|Base of Operations||Cauldron Born (Space Hulk)|
|Specialty||Piracy, looting, occasional witchery, doing strange things with each other's organs (no, not that, you sick fuck)|
|Allegiance||Chaos Undivided, maybe kind of; ultimately, they answer only to themselves, as much as they can pull it off.|
The Blood Gorgons are generally considered to be a pretty awesome piratical, renegade chapter of Chaos Space Marines created by Henry Zou for his novel of the same name. In doing so, he also did something that defied the very laws of the universe and Chaos: he made a batch of Chaos Marines that actually have half a shit worth of sense and purpose left in them. Their leader, Gammadin, has a FUCKIN' CRAB CLAW HAND. Suck it, Yarrick.
The Gorgons' patron is a Yetsugei, a powerful daemon independent of the major Gods, who actually seems to be a pretty cool guy (by daemon standards) who doesn't afraid of no big four, relatively speaking that is, for being a manifestation of purest darkness and evil and Chaos and all. It's worth noting in passing that named after the eldest son of (the historical) Genghis "muhfuggin" Khan. Whatever can be said about Yetsugei, though, who is summoned by the Gorgons in moments of crisis for help and consultation (but is written as thinking to himself he'd just as well NOM their souls, he and the chapter have apparently had a long and mutually beneficial relationship (although to the daemon the "beneficial" part seems to be just doing it for the lulz). Other daemons talk shit about him and take their shots, and turns out Yetsugei apparently isn't all that much of a badass among daemons after all; despite talking a good game he fucks right off when more powerful forces intervene.
Badass Mongol name he is not, of course, to be confused with that a certain swift and inscrutable Oriental, nor the historical Terran personage; presumably he withholds his true name, as daemons are wont to do, and comes up with something that might be evocative to human ears (as Genghis "motherfucking" Khan is apparently known about even 39,000 years after his death, as mentioned in more than a few books.) The daemon Yetsugei, though, is said to be older than humanity itself. To be fair, it is a pretty badass name though. Yep, YET-YET-YET-Yetsugei! could work for me if I was a hundred millenia old malevolent preternatural entity who wanted to call myself something when doing sneaky business with some puny mortals.
The Blood Gorgons as a Chapter
While most Chaos Space Marines lose their minds and become deranged sex pests, axe murderers, plague carriers, or hand wringing wicked wizards with no greater goal in life than to wear the skin of their enemies, bathe in the blood of virgins, tote around scary books and write odes to their own phlgem or engage in all sorts of of other crazed theatrics, the Blood Gorgons, after telling the Imperium where to shove it became instead rather boring, as they kept, more or less, their sanity, using the Warp but not going full retard. Consequently, they depart from their brethren by doing silly things like maintaining a functional (and fairly successful) renegade Space Marine chapter that gets shit done for fun and profit, mostly on the piratical side of things with occasional incursions of small numbers of Marines onto Imperial worlds to stir the pot a bit in favor of Chaos Undivided. Still, though, as a whole, they don't really go into Chaos worship, but seem to (having long ago discarded any moral compunctions) just use the "gifts" of Chaos as a tool.
That being said, the Gorgons are definitely corrupted: mutations are almost omniprescent and seen as gifts; their ships and power armour are possessed by daemonic spirits (presumably nonaligned ones like Yetsugei), but nonetheless, they are neither fanatically loyal to Chaos as a theology, like the Word Bearers, nor are they interested in staging mass war against the Imperium, like the Black Legion; and what's more, they've no particular allegiance to any of the Big Four. They seem to have a bit of a beef with Nurgle and the Death Guard (this is a big part of the plot of one of their books, but even before the Blood Gorgons they raided a Death Guard ship. Maybe that started the beef. Why one would want to raid a plague-ridden Nurgley ship is anyone's guess.)
As for the other three, the Gorgons probably make a good enough impression but are either wise enough or insignificant enough not to get trapped into a relationship with such a patron. Their affinity for the main Chaos Gods is obvious, though: they are mentioned as having Slaaneshi sex slaves among their retinue. "Chosen according to the nine Slaaneshi principles of beauty," they are said to be. Khorne probably digs their style in terms of warfare (one dude has "forty metre stacks of plundered weaponry" sitting around in his closet.) Meanwhile in Flesh and Iron they have a really heavy Tzeentchian flavour, not only doing sneaky plots and stuff but repeated references to "change" and loads of mutations.
So really they could be considered to be all over the place. Three quarters of it anyway, which is pretty interesting given how almost every other chapter of Astartes traitoris either hate Chaos despite their corruption, embrace Chaos Undivided, or give themselves entirely over to the Big Four.
What their (loyalist, presumably?) genestock is is anyone's guess. Ultras? Salamanders? Maybe even the White Scars? (fanwanking intensifies...) If traitor stock, then maybe even the XXth? This is probably not a question we'll see answered, so feel free to make up your own headcanon if you wanna make some of the Gorgos your dudes.
Ideology and battle doctrine (such as it is)
They are described as having had "no limits, not physically, nor of time in their immortal age, nor of law or code to restrain them." This is described as "precisely that which made them Blood Gorgons, [raising] them above the loyalist Slave Marines [their term for not just the Imperial Space Marines, but such Astartes as bound themselves to a God or a warlord like Abbadon] who were no better than menials." Pretty harsh burn, and a badass attitude for a (relatively) small warband to take against hordes of Chaos fundamentalists and actual traitor legions, not to mention the Imperials and just about everyone else in the galaxy from the drukharii to the tyranids.
Still, the Gorgons are the closest chapter we're likely to see who look and act like Chaos Reasonable Marines - they even don't treat aligned mortals and slaves like shit (in fact, given the more martially inclined mortal slaves on their ships really quite significant "trustee" roles in terms of day-to-day security and things like that); and also, unlike some compulsively violent groups, they pick their battles carefully. They constantly train to stay sharp, with live-fire exercises (using various captured people and creatures, in the confines of their ECKSBAWKSHUEG SPHESS HULK) pretty much constituting all their downtime (although one imagines the Slaaneshi sex slaves figure in somewhere, too...) Being nomadic space pirates, though, they never stick around too much in one place, neither putting down roots in the Eye of Terror or the Warp or any particular territory (although they took great offense when some slimy and knife-eared fuckers tried to mess with a planet that they used as gene-stock fodder for potential recruits and slaves.
What's more, never placed their faith too much in one Chaos God (well, one of them did, and it didn't turn out so well, read the book (no really, it's good), which may not be available through mainstream venues but is easily found in the usual heretical places), and had a fine old piratical time. They've fought about every faction there is; Imperials of course (an episode is mentioned where they gave the Space Wolves a good licking, as well as the Ultramarines, which had ought to let the heart of each and every anti-fan of the two chapters most often accused of Mary Sue-ness spring with joy.) Hell, they even got into it with good old Abby himself at least once (over what we don't know but they probably were just out to steal his shit.) They never shied away from getting into it with other traitor Marines, either, when it suited their purposes. All around they value their independence and perfection of the art of war above all, and seem to give a good account of themselves against anyone who fucks with their shit or has shit that they want.
To quote the man who developed the chapter and their story, they are interested "only training and fighting [with] were events in between, but those things did not matter." Going on, he describes an exemplar of their chapter as "mentally sharpened to a singular focus [with] no remorse or guilt at [collateral damage]. There was no right or wrong, it had been an act of will in achieving a goal."
It's worth noting, though, that in the "losses" column, though, at least one squad, to their lasting shame, got their asses handed to them by some hoofed blue Asian people ("withdraw in good order," they said. The rest of the Gorgons wouldn't let them live it down, though eventually redemption came in dramatic form.)
Being headstrong, self-determined space pirates, they don't hold territory per se, but do take it very personally when others mess with resources they consider themselves to have exclusive rights to. Also, while they generally aren't into rituals and such other than summoning their patron daemon and the occasional warpfuckery of their shamans, they're still perfectly happy to promote Chaos Undivided ideology (theology?) when it suits them, for example to recruit guerrillas for war against the Imperium on a planet with some resources that interested them. In the latter case, in a manner that would do the Alpha Legion proud, four Blood Gorgons (two "bonds", see below, calling themselves the "two pairs") stealthily supported a Maoist-style insurgency
in an allegory for American involvement in Vietn-on an Imperial planet even turning Jane Fo-some Imperials to their side (it didn't help that the Ameri-*BLAM* Fren-*BLAM* Ecclesi-*BLAM* wait, what were we talking about anyway? *BLAM*. Fuck it. *BLAM*)
Okay, then. So anyway, the Gorgons get some with just about everyone (they even kept some big fuckoff 'nids around their Space Hulk for live-fire practice sessions. Which as alluded to above is apparently a thing for them. They would even do things like leave a platoon of captured Imperial Guard in some nook or cranny of their ship, providing them with a couple of weeks rations and even rudimentary weaponry, then let them wander about so even the Gorgons themselves don't know their location, wait a week or so, and go hunting.
So in short, if you're looking to hear about some off-the-beaten-path Chaos Space Marines, they're fuckawesome.
Whatever else can be said for them, the Gorgons who remained true to their chapter are loyal to their history and values, too even coming to defend a planet that they harvest slaves and potential recruits from, after the simple nomad folk there activated a weird 9,000 year old steampunk emergency beacon because some fat guy with a cauldron was fucking around with them. This got complicated, of course, by an intra-Chapter war which kicked off due to some of their chirgueon-witches getting too far into warpfuckery, but the course of events winds up showing that their cohesion and brotherhood is one of the most important things for them. This was apparently developed over millennia very purposefully, as in the beginning of their departure from the Imperial fold they did a lot of fighting amongst themselves and their leaders (or at least those who came out on top) decided to develop some structures and systems to prevent such infighting again. It didn't work perfectly (otherwise we wouldn't have their titular book to read) but it is a damn sight better than what prevails among a lot of other Chaos-aligned factions.
Sadly, after having hyped up this chapter, the writer must impart that unfortunately, their spiritual liege, the former Black Library writer Henry Zou, who was declared, just like his chapter, excommunicate traitoris for some arguably pretty egregious plagiarism in a passage from Flesh and Iron, the book about the insurgency discussed above, so we may never know what actually befell them, or if they're still doing their thing. The especially stupid thing is that it was just one passage and not even a very compelling one, and Zou was a pretty promising writer.
Notable Characteristics and Practices
Created during the Cursed Founding, they either committed some act of heresy, decided they weren't being appreciated enough by the Imperium and promptly left to do their own thing, or, it is occasionally implied in the books (but never stated outright), did nothing wrong, but were declared excommunicate traitoris by the Inquisition because reasons. "Now," they inhabit a Space Hulk called the Cauldron Born. This is not your ordinary battle-barge, even by the multi-kilometre-long standards of 40K. Not only being fuckhueg, it's a warp-tainted monstrosity composed of Emperor-knows how many ships and asteroids and who knows what else brought together by gravity and warpfuckery, bathed in the Eye of Terror, and then fused with the very soul and flesh of the Chapter Master, who's practically symbiotic with the thing, needing his genecode to really start the thing working. The Cauldron Born (awesome name innit?) is so big that even the Blood Gorgons themselves don't know the whole layout and it developed it's own ecosystem and evolved it's own organisms. Daemons love the place and the Gorgons have to be careful not to summon the wrong ones accidentally or fuck up some pentagrammatic wards or whatever. Every time the ship goes through the warp it gets a makeover, too.
The colour scheme of the chapter is a burnt bronze, and they wear war masks that they claim can scare even daemons, featuring lots of horns and scales and organic-seeming growths. Their unique, perhaps defining, ritual practice, is the Blood Bond, a process where two Blood Gorgons share organs, blood, and other parts of their flesh with each other, literally swapping body parts. This creates a spiritual bond between the two, sharing feelings and sensations. This practice was apparently started after the resolution century-spanning, fratricidal, intra-Chapter war that came after their excommunication from the Imperium. It worked pretty well for thousands of years, and then enough stuff happened to write a novel about it. Go read it, it's pretty good. The title is... Blood Gorgons. Go figure.
Another creepy practice, sort of thematically similar, that they engage in is implanting their slaves (and even a captured deldar) with tiny parasitic worms called "thrall-worms" or "slave-seeds" which are placed inside the cheeks or somewhere on the face of each slave. The thrall-worm is kind of like a cross between the chest-popping alien in Alien and the nightmare-fuel ear-worm from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (no, not the Primarch, the motherfucker, or the daemon; fuck, this is getting confusing.) Anyhoo, the worm swells if the slave is beyond a certain distance from his or her master This swelling, within a day or so, leads to, well, it's grimdark. When the Gorgons deploy off-ship, they extract the parasites, to be replaced again on their return. If they don't return due to death in battle, then the slaves are all slain. Grimdark. (But not without parallels in historical human cultures, either.)
Of note, and of eventual particular significance, not all in the chapter are subject to the Blood Bond. The coven of Chirurgeon-Witches is a hybrid of Apothecaries and Chaos Sorcerers, led by one Anko Muhr. They are psykers responsible for preserving the gene-seed of the chapter, creating new space marines, and performing the ritual that binds brothers together. Between their lack of bonding and their studies of the deeper chaos arts which the other Gorgons distrust, there is a rift between them and the rest of the chapter.
In their eponymous book, Gammadin goes missing and they get betrayed by Muhr, who was allied with a Nurglite warband to subjugate and turn the Blood Gorgons to Nurgle. Fortunately, a Blood Gorgon called Barsabbas manages to pull off some awesome feats like soloing a group of fifteen Dark Eldar Batman-style to free Gammadin. The passage written from the deldar's perspective when they realize they aren't fucking around with regular old mon-keigh is pretty neat, you can almost imagine the smugness wiping off their knife-eared little faces.
Once Gammadin returns, the Blood Gorgons (stripped of their weapons and held prisoner) manage to force the warband of 550 Plague Marines and 4 companies of Septic Infantry to GTFO the Cauldron Born in only nine days, killing their Terminator Lord and Muhr too. Unfortunately, given this pretty badass foundation, it is unlikely that GW will do much more with the Blood Gorgons in future fluff, since Henry Zou was dropped by Black Library for plagiarism. However, the cover art of the Blood Gorgons novel has been reused for every edition of the Chaos Space Marine codex since 6th, so GW hasn't quite forgotten about them yet.