The Red Tear was part of the Emperor's grand fleet before the age of the Great Crusade began around 800.M30. When the Emperor reunited with his long-lost son Sanguinius on the world of Baal, he gifted The Angel with the magnificent vessel to lead his IX Legion into the stars.
Within and without, the Red Tear was a shipwright's work of art. The vessel carried the flag of the Blood Angels whenever the Primarch left the Legion homeworld of Baal, and like Sanguinius himself, his flagship was a beautiful sight to behold.
Viewed from the bow, the flagship resembled an arrowhead ten kilometres from stem to stern, lined in bright copper, bronze and crimson steel. The maws of a Nova Cannon, Mega-lasers, mass-drivers and torpedo hives encrusted the forward quarter, presenting an arsenal comparable to that of a whole fleet of smaller vessels.
Acres of towers ranged away down the length of the voidcraft, extending out from the dorsal and ventral hulls. In the fashion of Imperial starships, modelled on the deck-by-deck design ethic laid down for the Red Tear’s ancient, ocean-going ancestors, a massive citadel rose from the aft quarter.
This huge conning tower resembled a gigantic fortress, an outer keep of soaring adamantium walls and glassaic windows forming the base and a wide cylindrical donjon rising higher still. At its apex, among the saw-tooth battlements and point-defence batteries, a massive transparent dome looked out into the void like an unblinking eye.
The Red Tear was present during the campaign on the Death World of Urisarach, officially codified as One-Forty-Twenty but unofficially dubbed "Murder" by those Astartes that were present for this brutal campaign. The Red Tear also participated in the Signus Campaign, a major Imperial military action conducted at the close of the Great Crusade in the early 31st Millennium by the Blood Angels Legion to cleanse the Signus Cluster -- a triple star system of the Segmentum Ultima near to the galactic centre.
The Primarch Sanguinius' IX Legion was ordered by the Warmaster Horus to cleanse the 7 worlds and 15 moons of the Signus Cluster of xenos invaders and release the humans settled there from their xenos-overlords. Unaware of Horus' perfidy and determination to betray the Emperor of Mankind, Sanguinius willingly obeyed his brother Primarch and immediately set out for this volatile region of space.
Unbeknownst to the Blood Angels, they were blindly walking into a deadly trap, for the Signus Cluster had fallen prey to agents of the Ruinous Powers and become a veritable Realm of Chaos in microcosm -- a system of hellish Daemon Worlds under the rule of a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh known as Kyriss the Perverse.
The Red Tear eventually crashed onto the surface of Signus Prime after its commanding officer, Admiral Athene DuCade, was driven mad by the presence of Chaos. She destroyed the navigational controls and killed the remaining bridge crew. Most of the warship's line crew died from the Chaos-induced madness during the flagship's deadly descent to the surface or from the impact of the great vessel.
Sanguinius declared the Covenant of Baal as the Blood Angels' new flagship and had the badly damaged Red Tear turned into a planetside fortress. Following the Blood Angels' pyrrhic victory on Signus Prime, the Primarch ordered the IX Legion to excise all evidence that it had ever come to that forsaken place.
The salvaged Red Tear slowly rose from the surface of the conquered planet, sloughing off broken shards of metal and the earth that held it, fighting gravity every metre of the way into orbit. The warship had been terribly damaged, but like the Blood Angels themselves, she had defied the odds and the plans of a deceitful enemy to ascend again. The Blood Angels would leave nothing behind in that blighted, murdered place. Not their ships, not their relics and certainly not their precious dead.
Beneath the central plane of the main hull of the Red Tear, a blade-like keel dropped away, thinning to a wicked point. Located there were many of the Battle-Barge's secondary cannons and the hangars for the warship's auxiliary spacecraft. Cavernous docking bays, large enough to house and maintain a brace of Escort frigates, ran the width of the vertical structure.
But it was from above that the true martial glory of the Red Tear was revealed. If an observer could place themselves at a point high up over the centre of the warship's hull, looking down they would have seen that the starship gave iron reality to its name.
The Battle Barge was built around the form of a great ruby teardrop, and from its port and starboard sides, winglets bearing engine clusters and troop bays reached outwards, mimicking the design of the Legion sigil of the Blood Angels. Against the black and infinite dark, the Red Tear was a sculpture that showed the proud defiance of humankind. It was at once monument, weapon and fortress of the Sons of Sanguinius -- and a worthy starfaring chariot for a Primarch.
Beneath the solar dome at the top of a great tower lay a magnificent reception hall. Pillars of red marble mined from the fiery lands of Baal's equatorial regions ranged from floor to ceiling, holding up veils of silk that were finely worked with intricate detail. These hanging banners served as the IX Legion's battle records, showing every engagement the Blood Angels had fought, from the final skirmishes on Terra during the twilight of the Unification Wars, through two standard centuries of the Great Crusade.
The tiled floor of the reception hall had the familiar shapes of Terra and Baal, a relief that constantly shifted with the two planets laid one atop the other. At times Baal was in the ascendant and at other times Terra was. Terra peered out over the shoulder of Baal, its scarred and city-bound surface visible as if it were an eclipsed moon. The mosaic seemed fixed and static, but that was an illusion.
The closer the Red Tear came to Terra across the galactic plane, the more the planet would wax while Baal waned, and vice-versa. In the centre of the chamber long feasting tables lined the length of the hall. This was where the Captains from the IX Legion's 300 companies came together in communion to feast, celebrate and often times to plan the details of a campaign with their Primarch leading the proceedings.
- Admiral Athene DuCade - Admiral DuCade was the Shipmistress of the Red Tear. Though many within her retinue -- a pair of Imperial Army officers and a female Remembrancer -- always walked warily behind her, trying not to appear cowed by the numbers of hulking figures surrounding them, Admiral Athene DuCade appeared unconcerned by the transhuman warrior host around her. She was tiny in comparison to a typical Legionary, but many heard Astartes veterans describe her as "a maid cast out of iron." DuCade radiated a majesty that most Astartes had only encountered on rare occasions. Nothing, from the largest enemy battle force to the most brutal engagement, seemed to faze the woman. Behind cool, blue eyes there was a tactician’s intellect that was found to be challenging. When Admiral DuCade spoke, even the Angel would listen -- and that alone granted her a rare level of respect not often shown to those mortals outside the IX Legion. Sanguinius had personally selected her to command his flagship, and she had done so as long as many of the veteran Blood Angels had been members of the Legion. Studying her lined, poised face it was difficult to estimate her age; she seemed never to alter, decade after decade, kept timeless by rejuvenat treatments.
- Fear to Tread (Novel) by James Swallow