The Sanguinor, also known as the Exemplar of the Host, is a mysterious entity of unknown origin that is associated with the Blood Angels Space Marines Chapter, and has been named after Sanguinius, the Blood Angels' martyred Primarch. Not much is known about his origins, and what information does exist is really nothing more than speculation by the Chapter's Librarium and several Imperial scholars well-versed in the lore of the Adeptus Astartes. The Sanguinor often appears during the Blood Angels' periods of greatest need, usually during a combat situation. To many among the Battle-Brothers of the Chapter he is no more than a myth, as few ever survive the battles where he has manifested, but the initiates of the Blood Angels' Reclusiam know differently, having kept detailed records of his manifestations down through the centuries. While the Sanguinor's deeds are unquestioned, there has always been much debate concerning his origin and identity.
The members of the Blood Angels' Chapter Council argue that the Sanguinor is the manifestation of Sanguinius' own better nature, his nobility that kept his darkness in check, lost to the Chapter with his death at the hands of Horus aboard the Warmaster's Battle Barge during the climax of the Battle of Terra. The Sanguinary Guard do not believe that the Sanguinor is the Chapter's Primarch but that he is Azkaellon, the original founder of the Sanguinary Guard, who has been preserved beyond time by the divine will of the Emperor.
So great is the Sanguinor's legend that it has long ago passed beyond the Blood Angels Chapter, and has served to exacerbate the discomfort felt towards the Blood Angels by certain sections of the Imperium. The Inquisition's savants have their own opinions about the matter, theorising that the Sanguinor is some sort of psychic construct born of the Warp through the collective desires and needs of Blood Angels Space Marines when groups of them are under extreme duress. Others hold that he is an empyric manifestation of some darker sort. This only further supports the beliefs of some members of the Inquisition that the Blood Angels as a Chapter have come perilously close to mutation, corruption and ultimately heresy.
Whatever the reality of the matter, the Sanguinor is an honoured part of the heritage of the Blood Angels Chapter, as integral to their identities as servants of the Emperor of Mankind as the rest of their traditions and rituals, an honoured figure of hope in a time of darkness and woe.
None know from where the Sanguinor comes, yet there are two credible possibilities. The first is that the Sanguinor is the last member of the Blood Angels' Sanguinary Guard to have survived the Horus Heresy, Azkaellon, although this seems implausible, even with the long life-spans granted to Space Marines by their genetic alterations. The second, and more widely accepted, possibility is that when the Primarch Sanguinius was slain by Horus, his soul split in two: that half which was full of anguish, pain and doubt over his actions during the Horus Heresy became the Flaws that torture the Blood Angels to this day, while that part which was noble and righteous formed into the Sanguinor within the Immaterium. However the Sanguinor came into existence, the Blood Angels of the present day always see his coming as a harbinger of hope and the Emperor's divine will.
The role of Sanguinor began during the tumultuous days of the Horus Heresy, following the horrific events of the Battle of Calth and the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V. Primarch Roboute Guilliman of the Ultramarines Legion knew that the light of the great navigational beacon of the Astronomican was extinguished across half the galaxy through the efforts of the Word Bearers Legion's maleficent summoning of the massive Warp Storm known as the Ruinstorm. Cut off from the rest of the Imperium and unable to firmly establish whether or not the Emperor of Mankind still lived, or if Terra and the Imperium of Man had fallen to the Traitors, Guilliman instituted the ultimate contingency plan -- to create a second Imperium in order to ensure the survival of the Emperor's dream of a united Mankind. This second Imperium became known as Imperium Secundus. Due to the Ruinstorm, Warp-travel had proved erratic at best and deadly at worse. The Ruinstorm was not only dangerous because of the powerful Warp turbulences it unleashed, but because it occluded the light of the Astronomican, and thus rendered Navigators practically blind. Macragge was the only known exception to this as it had been -- for lack of a better word -- "lit up" by the xenos artefact known as the Pharos, located beneath the largest peak on the world of Sotha. With this new psychic beacon, the light of the Pharos drew many remnants of the Shattered Legions, those few pitiful Loyalist survivors of the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V, to the refuge and relative safety of Macragge. This beacon also brought forth the Expeditionary Fleet of the Ist Legion of Lion El'Jonson which had been crusading in the Thramas System. Roboute Guilliman proposed that The Lion take up the mantle of the new Regent of the Imperium Secundus rather than himself. But in the end, with the arrival of their brother Sanguinius and his Blood Angels Legion from their disastrous campaign in the Signus Cluster, Guilliman convinced his reluctant brother-Primarch to rule as Regent of Imperium Secundus, for he possessed more of the noble aspects of the Emperor within him than either Guilliman or The Lion.
With Sanguinius as Acting Regent, there was always the prevalent fear of assassination, as agents of the Warmaster Horus had already attempted to assassinate Roboute Guilliman. Fearing for his safety, Sanguinius wasn't allowed to make public appearances. Azkaellon, leader of the Primarch's Sanguinary Guard, convinced his sire to allow a herald to speak on their lord's behalf. Acquiescing to Azkaellon's request, ten Sanguinary Guard were gathered to draw lots, two of which were marked in blood. The eight who did not win were dismissed. The remaining two, Alatron and Haratial, had their lots placed within a grail, and one was picked at random. Alatron's name was selected. In order to maintain the identity of Sanguinius' newly appointed Herald, Azkaellon summarily executed Haratial. Azkaellon then drew a white hot artificer-crafted helm, in the visage of Sanguinius' face, from a fire and placed it upon Alatron's head, forever searing the helm to his flesh and ensuring forevermore that Alatron would remain anonymous as he assumed his new identity as the so-called Sanguinor.
It is not known if Alatron survived the Heresy, and what role he played, if any, following the death of Sanguinius at the hands of Horus during the Battle of Terra and the subsequent division of the Blood Angels Legion into separate Chapters during the Second Founding. Furthermore, it is not known if the current Sanguinor is the same being as the original, or a new phenomenon wholly unrelated to the Sanguinor who served as the original Herald of Sanguinius during the Heresy.
The Sanguinor rarely appears on the field of battle, only arriving when the Blood Angels are in dire need of his aid. The Sanguinor will not simply use his power to provide an instant victory, but he will aid the Blood Angels in carrying out combat tasks that without his aid would simply have been impossible to achieve. Over the millennia, the records of his appearances illustrate that he has never provided his aid to the Chapter lightly, and will not appear just because some Blood Angels face difficulties in combat. The situation must be both dire and of great import to both the Chapter and the Imperium itself before the Sanguinor will manifest.
The Fall of the Terrorclaw
Perhaps one of the famous of all the Sanguinor's appearances, and most readily recounted, is the legend of the assault upon the Night Lords' Battle Barge Terrorclaw. Twelve Battle-Brothers were ordered to strike at the Terrorclaw, to slay its master as penance for unrecorded transgressions. No one expected them to succeed, for they were outnumbered several hundred times over, yet the Sanguinor seemingly saw merit in their task and joined the fight at the moment their Boarding Torpedo crashed through the Battle Barge's hull. Pausing only to grant his blessing to the Sergeant in command of the sortie, he cut a bloody path across the Terrorclaw, blazing through the vessel like the wrath of Sanguinius.
Tellingly, the Sanguinor's actions that day did not grant his penitent Battle-Brothers an easy victory. Though their passage to the command deck was made upon the carpet of dismembered bodies and severed limbs left in the Sanguinor's wake, the Blood Angels had to fight every step of the way against a crew of Heretic Astartes, themselves hungry for vengeance. Though the quest was ultimately a success and the captain of the Terrorclaw slain, only the Sergeant survived and returned to Baal. The Sanguinor did therefore not accomplish the quest for his Battle-Brothers, but through his might and wrath he did render the impossible possible. The name of the Sergeant has been lost from the records concerning the Terrorclaw, but Lord Commander Dante occasionally casts his mind back to those times, and with a slight smile recalls that Sergeant's renewed faith in his own skills, and his Chapter's mission.
The Khartas Incident
In 823.M41, Captain Zorael led elements of the Blood Angels 4th Company to the world of Khartas, there to put an end to localised acts of piracy by a ragtag fleet of Ork renegades. Though the pirate fleet was quickly shattered, their flagship broke up in the Khartan atmosphere, raining its wreckage across the planet. The ship's Warp core suffered a cascade failure and tore a hole in reality through which poured a host of Khornate Daemons. The Blood Angels -- who had made planetfall to check for pirate survivors -- soon found themselves stranded on Khartas, surrounded by an ever-growing tide of Daemons. Though they fought with honour and determination, Sanguinius' scions were soon in danger of being overrun. Their predicament worsened when the mighty Bloodthirster Ka'Bandha, the Greater Daemon who once bested Sanguinius himself, came forth and faced only 30 remaining Blood Angels and their valiant commander. Ka'bandha proceeded to slay Captain Zorael in single combat. Soon, Ka'bandha's hordes of Khornate Lesser Daemons proceeded to attack the remaining Astartes. Ka'Bandha spread his massive bat-like wings wide and attacked the strongest point of the Marines' defence: five Tactical Space Marines holed up in a ruined cathedral dedicated to the Emperor. It was then that, like the divine hand of the Emperor Himself, the Sanguinor appeared from nowhere, and plunged like a bolt of golden lightning into the midst of the foe. The angel battled the roaring Daemon back and forth. A great duel ensued between angel and daemon, in which neither could gain the upper hand, though the Sanguinor subsequently broke the infernal beast's potent Khornate battleaxe. Then the Sanguinor stabbed the daemon with his sword and, using his jump pack, rose high into the sky, taking the daemon with him. When the Sanguinor had reached the apogee of his flight, many thousands of metres above the surface of Khartas, he released the impotently flailing daemon, which hurtled to the ground and dug a crater into the ground filled with daemonic gore, as Ka'Bandha's spirit was banished to the Warp for 1,000 standard years. Shortly afterwards, the remaining Space Marines destroyed the Orks' malfunctioning Warp core, and slew the remaining daemons of Khorne. When the Blood Angels' Stormravens finally arrived at Khartas to recover the surviving Astartes after receiving their distress signal, only six Battle-Brothers had survived, and the Sanguinor had vanished to wherever he had come.
The Cryptus Campaign
In 997.M41, Hive Fleet Leviathan was the third and largest Tyranid incursion into the Milky Way Galaxy. For years Lord Commander Dante had been fighting the tendrils of Hive Fleet Leviathan as they wormed their way ever deeper into the Imperium. When the xenos shadow fell upon the Blood Angels' home sector, Dante realised it would be but a matter of time before the Tyranid invasion fleets reached the Chapter’s home world of Baal. To counter this threat, or at the very least blunt the edge of the alien assault, Dante set about shoring up the defences of the sector and despatched his brothers to help the Imperial worlds turn back or destroy the Tyranids. Among these "shield" systems was Cryptus. By the time the Blood Angels arrived in-system the Cryptan Shieldworlds were already embroiled in desperate last stands against the teeming swarms of the hive fleet. Outnumbered many times over, the Blood Angels nonetheless readied themselves for war. Dante divided his forces between the worlds of Asphodex and Aeros.
Towards the end of the brutal campaign, Dante gathered together the Death Company in a single strike force for the assault on Tartoros when needs demanded the world be reclaimed. The Blood Angels launched a fearsome attack that tore a ragged hole in the siege-beast swarm. Though the shock of the Blood Angels' assault was over, the Tyranids were far from broken. For every massive bioform that had fallen, scores more seemed to be materializing out of the wastes, drawn from the other ruined domes by the sounds of war and the scent of blood. Soon the Death Company began to lose the battle. They were pushed back towards Tartaros' void domes, where their commander, Brother-Chaplain Arophan, sought the controls to trigger the Magnovitrium. This archaic device was a huge solar reflector cradled in a network of Imperial machinery. The C'tan Shard known as The Burning One had poured some of its essence into the ancient device to burn away both the Tyranids and the human presence. The Necron host of Anrakyr the Traveller had arrived in-system and temporarily allied themselves with the Imperial forces, in order to achieve their own mysterious aims. Though the Blood Angels Commander was justifiably doubtful about the Overlord's true intentions, he allowed the Necron Overlord to send the C'tan to Tartaros to enact their plan to destroy the Tyranids.
As the warriors of the Death Company faced their inevitable destruction, a beam of light thrust down from the scoured skies of Tartoros, pure and constant in its glory. It was not the Primarch reborn, but the Sanguinor, a figure of legend. The Sanguinor fell upon the Tyranids, a vengeful angel come to aid his ailing brothers. White wings spread wide, the Sanguinor swept through the Tyranids' midst. With the eyes of the Death Company upon him, the Sanguinor beat his wings several times, rising once more above the monstrous swarm. Then he dived again, both hands on the hilt of his downward-pointed blade. And so on it went. With a howl, the last few Death Company brothers hurled themselves upon the foe anew, inspired by the example of this shining angel and reaping a bloody tally of the xenos. The Tyranids charged mindlessly forward, the void dome forgotten as they attempted to ensnare this deadly new prey. Thus distracted, Arophan was finally able to locate his objective.
Activating the Magnovitrium, the energy released from the fell device destroyed Aeros. With the destruction of this world, the doom of the Cryptus System followed. While the Hive Mind had destroyed its cities and killed its people, the destruction of the gas giant was a catastrophe on an epic scale. The celestial landscape of an entire star system and the surrounding void would be changed forever. Following the end of the campaign, as Lord Commander Dante stood on the deck of the Blade of Vengeance, he wondered if the price his Chapter had paid was too high. He wondered whether the Space Marines that remained would be enough. What more will it cost to save his Chapter's home world? And what if, in the saving of Baal, the Blood Angels were destroyed? Had the damage done to the Tyranids been enough? These were the thoughts that wandered through Dante's mind as he watched his brothers return from the world below. Interrupting Dante's introspection, a cold wind rushed across the deck and light flared from nothing. For the first time in many years Dante beheld the Sanguinor, resplendent in sculpted golden armour, the mysterious warrior's face hidden behind a burnished mask that mirrored Dante's own. The Sanguinor made his way toward the Chapter Master, where two legends then stood face to face. Without speaking Dante drew back his mask, showing the Sanguinor alone his face, and looked upon the blessed warrior with eyes untouched by lenses or filters. Finally, the question he knew he must ask came to Dante's lips, though it was but a whisper meant only for the ears of the Sanguinor, "Was it enough -- can Baal still be saved?" For long moments there was only silence, and Dante felt sure there could be no answer. Then, for the first time in the annals of the Blood Angels, the Sanguinor spoke, "There is yet hope."
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Blood Angels (8th Edition), pp. 28, 77
- Codex: Blood Angels (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 64, 106-107
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pp. 51, 66, 82
- Shield of Baal: Exterminatus (7th Edition), pp. 241, 257, 259-260, 268-270
- Herald of Sanguinius (Audio Drama) by Andy Smillie
- The Sanguinor: Exemplar of the Host (Short Story) by James Swallow