Luther, also known as the "Arch-Betrayer", was once an acclaimed knight of a monastic brotherhood of techno-medieval knights known simply as The Order, who discovered the young and wild Primarch Lion El'Jonson living in the forests upon the Death World of Caliban in the late 30th Millennium. He became the Primarch's saviour and took the man born of the forest with him back to civilisation. He raised the young Lion as his son within The Order, becoming a mentor, friend, and eventually a brother to the remarkable young man. When the Emperor of Mankind came to the world of Caliban and reunited with his long lost son, he gave Lion El'Jonson control of the I Legion of Space Marines, the Dark Angels, and charged him with leading them in the Imperium of Man's Great Crusade to reunite the human-settled galaxy. Luther, though too old to become a true Astartes, received certain genetic enhancements through the use of advanced Imperial technology so that he might follow his great friend and brother to the stars alongside the other Astartes of the Dark Angels. Ironically, Luther would eventually betray the Lion after allowing himself to be seduced by the offers of Chaos, rallying a good portion of his fellow Dark Angels to his cause who had been left behind by their fellows to garrison the Legion's homeworld and attacking the Lion's fleet as he returned to Caliban following the end of the Horus Heresy on Terra. The titanic struggle between the two former friends resulted in the destruction of Caliban and the loss of the Dark Angels' Primarch, as well as the escape of Luther's allies who had sided with the Ruinous Powers. Known as the Fallen Angels amongst their former Battle-Brothers of the I Legion, it became the overriding goal of the Dark Angels and all of their Successor Chapters after the Second Founding to hunt down every one of the Fallen and get them to repent their betrayal of the Emperor and of the Lion. Unknown to all but the Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels Chapter, Luther was captured alive after the Fall of Caliban and now is kept prisoner in the deepest dungeon of the Dark Angels' mobile fortress-monastery called The Rock, where he rambles insanely about the future. However, these ramblings sometimes contain the hint of prophecy, and every Dark Angels Supreme Grand Master has consulted the maddened Luther, now known only as the Dark Oracle, in the Chapter's times of greatest need.
Luther and the LionEdit
When the Emperor of Mankind revealed himself amongst the masses of Terra after the Age of Strife had passed, he sought to reclaim the galaxy for humanity. In order to do this, he created 20 genetically-engineered superhumans known as Primarchs. The Primarchs would be the Emperor's generals, leading legions of of superhuman warriors created from their genetic templates. This warrior elite would come to be known as the Legiones Astartes. Though the Emperor did his best to psychically shield his secret endeavours, his industry did not go unnoticed by the Chaos Gods. Using their malefic powers, the Ruinous Powers stole the incubation capsules that contained the nascent Primarchs, scattering their amniotic filled tanks throughout the Immaterium, until finally, they ended up on isolated human-inhabited worlds throughout the galaxy. The capsule of the Primarch who would come to be known as Lion El'Jonson ended up on the isolated Death World of Caliban located on the northern fringe of the Eye of Terror.
The majority of the other Primarchs were fortunate enough to be found and raised by the local humans inhabitants of the planet they landed upon. Jonson's fate was less fortunate as his capsule landed in a remote and isolated region located many mile from the nearest human settlement. It is unknown how the infant Primarch managed to survive in the unforgiving environment of his new home, by rights he should have died from exposure within the first few minutes. But somehow, Jonson not only survived, he managed to persevere, alone and unaided, for nearly a decade on one of the most deadly Death Worlds in the Imperium.
It was while he was still living in this feral state that the wild man of the forest met his first humans. Jonson encountered a group of knights that belonged to a monastic order known simply as The Order. Contingents of these valiant brother-knights from the Order would travel across the planet, rendering aid wherever it was needed, as well as hunting the great beasts that plagued their world. It was during one of these great hunting expeditions that a band from the Order first came upon the wild man that lived in the forests. Instinctively the knights saw not a man, but some form of wild beast. Firing their bolt pistols at the creature, only Jonson's preternatural reactions saved him from certain death. He tried to escape, but was quickly cornered by the band of knights. Pressed against a massive tree, the wild man growled in anger at the semi-circle of knights, prepared to sell his life dearly. But one of their number sensed that there was something more to this wild creature than was at first apparent, and he ordered his brother knights to halt. The young warrior carefully advanced towards the wild man. The knight then put out his hand and brushed the tangled hair from Jonson's face, revealing his perfect human features and the fierce light of intelligence that shone from his eyes. Sar Luther, was the name of the Primarch's saviour, and the other knights took the man born of the forest back with them to civilisation.
Because of his appearance and the place of his discovery, Luther named the boy Lion El'Jonson (meaning "Lion, Son of the Forest" in the Calibanite dialect of Low Gothic). Luther raised Jonson as if he were his own son. Within the Order's fortress-monastery of Aldurukh the Primarch quickly assimilated into human society. Jonson easily adapted to the ways of humans, learning to speak in remarkable time despite having never spoke the first ten years of his life. But of the dark times of his life growing up in the forest he never spoke. Luther and his protegé soon formed a fast friendship, complimenting one another with their different personalities and temperament, becoming an incomparable team. The pair of brother knights rose quickly through the ranks of the Order, as their exploits became the stuff of legends and their reputations rose accordingly. Soon the ranks of the Order swelled with young men wishing to join them. As the Order grew exponentially in size, Jonson and Luther argued for a crusade to rid their world of the great beasts that infested their forests, to cleanse Caliban once and for all of their foul taint.
Luther was a remarkable man, perhaps more so even than most people gave him credit for. He possessed phenomenal talent in a number of fields, not least as a leader, a warrior and a huntsman. With the exception of Lion El’Jonson, Luther had completed quests against more great beasts than any man in Caliban’s history. In any other era, Luther would probably have been acclaimed as the greatest hero of his age. He was a tireless champion of the people of Caliban, marked out as much by his inner qualities of humour and cool thoughtfulness in times of crisis as he was by the valour of his deeds. It had been Luther’s tragedy to be born in the same era as a man against whom all his endeavours would be judged and forever found wanting in comparison. From the day he had encountered Jonson in the forest and decided to bring him to civilisation, Luther had sounded the death-knell of his own legend. From that point on, he had been condemned to live in the Lion’s shadow. To some of his fellow brother knights, this spoke even more highly of Luther that his affection for the Lion seemed genuine and unforced. Many a man in his situation might have been tempted to succumb to jealousy and begun to resent Jonson’s achievements. Not Luther, for he was not of that ilk.
With true brotherly devotion, he had turned all his energies to ensuring that the Lion’s schemes met with every success. Luther was as much responsible for the campaign against the great beasts as Jonson, but as the campaign drew to a close it was not Luther who was receiving all the plaudits, but Jonson. Though none could sense any bitterness in the man, Luther had evidently accepted that his role in history was to be the bridesmaid to his brother’s triumphs. In the tenth and final year of Jonson’s genocidal campaign against the great beasts, nearly all the beasts had been killed. Only a few stragglers remained in the less hospitable and more thinly populated regions of the planet. As word of the Order's victories spread throughout the planet, their ranks swelled with willing recruits. Soon other knightly orders aligned themselves with The Order, until they had become the single-most powerful monastic order on all of Caliban. There was only one exception - the Knights of Lupus.
Storm Clouds GatherEdit
Led by Lord Sartana, the Knights of Lupus rebelled against the rapid change of their world, as Jonson continued to prosecute his campaign against the great beasts that had long plagued Caliban. Unknown to any outside their order, the Knights of Lupus were capturing and training the beasts. Afraid of what the future held for them, in a world without these fell creatures, the Knights of Lupus wanted to maintain the status quo of their rapidly changing civilisation. They even sent a representative of their order to discuss their position with the Order in diplomatic negotiations, but the Lion wouldn't hear of it. Enraged, he declared war against the rebellious order.
Since the coming of the Lion, the knights of Caliban rarely made war against each other, at least not in any major or systematic way. Normally, any conflict undertaken to resolve some issue of affront or insult would take one of the traditional forms of ritual combat. A conflict of the kind where two knightly orders made ready to bring the best part of their entire strength to bear in a single battle, happened hardly once in a generation. The Order marshaled the bulk of their forces and made for the enemy castle stronghold of the Knights of Lupus. While the Order lay siege to the castle, the Lion launched a diversionary assault on the northern gate, while the bulk of the main assault was led by Sars Luther against another gate. The fighting was brutal and relentless, with both sides taking horrendous casualties. But this was as nothing, compared to the horror that the knights of the Order discovered once they breached the walls of the castle.
The charge of the Order's knights slowed at the sight of a menagerie of caged beasts that filled the main courtyard, each one a unique specimen of its own kind, kept alive for an unknown purpose. The knights were horrified beyond words that anyone, let alone an order of knights would dare, or desire to keep such a monstrous collection of abominable creatures. A hundred or so warriors in grey armour stood in a long battle line before the walls of the keep, their swords and pistols bared. Fearsome warriors clad in wolf pelts and bedecked with fangs, the Knights of Lupus may not have been numerous, but each one of them was a great warrior, a fighter trained in the ways of combat and the pursuit of knowledge. Lord Sartana stood upon a raised platform at the centre of the battle line his helmet carried by a knight beside him. The Master of the Knights of Lupus reached for a long iron lever attached to a complex series of gears and counterweights that ran through the floor of the platform and connected with the rails and chains that ran throughout the courtyard, and with a squeal of metal, gears meshed and slave levers slid from locks and the gates to the beasts' cages opened.
The knights of the Order soon found themselves in a life-and-death struggle as the beast roared from their imprisonment and bellowed in rage, charging them. A dozen or so beasts slammed into the ranks of the Order, tossing bodies high into the air with their deadly charge. The battle quickly devolved into a bloody, desperate affair. Pistols boomed and swords cut. Slowly but surely, the brother knights of the Order were inexorably winning the fight against the creatures. Though dozens of knights were cut down, torn apart or bludgeoned to death by the fell beasts, half a dozen continued to fight on. Soon triumphant war shouts pierced the night, as individual battles against the beasts were won. The Knights of Lupus retreated within their keep, content to leave the beasts to do their work for them. The knights of the Order had nothing but contempt for the knights who had fallen so far from the ideals of honour and virtue that they would stoop to such a base tactic. After defeating the final creature the knights of the Order assaulted the keep where the Knights of Lupus were cowering. They had forfeited their right to mercy and were to be granted no clemency. When Lord Sartana was confronted, he took the cowards way out and plunged a hunting knife into his own heart. With the death of Lord Sartana, the Knights of Lupus ceased to exist. The last remnants of their order were hunted down in the corridors of their shattered keep and slain.
The ride back to Aldurukh was a melancholy one, for Luther's achievements during the battle had been overshadowed by the Lion's feat of arms. Amidst the celebrations and honours bestowed, a shadow fell upon the heart of Luther as he watched the Lion revel in the honours heaped upon him for this latest victory. Although Luther did not openly begrudge Jonson these great honours, he still felt a twinge of jealousy. The first crack had appeared, a crack that would one day become a great schism that would someday tear the Dark Angels Legion asunder. But this would be in the future. As ever, life went on much as before with the knights of the Order, as hunts were organised, and each day knights would ride into the forests to clear out the last pockets of beasts. Each day brought fewer and fewer beast trophies, and it seemed as though the Lion's grand vision would finally be achieved. The world continued to turn and life went on as before. The knights of the Order moved ever closer to ultimate domination, until the coming of the Emperor of Mankind.
- "And the Angels of Darkness descended on pinions of fire and light... the great and terrible dark angels."
- — Ancient Calibanite Fable
Shortly after the success of the campaign, the Emperor of Mankind and his Astartes scouts arrived on Caliban after they detected the psychic emanations of one of the Primarchs. From the moment the Emperor landed, El'Jonson felt the deep connection between himself and the Master of Mankind, and swore his fealty. In return, the Emperor made the Lion the commander of the I Legion of Space Marines that had been created from his genome.
The Emperor launched his Great Crusade after the end of Old Night to reunite all the lost colonies of humanity and restore Mankind's birthright as the rulers of the galaxy. The Emperor's Space Marine Legions purged entire star systems of humanity's xenos oppressors. As the Imperium's wave of conquest advanced across the galaxy, Imperial scouts brought word that they had rediscovered the isolated world of Caliban in the Segmentum Obscurus and that it was home to a man who was likely one of the missing Primarchs. The Emperor had first sent emissaries from the I Legion to serve as his advance force on Caliban, Astartes who had been created from the genome of their lost Primarch Lion El'Jonson. The Imperials brought with them all of the advanced technology that was hailed by the people of Caliban as miraculous. Soon, the Astartes of the I Legion were putting potential Astartes Aspirants from The Order and the other knightly organisations through myriad martial trials and competitions to gauge their level of martial prowess and character. Only the strongest and most dedicated were allowed to pass to the next stage. Many within The Order whispered that they were competing for a place within the ranks of the Astartes. But these trials also served the secondary purpose of determining if the human strain on Caliban was genetically pure enough to warrant its status as a world that the I Legion could recruit from in the coming years.
While the Calibanite knightly orders revelled in their differences and often resorted to combat to settle their feuds, the Astartes Legions were united in purpose and will. Such division could not be tolerated, and at the behest of the Lion and the Astartes, the individual knightly orders were disbanded and brought under the control of the I Legion. Such a drastic move did not happen overnight, and could not pass without dissenting voices, but when the Lion spoke in favour of the union of knights and the glory that would be theirs for the taking in the service of the Emperor, most such voices were stilled, most, but not all.
The Emperor himself finally came to Caliban on a day that would live on for centuries in Calibanite legend. His great vessel descended from the heavens and he welcomed his lost son back into the fold. The event was slightly marred by an attempt against the Emperor's life made by certain conservative knights of The Order who feared the changes that would be wrought to their world by the Imperium and its advanced science and culture, but these malcontents were swiftly and mercilessly executed as traitors by the Astartes.
More objections were raised when the soldiers of the Imperial Army descended to the surface of Caliban. The I Legion's Aspirant trials had already identified the likely candidates for recruitment into that august body, but the vast majority of the planet’s population would still be able to serve the Emperor as troops of the Imperial Army. Within an unimaginably short period of time, the surface of Caliban was transformed from a world of sprawling wilderness and castles to one of martial industry that rang to the beat of factory hammers and the tramp of booted feet as its populace girded itself for interstellar war.
The Emperor’s servants descended to Caliban with enormous earthmoving machines that cleared dozens of kilometres of forest a day and left flat, lifeless soil in their wake, ready to be planted or built upon. Mines, refineries and manufactorums followed, ready to transform the planet’s abundant resources into vital war materiel for the Emperor’s Crusade. Cities were built to supply the sprawling industrial sites, growing upwards and outwards with each passing year as the traditional villages and towns surrounding the fortress-monasteries were emptied and their citizens relocated to better serve the Imperium.
Finally, the day arrived when those individuals whose courage had been proven beyond doubt, whose stamina, endurance and strength had seen them through the Astartes trials were ready to be added to the ranks of the I Legion. Word had come from Luther that the Astartes had made their final selection for advanced training and the genhancement required to join their ranks. Through the application of Imperial science and the marvels of the gene-seed, these Aspirants were transformed over the next several years into Battle-Brothers of the I Legion, newly renamed the "Dark Angels" by the Lion after an ancient Calibanite fable.
Luther had been chosen to join the I Legion by the Astartes, but in common with a large proportion of that initial intake from The Order and the other Calibanite knightly orders, he had been too old to benefit from the implantation of gene-seed. In its place, Luther, and others like him, had undergone an extensive series of genetic, surgical and biochemical enhancement procedures designed to increase their strength, stamina and reflexes to superhuman levels. They were taller, stronger and quicker than mortal men, but for all that they were still not true Astartes. It was difficult for Luther and the others to come to terms with that fact, knowing that they were surrounded by those who had once served under them as squires and junior knights, but were now far more powerful than they could ever hope to become. Luther still served as the Lion's second within the Legion, earning his position based on merit and fuelled with a desire to prove himself by his devotion to the Imperial ideal. But despite his successes, he could not escape his own inner conviction that he was somehow being looked down upon because he was not a full Astartes.
Shortly after their entry into the Great Crusade the 4th Expeditionary Fleet of the Dark Angels reached the orbit of the planet Sarosh, which had formerly been commanded by Shang Khan of the White Scars Legion. The Saroshi - ruled by a bureaucracy - had recently expressed their interest in becoming part of the Imperium, and the Imperials were eager to allow them in, but for some unknown reason the Saroshi continued to stall. There were always delays and more intransigence. For whatever reason the Saroshi appeared to be intentionally put off compliance. The Imperials believed that these peaceful people seemed to possess the same secular beliefs as they did in the Imperial Truth. But the Saroshi (without mentioning it to the Imperial expedition) secretly worshipped Chaotic entities in the Warp they called the Melachim, and saw the anti-religious stance of the Pre-Heresy Imperium's ‘Imperial Truth’ as unsuppressed evil. When the Lord High Exalter, the leader of the Saroshi bureaucracy, came aboard the Dark Angels' flagship to discuss the issue of compliance he formally denounced the Emperor and Jonson to his face. The Saroshi believed that no society could make claim to be righteous if it does not acknowledge the primacy of divine power. Secular truth was false truth. When they heard that the Emperor preached that there were only false gods, the Saroshi believed they knew the Emperor's real nature; he was a liar daemon, a creature of falsehood, sent by dark powers to lead mankind astray. Enraged, Lion El’Jonson drew his gleaming ceremonial sword and clove through the fat Saroshi Exalter's shoulder and down into his ample gut.
Meanwhile, Luther and Librarian Zahariel waited in the embarkation deck to deploy to the surface of Sarosh. Out of curiosity, Luther suggested to his battle-brother to investigate the Saroshi shuttle. The commander's interest was piqued, for the shuttle was thousands of years old - a functioning relic of an earlier age. Upon further investigation, the Legion's second-in-command went utterly pale. Zahariel noticed the change in Luther, who appeared pallid and had a strange expression. The commander dismissed Zahariel, telling him to rejoin his Company until he was called for. He left the Legion’s second-in-command at the door to the embarkation deck, watching as Luther stared in fascination at the Saroshi shuttle. But the young Librarian's prescience nagged it him with the feeling that something was terribly wrong, and so he rushed back to the embarkation deck. Upon closer inspection of the shuttle he discovered a hidden dark device that had been hidden in a secret compartment of the shuttle's nose. As he tried to deduce the device's purpose, suddenly Luther interrupted Zahariel's introspection.
Luther informed the Librarian that it was some kind of atomic weapon. The Saroshi were obviously intent on assassinating the Dark Angels' entire command hierarchy, including the Primarch. Zahariel was confused by this startling revelation. Why had the commander not revealed this truth earlier. Luther informed the confused Astartes that he had wanted to, but then he though of what could be his if he didn't: the Legion, command, Caliban. It would all be his, and he would no longer have to share it with someone whose shadow obscured everything that he did. Zahariel argued that the Lion's deeds were great, as were Luther's. Luther countered his argument, explaining that his deeds might have been great in another age, one in which he did not share the span of time as a man like the Lion. In any other age, the glory of leading Caliban from the darkness would have been Luther's, but instead it had gone to his brother. He told Zahariel that he had no idea how galling it was to be the greatest man of the age and have that taken from you in an instant.
After a decade or more, the feelings that had been contained within a dam of honour and restraint was finally crumbling, and Luther's true feelings spilled out. Zahariel had no idea that Luther felt this way. The commander told him that no one did, not even he: not fully, not until he saw the Saroshi shuttle. All he had to do was not lift a finger and walk away, and everything that he had ever wanted would be his. Luther had ordered everyone out of the embarkation deck and walked away, but he hadn't gone more than a few steps before he knew that he couldn't do it. Luther had come to realise that it was an honour to serve a warrior as great as the Lion, and that he was the luckiest man alive to be allowed to call him brother. With the help of the Librarian Zahariel, the two Dark Angels managed to open the embarkation deck's outer doors, blasting the makeshift bomb hurling into the void of space as the deck decompressed. The blast wave from the warhead's detonation only caused minor damage to the flagship. They had managed to save the Lion's life.
The attack on the Invincible Reason had just been the beginning, as all across the fleet, and in the cities and lands of Sarosh, the Imperials soon found themselves under attack by the people they had assumed regarded them as heroes. But inhabitants of Sarosh had rejected the Imperium and everything that it stood for with great violence, perpetrating appalling deeds of horror and bloodshed through all manner of acts of terror. More than a thousand Imperial Army and Navy personnel on shore leave, enjoying the delights of the local carnival, were either murdered or disappeared without a trace. At around the same time the Saroshi shuttle exploded, an angry mob attacked the Imperial Governor's residence, as well as the nearby Imperial offices. Quickly overwhelming the few Army troopers who had been left on guard duty, the riot’s ringleaders dragged the Imperial functionaries out onto the streets and hacked them to death with axes and knives as the crowd bayed for blood.
Only a few of the Imperials present on Sarosh managed to escape being murdered or abducted. Later, when these survivors told their tales, it would become clear that the entire population of the planet had exploded in a frenzy of bloodletting every bit as sudden and dramatic as the blast that nearly tore through the Invincible Reason. Within the Dark Angels' fleet, multiple ships were attacked at the same time by mutineers. Mostly, the mutinies were suppressed before they could do any real damage, but on the Arbalest the mutineers managed to let off a torpedo salvo. They hit the Bold Conveyor and damaged her. The situation in Sarosh's orbit was stabilised, but there were more pressing concerns below on the planet's surface. The fleet's Astropathic Choir had become aware of a growing build up of psychic energy in the northern deserts, indicative of a major warp rift. The cause of this rift was unknown. Within a couple of hours the Primarch and his Dark Angels, spearheaded by their Librarians, assaulted the warp rift's location, intent on detonating a modified cyclonic torpedo in order to disrupt the build up of psychic energy. Luther was noticeably absent from the assault.
The Dark Angels were intent on getting as close to the vicinity of this rift in order for the makeshift weapon to be effective. The Dark Angels performed a combat jump utilising their Jump Packs upon the mining station of One Zeta Five. They were to fight through all resistance as quickly as possible in order to deliver the senior Brother-Librarian and his deadly cargo. But when the Dark Angels descended upon the designated target they found the mining station eerily devoid of signs of life. The only signs left by the enemy were scattered droplets or larger puddles of spilt blood. Suddenly the walls of one of the prefabricated building exploded outward, taking the Astartes by surprise. It was some unidentifiable reptilian creature of some kind which struck down one the battle-brothers. As the Dark Angels continued to make their way towards the centre of the settlement the strange reptilian beast attacked twice more, with unnatural speed and ferocity. Though each attack drew blood, no more warriors fell to their ambushes. When they reached the centre of the settlement a mass of unnatural reptilian creatures had gathered in a mass of scaled bodies before the entrance to a mineshaft.
The Lion exploded into action, leading the charge against the fell creatures. The Dark Angels open fired with their bolters, as their Primarch met the beasts head on. For all their speed and ferocity, the ghost-like monsters could not hope to stand against the relentless stoicism of the Dark Angels, who closed the noose of their warrior circles and slaughtered them without mercy. The Dark Angels entered the mineshaft, making their way underground to engage the enemy. As the Astartes made their way deeper into the lightless tunnel they soon came upon a large cavern. As the Dark Angels entered the cavern, and the mystery of what had become of Sarosh’s missing population was a mystery no more. Illuminated by glaring strip lights hanging from the cavern’s roof, steel walkways crossed an immense chasm that was filled almost to the brim with dead bodies - millions of dead bodies. The Dark Angels continued to press on, intent on wreaking their vengeance against the vile Saroshi.
The Sarosh had summoned one of their Melachim - a vile warp entity that passed into the material realm from the Immaterium. The Dark Angels were halted by the horrendous sight of the unspeakable creature, but their Primarch spurred into action. He slew the masked cultists, dispatching them with pistol and sword. The Lion's actions spurred the Dark Angels to follow, and they too, lept to the attack. Librarian Zahariel used his bolt pistol to slay the host body so that the vile warp entity could not translate into their reality. The senior Librarian activated the device and a wave of psychic force erupted from the warhead. Seizing on the moment, Zahariel added his psyche, focusing his innate abilities on the foul creature. The powerful psychic attack banished the creature from whence it came.
The Lion's JudgementEdit
No sooner had the Dark Angels returned to the Invincible Reason than they had been issued with new deployment orders. A declaration from the Lion announced that the flow of new recruits from Caliban was not proceeding as swiftly as was hoped. Therefore, experienced Astartes were to return to the homeworld with all speed to ensure that the recruitment of new warriors was put back on track. The Great Crusade was entering a new and vigorous stage, and the Dark Angels needed fresh warriors to take the light of the Imperium onwards. As to the pacification of Sarosh, word had quickly spread of the knowledge that the Saroshi's god had met its demise at the hands of the Emperor's angels of death. Imperial Army units from nearby expedition fleets, as well as a demi-legion of Titans from the Fire Wasps, were sent to crush any last resistance.
The deployment order was given, as hundreds of loyal warriors were earmarked to return home. The sense of crushing dejection was total, and though there was no outward stigma attached to their departure from the fleet, every warrior knew the truth of the matter in their hearts. Their Primarch had rejected them. The Lion did not want them with him for the remainder of the Great Crusade. Those that were to be sent back to Caliban had only made a minor contribution to the cause, so insignificant in the scale of what was to come, the many of their number doubted that the chroniclers would even bother to record the short war on Sarosh. The Great Crusade would continue, though it would continue without Luther.
Officially, the Astartes had been detached from the Expeditionary Fleet and ordered back to Caliban because the Great Crusade was about to enter a new operational phase, and the I Legion was in dire need of new recruits to meet the tasks the Emperor had planned for them. The Lion declared that experienced warriors were needed at home to speed up the training process, and a list of names was drawn up and circulated throughout the fleet. Little more than a week after being deployed on their first campaign, Luther and more than five hundred of his brothers – over half a Chapter – discovered they had been dismissed. The news had stunned them all. Luther had seen it in the eyes of his battle brothers as they’d mustered on the embarkation deck to begin the long trip back to Caliban. If the Legion needed warriors so badly, why were they being pulled from the front lines? Training recruits was a job for elders, men who were full of wisdom but past their physical prime. That was the way it had been on their homeworld for generations – and it had escaped no one that virtually all of the Astartes being sent home were from Caliban rather than Terra.
Ironically, it was the announcement that Luther himself would take charge of the recruitment effort that convinced those selected to return to Caliban that something was wrong. Luther, the man who had been Jonson’s right hand for decades, and who had risen to become the I Legion’s second-in-command despite not being a true Astartes himself, had no business leaving the Crusade to train young recruits at Aldurukh. He was being sent as far from the Lion as possible, and the rest of the cadre were being exiled along with him. Though those Battle-Brothers selected to leave the Crusade followed their orders to the letter, without question or hesitation, they were plagued by doubt and confusion. To all intents and purposes, it appeared that the Legion’s second-in-command took the Primarch at his word and intended to fulfill his assigned task to the best of his ability. And so, Luther and his fellow battle-brothers, returned to Caliban in the dead of night, with no one to herald their arrival and no cheering crowds to welcome them home.
"In raising these men to watch over mankind, we have bred a Legion of inhumans whose sole purpose is to defend that which they no longer understand. Their duty, borne with pride; their curse, carried with grace – but let it never be forgotten what we have done to Caliban’s finest sons. Unending Imperial ambition has not bred warriors with the warm hearts of men, but angels with the cold hearts of weapons. No soul so changed will recover what was lost. No weapon so savage can be wielded without cost."
- The Verbatim, Lutherian Amendments, Chapter I: These Savage Weapons
Though supposedly accorded a great honour, Luther felt they had been exiled by the man he had raised as a son. The departure of Luther and the rest had been sudden, almost businesslike, and at the time it had been assumed, that they would be back with the fleet before long. But five decades had passed, and Jonson had never spoken of them again – he no longer even read the regular dispatches from Caliban, relegating that task to members of his staff. Luther and the rest seemed to have been entirely banished from the Primarch’s mind, and as the years lengthened into decades, rumour and speculation had begun to circulate through the ranks. Some suggested a falling out between Jonson and Luther over the near-disaster at Sarosh, of old jealousies and petty enmities rising to the fore. Others speculated that Luther and the rest bore the blame for allowing the Saroshi bomb aboard the Invincible Reason, which led to sometimes-heated debates between the Terran and Calibanite factions within the Legion. Primarch Jonson made no attempt to address any of the rumours, and over time they were forgotten. No one spoke of the exiles much any more, except as a cautionary tale to new initiates: once you fell from grace with Lion El’Jonson, you were never likely to rise again.
Fifty years later, following the great success in the recruitment, training, and equipping of new Astartes for the Dark Angels, Luther and his lieutenants were faced by a widespread rebellion on Caliban. Following Librarian Zahariel’s investigations, it was revealed that Caliban was plagued by a resurgence of the beasts that once ran amok across their homeworld. This dire threat was further compounded by the insurgency raised against them which included former Knights of the Order who felt that the Lion had betrayed them. At the center of this conspiracy was a mysterious cabal of Terran sorcerers that were somehow linked to the reemergence of the warp-spawned beasts and hordes of undead corpses. Learning of Warmaster Horus’s rebellion against the Emperor, Luther decided that in the best of interests of Caliban, he was compelled to declare their world’s independence in opposition to both Terra and their Primarch alike.
The Dark Angels had been posted to the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy when word reached them of Horus's treachery against the Imperium. It is known that the Warmaster ordered the Night Lords Traitor Legion to intercept the Dark Angels and prevent them from aiding the Emperor on Terra, but without success. As the Dark Angels were in transit to Terra alongside the Space Wolves Legion, so too was the Ultramarines Legion, who had also thwarted Horus' best efforts to keep them from Terra after the Battle of Calth. The three Legions arrived too late; Horus had been defeated and the Emperor grievously wounded, his shattered body placed within the life-support mechanisms of the arcane Golden Throne. Grief-stricken, Jonson returned to Caliban. Upon the Dark Angels' arrival in orbit, they were fired upon from the surface. Pulling back the fleet, El'Jonson tried to find out what had happened, and discovered that Luther - who had become embittered by what he perceived as El'Jonson always taking all the glory - had poisoned the minds of the Dark Angels garrison and the new recruits that had been left on the planet against their Primarch. Correctly believing that Luther and the planet-side Dark Angels had actually been tainted by Chaos, an infuriated Jonson ordered that Caliban be bombarded from orbit, destroying the planet's defences.
El'Jonson then led his forces to the surface and assaulted The Order's fortress-monastery, where he confronted Luther in single combat. Luther, transformed into a Chaos Champion by the power of the Chaos Gods, was now evenly matched in strength with the enraged Primarch. The battle between the two levelled the Order's fortress-monastery as the planet was coming apart around them, the orbital bombardment taking a heavy toll on the surface. El'Jonson managed to wound Luther, but could not bring himself to kill the man who had been his brother and mentor. Luther lashed out with a powerful sorcerous attack that mortally wounded the Primarch. As he saw what he had done, Luther felt a veil lift from his eyes, and the Chaos Gods - seeing that once again their chosen Champion had failed to defeat the lackeys of the Emperor - lashed out with the powers of the Warp. The Fallen Angels were scattered throughout space and time, and Caliban tore itself apart under the strain of the Ruinous Powers' assault. The only portion of the planet remaining intact was the rock on which stood the fortress-monastery in which Luther and the Lion had dueled. The Dark Angels entered the shattered monastery and captured the broken Luther; of El'Jonson himself, however, there was no sign. It was believed that Jonson was thrown into space and time along with the Fallen, but the truth was that the Lion still lived, though he had been placed into a coma.
The only people who know about the disastrous events that took place on Caliban all those millennia ago are the Emperor and the Dark Angels themselves. The Dark Angels will never reveal the truth to anyone outside the Chapter for they could not bear others to know the truth of their terrible shame. And all the while, deep within his cell, Luther, the betrayer, speaks of what is to come. Only the Supreme Grand Master alone is privy to this greatest of secrets. At the very heart of the Rock is a cell, shielded by metre upon metre of adamantine armour and inscribed with the most potent runes of warding. Within, kept alive for ten thousand years inside a stasis field, languishes the broken man who was once Luther. Because of his link to the Warp, during rare moments of lucidity, the Dark Angels are able to use Luther as an oracle, referred to only as the Dark Oracle by each Supreme Grand Master who learns of Luther's existence as the Chapter's greatest secret and perhaps its greatest asset. Each Supreme Grand Master in his turn has attempted to extract from the Archheretic a confession, to make him repent, but none have been able to penetrate his madness. Luther continues to rant and rave, claiming he has no need of repentance or confession, for one day Lion El'Jonson will return and absolve him of his sins. He claims, that day is close at hand, and the Lion is already near.
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition) by Jervis Johnson and Andy Hoare
- Codex: Dark Angels (3rd Edition) by Jervis Johnson
- Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition) by Rick Priestley and Jervis Johnson
- Index Astartes I, "The Unforgiven: The Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter"
- Angels of Darkness (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Descent of Angels (Novel) by Mitchel Scanlon
- Fallen Angels (Novel) by Mike Lee