Second Founding (31st Millennium)
Black and Red
- "You foster discord, Seth. You thrive upon it!" The Flesh Tearer smiled. -"I stand corrected. You do understand my kind after all. You've cut to the heart of me."
The Flesh Tearers are the smallest Second Founding Successor Chapter of the Blood Angels, numbering only four full companies of Astartes. They are Loyalists of the Emperor of Mankind though their heavy affliction with the Flaws of their Primarch Sanguinius has led to their investigation on charges of heresy by the Inquisition. They have been cleared of suspicion at present. Like their progenitors, the Flesh Tearers are known for their bloodthirsty nature in battle, bad temper and feared for the Flaws like the Black Rage and the Red Thirst that they carry within their gene-seed. The Flesh Tearers generally make use of the tactical organisation pioneered by the Blood Angels, though they favour close combat over ranged warfare and most Flesh Tearer Space Marines are skilled with melee weapons like Chainswords or Power Swords and bear them into battle. The Flesh Tearers call the Death World of Cretacia home. It is a violent, tropical world where the dominant form of life are giant reptiles very similar to the dinosaurs who once existed on Terra during the Cretaceous Period more than 65 million years ago. It is a common right of passage for Flesh Tearers recruits to hunt these massive animals and bring back a trophy of their kill before they are made Neophytes of the Chapter.
The Flesh Tearers Chapter was created in the 31st Millennium after the Primarch of the Ultramarines, Roboute Guilliman, who led the reformations sweeping the Imperium after the Horus Heresy, determined that all of the existing Space Marine Legions would be broken up into 1,000-man Chapters so that no single military commander could ever again wield the dangerous power of an entire Astartes Legion. This event is known as the Second Founding and the Flesh Tearers were one of the Chapters formed from the Blood Angels Legion, even as they continued to grieve for their fallen Primarch, Sanguinius, who had been slain by Horus at the climax of the Battle of Terra.
When the Flesh Tearers Chapter was brought into being during the Second Founding, Captain Nassir Amit, the commander of the Blood Angels Legion's 5th Company, was chosen to be its first Chapter Master. Of all the IX Legion's captains, Amit's reputation –- and that of his company –- was the most bloodthirsty. More than once, the 5th Company had been called to censure by Sanguinius for their zeal in pursuing enemy forces. It was not for nothing that the outspoken officer had earned the nickname "the Flesh Tearer," and rather than deny the epithet, he had made it his own. Amit had a predatory way about him, a sense of aggression barely held in check that was often unleashed in full many times on the field of battle throughout the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. Like their commander, the Battle-Brothers of the 5th Company were known to bear Bolters and flaying knives in battle.
After their official formation, the Flesh Tearers immediately left Terra to embark upon a new Imperial Crusade to eliminate Traitor forces still loyal to Horus as well as continuing to purge Chaotic infestations from Imperial worlds during the period known as the Great Scouring. The Flesh Tearers were assigned the Battle-Barge Victus from their former Legion, which served as their mobile fortress-monastery for the next three thousand standard years. The Flesh Tearers' reputation for savagery in battle was soon well-known, and so the terrible Flaws of the IX Legion's genetic legacy must have asserted themselves very soon after the death of the Blood Angels' Primarch Sanguinius. During this time, these Space Marines remained constantly on Crusade, destroying any Heretics whose path they crossed. Those they encountered, they defeated. Those they defeated, they utterly annihilated, leaving no stone left unturned and no living beings left to continue any heresy. Some rumours circulated of their brutality, even going so far as to reach the High Lords of Terra. However, their degree of success in achieving compliancy was nearly unparalleled. During this period of strife, as the Imperium recovered from Horus's treachery, results were valued far more than technique. As such, there were no investigations into the savage rumours that accompanied the Flesh Tearer's implacable advance.
Over time, the Flesh Tearers continued to earn a reputation for savagery. These volatile Space Marines revelled in each assault action and continued to cause unacceptable levels of collateral damage. Some reports indicated that during their mad frenzies, Flesh Tearers continued their battle actions against allied forces or even against the innocents whom they were assigned to protect. Their reputation for such savagery has spread through the millennia to the extent that some forces—including a few Space Marine Chapters— are no longer willing to engage in allied missions with members of the Flesh Tearers. In spite of this fact, there are numerous instances where the Flesh Tearers have worked in battle zones with other Chapters. On a number of occasions, these included other Chapters that were known to be part of the Blood Angels lineage.
The Flesh Tearers fall prey to the Curse of the Black Rage far more often than members of any other Chapter descended from Sanguinius’ lineage. This is believed to be due to a mutation in their gene-seed, but their combat doctrines and military philosophy may also influence the frequency of the tragic psychogenetic syndrome. At the time of their formation, the Flesh Tearers Chapter discontinued the Blood Angels’ practice of imbibing blood transfusions during a Neophyte’s initiation using the artefact known as the Red Grail. Some Imperial savants speculate that this practice could have contributed to the horrific mutation.
When Flesh Tearers Battle-Brothers show the characteristic signs that they are falling prey to this tragic Flaw, they are inducted to the Death Company and isolated from their healthier brethren. These Space Marines continue their service under the supervision of the High Chaplain of the Death Company, residing in their fortress-monastery's isolated Tower of the Lost when not called to battle.
For thousands of years after their Founding, the Flesh Tearers were a mobile, crusading Chapter. Eventually, however, the Chapter chose to establish a permanent fortress-monastery upon the Death World of Cretacia, deep in the galactic west. Cretacia was home to a small population of feral humans whose genes were pure and who had developed a remarkable Neolithic warrior culture that produced strong and able Flesh Tearers recruits. The Chapter had great need of this easy supply of recruits, for as the centuries passed the Flaw in the Flesh Tearers' gene-seed gradually worsened and few Flesh Tearer Space Marines were able to avoid succumbing to the Black Rage after more than 200 standard years. By the end of the 41st Millennium, the Flesh Tearers were able to deploy only four fully combat-ready companies and the degradation of their gene-seed seemed to be only increasing, making it likely that unless a remedy can be found the Chapter will ultimately cease to exist. The high incidence of the Black Rage in the Chapter has led the Inquisition to question the purity of the Flesh Tearers on multiple occasions and many other Space Marine Chapters refuse to fight alongside the Flesh Tearers because of their reputation for uncontrolled savagery and genetic corruption, as well as the fear that their bloodlust might be infectious. Since the terrible Kallern Massacres of the late 36th Millennium, the Chapter has essentially remained under the watchful eyes of the Ordo Hereticus.
- Zurcon Massacres (Unknown Date.M36) - The Flesh Tearers travelled throughout the galaxy during their initial Crusade, prior to their settlement of Cretacia. As part of their journeys, they even visited the portion of space that would later become known as the Jericho Sector. At this time, the region remained an unconquered frontier, so the surviving records are only fragmentary. Imperial scholars of the Adeptus Administratum have successfully pieced some records together, using a combination of resources. In the late 36th Millennium, the Flesh Tearers Chapter engaged in a series of cleansings of allegedly mutant and heretical populations within the Zurcon System. Upon their arrival, voidcraft belonging to the system’s natives immediately opened fire upon the Flesh Tearers’ small fleet. The Space Marines chose to respond with overwhelming force and eliminated all of the system’s void-capable craft in short order. Once these craft were destroyed, they launched an assault against the system’s three settled worlds. The engagement lasted several years, as settlements were active on multiple planets and moons within the region. By the end of their military action, there were no known surviving human inhabitants within the system. The system was only resettled centuries later by colonists from other worlds of the Jericho Sector. The archaeological relics of the Flesh Tearers’ assault only hint at the brutality of the assault, but it is clear that no planetary scale attacks were used. Rather, the traitorous inhabitants were actually slain in combat.
- Kallern Massacres (Unknown Date.M36) - During the Imperial defence of the world of Kallern, the Flesh Tearers Astartes present on the planet were overcome by the Black Rage and slaughtered hundreds of innocent civilians as well as the foe. As a result of these massacres, the Flesh Tearers came under the close scrutiny of the Inquisition for potential heresy.
- Castigation of Acralem (799.M41) - The Flesh Tearers, working in conjunction with the Astral Knights, the Grey Knights of the 3rd Brotherhood (which included Kaldor Draigo) and nine regiments of the Imperial Guard, descended upon the Imperial world of Acralem to halt the daemonic incursion of the infamous Daemon Prince M'kar the Reborn and his daemonic army. What followed was once of the most terrible battles of that century, though ultimately the Imperial forces proved victorious and M'kar was banished back to the Warp for a time.
- Acata Uprising (371.M41) - The Flesh Tearers ruthlessly crush what is later determined to be a xenos-inspired uprising amongst the void-clans of the Acata Ring. The Flesh Tearers utilise specialised void combat battle rites to fight across the airless surface of the asteroids and to cross from one to the next, destroying the foe in a series of focused and coordinated, yet brutal and bloody assaults that systematically destroy the foe.
- Achilus Crusade (813.M41) - A Flesh Tearers strike force based around elements from the 1st and 2nd Companies arrived unheralded during the Achilus Crusade in the Jericho Reach around the world of Herisor, soon after the first tendrils of Hive Fleet Dagon hit the Orpheus Salient. The Chapter fought a series of actions trailing along the salient, intercepting tendrils of the Hive Fleet and buying time for other Imperial forces to muster a defence. The Chapter took heavy losses in these actions, yet refused to slow the pace of its operations, throwing itself into battle after battle against the ravening xenos monstrosities that were the Tyranids.
- A New Beginning (815.M41) - Gabriel Seth becomes the Chapter Master of the Flesh Tearers. His first act is to repair relations between his Chapter and the Blood Angels, as the tradition of brotherhood between the Chapters had been sundered for centuries by the Flesh Tearers' bloodthirstiness.
- Honour's End (837.M41) - During the Eclipse Wars, the Flesh Tearers fought alongside the Space Wolves and the Angels Vindicant Chapters upon the Shrine World of Lucid Prime. Largely due to a ferocious Flesh Tearers' counter-attack, Imperial forces were able to drive off the Chaos Space Marine forces terrosing Hive Ratspire. However, the Flesh Tearers continued their indiscriminate slaughter of civilians even after the Chaos Renegades had been driven away. Despite Chapter Master Seth's insistence that his men were purging those that had been tainted by the presence of Chaos, the Space Wolves were outraged and attacked the Flesh Tearers at once. The resultant battle saw brother fighting brother, with the death of many hundreds on either side. This terrible event was known forever after as Honour's End.
- Siege of Hypnoth (910-911.M41) - The Flesh Tearers took part in the Siege of Hypnoth against the Necron forces of the Sautekh Dynasty, led by the Phaeron Imotekh the Stormlord. The Necron Lord's campaigns were temporarily halted by the Imperium's resolute defence of the Forge World Hypnoth as Imperial Guard and Space Marine reinforcements flooded into the battle zone. Despite a valorous defence by the Flesh Tearers and Iron Hands Chapters, Hypnoth was eventually conquered by the undying Necrons.
- Stromark Civil War (991.M41) - A political rivalry within the Stromark System lead to a civil war between the two manufactorum worlds, Stormark Primus and Stromark Secundus, that coexisted within that star system. The escalating violence halted the flow of much needed weapons and materiel from these planets to the wider Imperium, a situation that the Departmento Munitorum's Adepts determined could not be allowed to continue without adversely affecting the security of the Emperor's realm. As a result, elements of two Successor Chapters of the Blood Angels, the Angels Encarmine and the Flesh Tearers, were despatched to the Stromark System with the mandate to end the conflict by any means necessary. The fighting on Stromark Prime was the first to cease. The first engagement by the Flesh Tearers Chapter was also the last, as stories of unstoppable Space Marines hacking a vicious and bloody path through literally tens of thousands of Stormarkian warriors quickly terrified the planet's recalcitrant population into submission. Stromark Secundus took longer to be pacified, as the Angels Encarmine used less "direct" methods than their savage brethren amongst the Flesh Tearers. Several hours of difficult combat ensued that was brought to an end when 5 of the Chapter's Furioso Dreadnoughts smashed into the Stormarkian Secundus military headquarters and tore the planet's High Command apart. The surviving officers of the planet's Planetary Defence Force wisely agreed to immediately end the conflict with their neighbours and resume meeting the system's crucial production quotas.
- Third War for Armageddon (998.M41) - Five full companies of Flesh Tearers participated in the Third War for Armageddon, where the Chapter was nearly declared Excommunicate Traitoris and subjected to investigation by the Inquisition's Ordo Hereticus after they had, in a fit of the Black Rage, slaughtered Imperial citizen militia once they had run out of Orks to kill. Amongst the Orks of Armageddon, the Chapter became known as the "Eaters of the Dead." Later in the campaign, the Orks were known to have retreated when the Flesh Tearers attacked or faced them on the battlefield, a display of fear virtually unheard of among the Greenskins. The incident occurred after the Flesh Tearers were deployed in the Fire Wastes of Armageddon alongside the Sisters of Battle of the Order of the Argent Shroud. The Imperial forces were deployed against the artillery of the Ork Warlord Ruklum, who held positions besieging the civilian settlement of Gaius Point, the citizens of which had formed an irregular militia to aid the Imperial forces in their defence. The Flesh Tearers managed to deploy behind the Orks and force them into the guns of the Sisters of Battle and the Gaius Point militia. After slaughtering the Orks to a Greenskin, the uncontrollable Flesh Tearers assaulted Gaius Point themselves and killed every member of the militia. Rather than fight their own allies, the Sisters of Battle withdrew from the field, but the Order of the Argent Shroud reported the massacre to the Ordo Hereticus and recommended that the Flesh Tearers Chapter be declared Excommunicate Traitoris.
- The Shield of Baal (998.M41) - News reaches Baal that the Cryptan Shield, intended to hold back the might of Hive Fleet Leviathan, has collapsed. Already Lord Commander Dante has put plans in motion to defend the Blood Angels' home world, strike forces fighting hit-and-run battles with Leviathan’s smaller splinter fleets throughout the Red Scar. Meanwhile, the defences of Baal and her moons have been bolstered like never before; indomitable fortresses rise above the sweltering sands, and the might of the Blood Angels' successor Chapters gathers from across the galaxy. Yet still it may not be enough, for the Tyranids are seemingly without number, and Hive Fleet Leviathan is learning the weaknesses of its prey at an exponential rate. Knowing that the consumption of the Cryptus System would open the floodgates for an unstoppable Tyranid invasion of Baal, Commander Dante takes action. At the head of a mighty strike force that comprises the 1st and 2nd Companies of the Blood Angels, Brother Corbulo, Captain Karlaen, Chief Librarian Mephiston and the bulk of Gabriel Seth's Flesh Tearers, Dante strikes out for the Cryptus System. He will see the defences shored up if such a thing is still possible, and if not will do battle with the Cryptoid Tendril directly in a desperate bid for the salvation of Baal.
- Scions of Sanguinius Conclave (999.M41) - Teetering on the brink of oblivion following the events on the Shrine World of Sabien, the fate of the Blood Angels Chapter now required the magnanimity of their Successor Chapters. Lord Commander Dante summoned all of the Blood Angels' Successor Chapters for a conclave on Baal following the near-disastrous Chapter civil war that nearly tore the Blood Angels apart. Dante called for the support of the Blood Angels Successors to help aid the Chapter in the protection of their common Primarch's homeworld and his remains from the attack of both the Tyranids and the Forces of Chaos. While Dante lead the discussion at the conclave, the Apothecaria was working on a radical new procedure to replenish the ranks of the Blood Angels in one swift stroke: the lost art of replicae. Caecus was the Chief Apothecary or Apothecae Majoris of the Blood Angels. Disturbed by the dwindling numbers of his Chapter, and dreading its extinction, he was involved in fruitless experiments, which Lord Commander Dante ordered stopped, to clone Space Marines, thus eliminating the need to go through the arduous process of the maturation and implantation of the gene-seed in an Aspirant. However, Caecus disobeyed the order and secretly continued the experiments, prodded by an agent of the vile Chaos Space Marine Apothecary Fabius Bile. He was tricked into bringing Bile, who was disguised as a well-known Adeptus Mechanicus Magos Biologis, to Baal, mistakenly thinking the false "Magos" would help in cloning Space Marines to increase the Blood Angels' numbers. Through Bile's manipulations, Caecus was duped, and only managed to create monstrous, mutant clone-Astartes known as "Bloodfiends" who were consumed by the Red Thirst. These creatures were a shattered mirror reformed in the image of a Blood Angel, but lacked any of the qualities that could be thought of as human. The mutations that cursed the gene-seed of the Blood Angels had been enhanced by the machinations and Chaotic tech-heresy of Fabius Bile, and with each drop of blood they consumed, the thirst that dominated the Bloodfiends grew stronger. The mutants broke free from the confines of Caecus' laboratorium and began to run rampant through the sacred halls of the fortress-monastery of the Blood Angels. The Flesh Tearers, along with the Blood Angels and their fellow Successors successfully defended their most sacred of sites on Baal—the Golden Sarcophagus of Primarch Sanguinius within the sacred sepulchre where the Great Angel lay for all time, sleeping in light, forever preserved. The Sons of Sanguinius destroyed the horde of mutants and erased the stain of Chaos from their midst. They had paid for the continued sanctity of the Great Angel with their blood, and in the aftermath of this misery, Lord Commander Dante took responsibility for what had happened and he accepted it without complaint. Dante believed that it was his hubris that had brought the Chapter to this dark place. The Successor Chapters took this into consideration as well as Lord Commander Dante's original request for the Successors to grant the Blood Angels a small tithe of their Chapter's Initiates in order to replenish the ranks of the Chapter. With the approval of the Flesh Tearers' taciturn Chapter Master Gabriel Seth, the rest of the Successor Chapters unanimously agreed to hand over to the Blood Angels some of their own Neophytes to help their ancestral Chapter rebuild its strength in the wake of the Chaos assault—and in preparation for the oncoming assault by the Tyranids and the Forces of Chaos.
The Chapter is afflicted by two dangerous genetic gene-seed Flaws which causes most Veterans of the Chapter to succumb to the effects of the Blood Angels' Black Rage. This can cause them to go insane prior to or during battle and feel the rage that Sanguinius himself felt during the Battle of Terra. The condition is largely irrecoverable. For unknown reasons, more Flesh Tearers succumb to the Black Rage than any other Successor Chapter of the Blood Angels, and therefore these Astartes are dwindling in numbers. This is why the Chapter currently only has enough Space Marines in its ranks to deploy 4 full companies. The Flesh Tearers also suffer from the Red Thirst, an overwhelming desire to physically taste their enemies' blood. When this trait is combined with the Black Rage it has sometimes led enraged Space Marines to undertake what can only be termed as cannibalistic assaults on their foes. It is one of the traits that earned this Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes its unusually savage name for a Loyalist Space Marine Chapter.
Flesh Tearers Librarians
Like their fellow Astartes Chapters, the Flesh Tearers also maintain a Librarium of potent psykers who are highly talented and trained to master the power of the Warp at the highest levels. Each Chapter selects its Librarians in its own way, either from seed worlds, as it does with the bulk of its Initiates, or from the ranks of gifted psykers brought to the Scholastica Psykana of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica. Most Chapters train and test chosen psykers following the ancient ways laid out in the Codex Astartes. Librarians of the Flesh Tearers are trained in this way, and, with few minor variances, have been taught to live by the word of the Codex. Flesh Tearers Librarians have a number of unique psychic abilities only used by the psykers of their Chapter:
- Depths of Rage - Librarians of the Flesh Tearers Chapter are well versed in the use of psychic powers while struggling with the Black Rage and Red Thirst. Many have even developed powers which tap into the rage deep within them and use it to further fuel their powers or enhance their physical abilities in combat.
- Flensing - Flesh Tearers often live up to their name when engaged in combat, skinning their foes with well-practised blows from their blades and Chain Weapons. Librarians of the Chapter are no exception and the Flensing power has been developed with such hideous injuries in mind, allowing them to more effectively earn such grisly trophies.
- Razor Blades - A Flesh Tearers Librarian, like the other Battle-Brothers of his Chapter, understands and appreciates the virtues of a good sharp blade. By focusing his psychic powers the Librarian can make edges keener and steel sharper so that it might more easily bite into flesh and bone.
- "Many died on that first day. But far fewer than would fall later, and fewer still than those who have died since. We descended from the heavens, angels of fire and death, bent on vengeance. But the fourth planet was a death world, a wildwood of wrathful fauna and barbed flora, an unforgiving landscape that sought to punish those who trespassed against it. We named it Cretacia, from the ancient Baal sandscript, meaning Birth of Wrath. Like us, Cretacia was a consummate killer. Violence lived in its very air. Its winds were the lash of a terrible beast, striking out to flay us from the skies; its clouds, void-dark phantoms whose acid tears stripped the crimson from our warplate. Death met us at every turn, tested our resolve and measured our strength. We were as the angels from old Terran legend, trapped in hell itself. Yet for all our trials, Cretacia's wrath was far from spent."
- — Anonymous Flesh Tearer Astartes, ca.M32
The Flesh Tearers' initial Crusade eventually led them deep into the western reaches of the galaxy. It only ended when the Chapter discovered an isolated Death World, which they named Cretacia. Their early contacts with the world suggested that, while it was in a habitable range, a dense cloud cover and unusual atmospheric conditions might make it an unlivable environment. In spite of this, the Space Marine fleet entered orbit and sent an exploratory force to the surface.
Upon their arrival, the warriors discovered insectoid, reptilian, and amphibious life forms that were both malevolent and inordinately large. A few of the enormous insects wielded natural weapons capable of penetrating Power Armour. Some of the other predators were nearly as large in scale as an Imperial Titan. The Battle-Brothers immediately began to enthusiastically hunt and slay a few of the creatures, both for security and to slake their inherent bloodlust. In the course of their examination of the planet, the Flesh Tearers discovered a native human population that had somehow managed to survive in spite of Cretacia’s dangerous environs. These primitives exhibited inordinate levels of athletic ability and fitness—a clear survival requirement among the massive native creatures. However, they also exhibited a substantial degradation of culture and social structure. At some point in their history, these beings must have undergone an event that left their society with a near complete loss of language.
In spite of this unusual restriction, the Space Marine Chapter took prisoners from the native population. They then subjected the prisoners to a broad variety of tests to examine their physiological, genetic, and spiritual purity. Ultimately, the primitives were identified as a reasonably pure strain of humanity. Their instances of mutation were acceptably low, and their physical conditioning made them excellent candidates for gene-seed implantation. While the loss of language was clearly an inconvenience, all signs indicated that this was a cultural phenomenon and not a physiological change.
This combination of an environment that suited the Chapter’s martial philosophy with a readily available supply of potential candidates made Cretacia an ideal world for the Flesh Tearers to make their home. With this realisation, the Chapter ceased its Crusade and established their fortress-monastery. For millennia, the world has provided an ideal residence for the Chapter. Nearby Imperial worlds benefited from the stability offered by a successful Space Marine Chapter. The Flesh Tearers maintained an adequate initiation pace so that their company sizes were well within the recommendations of the Codex Astartes. The Chapter’s impending doom seems to have little to do with their choice of a homeworld and far more to do with the inherent failure in their gene-seed.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
- "We are fury! We are wrath! We are death!"
- — Chaplain Appollus, Flesh Tearers
As with all aspects of the Flesh Tearers Chapter, the Black Rage strongly influences their strategic approach towards military engagements. One of the most important ways that this can be seen is in their reduced numbers. As a consequence of their losses to the gene-seed curse, these Space Marines are incapable of organising companies in a manner consistent with the Codex Astartes. Instead, each of their four companies is organised to be fully and independently functional. To maintain this ability, all Battle-Brothers undergo constant functional cross-training so that they may effectively serve the role of a Scout, Tactical, Assault, or Devastator Marine as the tactical situation necessitates. Due to the Chapter’s constrained size, each company is capable of maintaining sufficient resources in its Armoury to equip its members with the gear necessary to fulfil any of these roles effectively.
While this training is necessary and effective, some of its aspects are actually seldom used. This is, once more, due to the effects of the Black Rage. As Flesh Tearers prepare for combat and see the enemy, they often choose to directly engage their foes in melee combat. This proclivity extends throughout the Chapter from the leadership elements to the newest recruits. As such, when preparing for an engagement, the Flesh Tearers’ commanders generally plan their tactics in a way that takes advantage of this tendency, instead of attempting to fight against it.
Consequently, the Chapter often fields an inordinate number of its Battle-Brothers equipped as Assault Marines.In contrast, they seldom field squads of Devastator Marines. Even among their tactical units, heavy weapons are often left behind, as many sergeants are reluctant to hold their units at range long enough for the weapons to be used effectively. In many ways, this restricts the Chapter’s tactical flexibility and ability to adhere to the tactics presented in the Codex Astartes. However, considering the overall efficiency of their Assault Marines, it is difficult to rationalise such a criticism.
Like other Blood Angels successors, the Flesh Tearers field members of the Death Company as part of any significant conflict. However, due to the nature of their curse, this complement is often larger than the ones exhibited by other Blood Angels Successor Chapters. In many instances, the Death Company’s membership includes some of the Chapter’s most experienced warriors. This has often led to the Death Company being even more devastatingly effective than when used by other Chapters descended from Sanguinius’ blood line.
The vast majority of the Flesh Tearers’ vehicles are transports, specifically Rhinos and Razorbacks. Just as the Chapter seldom fields a significant number of squads equipped with heavy weapons, they also limit the number of armoured vehicles that they deploy. The Flesh Tearers prefer to charge forward into direct melee whenever possible, eschewing the limitations imposed by a battle tank. The primary exception to their movement away from vehicles regards the numbers of Dreadnoughts that the Chapter maintains. Many of the Flesh Tearers’ most respected heroes fall prey to the Black Rage before they can suffer a noble death in combat. Whenever possible, these respected warriors are assigned to a life-support sarcophagus where their abilities and knowledge can be preserved and used in future engagements. Many of these Old Ones enter combat with their fellows in the Death Company, charging directly forward to eliminate any foes that stand before them. Tragically, this results in an unacceptably high incidence of death among the pilots of these machines, but this does have the benefit of freeing sarcophagi for the use of other Battle-Brothers that fall prey to the Black Rage.
As the Flesh Tearers often charge into battle, they have taken a number of specialised measures to assist them as they charge. The Flesh Tearers also have an unique battle cry that they let loose as they attack their foes. While the cry is created by the Space Marines’ vocal cords, it is enhanced and amplified by their Power Armour’s Vox-systems. First hand reports confirm that opponents are often stunned into immediate submission when they hear the terrible sound as defenders come face to face with the savagery of these Battle-Brothers.
- "Remember the Primarch, for we exist only through his grace and love. Honour the Emperor, for it is His wisdom that must guide us and vengeance that we deliver."
- — Chaplain Rostalf of the Flesh Tearers 3rd Company
As the Black Rage continues to consume its membership, the leaders of the Flesh Tearers have come to the inescapable conclusion that their beloved Chapter may be doomed to eventual disintegration. They continue to seek a cure for this curse, but some consider their eventual depletion inescapable. Some among the leadership have begun to embrace the notion that if they cannot continue then their best approach is to make certain that they leave a bold legacy in keeping with the Chapter’s proud traditions.
Most vital to these traditions is the way that they embrace savagery in combat. This is likely a combination of their susceptibility towards the Black Rage as well as the Blood Angels' tradition of excellence in assault actions. Even with their acquisition of Cretacia as a homeworld, the Flesh Tearers proudly exhibited this preference. For the natives' survival in the face of that planet’s massive creatures requires an ability to overcome even the most extreme odds through constant warfare. Of course, the Flesh Tearers are tremendously unlikely to compromise with regards to their savagery. The Flesh Tearers have a long tradition of attempting to honour these memories by fulfilling the Primarch’s and Emperor’s wish for a galaxy under complete Imperial Compliance. In many instances, the only way the Chapter had a reasonable chance to achieve victory is by taking the most extreme of actions against their opponents. There are very few known instances where Flesh Tearer commanders ever hesitated to unleash weapons of cataclysmic proportions.
With each battle won, Battle-Brothers of the Flesh Tearers Chapter feel confident that their Primarch’s legend has been preserved. This serves as the most effective method of preserving his glory as well as that of the IX Legion he once led. In many cases, the worlds targeted by the Chapter have strayed in some significant way from the Imperium. It is these conflicts that offer the greatest temptation for Flesh Tearers to fully engage their thirst for savagery. Those who show any taint of heresy, or who even choose to ally themselves, however briefly, with Heretics are targeted for purging. In some instances, purges have continued well-beyond a reasonable level, as Battle-Brothers of the Chapter continued their acts of savage brutality long after any justifiable conflict had been completed.
For many Flesh Tearers Space Marines, such frenzied battles represent a very real warning of the doom that encroaches upon their minds. With each period of savagery, their chance to return to a more normal state of consciousness can become increasingly difficult. This represents a very real sign to these Battle-Brothers that their final emotional and mental collapse approaches them.
The Black Rage and the Red Thirst
- "Do not fear the Black Rage, for it is a part of your essence. Learn to embrace the fury that comes with it, so that you may direct the savagery toward those foes of the Imperium who deserve our ire. This is our beloved Primarch’s parting gift, and as with all he granted us, it must be proudly accepted."
- — Carnarvon, High Chaplain of the Flesh Tearers Death Company
The gene-seed of the Flesh Tearers bears all the hallmarks of the Successor Chapters of the Blood Angels. Its best known characteristic is the psychic imprint of Sanguinius' memories, which leads to the affliction known as the Black Rage. This can cause them to go insane and enter a berserker rage prior to or during battle as they feel the anger that Sanguinius himself felt during the Battle of Terra. The condition is largely irrecoverable and incurable. The Flesh Tearers are known to fall prey to the Curse of the Black Rage far more often than members of any other Chapter descended from Sanguinius' lineage. This is believed to be due to a mutation in their gene-seed, but their combat doctrines and military philosophy may also influence the frequency of the tragic psychogenetic syndrome. At the time of their formation, the Flesh Tearers Chapter discontinued the Blood Angels’ practice known as Insanguination which involved the drinking of a small sample of Sanguinius' own blood in an artefact known as a Red Grail to activate the implanted gene-seed within their Aspirants. Some might speculate that this practice could have contributed to the horrific mutation and degeneration of their gene-seed.
Unlike the Blood Angels and their other Successors, the Flesh Tearers are far further along in the descent into madness and their gene-seed carries a heightened version of the Flaw which may well spell their complete annihilation within the space of a few short decades. This means that even the most mentally stable and strong-willed of the Flesh Tearers feels the touch of the Black Rage and the pull of the Red Thirst, knowing full well that it is only a matter of time before they succumb and the madness takes them completely. A Flesh Tearer who has begun to fall more heavily under the effects of the Primarch’s curse begins a rapid and terrifying spiral into uncontrollable rage and fury which places not just themselves, but everyone they come into contact with in danger. A Flesh Tearers Battle-Brother knows that as soon as they become an Initiate of the Chapter it is not a question of if, but when, and how long they have until they completely lose their ability to tell friend from foe.
The Chapter’s Apothecaries believe that their gene-seed also grants its recipients a significantly extended life expectancy, in keeping with its lineage. However, this point is largely moot. The life expectancy for most new Initiates to the Chapter is less than two standard centuries. While a few of these inductees may die from the exigencies of war, the vast majority fall prey to the Black Rage. For unknown reasons, the Flesh Tearers succumb to the Black Rage far more than any other Successor Chapter of the Blood Angels, and therefore these Astartes are dwindling in numbers. Numerous efforts have been taken to attempt to mitigate the sudden and severe onset of the Black Rage among the Chapter’s Battle-Brothers. The adoption of nightly bloodletting and purification rituals have not been shown to assist Battle-Brothers in their efforts to resist the Black Rage, nor has it mitigated the syndrome’s effects once a Space Marine has entered the latter stages of the curse.
The only treatment for those who fully succumb is reassignment to the Death Company and isolation within the Chapter’s Tower of the Lost. A fortunate few find solace in death, when they continue to serve their Chapter on the battlefield as members of the Death Company. Less fortunate Battle-Brothers are subject to permanent incarceration once the High Chaplain of the Death Company has lost the ability to control them. The combination of a rapid decline due to the Black Rage and their proclivity for brutal assaults has increased the Chapter’s rate of decline. This is why the Chapter currently only has enough Space Marines in its ranks to deploy 4 full Battle Companies. In many instances, Flesh Tearers have died before their Progenoid Glands could be properly harvested. This combination has cut into the Chapter’s available supply of gene-seed as well as limiting the number of Veteran Space Marines capable of training new inductees. For this reason, the number of members assigned to Apothecary training has recently increased, as has the prioritisation of recovering these precious glands from fallen Battle-Brothers. The cumulative effect may be that the Flesh Tearers could become a non-sustainable Chapter within a relatively short time frame unless some sort of extreme measures are considered.
The Flesh Tearers also suffer from the Red Thirst, an overwhelming desire to physically taste their enemies' blood. Unfortunately, when this trait is combined with the Black Rage it can devolve into outright cannibalistic assaults by the enraged Space Marines. The cursed Astartes of the Flesh Tearers seem doomed to watch the ongoing collapse of their beloved Chapter. Even as they revel in the destruction of the Emperor’s foes, they must also watch as their comrades give in to the curse of Sanguinius’s gene-seed. In spite of this, they remain valiant servants of the Imperium. Rather than give in to woe and despair, they constantly strive to fight against the curse as bravely as they fight those who oppose Mankind. As true tragic heroes, the Flesh Tearers remain devoted to their cause, even in the face of ultimate defeat.
The Flesh Tearers Chapter Fleet is relatively small, possessing only a single known Battle Barge, the Victus. The Victus is a truly ancient starship, having been in service with the Blood Angels Legion during the Great Crusade ten millennia ago. The Flesh Tearers also possess a number of Strike Cruisers that have been modified to gain an extended transport capacity for their vehicles.
Notable Flesh Tearers
- Chapter Master Nassir Amit - Nassir Amit was the former Captain of the Blood Angels Legion's 5th Company during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. He carried the nickname of the "Flesh Tearer," a name which he would pass on to his Chapter. Amit became the Flesh Tearers' first Chapter Master millennia ago during the Second Founding and conquered the Death World of Cretacia for the Imperium and then established his Chapter's fortress-monastery there.
- Chapter Master Gabriel Seth - Gabriel Seth is known as the "Guardian of the Rage," and serves as the current Chapter Master of the Flesh Tearers. Gabriel Seth became Chapter Master of the Flesh Tearers as his his Chapter stood upon the brink of annihilation. Millennia of unrelenting savagery had left the Chapter shunned and distrusted by many of the Imperium's fighting forces. Seth knows that he cannot realistically curtail his battle-brothers' bloodlust -- indeed he himself is as prone to rage-soaked savagery as any of his brethren. Yet by striking first, and in isolation from other forces, the Flesh Tearers' worst excesses are concealed, as is the collateral damage amongst allies that once was the hallmark of the Chapter's assaults. Now, worlds that once reviled the Flesh Tearers praise them as saviours. It is too early to tell if Seth's strategy will ultimately bear fruit. Despite his intentions, Seth has done little to dispel the mistrust of his staunchest critics. Yet such things are of little concern to the Flesh Tearers Chapter Master, for, in his heart, Seth has never truly abandoned hope that the Flesh Tearers can be spared from ultimate oblivion. It is a desperate hope, at best.
- High Chaplain Carnarvon - Carnarvon is called the Watcher of the Lost, for he is the Flesh Tearer who commemorates every member of the Chapter who dies in combat or ultimately succumbs to the Black Rage. He alone bears the terrible responsibility to watch over the remaining 400 Battle-Brothers of the Flesh Tearers Chapter for the onset of the Black Rage. He has occupied this position for nearly 250 standard years and it is whispered by many that the strain of watching so many of his friends and comrades descend into this dreaded affliction has started to take its toll on his sanity. Carnarvon has the final word as to who is to be inducted into the Flesh Tearers' Death Company and who amongst these afflicted brethren must be permanently incarcerated in the Tower of the Lost because they have fallen so far into madness that even he cannot control them.
- Captain Gorn - Gorn was the Flesh Tearers Force Commander responsible for the terrible Kallern Massacres carried out by the Chapter when many of its Asartes fell prey to the Black Rage while defending the world of Kallern sometime during the 36th Millennium. The Flesh Tearers slaughtered hundreds of innocent civilians as well as their foes. As a result of these massacres, the Flesh Tearers came under the close scrutiny of the Inquisition for potential heresy.
- Balthiel - Balthiel serves as a Librarian in the Flesh Tearers Chapter. A potent psyker of considerable skill, he was sent, alone, to kill the traitorous Planetary Governor Kadi Aren, who had recently led the world of Spheris into insurrection against the Imperium of Man. Despite insurmountable odds, Balthiel managed to achieve his objective and kill the Heretic and his retinue of bodyguards, though the monumental effort and strain from overusing his psychic abilities left him in a temporary Sus-an-induced coma. Centuries later, Inquisitor Corvin Herrold of the Ordo Hereticus and his Inquisitorial retinue boarded the Flesh Tearers' flaship to search for evidence of the Flesh Tearers' long-suspected heresy. Utilising a decoy, the Inquisitor managed to covertly make his way into the bowels of the mighty Chapter vessel. There he discovered a Battle-Brother chained to the bulkhead walls, lost in the throes of the Black Rage -- proof, in the Inquisitor's eyes, of the Chapter's corruption. The Inquisitor was discovered in his investigation, and knocked unconscious by Chaplain Apollus, as the rest of the Inquisitorial retinue were subsequently slaughtered by the Flesh Tearers. Upon regaining consciousness, Inquisitor Herrold was subjected to a brutal punishment meted out by Balthiel, under orders from his Chapter Master, Gabriel Seth, to teach the prying Inquisitor an abject lesson. Utlising his psychic abilities, Balthiel created a mind-link with the recently fallen Battle-Brother, and exposed the Inquisitor to the full horror that is the Black Rage. Though only exposed for a span of minutes, it nearly broke the Inquisitor's mind. Seth explained to Herrold that this was the inner daemon his Chapter struggled with daily, and through their indomitable will, were able to harness it to use as a weapon against the enemies of the Imperium, or, at worst, have their lives and their sanity stolen as they continued to faithfully serve the Emperor. The Inquisitor was allowed to leave the flagship. As he did so, he purposely dropped his Inquisitorial Rosette to the warship's floor, deciding that he no longer had faith in his own judgement. Thus compromised, he decided that his career as an Inquisitor was effectively over.
- Renegade Battle-Brother Krayth - Krayth was once a Battle-Brother of the Flesh Tearers. Ironically, it was his attempt to overcome his Chapter's overpowering battle lust that led to Krayth's fall. He always despised the lack of self-control that his flawed gene-seed imposed on him. As he grew older, he became devoted to discovering a cure, or at least protection from this flaw. After many years, a trail of false promises led him into the Screaming Vortex, one of two malefic Warp Storms that separated the Calixis Sector of the Imperium from the Koronus Expanse in the Segmentum Obscurus, and finally to the Slaaneshi Daemon Prince Seiyr. By the time he concluded that there was no cure for Flaw, he had already slaughtered so many loyal servants of the Emperor in his single-minded pursuit that he saw no going back. Betrayed by his genetic legacy and with no home remaining for him in the Imperium, Krayth bitterly betrayed his heritage in turn. Krayth now harbours a burning resentment for the Emperor who made him with flaws he cannot escape, and for all of the Emperor's works. Although he despises the base, weak nature of most of the wretches in the Screaming Vortex, they are allies in his great crusade of revenge. More than one of his new comrades is curious about his origin, but they have also been witness to the painful end awaiting anyone foolish enough to broach the subject with him.
- Grisly Trophies - While all Space Marine Chapters have been known to collect trophies from their vanquished foes, such as battle standards, skulls, or battered suits of armour and weapons, in the heat of battle a Flesh Tearer may claim a more grisly trophy from those he kills, such as bloody heads or bleeding hearts. These trophies are a primal symbol for the Flesh Tearer of his dominance over the foe—an animalistic response to triumphing in battle and proving one’s strength. While they might fill the Battle-Brother with righteous rage and purpose, calming his Black Rage for a time, they can be repellent to other Space Marines and alarming to lesser warriors who might well wonder if it is to be their head that will adorn the Battle-Brother's armour next.
- Memor Nihilis - This massive Eviscerator Chainsword is intricately worked, with each tooth of the roaring blade inscribed to a level of detail few artisans could manage. This ornate work was done by the hand of a Sanguinary Priest, to commemorate the loss of the Chapter’s warriors claimed by the Black Rage. Barely visible script details the history and heraldry of dozens of warriors along the length of the blade, ever reminding its wielder of the peril of losing control of himself.
The Flesh Tearers have a two-tone colour scheme with crimson red covering the torso, arms and legs of their Power Armour, while the helmet, shoulder pauldrons and backpack are a jet black colour. Like the Blood Angels, the Flesh Tearers' company designation is displayed on the right shoulder plate in the form of a skull (for the Veteran 1st Company) or a differently-coloured drop of blood for the other companies. A Flesh Tearers' squad designation is determined by a Low Gothic numeral placed on the right knee plate.
The Flesh Tearers' Chapter badge is a circular white saw with a tear-shaped crimson blood drop in the center.
- Black Crusade: Games Master's Kit (RPG), pg. 8
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pp. 14, 54-55
- Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition), pg. 34
- Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition), pg. 38
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition) pg. 26
- Codex: Space Marines (3rd Edition), pg. 47
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pg. 19
- Deathwatch: Honour the Chapter (RPG), pp. 50-57, 130
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 62-63
- Imperial Armour Volume Two: Space Marines and Forces of the Inquisition, pg. 47
- Imperial Armour Volume Two, Second Edition - War Machines of the Adeptus Astartes, pg. 20
- Index Astartes I, "Blood Frenzy - The Flesh Tearers Space Marine Chapter"
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pg. 168
- Butcher's Nails (Audio Book) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Fear to Tread (Novel) by James Swallow
- Flesh of Cretacia (Novel) by Andy Smillie, pp. 7, 22
- Helsreach (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Red Fury (Novel) by James Swallow
- Black Tide (Novel) by James Swallow
- Know Thyself (Short Story) by Andy Smillie
- Gabriel Seth: The Flesh Tearer (Novella) by Andy Smillie
- Flesh Tearers Quick Reads - Fury and Rage (Anthology)
- Beneath the Flesh (Novella) by Andy Smillie
- Immortalis (Novella) by Andy Smillie
- The Quickening (Special Advent Issue) by Andy Smillie
- Legends of the Space Marines (Anthology), "At Gaius Point," by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Blood In The Machine (Audio) by Andy Smillie
- Trial By Blood (Novel) by Andy Smillie
- Armageddon Worldwide Campaign: Armageddon Imperial Forces - Flesh Tearers