Merir Astelan was a Chapter Master of the Dark Angels Legion of Space Marines and is considered one of the Fallen Angels who betrayed the Emperor during the Horus Heresy. He has been recaptured by the Dark Angels in recent years and is secretly imprisoned on their mobile fortress-monastery, The Rock. He achieved his position as an officer of the Dark Angels after the I Legion was formed on Terra in the 30th Millennium and before it was reunited with its Primarch, Lion El'Jonson, on the Death World of Caliban.
Merir Astelan was a member of the Dark Angels Space Marine Legion before the discovery by Imperial forces of the whereabouts of the Primarch Lion El'Jonson. Astelan was born on Terra, hailing from the Sibran Steppes. Merir came from a family whose forefathers had freed the ancient birthplace of humanity from the evil grip of the Age of Strife. After the Emperor of Mankind had revealed himself and his purpose during the Unification Wars, Astelan's people had fought alongside him. When he first began to create a new type of superhuman warrior, it was from the Sibran people that the Emperor took his first willing volunteers for the genetic testing that was required to ultimately create the Space Marines. With the aid of Sibran troops, the Emperor reunited Terra under his rule and prepared to unleash the Great Crusade intended to reunite all the scattered colony worlds of Mankind across the galaxy. So it is not strange that when he perfected his techniques for the creation of the Space Marines, many of Astelan's people were chosen to become the first Astartes of the I Legion, and Astelan was amongst them.
Prior to the start of the Horus Heresy , Astelan rose to the esteemed rank of Chapter Commander of the I Legion and was stationed aboard the Dark Angels' flagship, the Spear of Truth. When the Emperor discovered Lion El'Jonson on the world of Caliban, the Space Marines of the I Legion celebrated. The Emperor informed them that the Dark Angels now had a new homeworld. This good news filled the Dark Angels with joy, for they were now far from their beloved Terra. The Dark Angels adopted Caliban as their own, and when El'Jonson was given command of the I Legion that had been created from his genome, the Terran-borne Space Marines of the Dark Angels thought it fitting. Astelan and his fellow Battle-Brothers thought it good that new Chapters of Dark Angels would be raised from Caliban’s people, for it gave them identity and focus, something that was precious in those tumultuous times.
Compliance of ByzanthisEdit
Holding the esteemed rank of Chapter Commander, Merir Astelan led his own Expeditionary Fleet which carried out numerous Imperial Compliances, until the actions carried out during the Compliance of Byzanthis. Chapter Commander Belath, a Calibanite-borne Dark Angel, appointed to his esteemed position by the Primarch himself, was sent to shadow the Terran-borne Merir Astelan during the compliance of the newly rediscovered world of Byzanthis. The two Chapter Commanders held vastly different philosophies in regards to the proper use of force when attempting an Imperial Compliance of a new world. Though Astelan espoused that unnecessary bloodshed should be avoided at all costs, as a world brought to heel with violence would often remain resentful and willful, and would be slow to accept their conquerors as brothers. He advocated the use of diplomacy rather than wanton destruction. But Chapter Commander Belath reminded Astelan that the Lion have given him specific orders emphasising the use of overwhelming violence for those who remained willful and recalcitrant. When diplomatic relations broke down after a disastrous ground reconnaissance led by Astelan himself, Belath ordered an immediate retaliatory orbital bombardment, but Astelan denied the younger Chapter Commander's request. In the aftermath, Belath continued to argue for an overwhelming show of strength, and urged an invasion of Byzanthis, preferring to attack all six world powers at once. But upon discovered that the world was ruled by a Committee of Nations, Astelan sought a last ditch effort to parley with the planet's ruling body. Appearing with Chapter Commander Belath at his side, the parley went well at first, under Astelan's direction, but things quickly took a turn for the worst when the Byzanthis military forces detected the Dark Angels' vessels pre-positioning themselves for an inevitable attack. Under Belath's orders, the fleet had positioned themselves above all six of the worlds capital cities. This precipitated an immediate threat response from the Byzanthians, who attempted to seize the two Dark Angels representatives. Belath abruptly ended the negotiations with the Committee by summoning his Terminator armoured elite, who proceeded to execute the upstart politicians. Enraged by his counterpart's actions, Astelan had no choice but to go along with the impetuous Belath, and finally ordered a full-scale planetary invasion. In the aftermath, Astelan was dismayed by the use of violence, and warned Belath that his disreputable actions would not go unpunished. Belath remained unperturbed by such empty threats, and responded that it would be Astelan who would be punished, for he had already sent an astropathic relay back to Caliban, informing them of the Chapter Commander's "cowardly" actions on Byzanthis.
Chapter Commander Astelan was sent back to garrison the Dark Angels' homeworld of Caliban, along with many of his fellow Terran-borne Dark Angels. In Astelan's view, the Lion had abandoned both him and his fellow Terran-born Battle-Brothers there while the Caliban-born Astartes of the Legion went on to earn great glory in the Great Crusade. Astelan felt that the Primarch had turned from those who had come before him, who had welcomed him as a lost father and taken his homeworld as their own. Astelan felt that this had been a grave mistake, but he and his Space Marines had sworn oaths of loyalty and would not break them. He hoped that his Primarch would see the error he had made. Astelan sent deputations to the Lion asking him to reconsider his decision, but they were all returned without a reply.
Astelan was one of the few Terrans serving with the I Legion on Caliban, having been sent to Aldurukh some fifteen years after Luther and the rest of the training cadre had returned to the Dark Angels' homeworld. He was a Veteran Astartes who had risen quickly to command of a Chapter of the Legion in the years following Jonson’s ascension to Primarch and his sudden reassignment from the frontlines of the Great Crusade was every bit as baffling to his fellow training cadre members as their own. They presumed that Luther was aware of the circumstances surrounding Astelan's transfer, but if Astelan had been exiled from the Legion's Expeditionary Fleets like the rest of them, the Master of Caliban did not make that fact public. Instead, he'd immediately assigned the Terran to lead one of the newly reorganised training Chapters, and treated Astelan with all the respect and esteem that he showed his other Battle-Brothers. Luther’s charisma and leadership skills quickly won Astelan over, and soon there was no other member of the Legion more loyal to the Master of Caliban.
Luther the "Arch-Heretic"Edit
Chapter Master Astelan was an able commander and a veteran and experienced Astartes. He was present when Sar Luther, the Lion's adoptive father and chief lieutenant, was given the honor of being the Guardian of Caliban. Luther had been honoured by the Primarch in showing him such faith and trust as to leave him as the protector of the Legion's homeworld. But the aggrieved Luther had grown bitter, for a seed of jealousy and envy had been planted within him ever since the Emperor had first arrived upon Caliban and everything had changed forever for the knights of the Order. When the Emperor had first arrived, and the Dark Angels were given to El’Jonson to lead, Luther had wept that he was too old to become a Space Marine. The Emperor sent his best chirurgeons and apothetechs, so that those members of the Order who were too old to be implanted with the Primarch’s gene-seed might still be given many of the benefits of the Astartes' gene-altered bodies, living long past their natural deaths and capable of great feats of arms.
But Luther was never and could never be a true Space Marine. There were few who listened to him, most of them of the new Legion. Astelan and the Space Marines of the Old Legion, while having the deepest respect for Luther and his great achievements, had served under the Emperor himself and owed their loyalty to him and him alone. Yet, when they had been left behind on Caliban, Astelan and the other Terran-born Dark Angels stood up beside Luther and offered him their support. Astelan stood by as Luther declared Caliban's independence from the oppressive Imperium of Man and its demands for Imperial Compliance and the acceptance of the Imperial Truth. Astelan only provided his support so that he and his brothers could get back to doing what they had always done -- fight the Emperor’s enemies and force back the darkness that had consumed Mankind for so long.
The Horus HeresyEdit
By this time, the Dark Angels' Primarch was far away, continuing the Great Crusade, when Astelan and his brothers on Caliban were brought word of terrible news -- Horus, the greatest of the Primarchs, the Emperor’s own Warmaster, had turned Traitor. Accounts were fragmentary, and infrequent, but slowly Astelan and his brothers pieced together what had occurred during the opening days of the conflict. They heard the stories of the other Primarchs and their Traitor Legions turning against the Emperor, and against themselves. It became impossible to tell friend from foe. The Dark Angels on Caliban had heard on more than one occasion that the Lion's Dark Angels had turned on the Emperor, or that Lion El’Jonson had been killed. There was talk of the Space Wolves fighting against the Thousand Sons, and of Astartes killing Astartes across the breadth of the galaxy.
Astelan and his fellow Dark Angels wanted to leave Caliban, to go and fight the Traitor forces of Horus, but they could be sure of nothing except of that which was in their own hearts. It was Luther who first spoke of leaving Caliban and joining the fight to defend the Emperor. But Astelan and his Battle-Brothers did not know what their Primarch wanted them to do -- communication with the rest of the Legion had been cut off in the chaos, and the intent of the Lion was obscured by hundreds of light years and many conflicting rumours. But there were some amongst the number of Dark Angels on Caliban, newly raised Battle-Brothers who perhaps slightly lacked the faith and zeal of the Old Legion, who opposed their leaving.
The dissenters attacked first, revealing their treacherous intent with the death of hundreds of their fellows. Astelan and the others had prepared everything to leave, and were embarking onto the transports to take them into orbit where the Battle Barges and Strike Cruisers of the Dark Angels' Chapter assigned to Caliban awaited them. As the ships began to leave, the Traitors struck. Their orbiting ships opened fire on the Loyalists, and the dissenters stormed the planetary defense batteries and opened fire on the Loyalist transports from the surface. Defence lasers blew the Loyalist transports out of the sky and they rained down in pieces onto the surface. Some of the Loyalist transports tried to continue into orbit, and they were destroyed by the enemy, while others were blasted into shrapnel as they attempted to land. Their strike was short-lived, however, as Astelan and his Space Marines counter-attacked in force. The dissenters' ships fled, and those who had taken the planetary defence batteries were driven out or killed.
Astelan and his Space Marines of the Old Legion felt that they could not abandon Caliban, for they were afraid of what might happen if they left their adoptive homeworld in the hands of their treacherous former brethren. They could not leave until they were sure that Caliban was safe. They hunted down the dissenters until they were virtually wiped out. After three months of fighting, Astelan and his fellow Loyalist Astartes felt that the threat had been nullified. Thinking their foe destroyed, Astelan and his men relaxed their guard as they began to make preparations to leave once more. That was when their former brethren struck. They had hidden themselves away more thoroughly than Astelan and the Loyalist Dark Angels could have ever imagined, in the most inhospitable places on Caliban. Without warning, the dissenters had gathered their might and launched an attack on the starport, taking several transports and launching them into orbit. Stunned, Astelan and his men did not react quickly enough and by the time the planetary defence lasers were active, the dissenters were already amongst Astelan's fleet in orbit and the Loyalists on the surface could not target them for fear of hitting their own ships. The dissenters concentrated their attacks on the largest craft in the fleet, including Astelan's own Battle Barge, the Wrath of Terra. They stormed her, took control, and turned the vessel's immense guns and torpedoes on the rest of the Loyalist Dark Angels fleet in orbit of Caliban. The battle was short-lived, for the Wrath of Terra outclassed any vessel in orbit, and soon Astelan's Chapter fleet was reduced to smoking, drifting ruins.
Then the dissenters piloted the Wrath of Terra into Caliban’s atmosphere, where the immense flagship burned up and exploded into fiery fragments that rained down upon the surface. Plasma reactors trailing infernos from the destroyed vessel exploded in the forests of Caliban, leaving craters kilometers across and sending dust and rock into the sky to obscure the sun. Fragments crashed into the world's cities and castles, destroying them, and the largest portion of the ship plunged into the Southern Ocean, creating a tidal wave that wiped out everything within twenty kilometers of the southern coast. Not only had the dissenters marooned Astelan and his men upon Caliban, they had wrought untold destruction upon the planet that had now become their prison.
Caliban had become a ravaged, desolate place as a result of the Wrath of Terra’s fall -- the forests died and the life-giving energies of the sun were blotted out by the clouds of dirt and ash that hung in the air. Astelan and the Space Marines of the Old Legion felt immense shame and guilt as the trees burned around them, and the light of the stars was taken from them.
Luther had taken up residence in Angelicasta, the Tower of Angels, the largest citadel on Caliban and the greatest fortress of the Dark Angels. Astelan had taken personal command of the outer defences and the laser batteries from a command center hundreds of kilometers away. When he received a signal that a new fleet of starships had entered orbit, Astelan thought at first that the Traitor ships had returned – the ones that his Space Marines had driven off in the first battle. It soon became clear that, in fact, the Dark Angels' Primarch had returned. Luther contacted Astelan directly, seeking his advice. He was troubled because he had intercepted a communication that claimed Lion El’Jonson himself led the approaching ships. Luther did not know what to do, fearing the wrath of the Lion for what had befallen Caliban. Astelan told Luther nothing, and on his own initiative, gave the grim order for the batteries to open fire on the approaching starships.
Astelan felt there was nothing else that they could do. The Chapter Commander felt that El’Jonson was going to wipe out the Dark Angels remaining on Caliban, for he suspected that the Traitor ships had met the Primarch first, and that their twisted version of events would have damned them all. Astelan thought that their Primarch would have them all killed for what had befallen his homeworld. The Chapter Master also feared that their Primarch was no longer loyal to the Emperor. Astelan and the Dark Angels stationed on Caliban had heard little of the exploits of their Legion during the Horus Heresy, and he did not discount the thought that this was due to El’Jonson having sided with Horus.
Chapter Master Astelan had fired upon their former brethren because he wanted El’Jonson killed. The loyalty of the Terran-born portion of the Legion was first and foremost to the Emperor, and their Primarch was a distant second in their affections. Astelan felt that it was his duty to the Emperor to protect the Space Marines under his command – Space Marines that the Emperor himself had picked and raised, and who were now possibly threatened by their own Primarch, as had happened to the Astartes of the Traitor Legions on Istvaan III who had remained loyal to the Master of Mankind. It was only later that Astelan realised that he was wrong in believing that Lion El’Jonson had sought a reckoning with him. It was Jonson's mentor and friend, Luther, that the primarch was intent on destroying. It was Luther, Steward of Caliban, his saviour, that El’Jonson had grown to hate, to envy.
Jonson immediately ordered a sustained orbital bombardment of what he saw as the Traitor positions and led an attack against Luther's position personally. Meanwhile, the massed guns of the Dark Angel fleet pounded the planet, until the very surface of Caliban began to crack under the strain of the bombardment. As the Lion lay mortally wounded, Luther realised his own mistake and slumped down next to the fallen Primarch as Caliban was engulfed in a Warp Storm of epic proportions. The immense strain these powerful psychic forces placed upon the planet, in combination with the tectonic shifting and cracking caused by the orbital bombardment, caused the entire planet to heave and twist itself into oblivion. Caliban shattered, breaking apart into countless chunks of rock.
Astelan emerged in the 41st Millennium, finding himself cast to a distant world called Scappe Delve, whose inhabitants were forced to live in underground shelters due to the hazardous nature of the environment. He quickly became tired of living in the cramped confines of the world, so he left the planet on the starship of the Rogue Trader Trialartes, the Saint Carthen. However, Astelan soon discovered that Trialartes was secretly smuggling weapons to unsavoury organizations, and he accompanied the smuggler to the mercenary port of Port Imperial. There he met two other Fallen Angels, Methelas and Anovel. The trio proceeded to systematically commandeer weapons systems and armour plating from the other ships in the docks, before turning their newly acquired weapons on the ships they had stolen from as well as the Port Imperial itself.
Due to differences in their vision for a Greater Imperium , Astelan left the other Fallen after the events on Scappe Delve for the small world of Tharsis. The planet was in the midst of a civil war, and Astelan saw his chance to make a difference. He approached Imperial Commander Dax and was immediately put in charge of the Imperial military presence on the planet. Tharsis had been primarily an Agri-World until Astelan's arrival, after which it was dominated by crime-rife cities and sprawling factories for making the weapons he used to win the war.
After much bloodshed, Astelan delivered what he had promised the Imperial Commander: victory. When he realized that Dax meant to institute leaders from the old noble houses again once the war was finished, Astelan's "sacred bands" of elite warriors staged another revolution and killed the Imperial Commander, insisting that Astelan take his place. During the final stages of the revolt against the Imperial Commander, one lone Imperial life pod escaped from the system and placed a distress call. The call was picked up by a Dark Angels' starship passing by the sector, who retrieved the survivor and learned the story.
The Dark Angels sent Interrogator-Chaplain Boreas to investigate, who ended up fighting Tharsis' soldier population until Astelan realised who had come to the planet he now ruled. Astelan gave the order to stand down and allowed the Interrogator-Chaplain and his Deathwing retinue into his command bunker, where he was taken into their custody and transported off-world to the Tower of Angels for interrogation.
In the span of fifteen days, Boreas and his Librarian assistant Samiel pried at Astelan's mind with pain, torment, psychic abilities, and questions designed to undermine Astelan's view of the events that occurred, trying to get him to admit his sins and repent. Astelan struggled and survived, explaining much about the past of the Chapter and the Old Legion before the Heresy. He explained that it was his order that set Caliban's guns ablaze against Lion El'Jonson's fleet when it returned, and he revealed that it was his voice that was lent to Luther when the Space Marines on Caliban were uncertain that they were being led in the right direction while watching over the planet.
After his interrogation, Astelan was taken from his interrogation chamber by Sapphon, the Grand Master of Chaplains, and placed in a cell adjacent to the the still-living Luther, the greatest of the Fallen Angels, within the deepest catacombs of The Rock, the Dark Angels' mobile fortress-monastery. He still waits there today, desperate for an absolution that may never come.
Sometime in the late 41st Millennium, Astelan eventually escaped from his captivity on The Rock, and rendezvoused with his former comrades, Methelas and Anovel. Together, these three Fallen Angels conspired with the infamous Typhus, the fallen former-Fist Captain of the Death Guard Legion, to enact a diabolical plan to unite the three separate devices that made up the so-called Tuchulcha Engine, an ancient sentient device and possible Warp entity of unknown origin, with its brother devices in order to open a portal through time and space, to ten millennia earlier. This would allow the original legions of Fallen Angels to enter the 41st Millennium. Utilising captured gene-seed, Astelan planned to have the Fallen, the Death Guard and newly-created Astartes, merged together into one unstoppable legion that would be known as the Death Angels, in order to conquer the galaxy. The notorious Fallen Angel known as Cypher, allowed himself to be captured and warned the Dark Angels that the Tuchulcha was embedded within the bowels of The Rock, and that the history of the Dark Angels would be irrevocably changed if they allowed the device to be reunited with the other two engines. Fortunately, this grand scheme of Astelan and Typhus would ultimately be foiled thanks to the efforts of Supreme Grand Master Azrael and Cypher, who managed to turn Anonvel to their cause, and betray his former allies. The fate of Astelan following these events remains unknown.
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