Merir Astelan was a Terra-born Chapter Master of the Dark Angels Legion of Space Marines and is considered one of the most notorious of the Fallen Angels who betrayed the Emperor during the Horus Heresy. He was recaptured by the Dark Angels in the late 41st Millennium and was secretly imprisoned for a time on their mobile fortress-monastery, The Rock, before making his escape. During his time in captivity, he revealed details about the early days of the Dark Angels and what had happened during the Heresy that made many of his interrogators very uneasy about the history of their Chapter.
He achieved his position as an officer of the Dark Angels after the I Legion was formed on Terra in the 30th Millennium and before it was reunited with its Primarch, Lion El'Jonson, on the Death World of Caliban. Astelan's name now appears at the top of the secret list kept by the Grand Master of Chaplains of the Dark Angels Chapter, the list of the names of the one hundred and thirty-six Space Marines who first swore allegiance to the Archtraitor Luther when he rebelled against the Dark Angels Primarch, Lion El'Jonson. As a result, he is currently being hunted by the Dark Angels as one of the most sought-after members of the Fallen.
Merir Astelan was a member of the Dark Angels Space Marine Legion before the discovery by Imperial forces of the whereabouts of the Primarch Lion El'Jonson. Astelan was born on Terra, hailing from the Sibran Steppes. Merir came from a family whose forefathers had helped to free the ancient birthplace of humanity from the evil grip of the Age of Strife. After the Emperor of Mankind had revealed Himself and His purpose during the Unification Wars, Astelan's people had fought alongside Him.
When he first began to create a new type of transhuman warrior, it was from the Sibran people that the Emperor took His first willing volunteers for the genetic testing that was required to ultimately create the Space Marines. With the aid of Sibran troops, the Emperor reunited Terra under His rule and prepared to unleash the Great Crusade intended to reunite all the scattered colony worlds of Mankind across the galaxy. So it is not strange that when he perfected his techniques for the creation of the Space Marines, many of Astelan's people were chosen to become the first Astartes of the I Legion, and Astelan was amongst them.
Prior to the start of the Horus Heresy, during the Great Crusade, Astelan rose to the esteemed rank of Chapter Commander of the I Legion and was stationed aboard the Dark Angels' flagship, the Spear of Truth. When the Emperor discovered Lion El'Jonson on the world of Caliban, the Space Marines of the I Legion celebrated. The Emperor informed them that the Dark Angels now had a new homeworld. This good news filled the Dark Angels with joy, for they were now far from their beloved Terra.
The Dark Angels adopted Caliban as their own, and when El'Jonson was given command of the I Legion that had been created from his genome, the Terran-borne Space Marines of the Dark Angels thought it fitting. Astelan and his fellow Battle-Brothers thought it good that new Chapters of Dark Angels would be raised from Caliban's people, for it gave them identity and focus, something that was precious in those tumultuous times.
Compliance of Byzanthis
As a Chapter Commander, Merir Astelan led his own Expeditionary Fleet, comprising less than eighteen starships and led by the flagship Spear of Truth, which carried out numerous Imperial Compliance actions. It had spent five Terran years on exploration duties in largely uncharted areas of space, going without refit or resupply from the Legion for four of those years. For three years the fleet did not even find any inhabited or habitable planets worth absorbing into the Imperium.
Yet, Astelan knew great success at this endeavour in its final years until the campaign carried out during the Compliance of Byzanthis. Chapter Commander Belath, a Calibanite-born Dark Angel appointed to his position by the Primarch himself, was sent to shadow the Terran-born Merir Astelan during the Compliance of the newly rediscovered world of Byzanthis.
Chapter Commander Belath and his fleet rendezvoused with that of Astelan, and Belath informed the expedition leader that the Lion had ordered him to link up with Astelan and serve as reinforcement for his fleet. Astelan had never heard of Belath before, but was unperturbed by this due to the rapid influx of Calibanite Astartes into the I Legion. He was surprised, however, by the fact that his fleet, which had apparently been assigned to a relatively empty area of space, had received reinforcement at all.
Not long after, a Vox signature was detected from the DX-619 System and Astelan diverted his fleet to investigate. Shortly thereafter, the world named Byzanthis by its inhabitants was discovered. Relatively technologically advanced, but not unified under a single planetary government, the Byzanthians seemed a likely candidate for a peaceful Compliance action, at least to Astelan. Chapter Commander Belath, however, believed that conquering them outright using overwhelming military force was the better option. Heated debate ensued, with Astelan espousing a philosophy that war is bloody and costly and to be avoided if possible, and that a world brought to heel by conquest would be resentful and slow to achieve the brotherhood with the Imperium that diplomatic Compliance actions could achieve. For his part, Belath stressed that the Legiones Astartes had been created to fight wars, not carry out diplomacy, and that the Lion -- who had appointed him to Chapter command personally -- had given him orders emphasising the annihilation and punishment of enemies. Eventually, the two commanders compromised and agreed on a reconnaissance mission to help them decide on a further course of action.
Unfortunately, this reconnaissance mission, led by Astelan himself, discovered the urban area they had planned to investigate was actually a large military base, with the result that the I Legion's forces were detected and attacked before they could attempt peaceful contact. Denying Belath's planned retaliation with orbital bombardment, Astelan had his troops withdraw in fighting order.
In the aftermath of the failed mission, Belath again urged an open invasion of the planet, preferring a plan to attack all six world powers at once. But upon the discovery that the world was governed by a Committee of Nations, a diplomatic body composed of representatives from all six of the planet's primary nation-states, Astelan sought a last-ditch effort to parley with the planet's ruling body. Appearing with Chapter Commander Belath at his side, the meeting went well at first, under Astelan's direction, but things quickly took a turn for the worst when the Byzanthian military forces of one of the nation-states detected the Dark Angels' vessels in orbit pre-positioning themselves for an inevitable attack above each Byzanthian nation's capital city.
This move, under Belath's order, precipitated a threat response in which the Byzanthians attempted to seize the two Legionaries. Belath abruptly ended the negotiations with the Committee of Nations by summoning his Terminator-armoured elite, who proceeded to execute the upstart politicians. Enraged by his counterpart's actions, Astelan had no choice but to go along with the impetuous Belath, and finally ordered a full-scale planetary invasion. In the aftermath, Astelan was dismayed by the use of violence, and warned Belath that his disreputable actions would not go unpunished. Belath remained unperturbed by such empty threats, and responded that it would be Astelan who would be punished, for he had already sent an astropathic report back to Caliban, informing them of the Chapter Commander's "cowardly" actions on Byzanthis.
Sure enough, while it is not known that Belath's report was the proximate cause, Chapter Commander Astelan and many of his Terra-born Astartes was soon ordered by the Lion to return to the Dark Angels' homeworld of Caliban and join its garrison forces, along with many of his fellow Terran-born Dark Angels. In Astelan's view, the Lion had abandoned both him and his fellow Terran Battle-Brothers there while the Caliban-born Astartes of the Legion went on to earn great glory in the Great Crusade. Astelan felt that the Primarch had turned from those who had come before him, who had welcomed him as a lost father and taken his homeworld as their own.
Astelan believed this had been a grave mistake, but he and his Space Marines had sworn oaths of loyalty and would not break them. He hoped that his Primarch would see the error he had made. Astelan sent deputations to the Lion asking him to reconsider his decision, but they were all returned without a reply.
Astelan was one of the few Terrans serving with the I Legion on Caliban, and was sent back to serve at Aldurukh, the central fortress-monastery of the Dark Angels on Caliban, some fifteen Terran years after Luther and the rest of the training cadre had returned to the Dark Angels' homeworld in the wake of the campaign on Sarosh.
As a Veteran Astartes who had risen quickly to command of a full Chapter of the Legion in the years following Jonson's ascension to Primarch, Astelan's sudden reassignment from the frontlines of the Great Crusade was every bit as baffling to his fellow training cadre members on Caliban as their own had been fifteen years before. Reassignment to Caliban was considered a form of exile by those stationed there, and a single, Veteran Terran Chapter Master being posted there from active duty on the Great Crusade was thought baffling, especially as Astelan was himself apparently at Sarosh and had avoided the initial reassignment cull. They presumed that Luther was aware of the circumstances surrounding Astelan's transfer, but if Astelan had been exiled from the Legion's Expeditionary Fleets like the rest of them, the Master of Caliban did not make that fact public.
Luther however, quickly made a great show of support for Astelan and immediately assigned the Terran to lead one of the newly reorganised training Chapters, and treated Astelan with all the respect and esteem that he showed his other Battle-Brothers. Luther's charisma and leadership skills quickly won Astelan over, and soon there was no other member of the Legion more loyal to the Master of Caliban.
Luther the "Arch-Heretic"
Chapter Master Astelan was an able commander and a veteran and experienced Astartes. He had been present when Sar Luther, the Lion's adoptive father and chief lieutenant, was made the Guardian of Caliban. Luther had supposedly been honoured by the Primarch for showing him such faith and trust as to leave him as the protector of the Legion's homeworld. But the aggrieved Luther had grown bitter by what he viewed as his sidelining from the glory of the Great Crusade, for a seed of jealousy and envy had been planted within him ever since the Emperor had first arrived upon Caliban and everything had changed forever for the knights of The Order.
When the Emperor had first arrived, and the Dark Angels were given to El'Jonson to lead, Luther had wept that he was too old to become a Space Marine. The Emperor sent his best chirurgeons and apothetechs, so that those members of The Order who were too old to be implanted with the Primarch's gene-seed might still be given many of the benefits of the Astartes' gene-altered bodies, living long past their natural deaths and capable of great feats of arms.
But Luther was never and could never be a true Space Marine. There were few who listened to him, most of them of the new Legion. Astelan and the Space Marines of the Old Legion, while having the deepest respect for Luther and his great achievements, had served under the Emperor Himself and owed their loyalty to Him and Him alone. Yet, when they were left behind on Caliban, Astelan and the other Terran-born Dark Angels stood beside Luther and offered him their full support.
Nearly fifty Terran years later, bear the 200th year of the Great Crusade, a rebellion broke out on Caliban, with certain sections of the indigenous population rising up against Imperial rule. While Luther was initially unwilling to commit his Legion garrison forces to combat his own people, he was eventually forced to use Astartes troops to investigate serious matters, such as the disappearance of the entire workforce and Imperial Army protection detail of a petrochemical plant.
Luther's lieutenant, the Librarian Zahariel El'Zurias, was tasked with this undertaking and called for volunteers. Merir Astelan was one of the first to step forward, and Zahariel was glad to have the veteran along on the mission, though he was a little curious as to Astelan's chosen battle-cry -- "For Luther!" Zahariel and Astelan's force ultimately confronted and destroyed a local group who had been tainted by Chaos, and both agreed to raze the entire site in the aftermath of the incident in order to keep what they had discovered from wider Imperial authorities other than Luther and the Dark Angels' Caliban command.
In the aftermath of this discovery, tempers grew frayed amongst the Calibanite Legion command staff, principally between the Terran Librarian Israfael and Luther himself. These tensions became clear as the staff deliberated on what course of action to take in the wake of the Chaos taint and where potential blame for the incident lay. When Israfael became particularly strident in his disagreements, Astelan was observed by Zahariel as reaching for his weapons, prompting the shocked, younger Librarian to intervene to keep the peace between his brothers. Immediately afterwards, Luther placed Astelan in personal command of Caliban's Planetary Defence Forces and ordered him to place the garrison on a war footing.
Not long afterwards, the political situation on Caliban deteriorated further when the Northwilds Arcology came under assault by a force of apparent zombies from the depths of the planet. Rioting broke out as native Calibanite Astartes and the Terrans sought to lay blame or suspicion for the unfolding events on each other, and the local defence forces and rebel soldiery became involved, with battle lines and relative loyalties sorely tested.
Astelan was present at another meeting of the Caliban commanders called as a result of the rising tensions, and was therefore witness -- along with Zahariel, Israfael and the Lord Cypher -- when Luther revealed that he had lost faith in Lion El'Jonson. When Israfael broke ranks and moved to attack Luther, Astelan attempted to subdue the Librarian with the butt of his pistol, but was telekinetically flung across the room for his trouble. Surviving the melee that saw Israfael defeated and critically wounded with no further harm, Astelan was then tasked by Luther with arresting all the senior Imperial authorities on the planet, including the commanders of the Imperial Army and Mechanicum forces stationed there. Astelan hesitated for a long moment at obeying such an openly treacherous order, but eventually agreed to carry it out.
After Luther had completed his subsequent effective complete takeover of Caliban, Astelan was contacted by one of his company commanders, Captain Melian, with concerns about the direction events were taking on the planet, particularly that new Legionaries were being sworn to defend Caliban instead of swearing allegiance to the Emperor of Mankind.
Astelan expressed ambivalence about Luther's changes, pointing out that as a force ordered to remain as a garrison on one world without naval elements and apparently forgotten by the rest of the I Legion, the Calibanite Dark Angels were effectively irrelevant to the progress of the Great Crusade and so might as well take as much pride as possible in being the core of Caliban's Planetary Defence Force.
However, on learning that Captain Melian spoke for a group of officers and Veterans in his command who were preparing to take militant action against Luther in order for their concerns about his possible treachery to be recognised, Astelan agreed to aid them in planning a more legal and bloodless move against the planetary commander. He suggested commandeering a secondary communications spire and sending messages to Terra and the Lion requesting restoration of the original Legion protocols and command structure until the Lion could assay the situation personally, while simply detaining Luther under close arrest.
His plan was agreed upon by the conspirators, though not without them warily noting that, under old Legion protocols, Astelan would become the force commander. Regardless, the plan was carried out; the bulk of the conspirators would head to the spire as part of a "live ammunition training exercise," while most of the ringleaders, including Astelan, would confront and arrest Luther. Luther was surprised by Astelan's presence in the delegation that came to seize him, and also by what happened next.
Astelan contacted the commander of the Imperial Army forces garrisoning the tower -- Marquesa-Colonel Tylaine -- and ordered her to proceed with their previously agreed-upon plan. The Imperial Army forces and a company of Dark Angels under the command of Astelan's subordinate, Captain Galedan, suddenly attacked the conspirator's column. As the realisation dawned that Astelan had only joined the conspirators so he could defeat their plans from within, Luther joined Astelan in turning upon the ringleaders, and with him, slew them all. Most of the conspirators surrendered rather than fight other Space Marines, and the little rebellion was over before it could truly begin.
There were so many prisoners of the rebellion that there wasn't enough space for them all in the dungeons of Aldurukh. Astelan counselled that Luther simply carve out new ones within the fortress-monastery's rock. Luther also questioned why Astelan had allowed the conspiracy to get so far along, rather than just reveal it to him immediately, suspecting that Astelan might truly have wished to overthrow his authority and only switched sides to curry favour with him. After all, according to Luther, Astelan's dislike of Caliban and Calibanite ways was "well known".
Astelan replied that he considered the Lion a taint, that in his opinion everything had gone wrong in the I Legion since the rediscovery of the Legion;s Primarch, and that he would rather serve a more worthy lord, especially one whom he suspected also wished to rid the Legion of the Lion. Astelan dared Luther to say that he intended otherwise, and Luther chose to remain silent.
Luther's first act afterward the rebellion against his authority was put down was to agree to promote Astelan's lieutenant, Galedan, to the rank of Chapter Master. Galedan confessed to his former commander that he was pleased that their previous comrade, the conspirator, Melian, had survived, intimating that he would be useful to them when Astelan inevitably attempted to depose Luther as Master of the I Legion. Astelan protested that he had no such plans, for the moment at least. Later, Astelan led a purge of recently arrived Loyalists on Caliban led by Chapter Master Belath, forcing Luther further into treachery and betrayal of the Lion and the Emperor in the process.
The Horus Heresy
Note: The following account is based upon the testimony of Merir Astelan given under the ministrations of the Dark Angels' Interrogator-Chaplains after his initial capture as one of the Fallen Angels. As such, the truth of these claims must be considered potentially self-serving or even outright false.
By this time, the Dark Angels' Primarch was far away, continuing the Great Crusade, when Astelan and his brothers on Caliban were brought word of terrible news -- Horus, the greatest of the Primarchs, the Emperor's own Warmaster, had turned Traitor. Accounts were fragmentary, and infrequent, but slowly Astelan and his brothers pieced together what had occurred during the opening days of the conflict. They heard the stories of the other Primarchs and their Traitor Legions turning against the Emperor, and against themselves. It became impossible to tell friend from foe. The Dark Angels on Caliban had heard on more than one occasion that the Lion's Dark Angels had turned on the Emperor, or that Lion El'Jonson had been killed. There was talk of the Space Wolves fighting against the Thousand Sons, and of Astartes killing Astartes across the breadth of the galaxy.
Astelan claimed that Luther -- a natural great warrior and leader of men -- despondent at this supposed abandonment and believing that the Lion's jealousy had damned him to rot, would have retreated into useless ranting and shouting from his tower without Astelan's guidance and plan to remake the Dark Angels left on Caliban into something purposeful. For, while the newer Calibanite Astartes assigned to remain on the planet took the Primarch as their lord, the bulk of the forces stationed there -- the Terran-born Astartes -- felt abandoned by the Lion and considered therefore that their loyalty was to the Emperor alone. They listened to Luther only out of polite respect for his previous achievements. As a result, when Luther needed to sway the Terran Astartes to his cause, his oratory initially fell on less-than-receptive ears. Astelan claimed that it was his actions that made the difference. As a senior Veteran of the Old Legion, when he stood up next to Luther and offered the Master of Caliban his support, the Terran Astartes followed his lead.
Astelan later claimed that he and his fellow Dark Angels wanted to leave Caliban, to go and fight the Traitor forces of Horus, but they could be sure of nothing except of that which was in their own hearts. It was Luther who first spoke of leaving Caliban and joining the fight to defend the Emperor. But Astelan and his Battle-Brothers did not know what their Primarch wanted them to do -- communication with the rest of the I Legion had been cut off in the chaos across the galaxy, and the intent of the Lion was obscured by hundreds of light years and many conflicting rumours. But there were some amongst the number of Dark Angels on Caliban, newly raised Calibanite Battle-Brothers who perhaps slightly lacked the faith and zeal of the Old Legion, who opposed their leaving to aid the Emperor without the permission of their Primarch.
Astelan later claimed that these "Lionist" dissenters attacked first, revealing their treacherous intent with the death of hundreds of their fellows. Astelan and the others loyal to the Emperor had prepared everything to leave, and were embarking onto the transports to take them into orbit where the Battle Barges and Strike Cruisers of the Dark Angels Legion assigned to Caliban awaited them. As the ships began to leave, the Traitors struck.
Their orbiting warships opened fire on the Loyalists, and the dissenters stormed the planetary defence batteries and opened fire on the Loyalist transports from the surface. Defence Lasers blew the Loyalist transports out of the sky and they rained down in pieces onto the surface. Some of the Loyalist transports tried to continue into orbit, and they were destroyed by the enemy, while others were blasted into shrapnel as they attempted to land. Their strike was short-lived, however, as Astelan and his Space Marines counterattacked in force. The dissenters' ships fled, and those who had taken the planetary defence batteries were driven out or killed.
Astelan and his Space Marines of the Old Legion felt that they could not abandon Caliban, for they were afraid of what might happen if they left their adoptive homeworld in the hands of their treacherous former brethren. They could not leave until they were sure that Caliban was safe. They hunted down the dissenters until they were virtually wiped out. After three solar months of fighting, Astelan and his fellow Loyalist Astartes felt that the threat had been nullified. Thinking their foe destroyed, Astelan and his men relaxed their guard as they began to make preparations to leave once more.
That was when their former brethren struck. They had hidden themselves away more thoroughly than Astelan and the Loyalist Dark Angels could have ever imagined, in the most inhospitable places on Caliban. Without warning, the dissenters gathered their might and launched an attack on the starport, taking several transports and launching them into orbit. Stunned, Astelan and his men did not react quickly enough and by the time the planetary defence lasers were active, the dissenters were already amongst Astelan's fleet in orbit and the Loyalists on the surface could not target them for fear of hitting their own ships.
The Lionist dissenters concentrated their attacks on the largest craft in the fleet, including Astelan's own Battle Barge, the Wrath of Terra. They stormed her, took control, and turned the vessel's immense guns and torpedoes on the rest of the Loyalist Dark Angels fleet in orbit of Caliban. The battle was short-lived, for the Wrath of Terra outclassed any vessel in orbit, and soon Astelan's Chapter fleet was reduced to smoking, drifting ruins.
Then the dissenters piloted the Wrath of Terra into Caliban's atmosphere, where the immense flagship burned up and exploded into fiery fragments that rained down upon the surface. Plasma Reactors trailing infernos from the destroyed vessel exploded in the forests of Caliban, leaving craters kilometres across and sending dust and rock into the sky to obscure the sun.
Fragments crashed into the world's cities and castles, destroying them, and the largest portion of the great warship plunged into the Southern Ocean, creating a tidal wave that wiped out everything within twenty kilometres of the southern coast. Not only had the Lionist dissenters marooned Astelan and his warriors upon Caliban, they had wrought untold destruction upon the planet that had now become their prison.
Caliban had become a ravaged, desolate place as a result of the Wrath of Terra’s fall -- the forests died and the life-giving energies of the sun were blotted out by the clouds of dirt and ash that hung in the air. Astelan and the Space Marines of the Old Legion felt immense shame and guilt as the trees burned around them, and the light of the stars was taken from them.
Luther had taken up residence in Angelicasta, the Tower of Angels, the largest citadel on Caliban and the greatest fortress of the Dark Angels. Astelan had taken personal command of the outer defences and the laser batteries from a command centre hundreds of kilometers away. When he received a signal that a new fleet of starships had entered orbit, Astelan thought at first that the Traitor ships had returned -- the ones that his Space Marines had driven off in the first battle against the Lionists.
It soon became clear that, in fact, the Dark Angels' Primarch had returned. Luther contacted Astelan directly, seeking his advice. He was troubled because he had intercepted a communication that claimed Lion El'Jonson himself led the approaching starships. Luther did not know what to do, fearing the wrath of the Lion for what had befallen Caliban. Astelan told Luther nothing, and on his own initiative as second-in-command of Caliban's planetary defence forces, gave the grim order using the code word "Starfire" for the batteries to open fire on the approaching Dark Angels starships.
Astelan felt there was nothing else that they could do. The Chapter Commander felt that El'Jonson was going to wipe out the Dark Angels remaining on Caliban, for he suspected that the Lionist ships had met the Primarch first, and that their twisted version of events would have damned all those who remained on Caliban. Astelan thought that their Primarch would have them all killed for what had befallen his homeworld. The Chapter Master also feared that their Primarch was no longer loyal to the Emperor. Astelan and the Dark Angels stationed on Caliban had heard little of the exploits of their Legion during the Horus Heresy, and he did not discount the thought that this was due to El'Jonson having sided with Horus.
Chapter Master Astelan claimed that he had the forces on Caliban fire upon their brethren because he wanted Lion El'Jonson killed. The loyalty of the Terran-born portion of the I Legion was first and foremost to the Emperor, and their Primarch was a distant second in their affections. Astelan felt that it was his duty to the Emperor to protect the Space Marines under his command -- Space Marines that the Emperor Himself had picked and raised, and who were now possibly threatened by their own Primarch, as had happened to the Astartes of the Traitor Legions on Istvaan III who had remained loyal to the Master of Mankind. It was only later that Astelan realised that he was wrong in believing that Lion El'Jonson had sought a reckoning with him and the Terran Astartes of the Legion. It was Jonson's mentor and friend, Luther, that the Primarch was intent on destroying. It was Luther, Steward of Caliban, his saviour, that El'Jonson had grown to hate, to envy.
After coming under fire, El'Jonson immediately ordered a sustained orbital bombardment of what he saw as the Traitor positions on his homeworld and led an attack against Luther's position personally. Meanwhile, the massed guns of the arriving Dark Angels fleet pounded the planet, until the very surface of Caliban began to crack under the strain of the bombardment.
As the Lion lay mortally wounded following their battle, Luther realised his own mistake and slumped down next to the fallen Primarch as Caliban was engulfed in a Warp Storm of epic proportions. The immense strain these powerful psychic forces placed upon the planet, in combination with the tectonic shifting and cracking caused by the orbital bombardment, caused the entire planet to heave and twist itself into oblivion. Caliban shattered, breaking apart into countless chunks of rock and dust.
After the Fall of Caliban, Astelan and the other Fallen Angels were sucked through the Warp and scattered throughout time and space. After reemergin the galaxy of the 41st Millennium, he would spend two hundred Terran years at large from his (then unknown) pursuers in the Dark Angels Chapter, before ultimately coming to their attention.
Astelan emerged from the Warp 9,000 Terran years later in the 41st Millennium, finding himself cast to a distant world called Scappe Delve, whose inhabitants were forced to live in underground shelters due to the hazardous nature of the environment. Falling in with the inhabitants, he was shocked to discover that so much time had passed. After absorbing this information, and spending time reading all the available Imperial historical and cultural databases, he grew to pity the current state of the Imperium of Man.
Determined to attempt to "light a signal fire" to respark the philosophies of the Great Crusade, he left the planet on the starship of the Rogue Trader Trialartes, the Saint Carthen. However, Astelan soon discovered that Trialartes was secretly smuggling weapons to unsavoury organisations, and he accompanied the smuggler to the mercenary void station of Port Imperial. There he met two other Fallen Angels, Methelas and Anovel, who had arrived one hundred Terran years earlier and become the commanders of the void station. Caliban-born Fallen, Astelan did not recognise them, but they knew him instantly, and placed themselves under his command. The trio proceeded to systematically commandeer weapons systems and armour plating from the other starships in the docks in an attempt to jump-start a new era of greatness for the Imperium, before turning their newly acquired weapons on the ships they had stolen from as well as the Port Imperial itself. As the three Fallen began their crusade by hunting down and exterminating the pirates who used Port Imperial as a waystation, Astelan was further informed of the changes to the Dark Angels, and its division into separate Chapters during the Second Founding, by the other two.
Due to differences in their vision for a "Greater Imperium," Astelan eventually left the other two Fallen after the events on Scappe Delve. When the Saint Carthen was attacked by Imperial vessels who took it for a Renegade ship, it became clear that the two Calibanite Dark Angels believed more in vengeance upon those they believed betrayed them at Caliban than in upholding the Emperor's philosophies. Recognising this reality, Astelan left them behind on the small world of Tharsis. The planet was in the midst of a civil war, and Astelan saw his chance to make a difference and fight for the Emperor's ideals once more. He approached Imperial Commander Dax and was immediately put in charge of the Imperial military presence on the planet. Tharsis had been primarily an Agri-World until Astelan's arrival, after which it was dominated by crime-rife cities and sprawling factories for making the weapons he used to win the war.
After eight more standard years and much bloodshed, Astelan delivered what he had promised the Imperial Commander: victory. When he realised that Dax meant to reestablish leaders from the old noble houses in control of the world again once the war was finished, Astelan's "sacred bands" of elite warriors staged another revolution and killed the Imperial Commander, insisting that Astelan take his place as the new Planetary Governor.
This wish was rebuffed by various Imperial authorities on the planet, particularly that of the Ecclesiarchy, who were horrified by Astelan's assertion that the Emperor, while of course a guide for all human behaviour and the rightful leader of the Imperium whose wishes and philosophies must be obeyed, was not actually divine.
The leaders of the Ecclesiarchy delivered to Astelan an ultimatum that he acknowledge the Emperor as a god or face a third revolt. Astelan, disgusted with their close-minded religious dogma and seeing it a direct rejection of the Imperial Truth, violently removed them and all the other members of the Adeptus Terra on the planet who felt the same from power, setting himself up as the sole authority on Tharsis. Over the next seven solar decades he ruled the world and turned his thoughts to building up the armies of Tharsis into a crusading force, so that he could continue on with the Great Crusade and restore the Imperium as he had once known it.
But unknown to Astelan, during the final stages of his revolt against the Imperial Commander of Tharsis, one lone Imperial life pod escaped from the star system and placed a distress call. This call was picked up by a Dark Angels' starship passing by the sector, who retrieved the survivor and learned the story of what had unfolded upon Tharsis.
The Dark Angels sent Interrogator-Chaplain Boreas to investigate, who ended up fighting Tharsis' soldiers until Astelan realised who had come to the planet he now ruled. Astelan gave the order to stand down and allowed the Interrogator-Chaplain and his Deathwing retinue into his command bunker, where he was immediately taken into their custody once identified as one of the Fallen and transported off-world to the Tower of Angels on The Rock for interrogation.
Over the span of fifteen solar days, Boreas and his Librarian assistant Samiel pried at Astelan's mind with pain, torment, psychic abilities, and questions designed to undermine Astelan's view of the events that occurred, trying to get him to admit his sins and repent. Astelan struggled mightily against their ministrations and survived, explaining much about the past of the Chapter and the Old Legion before the Heresy.
He revealed that it was his order that set Caliban's defence batteries ablaze against Lion El'Jonson's fleet when it returned, and he revealed that it was his voice that joined with Luther when the Dark Angels on Caliban were uncertain that they were being led in the right direction while watching over the planet. But most damning of all in the eyes of the Dark Angels of the 41st Millennium, Astelan admitted that his intent had been to kill the Dark Angels' Primarch, Lion El'Jonson, as he believed his oaths to the Emperor and the Emperor-sworn Terran Astartes under his command were incompatible with the motives of the Lion, and that he was loyal to the Emperor first and by a wide margin; therefore the Lion had to be removed as a threat to the Emperor's will.
Aghast at the Fallen Angel's confession of foul treachery, especially seeking the death of the I Legion's Primarch, Boreas scorned Astelan's essential assertion that the ruination of the Great Crusade was the fault of the Primarchs and that the Space Marine Legions would have been better off remaining under the singular and personal command of the Emperor. He accused Astelan of arrogance and jealousy that had been abetted by the narcissistic rantings of Luther.
But Astelan insisted that he had never fallen to Chaos and remained true to the Emperor always, and argued in turn that the Dark Angels Chapter and their Successors of the 41st Millennium were the true creatures of shadow and darkness, always hiding their motivations from the rest of the Imperium and betraying their allies in service to their own obsessive quest for redemption. Finally, he told his interrogators of how the Lion had opened fire upon Caliban with a massive orbital bomardment, his descent to the Tower of Angels to duel with Luther personally, and the apparent Warp Storm that had spirited Luther, Astelan and the other Fallen away.
Astelan's final claims about their Primarch's uncertain motives during the Heresy were the ones Boreas found the most appalling. For the Fallen had noted correctly that in the Imperial records of the time, the Lion had been unusually slow in reaching Terra after receiving the distress call from Malcador the Sigillite, slow to the point where the Dark Angels under his command had never arrived in time to take part in the Battle of Terra.
Astelan laid only scorn upon Boreas' version of those events, in which the Lion had been waylaid by the ongoing machinations of Horus and the Traitor Legions and so was simply held up from reaching the Throneworld. Astelan laughed darkly as he revealed that the Lion -- a peerless strategist never defeated in battle -- was not late to Terra. He had simply been stalling in order to see who would win the great conflict and then intended to throw his forces behind the victor.
After his questioning, Astelan was taken from his interrogation chamber by Sapphon, the Grand Master of Chaplains, and placed in a cell adjacent to the still-living Luther, the greatest of the Fallen Angels, within the deepest catacombs of The Rock, the Dark Angels' mobile fortress-monastery.
Sometime in the late 41st Millennium, Astelan eventually escaped from his captivity on The Rock, and rendezvoused with his former comrades among the Fallen, Methelas and Anovel. Together, these three Fallen Angels conspired with the infamous Typhus, the former First Captain of the Death Guard Legion, to enact a diabolical plan to unite the three separate devices that made up the so-called Tuchulcha Engine, an ancient sentient device and possible Warp entity of unknown origin, with its brother devices in order to open a portal through time and space to ten millennia earlier.
This would allow the original legions of Fallen Angels to enter the 41st Millennium. Utilising captured gene-seed, Astelan planned to have the Fallen, the Death Guard and newly-created Dark Angels Astartes, merged together into one unstoppable Space Marine Legion that would be known as the "Death Angels" in order to conquer the galaxy.
The most notorious of the Fallen Angels, Cypher, allowed himself to be captured and warned the Dark Angels that the Tuchulcha was embedded within the bowels of The Rock, and that the history of the Dark Angels would be irrevocably changed if they allowed the device to be reunited with the other two engines. Fortunately, this grand scheme of Astelan and Typhus was ultimately foiled at the Battle of the Caliban System thanks to the efforts of the Dark Angels' Supreme Grand Master Azrael and Cypher, who managed to turn Anonvel to their cause and get him betray his former allies.
- Angels of Darkness (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Tales of Heresy (Anthology) edited by Nick Kyme and Lindsey Priestley, "Call of the Lion" by Gav Thorpe
- Fallen Angels (Novel) by Mike Lee, Chs. 2, 8, 12, 14, 18
- Angels of Caliban (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Master of Sanctity (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Master of the First (Audio Book) by Gav Thorpe
- The Unforgiven (Novel) by Gav Thorpe