The quest for redemption
Of all the First Founding Legions, only the Dark Angels still maintain close links between their Successors. Although divided into separate chapters after the Heresy, the descendants of the original Dark Angels Legion share the same ancient secret, which binds them together in their search for the Fallen. The Unforgiven chapters work together, coordinating their efforts as they seek to restore the Legion's honour. However, while capturing the fallen is always their first priority, it is essential that no-one outside the unforgiven learns of their quest. In addition, as Space Marines they are also responsible for the defence of the Imperium, which further limits their ability to conduct the search. Therefore, the task of actively hunting down the Fallen is entrusted to a select few from each chapter, the Knights of Order.
The Knights belong to an ancient organisation called the Order, which can trace its origins back to the founding of the Legion. Secretly formed after the Fall of Caliban, only the Dark Angels and their Successors know that the Order even exists, and even then the knowledge is limited to the highest ranking members of the Inner Circle. It is essential that the existence of the Knights remains hidden, for they not only represent the legion's darkest secrets, but also their strongest hope of redemption. The Order takes its name from the band of warriors who first encountered Lion El' Jonson in the chaos infested forests of Caliban, and the Knights still follow the same example and code of honour as their Primarch. Since the Heresy, the Knights have been chosen from all the Legion's Successors, and therefore symbolise the union between the Unforgiven Chapters. This exemplifies the fact that although they obey the dictates of the Codex Astartes, the Dark Angels and their successors still consider themselves one Legion, bound together for eternity by the secrets of their past.
Each Knight is personally selected by the Librarians and Interrogator Chaplains of the Inner Circle. Only the most courageous and honourable individuals are chosen, Space Marines who display all the noble qualities of their Primarch, for as Knights they will learn the secret history of the Dark Angels. Once their character has been proven, the chosen warriors will leave their Chapter, never to return. From that moment on, they are Knights of the Order and their loyalty, first and foremost, is to Lion El'Jonson himself.
The search for the fallen
Since the destruction of Caliban, the Order has had a single mission: the hunt for the Fallen. Unlike their fellow Dark Angels, the Knights are dedicated solely to this quest, and allow nothing to interfere with their task. Although drawn from all the Unforgiven Chapters, the Order itself is a completely autonomous organisation, operating independently of the Dark Angels and their Successors, and can therefore concentrate on this mission without compromising other responsibilities.
The Knights wander throughout the galaxy, constantly watching for any sign that may lead them to their fallen brethren. In order to expand the search, the Knights are usually deployed in small squads far from the other Unforgiven Chapters, and cannot rely on support from their fellow Dark Angels. In addition, as they operate in complete secrecy, they cannot call for any assistance from other Imperial forces. As a result, the Order has become totally self sufficient, providing the Knights with all the weapons, equipment and training they need. Once they have discovered the whereabouts of a Fallen Angel, the Knight's first duty is to inform the Unforgiven. The Fallen were scattered throughout space and time, and it is essential that any information about them is recorded. The nearest Unforgiven forces are then immediately dispatched to assist, although the nature and importance of the mission will only be known to veterans or high ranking officials. If support is unavailable, the Knights will attempt to capture the Fallen on their own. If successful, the Fallen Angel will be imprisoned within a stasis field and transported to the Order's main base of operations - Raquia, where they will be collected by Interrogator Chaplains from the nearest Unforgiven Chapter. Regardless of the outcome, the quest will then begin anew. The Knights cannot rest until all the Fallen have been recovered and the legion's honour restored.
As an independent organization, the Knights are not based in any of the Unforgiven Fortresses. After their induction into the Order, the Knights leave their Chapters and travel to the Raquia Cluster, the dense core of an asteroid belt very close to the Eye of Terror. Although all Imperial records of Raquia have been carefully erased, this place has a very special significance for the Dark Angels. For other than the Rock, the asteroid field is all that remains of the planet Caliban, with Raquia itself centred on the exact location of the legion's home world. It is here, at the very site of the ancient betrayal by the fallen, that the Knights of the Order make their home. Hidden in the heart of the Cluster lies a great, badly damaged star ship deeply embedded inside a massive asteroid. Originally called the 'Angelus Lionus', it was the primarch's command ship and the largest vessel to be destroyed during the fall of Caliban. Now the ruined ship is known simply as the Keep, and since the Heresy it has served as the base of operations for the Order. Although much of the ship is still uninhabitable, several decks have been restored and are used to store all the Order's munitions and supplies. In addition, large cargo bays have been extended and equipped as a small space dock, allowing the Knights to maintain their own fleet of small star ships.
Although the Keep is quite capable of supporting the entire Order, in fact it is very rare for these facilities to be used at all. The nature of their quest means that the Knights are almost always scattered throughout the galaxy, only returning to Raquia to deliver a prisoner, or to pick up supplies and make necessary repairs to their ships. Nevertheless, the Keep remains an important staging post for the Order, defended by automated weapon systems and manned by servitors in the Knight's absence. It is believed that the Angelus Lionus could once again be made space worthy, but in legends only the Lion himself can free the ship from its rocky tomb.
After their initiation into the Order, each Knight is assigned to an existing squad and immediately begins their quest. Although the actual number of Knights can vary considerably, at full strength the Order is roughly the size of a Space Marine Battle Company, consisting of ten squads of ten Knights. However, they are never deployed 'en masse'. Operating on their own, each squad is dispatched to investigate a specific region for rumours of the fallen. In this way, the Unforgiven are able to search a far greater area of the galaxy. As new members of the Order are chosen to replace lost brethren, each squad usually consists of a mixture of new Initiates and experienced Veterans. However, once they are assigned, the Knights remain in the same squad until their death, forming an unbreakable bond of loyalty with their fellow battle brothers. Every squad is given it's own, unique name, such as the 'Knights of the Lion' or 'Hunters of the Unforgiven'. Although they retain their original power armour in its Chapter colours, each Knight also wears a jet black cloak or robe, representing the original Dark Angels Legion and symbolising the union between the Order and the Unforgiven. Occasionally, a band of Knights will suffer such extreme casualties that it becomes impractical to reinforce it with new squad members. In those circumstances, a completely new squad will be created to replace it. Any surviving Knights from the original unit are allowed to continue their quest, becoming Champions of the Order. Natural survivors, they wander alone throughout the galaxy, following up even the vaguest clue or rumour concerning the Fallen. Although they are deadly warriors, the champions are dark, haunted individuals, who forsake the company of others to keep the name of their squad alive.
Each squad is led by a Captain of the Order. These Paladins, as they are known, are the most experienced warriors in the entire organisation, combining incredible combat skills with great tactical ability. They are often Librarians, whose skills and abilities are an invaluable asset in the search. Unlike a normal Battle Company, the Order is not commanded by a single Master. The Lion himself is considered to be their true leader, and no Dark Angel has ever proven themselves worthy enough to take his place. Instead, the Knights are controlled by a Council formed from the Paladins of each squad. This Council co-ordinates the Knight's orders and movements across the galaxy with the Inner Circle, ensuring that the Order is making the best possible use of it's time and resources. For its size, the Order is surprisingly well equipped, with support and resources that would be the envy of most Space Marine Chapters. As they usually operate with completely independence, each Knight is heavily armed with the best weapons available, including advanced technology that is normally only supplied to Deathwatch Kill Teams. Each squad is provided with it's own 'Hunter' class destroyer: high speed, warp capable pursuit craft, specially modified to carry a single Thunderhawk gunship for intra-system operations. The Order maintains its own fleet of these star ships, providing the Knights with all the speed and mobility they need for their quest.