Ophidium Gulf is lost. At the behest of the Black Templars, the Inquisition is called upon to investigate –- results are pending after the disappearance of Inquisitor Archibald.
- Belial's Fury (561999.M41) - Belial, Grand Master of the Deathwing, corners Cypher on Piscina IV. Belial is the best shot and most formidable close combat fighter in the Dark Angels Chapter, yet his efforts come to naught. His storm bolter misses before jamming and the Sword of Silence cuts off merely a piece of Cypher's hood as he ducks the blow. When Belial is subsequently tied up by the massed wave attack of suicidal Cultists, Cypher makes good his escape. This marks the third time he has eluded the mighty Belial.
- Who Hunts the Hunters? (789999.M41) - While observing the Ravenwing and Deathwing work in conjunction to capture a prisoner, Inquisitor Rasputin believes he has, at last, solved the riddle of the Dark Angels. As he turns to leave the battlefield, only his lightning-fast reflexes and a nigh-impenetrable force field allow him to survive the flurry of shots that would have slain him. Even as a hooded figure advances upon his position, a new conflict breaks out. Ravenwing troops on bikes have picked up Cypher's trail and pursue him as he attempts to gun down the Inquisitor before escaping. Rasputin never makes his final report, and once again, the Ravenwing return empty handed from chasing Cypher.
- The Voice Silenced (999.M41) - Although Cypher seems to be supporting the 13th Black Crusade, this is perhaps only a pretence. Certainly there have been uprisings in the Agripinaa Sector and even upon Piscina IV, however this has had a polarising effect. It has done as much to rally the faithful as it has stirred rebellion. Cypher has a minor conflict with Abaddon, and their alliance of convenience is brought to an end. The Dark Angels trace the source of the comm-signals to a broadcasting device in deep space. Although difficult to measure with precision, it is estimated that its location amidst the dust-ridden clouds of debris would approximate be where their homeworld of Caliban once was. The beacon is swiftly and unceremoniously destroyed.
- Ancient Artificer Armour - Like many of the Fallen Angels, Cypher wears an ancient suit of dark-green coloured Power Armour matching the pre-Horus Heresy Dark Angels shorn of livery and covered with simple white robes.
- Cypher's Pistols - It is difficult to get anything other than a brief glimpse at Cypher's pistols -– for they are drawn, fired, and reholstered with a blinding speed. As with all things about Cypher, his weapons too have brought about much speculation. They are clearly of ancient design –- possibly pre-dating the Imperium itself. The plasma pistol bears many of the same hallmarks as those weapons favoured by the Dark Angels – the energy pulse, the fizzling aftercharge and the roar of its blasts draw comparisons with other notable relics amongst the armoury hoards of the famed First Legion.
- C'tan Phase Knife - Cypher is also known to have once carried a C'tan Phase Knife which was lost in battle with the C'tan named the Deceiver during the 13th Black Crusade. Due to the fact that it was lost within the Warp, this seems to have caused a mysterious temporal loop which causes the knife to reappear at random times on Cypher's person.
The Mysterious Sword
One of the characteristics that defines the mysterious Cypher is the sword that he carries. On every world where he has been sighted, Cypher has always bore a sword, yet no matter how pressed he has been in combat, he has never yet drawn the blade forth, either to attack or even in his own defence. Even on the rare occasions when both pistols were struck from his hands, the robed figure did not draw his blade. Some of the Unforgiven have speculated that the blade is none other than the famed Lion Sword -– the blade of their Primarch that was lost when the Lion disappeared. Others say it is a new weapon made of the same meteor that produced the metal for the Heavenfall Blades borne by the leaders of the Dark Angels today. There are those within the Inner Circle that speak of the ebon Sword of Luther, the treacherous sword that some believe slew Lion El'Jonson before he vanished into the Warp storm. They whisper that it is Cypher's goal to reach Terra, to finally draw forth that sword for the first and last time, using the weapon to slay the Emperor, striking him down from his Golden Throne. Some few have even suggested that Cypher will kneel before the Emperor, offering him the blessed blade and by this deed seeking final redemption for the Unforgiven. In the end, all that is known for certain is that the sheathed weapon is yet another mystery.
The Voice of the Emperor
It is widely believed by fans that Cypher used the alias of "The Voice of the Emperor" during the worldwide Eye of Terror campaign that chronicled the 13th Black Crusade. Though this was unconfirmed, the description of the Voice of the Emperor, "a hooded figure carrying a sword and a pair of exquisite pistols" -- fits the appearance of Cypher, and Andy Chambers mentioned the connection in an article describing the results of the campaign. Although Cypher's actions appeared to be supporting the goals of Chaos during the 13th Black Crusade, his influence had a polarising effect, increasing Imperial faith in the Emperor of Mankind as much as rallying anti-Imperial Chaos Cult fanatics, along with drawing the Dark Angels into several conflicts where their assistance was of great benefit to the Imperial war effort. "The Voice" is also mentioned in the 4th Edition Codex: Black Templars, where he is described as a figure wearing ancient, black Power Armour, devoid of livery. A Black Templars Strike Cruiser, the Ophidium Gulf, assisted a Dark Angels force in pursuit of "The Voice". Although the Black Templars captured him, they were forced to hand him over when the pursuing Dark Angels fleet threatened to fire on the Gulf. The crew of the Gulf released the prisoner into the custody of the Dark Angels, and after a single communication back to the Black Templars' High Marshal (Chapter Master), disappeared without a trace. Due to the suspicious nature of its disappearance, this has led to some speculation that the Dark Angels destroyed the Gulf in order to hide their secret shame. Upon the Dark Angels' return to The Rock, the cell in which "The Voice" had been confined on their flagship was discovered to be empty.
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition), pg. 20
- Codex: Dark Angels (7th Edition), pp. 46, 52-54, 113-114,
- Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pp. 17-18, 24-26
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pg. 12
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), pp. 23, 25
- Dataslate: Cypher - Lord of the Fallen
- Index Astartes I, "The Unforgiven"
- The Thirteenth Black Crusade (Background Book) by Andy Hoare
- White Dwarf Issue #287 (UK), "Death By A Thousand Cuts," pg. 43
- White Dwarf Issue #281 (AUS), "Heroes and Villains of the 41st Millennium – Cypher, the Fallen Angel"
- Descent of Angels (Novel) by Mitchel Scanlon
- Fallen Angels (Novel) by Mike Lee
- Angels of Darkness (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Malediction (Audio Book) by C.Z. Dunn
- The Gathering Storm - Part Three - Rise of the Primarch (7th Edition), pg. 67
- The Unforgiven (Novel) by Gav Thorpe