Cypher is one of the Fallen Angels of the Dark Angels Space Marines Chapter, one of the few members of that Loyalist Chapter who are believed to have turned to Chaos during the Horus Heresy. 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 an enigmatic character, a legend on almost every world of the Imperium of Man.
The terrible secret of the Dark Angels is that during the Horus Heresy some of their brethren fell to Chaos, corrupted by the Legion's second-in-command, Luther. The Traitors were defeated in a battle that destroyed the Dark Angels' homeworld, Caliban, but many of their number survived to be cast into the Warp and scattered through space and time by the Chaos Gods. The events of Luther's betrayal are known only to a select few amongst the Dark Angels and their Successor Chapters. The defeated survivors are known as the Fallen Angels or just the Fallen, mercilessly hunted down and made to repent by the Interrogator-Chaplains of the Dark Angels before they are executed.
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. The bearer of the title was responsible for maintaining The Order's traditions, rituals and ceremonies, and was an influential adviser to the Order's leadership. Upon taking the title, the Lord Cypher gave up his birth name; it was also forbidden for any other member of The Order to use or even know it. 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. Above all else, it was the Lord Cypher's task to maintain The Order’s customs as a living tradition, rather than allowing them to degenerate into ossified relics.
Although Cypher does not appear in the records of the Dark Angels' past on Caliban, it seems implied that he 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.
In the present era of the 41st Millennium, the current Cypher is said to be one of the Fallen Angels. At the end of the Horus Heresy, Lion El'Jonson returned to Caliban to find Luther had turned to the Dark Gods of Chaos. El'Jonson landed and took up the fight against Luther while the Dark Angels' fleet bombarded the planet from above. Eventually, Luther defeated El'Jonson but when he did, he realised his terrible mistake and collapsed, unwilling to fight any more. The Chaos Gods realised their chosen had failed and sent a vast Warp Storm that sucked up the Fallen Dark Angels and spread them across time and space.
Cypher was one of these Fallen Angels, but no one actually knows his true name. He appears randomly throughout the galaxy, but is rumoured to be slowly moving on a course towards Terra. He is famous for his pistol abilities, being able to fire precisely with every shot, even when using two weapons, no matter the state of the battle around him. His characteristic combination of Bolt Pistol and Plasma Pistol are known throughout the galaxy as every Segmentum has rumours of Cypher-like figures appearing somewhere on their worlds. It is likely that Cypher has appeared in every Segmentum over time, although a good deal of the rumours of his appearance are probably other people wearing his iconic clothing.
Cypher continually draws the attention of the Dark Angels. He is believed responsible for many acts of instability across the Imperium, and is hunted by the Dark Angels with zeal even greater than that reserved for a "normal" Fallen. Even when he is captured, he soon vanishes, whisked away by his mysterious patron. Although his immediate presence heralds disorder and strife for the Imperium, it always emerges transcendent from it, stronger than before, which may suggest an intention behind Cypher's actions to make the Imperium stronger through struggle (following the old philosophy of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger") which also accords with the philosophies of certain Radical Inquisitors.
Although the Dark Angels believe that they can only gain forgiveness for their actions by "redeeming" all of the Fallen Angels, others privy to the full tale believe that Cypher may have another answer. They believe that Cypher's seemingly random appearances across the galaxy conceal a path that is slowly leading towards Terra. They also point to the fact that Cypher carries a sword, yet he never draws it. This could be the famed Lion Sword of the Primarch Lion El'Jonson, broken in half and then lost during his final battle with the Arch-Traitor Luther on Caliban. One legend states that if Cypher manages to enter the presence of the Emperor of Mankind, the sword will repair itself and the Fallen Angels will be forgiven for their transgressions. Another theory states that it is actually the ebon blade known as the Sword of Luther, and Cypher wishes to use the sword to slay the dying Emperor's mortal body on the Golden Throne, thus completing the Star Child cycle or defeating the Imperium.
Like many of the Fallen Angels, Cypher wears an ancient suit of black Power Armour matching the pre-Horus Heresy livery of the Dark Angels, covered with white robes. He wields a Bolt Pistol and a Plasma Pistol of master craftsmanship, and is so skilled with them he can fire both simultaneously. This look has made him obvious because of its now-iconic status in Imperial legends. Perhaps this notoriety was the point, but he does seem to attract other members of the Fallen Angels to his side. It is unknown how they communicate and why they are drawn to him. Cypher also carries a long sword sheathed in a scabbard which has never been drawn in combat and is believed to be either the fabled Lion Sword of Dark Angels' Primarch Lion El'Jonson or the Sword of Luther. 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.
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 mentions 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 polarizing 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, assists a Dark Angels force in pursuit of "The Voice." Although the Black Templars capture him, they are 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)
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition)
- Codex: Dark Angels (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition)
- Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition)
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex)
- Descent of Angels (Novel) by Mitchel Scanlon
- Fallen Angels (Novel) by Mike Lee
- Index Astartes I, "The Unforgiven"
- The Thirteenth Black Crusade (Background Book) by Andy Hoare
- White Dwarf Issue #287 (AUS), "Death By A Thousand Cuts"
- White Dwarf Issue #281 (AUS), "Heroes and Villains of the 41st Millennium – Cypher, the Fallen Angel"
- Angels of Darkness (Novel) by Gav Thorpe