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Let the Galaxy Burn!
~ Codex - Chaos Space Marin Page 5


Death to the false Emperor!
~ Codex - Chaos Space Marin Page 3

Chaos Space Marines (also called Traitor Marines, Chaos Marines, and Traitor Legionnaires) is the term used to describe the many heretical Space Marines that betrayed the Emperor and became servants of the Chaos Gods. They are part of what might be considered the more villainous race in the Warhammer 40k universe, alongside the Dark Eldar, Orks, Necrons and Tyranids, and part of the Forces of Chaos, which also include demons and lesser humans. Chaos Space Marines come in many forms and tend to have cults of human and xenos followers. Depending upon the philosophy of the legion, they are devoted to certain either certain chaos deities, all of them or on rare occasions none of them.

Unlike many other factions within Warhammer 40,000, rather than being united under the umbrella of a higher figure or as loosely affiliated groups, they are fractious, fickle, refractory and prone to infighting amongst themselves. They are only truly unified in their will to survive, hatred of the Emperor Of Man and their desire to help Chaos become the ruling power of creation via acts of unspeakable evil.

They are a playable army choice in Warhammer 40,000 and also serve in a highly antagonistic role in the related media. Chaos Space Marines are the rough equivalent of Warhammer Fantasy's Hordes Of Chaos.

History

Chaos Space Marines draw their origins back to the thirty-first-millennium. Back then, eighteen legions of genetically modified supersoldiers, the Space Marines, fought to unite the galaxy under the banner of the Imperium of Man, in a campaign that history later called the Great Crusade. The Emperor of Man Kind claimed that the intention of this campaign was to unite humanity under one banner, wipe out any xenos that threatened their dominion or survival and establish humanity as the ruling force in the galaxy. In truth, however, the Emperor knew about the existence of the Chaos Gods and the dangers they posed. His secret agenda was to their install the principal of the Imperial Truth - an atheistic doctrine, which would turn humanity away from the elements that served as the Chaos Gods power source thus eradicating them once and for all.

Perhaps fearing the eventual result, Khorne, Nurgle, Slaneesh and Tzeentch, as well as the lesser gods of chaos stopped their own conflicts to interfere with the works of the Emperor of Man. The first step was to scatter his genetically modified children, the Primarchs across the galaxy thus ensuring that the Emperor could not raise or teach them under his own philosophy from an early age. As such each of the Primarchs would face his own trial and tribulations before the Emperor rediscovered them, which in some cases sowed the first seeds of resentment against their father.  

Only once the Great Crusade was already underway, would the Chaos Gods seize their chance. Starting with the Emperor's disenfranchised son, the pious Lorgar Aurellian, who became disillusioned with his father following an incident in which the Emperor publically humiliated both him and his legion, the Chaos Gods seduced Lorgar into Chaos-worship. When the Primarch undertook a pilgrimage, they showed him horrifying visions of the future under the Emperor and convinced him that without the aid of Chaos humanity would share the fate of the Eldar. Having won over a powerful leader and orator into their cause, the Chaos Gods' campaign to subvert the Emperor's faithful soldiers had begun.

After purging his Legion of all elements with any loyalties left to the Emperor, Lorgar sent his First Captain Erebus as an ambassador. Erebus, keeping his Legion's new faith a close secret, began organizing the Warrior Lodges, secretive fraternal orders within the Space Marine Legions that existed outside of the Legion's regimented and ordered structures. Though these were under the guise of providing brotherhood without rank, they were instrumental in fomenting sympathies and paving the way for the coming betrayal.

Erebus proved instrumental for setting the stage to the Horus Heresy after seeding the Warrior Lodges into a full half of the Legions and successfully engineering the fall of Horus into Chaos by stealing a powerful weapon known as the Anathame and giving it to a rebellious planetary governor who injured Horus with it. Desperate to save their leader Horus' troops were tricked into bringing him to the serpent's lodge, a group of supposed mystical healers who unknown to them were secretly chaos worshippers. Using this opportunity the Chaos Gods managed to convince the injured Horus to turn against the Imperium in exchange for healing him and he quickly rose to power as the leader of the Chaos forces.

The resulting conflict stretched across the known galaxy all the way to the throne world of Holy Terra consuming billions upon billions of lives, devastating countless worlds and ultimately leading to the Emperor's permanent interment upon the life support system known as the Golden Throne. In the end though Horus' rebellion cost him his life and his fellow traitor troops were forced to retreat into the realm of the Warp through the dimensional rift known as the Eye of Terror in order to avoid the wrath of the vengeful Imperial forces. Never the less a new deadly enemy had been created, from amongst humanities own ranks.

After the Horus Heresy

For the next 10,000 years the fractured chaos legions would periodically emerge from the warp to wage war against the Imperium, their lives unnaturally prolonged and their bodies and minds twisted thanks to otherworldly energies of the Warp and the daemons that live there. In their most recent endeavour, the 13th black Crusade, the new Warmaster of Chaos Abbadon the Despoiler managed to destroy the Imperial Fortress world of Cadia, an event which allowed the energies of the warp to spill into the material world and quite literally split the Imperium and the galaxy at large in half. Imperial forces have since retaliated by launching a counter-crusade to push back the onrushing forces and seize the two remaining space paths to the other side of the galaxy, all while the chaos forces use the opportunity to harass and harry them as well as devastate any worlds in their path.

Known Chaos Legions

During the Horus Hersey, nine of the Primarchs and their First-Founding Legions turned against humanity, siding with Horus and the Chaos Gods. In the aftermath of the heresy, most of these legions divided into roaming warbands, with some of them adopting new names and philosophies. In subsequent years, a number of Space Marine chapters followed their former-brethren down the dark path, in exchange for the power and glory promised by the Dark Gods.

Known Chaos legions include - 

  • The Black Legion - Current leader: Abaddon the Despoiler. Primarch: Horus (deceased). Originally known as The Luna Wolves, and later known as The Sons of Horus, these are the most famous of all the traitor legions. Following Horus' defeat, they became a withdrawn legion, until Abaddon rallied the survivors under his leadership and promised to succeed where Horus had failed. His first step was to order his legionnaires to paint their armour black to mask their shame of Horus' failure. They worship all of the Chaos Gods, giving particular devotion to a single entity when the situation calls for it.
  • The Word Bearers - Current Leader(s): The Dark Council. Primarach: Lorgar. The first legion to turn against the Emperor following their humiliation and reprimand, this legion was always pious. As such many of them readily accepted Chaos who welcomed their devotion when the Emperor spurned it. They worship all of the Chaos Gods equally, showing no favour to a particular entity.
  • The World Eaters - Current leader: N/A, legion divided into warbands. Primarch: Angron. Formidable warriors who excel in hand to hand combat, most turned against the Emperor willingly knowing they could have free reign of their abilities. Those that did not turn were purged. Nowadays they are patriarchs of the Blood God Khorne, willing to fight anyone and everyone, even each other.  
  • The Death Guard - Current leader: Mortarion. Primarch: Mortarion. Almost a third of this legion remained loyal to the Emperor but most were killed in the ensuing massacre on Isstvan III. Possessing a strong reputation for resilience these followers of Nurgle are permanently disfigured, their bodies ravaged with festering diseases and distorted by decay. They remain a fairly united legion, fighting for a single goal and purpose to spread Nurgles gift, and will answer to Mortarions call without question.  
  • The Emperors Children - Current leader: N/A, legion divided into warbands. Primarch: Fulgrim. The only legion at the time of the Great Crusade to bear the Emperor's name and personal standard (the twin-headed eagle), this legion strived for perfection in all things. Unfortunately, their Primarch came under the influence of a demon of Slanessh, and now the mutated adherents of this legion seek perfection in all its forms, caring nothing for the suffering they bring nor the destruction of their legion. 
  • The Thousand Sons - Current leader(s): Various, several known bands exist. Primarch: Magnus the Red. A legion of sorcerers, this legion was left with no choice but to side with Chaos when Magnus broke a sacred taboo to warn the Emperor about his brother Primarchs betrayal. The Emperor sent the Space Wolves to bring Magnus in for questioning, but Horus tricked his brother into thinking this was an order of extermination. Magnus pledged his warriors souls to Tzeentch and since then they have followed him without question. Following the Rubric of Ahriman, most of the legion are bodiless automatons, whose souls are now permanently bound to their power armour. 
  • The Iron Warriors - Current leaders: N/A, legion divided. Primarch: Perturabo. A calculating legion that favours defence and strong resilience against mindless savagery, their natural rivalry with the Imperial Fists led them to turn against their loyalist brothers. A civil war within the legion divided them permanently and they seek conquest in all its glory, showing no mercy to enemies. They have been known on very rare occasions to aid the forces of the loyalists against overwhelming enemies. This legion hates the gifts of Chaos, favouring technology over magic and will actively remove any signs of mutation. Although they acknowledge the Chaos Gods they do not worship them.  
  • The Night Lords - Current leaders: N/A, legion divided. Primarch: Konrad Curze (deceased). One of the darkest legions ever created, even during their time as loyalists this legion had a fearsome reputation for savagery and instilling absolute fear into their enemies. They were the first legion to leave the Emperor's service even before the start of the heresy, and subsequently became allies of Horus. The death of their Primarch divided the legion, who now operate under various leaders. Unlike the rest of the traitor legions, the Night Lords do not worship Chaos in any shape or form. Dedicated to their principals of fear and terror, their actions aid the cause of Chaos as a side-effect and despite evidence to the contrary, the legion itself remains predominantly atheist.
  • The Alpha Legion -  Current leaders: N/A, varies depending upon the source. Primarch(s): Alpharius and Omegon (one or both deceased?). A secret and mysterious legion whose purpose is known only to themselves, the legion favours scheming and subterfuge through cultists to actual combat, but this does not mean they are not formidable warriors. Although they have divided into several warbands since the Horus Hersey, and the death of their Primarch(s) (though this remains contested) the Alpha Legion appears to remain united in their secret cause, whatever that may be. They are also one of the few legions that did not move towards the Eye of Terror after Horus' defeat and maintain an ongoing presence in real-space. Several bits of media indicate that although they aid the Forces of Chaos, the Alpha Legion seek to destroy the Chaos Gods in their entirety, and in-fact view themselves as loyalists. The Alpha Legion Primarch, Alpharius was shown a vision in which he saw the twin fates of the galaxy and learnt what would happen in the event that either Horus or the Emperor won. After receiving his visions, he is said to have uttered these words, "Whatever I do now, I do for the Emperor!"

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