The Last Son of Caliban
Newly-Minted Master Cain strode down the hall of the Strike Cruiser Tempus Occidere in his simple robes. Supreme Master Azrael, his features lined with the weight of centuries in command had just given him command of the 5th Battle Company of the Dark Angels chapter. He was the first, and he was the last.
He was the first. No other Primaris brother had ascended to command a company. Some few had made it into the Ravenwing or the Deathwing, and Cain knew the reason. He felt the distrust weighing heavily on him and on his brothers. He knew the secrets the Dark Angels hid, and he and Azrael were working to break the self-destructive cycle of enforced secrecy and obfuscation.
He was the last. Belisarius Cawl had intercepted him, one of the last recruits of the old Order, stolen for Cawl’s secret scheme, one of the precious few recruits that had escaped the secret rites of the Dark Angels even back then. He had met Sar Luther, and even seen the Lion, alone amongst the Legion. Alone amongst the Chapter. He had been a mortal then, an initiate, not even an Astartes, and then as he slept he was stolen away, awakening ten millennia later to a galaxy shattered, promises broken, and a legion that mistrusted him.
To the Primaris he had been a symbol. A guidon leading them through the cold distaste of their introduction, a living banner of what the Primaris could be. Eventually he proved himself in battle and became a squad leader, then a Lieutenant. He was one of the first to join the Ravenwing, a small, ad-hoc group of Inceptors joining the hunt. Eventually he had ascended to the Deathwing. His bone-white Aggressor armor spitting unbridled fury at the discovery that so many that had joined with him had turned traitor. Indeed when he had gained permission to access what records they had he found that none of the recruits he had known had left Caliban. All of them had been held there by Luther. All had died as Caliban fell, or worse, joined the Fallen.
His stake in the Hunt was personal. He had nearly petitioned to join the Chaplains. Grand Master Sapphon had interviewed him and had informed him that he would make a great Interrogator-Chaplain, but his greatest gift was in command, and in command he should go. Shortly thereafter Azrael had summoned him. He had long known of Guilliman’s frustration that none of the Primaris had been given command in the Dark Angels. He had received inquiries personally and was copied on others sent to Azrael. Azrael had called him in alone, and met with him in his chambers, deep within the Rock.
Over wine and in the dim light of candles they had discussed long and deeply the frustration that he and the other Primaris had dealt with. Azrael had been direct. His questions blunt, even cutting, but never harsh or cruel. Finally he had opened up. He had admitted his frustration at the attitudes within the Chapter, within the Unforgiven as a whole. He knew that their secret must be held, not for the secret itself for every legion had had traitors, but for the acts they had committed in covering them up. Eventually they must come forward, admit what they had done, but they needed one last Crusade. One mighty victory to show that their sins had been worth it.
Cain and the Fifth would lead that Crusade. Tempus Occidere had been loaded with every sort of weapon and vehicle. The entire Fifth Company was mechanised with transports and tanks. Squads, bikes, and even aircraft from the Deathwing and Ravenwing had been attached giving Cain more strength than any two line companies normally held. Even more proof of Azrael’s trust, he had been reinforced further with vehicle crews being assigned from the Marines of the 7th and 9th companies, rather than providing his own vehicle crews, this left all his squads at full strength even with the vehicles attached.
Tonight the Tempus would launch, on a course known only to Cain and the navigator. Tomorrow he would brief his officers, and then… To the hunt!
Note – This is, of course, not canon. I’ve given a lot of thought to how the Primaris would be integrated into the Dark Angels. It’s a sticky problem, but a fun one, and the characterization of Azrael and his feelings about the curse of the Unforgiven is nearly entirely my own creation, although not an unreasonable one.