40K Lore: The Real Fallen (Dark) Angels


Today we tread the path of heresy – learning of the Dark Angels most hunted foes – the Fallen – and THEIR side of the story…

via our sistersite Lexicanum:


The Fallen are renegade Space Marines that split off from the Dark Angels Space Marine Legion ten thousand years ago and has since been scattered across space and time by the Gods of Chaos. They are the secret enemy of the Unforgiven, a group containing the modern Dark Angels Chapter and its successors. To those Fallen that dwell within the 41st Millennium, many have become Chaos Space Marines, others pirate and renegade warlords, while some have since regretted their heresy and live a life of peaceful seclusion.

The truth of the Fallen is lost in the mists of time during the Horus Heresy, and two completely opposite narratives exist:

Dark Angels’ Perspective

At the end of the Horus Heresy, when Lion El’JonsonPrimarch of the Dark Angels Space Marines, returned to his homeworld of Caliban, his fleet was met by a devastating barrage of defence laser fire. Stunned by the ferocious attack, Jonson withdrew his vessels from orbit and attempted to find out what had happened on his homeworld.

A nearby merchant ship soon provided the answer; Luther, second-in-command of the Legion and the Lion’s greatest friend, had apparently ordered the approaching fleet fired upon. His reasoning for this action unknown to the Primarch, it was suspected that Luther, like many of the Lion’s brothers, had become influenced by Chaos.

The fury of the Lion and his Dark Angels at what they perceived as a terrible betrayal knew no bounds; Jonson himself immediately ordered a sustained bombardment of the traitor positions and led an attack against Luther’s position personally. In the resultant battle the two adversaries struck blow upon blow against each other, tearing down the monastery around them until nearly the whole massive edifice had been leveled by their battle. 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 planet itself started to break apart, the battle between the Lion and Luther reached its climax. Luther, apparently aided by the powers of Chaos, unleashed a furious psychic attack that knocked Jonson to his knees and left him mortally wounded. But as the dying Primarch struggled to stand, his noble features wracked with pain, it was as if a curtain was lifted from Luther’s eyes and he realised the full extent of what he had done. Devastated, the realisation shattered his sanity and he slumped down beside Jonson, no longer willing to fight.

Soon after Luther’s breakdown a warp storm of unprecedented fury engulfed Caliban. In an uncontrollable flood of psychic energy, the warp rushed into the physical universe. The immense strain these forces placed upon the planet, in combination with the tectonic shifting and cracking caused by the orbital bombardment caused the horrific end of the entire planet; Caliban itself shattered, breaking into countless chunks of dead and dying rock. The ‘fallen’ Dark Angels who had served under Luther were sucked from the face of Caliban into the warp and effectively scattered throughout space and time. None know of these events other than the Dark Angels, their Successor Chapters and the Emperor on his Golden Throne. Even within the Chapters themselves very few brother-Marines know the full story. It is only when Dark Angels gain entry into the Deathwing that they learn that many of the Dark Angels who followed Luther are still alive.

Unbeknownst to those at the time, the Warp storm on Caliban and the subsequent scattering of the Fallen throughout time was the result of a causal loop in the 41st Millennium. After Cypher turns himself in to the Inner Circle in perhaps a desperate bid to change history, Cypher reveals The Rock has been host to an ancient device known as the Tuchulcha which when combined with two others (the Ouroboros and another held by Typhus) can create a bridge through time. Cypher warns that Astelan‘s Fallen are seeking the same devices in cooperation with Typhus, and that the two plan to create a new “Death Angels” legion by combining the Plague Fleet with the original army of Fallen. It takes the Watchers in the Dark supporting Cypher’s mission for the Dark Angels to agree to aid him, and eventually all three devices are brought within proximity to Caliban and a time portal is opened. But as enemy Fallen close in on the portal Ezekiel convinces Azrael to destroy it, arguing that history should not be rewritten and the Fallen may bring catastrophe on mankind by changing history. Azrael commands Tuchulcha to scatter all those near the rift, inadvertently including the Fallen ten thousand years previous.

Later during the Terran Crusade Cypher and a group of Fallen proved vital in the rescue of the reborn Primarch Roboute Guilliman, but were arrested by the Custodes on Terra shortly after.


Fallen’s Perspective

A record of the apparent motivation for the actions of those Dark Angels who would become the Fallen exists: the confession of Astelan, once a Dark Angels Chapter Master. This testimony, extracted by Interrogator-Chaplain Boreas, contains the following claims: Astelan himself is supposed to have ordered the attack on the Lion’s approaching fleet, with the approval of Luther, because the Dark Angels on Caliban believed that El’Jonson had fallen sway to the powers of Chaos. Astelan claimed that while the Lion had been lost in the woods of Caliban as a child, he had had a brush with Chaos and had never quite lost the taint of darkness from the incident. He pointed out that while El’Jonson had moved through the Warp towards Terra to join the defence of the Imperial Palace, he had moved at what was believed to have been a deliberately slow pace; a pace slow enough to determine who the true winner of the conflict would be before committing his forces. In other words, Astelan believed that El’Jonson would not have hesitated to join Horus if it had seemed that he would have been the ultimate victor in the Heresy. Why else would the Lion, a man renowned for his strategic brilliance and speed of attack, have waited so long before leading troops to Terra? Astelan believed that by attacking his fleet, the Dark Angels stationed on Caliban were doing the work of the Emperor.

Astelan further claimed that Luther never fell under the sway of Chaos but was driven by his duty to the Emperor, fearing the traitorous nature of El’Jonson. Also, he revealed that, apparently, the majority of the men who had been garrisoned on Caliban were original members of the Dark Angels, Terrans who had been inducted before the arrival of El’Jonson as Primarch. This existing form of divide may have also contributed to the conflict on Caliban. Finally, he claimed that, in the ensuing battle between the seemingly loyalist Lutheran Angels and the possibly suspect Lionite Angels, Luther attempted to negotiate with the Lion before any more were slain. Refusing to talk, the Lion hastily ordered the bombardment of Caliban and descended to crush the Fallen in combat. Luther then apparently fought the Lion only as a last resort and mortally wounded him only when he had no other choice. The only thing that Astelan could not explain was the Warp-Storm that flung the Fallen far across the Galaxy.

This entire point of view, as told by a member of the Fallen, should be considered suspect at best and complete fabrication at worst; it could simply be a series of malicious lies or just a warped, inaccurate view of the entire incident. Often, those who fall under the sway of Chaos do not even realize that they are serving its ends, except that at the end of ‘Angels of Darkness’, Boreas asks for a tranmission to be sent to a solitary cell in the rock saying simply: ‘You were right’. This cell is believed, by readers, to be that of either Astelan or Luther himself. This, from a loyal Dark Angel throws into question the loyalty of the Dark Angels, The Fallen and Lion El’Johnson himself.

In another record, Interrogator Chaplain Uzziel was attempting to draw a confession from a Fallen in the bowels of the Rock. The Fallen decried Uzziel’s attempts saying that the Dark Angels sent to Caliban with Luther were abandoned by Lion El’Jonson and the Emperor and robbed of the glory of the Great Crusade. Eventually the Fallen made a false repentance that led Uzziel on a crusade to recover the Lion Sword. Uzziel realized the repentance was false when he recovered the weapon only to discover it was in fact Luther’s Sword.

This perspective is backed up by another record of a Fallen known as Cephesus. When finally tracked down by Interrogator Chaplain Bareus he claimed the same reasoning, that the Dark Angels on Caliban had been abandoned with Luther while the Lion claimed the glories of the crusade. Bareus was mortally wounded by Cephusus, but eventually the Fallen was slain by Brother Kaelan of the Dark Angels who received a field promotion to rank of Interrogator Chaplain by the dying Bareus.

This also ties in with the perspective given in Fallen Angels (Novel) where Luther declares that the Lion has forgotten about them. He then secedes from the Imperium and is joined by many of the Dark Angels stationed with him including the Chapter Master Astelan and the Librarian Zahariel.

List of Known Fallen

How many do you know?

~Who do you believe?

  • Bakvrad

    There is a little missing from the trilogy ^^
    If I recall correctly, Astelan later on tells one of the angels that he actually enjoyed getting/giving the order of attacking the lions fleet which showed, that he just found a weak link in the rows of the interrogator chaplains, which he manipulated. In this way they could bring together those three relics and travel through time (suggesting that actually the 41.999 Dark Angels are the reason for the warp storm)
    But also it shows, that not all fallen Dark Angels knew what they did, when they fought against the lion, because they thought that they would fight for the emporer. So many intrigues inside of intrigues ^^
    Definitely need to give it a second read ^^

    By now, due to the fact that so many successor chapters turned heretic, it actually doesn’t mean anything anymore that the Dark Angels fought themselves. At least I feel like it’s nothing special anymore 🙁

    • BrianDavion

      they where never that special for that though. As evidanced by the HH novels. The Dark Angels great problem is not the crime itself, but the cover up. one could draw parallels to any number of political scandals (including watergate) when the person was taken down for a cover up of something they proably could have survived

      • Bart Van de Mieroop

        You could work that angle.
        What if most of the leadership of the Loyalist Dark Angels went down with the Lion unto Caliban before it blew up.
        Caliban blows up, the Fallen vanish and the remaining DA are left with a lot of questions because the lion had a tendency to keep secrets to everybody uncluding his own sons and all they have left is a stark raving maniac, a chunk of their former planet that stinks of Chaos.

        Those DA are now in a bind.
        They aren’t the Fists, Blood Angels or the Scars. They were not at Terra when it mattered.
        They aren’t the Salamanders, Iron Hands or Ravens who got destroyed at Istvaan.
        the Ultramarines and Wolves had their primarches walking around trying to save the Imperium.

        they probably believed that the Fallen had died, so they covered it up with a single small lie.
        And when the Fallen reappeared, that small lie became more small lies, and then bigger lies, until finally you are killing guardsmen and firing on fellow loyalist ships.

        The joke is that with Bobby’s return there is a chance of the DA just confessing their sins to him.
        He probably would okay their failures if they would just stop dicking around.

    • Muninwing

      yeah. Astelan is… an unreliable source. his story isn’t seamless, and it’s pretty easy to see that he’s so full of righteousness that he’s patched the holes in his story with arrogance.

      never trust someone like this. they are probably so far off the extremist end that they will sound wholly convincing, and they firmly believe that they are telling the truth… but they are so far away from reality that they don’t know what truth is.

  • Marco Marantz

    It would be cool if they released both Jonson and Luther and Jonson was in fact traitor. the present DA are loyalists. the fallen are in fact loyalists…only Jonson would be a baddy.

    • Prospero 4life

      Jonson has never shown himself to be a traitor. He is just as loyal if not more so than amy other loyalist primarch. The internet meme of Jonson has gone too far and gotten to the point that folks ignore what is written in canon and that is a vain A-hole who cant admit when he is wrong at times. But one who is utterly loyal to the emperor to the end.

      • The14th

        People forget the in-canon rumor that he was trusted with the task to kill the Emperor should he fall to Chaos. His loyalty was always meant to be of a grim nature.

        • jmaximum

          Holy crap when did this come out!?!?!?

          • The14th

            I forget which book it was, and it wasn’t stated so plainly.

      • Marco Marantz

        Uh no, the story cited above paints a different picture about Jonson. While he didnt throw in his lot with Chaos his procrastination could make him quite the mercenary type. I cant see GW doing it but it would be it would cool to turn everything on its head like that.

        • Prospero 4life

          His procrastination is entirely hearsay. He was stuck in Imperium Secundus as far as we know and mercenary does not fit him.

    • Muninwing

      meh. there are so many better places to explore that this wouldn’t really have the effect. and there’s so many sources that show the loyalty of Lion and chapter that a better choice would be to explore exactly why each of the fallen went crazy the ways they did…

      • Marco Marantz

        But did the fallen all go crazy or were they just following orders? At the time heresy was rampant and sections of the traitor legions remained loyal. (I always found it odd that all of the loyalist legions remained loyal.) It would be feasible for loyal Dark Angels to been duped by someone with authority that they trust (ie Luther)

        • Muninwing

          pretty sure that the only legions that remained unified in their loyalty or betrayal (aside from those too reduced in numbers due to the dropzone massacre) were the Imperial Fists, Word Bearers, and Night Lords. Maybe the Ultramarines too, but the whole threat of secession makes them at least having flirted with the idea of self-preserving treason.

          there were loyalist War Hounds, Luna Wolves, and Death Guard at various points. and a ton of the White Scars went bad.

          it’s not unreasonable to think that half the Dark Angels went rogue, or at least toyed with the idea of resistance. it seems a better story (imho) if they weren’t embracing chaos, or rebellion, but instead were frustrated and angry and feeling lost or left behind, and that brought them under the sway of the chaos gods as they were swelling with power… completely unintentionally. and completely unnoticed. then, after the fight between the Lion and Luther, they realized just how bad they screwed up, and either fled punishment or reacted to self-justify.

          being a unified force almost seems to cheapen what happened elsewhere…

    • The14th

      Sounds more like a Fallen fan-fic…

  • James Regan

    The most interesting take on this is that neither the fallen nor the Lion fell to chaos, but that the dark angels got themselves into a completely conventional, unrelated civil war which was nothing whatsoever to do with Horus, and then the fallen got ‘thousand sonnned’ in that they could hardly be loyal once they were being hunted and killed by their own side.
    It makes sense- the Lion’s slow progress to terra can be one of three things- disloyalty and an intention to join the winning side, hoping to spare the bulk of his soldiers due to actually not wanting them dead (fully aware that Guiliman’s ultramarines will be pretty dominant post heresy, and trying to put something in the way of the inevitable codex astartes), or just being bad at moving fast. However, none of said things would stop Luther thinking it was the first one.
    Then, Caliban is doomed, and the less loyal terran’s have been moved to garrison it- again, the lion might not actually have been aware of the chaos taint, given he spent two centuries spreading the imperial truth, but he had still deliberately abandoned specific forces to die. Also, Luther probably has personal resentment for old Lionel, because he united Caliban, not johnson, so this may have coloured his judgement.

    In total, you could easily have grounds for the Fallen having a genuine grudge to bear with the Lion, and possibly have simply made a mistake in thinking him less than fully loyal, or been on the money for him delaying, but not for the reasons they thought. Said grudge comes to battle, Luther may or may not have tried to negotiate (it makes sense that if he was in rebellion for none supernatural reasons he would, and the lion was never one for talking so that part of their story might be true). Then, as the battle comes to its head, dudes from the future open up a magic time portal, blow up the planet and shunt the fallen through space. Not understanding that they’ve been had by time wizards from the future, both sides blame each other for the warp-storm, and everyone agrees that at least one of them was chaos corrupted, rather than just angry and well armed

    • Muninwing

      i fully believe that not all the DA on Caliban were chaos-corrupted. for some it was pride, for others it was jealousy, but for some it was just uselessness and idleness. we can’t evaluate what happened as a group unless we know what the individuals really wanted.

      at least one of their leaders was corrupt. but the rest of them might have just bought in to the story of the time. it happens.

    • jmaximum

      I thought Lion was delayed since he got caught up hunting Curze, and then got stuck in the realm of Ultramar due to the Ruinstorm.

  • GrenAcid

    So much damage control form DA.

    One thing to consider, each traitor primach separeted Terran born marines form his navive ones, so did Lion.
    DA on Caliban were mostly Terran, they were loyal to E first.
    Lion was waiting to see who would win.

    • Prospero 4life

      Fake News

  • jmaximum

    I totally did NOT make the connection in whichever book Cypher appears and convinces Azriel to open the rift to the past, where they observe the battle for M30 Caliban, is ALSO the cause of the warp rift which destroys Caliban and flings the Fallen to the far corners of the galaxy..
    Doesn’t Cypher somehow make it through the rift, back to the past?

  • David Leimbach

    This is great and all, except that story after story you see “loyalist” Dark Angels killing innocents to seek Cypher and the Fallen or to cover up the history.
    How can they be on the side of the Imperium, if they’re acting as an enemy of the Imperium for the sake of their own interests?
    More confusing to this whole story, is that individual “loyalist Dark Angels” may fall to Chaos, and some Fallen may think they are serving the Emperor while other Fallen may have fallen to Chaos after the scattering and then when captured say things that imply all Fallen believe the same as them.
    In the end, there is no redemption in the eyes of the Imperium and they’re all serving their own interests. The only difference is that the current Dark Angel loyalists have the sanction of the Imperium as a group.