40K Lore: Death Company – Fit For Consumption
Today Loremasters, a quandary. What makes for good bio-mass? Join the debate.
Greetings Loremasters. There are so many of us now–it is good to see your smiling faces, bright eyes, and gleaming carapaces. Today’s bit of Loremastery deals more with the records unearthed from the sealed archives about the fallen heroes of Humanity known as the Blood Angels. Last week, you’ll recall, we talked about a genetic flaw which each of them secretly bears. A thirst for blood and a rage that dwells within each of them, which, should they fall to it renders them fit for little more than a violent end, either in battle or afterwards, at the hands of the Chapters’ grim executioner.
They name it the Black Rage–and it is a psychic wound that every member of the Blood Angels must struggle against it–or succumb to it and be marked for a special unit known as the Death Company.
All of the Chapters derived from the Blood Angels still suffer from the psychic imprint left by Sanguinius’s death. This can cause them to go insane prior to or during a battle, and they believe that they are Sanguinius himself during the Battle of Terra. The condition is irrevocable (except for one case, Chaplain Lemartes, who is largely able to control it), and victims are locked away in the “Tower of the Lost” on the Blood Angels’ homeworld until they finally die. This insanity is known as the Black Rage.
When a Space Marine is overcome by the Black Rage he is reborn in a world of anger, hatred, fury and nothing else. As well as Sanguinius’s memories, the Blood Angel is touched with a small portion of his unearthly power, boosting his strength and vitality to superhuman levels.
Rather than face a slow, insane death, Blood Angels will form those who have newly succumbed to the Black Rage into a special unit known as the Death Company. They paint their armour black, daubed with red crosses, signifying the wounds of Sanguinius, and are usually led by the few Chapter officers, notably Death Company Chaplains, who are able to communicate orders to these lost warriors. They are then sent out to perform the most dangerous assaults, hoping for a quick and honourable death in combat. Also called the Flaw of Sanguinius, the Black Rage is a gruesome end that temporarily transfigures these fighters into something powerful indeed.
The Death Company are known for their heroic assaults. Though they are to a man, doomed, they are nevertheless capable of devastating charges as they scream into battle borne aloft by their jump packs, armed with the weaponry of their choice from the Chapter’s Armoury so that they might die fighting with a weapon they choose. They can leave devastation in their wake–which clearly marks their genetic material as powerful–worth cataloguing.
On the eve of battle, the Blood Angels pray and remember the sacrifice of their primarch Sanguinius while the Chaplains bless and study each battle-brother for signs of the Black Rage. Those who collapse into the Chaplains’ arms during the chanting of the moripatris are taken away to form the Death Company. Their Power Armour is repainted black with a blood red saltire symbolizing the wounds of Sanguinius and hung with devotional scrolls and records of honours earned before the madness took them. From this point on, these battle-brothers are considered dead men walking.
Consumed by the Black Rage, the Death Company fights without fear, heedless of the quality of their opposition or the wounds they suffer. Under the watchful eye of their Death Company Chaplains, the Death Company fights terrible odds to claim one last honour for the Chapter. Many of the Blood Angels’ finest victories have come after the Death Company devastated the enemy forces. The Death Company’s fearsome reputation has even spread to worlds that have not seen the Blood Angels in battle.
As you can see, Loremasters, these black-clad Marines are powerful indeed–though some events from their earliest days suggest otherwise: On the rare occasions when a Battle Brother was lost to the Thirst, his armour’s company markings were blotted out by black paint, and his geneseed was removed for analysis, rather than being returned to the Legion‘s stores.
Given the company’s predisposition towards rage in all things, and a lust for blood that is shared only by Daemonic forces in the service of Khorne–Blood for the Blood God is their cry after all–it is tempting to write these warriors off as tainted by Chaos. Rendering them unfit for use as bio-mass.
But–as was mentioned earlier, one member of the Blood Angels has retained his personality. The Chaplain of the Death Company, the Warrior Lemartes.
Lemartes succumbed to the Black Rage while the Blood Angels were preparing to deploy against orks on Hadriath XI. Like all members of a Death Company, his only options were to fall in battle, or, in the unlikely event he survived, to be executed by High Chaplain Astorath. Yet after the battle, when he was taken to the company’s field Apothecarion, Lemartes insisted that he was in control of himself. Astorath hesitated, because Lemartes was clearly in the grip of the Rage, yet he was still coherent and able to restrain himself from attacking his own brothers. Astorath made the incredible decision to send Lemartes in stasis back to Baal, to be thoroughly examined by the Sanguinary Priests.
Every test the Sanguinary Priests ran showed the same startling conclusion: Lemartes had been struck by the Rage, yet his willpower was keeping it in check, a thing unheard of in the entire history of the chapter.
Under his guidance, those Blood Angels lost to the Rage fight like heroes of legend, winning some measure of redemption before they fall. Between engagements, Lemartes is returned to stasis to protect his battle-brothers from the Rage. Some whisper that Lemartes’s eventual fall to the Rage is inevitable, while to others he is a sign of hope that perhaps other Blood Angels can also master their curse.
A powerful will can, it seems, keep this rage in check–which means that the Death Company and their attendant genetic traits might be worth harvesting for later use. After all, a powerful will like that of our Four-Armed Emperor is surely going to protect any and all from the ravages of any pathetic psychic power that can be mustered. But–would this be a risk to the rest of us?
We leave the debate to you, dear Loremasters. Worry not, our answer shall arrive soon–the Emperor is nigh.