RIVERS of BLOOD (The Retribution Squad Book 1)

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The Blood would continue to live as they always had, kept in part as surety against the Great Angel's pact, and Sanguinius himself departed to begin his service to the Emperor. Sanguinius was to learn the ways of war at the side of Horus himself, accompanying that Primarch and his Luna Wolves , to see how war was waged among the stars and to understand the functions of the vast Imperium that the Emperor was building.

As Sanguinius forged a bond of trust with his mentor and brother, the IX th Legion was finally summoned to attend upon their new and true master. Gathered from distant war zones across the galaxy, it took many solar months for each disparate band of the IX th Legion to be found and recalled. It would be two standard years and four solar months before the gathering was complete, and on the storm-wracked world of Teghar , an army of grim killers with the faces of angels assembled, eagerly awaiting a new slaughter of which to partake.

The captains of the Revenant Legion, the Great Crusades' blood-soaked angels, gathered as Stormbird transports bearing the mark of the Luna Wolves descended from orbit. From within came a troop of warriors clad in the white of Horus' own Legion, yet the one at their head was not Horus, though by his stature he was a true son of the Emperor and one of His Primarchs.

Great white wings unfolded and Sanguinius revealed himself to his gene-sons, his sculpted features the very image of those that thronged about him. Sanguinius beheld the gathered warriors of the IX th each bearing the scars of unrelenting battle both on their proud faces and in the dark recesses of their spirits.

These were not men to be impressed by the pomp and ceremony of his escort, nor by simple strength of arms. The winged Primarch, amid the rain and storms of that far world, took a knee before the rough-cast killers and scarred blood-drinkers and, rather than demand their allegiance, he offered them his own. The warriors who had offered up everything to the new Imperium and in return been granted only scorn and mistrust, were now offered a Primarch's loyalty, given freely and without reservation.

Sanguinius had won their devotion with his actions, and to seal them to him he led the assembled Legion on their first campaign together, standing in the front lines of battle where his valour spoke for the sincerity of his pledge. The storm-wracked fifth world of the Teghar System, Teghar Pentaurus , was the stage upon which Sanguinius fought for the loyalty of his Legion. There he gave of his blood in the maelstrom of combat and came to understand the true nature of his sons. Sanguinius witnessed the bloodlust and fey hunger that ran through his Legion's core and recognised it as his own darkness.

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The Abhuman hordes of Teghar and their bestial thralls fell before the IX th Legion like wheat before a scythe, Sanguinius himself claiming the pelt of a dire carnodon as a trophy of battle and a symbol of the pact he had formed with his sons. In the gore-spattered aftermath of the campaign, Sanguinius saw one possible future, a crimson future of war eternal where his sons would truly become monsters, the playthings of a dark and terrible fury.

Yet, the winged Primarch did not despair. Even in the heat of battle, there remained in the warriors of the IX th Legion a spark of nobility, the still-warm ashes of their martial pride and determination. They fought to grasp the fickle favour of victory, not simply for slaughter, and held to their own codes of honour with an iron will.

These would be his weapons in the battle for the IX th Legion's soul, the tools with which he would raise them up. The winged Primarch knew full well that no future was absolute, no dark fate beyond hope of repair, and with the end of the battle for Teghar he declared, "even though a darkness hangs over them, a future soaked in blood and horror, they are angels yet.

Angels of Blood. The Blood Angels during the Great Crusade. The newly titled Blood Angels did not return en masse to Baal -- that blistering wasteland had little to teach them that the ruins of Terra and a thousand other dead worlds had not. Instead, Sanguinius sought the aid of his brother, Horus, who had been his mentor and friend during his first years as part of the Emperor's grand army. Dividing his Legion, its heraldry now changed both to honour the Primarch and to match the new name they had been granted, he set each company to fight alongside one of Horus' own Luna Wolves companies.

At the side of these renowned warriors, the Blood Angels would fight for the next solar decade, seeing the fall of countless worlds and the prosecution of campaigns of every kind, from the brutal simplicity of wars of extermination to the deadly subtlety of quiet campaigns of strike and fade.

In the shadow of the Luna Wolves and the greatest of the Emperor's Primarchs, the once-outcasts of the IX th Legion would gain stature in the eyes of their peers and a newfound sense of decorum. Each of the campaigns was a new trial, a subtle test selected with keen insight by the two Primarchs to salve the wounds inflicted by time and fate upon the Blood Angels. Sanguinius instilled in his sons a new sense of pride, not in simple carnage and the blood-soaked eternity of melee, but in a future in which they stood as exemplars of the Imperial creed, equal even to Horus' own warriors.

In the year-long siege of Anaxis XII, they grasped the value of brotherhood as they stood shoulder to shoulder with the Imperial Fists against a tide of Hrud that seemed without end; on Cambriole and Prehalt they were taught discipline as they matched blades with inscrutable Aeldari reavers; while on Kentaurus Beta they learnt something of mercy as Sanguinius led them on the bloodless pacification of the Kentauran colonies.

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With each battle, the Legion shook off part of the stigma of their past and took their first faltering steps along a new path. Eager to prove worthy of the oath Sanguinius had made to them, the warriors of the IX th Legion strove to put aside the gore-soaked solitude that had once been the armour of their pride and to embrace the new virtues Sanguinius had shown them. Fury tempered by wisdom, blood-hunger chained with discipline, when the IX th Legion finally came to Baal, they were no longer that rough beast which had once stalked Terra, but were now a Legion reborn in form more fitting of their angel-winged sire.

There, on the sands of Baal, they were met by the newly-raised and trained contingents of Astartes drawn from The Blood, the native people of that rad-scoured system, whom Sanguinius himself had raised up and schooled in the arts of war. The two halves of the Legion were joined, warriors from both Terra and Baal spread across the many companies of the Blood Angels that they might strengthen each other and weaken the hold of the IX th Legion's Terran past.

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The hunger remained of course, a shackled beast that lurked ever ready at the edge of madness, waiting for the chance to be set free once again, but by the faith of their Primarch they had a firm hold of its fetters. The Blood Angels honed their minds and wills, devoting themselves to the study of wisdom as well as war.

They became scholars as well as warriors, and under the approving gaze of their winged Primarch, they put aside the barbarism they had once embraced and sought to prove themselves a force worthy of the future for which they fought. As time passed and the Blood Angels' past slipped from the memories of those they fought alongside, the blood hunger became little more than a myth, a half-remembered ghost story of ancient ghouls once bound in service to the Emperor.

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Those few among the Legion that succumbed once more to its thirst or to the black fury that followed on its heels were quietly concealed, granted the Emperor's peace or sealed away on Baal. The Blood Angels and their Primarch joined the Great Crusade as equals, looked down upon by none and followed the call of war to the stars. The new crimson-clad IX th Legion was both familiar and yet fundamentally changed in character. It still waged war with a fury to shake the heavens, but now it was leashed to a deep well of discipline and keen intellect.

Still they favoured shock assault, a falling upon the foe suddenly and without warning, but now with a Primarch's will at their back they made use of the full panoply of Imperial technology.

Blood Angels

Now, when the angels came, they fell from the sky like a rain of fire, a thousand burning lights against the dawning sky, the wrath of the Emperor Himself given crimson form. Nor was this the extent of their skills, for though the sudden onslaught was their preference, they knew now full well the value of the feigned retreat, the gun line and a hundred other stratagems besides. They were a Legion fully formed, so much more now than the simple bludgeon they had once been, and this is perhaps the truest evidence of the Emperor's plan for His Legions, that with their Primarchs they became whole -- far more than the sum of their genetic legacy and the harsh lessons of Unification.

So it was that the Great Crusade surged onwards as never before. New battlefronts opened up under the Primarchs' direction and worlds were reclaimed by the thousand. Throughout it all, the Blood Angels and their Primarch, Sanguinius, fought at the Emperor's side, serving as honour guard to their beloved creator.

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Episode 13, Everything Yellow. Russ Crossley. Often they pressed up within a boat-hook's length of the schooner, only to be beaten back by her merciless fire. At early dawn the next morning the "Tigress" weighed anchor; and, with the stars and stripes still flying, dropped down alongside the unsuspecting schooner, poured in a sudden volley, and, instantly boarding, carried the vessel without meeting any resistance. That relationship, both professionally and personally, is about to be threatened now as never before. There's enough blood and guts for any thriller reader and I found the plot believable and well constructed. A D74

Driven by their still-fiery temperament, the Blood Angels' fearsome reputation as shock troops came to feed a rivalry between them and the equally assault-oriented World Eaters Legion. Yet, in truth, the Blood Angels were never as ferocious as the World Eaters, for the wise influence of Sanguinius tempered their bloodlust. Though he was yet in the early days of his legend, Sanguinius was thought to be the noblest of the Primarchs and was ever deep in the Emperor's counsel.

Even Horus , later the proud Warmaster of the Great Crusade, sensed a purity of spirit in Sanguinius that he could never match, a oneness with their father that no other Primarch could ever hope to approach. Whilst many of his brothers fought the Great Crusade solely out of the joy of battle, Sanguinius fought to secure the golden era of peace and prosperity which would surely follow.

His vision was the Emperor's, a hope of Mankind united in peace and prosperity. Alas, it was not to be. Anahktor is a star system no longer listed on any Imperial map.


It features in no record of conquest nor on any battle honour or in any Divisio Militaris archive. Only in the Great Library of Terra, hidden deep beneath the Imperial Palace and among the ranks of the Blood Angels themselves can the story of this long forsaken battlefield be found.

It is a cautionary tale still told among the ranks of that crimson-clad brotherhood, a tale of an angel's rage and a Legion's shame. It shows, perhaps, that the two Legions, the old IX th Legion and the Blood Angels, are not as far apart as history would have us believe. Once to be found in the area of space travelled by the Expeditionary Fleets, but a short sojourn through the Warp past proud Anvillus itself, Anahktor of old was a small haven of Mankind that had weathered the storm of Old Night.

It had done so by being ready to sacrifice what it must and take what it could, its small but effective void navy making a wasteland of neighbouring star systems in order to provide for its people, surviving on plunder and slaves.

Indeed, so efficacious was this strategy that by the time the first of the Imperium's scout ships arrived on its borders, Anahktor was not only surviving but thriving. So secure did it feel in its small glory and petty strength that those first Imperial scout ships were met with fire and thunder. The first of the Imperium's fleet to receive word of this attack was a Host of the Blood Angels, Sanguinius at its head and 12 companies of his sons standing ready. Already engaged in an augur sweep of the nearby sectors, Sanguinius ordered their course diverted to Anahktor and the fleet arrayed in attack formation.

They broke aether with gun ports open and cannon primed, and in a short, brutal engagement broke the enemy fleet waiting for them, the marauder craft of Anahktor proving little match for the brute battleships of the Blood Angels. Within short order, the IX th Legion had pushed on to the first inhabited body in the system, throwing a cordon of iron around it and lighting the sky with the immense firepower of their cannon.

A small airless orb, the inhabitants of Anahktor Extremis were limited to a garrison of Anahktoran soldiers, waiting in sub-surface habitats whose presence was betrayed only by the guns that bracketed the sky above them. Uninhibited by any civilian presence, Sanguinius ordered an immediate assault, eager to deny the enemy time to regroup and recover its momentum, committing the 19th, 67th, st and 94th Companies to the attack.

Preceded by a brief, but highly accurate bombardment that cracked the surface and shattered the guns of the Anahkroran defenders, a path was opened for the Drop Pods and assault craft that followed on its heels. Brutal close quarter combat enveloped the cold sub-surface halls of Anahktor Extremis as the Blood Angels carved a red path through them. The enemy they fought was so heavily cybernetically augmented as to be barely recognisable as human, and were dubbed the "Iron Bulls" by the Imperium's troops for the sensory horns grafted to their skulls, though among their own people they were called the Kusarikku.

Wielding primitive plasma casters and grav-lances, the Iron Bulls held against the forces of the IX th Legion for six solar hours, holding each intersection of the labyrinthine tunnels with tenacious courage and consummate skill. All across the desolate outer worlds of the system, the same story was written in fire and blood.

The Blood Angels harried and beset the enemy, who resisted with great valour, fighting to the bitter end on every outpost and imposing upon the IX th Legion a high cost for each world that fell. Amid the asteroid fortresses of the belt that encircled the outer system, the Iron Bulls staged ambushes and feigned retreats, drawing the Legionaries of the IX th Legion towards craters rigged with blasting charges, sacrificing their own lives to stymie the Legion's advance.

On Anahktor Median, the gateway to the inner system, they drew a line with their own bodies, fighting a sprawling battle across 50 kilometres of shallow acidic sea and rocky archipelagos, riding great multi-legged augmetic frames like mounts into battle and stalling the advance of nine companies of the Blood Angels.