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Primarch Sanguinius Victorious

Sanguinius during the Horus Heresy

Sanguinius, also sometimes referred to as the Angel during his lifetime, was the Primarch of the Blood Angels Legion of Space Marines. He was killed during the climax of the Horus Heresy during the Battle of Terra defending the Emperor of Mankind from the Warmaster Horus aboard his flagship, the Battle Barge Vengeful Spirit. Though Horus slew Sanguinius, who had once been one of his closest friends amongst the Primarchs, legend holds that it was the chink in Horus' armour created by the Angel that allowed the Emperor to slay the Arch-Heretic and thus prevent Mankind from falling to the corruption of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos.

History

When the Primarchs were scattered across the galaxy from the Emperor's gene-laboratories deep beneath the Himalayan Mountains by the will of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos, Sanguinius, still in his gestation capsule, came to land on Baal Secundus, the second moon of the post-atomic Feral World of Baal. There the infant Primarch was discovered in the place now called Angel's Fall by one of the wandering tribes of humans who called themselves the Folk of Pure Blood, or more simply, The Blood. Sanguinius' life nearly came to an end then and there, as the touch of Chaos had altered the infant. Small vestigial wings, akin to those of an angel, protruded from his back, perhaps a gift of the Dark Gods granted during his transit through the Warp. Many were those amongst The Blood who wanted to kill the child as a mutant, while others wanted to spare the boy, for in every other way, he was as perfect a child as had ever been seen. Eventually, the tribesmen's better instincts prevailed and the child's life was spared.

Sanguinius was indeed angelic, not just physically, but also within his unblemished soul. Many of the parables and psalms still recited by The Blood have been transcribed by Blood Angels Librarians over the years, and are kept with reverence in the most sacred shrine-archives of the Blood Angels.

Although the details of Sanguinius' early life are lost to time and memory, the notable events of his childhood have been told and retold so many thousands of times by the Baalite tribes that they have become ingrained in cultural memory. Like the other Primarchs, Sanguinius grew to maturity at an incredible rate, as did his wings. The feathers were as white and pure as a swan's, but as strong as those of the Imperial Aquila itself. His wings ultimately became mighty pinions that could bear him aloft through the scorching desert air, inspiring awe and devotion from the lesser beings beneath. Sanguinius learned everything his adoptive parents within The Blood could teach him. After only three weeks he was as large as a three-year-old child and could walk. By the time he was only one Terran year old, Sanguinius looked and acted like a man in his youthful prime. He could walk without a radiation suit in the poisoned, radioactive wasteland of Baal Secundus. He could smash a path through a rockfall with the blade of his hand, best wild animals with but a glance and soar high into the sky on his mighty wings to observe the land below from the perspective of a god. As Sanguinius reached maturity, his tribe prospered and grew under his wise guidance.

Primarch Sanguinius Portrait

Ancient Remembrancer painting of Sanguinius

When a wandering band of Baalite mutants surprised his tribe, Sanguinius slew them all single-handedly, although they numbered over a hundred. This was the first time the members of The Blood had ever seen the Angel truly angry, for he felt his comrades' lives were in danger. When the blood-rage overtook him he was indeed terrible to behold. The full powers of a Primarch came upon him and a nimbus of light played about his head. Sanguinius distinguished himself in the fateful years that followed. He soon rose to the pinnacle of the primitive society present on Baal Secundus, and under his leadership, the pure-blooded Baalite tribes united against the infestation of mutants that had begun to plague the radioactive wastes of Baal.

Under his perfect leadership, coupled with his total mastery of physical combat, the Baalite tribes drove back the tide of mutant filth that threatened humanity's hold upon their poisoned world. Under Sanguinius' direction Mankind earned another chance to build civilisation upon Baal Secundus. In time, as a result of his accomplishments, Sanguinius was inevitably worshiped as a god by the humans of Baal who owed him so much. They were convinced that paradise would follow in the crimson footsteps of the Angel.

Sanguinius and the Emperor

It was shortly after this victory over the Baalite mutants that fate intervened once more. The Emperor, in the midst of his Great Crusade to reunite all the scattered worlds of Mankind, had been searching across the galaxy for his lost children and his incredible psychic powers had led him to Baal. His ship landed at the Conclave of the Blood, and the Emperor entered the massive natural amphitheatre that had been carved from Mount Seraph by the Baalite tribes to serve as a central meeting place. Those of the pure blood attended Sanguinius' address by the tens of thousands. The Emperor stood within their ranks, a shining golden figure amongst the tattered warriors of The Blood. But the Emperor knew humility as well as divinity, and he listened as intently as any warrior there. Sanguinius gave a speech which lifted the very souls of his people, giving them more than hope, at its conclusion soaring into the air above them with a shout that every man there echoed. Thus, the Emperor was convinced without a doubt that the Angel was indeed one of his lost sons.

Sanguinius & The Emperor

Primarch Sanguinius with his father, the Emperor of Mankind and Rogal Dorn of the Imperial Fists

Others among the Primarchs are said to have fought against the Emperor when they first met, but this was not the case with Sanguinius. When approached, Sanguinius recognised the Emperor immediately. Many believe that Sanguinius's reputed ability to foresee future events informed him of the Emperor's visit, explaining his reaction. He fell to his knees, crystal tears falling from his cheeks into the crimson dust. Where they fell, alabaster flowers thrived upon the barren and toxic soils of Baal Secundus. The Emperor bade him stand, and looked upon the myriad faces raised unto him, proud and resolute. He saw that the men and women of The Blood were both fair in mind and deed, possessed of a small part of the nobility and strength of their leader. The best of Sanguinius's warriors were subsequently selected to become Astartes, implanted with the very core of Sanguinius's physical being; the pure and precious gene-seed that the Emperor had engineered from the Primarch's own genome. Thus, these warriors were raised up into the IX Legion of the Space Marines, better known as the Blood Angels, launched on the Emperor's Great Crusade. Those who remained upon Baal Secundus were entrusted with the duty of defending Mankind's birthright upon the planet, and ensuring that future generations of warriors were taught the Imperial Truth and learned of the Primarch who had once walked amongst them and restored their hope. So it is that even now, with millennia passed since those fateful days, the Blood Angels take all their Aspirants from the moons of Baal.

Resplendent in glittering armour, shrouded in white wings, Sanguinius was the noblest of the Primarchs in physical aspect. Proud and resolute, the Angel radiated a confidence so vital that any shadows of doubt were banished beneath his light. The detail of the Primarch’s intricately-worked Artificer Power Armour was rendered perfectly, the sculpted edges of the golden battle-plate visible along with the fine etching across the brassarts, shoulder guards and breastplate. On his chest was a heavy ornamental roundel carved from huge Megladari rubies. The central jewel was cut into the shape of a heart and set on a mount of gold flames, and it signified the burning spirit of the Blood Angels as expressed through their Primarch. Atop it were four more ruby discs, each dedicated to one of the worlds from which the IX Legion had drawn its numbers -- Terra, in the first instance, then Baal and her two moons. Across one shoulder he wore a ceremonial war cloak, the black-dappled pelt of a Carnodon; similar in form to the extinct snow leopards of Old Earth but much, much larger, the ice stalker had been Sanguinius’ first kill during the pacification of Teghar Pentarus, the first initial battle he had fought in beside his Legion after reuniting with his father the Emperor.

The Great Crusade

Primarch Sanguinius

Primarch Sanguinius of the Blood Angels Legion and his loyal Sanguinary Guard

Under the leadership of Sanguinius, the Blood Angels Legion threw itself into the Great Crusade, quickly finding a role as specialised assault troops. The IX Legion formed a rivalry during this period with the similarly assault-oriented World Eaters Legion. After being introduced to all of his fellow Primarchs, over the decades of the Great Crusade, Sangunius formed the closest bonds with Horus, Leman Russ and Jaghatai Khan and the Blood Angels also forged close ties born in blood and battle with the Luna Wolves, Space Wolves and White Scars Legions, respectively.

Solviel Furies

A Blood Angels Astartes fighting against the Daemon hordes of Signus Prime

As the Great Crusade pushed outward, and more Primarchs were discovered, the Emperor's time became divided, pulled in more and more directions by the demands of organising the growing Imperium. Horus, the most favoured son of the Emperor, was often placed in overall strategic command of the Crusade, a position in which he proved his skill as a leader time and time again. He quickly won the approval and support of the other Space Marine Legions, along with that of their leaders. One of the burgeoning Imperium's greatest victories occurred during the Ullanor Crusade, a vast Imperial assault on the Ork empire of the Overlord Urrlak Urruk. The capital world of this empire, and the site of the final assault, lay in the Ullanor System of the Ullanor Sector, which had long been under the dominion of Urrlak Urruk's Greenskin pocket empire. The Crusade included the deployment of 100,000 Space Marines, 8,000,000 Imperial Army troops, and thousands of Imperial starships and their support personnel.

Upon the successful conclusion of this most lauded of Imperial victories, Horus was raised to the rank of Imperial Warmaster and given command authority over all of his fellow Primarchs and every Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade. Following the victory celebrations at the Triumph of Ullanor and the elevation of his most favoured son, the Emperor retired to Terra to pursue his secret Webway Project which was intended to open up the Webway for human use so that the Imperium would tie Mankind together as never before in history. But the Primarchs would never come to terms with the Emperor's absence. Their hurt feelings over his seeming abandonment of the Great Crusade to pursue a secret project, whose purpose he chose not to reveal to his sons, laid the seeds of corruption that would ultimately blossom into the Horus Heresy. Following the corruption of Horus by the Chaos Gods after his mortal wounding upon the plague moon of the Feral World of Davin, he began to lay the seeds for his coming rebellion, to overthrow the Emperor, and eventually assume the Imperial throne in his bid to rule the galaxy. In the midst of the darkness of the Horus Heresy, the Blood Angels never wavered, but held true at the Emperor's side.

The Horus Heresy

Ka'Banda vs Sanguinius

Sanguinius upon Signus Prime battling the Greater Daemon Ka'Bandha

The terrible events of the Horus Heresy had a more horrifying and permanent effect upon the Blood Angels than any of the other Loyalist Space Marine Legions. It is this tragic fate that has shaped the Blood Angels and all of their Successor Chapters since that time. The Warmaster Horus, once the Emperor's most trusted and beloved son, turned to Chaos, and plunged the dagger of betrayal so far into the heart of the Imperium that it is yet to recover from his evil deed. In a tragic sequence of events, the corrupt and evil being that Horus had become managed to manipulate and coerce several other Primarchs, turning them against their own father and mentor, the Emperor himself. These events culminated after seven savage years of civil war in the combined attack of Horus' Traitor Legion forces upon the Imperial Palace on Terra. Space Marine fought Space Marine, Traitor battled Loyalist until the fortifications of Terra's greatest edifice looked set to fall. Chaos was ascendant; the powers that Horus had allied himself with had given him power beyond imagining at the cost of his immortal soul.

It is said that Horus hated and feared Sanguinius more than any of his brothers and wove many strategies to ensnare or slay him, though all failed. In an effort to weaken and divide the Loyalist forces, the Warmaster charged the IX Legion with the arduous task of cleansing the Signus Cluster -- a triple star system of the Segmentum Ultima near the galactic centre. Sanguinius' Legion was ordered to cleanse the 7 worlds and 15 moons of Signus of xenos invaders and release the humans settlers from their xenos-overlords. Unaware of the Warmaster's perfidy, Sanguinius willingly obeyed his brother Primarch and immediately set out for this volatile region of space with his Legion. Unbeknownst to the Blood Angels, they were blindly walking into a deadly trap, for the Signus Cluster had fallen prey to agents of the Ruinous Powers and become a veritable Realm of Chaos within realspace -- a system of hellish Daemon Worlds under the rule of a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh known as Kyriss the Perverse.

When the Blood Angels arrived in-system, their fleet was ambushed by the malevolent forces of the Warp, crippling or killing many of their Navigators and Astropaths in the initial onslaught. The Blood Angels now faced the fury of Chaos for the first time. Kyriss sent an image of himself to Sanguinius, declaring his lordship over the system in the name of Slaanesh and taunting the Primarch into taking it back from him. Though they had never faced such a foe, the Blood Angels prepared their counterattack, sure that they would prevail. Rising to the challenge of the vile Greater Daemon, the Blood Angels Legion attacked the daemon host of Kyriss, launching a series of attacks across the seat of the daemon's power, the world of Signus Prime. Sanguinius faced the vast hordes of human Chaos Cultists and packs of monstrous daemons as an Angel of Vengeance. Soon the planet was awash with the blood of both loyal Space Marines and thousands of slain cultists of Kyriss. The Primarch spearheaded the Blood Angels' assault on the Greater Daemon's seat of power, known as the Cathedral of the Mark, to confront and destroy Kyriss and reclaim the planet in the name of the Emperor. But soon Sanguinius came face-to-face with a new nightmare known as Ka'Bandha, a Greater Daemon of Khorne. Within the pantheon of the Blood God, Ka'Bandha is still regarded as one of his most prolific killers. He is a murderous engine of destruction, slaughtering in exalted joy for his lord Khorne.

The mighty daemon taunted the Primarch, and revealed Horus' treachery. Enraged by the daemon's mockery and fearing his claims about the Warmaster to be true, the angelic Primarch fought the brutal Bloodthirster in single combat. Seizing the initiative during the battle, he surprised the Bloodthirster with his frenzied assault, stabbing his sword into the daemon's chest, ripping open a gaping wound. The massive creature roared in fury and pain, lashing out with his whip at the Primarch's legs. Sanguinius was momentarily unbalanced as his legs were crushed in the whip's coils. The daemon then smashed Sanguinius to the ground with the flat of his massive axe. The winged hero was stunned, helpless before the daemon's wrath. As his vision cleared he looked up at the mighty monster towering over him. The Greater Daemon taunted him one final time, let out a mighty bellow and then struck out across the battlefield, slaughtering 500 Space Marines with huge swathes of his mighty axe. They psychic backlash of the deaths of so many of his Astartes blasted Sanguinius into unconsciousness.

It would not be until the closing days of the Horus Heresy that Sanguinius would once again be confronted by the savage Daemon Lord during the Battle of Terra. With the fall of their Primarch and the slaughtering of their brethren, the Blood Angels Legion was consumed by a Black Rage that drove them into a berserker's fury as they charged into the daemonic horde and in their madness they smashed the daemons asunder. Yet the brutal violence of the daemon Ka'Bahnda had unleashed something dark within the psyche of the Space Marines, a thirst for blood that would not be slaked until every taint of Chaos had been erased from the planet. Even the mighty Kyriss was ultimately banished back to the Immaterium. Only when the planet was cleansed did the rage of the Blood Angels finally subside. Though Signus Prime had been freed from its thrall to the Forces of Chaos, the cost of that victory was far higher than any could have wished. The berserker rage the Blood Angels had experienced had left a brooding shadow on their souls that would manifest in the centuries to come as the great curse that would afflict the Blood Angels and their Successors.

Within a few days the grievous wounds that Sanguinius had suffered at the hands of the Greater Daemon healed as a result of his accelerated metabolism and superhuman immune system. Whatever befell him in the future, the Primarch swore that he would have his vengeance upon the daemon Ka'bandha. When the call from Rogal Dorn came for the IX Legion to return to Terra the Blood Angels made all haste, as he now understood better than most the gravity of the situation facing the Imperium.

The Battle of Terra

Sanguinius by slaine69

Sanguinius lead his Blood Angels against the Traitor Legions during the Battle of Terra

Sanguinius vs. Horus

Sanguinius faces his corrupt former brother, the Warmaster Horus, aboard the bridge of the Vengeful Spirit

Emperor vs Horus final

The Emperor finds the body of his slain son Sanguinius in the Warmaster's throne room.

The Blood Angels' finest hour would take place during the closing days of the Horus Heresy. Known in Imperial records as the Battle of Terra, this final campaign was the climax of the Heresy that raged on Terra itself between the Forces of Chaos led by the Warmaster Horus and the Loyalist armies of the Imperium of Man led by the Emperor of Mankind Himself. Many of the Loyalist Astartes Legions had been waylaid by the forces of the Traitor Legions loyal to Horus and were unable to make their way towards Terra. The Imperial Fists had already returned to the cradle of humanity and under the stern gaze of their Primarch Rogal Dorn had adequately prepared Terra's defences as best they could. Jaghatai Khan, Primarch of the White Scars Legion, had also managed to make his way to Terra with his Legion to help with the defence of the Imperial Palace.

Meanwhile, in the Signis Cluster, the Blood Angels, granted new and terrible power by the mysterious mass rage that would resurface again during the Siege of Terra, had triumphed, smashing the hordes of Chaos daemons to be found on Signus Prime asunder. They were also able to make the Warp jump to Terra in time to meet the oncoming invaders. Of the nine remaining Loyalist Space Marines Legions, only the White Scars and the Blood Angels were able to join Rogal Dorn and his Imperial Fists in the defence of Terra before the arrival of the Traitor Legions in the Sol System. Three entire Titan Legions of the Adeptus Mechanicus and close to 2 million soldiers of the Imperial Army stood alongside them to face the hosts of Chaos in a battle that would determine the fate of Mankind for the next ten millennia. Yet for all the might of the Emperor, for every effort of Sanguinius and the remaining Loyalist Primarchs, the forces of Horus drove all before them.

In too short a time, the Emperor of Mankind was assailed within his great palace on Terra. The Blood Angels led the defence of the Imperial Palace, never once losing heart, despite the terrible odds stacked against them. Alongside their Battle-Brothers of the Imperial Fists Legion, the valorous yet overmatched soldiers of the Imperial Army and the grim warriors of the Legio Custodes, the Blood Angels manned the walls of that final bastion. Sanguinius is immortalised in the magnificent stained glass windows of the Sanctus Praetoria Imperator as fighting high above the raging battle, facing daemons so powerful they could unhinge the minds of great heroes with but a word. Sanguinius single-handedly held the crenellations from the tides of daemonic filth attempting to wash into the holy chambers of the Emperor's abode. Many accounts of the time praise the Blood Angels' valour and unceasing efforts in their defence of the Eternity Wall spaceport. Although hundreds of Blood Angels died, they stemmed a sea of foulness the like of which had never been seen before. Many speak of the bright light bathing Sanguinius' sons as the Primarch slew his foes in the skies above with his mighty blade of fire. And yet, it was upon Horus' Battle Barge in orbit of Terra that Sanguinius was to fulfil his greatest duty.

During the Battle of Terra, the vile Bloodthirster Ka'Bhanda once again confronted Sanguinius, this time, atop the Eternity Gate before the Emperor's throne room. The Greater Daemon struck Sanguinius, casting the angel upon the broken stone. Preparing to strike a killing blow, the Blood Angels' Primarch called upon his last reserves of strength and power. With a massive effort, he leapt upon the Bloodthirster, seized it about the wrist and ankle and rose up high into the air, smashing the daemon's form across his knee and breaking the creature's back with a powerful crack. He then swung the body of Ka'Bandha around and hurled the broken behemoth into the midst of the daemonic host, slamming the Eternity Gate shut against the ravening hordes.

In the Warmaster's moment of victory, he became complacent, watching the battle from the bridge of the bloated leviathan that was his flagship, the Vengeful Spirit. He wanted to experience the Emperor's defeat first hand, to force him to his knees before he fed on the Father of Mankind's soul. And in his folly, as his forces breached the Imperial Palace's defences for the last and final time, spilling into the corridors and chambers of the palace, Horus relaxed the psychic defences and the Void Shields he had maintained around his ship. At the speed of thought, the Emperor teleported aboard the hellish craft, Sanguinius and Rogal Dorn and a contingent from both the Imperial Fists and the Blood Angels close behind him. It is known that Sanguinius was gifted with the power of prescient vision, able to see foresee what lay ahead. His soul was pure, and the prophesies he spoke of inevitably came to be. It can thus be surmised that he knew full well he was going to his doom when he confronted the Warmaster, and yet he went without hesitation. Whether this act was prompted by fatalism or loyalty to the Emperor is a point debated by many Imperial theologians lacking in faith, however there is no doubt in the minds of the Blood Angels. They maintain that the Angel walked into the lion's den out of duty, knowing full well what the outcome would be.

Battle raged throughout the daemon-infested warship, and Sanguinius became separated from the Emperor. While he was still alone he chanced upon Horus. In evil cunning, the Warmaster offered Sanguinius one final chance to renounce the Emperor, to join with Horus in the inevitable victory of the Forces of Chaos -- yet the Primarch of the Blood Angels held true, and refused. Rejected, Horus flew into a rage and attacked. Although bearing the wounds of his earlier actions and knowing it would almost certainly spell his doom, Sanguinius immediately attacked the corrupted Warmaster. Even at the peak of his powers, Sanguinius could not have hoped to prevail against the embodiment of Chaotic power Horus had become, and the Primarch was weary and wounded from his travails on Terra. Horus, in his limitless malice, made sure that Sanguinius' death was the most painful and foul that the boundless evils in his service could administer. The Warmaster's psychic assault echoed not just throughout space, but also throughout time, resonating in the souls of his children. The Primarch's sacrifice is thought to have kept Horus occupied long enough for the Emperor to reach the Arch-Traitor in the very depths of his lair. When the Emperor at last entered Horus' sanctum, he found the rebellious Warmaster standing above Sanguinius' broken, bleeding corpse. In the battle that followed, Horus was finally vanquished, though the Emperor had also been mortally wounded and was near to death. There are many tales told of this final battle and, though the exact facts are long lost, one detail holds through all the recitations of the millennia since. Despite the Emperor's great power, he could never have bested Horus had not the blade of Sanguinius wrought a chink in the Warmaster's armour.

The pain inflicted upon the Primarch was so total that every one of his sons carries the echo imprinted deep within their soul to this day. The psychic echo of Sanguinus's sacrifice can still be heard by the Blood Angels down through the millennia, causing a madness and a fury to come upon them as they see dark visions of their Primarch's final hours. And so it was that the Blood Angels came to bear their blood-curse of the Black Rage and the Red Thirst, and they bear it still.

Aftermath

The body of Sanguinius was taken by the Imperial forces as they retreated from Horus' crippled flagship back to Terra. His body was then borne away by his Blood Angels to their homeworld of Baal, where he was buried deep within a vast tomb beneath the Blood Angels' main chapel. The doors to his tomb were topped with massive, angelic effigies in honour of their fallen Primarch.

Today, nearly ten millennia later, Sanguinius is the most venerated of all the Loyalist Primarchs by the teeming masses of the Imperium. He is commonly held in the highest honour due to his noble sacrifice which allowed the beloved Emperor to defeat the Arch-Traitor Horus. The name Sanguinius is cherished throughout the Imperium by the common citizenry. Chapels devoted to Sanguinius have been erected alongside the temples dedicated to the Emperor. The Primarch is even commemorated on his own sacred day of celebration called the Sanguinala, where Imperial Adepts across the galaxy wear the red badge of Sanguinius on their breasts to commemorate his sacrifice.

To this day, the Blood Angels are among the most feared and least trusted of all the Space Marine Chapters, their souls haunted by the horror of those ancient events and their bodies are wracked by a secret and terrible thirst for blood that must never be revealed.

Sources

  • Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition)
  • Codex: Blood Angels (4th Edition)
  • Codex: Blood Angels (3rd Edition)
  • Codex: Angels of Death (2nd Edition)
  • Codex Imperialis
  • Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 37-38
  • Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
  • Index Astartes II, "Angels of Death - The Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter"
  • White Dwarf 331 (UK), "Blood Angels Official Codex: Part II"
  • White Dwarf 330 (UK), "Blood Angels Official Codex: Part I"
  • White Dwarf 262 (AUS), "Index Astartes – Blood Angels"
  • White Dwarf 261 (US), "Index Astartes First Founding - Angels of Death, The Blood Angels Space Marine Chapter"
  • Horus Rising (Novel) by Dan Abnett
  • False Gods (Novel) by Graham McNeill
  • A Thousand Sons (Novel) by Graham McNeill
  • Fear to Tread (Novel) by James Swallow
  • Blood Angels Novel Series:
    • Deus Encarmine (Novel) by James Swallow
    • Deus Sanguinius (Novel) by James Swallow
    • Red Fury (Novel) by James Swallow


Primarchs
Horus Leman Russ Lost Primarchs Ferrus Manus Fulgrim Vulkan Rogal Dorn Roboute Guilliman Magnus the Red Sanguinius Lion El'Jonson Perturabo Mortarion Lorgar Jaghatai Khan Konrad Curze Angron Corvus CoraxAlpharius Omegon

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