Gal Vorbak (Colchisian dialect for "the Blessed Sons") is the name later given to the Space Marines of the Serrated Sun Chapter of the Word Bearers Legion following the 1301st Expeditionary Fleet's Pilgrimage of Lorgar into the Eye of Terror Warp rift that brought back the Primordial Truth of the existence of Chaos to their Primarch Lorgar. Reduced to only three active companies in number, the direct favour of Lorgar was bestowed upon the survivors and resulted in the elevation of their leader, Argel Tal, to the post of Chapter Master of the XVIIth Legion's Serrated Sun Chapter. These "Dark Brethren" became the first of the Daemonhosts later known as the Possessed amongst the Forces of Chaos. Lorgar had tasked the Serrated Sun Chapter with venturing into the Eye of Terror in search of definitive proof that true divinities existed in the universe. This truth made Lorgar realise that the Emperor of Mankind's Imperial Truth was the true lie and ultimately converted him and his entire Legion to the worship of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos. The Word Bearers were the first Legiones Astartes to be corrupted by Chaos and were the primary instruments through which the Dark Gods eventually brought on the horrors of the Horus Heresy. The Gal Vorbak became an elite unit of soldiers in the Word Bearers Legion's order of battle upon their return and later were transformed into Lesser Daemons of Chaos during the Drop Site Massacre of the Loyalist Space Marine Legions on Istvaan V.
The Gal Vorbak is a title that, over time, came to refer to any of the Word Bearers who were possessed by the powers of the Warp, but those who later bore the title were a lesser breed of abomination compared to the first of the Legion's brethren who sealed their pact with darkness. The Gal Vorbak were the first of their kind; Space Marines and Daemons fused into a single being. The lords of the Left Hand believe that the Gal Vorbak formed from the survivors of the Word Bearers' first pilgrimage into the Eye of Terror. What happened to those first few cannot be known, but those who returned had taken the power of Chaos into their bodies and souls. Capable of seeming unaltered, they were able to commune with the daemonic parasites that shared their existence. In battle they could shed their veil of seeming and become true monsters, fusions of armour, bone and muscle charged with supernatural power. Marked by their crimson armour they were a revered elite amongst the Word Bearers, walking embodiments of Lorgar's true vision for his Legion.
The Gal Vorbak were originally the 1,000 Space Marines of the Serrated Sun Chapter of the Word Bearers led by their Chapter Master Argel Tal, often referred to as the "Crimson Lord". Their Power Armour was painted red (later called "Traitor's Red" during the Heresy) as opposed to the standard pre-Heresy Word Bearer colour scheme of grey, which differentiated them from the rest of the Legion, but would in time be adopted by the rest of the XVIIth Legion during the Horus Heresy to display their new allegiance to the Chaos Gods. While they were in the Eye of Terror, the members of the Serrated Sun Chapter were all killed by a daemon, only to awaken some time later alive once more. All of the humans on their starship were dead and their vessel had sustained critical damage. During the 7-month-long journey that followed out of the Eye of Terror, many members of the Serrated Sun Chapter killed one another and survived the ordeal by drinking their fallen comrades' blood and eating the flesh of their fallen Legion Serfs. When they returned to realspace and their waiting Primarch, they were told that they had only been gone for a few moments in subjective time. After Argel Tal told Lorgar all that had transpired in the Eye of Terror, the survivors were honoured and the Serrated Sun Chapter was renamed the Gal Vorbak, the "Blessed Sons" in the dialect of the Word Bearers' homeworld of Colchis.
The members of the Gal Vorbak later suffered from hearing voices for years after their ordeal in the Warp until they began to metamorphose into daemons not long before the Battle of Istvaan V. During the journey to that fateful contest with the Loyalist Space Marine Legions, their armour fused to their flesh and it became impossible for them to remove their helmets. In order to prevent any of their Battle-Brothers from recognising their condition, they all locked themselves in their rooms to "meditate" until the pain and change was over. Following their mutation, the Gal Vorbak were now faster and stronger than even an already superhuman Astartes. Marked by their crimson armour they were a revered elite amongst the Word Bearers, walking embodiments of Lorgar's true vision for his Legion.
During the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V when the Traitor Legions betrayed their Loyalist brethren, the Gal Vorbak underwent another change. When Lorgar attacked Corax, the Primarch of the Raven Guard Legion, all of the members of the Gal Vorbak became true daemons. Their flesh and Ceramite fused and warped into a new, bestial form, marking them out as amongst the first of the Possessed Chaos Space Marines. After the battle, the Gal Vorbak resumed the form of normal Astartes again, though the battle had proven costly. Only 5 of their number had survived taking on a Primarch in battle to continue to fight in the service of Chaos throughout the rest of the Horus Heresy. The remaining members of the Gal Vorbak became the most feared unit in the Word Bearers Traitor Legion save for their Daemon Primarch Lorgar himself.
After the Word Bearers revealed their true nature at Istvaan V, the crimson of the Gal Vorbak spread to the rest of the Legion in fits and starts, and new Gal Vorbak walked with them. These new creatures were weaker than those who first went into the Eye of Terror. Perhaps the flesh and souls they enslaved were of a lesser stock, or perhaps the powers of the Warp, having no need for kindness or to prove their worth as allies any longer, had not invested them with the power of their predecessors. Irrespective of their power or pedigree, there has been no greater defilement of the Emperor's work in creating the Space Marines than these loathsome creatures.
Battle of Calth
As the Horus Heresy unfolded, Lorgar ordered his subordinates Erebus and Kor Phaeron to strike a vital blow against their most hated rivals, the XIIIth Legion, the Ultramarines. Unknown to Erebus or Kor Phaeron, their Primarch had a secret objective in mind when he had sent his two most zealous sons to launch a surprise assault on the Ultramarines' world of Calth. Lorgar's most trusted servants were more than willing to gain the chance for vengeance upon the Word Bearers' hated foes, pinning the enemy forces down in the Realm of Ultramar while the main forces of the Traitor Legions advanced on Terra under the command of Horus. After their humiliation at Khur, thousands of World Bearers within the XVIIth Legion detested the Ultramarines. The Urizen ordered a great gathering of his Legion while their fleet was already en route to Calth. The Primarch called for Argel Tal, the leader of the Gal Vorbak, and one other Word Bearer officer. These two loyal sons would eventually become commanders and apostles amongst the elite of the Vakrah Jal. The Primarch wanted their counsel on what to do with those amongst their Legion he no longer trusted.
The Word Bearers had culled their ranks down through the decades, removing such unrepentantly Loyalist elements as the Terran-born warriors of their Legion, but had carried out no purge like the Istvaan III Atrocity that the World Eaters' Primarch Angron was so proud of. Lorgar knew that the loyalty of his own Legion to both him and his vision of Mankind transformed through an embrace of Chaos was never in doubt, but competence was another matter entirely. Lorgar asked what should be done with those warriors of the XVIIth Legion he felt were no longer reliable; those whose hatred burned brighter than their sense. For tens of thousands of them -- whole companies, whole Chapters -- their rage was no longer pure. It was decided that these suspect elements of the XVIIth Legion would be gathered into a single host and ordered to undertake the "sacred" mission to Calth to assault the Ultramarines that they had so craved. They were led by Erebus and Kor Phaeron and were expected to martyr themselves in glory. The other Traitor Legions such as the Emperor's Children, Sons of Horus and the World Eaters might have purged their own ranks at Istvaan III, but the Word Bearers proceeded to purge their own during the Battle of Calth.
Thousands of the Gal Vorbak were left to die, alone and unsupported, on the surface of the devastated world of Calth when First Chaplain Erebus fled the conflict that the Word Bearers had fought against the Ultramarines on that benighted world. These Word Bearers had been left to die. They would never be reinforced. They would never be recovered. All those Gal Vorbak who spent months of their lives fasting, praying, scarring their flesh in preparation for a chance to taste the Divine Blood, were lost. Argel Tal was the sole surviving original member of the Gal Vorbak, having been seconded to the World Eaters Legion for temporary duty before the Word Bearers' assault on Calth. Argel Tal forsook his oaths to the annihilated Serrated Sun Chapter and gained permission from his Primarch Lorgar to form a newly constituted formation, known as the Vakrah Jal, the "Chapter of Consecrated Iron", who rose from the ashes of those Word Bearers companies devastated on the killing fields of Istvaan V. Argel Tal gathered hundreds of leaderless Astartes and gave them unity and new purpose.
Powers & Abilities
The Gal Vorbak were said to be possessed of strengths and abilities far above those of other Astartes. It was said that each of the Gal Vorbak was host to some form of Warp entity, itself subservient to the greatest scheme plotted between Warmaster Horus and the nightmare powers beyond. In battle, this being came to dominate the mind and body of the warrior. His already mighty form would swell as hands turned into rending talons and jaws into slavering, fang-filled maws twisted beyond reason and reality. At Istvaan V, the Word Bearers' pact with the horrors beyond was sealed in a great ritual of carnage and betrayal.
In battle, a five to ten man squad of Gal Vorbak are known by their Battle-Brothers as the "Dark Brethren." The Dark Brethren were were led by one of their own who bore the title of "Dark Martyr", and was the functional equivalent of a Squad Sergeant. Many of the Gal Vorbak were known to augment their wargear with a variety of blades and barbs for use in close combat.
Optional Wargear (Dark Brethren)
Any Dark Brethren of a Gal Vorbak squad can replace their Bolter with one of the following:
Optional Wargear (Dark Martyr Only)
Notable Gal Vorbak
- Argel Tal - Known as the Crimson Lord, Argel Tal was the favoured son of Lorgar, and served as the de facto commander of the Gal Vorbak.
- Ajanis - Killed by the Primarch Corax on Istvaan V
- Apis Merenkar - Apis Merenkar was a Legionary of the Nemarros Tactical Squad of the 7th Assault Company of the Word Bearers' Serrated Sun Chapter. Legionary Merenkar was amongst the Gal Vorbak deployed into the foothills on the Urgall Depression's right flank during the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V to oppose the Raven Guard Legion's attempts to reach their waiting gunships. This area saw some of the battle's bloodiest fighting as the Primarch Corax scythed a path through the massed ranks of the Word Bearers to clear a path for his beleaguered sons. Merenkar's unit was last sighted engaging several Raven Guard companies in a headlong charge, well ahead of the troops in the nearby Word Bearers Chapters. Evidence was later seized that his abandoned wargear was recovered from the battlefield by an Iron Warriors provender detachment, but no identifiable corpse was found for Merenkar or any member of his squad amongst the mounds of slain Raven Guard rent apart and strewn across the field.
- Dagotal - Killed by Raven Guard Astartes on Istvaan V
- Essember Zote - Fate unknown
- Malnor - Killed by the Legio Custodes on Istvaan V
- Seltharis - May have survived the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V
- Sicar - Killed by the Legio Custodes on Istvaan V
- Torgal - Fate unknown
- Xaphen - Killed by the Legio Custodes on Istvaan V
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre by Alan Bligh, pp. 142, 145, 148-149, 155, 256
- The Horus Heresy - Book Five: Tempest by Alan Bligh, pp. 18, 41, 67, 105, 134, 246
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Aurelian (Novella) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Know No Fear (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Betrayer (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Forge World - Word Bearers Legion Gal Vorbak