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+++ Index Astartes: Iron Warriors The Alternate Heresy

Armoured with a suspicion borne of bitter experience, the Iron Warriors have often been labelled paranoid, but as the events of the Dornian Heresy proved, not even brother Astartes can be trusted implicitly. As consummate siege-masters, they were instrumental in the success of the Great Crusade, and after the Betrayal they refortified the Imperium to withstand assaults from within as well as without. While other legions place their trust in dangerous psychic powers or the superstition of blind faith, the Iron Warriors depend instead upon thick walls, overwhelming firepower and meticulous planning to ensure victory. Origins

T he Emperor created the primarchs to be paragons of humanity that would lead His armies of conquest, and sensing the threat they posed, the Chaos Gods scattered the infants throughout the galaxy. It is a testament to their Emperor-given abilities and strength of will that, in most cases, they rose to positions of power within their respective societies. In his Speculum Historiale, Carpinus famously proposed that the character of each of the primarchs had been shaped by the cultures in which they were raised, with special mention made of Perturabo and the world of his youth. Olympia was a world divided into mountainous city-states, with open conflict held in check by the heavy fortifications and strong defences that had been honed over the centuries. By the time The Emperor reached Olympia, Perturabo had risen to command the armies of Lochos, one of the city-states. His innate skills allowed him to not only mastermind the successful invasion of several of the neighbouring city-states, breaking hundreds of years of stalemate, but also to confound the pre-emptive strikes from those who feared they would be next. Perturabo was a genius in the arts of siege-craft, but when it came to matters of human interaction, he was cold and detached. All through his youth he had been plagued by loneliness and haunted by the mystery of his own origins. This disconnection was not evident when he was first reunited with his true father, The Emperor. Instantly recognising the bond between them, and finally able to discover the reason for his existence, Perturabo greeted Him with a warmth he had not realised was possible. As they talked, Perturabo came to see his fathers Great Crusade as more than just an exercise in toppling the

defences of worlds that opposed them, but as a means of bringing rationalism and enlightenment to a galaxy mired in superstition. As the first step, The Emperor gifted him the Fourth Legion of Adeptus Astartes, and bade him unify Olympia under his command. The former rulers of the city-states were outraged to find themselves reduced to the status of vassals, but under the circumstances they were powerless to prevent it. Perturabo remoulded the Iron Warriors to his own ideals, but in speaking with his techmarines, it became apparent that there was still much for him to learn. While his legion prepared, Perturabo undertook a journey to the tech-adepts of Mars that, for less of a rationalist, might have been called a pilgrimage. He amazed the magos with his powers of analytical reason, and absorbed the accumulated wisdom of the red planet at an astonishing rate. Mars became almost a second home to Perturabo, but eventually the time came for him to apply all he had learned in the Great Crusade. The Great Crusade

P erturabo had trained his legion well, and the Iron Warriors abilities in combat engineering and siege warfare made them highly effective at bringing worlds into the burgeoning Imperium. Seemingly without effort they were able to determine the most efficient route to circumvent enemy defences and bring their bastions crashing down. While the Iron Warriors became essential to the continued momentum of the Great Crusade, their reserved demeanour meant that all-too frequently the credit for their efforts was claimed by other. Perturabo had little need for glory, but he recognised the damaging effect this was having on the morale and effectiveness of his battle-brothers, who did not share his level of clinical detachment. This frustration may have played a part in turning the rivalry between the Iron Warriors and Rogal Dorns Imperial Fists from professional disagreements over siege methodology to outright loathing. The campaign on the planet of Schravann had been so hard fought that four primarchs were present by its conclusion. At the banquet held to celebrate victory, Horus Lupercal of the Luna Wolves warmly praised the Iron Warriors for their achievements, which included the destruction of the final enemy citadel, and proclaimed Perturabo to be the finest exponent of siege warfare in the Imperium. Rogal Dorn, however, disagreed, and said that the Imperial Palace on Terra, which he had designed and his Imperial Fists guarded, was impregnable, and proof against any attack. Perturabo, with cold logic, pointed out that having studied the blueprints, he had found a number of vulnerabilities that a determined attacker could exploit, and further estimated that if the need arose his Iron Warriors could breach the walls within two months. At this, the hall exploded into uproar, as the Imperial Fists accused Perturabo of traitorous intent and of plotting to kill The Emperor. Amid accusation and insult, Perturabos genuine intention to offer suggestions on how The Emperors security could be improved was drowned out, and only the intervention of Horus and Fulgrim prevented the affair degenerating into bloodshed. Unsurprisingly, Schravann was the last planet on which these two legions fought as allies.

After many decades of success, the Great Crusades momentum began to falter. It had pushed out from Terra at such a rate that supply lines had become overstretched and vulnerable. Horus, one of the few primarchs that Perturabo could truly call a friend, asked for his advice concerning the problem which threatened to stall their progress. He concluded that important strategic worlds were falling prey to raiders, or even trying to secede from the Imperium, and that the forces assigned to guard them were unequal to the task. When Horus asked Perturabo for his opinion on the best way to solve these problems, the recommendation was that these strategic worlds be garrisoned by Astartes, and knowing that his legion was by far the best suited for the position, he volunteered his Iron Warriors. Horus suppressed the smile until his brother had left the room. If openly asked to bleed his legions strength away in garrisoning the Crusades flanks, Perturabo would rightly have refused, but a very wise man had once written that the best way to get someone to do something is to let them think it was their idea all along. Perturabo was so clinically logical that all hed had to do was to present him with the bare facts suitably arranged, of course and ask him to impartially determine the most rational course of action... It had been almost too easy.

While the logic of this was undeniable, it had a disastrous effect on legions the morale. They became warriors without a war, isolated and spread out thinly across the galaxy in numbers sometimes as small as a single squad. With supply lines secured, the expeditions moved ever further from Terra, which in turn necessitated the creation of ever more garrisons. The number of Iron Warriors remaining on the front lines dwindled to the point where they were unable to operate efficiently on their own, and became increasingly reliant upon others to carry out their battle plans. This came to the fore at Ullanor, where Horus was named Warmaster of the Great Crusade in The Emperors stead. This honour was due in part to the unprecedented tally of worlds brought into compliance by the Sons of Horus, a number that would not have been nearly as high had it not been for the sacrifice and support of the Iron Warriors. With a brittle calm that belied the tension beneath, Perturabo discussed this with the Warmaster. Using irrefutable logic, he explained that the garrisoned worlds had been stabilised to the point where his legions skills were being wasted. He continued to push, noting the increased resistance being encountered by the expeditions, and that in his opinion his legion was the best suited to bolster the offensive. In the face of Perturabos clinical assessment of the situation, Horus relented, and sensing that their hunger for battle could be used for the good of the Great Crusade, he reassigned nearly half of the garrisons to the stewardship of the Imperial Fists. Liberated from the stifling confines of endless garrison duty, the Iron Warriors returned to the front lines with an uncharacteristic enthusiasm. They set out to prove their worth so comprehensively that the Warmaster would have no choice but to release the other half of their legion. From the cleansing of the Hrud warrens on Gugann, which had resisted Imperial forces for decades, to the toppling of the living crystal fortresses of the Khugee, it seemed as though nothing could stand before their implacable advance. Even the disastrous news that the Ultramarines were poised to secede from the Imperium was

taken as a chance to prove their worth. Loathe as he was to place his legion under the command of Rogal Dorn, who was to lead the assault, Perturabo pledged the Iron Warriors to the task of bringing Guilliman to heel at Istvaan. The astropathic message he received in response was as curt as it was cryptic. It simply said A legion that cannot even hold its homeworld has no place facing other Astartes. Urgent communications with Olympia did indeed reveal that rioting had broken out all across the planet. Angry mobs roamed freely through the streets, attacking Imperial buildings and calling for the return of independence. It appeared that the former rulers of the city-states had moved from embittered resentfulness to open revolt in their attempts to reclaim power. In the confusion no-one thought to ask how Dorn had known of the riots so quickly, and by the time they did, the Heresy had already claimed three loyal legions. The Dornian Heresy

W ith their homeworld in rebellion, Perturabo ordered the Iron Warriors to return to Olympia with all haste. While in transit, news reached them from Warmaster Horus of Dorns betrayal at Istvaan, and of the daemonic forces that stood ready to plunge the Imperium into civil war. Though Perturabo was initially dismissive about the existence of such creatures of nightmare, it seemed that their distrust and dislike of Dorn had been well founded. Only much later, long after the slaughter of the Heresy and the Iron Cage worlds, did the full extent of Dorns plans come to light. Istvaan had been designed as a trap to crush the legions Dorn had been unable to convert to the path of the Ruinous Powers. Rather than running the risk of the Iron Warriors seeing Istvaan for the ambush it was, Dorns agents had instead fomented an uprising on Olympia to draw them far out of position for the coming war. Thankfully, they had underestimated the strength of the recently reinforced Olympian garrison, which was able to rapidly re-impose order and started rooting out the Chaos demagogues and their misguided followers. Confident in the knowledge that his homeworld was secure, Perturabo redirected the fleet towards the planet he was certain would be Dorns ultimate destination Terra. While they had previously been resentful of their garrison worlds, on their journey it became obvious how effective they were at maintaining order, and of the vital role they played in keeping open the loyalists supply lines. Much less welcome were the garrisons they had only recently vacated in favour of the Imperial Fists, which were performing much the same task for the traitors cause. There was no time to raze them, but Perturabo vowed to his legion that they would return to reclaim them as soon as Dorns insurrection had been crushed. Above all things, they must reach Terra and save The Emperor, as to lose Him would be to lose everything. This mantra was hardest to bear when they heard the pleas from their allies on Mars. They were under attack not just from their Chaos-infected brethren and the fallen Titan Legions, but also by the Astartes of the Iron Hands, who it was said were preparing to unleash some terrible weapon from the depths of

the Noctis Labyrinthus. Perturabo yearned to go to Mars, but with the Sons of Horus standing ready to make planet-fall on Terra, they had no choice. Desperate entreaties from the Mechanicus quickly turned to bitter, angry threats, and the ultimatum that if they did not come immediately, they would be as if dead to the Adeptus Mechanicus for all eternity. All manner of poisonous accusations were made, calling the Iron Warriors oath-breakers and worse, so that the fleet had long-since blocked their frequencies by the time global transmissions from the red planet fell ominously silent. Warfare raged across the length and breadth of Terra, but the Iron Warriors were drawn inexorably to the Imperial Palace. It was Dorns self-proclaimed masterwork of defensive engineering, the trigger for the feud that dated back to Schravann. Now it would be their pleasure to tear it down brick by brick. The Warmaster had tasked them only with bottling up the traitors inside, which would slow down their progress to gain entry to The Emperors throne room. The longer their attention was diverted from His real location, the more time the Master of Mankind would have to bring His plans to fruition. Perturabo, however, was not content simply to bombard the palace from afar. He wanted to break the walls and prove to Dorn once and for all the superiority of his legions siege-craft. The Iron Warriors tested the palaces defences and defenders with vigour, gaining valuable insights about the weakness of the design, but losing many battle-brothers in the process. Seeing this, Horus told him to pull back, that these brethren would be needed later. Even Konrad Curze, half a world away, contacted Perturabo and begged him to withdraw. The Iron Warriors, however, had not turned their backs on liberating the garrison worlds and on their friends in the Mechanicus only to walk away from confronting their most hated enemy and the chance of ending Dorns Heresy once and for all. Let the Word Bearers have their hollow chants and litanies of faith, Perturabo thought. To him, there was no finer choir than the full-throated roar of his mighty siege guns. The subtle flaw he had detected in the great gate was becoming more pronounced with every impact one more volley would be sufficient. Around him, his legion stood ready, each battle-brother knowing their role in the imminent breaching assault. As the artillery reloaded and prepared to fire again, Perturabo reflected upon the urgent, almost incoherent vox message he had received from Curze not ten minutes before. All the talk of dire prophesies and visions, warning of his death if he proceeded with the attack - not at the hands of Dorn, but by Sanguinius - sounded at best laughable, and at the worst a sign of Chaos warp-craft. The Imperial Palace was Dorns masterpiece, and if it was about to be breached, he would undoubtedly be there. The massive siege guns fired again, and the Ultimate Gate fractured along the fault with an almighty crack, and a stench of putrescent death. He led his legion at a sprint towards the breach, ignoring the stuttering gunfire from the battlements high above. Ahead, a hot, foetid wind parted the smoke and dust that had obscured the gate to reveal Sanguinius, decaying and yet filled with a terrible infernal power. In one gut-wrenching instant it dawned on Perturabo that Curzes prediction might be true. He could have withdrawn there and then. He could have lived to fight another day, but he would have died inside. That was not the man he was, or would ever be.

Cursing the Night Lord for planting that nagging seed of self-doubt in his mind, Perturabo roared his defiance and charged at the rotting beast that had once been his brother.

On the fifty-fifth day of the siege, the Iron Warriors forced a breach in Dorns supposedly unbreakable palace, and in doing so proved their superiority to the Imperial Fists in siege warfare. However, their attack was repulsed, though not by Rogal Dorn, but by Sanguinius and his Blood Angels. By the end of the battle hundreds of their brothers lay dead in the rubble, yet none broke their cold hearts as surely as the sight of the shattered body of Perturabo. Devastated by the senseless loss of their primarch, the Iron Warriors regrouped for yet another assault upon the Ultimate Gate. Ignoring even the orders of Warmaster Horus, they seemed intent on joining Perturabo in death, and only through the personal intervention of The Emperor Himself were the Iron Warriors brought back to their senses. With great reluctance they withdrew to fortify the new centre of Imperial resistance the Astronomicon. These bulwarks became vital when the traitors breached the walls of the throne room and realised that they had been deceived. The Iron Warriors proved to be as valiant in defence as in attack, and their efforts were pivotal not just at keeping the Traitor Legions at bay, but for inflicting horrendous losses upon them in the process. Their technical knowledge was also invaluable in reconfiguring the Astronomicon, first to weaken the daemonic legions across Terra, and later, after the conclusion of the Heresy, to sustain the critically wounded Emperor in both body and spirit. The Iron Cage Worlds

A lthough Dorn was dead and his minions in full retreat from Terra, the Chaos Legions were far from a spent force. Brutal internecine struggles still raged across the Imperium, and the fleeing Traitor Astartes did all they could to fan the flames of war as they passed. On some worlds they paused for longer, creating festering centres of corruption with which to bring down surrounding planets. Worst of all were the worlds firmly garrisoned by the Imperial Fists. Their presence, and effect for the Traitor cause, had been a heavy burden to bear, and so before the embers had even cooled on Terra, the legion set off to fulfil Perturabos pledge to reclaim them. Their quest was given fresh urgency by the taunting transmissions from these worlds. They told of populations being worked to death as slaves and sacrificed to the Dark Gods to turn each planet into a fortress. The Legion Masters decision to have each Grand Company simultaneously attack a different world to prevent them from finishing their fortifications was initially welcomed as a bold stroke worthy of Perturabo. In truth, it was simply the action of a man driven by grief, and unable to match the skill and judgement of his late primarch. Each Grand Company had links with a different world, and the arguments over which should be liberated first had threatened to tear the legion apart. They arrived to discover that they had been misled, and that the fortifications were already complete. Mourning for

their lost primarch had erased all trace of their normal analytical detachment, and so across a dozen worlds the already depleted Grand Companies walked willingly into the traps that had been set for them. In what became known as the Iron Cage Campaign, the Iron Warriors found themselves embroiled in bloody stalemates. They had insufficient forces to decisively break the enemys interlocking Chaosenhanced fortifications, and too much pride to withdraw from the field. Time after time they stormed bastions, only to find the enemy had already withdrawn, and that the place they had died to claim had been turned into the next killing ground. While they bore their losses stoically, the frustration at never truly getting to grips with the enemy ate away at them. They were haunted by memories of the siege of the Imperial Palace, where they had broken through at great cost only to find their most hated enemy nowhere to be found. As the Iron Cage closed ever-tighter, the same story was being played out across each planet. By a process of grinding attrition the Iron Warriors were being driven to the point of extinction. When barely a quarter of their number remained battle-ready, the Traitor Astartes finally went on the offensive. Recognising their imminent destruction, yet welcoming the chance to finally meet their enemy face to face, only the timely intervention of Abaddon leading a coalition of loyal Astartes prevented their annihilation and broke the Iron Cage. Having resigned himself to his fate, Kruger was surprised to feel the weight of the traitor lift from his chest. Blinking the blood from his eyes, he dimly made out the brutalised corpse of the Imperial Fist being hauled up and thrown effortlessly to one side. Despite the repainted black Terminator armour, Kruger could not fail to recognise his saviour. With a grateful nod, he took Abaddons proffered hand, and rose unsteadily to his feet. Stunned, speechless, he looked out over the battlefield and saw Astartes bearing the liveries of the Death Guard, Thousand Sons, Night Lords, Word Bearers and Abaddons renamed Black Templars falling upon the now embattled Imperial Fists and putting them to the sword. Apologies for our intervention in your warzone, Warsmith Kruger, came the bass growl, but the Iron Warriors skills are required upon Terra. We have an empire to rebuild.

Refortifying the Imperium

W ith the galaxy ravaged by the devastation of the Dornian Heresy, the Iron Warriors were tasked with refortifying first Terra, and then the wider Imperium. They extended and rebuilt the fortifications around the Astronomicon, transforming it into an armoured city far more imposing than the old Imperial Palace. Having seen how effective the garrison worlds had been in imposing order, the legion returned once more to that format. Worlds of strategic importance were chosen, including those guarding the

main routes through the Imperium, centres of industrial production, and in particular the Praeses fortress-worlds which stand sentinel around the Eye of Terror. Bereft of support from the Adeptus Mechanicus, they instead drew tithes from the garrison worlds. This took the form of raw materials, war production, and to help cement the relationship with the planets they were defending, recruits. To ensure the mistake of the Great Crusade was not repeated, where they rapidly found themselves overstretched and isolated, they expanded far above their pre-Heresy levels. This was augmented further still with the addition of vast numbers of weapon servitors, war machines and other, more specialised engines of destruction. This allowed them to be pro-active in defence and strike out at enemies before they got an opportunity to attack. Another factor that drove their expansion was that while they appreciated Abaddons intervention in breaking the Iron Cage, the thought of being beholden in such a way, even to a close ally, now went against their nature. Their distrust is not restricted to their brother Astartes. Such is their disdain of the accuracy of ordnance laid down by the Imperial Army and Navy, and the losses they sustained due to their incompetence, that the creation of their own force of heavy artillery became a high priority. Similarly, the chilly relationship with the Adepts of Mars refused to thaw after the Heresy, and if anything grew frostier as the Mechanicus slipped into superstition. To fill the gap, the Iron Warriors built war machines along similar patterns to the massive Ordinati, towering Knight class walkers and even, it is rumoured, Titans. The Adepts of Mars complained bitterly of this, claiming that such things must have been looted, but the Iron Warriors defiantly maintain that they are solely the results of their own ingenuity. While the legion has certainly been observed to recover damaged Mechanicus assets from the battlefield, such items are always scrupulously delivered back to their forge world of origin. Before the heavy transport had even settled, the brother-lieutenant was out of his command chair and prowling through the lower cargo deck. At his command, row upon row of mobile weapons platforms chirruped inside their transit bays as their controlling gun-servitors awoke. He stalked purposely down towards the rear bay doors until something caught his eye; the designator tattoo on the paper-dry skin of a servitor. The first few characters - JZ03 were the same as those on his arm... they had both come from the same garrison world. The legion made great play of how recruiting from those worlds forged an unbreakable bond, but the dirty truth was that unless you were Olympian-born, your fate was to serve as one of these dead-eyed servitors. He had been the exception, of course. Through sheer ability, determination and guile he had risen through the ranks, but even that didnt stop the distrust and disrespect so casually cast his way. As if on cue, the command-link crackled into life. Half breed - whats the hold-up? Get these damn doors open! came the familiar barracking tone of Fennix, his superior officer. He bit back his acid reply, mentally filed away the insult for later retribution and signalled the cargo doors to open. From the auspex scans the Traitor gene-seed facility seemed surprisingly heavily protected, boasting armoured battalions, infantry and even the characteristic voidreturns of Titans! The coming battle was going to be bloody and brutal. Good, thought Lieutenant Honsou. It was just the way he liked it.

Of all the Traitor Astartes to plague the Imperium, it is those of the former Imperial Fists that draw the majority of the legions attention. Whether they call themselves Black Legion, Scions of Dorn or Crimson Fists, the Iron Warriors take every opportunity to engage them. The elusive nature of the Blood Angels has meant that prospects of bring them conclusively to battle have been all-too rare. The exception to this was on Mackan in late M37, when they drew the plague legion into a trap that resulted in the slaughter of the better part of two Great Companies, and afforded the Iron Warriors a measure of vengeance for the death of their primarch. This focus on the Chaos Legions, especially around the Eye of Terror, has come at the expense of the border with Guillimans Ultramar Segmentum. For all the legions size and power, even they cannot effectively garrison its entire length. Worlds under their aegis resist this implacable advance far better than those around them, which has resulted in small, embattled enclaves of the Imperium deep inside Ultramar space. Organisation

A fter the horrors of the Iron Cage Worlds, and the shame of being saved by Abaddons Massed Crusades, the Iron Warriors resolved never to find themselves in such a position again. To that end they aggressively recruited, so that their Grand Companies contain far beyond the thousand front-line Astartes they had before the Heresy. Most warsmiths are now able to command at least five thousand battle-brothers, and twenty times that number of servitors. The foundation of each Grand Company is its armoury, and the quality and quantity of its output is a source of great pride. Rather than being a separate department, the Apothecarion is subservient to the Master of the Forge, and is responsible as much for creating and maintaining the legions army of servitors as for ministering to their Astartes brethren. Legion Master of the Iron Warriors After Perturabos death, the mantle of Legion Master was taken up by the Warsmith of the First Grand Company. Sadly, his tactical acumen fell far short of that required, and he plunged them headlong into the meat-grinders of the Iron Cage Worlds. He died, along with many hundreds of his brothers, in the frozen hell of High Parsanea, and for his shortcomings his name has been struck from history. Since that time, ultimate power has resided with the Council of Warsmiths, and while the leader of the First Grand Company still bears the title of Legion Master, beyond speaking for the Iron Warriors before to the High Lords of Terra, the role is largely ceremonial. Their innate suspicion frequently sparks rivalries within the legion, and competition between lieutenants is positively encouraged by warsmiths, the better to spur them on to greater efforts, and is only reined in when it threatens to become destructive to the legion. Each lieutenant commands hundreds of

marines, squadrons of armoured vehicles and enough artillery pieces to level whole cities. Periodically these battle-hardened veterans are withdrawn from the front lines to garrison duties, where they are able to refit, repair and replenish their ranks. The task of protecting their garrison worlds is a vital one, as the tithes they bring in are integral to the continued growth of the Iron Warriors. To lose a garrison world is a terrible source of shame, one which a warsmith will go to great lengths to rectify. The death of a warsmith, especially if he has not named a clear successor, is a time of great turmoil as ambition and bitter rivalries come to the fore. On rare occasions the power-struggle is so extreme that the only recourse is to request permission from the Council of Warsmiths to divide the forces and create a new Grand Company. This has seen the number of Grand Companies rise beyond their original twelve, although such events are not taken lightly. Most potential Warsmiths calculate that is preferable to wait for the tides of battle and mortality to elevate them to command of a full strength Grand Company than hastily snatch the reins of a weakened one with the corresponding vulnerability that would bring. Combat Doctrine

T o the uninitiated outsider, the Iron Warriors simply deploy overwhelming firepower to pound their foes into submission, before assaulting the survivors. In truth, their approach is far more analytical, subtle and above all, effective. They retain Perturabos keen intellect, and see the defeat of the enemy as a puzzle to be cracked. In defence they make great use of fixed positions, bunkers and heavy gun emplacements so that even a small number of Iron Warriors can effectively defend a large area from attack. Every aspect is optimised to give clear lines of sight and interlocking fields of fire. Terrain, obstacles and minefields funnel the enemy almost subliminally into optimal killing zones, and the extensive use of high-functioning weapon servitors frees the Astartes themselves to act as a reserve force able to respond to the unexpected, and for their inevitable counter-strike. They are also able to rapidly assess a situation and react accordingly. The most famous example was when the infantry of the Third Grand Company transformed the shattered outskirts the Fortunis hive city into a killing ground within hours of arrival. This stalled the greenskin assault long enough for the Iron Warriors to deploy the full might of their arsenal down from orbit and defeat the horde once and for all. On the attack, they take the same clinical approach. Powerful scans, rolling bombardments and infiltrating feints probe the enemys strengths and weaknesses, and inform their strategy. Each Grand Company uses a different approach, based upon the guiding philosophy of their warsmith and the equipment in their armoury. Most follow the traditional route of a massed armoured blitzkrieg of Vindicators and Fellblades, backed up with mechanised infantry in Land Raiders. The Eighth and Thirtieth Grand Companies, however, prefer to circumvent the enemys defences entirely; utilising extensive teleporter arrays or tunnelling vehicles respectively to strike at the very heart of the stronghold. Others use even more exotic equipment, such as the massive Ordinati of the Sixth, Ninth and Sixteenth Grand Companies and the mighty Knight walkers of the Twentieth that dwarf even dreadnoughts. Before the

Heresy, the Iron Warriors worked closely with the forces of Mars, with the Scriptorum Maxis on Olympia mentioning many instances of Perturabo going to battle aboard the Corvus assault pod of a Warlord Titan. Rumours persist that the First Grand Company still has access to such things, although if they have ever been used, no enemy has ever witnessed it and lived to tell the tale. Homeworld

The Alexiares Spaceport Designed by Perturabo after his first visit to Mars, but not completed until nearly two thousand years after his death, the Alexiares spaceport is one of the technological wonders of the Imperium. Sitting as it does in geosynchronous orbit over Mount Anticetus, Olympias tallest mountain, it is the primary conduit for materials entering and leaving the planet. By lowering adamantium cables through the atmosphere until they reached the base station at the mountains summit, they created elevators able to move bulk goods from orbit to the surface and back in an incredibly efficient manner. Once enclosed and pressurised, the spaceport became in effect the tallest building in the Imperium, boasting a capacity and efficiency far outstripping transport by orbital shuttles. Given its iconic status, its vital industrial role, and the damage caused across Mars when the Uranius Patera orbital elevators were destroyed during the Heresy, the greatest of care is taken to protect this structure from attack. U nder the rule of the Iron Warriors, adamantium and ceramite joined quarried stone to transform Olympia into a fortress-world of unprecedented proportions. The original city-states have become towering armoured hives dedicated to the support of the legion. Crowned with void shields and defence lasers, their summits reach high above the clouds. Competition between hive cities to provide arms, vehicles and recruits for the Astartes is intense, and not always friendly. Since the uprising at the start of the Dornian Heresy, the population has been subject to strict controls. Anything that might disrupt the smooth running of the planet is ruthlessly suppressed, be it misguided subversives, agents of the Ruinous Powers or the excessive rivalry of competing hives. Olympia is at the centre of a web of production that stretches clear across the Imperium, with an output to rival some of the larger forge worlds. Tithes of raw materials flow in from the garrison worlds, and in return, finely crafted weapons of war pass back to supply the Iron Warriors in their campaigns. To this end, Olympia is encircled with orbiting shipyards, solar collectors, space-docks and defence platforms. The fortified nature of Olympia extends far beyond this, though, with fleets of warships, minefields and early warning systems standing ready to challenge any unauthorised visitor.

Beliefs

T he legion is methodical and coldly logical in its approach, and is certain that any problem or obstacle will yield to them in time. The worst tragedies in their history, such as the battle at the Ultimate Gate or the Iron Cage Campaign have occurred when they have embraced passion over reason. Bitter experience has left them mistrustful of others, and in response they have striven to armour themselves against any chance of further betrayal. They remain steadfastly loyal to The Emperor, greatly respecting the rational, secular galaxy He had tried to build, and so have little time for the deification espoused by the Word Bearers. Similarly, such esoteric practices as the use of psychic powers are treated with deep distrust. Though they grudgingly accept the vital role that astropaths and navigators play in the day-to-day running of the Imperium, the study of such things is seen as an unsuitable vocation for an Iron Warrior. In the absence of psychically talented brother-librarians to combat the wiles of the daemonic and the witch, the Iron Warriors have instead applied their technological skills to the task. For the Grand Companies standing sentinel around the Eye of Terror, the null fields and weaponry from the forges of Olympia are prized above even a plentiful supply of ammunition. These devices are seen as yet another kind of fortress, one which protects them against the insidious denizens and whispered madness of the Warp. Gene-seed

A s well as Perturabos cold, analytical logic, traits such as suspicion and even paranoia have been passed onto his marines. Initially the gene-seed of the Iron Warriors was a model of efficiency, but over the millennia a slow but steady deterioration has occurred in some of their implants. Although the Occulobe, Larramans Organ and Omophagea perform well in new initiates, over time they lose their effectiveness. These deficiencies have been addressed where possible by the use of augmetics, so that it is common for veteran Iron Warriors to be fitted with bionic eyes, and to rely heavily upon information from their armours auto-senses. An implant which has shown no sign of degradation over the millennia is the Catalepsean Node, which allows the brain to stay alert for long periods and reduces the need for sleep. Given their extensive duties as garrison troops this is a vital survival trait, as an Iron Warrior without a finely honed ability to stay alert to the approach of enemies would not live long enough to pass on his gene-seed to the next generation. Chief Apothecary Ansul left the office of the Master of Forges barely able to mask his rage. First to be admonished for not reaching the target for new initiates handed down by the warsmith, and then to be

rebuked for the ever-increasing levels of gene-seed instability! The man knew the reason for the degradations as well as he. Time and again over the millennia the Apothecaria had been forced to loosen the checks on gene-seed purity to meet the demands of recruiting. His protests had been given short shrift, and his plea to implement more stringent gene-seed checks had been denied. Even his warnings about the effect of the Grand Companys current proximity to the Eye of Terror had been waved aside as though it was of little consequence. For the last ten thousand years they had been complicit in polluting the Perturabo gene-line. Ansul had wanted to grab the man and shake the complacency out of him, but knew that to lay a hand on his master would result in his death. He thought of the many times he had treated that arrogant fool on the field of battle, saving his life on countless occasions, and realised that perhaps there was another way to deal with the problem...

Battle Cry

T heir favoured battle cry is "Iron Within, Iron Without, symbolising their rigid, unbending will, and the thick armour with which they surround themselves.

Index Astartes: Iron Hands The Dornian Heresy

Throughout their history, the Iron Hands have striven to strengthen humanity by purging the weak, knowing that it is the only way for mankind as a race to survive. On learning of the enormity of the threat posed by the Ruinous Powers, and the insidiously corrupting effect it had upon the body and mind, Ferrus Manus decreed that only through mechanisation could Chaos be defeated. His aim was to create cold, logical intelligences, shorn of the emotions which stirred up the Warp, and housed inside bodies of unyielding metal. The Iron Hands have clung to this ideal even at the expense of being classed as traitors and renegades, but now, after ten thousand years of hiding, their preparations to ascend the human race beyond the frailties of the flesh are nearly complete.

Origins

K nowing that only the greatest of warriors would be equal to the task of commanding His legions in the Great Crusade, the Emperor used all of His skill to create twenty primarchs - beings of unparalleled potency. Before His sons could even be born from their metal wombs, they were stolen away by the Ruinous Powers and scattered across the length and breadth of the galaxy. The one containing the primarch of the Tenth Legion of Astartes fell to earth upon the death world of Medusa, a planet plagued by constant tectonic activity and an atmosphere wreathed in choking ash. Medusa bred a hardy and unsentimental people, who banded into clans which were constantly on the move, and clashed on occasion to claim what little food was available. For them every day was a new trial, and any weakness a luxury they simply could not afford. In the decades after arriving on Medusa, the young primarch wandered the world. On his travels he sought out the clans, accompanying them briefly to exchange knowledge or to defeat a predator, but never formally joining any of them. Given his abilities and the esteem in which he was held, he could easily have unified the clans under his leadership. Instead he remained a distant figure, subtly guiding their actions, but never taking sides in their skirmishes, or even trying to prevent them, recognising as he did the important role this played in winnowing out the weaker elements. According to legend, he was drawn to a nightmarish area of the planet known as the Land of Shadows, a place haunted by monsters and the spirits of the dead. There, he hunted down a terrible creature known variously as the Great Silver Wyrm, or Asirnoth the Dragonshard, which had preyed upon the clans for as long as anyone could remember. After an epic battle he was finally victorious, though his hands were forever stained with the silver blood of the beast, gaining him the name of Ferrus Manus He of the Iron Hands. The arrival of the Emperor and His armies upon Medusa caused great fear and suspicion amongst the clans, but Ferrus Manus was unafraid. He strode out alone to face the newcomer, and challenged Him to trials of strength and skill to prove His worth. Over the coming days of evenly matched contests, a great bond of familial love and respect was forged, and Manus accepted wholeheartedly his destined role within the Great Crusade. Command of the Tenth Legion of the Adeptus Astartes was bestowed upon him, and with it the planetary governorship of Medusa. Though he had up until then resisted all such leadership roles, Manus grasped its importance, and approached this challenge in the same way he had every other in his life; with fortitude and cold logic. He was intrigued to meet the Astartes who had been created from his genetic template, and was satisfied to recognise much of himself in their character, even renaming the legion the Iron Hands to reflect this. From them he continued his education about the wider Imperium, absorbing knowledge at a prodigious rate and demonstrating an innate genius for technical matters which astounded the legions

techmarines. Just as he learned from the legion, he also instilled within them the Medusan philosophies of stoicism and self-reliance, and the attitude that for a society to flourish, weakness must be unsentimentally and brutally eliminated.

The Great Crusade

T he legions Expeditions of conquest spread out from Medusa to bring the scattered human colonies under the Emperors dominion, and in the main headed into the wild, uncharted expanses of Segmentum Pacificus in the galactic west. For the Iron Hands, especially those born and raised on Medusa, they found that very few planets could match their ethos of self-reliance. Their approach to these worlds was straightforwardly single-minded; any resistance was met with merciless and overwhelming force. Just as they fought clan against clan on Medusa to compete for scarce food and resources, they had no qualms about inflicting horrendous casualties to bring worlds into the light of the Imperium. In the face of these tactics planetary leaders would frequently find their pleas to surrender ignored, only to be tasked with weeding out the weaker elements from their populations themselves before the Iron Hands would call a halt to hostilities. Though many deemed the Iron Hands methods to be thuggish and barbaric, it was simply their way of ensuring that humanity was strong enough to face the myriad dangers the galaxy held.

In the forges deep beneath Mount Narodnya, Ferrus Manus laboured long into the night to hone the blade. Where other men would have long-since professed it as a masterpiece, Manus saw the scope to improve and refine it still further into a thing unsurpassed by human endeavour. When Fulgrim of the Emperors Children had swaggered into the forge and boasted of his skills, he had instantly hated such preening arrogance, but as the weeks had passed he had actually come to respect and even admire his brother. In his own way, Fulgrims quest for perfection was like his own drive to eliminate weakness in all its forms. Their competition had driven them both to the limits of their powers, which could only be a good thing. The subject of his labours had long ago ceased to be a mere power sword. It had transcended. He supposed it must simply be inspiration, but looking back now at the schematics he still could not fathom from where many of the ideas had sprung. It was as though - without even any conscious thought - his silver hands had time and again fashioned the ideal solution. At long last the sword was complete. No armour forged, no protective field, could stand against such a weapon. Let his brother look upon this Fireblade and weep, for it was what he had been searching for It was perfection.

Ferrus Manus set the Iron Hands the formidable challenge of bringing every human world within a wide arc of the galaxy into Imperial Compliance, an undertaking they carried out with resolute stoicism.

Though it took more than a century of blood, sacrifice and pain, at long last they reached the Halo Stars at the very edge of the galaxy. On a world so distant from Terra that the Astronomicon was but a guttering candle in the night, the Iron Hands reached the furthest extent of their conquests. The planet, appropriately named Terminus by fleet astrocartographers, was a place of dust and sand long-since scoured of life - even its star was old and nearly exhausted. Yet it was a milestone, and the place where the legions fate would change forever. Scans of the planet revealed that deep beneath the surface lay a network of vast caverns clearly not of natural origin. Upon gaining entry they found all manner of seemingly potent, though dormant, machineries of xenos origin and after only the briefest of examinations, Ferrus Manus bade his legion leave him and return to orbit. Though much vexed by this turn of events, the Iron Hands respected their primarchs wishes. When Manus emerged, he was a man transformed, and much saddened by what he had found. Ferrus Manus explained that he had been able to decipher some of the databanks, which told the history of an advanced race from a time before life on Terra had even emerged from the oceans. Their empire had spanned the galaxy and their power seemed unassailable, little realising the malevolent threat of Chaos that lived at the heart of the Warp. The Empyrean, they eventually came to learn, was populated not just by the mindless warp-predators which attacked unprotected ships, but by entities of godlike power and unspeakable evil. They had at first welcomed the rise of psychic powers amongst their race, realising too late that their use weakened the walls protecting reality from this universe of horror, allowing madness and daemonic possession to run rife. This caused a tide of suspicion, bloodshed and hysteria to sweep the galaxy, which only acted to strengthen the creatures which lived in that shadow-realm, as such powerful emotions were a feast for them. Even their most powerful warriors were not immune to corruption or possession, and they turned their weapons upon any who would not follow them into damnation. As the war raged, the Ancients tried to use their advanced technology to create wholly synthetic bodies for themselves that would be immune to the temptations of the flesh, and the warping powers of Chaos. In scores of hidden bases across the galaxy, of which the caverns of Terminus were but one, they raced desperately to free themselves from the trap of flesh before their entire race was extinguished. They failed. The countless millions of silent metal shells which they found in the depths of the catacombs below were to have been hosts to the race, but instead stood silent and dead as statues. The words of their primarch moved the assembled Iron Hands deeply, not least because it voiced for them feeling they had been unable to properly express since the earliest days of the Great Crusade. Despite their pragmatic and rational nature, the legion had seen much which could not be explained, and this gave reason to the irrational. In particular, the proximity of Medusa to the Eye of Terror meant that their Expeditionary forces had faced whole worlds in thrall of psykers, where madness and mutation were rife, and daemonic creatures of nightmare had been all-too real. It was clear to the Iron Hands that history was even now repeating itself, and that humanity was

sleepwalking towards the same fate as the Ancients before them. Unless they acted, mankind would be corrupted, trapped and consumed by the Dark Gods of the Warp. On that day, Ferrus Manus set his Iron Hands the task of examining the technology contained within the scattered tomb-worlds and developing it to the point where it could be used to ascend mankind beyond the frailties of flesh.

Ferrus Manus walked ahead of his brethren, drinking in the majesty and power of the dormant machines. They were old old beyond imagining and yet something within him was certain that they could be made to live again... To live struck him an odd phrase to apply to a machine, but here, inside the hidden caverns of Terminus, it felt somehow fitting. As he walked, his armoured feet kicked up eddies of the fine brown dust which coated every surface. All except the thing he had at first taken to be a large mirror. Upon closer inspection he noticed that the silvery surface was fluid, like a pool of mercury held vertically against the wall. Something about the way it moved fascinated him, and without knowing quite why, Ferrus Manus reached out his silver hand to touch the shimmering mirror...

The Hard Road

T he undertaking before the Iron Hands was an epic one, made all the more difficult as it had to be carried out alone, and in complete secrecy. They could not risk telling even the Emperor of their plans, concerned either that He might oppose them, or, given the interconnected nature of psychic powers and the Warp, that the Chaos Gods might learn of it. As long as they continued to bring fresh worlds into the Imperium, the legions private mission to investigate the tomb-worlds went without notice. While his legion did this, Manus returned to Medusa, and in a rare seismically calm area located at the centre of the Land of Shadows, constructed a vast chamber to house his great work. A steady stream of data and arcane machinery flowed into Medusa from across the galaxy, but it soon became apparent that not all of the equipment they required was to be found on dead worlds. The most important artefact of all was located on a planet that was far from deserted. It was buried beneath the surface of Mars. Given the jealous way with which the Adeptus Mechanicus guarded their secrets, the idea that they would allow the Iron Hands to excavate and remove anything from Mars was simply out of the question. Despite the Terran system being the most heavily defended in the Imperium, and Mars being protected by Titan Legions and other potent engines of destruction, plans were drawn up to take the Artefact by subterfuge. These desperate ploys were abandoned when it became clear through the Ancients machines that the Ruinous Powers were already moving to tear the Imperium apart in civil war. With time so desperately short, Manus formulated an audacious scheme to use these events to his advantage. Knowing that Rogal Dorn, the chosen pawn of the Ruinous Powers, would attempt to play upon any

perceived character flaw, Manus deftly used this to his advantage. He contacted Dorn and spoke of his concerns for the Great Crusade, for the need for strong leadership if the Imperium was not to crumble under its own weight, and of the high-handed way the Adeptus Mechanicus so jealously guarded their technological treasures. Over the course of that fateful conversation, Manus allowed Dorn to draw him into the conspiracy to depose their father, and was sure to let just a flash of avarice tarnish his modesty when told that the Iron Hands would be the ideal rulers of Mars under the new order. Fine words alone were not enough to secure Dorns trust, and the access to Mars they required. The pact had to be sealed with blood and sacrifice at Istvaan V. There they were expected to help ambush and crush three legions that Dorn had been unable to convert to his cause, including their brothers-in arms, the Emperors Children. They yearned first to warn them, and later to join them in battle against the traitors, yet knew they must not. It is a testament to the legions resolve and trust in their primarch that not a single Iron Hand faltered in the face of their duty, even when the battle brought the two legions together. They could not be seen to hold back even in the slightest against their former friends, and Fulgrims legion attacked their perceived betrayers with incandescent fury. The two primarchs met, albeit briefly, and although Manus had his brother at his mercy, he faltered. In that instant of hesitation, Fulgrim pressed his attack, grievously wounding Manus and severing his left hand before they were again separated by the tides of battle.

Ferrus Manus, or rather the thing which now wore his face, selected his next victim. The Emperors Children as a legion may not have fallen to Chaos, but the Dragonshard Manus could see it had taken root within the heart of the arrogant duellist captain before him. Though not as pronounced as that which had claimed Rogal Dorn, it would have consumed him within a short span had they not come here to die on Istvaan V. Before the man could even open his mouth to issue a challenge, the Dragonshard leapt forward and gripped his sword by the naked blade. Lucius eyes widened first in surprise, and then shock, as the powerfield strained uselessly against the impenetrable silver metal. Inefficient and incomprehensible though it was, such acts of intimidation were vital in maintaining the illusion of humanity. Similarly, it took not even a moment of pleasure at the mans demise. As the Dragonshard considered the irony that the death had been caused by the warhammer forged by the mans own primarch, it was transfixed with unutterable agony. It looked down to see a blade erupting from its chest, and the stench of its own seared flesh filled the air. As the sword was ripped from its back, the Dragonshard toppled over into the trampled mud, and from the corner of its eye saw the unmistakable sight of Fulgrim - the Phoenician bearing down once again. Reflexively, he raised his hand to ward off the blow, but the blade was of no ordinary construction. It was the Fireblade, forged by the original owner of this body, and then given away in a useless display of friendship. Though he had not even known it, the weapon incorporated the peerless technology of his master. With a sickening crunch, Fireblade sheared clean through the metal of the Dragonshards left wrist, and in the moment before it was swept to safety by a phalanx of Manus personal guard, the thing at last felt the bitter sting of emotion. It at last felt fear.

With the three loyalist legions effectively destroyed and their place inside Dorns rebellion cemented with blood of their brothers, the Iron Hands set course for the Terran system. During the journey, Manus crafted a masterpiece of the bionic art in adamantium to replace the hand he had lost. It was a reminder not just of the price they had all paid at Istvaan, but also of the dire cost of even a moments sentimentality. While the Imperial Fists and the Salamanders continued on to Terra, the Iron Hands headed for Mars. They ignored the calls for aid from their supposed Chaos allies and instead made planet-fall close to the area known as the Noctis Labyrinthus. While the region was being secured from attack, Ferrus Manus led the legions assembled techmarines through caves deep beneath the red planet, and to the prize they had sacrificed so much to obtain. What they found was a vast cavern that, but for the patina of aeons, was all-but identical to the one constructed back on Medusa. Although empty to the naked eye, the chamber gave an indefinable impression of being somehow crowded and oppressive, which Manus explained was a side-effect of the Martian Artefacts extra-dimensional nature. Such was the complexity of the item that Manus ordered all manner of arcane equipment be put in place before it could be moved. The wilds of Noctis Labyrinthus were far from the most intense clashes between the Mechanicus and their Chaos corrupted brethren, and for more than a week the Iron Hands faced little in the way of attacks. It was, however, simply a matter of time before their presence brought down the full might of the Titan Legions. Before the Iron Hands could test their mettle against this formidable foe, Ferrus Manus called every one of his battle-brothers down to the cavern. There he revealed that the equipment they had installed was designed to transport them, and the Martian Artefact, across the galaxy to Medusa in an instant. Manus instructed the Iron Hand fleet to break orbit and return to Medusa using the more traditional method to avoid the technological devastation that would result as a side-effect of this device. By the time everything was in place the surface above was subject to a full-scale bombardment which shook the very bedrock with its fury. As Ferrus Manus approached the control panel and raised his hands for silence, even the drums of war seemed to fall silent in anticipation. This was broken by the unearthly howl of pent-up energies seeking release, and a sickening sense of movement. They had returned to Medusa, but before the legion could celebrate their success it became clear that something had gone terribly wrong.

Manus had learned much in the years of his imprisonment. So sure had the Dragonshard been in its mastery of him, that it had not even felt the need to restrict his access to its memories. What he had found had filled Manus with anger and grief, but he was resourceful, patient, and one of the Emperors primarchs. Now, with the loss of its silver hand at Istvaan, and the ritual to transport its alien master back to Medusa requiring so much of its concentration, Manus knew that his moment had come. If it worked, both he and his legion would be destroyed, but better that than they misguidedly continue

down their current path. Exerting all of his considerable will, Manus subtly began to prematurely rouse the entity from its aeons-long hibernation. The Void Dragon awoke both disoriented and hungry, and reflexively began to feed upon the life forces which surrounded it.

Ascension Delayed

T hrough some unforeseen mishap the translation process from Mars to Medusa had prematurely triggered the Artefact, with dire consequences for the assembled Iron Hands. The machine had been intended to free humanity from its reliance on flesh and bone and transfer consciousness seamlessly into constructs of unyielding metal, but without the necessary equipment in place it proceeded to drain the life from all those around it. By the time Ferrus Manus was able to stop it, the majority of his legion had been reduced to powder-dry husks inside their suits of power armour, and even those who could be saved were debilitated, their flesh and muscles atrophied. Worst of all, the Martian Artefact had been so badly damaged that many decades of work, and the full resources of all of the hidden bases, would be required before another attempt at re-activation could be attempted. Their intention had been to start the process of transforming mankind within weeks, ending the threat of Chaos and Dorns Heresy at a stroke. Instead, the terribly weakened Iron Hands were viewed by both sides as pariahs; the Imperium classed them as traitors for their actions at Istvaan, and the Chaos Legions cursed them for ignoring their calls for aid during the Siege of Terra. As much as it revolted them, they needed to hide. By the time the Iron Hands fleet had arrived back from Mars, the individual great companies, as well as their attendant clans, were ready to relocate to the Ancients bases across the galaxy. What they found on arrival was that the tomb complexes had also been destroyed by the same cataclysm which had afflicted them on Medusa. At precisely the time the Martian Artefact had been triggered, the machineries had activated and built to catastrophic overload. With only the detailed scans taken by the survey teams, and the technological genius of Ferrus Manus, the newly integrated clan companies set to the task of rebuilding not just their depleted numbers, but the machines of the Ancients. For thousands of years the Iron Hands remained hidden from prying eyes, venturing out only to raid for vital supplies, and even then making certain they did not leave any witnesses or hint of their involvement. To the wider galaxy it was assumed that the Iron Hands had simply been casualties of the Dornian Heresy, their passing unmourned by both sides of the war. However, with each machine they

rebuild, more and more advances in technology were revealed. Bionics, powerful Gauss weaponry, space travel without passing through the Warp and phased teleportation were all developed and put to use in improving the legions capabilities. While Astartes had been designed to be long lived, unlike their primarch they were not ageless. Though able to alleviate the weight of centuries by mechanising their bodies, had it not been for Iron Father Blantars breakthrough of transferring the brain and personality into crystal matrix form then their only option would have been entombment within the support systems of a Dreadnought. The Blantar Process proved once and for all that it was indeed possible to eliminate the weaknesses of the flesh, but so complex and difficult was it that not every Iron Hand, let alone every member of the human race, could be converted in this way. The Martian Artefact had taken a terrible toll upon the Iron Hands, not least upon Ferrus Manus himself. Although it took many millennia, he eventually recovered sufficiently to face a fellow primarch, and in the process gained a measure of vengeance for the injury done to him on Istvaan. Ferrus Manus was able to phase into the heart of the Emperors Childrens flagship and confront Fulgrim alone in his own state room. He defeated his brother in single combat and stripped him down to his component atoms with Gauss blasts, before reclaiming the silver hand taken as a trophy by Fulgrim on Istvaan. With his silver hand restored and his body whole once more, Ferrus Manus returned re-energised to the task ahead.

It was with something approaching reverence that the Dragonshard approached the primarchs gaudily ornamented trophy case. After spending so long separated, being less than whole, the anticipation was palpable. There, amongst dozens of other relics of importance to Fulgrim, lay its severed left hand cradled upon a cushion of purple velvet. The pane of glass shattered easily, and it plucked the hand hungrily from where it lay. As though pulling on a glove, its bionic left hand slipped easily inside the fluid silver, and merged seamlessly with the metal at its wrist. A sense of wholeness, of completeness, washed over the Dragonshard. It even drove away the sullied nature of its victory over Fulgrim. It was certain that before the Phoenician had been completely flayed away to his component atoms, that he had been phased away, although to where, or in what state he would be, it was impossible to tell. It had thought the echo which haunted him had long-since been driven to insanity by his containment, but it seemed that he had merely been waiting for the moment to strike. Let Manus savour that small victory, because with this body whole once more, the troublesome ghost would soon be exorcised.

With the legion resurgent, the Iron Hands were at last able to carry out raids to procure the more difficult items required to reactivate the Martian Artefact. This has involved the legion attacking targets openly, along with the attendant risks of retribution. The largest assault was their campaign to capture the Blackstone Fortresses, in which the entire legion combined to attack strategic locations in the Gothic

sector to cripple the Imperiums ability to stop them from attacking their true targets. The Blackstone Fortresses were orbiting bastions, thought to be of Xenos origin, that the Imperium had crudely fortified with little concept of their true potential. Manus, however, through close study of the archives of the Ancients machines, had learned their secrets, and how to turn them against their defenders. During the opening stages of the campaign they were able to claim three of the Blackstone Fortresses before the arrival of massed Imperial reinforcements. This made matters significantly more difficult, with the Astartes of the Death Guard destroying the fourth at Anvil 206, and the fifth spirited away from Fulvaris by the Eldar. However, the Iron Hands were able to take advantage of the bitter in-fighting between the Eldar and the Death Guard to claim the final Blackstone Fortress at Schindlegeist. Leaving the Gothic Sector, the Iron Hands brought the Blackstone Fortresses to their full potential, and combined the four into a force capable of destroying whole stars. On the orders of Manus they attacked and completely obliterated worlds which were pivotal to the future schemes of the Dark Gods. No visible seed of Chaos was detected on Pavonis in Ultramar Segmentum, a Dyson Sphere hidden beneath the plane of the galaxy, or in any of the half a dozen other systems they destroyed, indicating that the legion had prevented the corruption from spreading any further.

The Farseer studied the wraithbone runes once more, but their divinations were as opaque as ever. Despite his best efforts, the Dragons servants remained shrouded from view, with only the most maddening of hints revealing themselves. He searched the possible futures for the best path to take, but the fates were too tangled even for someone of his abilities to be sure. In the attempt to understand his enemy, he had studied the many possible strands of Manus early history, and remembered with envy the fates where mercy had seen him die before he had been drawn to one of the Dragons traps. The Farseer did not know what lie the Iron Hands had been told, but he was certain that they must even now be unwittingly assembling and arming vast numbers of Necron-like constructs, unaware that the mon-keigh would not be spared the great harvest when the Dragon awoke. The three Talismans of Vaul already in their possession could be combined to destroy whole planets and even stars - what damage would they wreak if they were allowed to claim all six? Most of his peers believed that, despite their incredible destructive capability, their aim was simply to destroy them, thereby removing one of the few weapons capable of killing the Yngir. However, the more perceptive among them had realised that they would instead be used to destroy the other Yngir, leaving the Dragon to rule unopposed. Most of the other Craftworlds had claimed that such in-fighting was an outcome to be welcomed, and that any intervention only risked provoking the Death Guard into persecuting them all the more, but they were wrong. Whatever the cost, and whatever the other Craftworlds chose to do, they must retain some way to defeat the Yngir. The Embrathar Craftworld must go to war.

In the dying days of M41, the legion is in the process of claiming the final items for their primarch, and the caverns beneath the tomb worlds are filled with countless billions of metal shells ready to house the

essence of humanity. As though sensing that the end is near, both the forces of Chaos and the Imperium have sought out the Iron Hands hidden bases, but nothing can be allowed to interfere with their second, long-delayed attempt to activate the Martian Artefact.

Organisation

I n the aftermath of the Medusan Cataclysm the clan companies were desperately few in number, but over the millennia they have steadily rebuilt their ranks so that each now contains many thousands of warriors. Each Iron Hand clan company is resolutely independent, isolated beneath the surface of their own world not just from humanity, but from the rest of the legion. Their insular nature is such that forces from different clan companies rarely fight alongside one another, except upon the orders of Ferrus Manus himself. The primarch still resolutely commands the scattered legion, and in recent centuries the silver which had before coated his hands has spread to cover his entire body. He moves between the clan companies in a heavily converted Battle-Barge, which contains at its heart the cavern that houses the Martian Artefact. With every visit to a clan company, Manus consults with their leaders, directs their research, collects fresh components, and designates new targets for raids. The clan companies themselves are led by marines so ancient that most are veterans of the Great Crusade. With such great age comes immense experience and wisdom, which has been rewarded with complete mechanisation. So bulky and valuable is the Blantar equipment that fully mechanised marines must enter battle housed inside one of the legions suits of Terminator armour. Such is the veneration of these ancients that their presence is used to inspire and lead squads of their younger power armoured brethren on particularly critical missions. While the commanders direct the clan companies in the ways of war, it is the Iron Fathers who lead the research into rebuilding the machineries of the Ancients and applying their secrets to strengthen the legion. Because of this, Iron Fathers hold extremely influential positions, not just within their clan companies, but amongst the wider legion, and are able to move unimpeded between Iron Hand worlds in pursuit of the next technological breakthrough.

Homeworlds

A fter their evacuation from Medusa, the clan companies scattered to the forgotten corners of galaxy. There, hidden from prying eyes, they quietly and patiently rebuilt their bodies and worked to bring

about their primarchs master-plan. These new homeworlds were little more than lifeless lumps of rock, having been scoured of life aeons before in the war between the Ancients and the Ruinous Powers. Such barren worlds would have been the death of most settlers, but to the stoic former inhabitants of Medusa this was seen as simply another challenge. While the Imperium degenerated into confusion and weakness, they lived underground among the ruins, raiding to get what they needed to painstakingly piece the vast machines back together. With the culmination of Manus great plan almost at hand, the Iron Hands have had to become ever bolder in their attacks to claim the final, vital items needed to activate the Martian Artefact. This has meant that their enemies, in particular the Eldar, the Thousand Sons and Sigismunds Black Legion, search all the more intensively for the location of the Iron Hands. Though their bases are buried far beneath the surface of otherwise dead worlds, and are shielded from even the most determined of scans, it is surely only a matter of time before the hidden weaponry which protects the worlds of the Iron Hands are used in earnest.

Gene-seed

T he Iron Hands recruit almost exclusively from amongst the attendant clans of the Medusan diaspora, both due to the need for secrecy and because of the natural superiority of such a hardy breed. The exceptions to this are those staggeringly rare individuals who, through a quirk of genetics, cast no shadow into the Warp. Similar to the Sisters of Silence, the mere presence of these Blanks or Psychic Nulls causes pain and unease amongst psykers and disrupts the use of their unnatural powers. So valuable are these abilities to the Iron Hands that despite their lower rates of successful gene-seed implantation than those recruited from the Medusan clans, the Iron Hands have been known to raid worlds specifically to capture these anomalies. Those recruits strong enough to bear the stresses of the implantation process gain all the benefits of the Manus gene-line. However, they recognise that even as paragons of the human form they are still vulnerable to the predations of the Warp and the innate frailties of the flesh. To this end, the first act an Iron Hand undertakes upon becoming a full battle-brother is to symbolically have his left hand removed, and replaced by a bionic fist of unyielding metal. This is symbolic both of the sacrifice and loss suffered by their primarch on Istvaan, and the first step on a path they hope will lead to complete mechanisation. Although only the oldest and most senior members of the legion ever attain this lofty ideal, they retain a palpable link to their primarch even when every last gene-seed implant has been replaced by metal and circuitry.

Combat Doctrine

A lways a technologically adept legion, the Iron Hands have used the xenos artefacts and secrets of the dead worlds unlocked by Ferrus Manus to give them access to weapons and abilities far exceeding those of the Imperium. Their phasing technology allows the Iron Hands to appear seemingly from nowhere, catching their opponents unawares. It is also used to instantaneously redeploy forces across the battlefield without the need for transport vehicles, pressing any advantage and allowing them to vanish again like wraiths should the tide of battle turn against them. The Iron Hands have also applied their technological prowess to their weaponry, producing war-blades capable of shearing through not just the toughest of armour, but of overloading powerfields with ease. The legion has also forsaken their former arsenal of ranged weaponry for those based on the principle of gauss flux projection. This engulfs the target in a coruscating beam of energy which rapidly strips it away layer by layer, be it the flesh of a living being or the adamantium armour of a battle-tank. Every type of Iron Hand weapon uses this principle, from the basic sidearm to the heavy weapons carried by Devastator squads, with even more powerful examples found mounted upon vehicles such as the Predator and Land Raider. The Iron Hands are coldly logical and methodical in their approach to combat, probing for areas of weakness and suppressing the enemy with ranged fire before their specialised Assault squads phase in to strike the final blow. This is where the Nulls are most commonly to be found. Their mere presence is an anathema to daemons and psykers, and they fill even normal humans with a sense of dread which makes their onslaughts so effective.

- Testimony of Sergeant J.G. Lander, Tanakreg PDF knew how vital it was to destroy the Land Raider that they were used to coordinate their forces and help them phase around the battlefield. We knew we had to stop it dead! The lieutenant sent me every melta-gunner in the platoon, and then threw everyone else against it as a diversion. I heard him urging them forward even while men were being flayed alive around him, but I dont think there was anyone left by the time we got into range. We unleashed hell on that thing more than enough firepower to melt it through to the planets core and yet all it did was to burn off its ugly black paintwork. Just for a second it looked as though the metal beneath had liquefied it rippled like mercury - but then it just reformed again and hardened. It wasnt even warm

Battle Cry

T he Iron Hands attack in silence, but for the static and crackle of jammed vox-nets that precedes their arrival.

Index Astartes: Alpha Legion The Dornian Heresy

Always the most secretive of Astartes, the Alpha Legion's name has long passed into apocrypha within the Imperium, with most, outside their Astartes brothers and the High Lords of Terra, believing they were destroyed by the vengeful Ultramarines after the Dornian Heresy. It is an idea they are keen to foster, the better to exercise their finely honed covert abilities. From the shadows, the Alpha Legion uses infiltration, deception and assassination to sow discord and anarchy within enemy territory, and root out insidious Chaos cults operating within the Imperium.

Origins

D uring the Great Crusade, the Master of Mankind and His armies ventured out across the galaxy not only to unite the diaspora of human colonies into the Imperium, but also to locate the lost primarchs. Guided by senses beyond imagination, the vast majority of primarchs were found by the Emperor Himself, and yet the most secretive of His sons remained hidden from His gaze. Instead it was Horus who encountered the final primarch, and according to the version of the tale told by the Warmaster, it occurred when Alpharius and his raiders attacked a Luna Wolves cruiser. That a band of un-enhanced humans could have boarded an Astartes vessel was in itself impressive, but that they could have evaded the search parties to assault the command deck told of an exceptional individual. Thankfully, the look of recognition which passed between the brothers as they prepared to attack one another was enough to stay their hands, and in the months that followed an unbreakable bond of friendship was forged between them. Overjoyed at the news that his final son had been found, the Emperor and decreed that they, and as many of the primarchs as could be gathered, meet on Terra in honour of this momentous event. It was a celebration of special magnificence, and each brother spoke of the wonders they had seen and victories they had claimed in their fathers name. On that day, Alpharius heard many different examples of how an Astartes could fight, but was left with the certainty that none of them was his own. Upon taking

command of the Twentieth Legion he instilled within each marine his own unique philosophy; that they would defeat their enemies not by the application of sheer brute force, but by cunning, subterfuge and deception. Alpharius also selected a name for them which boldly proclaimed his intentions, and resolved that they prove themselves worthy of calling themselves the Alpha Legion. Due to their chosen style of warfare, far fewer marines needed to be attached to each expeditionary fleet compared to those of other Astartes legions. This meant that the Alpha Legion was able to lend aid to a great number of expeditions operating across the East of Segmentum Solar and the western borders of Ultima Segmentum. Rather than commanding the expeditions, as was usual where Astartes were involved, they instead acted as a covert vanguard which operated far in advance of the main force. By the time the Imperial Army arrived, they found worlds in disarray, their defences circumvented, and powerless to resist the coming invasion. So successful were these tactics that their expeditions soon came into contact with those of the Ultramarines, moving westward from their powerbase on the eastern fringe of the galaxy. Philosophical differences between the two legions caused significant ill-feeling, with the Alpha Legion regarding the Ultramarines as unimaginative and hidebound by the prescriptive rules laid down by their primarch. In turn, Ultramarine commanders such as Lord Kharta and Captain Orar publically condemned the Alpha Legions tactics as dishonourable, counter-productive and unworthy of the Astartes. They claimed the Alpha Legion had a callous disregard for the civilian casualties their actions caused, and that this stirred up resentments against the Imperium long after they had moved on. Alpharius tally of victories was, in short, dismissed as due to the valiant actions of the Imperial Army shoring up a weak and inexperienced legion. These verbal clashes came to a head during a meeting between the primarchs of the two legions, which reputedly resulted in Roboute Guilliman ordering the Alpha Legion out of Ultramarine space, and saying they should leave the Great Crusade to the real Astartes. This acrimonious exchange aside, the Great Crusade was a time of great optimism for the Imperium as worlds long-isolated from Terra were reunited, and the darkness of superstition was banished by the rationality of the Imperial Truth. The Emperor had chosen to do this, in part, to suppress any investigation of the Warps true, esoteric nature, believing that to allow the existence of Chaos to become public knowledge would be enough to lead some to their worship. Even His primarch sons were not trusted with this information, although some had gleaned a measure of understanding for themselves. Being particularly astute at determining the hidden hand behind events, Alpharius, was one of these few. This was brought into sharp focus when the Chaos-worshipping inhabitants of a world they were fighting to bring into the Imperium used Warp-magicks to destroy the planet rather than face defeat. Through painstaking and meticulous investigation of this new threat, they came to realise the destructive intent of the Ruinous Powers extended far beyond individual planets; they sought to bring down the entire galaxy in blood and fire.

Primarch Alpharius to his legion after the battle of 42 Hydra Tertius "None shall make me break faith with my father. No xenos lies or false visions will convince me to turn from His light, no matter how deep the darkness in which I walk. This is the word of Alpharius, and so shall it be yours.

The key to this was an insidious plan by a cabal of xenos breeds to see Warmaster Horus succumb to daemonic possession, thereby plunging the Imperium into a catastrophic civil war. Despite subjecting the xenos conspirators to their most terrible and persuasive of interrogations, they were unable to extract where or even when this possession would take place. They did, however, ascertain that the death of a Word Bearer Chaplain by the name of Erebus was vital to the aliens plans. Perhaps it is a sign of their paranoia and love of secrets, but rather than simply inform the Warmaster of the threat against his life, they decided instead to shadow Chaplain Erebus and ensure his safety. In this way, the ambush the aliens had set for the Word Bearer was averted, and Erebus reached the Sons of Horus fleet without ever realising his life had been in danger. When Horus was struck down on the world of Davin with an ailment inexplicable by even the finest apothecaries, Chaplain Erebus proved his worth a hundredfold. He recognised the affliction for what it truly was, and aided by the psychic might of Magnus of the Thousand Sons, was able to exorcise the daemonic entity and save the Warmaster. The Alpha Legion assumed that the threat had been averted, but had woefully underestimated the cunning and subtlety of their Great Adversary.

Upon the formal announcement of his name and position as Alpha Legion envoy to the Warmaster, Librarian Sladen approached the command throne. Erebus had warned him that the malady had taken much out of Horus, but he was still taken aback by his sallow complexion and almost shrunken appearance. Horus Lupercal was legend amongst legends and a mentor to his own primarch. He had thought the man invulnerable a force of nature and yet the figure before him had little in common with the demigod he had seen tear apart an Ork war-walker the size of a building. He reached out to shake the Warmasters hand, but was stopped by a glowering bear of an Astartes. No, its all right, Ezekyle, Horus said. Ekan Sladen and I are comrades of old. We fought side by side against that greenskin rabble on Kapos! In that second, Sladen felt the urge to confide his mission to Horus, but wisely prevented himself. As agonising as his primarchs decision had been not to warn Horus of the threat to his life, he understood why it had been made. Without any tangible evidence of the plot, or even where or when it would occur, there was no way to prevent it. Worse, if Erebus was unsuccessful, if even a vestige of the daemons influence remained, the possessed Horus would never let them get near him for the threat they posed. Instead, Sladen had been charged with feigning ignorance, watching powerless even as Horus had been struck down on Davin. Now that the Word Bearers and the Thousand Sons had played their parts, it was the turn of the Alpha Legion to honour Horus Lupercal. He would watch for any trace of daemonic influence, and be prepared to kill him rather than allow Chaos to plunge the Imperium into civil war. Even though he was confident of his mental

shields, he pointedly did not think of the deadly devices hidden in strategic positions aboard the Vengeful Spirit... Warily, Abaddon took a step back, and allowed Sladen to continue. Yes, my lord. To see you fighting the foes of the Imperium was a great honour, and one I hope to repeat as soon as you have recovered. Every word was true, but it would not stop him carrying out his duty. Sladen stepped forward and shook the proffered hand, his senses alert to any hint of darkness within the Warmasters aura...

Ultramar Segmentum

W ith the Warmaster saved from the threat of the Ruinous Powers, the Alpha Legion turned its attention back to events in Ultima Segmentum, or, as many of its inhabitants were increasingly coming to call it, Ultramar Segmentum. With every month that passed more worlds, including many the Alpha Legion itself had brought into compliance, petitioned to make ever-closer ties with the Ultramarines and its confederation of Ultramar planets. A more detailed inspection of events showed that wherever Guillimans war-fleets passed, Ultramar advisers were left in their wake. Though they were ostensibly there to improve organisational productivity, they also imparted a measure of cultural and political control beyond that imposed by the Administratum. Furthermore, the Ultramarine war-fleets were growing ever-larger, and yet their westward expansion was taking them into areas of space already pacified by the Great Crusade. The Alpha Legion suspected the signs of Guilliman attempting to usurp control. These worlds had more allegiance to Guilliman than to the Emperor, and that, if left unchecked, this creeping expansion would see the Ultramarines grow too powerful to be stopped. Alpharius transmitted this damning information directly back to Terra, and when the call went out to mobilise fully half of the Astartes legions to bring the Ultramarines to heel, the Alpha Legion was amongst the first to volunteer. With Warmaster Horus still recovering from the events on Davin, Rogal Dorn, the Emperors Praetorian, took command of the mission. While he led the bulk of the Astartes forces against Guilliman at his newest Ultramar world of Istvaan V, the Alpha Legion and Word Bearers were sent to destabilise the renegade realm from within. Lorgar set course directly for Macragge, but the Alpha Legion scattered to infiltrate each world they came across. Unlike the Great Crusade, where they had the support of the Imperial Army, their aim was simply to spread anarchy and disrupt the war effort so that Ultramar Segmentum would respond as isolated planets rather than as a unified entity. Only later, once the Imperial Army had properly been mobilised, could the worlds be reclaimed back into the Imperium. Despite their initial successes at paralysing large areas of Ultramar Segmentum, the Alpha Legion came

under increasing pressure due to great numbers of Ultramarines moving in from the direction of Istvaan. The war had rendered them virtually cut off from the Imperium, but at great cost the legions astropaths were eventually able to penetrate the aetheric howl. With each fragment of intelligence they gathered, the situation became increasingly dire. Against all expectation, the Ultramarines had triumphed at Istvaan, destroyed many of the legions sent against them, and were now moving against them in force. Eventually the reason for the Istvaan disaster became clear; Rogal Dorn had betrayed the Emperors legions to Guilliman, and now sought to claim the Imperial throne for himself. Although Warmaster Horus had been saved, the Ruinous Powers had found another primarch through which to work their evil. Dorns cunning had seen both the Alpha Legion and the Word Bearers mired so deeply inside enemy territory that neither would be able to get back to Terra in time. Alpharius was convinced that their best course was to continue as before, keeping Ultramar Segmentum in turmoil and preventing Guilliman from sending aid to Dorns traitors. He was concerned of how the Word Bearers would react to the threat against their God-Emperor, but on meeting Lorgar, found him to be of the same mind. So unshakeable was his faith in the omnipotence of the Emperor that Lorgar would not even countenance the idea their father could be defeated. He held an unshakable belief that the loyal legions, led by Warmaster Horus, would crush the upstart Dorn, and that the Word Bearers must prove equally worthy by conquering Macragge and tearing the heart from the rebellious Ultramarines. Though a noble ambition, the flood of Ultramarine reinforcements from Istvaan meant that any frontal assault on Macragge would be drowned in its own blood. Alpharius proposed that they lure away the defenders with something they could not resist; the chance to finally face the elusive Alpha Legion in open conflict. This was done by subtly revealing the existence of a major Alpha Legion base on the planet of Eskrador, further sweetened with the promise of being able to face Alpharius himself. The ploy proved more successful than they could have hoped, with Guilliman committing large numbers of forces to the assault. Instead of the sober, measured campaign they had anticipated, the Ultramarines were far more reckless, committing a massed drop-pod assault onto the mountainous slopes near the supposed Alpha Legion base. For another legion this might have thrown their plans into disarray, but instead they adapted, and turned this development to their advantage. The unsupported infantry that emerged from their drop-pods were punished mercilessly for their hubris, and many Ultramarines, including several high-ranking commanders, were slain before their relief columns broke through from the lowlands. The Ultramarines tell the story of Eskrador as a glorious victory, but all they gained were the bodies of but a fraction of the Alpha Legionnaires actually present, and a base filled with intentionally misleading information. Of their most prized victory - the supposed death of Alpharius - that too was denied them. Whoever Guilliman fought that day, it was not Alpharius, as he still commands the legion to this day. Most likely it was a ruse to lull the Ultramarines into a false sense of security that the threat of the Alpha Legion had been ended.

+++ I have argued with myself about this, and yet agreement eludes me. Half of me longs to face Guilliman, wants it beyond all logic and reason. The other knows that there is nothing to be gained from such an act that I am being blinded to the situation by hatred. By coming here to Eskrador in such numbers and leaving Macragge open to attack, Guilliman has already lost. To face him now in open battle would only play into his hands, and needlessly risk handing him a victory. +++ +++ There is no more time. Their army approaches. I must be of one mind in this. +++ +++ It is decided. I will leave the Ultramarines to enjoy their hollow victory, even as their homeworld is razed. I have vowed to myself that I will not return to the Imperium until Guilliman is suffering the endless torment he so rightfully deserves, but it will happen on my terms... it will not happen today. +++

Although Eskrador had proved a great success as a diversion, before the Word Bearers could assault the weakened Macragge, news filtered in from the Imperium which broke their resolve. While putting an end to Dorns Heresy, the Emperor had been mortally wounded, and in their grief Lorgars Word Bearers fled back to Terra, the assault on Macragge forgotten. The Alpha Legion was left to battle on alone against the might of Ultramar Segmentum.

Hydra Dominatus

F or many decades after the end of the Heresy nothing was heard from the Alpha Legion. The Word Bearers were instrumental in raising crusades to breach the Ultramarines heavily fortified borders, but were unable to find any indication of their fate. Eventually, and with great sadness, the Alpha Legion was classified as having been destroyed. Then, unannounced and unheralded, Alpharius appeared before an assembly of the High Lords of Terra with a dire warning. He apologised for his absence, saying that he had made a solemn oath to himself to see Guilliman pay for his crimes. Out of pride, Alpharius had hoped not to return to the Imperium until his vow was fulfilled, but events had forced his hand. In the time since their disappearance, the Alpha Legion had honed their skills at covert warfare to razor sharpness, and had kept Ultramar Segmentum from turning its gaze upon the Imperium. Guilliman, however, had grown tired of this state of affairs and was planning, under the flag of diplomacy, to take that which had been so long denied him. Barely a month later, the High Lords received a communiqu from Guilliman, who begged forgiveness for Istvaan. He claimed to have been deceived by Dorn, and offered a strategic alliance against their true enemies the forces of Chaos. Forewarned, the High Lords saw this for what it was; a ploy to allow the Ultramarine war-fleets to pass deep into Imperial space for an assault upon Terra.

Using their extensive knowledge of Ultramar Segmentum, the Alpha Legion was able to turn the treaty discussions on Prandium into a trap. By providing the supposedly unarmed Imperial Astartes with weapons, equipment and intelligence, they were able to ensure that Roboute Guilliman was mortally wounded, imprisoned within a stasis field and returned to Terra so that all could witness the traitors just fate.

As the last of the servitors scurried away from the stasis chamber, two figures remained standing in front of the newly installed shrine. One was magnificently clad in gold and purple artificer armour, the other in a simple, hooded cloak over armour which gleamed blue-black, but both dwarfed the subservient machine-slaves. The first was instantly recognisable by his profile, heraldry and bearing as Fulgrim, the Primarch of the Emperor's Children. The second seemed to have the uncanny ability to melt into the background even when in plain sight. "Your plan worked perfectly, brother, and in return, the artefact you desired. As you said, the traitor was wearing it as a trophy," Fulgrim said as he offered the cloaked figure an ancient ring. Light flashed off its polished surface, revealing the engraved symbol of a hydra. The other figure took it with a silent nod of thanks, and slid it onto his finger alongside an identical ring. Silence filled the room as the two gazed upon the agonized face of Guilliman. Both were lost in thought, of what had been, could have been and would be. "What now for the Alpha Legion?" Fulgrim enquired. "We will ensure that this does not happen again, replied the hooded figure grimly. We will find them, and we will punish them. All of them."

That eight other legions besides the Ultramarines had also betrayed their oaths to the Emperor had not been forgotten, and with Guilliman at long last having paid the price for his crimes, the Alpha Legions self-imposed penance could come to an end. As the legion is at its most effective when the enemy does not even suspect their presence, they officially remained casualties of the Dornian Heresy, with only the upper echelons of the Imperium and the loyalist legions made aware of the truth. Ever since, the Alpha Legion has put its skills to use against the Ruinous Powers by monitoring planets close to the Eye of Terror for signs of cult activity, and as the vanguard of Imperial crusades to oust the Traitor Legions from the Emperors worlds. Where the Ultramarines followed strict rules and a rigid, predictable organisational structure, the forces of Chaos were, by their very nature, an ever-changing chimera. This meant the skills the Alpha Legion had used to such great effect in Ultramar Segmentum often proved to be completely useless around the Eye of Terror. Similarly, their methods of infiltration proved to be far more vulnerable to detection by sorcery and the eternal, malevolent gaze of the Ruinous Powers. Having prided itself upon the ability to adapt, the Alpha Legion took to this fresh challenge with aplomb. With the aid of certain highly

specialised Imperial organisations, they have found ways around even these obstacles. It is with these weapons as much as with primed boltguns and cold steel that the Alpha Legion works to excise the cancer of Chaos from the galaxy. As successful as the Alpha Legion has been at keeping the forces of Chaos hemmed within the Eye of Terror, it has come at a cost to their operations inside Ultramar Segmentum. While it remains a prime example of the Alpha Legions ability to spread destruction and anarchy within an enemy's territory, their numbers are too few to do more than slow the Ultramarines implacable advance. In recognition of this disturbing fact, the Alpha Legion has had to become ever-more creative, and destructive in its plans. When operating within Ultramarine territory there is no chance of support from the Imperium, and so the Alpha Legion frequently relies upon less conventional methods to bring large military forces to bear. Whether through provocation by covert military actions or the simple bribery of leaders, the ubiquitous Orks have proved to be valuable, if unwitting, allies. In particular, several Ultramarine campaigns against the Imperium have been averted by timely uprisings of the Ork Empire of Charadon. Another valuable technique the Alpha Legion has perfected is to fracture alliances and set them at each others throats. Be they shaky coalitions of Chaos warbands or the technologically advanced Tau and the Ultramarines, nothing sows discord like an unprovoked attack from Astartes in the livery of an ally. Given their secretive nature, all manner of outlandish theories have been attributed to the Alpha Legion. There is even speculation that the legion has become so fragmented that its convoluted plots and schemes war as much against each other as they do the enemy. It seems certain that the truth is more prosaic, and at the same time more unbelievable than even the most ardent conspiracy theorist could imagine. The only person to know the whole truth is their primarch, and Alpharius has proven extremely good at guarding his secrets.

As the captain tapped away distractedly at the data terminal, his thoughts were drawn back once more to Malodrax. The Iron Warriors had tried to break his body and spirit, little realising that their tortures were as nothing to the scourging embrace of the pain-glove. And yet, despite their uninspired attempts, he found that it preyed upon his mind. He remembered the elation of escape from the black armoured Astartes and had evaded their search teams, boarded a shuttle and fought his way back here to reclaim his title from the petty pretender who had taken it in his absence... ... Black armour? They had worn burnished iron... even as he focussed on the memory he could see their hated faces in every detail. He screwed up his eyes and willed away the fatigue, before returning to the mass of schematics, inventories and readiness reports before him. Cadia was the cornerstone of the Black Legions grip on power, and as Captain of the First Grand Company, he was responsible for its defence. Drawn back inexorably to the events of Malodrax, the captains fingers played idly across the controls of

the data-terminal. Buried deep beneath the layers of conscious thought, the implanted personality sent the invaluable packets of encrypted information sleeting through the network for collection by agents of the Hydra...

Organisation

N ever one to stifle his brethren with rules and strictures, Alpharius has ensured his legions organisation has remained fluid and able to adapt to every situation. A premium is placed upon crafting elegant and ultimately effective strategies, and ensuring that they never to fall into predictable, unthinking patterns. Rather than following a conventional grand company structure, they instead operate in cell networks of varying size depending upon the situation. Given the dispersed nature of the legion, command authority frequently resides with sergeants. Captains and lieutenants are instead involved with wider-scale organisation, and take direct command of none but the largest and most important operations. While only a handful of full Astartes may be present in an operation, they are accompanied by a far greater number of human operatives. These include initiates who have yet to be fully implanted with gene-seed, as well as inducted Imperial Army and Adeptus Arbites veterans who are able to pass unnoticed among the populace in a way that an Astartes even without power armour would be unable to do. In support of these field agents are armourers and scribes, as well as techno-savants skilled in sifting through the mass of data for the intelligence they require. The criminal underworld is also an invaluable source of illicit information and muscle, although great care must be taken to ensure they never suspect the true identity of their employers. So insidious are the Ruinous Powers that throughout the legions history, individuals and even entire cells have fallen to the Dark Gods. Although the knowledge possessed by a single cell is compartmentalised, and so in no way enough to bring down the legion, such defections can upset plans many decades in the making. The task of hunting down these renegades falls to the very best of the Alpha Legion, and on several notable occasions, Alpharius himself has taken charge of determining how far the rot has spread.

Combat Doctrine

A lpha Legionnaires are masters of subterfuge, misdirection and deception, and use these skills to spread anarchy and discord throughout enemy territory. Secrecy has always been vital to the Alpha Legion, but

since the Great Crusade they have honed it to the point where their very existence is but a rumour. Where others, such as the Night Lords, openly proclaim their presence and wield the fear it generates as a weapon, the Alpha Legion believe it is easier to defeat an enemy who is unaware they are even engaged in a battle. Due to the necessity of keeping their presence a secret, the Alpha Legion no longer wears its traditional indigo livery. Since the Battle of Eskrador - the last time they openly proclaimed their existence on the battlefield - they have instead worn battle-plate of the darkest blue-black, or in an appropriate camouflage pattern. This is shorn of all legion iconography, squad markings or honours, and yet despite this apparent anonymity they are still able to identify their own. When operating deep inside enemy territory, the Alpha Legion uses its skills to destabilise planets without ever revealing their presence. To this end, acts of sabotage, infiltration and assassination are all tools in their arsenal, as are the fracturing of alliances and the incitement of civil unrest. Rather than just keeping enemy territory in a state of anarchy, the Alpha Legion also works with the Black Templars in support of their massed Astartes Crusades. By infiltrating in advance of the invasion, they are able to cripple the enemys defences, draw forces out of position and ensure that any counter-attack is fragmented and ineffective. Their actions are always meticulously planned, with attacks coming from multiple directions so that the failure of any one element does not jeopardise the mission as a whole. In this respect they are like the mythical hydra - if one head is struck off, two more seem to spring up in its place. Because even an Alpha Legionnaire would find it difficult to mingle with a crowd, much of their work is carried out by their networks of human operatives. They gather intelligence, infiltrate enemy installations and procure everything that is needed by their masters. As skilled as these human agents are, there are some tasks that can only be carried out by an Astartes Kill-team. In their infiltrator armour and cameleoline cloaks, the legion is adept at moving through the shadows like ghosts. However, it is frequently more efficient simply to appear in the guise of other Astartes, be they Loyalist, or those of enemy legions. Many victories against Chaos attributed to the timely intervention of a squad of Word Bearers or Iron Warriors galvanising the citizenry to resist the raiders have in truth been due to the Alpha Legion. These disguises are even more useful when operating behind enemy lines, as it allows them almost unfettered freedom of movement across a Chaos-held world. Such is the terror with which Traitor Astartes are held by the inhabitants that few would dare look one in the eye, let alone deny a squad of them access to any building or bunker they wished to enter. They also use the guise of enemy Astartes to publically carry out acts which would destabilise alliances between groups. This can be anything from firing upon crowds to trigger civil unrest on Ultramarine worlds, to desecrating shrines to Slaanesh under the guise of the Space Wolves to provoke tension between Chaos factions. Even though they ensure their armour is meticulously reconsecrated after such acts, the greatest of care must be taken when disguising themselves as worshippers of the Ruinous Powers. Under such circumstances they use only the most generic of symbols to give the impression of the legion they are trying to mimic. As bitter experience has taught them, even the simple act of painting a Chaos symbol

upon their armour tarnishes the soul, and can bring down the gaze of the Dark Gods upon the wearer.

... an incredible confluence of events which I can only attribute to the divine blessing of the Emperor upon our invasion. Our first sign was that Luycens famous planetary defences, which we had thought had been captured virtually intact, were all-but silent. It seemed that the enemy high commander had been assassinated by one of his own subordinates shortly before our arrival, and that the ensuing power struggle to succeed him had thrown the traitors into, well, chaos, if you will forgive the pun. [Subject smiles nervously] What we had expected to be a brutally hard-fought campaign, but with the enemy in such disarray, and even the citizenry rising up against them in guerrilla warfare, we had liberated the planet and rounded up the last of the heretics within five weeks of our arrival. [Subject laughs] With that kind of luck, who needs the Astartes! [/i]

Recruitment and Gene-Seed

B ack to their earliest days in the Great Crusade, the Alpha Legion has operated from its fleet of ships rather than a homeworld. This is due in part to the requirements of their nomadic nature, but mainly because Alpharius pointedly refused to reveal the location of the world on which he had been raised. Because of this, it has always been assumed that the Alpha Legion selects new aspirants primarily from the local planets on which they operate, although given their maddening secrecy, this has never been confirmed. While other legions recruit based upon combat skills such as strength and speed, the Alpha Legion instead values creativity, cunning and quickness of thought. Physical toughness and combat ability can be bestowed by the apothecaries, their gene-seed implants and their various instructors, but quick thinking is an innate skill that cannot be taught. The gene-seed of the Alpha Legion is said to be pure and uncontaminated, although the greatest of care is taken when dealing with progenoids harvested from Astartes who have spent extended periods close to the Eye of Terror. The strength of the Alpharius gene-seed has also been proposed to be the reason for the striking similarity between many Alpha Legionnaires and their primarch, even down to their height. While similar effects have been observed in the gene-lines of other legions, it has led to speculation of the use of cloned humans, recruitment from a restricted gene-pool, such as Alpharius secret homeworld, or the practice of surgically creating doubles to act as decoys. Of these theories, the last best fits the legions modus operandi, as their apothecaries can dramatically alter a marines appearance should the mission demand it. This may also explain how Guilliman could have been fooled

into thinking that he had battled and defeated his brother on Eskrador.

Beliefs

T he Alpha Legion firmly believes in the old proverb that a dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords at dawn. To this end, great pains are taken to keep their existence a secret, which includes after the mission has been completed. Given that the majority of their operations are carried out behind enemy lines, every action the Alpha Legion carries out is unique, as to fall into predictable patterns would rapidly result in their capture or destruction. Such things must spring from creativity and inspiration, and cannot be learned by rote from a book. That said, they have found Guillimans Codex Ultramar to be an invaluable insight into the mind, tactics and responses of their enemy. One of the Alpha Legions defining characters is their pragmatism, and ability to take the hard decisions required to ensure the stability of the Imperium. They are well aware that in the pursuit of their goals, terrible deeds are often necessary, and that in the Long War, the end justifies the means.

Battle Cry

D ue to the need to hide their true identities, the Alpha Legion does not have a fixed battle cry. Instead, they fight in implacable silence on occasions where stealth is required, and while disguised as Astartes of other legions they use the appropriate battle cry to reinforce the pretence. This post has been edited by Aurelius Rex: Jan 11 2011, 09:45 PM Index Astartes: Dark Angels The Dornian Heresy

Unable to stand by and allow the Imperium to destroy their homeworld of Caliban, the Dark Angels were forced to rebel against the Emperor, and even their own uncaring Primarch, Lion ElJonson. With the advent of the Dornian Heresy, Luther took the Astartes under his command to Istvaan, and publically allied the legion with the rebellion, assuring that the Dark Angels would forever be seen as traitors by the Imperium. Though they were able to defeat the Lion on his vengeful return to Caliban, the

Emperors psychic intervention to save those Unforgiven Dark Angels who had remained loyal to Jonson reduced the planet to an uninhabitable ruin. With their homeworld destroyed, Luther and his Dark Angels wield the power of the Warp as a weapon in their search for the Unforgiven, that they might finally convince them of their error in supporting the Lion during the schism. Origins

A ll of the Astartes Legions have been shaped and defined by their homeworlds, but the influence that Caliban exerts upon the Dark Angels, even ten thousand years after its destruction, is surely the most profound. At the time the primarchs were scattered across the galaxy, Caliban was swathed in dense forests which were haunted by fierce and unnatural chimeras known as the great beasts. The embattled human colonists had long-since lost contact with the rest of mankind due to the warp-storms of Old Night, and much of their technological heritage had been forgotten. Even Terra itself had faded from memory to become little more than a myth. However, in the face of such adversity the nobility of the human spirit still prevailed. Knightly orders, sworn to protect the people of Caliban, made it their calling to hunt down and destroy the great beasts. It was one of these expeditions that came across the infant primarch wandering deep in the heart of the forests. Having been starved of human contact, the boy was feral, and yet his presence and spirit was unmistakable. The leader of the knights, a great man called Luther, adopted the child as though he were his own son, and named him Lion ElJonson, or The Lion, the son of the Forest in their dialect. Many and varied were the tests and trials to be accepted into the Order, as the knights called themselves, but Luther was an excellent tutor, and the Lion a natural warrior and strategist. From Walking the Spiral, where they honed their sword-craft into a defence against any foe, to the Verbatim - their book of tactics and teachings - Jonson excelled. When he returned from the quest to hunt down and kill one of the great beasts, he did so bearing the body of the most feared and terrible creature on the planet; that of a Calibanite lion. Such a feat was more than enough to see him admitted to the Order as a full Knight. Luther had always been seen as a future leader of the Order, but the arrival of the Lion had changed all that. Jonson had been gene-crafted to command the Emperors legions, and these innate skills saw him rapidly eclipse his mentor. But for all of the Lions peerless talents, an echo of the feral forest child still remained. There was a coldness and detachment from human emotion about him, his bonhomie always a fraction forced and stilted. To Luthers credit, he was never taunted by petty jealousy, as within the Lion ElJonson he saw the chance to do something more than simply continue the endless war against the great beasts. There was an opportunity to unite all of the knightly orders and eliminate the abominations from the face of the world once and for all. Certain that Jonson was the saviour of Caliban and its people, Luther put aside personal ambition, and made it his sole purpose to ensure their shared vision came to fruition.

Though it took many years of blood and toil, the great beasts were systematically purged from the forests, with the forbidding Northwilds their last refuge. The final sweep brought them into contact with a group calling themselves the Knights of Lupus, which had always been vehemently opposed to their crusade. Upon approaching their fortress, it became clear why this had been so. In their isolation, they had taken to the study of sorcery, and even held a menagerie of the great beasts. That a knight could ever fall to such corruption filled Luther with loathing, and the resulting war was crushing and swift. With their protectors destroyed, the crusade to purify Caliban continued apace, and inside a short span the very last great beast was put to the sword by the Lion himself. Shortly after, as though it had been some form of knightly test of his worth, the Emperor arrived upon Caliban to greet His lost son. With Him came the Astartes of the First Legion, super-beings which had been patterned upon Jonsons own genetic code. The Lion was named lord and primarch of the new Dark Angels, and Caliban became the legions new homeworld. Jonson decreed that the best of the Order be inducted into the legion, and to ensure that they always had a plentiful supply of arms and weapons, Caliban was to take its place in the Imperium as a properly industrialised world. As only the youngest members of the Order were able to be fully transformed with the gifts of geneseed, Luther was denied the chance to become a full Astartes. Instead he was given extensive augmentation using the new Imperial science, and made up for any deficiency with characteristic skill and resolve. By the time the Dark Angels were ready to take their allotted place in the Emperors Great Crusade, Luther had risen through merit to once more become Jonsons second in command. The Great Crusade

T o the Calibanite Dark Angels, the Great Crusade was simply the logical extension of their quest to destroy the great beasts. Having already made their world safe for humanity, they relished the prospect of doing the same for the whole of the galaxy. However, before they could bring more than a handful of planets into Compliance, Luther and a cadre of his closest brothers were ordered to leave the Expeditionary fleets and return to Caliban. The Lion said that he needed to ensure a plentiful supply of new initiates for his armies, and who better for the task than the man who had raised and trained him. Luther applied himself to this vital task with diligence, ensuring that chapter after chapter of impeccably trained Astartes were sent to join the Lion. Years turned into decades, and while the Astartes of the training garrison continued to perform their duties admirably, there was no sign of them ever being allowed to rejoin the Great Crusade, or even that the Lion would return to his own homeworld. Though it was not discussed openly, there was a growing unease that their primarch had turned his back on Caliban. Worse still was the way their beloved planet had been changed since the arrival of the Imperium. Its verdant forests had been all-but destroyed to make way for mines and manufactories, and its people had been forced out of their unproductive

settlements. Instead they were housed in grey, soulless hive-cities called arcologies. Despite the introduction of Imperial medical technologies, health and life expectancy had if anything begun to worsen, and simmering discontent had broken out into strikes, civil disobedience and even riots. Luther recognised that Calibans true riches lay not in its minerals or war production, but in the courage and vitality of its people, yet time and again his protests over the devastation of their planet in despatches to the Lion were ignored. When the astropathic response finally came, it chilled Luther to the bone. Instead of throwing his support behind Luthers calls, he seemed concerned primarily with ensuring that his expeditions lines of supply did not become over-extended. Their success had taken the legion so far from the homeworld that Jonson had long considered recruiting closer to the front lines. If the industrialisation of Caliban had reduced their suitability as aspirants, then now would seem the prudent time for the training garrison to select a more productive world. The revelation that his primarch was willing to turn his back on their home so completely shocked Luther to the core. He had always considered Lion ElJonson to be the deliverer of his planet and saviour of its people, but now it was clear that he was willing to see Caliban and its people pay the price for his naked ambition. Tragedy was piled upon tragedy when an investigation into the riots at the Northwilds arcology revealed massed sacrifices and the practice of base sorcery. Such practices had echoes of atrocities they had witnessed on Warp-corrupted planets during their short time in the Great Crusade, although they never thought such things could occur on Caliban. While they were able to stop the rite from being completed, and the entity prevented from manifesting, it laid bare the canker at Calibans heart. The arcology had been built upon the remains of the Knights of Lupus fortress the group which had sheltered the great beasts - but the corruption which permeated the area still endured. The Dark Angels were not alone in comprehending the grave nature of the situation, as Imperial investigators dug through the ruins, and came to the same conclusion. From having witnessed the purges the Imperium meted out to the populations of such warp-tainted planets, Luther knew that the same fate would befall his world if news of it got out. He could not stand by and let Caliban and its people be destroyed. Their only option was to break away from the Imperium. At Luthers command, all communication and travel out of Caliban was stopped, and the Imperial representatives preparing reports on the matter taken into custody. Non-indigenous workers and military personnel were hunted down and interned, and the few Terran-born Dark Angels among their ranks made to choose where their true loyalties lay. For a short while their secret was safe, but it was only a matter of time before the silence, or merely the interruption in the flow of recruits to the Lions expeditions, would be noticed. ... when I reached the place you told me you met them, my brother, I found that despite all the logging which had devastated the area, a small patch of the dark woods remained. Possibly the Watchers in the Dark had protected those trees, or it may simply have been that even the mindless logging servitors knew better than to desecrate that place. I felt them watching me for many minutes before they finally emerged from the darkness. There were three of them at least, but even with all the fascinating readings collected by my armours auspex, their faces remained concealed beneath their hoods.

I told them of the threat to our world and begged them for any aid they could give, but they were dismissive and aloof. They even said that the stain of warp-sorcery stained us all, and it would perhaps be for the best if Caliban was destroyed. It took all my self-control to keep from drawing my blade, but knew that you had said they were immune to such weapons. I instead retorted that they must also be tainted, to which they contemptuously said that their kind has knowledge which shields them from such things, before fading back into the gloom. Clearly their kind will not aid us voluntarily. Excerpt of personal message from Luther to Brother-Librarian Zahariel

In preparation for the inevitable Imperial response, every possible advantage was sought. This even included appealing to the mythical race of creatures known as the Watchers in the Dark, which according to folklore were said to be the guardians of the Calibanite forests. Even with all of the planets formidable defences at their disposal, and the armouries emptied to equip the civilian population, they would eventually be crushed by the might of the Imperium. Only then did Luther learn of another, much more potent source of power that could be wielded that of the daemon which lay beneath the Northwilds. The mysterious Lord Cypher proved to be not just the guardian of the legions traditions, but also the keeper of forbidden knowledge into the nature of Chaos. He claimed that the Knights of Lupus had made a close study of such things, and that their great library, which held all manner of arcane secrets, had not in fact been burned. Luther was revolted by the idea of embracing the power they had so long fought against, but with the shadow of death looming large, he regretfully accepted Cyphers aid. The Dornian Heresy

T he silence from Caliban had drawn all manner of Astropathic enquiries, but the most unexpected of all was from the Primarch of the Imperial Fists, Rogal Dorn. Rather than the half-expected declaration of war, the Emperors Praetorian instead confessed that they were fellow conspirators against the Imperium. Dorns new masters, the Gods of Chaos, had noticed Luthers studies of their realm, and were greatly impressed with the potential it showed. Dorn went on to say that the rebellion hung in the balance, and that the presence of Luthers Dark Angels at Istvaan would be invaluable in crushing the Astartes legions which could not be convinced to join him. Though Luther was unwilling to abandon his prepared defences, Dorns rebellion seemed to be their only chance at throwing off the oppressive yoke of the Imperium. Dorn made offers of aid in their fight, and pointed out that the Lions expeditions were so deeply entrenched within the Ghoul Stars that

Luthers forces would be able to make the trip to Istvaan and back comfortably before the loyalists would be able to get back to Caliban. Though the offers of aid were tempting, what finally convinced Luther to join Dorn at Istvaan was that it would be the perfect opportunity to irreparably blacken Lion ElJonsons reputation. By going to Istvaan, the Dark Angels all Dark Angels - would be seen as traitors and heretics however vociferously it might be denied by their primarch. Despite the relatively small number of Dark Angels present at Istvaan, the legion reaped a bloody tally against the loyalist Raven Guard. Coraxs desperation to find Rogal Dorn drove them to attack the rebel lines time and again, only to find their famed feints predicted, cut off and destroyed with consummate skill. When the slaughter was over, and the survivors spread the word of the rebellion across the Imperium, the name of Lion ElJonson was spoken with the same contempt as that of Guilliman, Manus, Vulkan and Dorn. His task complete, Luther returned to his homeworld not with weapons or siegemasters, but with certain arcane devices crafted to his own specification, and a name. It was the true name of the daemonic entity which dwelled beneath the savage Northwilds of Caliban. The last time that Luther had been to this place, the Watchers in the Dark had contemptuously dismissed his pleas for aid. This time, it would be different. Rather than going as a supplicant, he instead strode in boldly, as befitted a lord of the Astartes, and the wielder of great powers. Within seconds, the angry hiss of whispers cut through the silence, and they stepped from the shadows more than a dozen of them to surround him. From the depths of their hoods came accusations of sorcery and warp-craft, and outrage that he dare bringing such corruption into their presence. Before they could carry out their threats of retribution, Luther raised the device that he had been given by Dorn in payment for his services on Istvaan. A marvel of the techno-aetheric craft, and constructed to his personal specifications, not even the Imperial Fist forge-masters who had created it could have guessed its intended purpose. There was only time for the Watchers to register but the briefest flicker of concern before the artefact activated, and the hooded figures dropped to their robed knees in shock. Pulling his pistol from its holster, he shot one of the diminutive creatures, and was gratified to see the bolt round tear apart what he could only assume was the figures hooded head. It seemed that the sensor data his auspex had collected on his first visit had proved to be valuable after all. When we spoke last, said Luther, his face illuminated by the sickly glow of the device, you said that you had knowledge that shielded you from the corrupting nature of the Warp. Tell me all you know of this...

While the weak of mind were susceptible to the corruptions of Chaos, Luther proved to be naturally adept at wielding it as a weapon without being affected by its more self-destructive excesses. He taught this ability, which he called Walking the Spiral due to its similarities to the Calibanite method of practicing swordplay, to the rest of the training garrison, the better to protect them against the coming storm.

So it was that Lion ElJonson returned to Caliban for the first time in more than half a century, and he did it at the head of a massed war-fleet. Luther had dubbed them the Unforgiven, both by the Imperium for their perceived treachery, and for the way they had betrayed Caliban. The angry hails for an explanation, so long met with stony silence, finally received a response, as every orbital defence battery and missile silo opened fire. Almost ignored amongst the exchange of firepower, the true danger to the fleet was summoned from beneath the Northwilds, and unleashed against the Lions ships. Coils of warp-energy made daemon-flesh materialised around the vessels, constricting and crushing hulls like eggshells. The sky was raked with fire as - in extremis - drop-pods blossomed from the dying ships. Countless thousands of Dark Angels rained down upon their homeworld not in their usual coordinated strikes, but simply to escape certain death in orbit. With no preliminary bombardment to suppress enemy ground fire, the result was similar to the catastrophe which had befallen the loyal legions at Istvaan. Those that reached the ground alive were met not only by Luthers Astartes and a well armed civilian militia, but by spectral shades of great beasts which lurked within every shadow. Slowly but surely, the Unforgiven were surrounded, isolated and pinned down. They were losing, and yet despite all this, Lion ElJonson still fought his way through to the fortress-monastery, and challenged Luther to a battle to the death. Though a primarch, Jonson was little match for the power his mentor now wielded, and after a titanic battle, he was left broken and bloodied, the Lion Sword shattered into pieces. Though besieged inside His throne room by the very legion assigned to protect Him, the Emperor had been far from idle. Driven by savage necessity, the webway portal the very project He had withdrawn from the Great Crusade to pursue had been redesigned and reengineered to do things previously thought impossible. Malcador, of course, had counselled that they should use the portal to escape from Terra and rendezvous with Horus for a counter-assault, but it was not His way. He was the Master of Mankind, and could not slink away from His beloved Terra and leave it in the hands of the Ruinous Powers for even a day. It had pained Him greatly to see the Lion so maligned and attacked for the offences of lesser men, but with the galaxy engulfed in civil war, there was no way to get word out about the mistake. While He had been unable to prevent the destruction of his loyal sons on Istvaan and Prospero, at least there was a chance to stop Caliban from being added to that list. In the hours that followed, the Emperor was forced to use every scintilla of psychic mastery and skill, and in return was able to pluck most of the loyal Dark Angels away from certain death. Better still, to have such a force alongside Him at this time might even be enough to break the siege before it could become entrenched. As though the Chaos Gods had at last realised the scope of their defeat, the Warp around Caliban began to flux wildly with their fury. The very architecture of the webway network began to destabilise, tearing whole sections loose, flooding others with daemonic entities, and trapping each of the Dark Angels within their own drifting fragment of space-time. In the instants before the portal overloaded, the Emperor had just enough time to psychically imprint a fragment of Himself upon each of them, so that

when they did finally return to the material universe, He would be able to sense it and reclaim them. The Ruinous Powers had been able to steal away the primarchs and hide them from Him, but this would not be repeated with the Dark Angels.

Before Luther could administer the final blow, a presence in the aether far different to the chorus of the daemonic made itself known. A great shuddering groan echoed through the fortress-monastery, shattering the very rock beneath their feet and plunging Jonson down into the depths of a bottomless chasm. All across the planet, the embattled loyalist Astartes were enveloped by mystic portals of psychic force and plucked from existence before they could be cleanly executed. Any celebration was short lived, as the remains of the portals pulsed and fluxed wildly in the warp-saturated environment. From across the planet they converged upon the Northwilds, all the while growing larger and more destructive. All of their attempts to divert or disrupt the vortices ended in failure, and when they at last reached a critical mass, the resulting explosion was the equivalent to that of an exterminatus device. The Dark Angels had broken from the Imperium and made war against their primarch to save Caliban and its people, and yet still they had failed. In the scant hours before the end, there had barely been time for the Astartes to reach orbit, let alone evacuate the population to safety. In stunned silence they watched in horror as the planets crust disintegrated and the atmosphere boiled off into space, only leaving when the mountain-sized lumps of debris lifted into space by the explosion became too much of a threat. For a time they travelled without destination, simply letting the currents of the warp carry them. Though the civil war raged around them they fought for neither side, other than to defend themselves or to take supplies that they needed. They were lost souls, bereft of meaning or purpose. When their aimless wanderings eventually threw them together with the Space Wolves, it seemed as though their prayers for oblivion were about to be answered. There had always been barely concealed enmity between Russ legion and the Dark Angel Expeditions, but instead of a battle, they instead found a reason to carry on. Like them, the Space Wolves had aligned themselves with Chaos, specifically the worship of Khorne, but had become locked into a downward spiral of self-destruction and bloodlust. Luther and Russ bonded over their shared hatred of Jonson, and the Space Wolf was particularly appreciative of the shattered Lion Sword, which had been rescued from Caliban as a trophy. Though the intricacies of Walking the Spiral were far beyond the comprehension of the Space Wolves, the Dark Angels were at least able to teach them the rudiments, so that they could channel their aggression. Still content to meet annihilation and oblivion, the Dark Angels accompanied their new comrades on their journey to Terra, but their progress through the warp seemed as aimless as before. The currents of the Empyrean seemed particularly erratic, leaving them becalmed, or delivering them far from their intended destination. It was at one such wrong turn that they found themselves near to a backwater world, devoid of intelligent life but for a single reading of distinctly Astartes origin. To their amazement, the Dark Angels found that it belonged to one of Jonsons Unforgiven, who had disappeared so mysteriously from Caliban. Only under the most excruciating of tortures did the mans tongue finally loosen, to say that he had been saved by the grace of the Emperor Himself.

This revelation filled Luther and the Dark Angels with a drive and determination they had thought lost. Not only did they know who was to blame for the destruction of Caliban, but the Unforgiven were still out there to be captured and convinced to renounce the Lion. When the news that Dorns Heresy had been broken robbed them of the chance to kill the Emperor, it was at least tempered by the knowledge that they could still track down and enlighten their former brothers. Walking the Spiral

W hile the fates had conspired to keep them from the Siege of Terra, the Dark Angels knew that there were other, more subtle ways to destroy the Emperor. The Heresy was over, but it had left anarchy in its wake, which gave them the opportunity to undermine the Imperium not just through open warfare, but by instigating cults to the Gods of Chaos in all their varied aspects. Throughout all of this, they honed their ability to Walk the Spiral and stayed aloof from the actual worship of the Warp themselves. The cults they created were simply another weapon in their arsenal, with little thought given to what might happen to them after the Dark Angels moved on. Only on rare occasions did they expend the time and effort to educate them in even the basics of Walking the Spiral, as the messy and self-destructive trajectories of these uncontrolled cults provoked such a hysterical over-reaction from Imperial authorities. The Fate of Lord Cypher As befits a figure so shrouded in mystery, the ultimate fate of Lord Cypher is suitably ambiguous. No-one has borne the title within the legion since just after the end of the Heresy, and legion records on the matter are sealed. Some claim that he was killed in battle the most common rumour being that it was against the Salamanders - while others say that he simply cast aside the name for his own reasons and instead put his pistol-wielding skills to use in one of the legions Assault squads. As always, the most enduring theory is also the most outlandish. It postulates that he became consumed by the theory angrily proposed by Leman Russ at the Conclave of Nikaea that the Soul-binding process left the Emperor vulnerable to corruption by sorcery, and went about trying to bring this to fruition. Experimentation, including the attempted possession of soul-bound test subjects such as Astropaths, proved to be catastrophically messily failures, and indicated that the Emperors spirit was in fact immune to corruption by this method. Undeterred by these setbacks, Cypher is said to have attempted the possession of one of the Soul-bound Thousand Sons, and that the resulting psychic explosion incinerated them both, along with several adjacent decks of the ship on which they were travelling. While the truth may never be known, the Thousand Sons are noticeable by their absence from the groups of forcibly possessed Astartes used in battle by the Dark Angels.

On their travels, they also searched for any word of the Unforgiven, reasoning that the odds of them having encountered one on the way to Terra could not have been simple chance. After several years without even a hint of their quarry, this optimism started to fade, until Luther happened to make a pilgrimage back to the broken, airless ruins of Caliban. There, on the very planet from which the Unforgiven had been snatched away, Luther was able to use his warp-craft to divine what had become of them. It was clear that the Emperors intervention had not just seen them scattered not just through space, but also through time, and that it might be many thousands of years before all were returned to the material universe. Even for one with Luthers unearthly powers, the Runes of Caliban were all-but impossible to decipher. Only when one of the Unforgiven was on the verge of re-entering the physical plane does the precise time and place of this event become apparent. As soon as this occurs, the closest Dark Angels fleets break off from their current engagements even leaving allies in the midst of battle - to track down and capture their erstwhile brother. It was not long before the Imperium became aware that the Dark Angels had returned to Caliban, and although they remain ignorant of the true purpose of these visits, they took every opportunity to bring the legion to battle. Due to Luthers interrogation of the Runes, he knows approximately when the next appearance will occur, and the legion fights with an unbreakable determination to destroy any defences that stand in their way. The length to which the legion goes to identify the arrival of one of the Unforgiven is similarly reflected in the care taken to ensure they capture their target alive, with masters who bring back a corpse frequently meeting the same fate. Once safely back in the bosom of their legion, the Unforgiven are persuaded of their error in having sided with Lion ElJonson and turning their backs upon Caliban. If they continue to resist, the Interrogator-Librarians are forced to use ever more extreme methods to ensure their enlightenment. For those subjects who continue to resist to the point where only death would silence their devotion to the Lion, there is but one possibility for redemption; their bodies and souls are given over to entities from the Warp. Although they see the need to possess their brothers as a great failure of their skills and oratory, sometimes such things are the only way for the Unforgiven to finally achieve forgiveness. As Luther and the Dark Angels grew ever more adept at wielding the power of Chaos, their schemes to destabilise the Imperium became increasingly ambitious. They found that through the precise placement of cults and massed blood sacrifices, terrible and destructive resonances could be set in place within the warp to effects far greater than the sum of their parts. The most notable example of this came in M36, when the Dark Angels took advantage of a natural increase in the activity of the Empyrean to wreath almost the whole of the Imperium in debilitating warp-storms. The Astronomicon was obscured, war-fleets were lost forever, and whole sectors were completely cut off, raising the spectre of a return to Old Night. With warp travel compromised, forge worlds sat idle without raw materials, the populations of hive

worlds starved or turned to cannibalism, and Imperial armies could not arrive in time to crush dissent or repel Chaos attacks. As the walls between the real and the immaterial wore thin and a widespread loss of faith in the Emperor swept the galaxy, it was joined by the daemonic pandemic of living death known as the Plague of Unbelief. Just as the Imperium teetered on the brink of destruction, the Dark Angels plans were thwarted by the self-sacrifice of Lorgar of the Word Bearers at Dimmamar. Just as the precise placement of cults had brought effects far beyond the sum of their parts, the events of Dimmamar disrupted the carefully orchestrated resonances, and averted it from reaching its full apocalyptic crescendo. The Dark Angels could, however, take comfort that through their actions they had caused the death of one of the few remaining loyalist primarchs, and better, the hated Ecclesiarch of the Emperors Ministorum. Ever since that time, the Dark Angels have been patiently working to divine ever-more potent and destructive methods to destabilise the Imperium, and are certain that eventually they will be responsible for the death of their most hated foe the Emperor Himself. Combat Doctrine

W hen the Dark Angels take to the field of battle, especially when it is to hunt down members of the Unforgiven, the first to arrive are most commonly the Ravenwing. Named after the knightly cavalry of old Caliban, these bike-mounted brethren operate far ahead of the main force. Through their knowledge of the intricacies of the Empyrean, they are able to locate the fastest currents through warp-space and reach their destination with unparalleled swiftness. Using their speed and skill they are able to run their prey to ground, and leave far behind anything they cant overcome by surprise. However, if the Unforgiven continues to elude them, the arrival of the rest of the legion will seal their fate. In combat, the Dark Angels are strictly controlled and intensely focussed upon their mission a trait alltoo often lacking in other Chaos Legions. While hunting down their former brothers, it is of the utmost importance that the target is taken alive. This precludes the use of orbital bombardments or artillery, but as soon as the Unforgiven has been secured, the full fury of the legion is unleashed to eliminate any witnesses. On more conventional battlefields, the power of Chaos is wielded to great effect. Their Interrogator-Librarians can hurl magicks at the enemy, conjure up terrible nightmares to stalk the battlefield or predict the path of future events. They can also anoint their brothers to carry the blessings of the Dark Gods for the duration of the battle. Although the legion does not allow daemons to possess their own bodies, the practice is used extensively for normal humans. Be they willing cultists or captives, these highly unpredictable forces are used as terror-weapons and cannon-fodder. Treated with contempt, any survivors are forgotten as soon as the battle is ended, without even a bolt-shell to end their pitiful existence. Treated with more care

are captured enemy Astartes, whose far more robust physiques mean that they can stand up to the rigours of daemonic possession for far longer than a single battle. Of all the legions, the capture and desecration of a Word Bearer is always the most satisfying, as to witness their devotion to the Emperor curdle is truly a sight to behold. The most brutal and dangerous of missions, from the storming of Imperial fortresses to the boarding of enemy warships, are spearheaded by the veteran brothers of the Deathwing. In remembrance of the forests of Caliban, their Terminator armour is of the darkest green, and nothing can stand against their implacable advance. Organisation

A lthough the Dark Angels still retain a semblance of their original organisational structure, the requirements of their situation have necessitated the inclusion of certain subtle changes. Luther holds the position of Supreme Grand Master of the Dark Angels, as well as the title of Master of Caliban. This is not simply a relic of history or bitter reminder of past failures, as the remnants of the planet are vital to the legions future. The First Chapter, under Luthers personal command, is notable in that it is composed entirely of Terminator-clad veterans. Known informally as the Deathwing, they are responsible for securing the Caliban system while their lord divines the runes for signs of the Unforgiven. The legions other chapters are far more conventional, being composed of up to a thousand power armoured battle brothers. The chapters are self-sufficient, their fleets spread throughout the galaxy and each containing a contingent of Ravenwing the better to respond to the emergence of one of their erstwhile brothers. The masters of the chapter are supported by Interrogator-Librarians, who study the intricacies of the Empyrean and harness the power of the Warp in all its forms. The legions most senior members may be inducted into a group which is privy to the deepest secrets of Chaos. To enter this Inner Circle is to risk madness and death, and only those most adept at Walking the Spiral are permitted to transcend to this new level, and unlock the gifts therein. Once the captured Unforgiven are convinced of their mistake in having followed the Lion, and of having turned their backs upon Caliban, either through persuasion or by possession, they are presented before Luther, and then returned to a place of honour within the chapter that found them. While these individuals are rarely allowed to rise to any position of authority, they are an important part of the chapter as they symbolise the reason why the Dark Angels continue to fight their Long War. Recruitment & Gene-Seed

S o haunted was the legion by Lion ElJonsons threat of recruiting from worlds other than Caliban, that in the wake of the destruction of their homeworld they stubbornly refused to take any new initiates. Though it took many decades, the decline in their numbers eventually forced Luther to decree that the Dark Angels would have to recruit once more, or face extinction. This was done only grudgingly, and rather than taking initiates from wherever they found suitable stock, as is common with other fleetbased legions, they have instead returned time and again to less than a score of planets. Now, with Dorns Heresy ten thousand years behind them, the overwhelming majority of the legion draws its heritage back to the new recruiting planets, such as Kimmeria, Tessera Rubis or Klades Tertius. Despite this, through their training and psycho-conditioning all brothers carry with them a deep sense of bereavement for the loss of noble Caliban. The legion pointedly avoids sowing the seeds of Chaos close to their recruiting worlds, so as to prevent their future brethren from becoming corrupted, and over the millennia the Dark Angels have become fiercely protective of these planets. Despite most of them being under Imperial rule, many a Dark Angel has fought and died in their defence. Be it against the Orks at Piscina IV or to purge the Plains World of Genestealer infestation, each brother is similarly driven to ensure that the nightmare of losing a homeworld is not repeated. The Dark Angels skill at keeping the corrupting influence of the Warp at bay is reflected in the quality of their gene-seed, which is by far the least corrupted of any of the Chaos Legions. This is due mainly to their ability to Walk the Spiral, but it is also a tribute to the zeal of the legions apothecaries. Progenoids are harvested from the battle-brothers as soon as they mature to minimise the possibility of corruption, are minutely scrutinised, and stored inside specially shielded vaults until required. Although all of the implants continue to function, the gene-seed has accumulated a number of flaws. While not sufficient to noticeably impair their performance, the difference is apparent on the rare occasions they are able to compare it to progenoids harvested from captured members of the Unforgiven. Beliefs

T he Dark Angels utilise every aspect of the Chaos pantheon, but far from being blind zealots, they are instead coldly analytical in their approach. It is their belief that through the study and application of the Warp, they can harness and wield it as a potent weapon to further their own ends, in particular bringing about the downfall of the Emperor, and the capture and conversion of the Unforgiven. Through the teachings handed down by Luther, they have limited their exposure to its most corrupting properties, although they are more than happy to subject others to its effects, and are instrumental in the propagation of cults to the Ruinous Powers throughout the Imperium. They have also attempted to educate the other Chaos Legions in aspects of their chosen paths, most

notably in the case of the Space Wolves, but also the Raven Guard, who they tutored in the ways of Tzeentch after the loss of their mysterious progenitor. Other legions, such as the tortured Blood Angels and the self-loathing Salamanders, are less receptive to their insights, and are even openly hostile, for which they are all the poorer. While Chaos is the means by which the Dark Angels carry out their plans, the thing that drives them is their endless hunt for the Unforgiven. Luthers obsession, as the other Chaos Legions see it, with trying to obliterate any sign of his dead primarchs existence, to the point of convincing the Lions followers of the righteousness of their cause at all costs, is seen as a dangerous distraction. There are countless examples where they have been fighting alongside other legions, only to break off from the assault at a critical juncture to investigate word of one of their brethren, and in the process handing their enemies a victory. This self-destructive urge has soured otherwise warm relations with allies, and has even been cited by outsiders as an unconscious manifestation of Malal within their character. As soon as the niceties of the formal presentation had been dispensed with, the room was cleared, leaving Luther alone with Marthes, the newly Forgiven member of the Dark Angels. Ostensibly this was to allow the two to talk, but there was little conversation to be had apart from the endless repetition of how Caliban was the mans home. The Interrogator-Librarians of the Fifth Chapter had been artless, but effective enough in their own fashion... it pained him so when they lost one to possession. It obscured the psychic imprint left behind by the Emperors soul. Poor Cypher had paid with his life to find that Soul-binding was not the way, but his researches had opened up a far subtler path. With every member of the Unforgiven they captured and broke, Luther gained a clearer understanding of the Emperor, and each piece of the puzzle brought him closer to corrupting and destroying Him. Luthers last attempt had caused a disruption in the Astronomicon for more than a week. He was certain that a real breakthrough was within his grasp. So important was the need to keep this secret that the rest of the legion, even those of the Inner Circle, believed the lie wholeheartedly. Let the other legions think that the search for the Unforgiven was merely the result of flawed characters, desperate to punish their primarch. Let them believe it, and leave the Dark Angels to their pointless diversion. Better derision than having to battle the entire galaxy for the future of the Emperors soul.

Battle Cry

pon the battlefields of Istvaan, the Dark Angels declared that they fought For the Lion, and for Caliban to blacken their hated primarchs name. Now, though, a multitude of battle cries are used, with the honour of choosing and initiating the chant offered primarily to one of the redeemed Unforgiven. Midnight clad, and wielding fear as a weapon, the Night Lords haunt the dark places of the Imperium. They do this not to hide from the light of justice, but because that is where those who would seek to harm the Emperors subjects are to be found. Since the time of their Primarch, Konrad Curze, the Night Lords have been guided by visions of the darkest of futures which they are driven to avert, even at the cost of their own lives. By their blood and sacrifice the Imperium of Mankind has been kept safe from rebellions, xenos invasions and betrayals without number. Contents [show]

Legion History

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Origins

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Konrad Curze, Primarch of the VIII Legion 'Night Lords' Added by Algrim Whitefang

he arrival of the infant Primarchs changed each of their homeworlds forever, but few have been transformed so profoundly for the better than the planet of Nostramo. The place the Primarch of the VIII Legion found as he emerged from his incubator pod was one of eternal, stygian darkness, choking pollution and endemic, institutionalised crime; descriptions which certainly do not apply to the Nostramo of the 41st Millennium. In the revered, handwritten accounts of his youth, the Primarch tells of how he grew up on the unlit streets of Nostramo Quintus, hiding from everyone, even the gangs of abandoned children which roamed the slums. He watched the press of humanity around him, content simply to study them, until he witnessed a family being menaced by a gang of thugs. The sight of the criminals attempting to steal the baby from its parents offended something deep inside him, and in an instant he was upon them with the only weapons he had his nails and teeth. By the time his enemies had breathed their last, the terrified family had already fled from their blood-soaked protector. From that point on, no longer was he able to look on, as injustice was perpetrated. He made it his business to put an end to such things. Those who witnessed his attacks told of a soulless creature of nightmare which stalked the shadows and wore the darkness like a cloak. For the first time he also had a name: to his prey he was the Night Haunter. As he grew to maturity, he came to realise that the criminals he had been punishing had been given their orders by more powerful individuals. Over the course of a long, bloody year, the Night Haunter waged war upon the corruption which had spread its tendrils right to the top of society. From the heads of the organised crime syndicates to the law enforcement officials who had spat upon their oaths for personal gain, none were safe from his punishment; their broken bodies left for all to see as warnings to those who broke the Night Haunters law. Fearing for their lives, the criminals searched in vain for their tormentor. Unimaginable sums were offered for his head, or even for information, but to no avail. He had no-one, so could not be betrayed, and Nostramo contained more than enough shadows in which to hide. The war was bloody, but one-sided, and eventually the criminal population was cowed into complete submission. From the alleyways of the undercity to the corridors of power, no-one dared to break the law lest they be the next to suffer the Night Haunters retribution. By the time Imperial Expeditions reached Nostramo, drawn initially by tales of its bountiful supplies of adamantium, they found the world orderly, productive and ruled over by a being of preternatural abilities. Magnus the Red of the Thousand Sons ventured down to investigate further, and soon confirmed that another of the Emperors long-lost Primarch sons had indeed been found. In the time it took for the Emperor to reach Nostramo, Magnus bonded with his brother, and spoke in glowing terms of their fathers great quest to unite the scattered worlds of mankind under Imperial Law. With his interest in justice, this aspect held considerable appeal to the Night Haunter. In return, Magnus was fascinated to learn that his brother was gifted by brief flashes of precognitive ability, although he had so far been unable to use this fore-knowledge in any meaningful way.

The eventual arrival of the Emperor was a time of hushed expectation and awe. So accustomed to the darkness were the people of Nostramo that when the Emperor first stepped from his landing craft, many were dazzled by the golden light reflected from His burnished power armour. However, it was as nothing to what occurred next. As the Night Haunter approached his father in humble supplication, the Emperor opened his arms wide in welcome, and the entire sky lit up as it had not done in living memory. In honour of the new dawn which the Imperium had brought to Nostramo, the Emperor had ordered the orbit of Tenebor to be fractionally altered, so that the moon would no longer hold the world in a permanent eclipse. Even though the light from Nostramos dying star was wan and pale, for some it was the last thing they would ever see. Even the Night Haunter was struck down, shaking uncontrollably not at the light, but undergoing one of his prophetic visions. With great tenderness the Emperor laid hands upon His sons head, and calmed the seizure, saying, Konrad Curze, be at peace. I have arrived and I intend to take you home. The reply, controlled and level, was recorded for the galaxy to hear: That is not my name, father. I am Night Haunter... and I have seen the glory of the Imperium that we will create.

The Great Crusade

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Night Lords Astartes during the Great Crusade Added by Algrim Whitefang

he newly renamed Night Lords fought their first campaigns of the Great Crusade alongside the Thousand Sons. This gave Magnus ample opportunity to examine his brothers fascinating talent, which it seemed was derived from a source far removed from his own method of psychic mastery. Better than almost anyone, Magnus knew that the future was not set in stone, and that the visions could as easily be taken as warnings. Yet despite all attempts to use the information gleaned from these prophesies, the fates always seemed to conspire against him. Shorn of context of what they referred to, the jumble of images only seemed to make sense after the event, by which time it was far too late. Night Haunter became increasingly fatalistic and certain these visions were pre-destined to come to pass. Though he had long resisted it, Night Haunter finally agreed to allow his brother access to the memories of his latest vision. Magnus was more successful than they could have hoped, reassembling the headlong rush of knowledge into a coherent form. Forewarned, they were able to prevent the ambush and destruction of many of the orbiting Imperial Army vessels, and the planet fell into compliance soon afterwards. In the wake of this victory, Night Haunter confessed to his brother the dark truth that had haunted him since he had first met the Emperor on Nostramo; that his prophesy had not, as he had publically stated, been of the inevitable rise of the Imperium. Instead it had shown his own execution, and that the deed had been carried out on the orders of their own father. The proof that the visions were not inevitable and could be averted had freed him to at long last confide this knowledge to another person. With the burden lifted from his shoulders, he was at last able to accept and welcome these visions, and rapidly became skilled at their interpretation. He was also free to set aside his past, and reclaimed the name his father had bestowed upon him that of Konrad Curze. The Night Lords apprenticeship was finally at an end, and as the Thousand Sons left, reinforcements arrived in the form of the first Astartes recruited from Nostramo. What should have been a moment of great pride proved to be singularly ill-starred. As Curze greeted these new battle-brothers, he was struck by the vision of his legion corrupted from within and populated by criminals and moral degenerates individuals who carried out wanton acts of brutality for no better reason than for the sick thrill of it. Where Night Haunter might have resignedly embraced this as the inevitable reason for his execution, Konrad Curze would not. Instead, he ordered the new Astartes placed under confinement, and returned to his homeworld with all haste. He had thought Nostramo left in capable hands. Instead, Curze found that in his absence the criminals had risen up once more and turned the planet into a cesspool of lawlessness. The Adeptus Arbites and the Administratum had been unable to deal with the situation, so it fell to Curze and his Night Lords to re-impose order through the fear of brutal, inevitable retribution. Within a week, crime had dropped back to nothing, and when the legion eventually returned to the Great Crusade, it was an unbending cadre of Night Lords who held stewardship of the planet rather than the hopelessly outclassed Adeptus Arbites. The Night Lords found themselves changed by the experience of Nostramo, and with the lessons of the campaign weighting heavily upon them, they saw the Imperium with fresh eyes. The Great Crusade had become a victim of its own success. With so many worlds conquered so fast, many took advantage of their distance from the front lines to rise up against the Imperium. Long before the Iron Warriors were

persuaded to bleed away their strength in garrison duties to address this, the Night Lords took it upon themselves to re-impose the rule of Imperial Law on the faltering galaxy. This was a far more uncompromising, brutal legion than the one which had accompanied the Thousand Sons. It descended on planets only nominally still part of the Imperium, and enshrouded them in a cloak of fear. Planetary leaders were given the ultimatum to submit wholeheartedly to the Pax Imperialis, and any who resisted became bloody public exhibitions to the folly of resistance. They did this not out of sadistic pleasure, but from the knowledge that humanity needed to be subjected to the fear of certain retribution to keep it from straying into corruption. Just as a plant grows twisted if the cane that supports and guides it is removed too soon, the same applied to the Imperium of Mankind. The Night Lords took it upon themselves to do the terrible things required to keep the Imperium from slipping into anarchy and rebellion, and to protect humanity from its own darkest impulses. Curzes prophetic visions were vital in crushing rebellions before they could gain ground, and the belief was encouraged that they could see the evil that lurked in the hearts of men. They did all of this willingly, knowing that the price was to be hated, and obviously feared, by the very people they were protecting.

Treachery Revealed

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Though undoubtedly effective, the Night Lords brutal ways were a source of friction with many of the other, more strait-laced legions. During the Great Crusade Angron personally forbade his World Eaters from fighting alongside them, and the Primarch of the Ultramarines took every opportunity to berate Curze for his methods. Guilliman argued that compliance imposed by fear was too fragile, and pointed to the strength and unity of the worlds his legion had brought into compliance on the Eastern Fringe using the Ultramar model. With the exception of his mentor, Magnus, Curze was never close to his brother Primarchs, and so cared little for their low opinion of him. All that mattered was that the Emperor understood his actions. He left his brothers to their machinations, rivalries and petty posturing, confident that while they might differ in their approaches, they were all in their own ways working towards the greater glory of the Imperium. This belief, and the Night Lords participation in the Great Crusade, was abruptly terminated on the planet of Cheraut. It was a testament to the fierce, coordinated resistance of the people of Cheraut that the Primarchs of three legions were sent to finally bring them into compliance. The Night Lords arrived first, and Curze ordered his legion to carry out terrible and public displays of brutality against the military forces who opposed them to paralyse the individual nations with fear. The once cohesive, unified world which had stood firm against veteran regiments of the Imperial Army for more than a year fell into disarray. By the time Fulgrims Emperors Children and Rogal Dorns Imperial Fists arrived, every city stood alone, isolated from even their closest neighbours, and ripe to be conquered piecemeal. To Curze, the Pacification of Cheraut had been a prime example of combining their various talents to great effect, but when he joined his brother Primarchs in the shattered remnants of the worlds last and

greatest citadel, he found Dorn not appreciative, but furious. The Imperial Fist railed against what the Night Lords had done, claiming that Guilliman and Angron had been right, and that he would answer for the gross excesses carried out in the Emperors name. Unwilling to engage in yet another pointless discussion of his methods, Curze turned to leave, but Dorn reached out to stop him. At the touch, Curze was driven to his knees, struck down by a vision of terrible, sickening potency.

Both Dorn and Curze were there, but rather than on Cheraut they were in the midst of the Emperors Throne Room on Terra. Rather than the serene majesty Curze had remembered, there were obvious signs of battle damage and the charnel stench of death hung heavy in the air. Dorns ornate golden armour was engraved with unholy symbols painful to look upon, and his sunken eyes burned with hate and the icy fires of insanity. Curze tried to move, but could only strain against the heavy shackles which restrained him. His struggling grew ever-more frantic as Dorn drew a black bladed sword, and stepped aside to reveal the broken, unconscious body of the Emperor, and with a smile held the blade to his fathers throat. With an almighty snap the chain holding Curze gave way, and he threw himself across the room at Dorn, hands contorted into talons to rip and tear at the Arch-Betrayer...

...When he awoke from the vision, his hands were around Dorns throat, and in a desperate attempt to prevent the future he had been shown he continued to attack, rending and tearing with tooth and nail. Even as the blows rained down on him from all those around, he tried to explain the importance of what he was doing, but his words were lost in a howl of incoherent pain and rage. He shrugged off the yellow armoured Astartes as though they were nothing, but before he could take the life of his treacherous brother, Fulgrim was there, and in a blur of purple and gold tore him away from Dorn and knocked Curze unconscious. While held in custody aboard the Phalanx - the vast flagship of the Imperial Fist fleet Curze came to realise the full gravity of his situation. His carefully crafted reputation as an object of fear, and the damning testimony of Fulgrim, someone known to loathe Rogal Dorn, had left people wary of his motives and even of his sanity. Furthermore, having seen the suspicion and unfair accusations of sorcery that dogged his brother Magnus, any talk of prophesy would serve only to further weaken his case. Knowing the result that a trial before the Council of Primarchs would return, and that his vision had shown him as Dorns prisoner, he made his escape from the Phalanx leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. While the Imperial Fists and Emperors Children searched for him in vain, he made his way back to his legion, and quietly slipped away into the darkness between the stars.

Alone in his private sanctum, Curze was again plagued by the ghosts of what could have been. His officers all agreed that he had made the right choice. To have tried to penetrate deeper into the Phalanx to its very command section - would have been madness. The security aboard that massive ship had

been so tight that he had been lucky to escape at all, and he had needed to get the news of Dorns future treachery to those who could avert it... ... And yet... ... And yet... ... And yet still he felt as though he had made a grave mistake. He felt that if he had been able to reach Dorn who was already badly wounded he could have ended this... this heresy before more innocent blood could be spilled. For a moment he was lost amongst the antiseptic corridors of the Phalanx, until his equerry, Captain Shang, entered the room. He had made his decision; there was nothing to be gained in continuing to shadow the Phalanx. They already knew full well where they must be to avert Dorns betrayal. They must set course for Terra.

The Siege of Terra

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As ever, the background and context to Curzes prophetic vision had been maddeningly lacking. The only thing of which he could be certain was that Dorn would spit on his oaths of fealty to the Emperor and attempt to kill Him in His own throne room. Knowing nothing of the insidiously corrupting nature of the Ruinous Powers, Curze could not comprehend why a dutiful and self-sacrificing individual such as Dorn would turn on the Emperor. In fact, it was just these traits that had earned him the title of the Emperors Praetorian, and the Imperial Fists the honour of garrisoning the Imperial Palace from attack; something which made the Night Lords task all the more difficult. They looked on as hunted fugitives, unable to prevent the disasters that were to come, but when Dorns treachery was finally revealed at the Istvaan Drop-site massacre, the Night Lords were in place to act. With the anarchy of Dorns rebellion, the Night Lords were at last able to penetrate the supremely tight defences of the Terran system without detection. Unfortunately, by this point the Emperor was already trapped inside his Throne Room by the demi-legion of Imperial Fists which Dorn had left to garrison the outer palace. So good were the Imperial Fists at this task, that despite all their stealth, it was only with the arrival of the Blood Angels, and their eventual sloppy relief of the Imperial Fists on the outer walls, that the Night Lords were finally able to penetrate the walls of the palace. They ran riot through the palace, attacking the forces of Chaos and the Imperial Fists in particular, but for all the devastation they caused, it was merely a distraction. Their true purpose was to release the Emperor from the cage His Throne Room had become With the area ahead cleared, they moved out through the Investory. Passing through such an exposed area was a risk, but it was the most direct route back out of the palace. Around them, in a ring, were twenty plinths. Two of positions had long stood empty, and Curze was far from surprised to find that since the Heresy many more of the statues had been either removed or destroyed, including his own

representation which had stood upon the eighth plinth. Noticing that his father had stopped in his tracks, Curze looked back anxiously. I never liked this place, Konrad, said his father, his eyes on the missing eleventh statue. Malcador would never confirm it, but I am certain that this was where the execution was carried out... where my son died at my command. It is as though I can hear his death-scream echoing from these stones. Such talk of executions chilled his heart, and yet still Curze yearned to finally admit to his father what the vision had shown him when they had first met for the first time. But then the moment was gone, and the Emperor was once more striding purposefully towards the far side of the Investory. Curze begged his father to leave Terra, but the Emperor was unbending in his refusal. Even the arrival on Terra of Rogal Dorn at the head of the Istvaan Traitor Legions could not dissuade Him, after which Curze never again broached the subject. What the Emperor said to convince Curze that He must not leave Terra to the traitors has long-since been lost to the ages, but most within the legion believe that it refers to a prophesy borne not by the son, but by the father. Still unaware that their quarry had been spirited away, the traitors continued to focus all of their efforts on breaching the walls of the throne room. This allowed the Night Lords to do what they knew best; instilling the fear of retribution amongst the Chaos forces across the planet. During this time, Curze received further warnings, which he tried to avert with varying degrees of success. His vision of Perturabo being dealt a grievous, plague-infected wound by Sanguinius of the Blood Angels came even as the assault on the Ultimate Gate was about to take place. Despite contacting Perturabo minutes before the attack, the Primarch of the Iron Warriors contemptuously ignored the warning, and was instead killed outright by the rotting Primarch. Even beyond the grief and responsibility Curze felt for the loss of his brother, the revelation that his actions could inadvertently create an even darker path shook Curze to the core. As the Siege of Terra ground through its third month, the war fell into stalemate, with neither side able to comprehensively defeat the other. With the long-delayed fleets of the Dark Angels and Space Wolves growing ever-closer, the Imperial forces sought a way to end the rebellion before they could arrive by killing the Arch-Betrayer himself. However, since the breaching of the Imperial throne room Dorn had rarely been seen on Terra, and had instead taken to coordinating the campaign from the Phalanx. Protected behind countless banks of void shields and wielding enough firepower to devastate any Imperial fleet sent against it, the Phalanx appeared impervious to assault. Every attack simulation the Warmaster could conceive ended in abject failure, and while a covert action might prove more successful, there was no time to put such a plan into operation. At that moment Curze stepped from the shadows, and announced that he would be able to bring down the Phalanxs shields for long enough to allow a strike-force to teleport aboard. He had been granted a vision of the desperate direct assault against the Phalanx, and of the Imperial fleet, including the Warmasters own flagship, illuminating the night like new suns as they burned. Since he had received that warning, the Night Lords had spent every waking moment preparing and analysing the weaknesses of the Phalanx. Just as Konrad Curze had

escaped from the Phalanx as it lay in orbit around Cheraut, he was certain he and his team could also break onto it.

The Phalanx

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The Phalanx that Curze found waiting for him was subtly different from the one he remembered from his last visit. Gone were the cold, functional ascetics, replaced instead by the corruption he had come to associate with the servants of the Ruinous Powers. The insidious taint affected even their vox channels and drowned their frequencies with white noise. He and his hand-picked companions ghosted with ease through the darkened, nearly deserted corridors. By melting into the shadows to avoid patrols and killing only when necessary, they were able to reach their objective without alerting the enemy to their presence. Though the shield generator dwarfed anything aboard their own ships, it was only one of many aboard the Phalanx, and its destruction would leave the ship vulnerable for only a brief span. The Night Lords triggered their explosives and reduced the shield generator to slag, but with their vox channels useless they could but hope that the Emperors strike force had been ready to attack. With their presence revealed, the Night Lords took advantage of the devastation and darkness to turn the enemys territory into their own. They were in their element, but such was the size of the Phalanx that Curze knew it would be impossible to reach his father before His assault on Dorns Command Sanctum. The Night Lords would have been content simply to punish the followers of the Arch-Betrayer that pressed in on them, but it soon became apparent that something had gone terribly wrong. Due to the corrupted nature of the ship, they almost dismissed the twisted half-figure merged into the wall as yet another daemonic manifestation, and yet the distinctive burnished golden armour revealed it to be nothing less than one of the Emperors Custodian Guard. Curze even recognised the man as part of his fathers strike force, who had clearly suffered a catastrophic accident during teleportation. As Curze reached out to close the eyes of the tortured man, he was again struck by a vision of the near-future. Through tears of grief, Curze told his officers that he had seen the traitors triumphant. He spoke of Dorn boasting of how he had feigned shaking off the daemonic and begged forgiveness, and had used that moment of confusion to strike down first Warmaster Horus and then the Emperor. With no way to contact his father to warn of Dorns treachery, and being much too far from the command bridge to fight their way there, Curze did the only thing he could to get into Dorns presence. Much to the dismay of his Night Lords, he left them with the cryptic phrase This will be my Investory, before surrendering to the Imperial Fists and demanding to be taken before their Primarch. The Night Lords fought on with renewed ferocity, but by the time they cut their way through to the Sons of Horus the battle, and the Heresy, had already ended. Curzes actions had bought the Emperor enough warning to raise His guard against Dorns deceit, but it came at a terrible cost. The last seconds of Curzes life were recorded on the vid-logs of the Primarchs own armour. Curze was securely chained and shackled, yet confident as he was brought before Dorn. When offered the stark choice between life and death to join the rebellion, or die there and then - Curze gave a chilling, contemptuous laugh, and calmly rejected his offer, before defiantly addressing Rogal Dorn: Why did I come before you only to be

killed? Because your Heresy, and the act you are about to commit, proves the truth of my actions at Cheraut. I merely tried to punish one who would go on to cause so much harm my only regret is that I did not succeed in killing you before you made war on our father, our Emperor. Death is nothing compared to vindication." Despite exhaustive examination, the exchange has given little clue as to exactly how Curzes death averted the events of his prophetic vision. All is certain is that through this act of supreme self-sacrifice, the Emperors life was saved, and the Arch-Betrayers Heresy brought to an end.

Pax Imperialis

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Dorns Heresy had ended with his death aboard the Phalanx, but it had dealt a crippling blow to both the Emperor and His Imperium. Just as Nostramo had slipped back into corruption and anarchy when Curze first left the planet, they saw the same thing happening on a galaxy-wide scale. Though the grieving Night Lords yearned to join the other loyal Astartes in running down the retreating Traitor Legions, their first Legion Master, Zso Sahaal, realised that their skills could be put to use in a far more productive way. The Night Lords used their dread reputation and the promise of inevitable and bloody retribution to prevent the fragile Imperium from splintering into a million warring fiefdoms. They became the shadow of fear that enforced the Pax Imperialis. In this task they were aided by the High Lords of Terra, who ruled in the Emperors name, and in particular by their leader, Ezekyle Abaddon of the newly renamed Black Templars. Having seen at first hand the service and sacrifice of Curze and his Night Lords, High Lord Abaddon gave them carte blanche to bring rebellious planets back into line, and to ensure that governors thinking of declaring independence reconsidered the wisdom of such actions. He also ordered that the full weight of the Officio Assassinorum stand alongside the Night Lords in this task, an edict which remains in force to this day. Along with the extensive intelligence-gathering abilities of the Vanus Clade of Assassins, who monitor and predict worlds likely to fall to rebellion or to come under attack by invasion, a rare few Night Lords are also blessed with their Primarchs gift of prophesy. This allows the Night Lords to crush insurrections in their infancy, and to divert forces to stand against acts of aggression by Xenos and Chaos forces. Yet for all the good that the Night Lords do, their appearance is rarely greeted with enthusiasm. All too often they are seen as harbingers of doom, arriving as they do just ahead of either an invading war-fleet, or as agents of bloody vengeance. With good reason it is said that the black eyes of the Night Lords are able to see the evil in mens hearts, and as few are without a trace of sin, many a guilty conscience is prickled by word of their arrival. Theyre a pretty sorry bunch, Prophet, growled Brother-Sergeant Renzar as they watched the ragged group of villagers climbing aboard the transport shuttle. The vision had shown the villagers massacred, and while Tarl was thankful they had been saved, it was difficult to see what galaxy-shaking tragedy they had just averted. Perhaps it wasnt the civilians the vision could have been about these Traitor Astartes. The motivations of the Dark Angels are almost as difficult to fathom as the prophesies, said

Tarl. He stooped to pick up a bolter-pocked shoulderpad bearing the icon of the Ravenwing and threw it into the heart of the blazing pyre. Be it determination, desperation or simply arrogance, the traitors had attacked despite knowing the world was under the protection of the Night Lords. On this occasion, though, all of their vaunted speed had served only to bring them into the ambush that little bit faster. Lost in thought, Tarl did not notice the broad-shouldered man climb onto the transport, and take one last look back at the corpses of the former battle brothers who had hunted for him...

Homeworld

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The Night Lords homeworld of Nostramo Added by Algrim Whitefang In the centuries before the coming of the Imperium, Nostramo had been mined intensively for the adamantium riches which lay beneath its surface, and the industrial processes needed to refine the metal for export had reduced the atmosphere to a noxious fume. It did not require the power of prophesy to foresee that, if left unchecked, the Imperiums insatiable greed would rapidly mine the planet hollow and render the air completely unbreatheable. For this reason, on taking Nostramo as their homeworld the Night Lords enforced stringent quotas on mining, and have remained unbending even in the face of intense pressure to increase production. If they should ever waver, they need only remember the tragic fate of Cthonia, and indeed the fall of the Dark Angels on Caliban, to stiffen their resolve. Despite the arrival of the Emperor bringing daylight to Nostramo, the population had proved unwilling to embrace this new dawn. For a people genetically adapted to the darkness, even the weak sunlight which reaches them can be blinding, and under the protection of the Night Lords there is little to fear from the shadows. Because of this, Nostraman society conducts its business wherever possible during the night, with the population careful to return to their shuttered homes before the first scorching rays of sun return at dawn. The only souls to be found out during the day are those not indigenous to the

planet, or those forced by circumstance to brave the daylight behind goggles of smoked glass and layers of protective clothing. Over the millennia the five cities of Nostramo have steadily expanded, although Quintus, the place where the infant Primarch first fell to earth and the site of the legions fortress-monastery, retains primacy. It is said by off-worlders that despite their large populations the cities of Nostramo are unnervingly quiet and well-ordered. The streets are clean and free of litter, and even the air is sweet at least in comparison to the levels of pollution pumped into the atmosphere before the arrival of the Emperor.

Legion Organisation

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The Night Lords still retain their formal Grand Company command structure, although in practice they are split into forces of rarely more than a half a dozen squads, the better to cover the truly enormous scale of the Imperium. They generally prefer small, swift vessels to the massive battle-barges of some other Legions, relying on speed and stealth rather than raw firepower. Their mere presence in a system is sufficient to remind Imperial governors and citizens alike of their responsibilities, and to banish any foolish thoughts of rebellion. Given their preferred method of combat, the actions of even a single squad of Night Lords are magnified by wildfire rumour so that the enemy will believe they are fighting an entire company of shades. The Legion is aided both on and off the battlefield by the temples of the Assassins, from the infocytes of Clade Vanus procuring and analysing data to the agents of the Vindicare training battle-brothers in the fine art of killing from afar. Though a Night Lord force commonly counts but a single assassin amongst their number, far rarer and more prized are the legions prophets. They can come from any background or specialisation for instance, one of the legions finest and most valiant prophets was not an officer, but an apothecary and as soon as their talent manifests they come under close scrutiny by the brothers of the Librarium. As Magnus the Red well understood, there is little link between the psychic power of the librarians and the prophetic visions of the Night Lords. They are invaluable, however, in helping to draw out and analyse the often maddeningly vague assemblage of images into a coherent form, and to help identify when and where the disaster is set to occur. They are also used to test the veracity of both the prophesy, and even of the prophet himself, as the consequences of the Ruinous Powers influencing these visions would be truly disastrous.

Recruitment

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While many of the Emperors Legions draw their recruits from across the Imperium, the Night Lords take aspirants almost exclusively from their homeworld. They do this not from dogmatism, but from long experience that, not just physiologically, but also psychologically, the Nostraman population yields the

most promising and compatible Aspirants. However, there was a time when this was not thought to be the case. During the Great Crusade, Curze had to return to Nostramo to reverse the worlds descent into anarchy and corruption. To prevent his legion from becoming tainted with moral degenerates and psychopaths he turned his Night Lords loose upon the criminal elements in an echo of his first great purge of Nostraman society. So effective was this that some grew concerned that the population had become cowed into such a submissive state that they would be all-but useless as Astartes. Needless to say, they should not have doubted their Primarch. Just as the Nostraman people had adapted to the dark by losing their irises, they also adapted to a society where crime was so swiftly, brutally and publicaly punished by embracing Curzes concept of natural justice not just as the norm, but as their moral duty. Rather than passively avert their eyes from criminal acts, secure in the knowledge that their Night Lord guardians would soon deal very publicaly with the miscreant, Nostramans gained the confidence to stand against wrongdoers themselves. While at first this may have been done out of fear, that inaction might have been seen as complicity, it has long since been because seeing such acts genuinely offends their ingrained sense of justice. While the Night Lords continue to watch over Nostramo and its people, what little crime that might occur is frequently dealt with by ordinary citizens. The Night Lords continue to watch silently from the shadows, but their role is now as much to identify those who might possess the moral fibre to become potential aspirants as it is to guard the streets from crime. To those truly without sin, the world of Nostramo is the safest in the Imperium.

Combat Doctrine

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Night Lords striking fear into the unrighteous Added by Algrim Whitefang

To the Night Lords, fear is a weapon as deadly as the bolter or the chainsword. For this reason they openly proclaim their presence through haunting whispers in the vox channels even before the first flayed enemy corpse is left for all to see. This throws their opponents into disarray, often withdrawing back to the perceived safety of their bases, although by this time the Night Lords have long-since infiltrated the area. They strike seemingly from nowhere, favouring hit-and-run attacks to frontal assaults, before melting back into the darkness. Nowhere is safe from the Night Lords wrath, and this continues until even the dullest of imaginations comes to see them in every shadow and dark corner. In this way a small number of Night Lords can seemingly be everywhere, and can paralyse a whole army, or even a whole world with fear. Only when a base or settlement is psychologically isolated, with nothing to listen to on the vox but the chilling promise of retribution and the looped screams of their missing squad mates, do the Night Lords mass for the final attack. With their helms decorated like skulls, they appear as death incarnate, come to claim those who have transgressed the Emperors laws. Even in cases where the enemy is said to have no fear, the Night Lords finely honed talents have still proved to be effective. Be they the synapse-creatures of the Tyranid Hive-mind or the corrupted Magos of the Dark Mechanicus, by targeting their leaders, the followers are soon left either milling around in confusion, or are soon ordered to adopt a far more static, defensive stance. Though some may call it a simple logical or evolutionary response to the presence of the Night Lords, this rapid drawing in of forces and settling into a state of heightened awareness holds many similarities to that of fear.

Beliefs

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The Night Lords are firm believers in the rule of law and will punish those that break the rules (even for the slightest infractions) swiftly and brutally. For those that dare turn from the light of the benevolent Emperor the Night Lords descend upon them with righteous anger. They believe that humanity must be subjected to fear of certain retribution to keep them from straying into corruption. The moon of Tenebor holds a great fascination for the people of Nostramo. During the hours of darkness its presence is cursed, as the moonlight it reflects is said to spoil the purity of the night. To a Nostraman it only becomes 'true night' once the moon slips below the horizon. Conversely, during the day the total eclipses it brings are seen as greatly favoured, as they blot out not only the sun, but also a great many of the stars in the sky. As befits such an influential celestial body, Tenebor makes an appearance among the Lesser Arconoi; a Nostraman variant of the Emperors Tarot. Because of the duality of its nature, it is said to carry a multitude of different interpretations depending upon its position, orientation and interaction with the other cards in the draw.

Gene-Seed

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Although the Primarch of the Night lords is long-dead, his legacy lives on in the form of the gene-seed implanted into every one of the legions battle-brothers. This gene-line has proved to be stable and resistant to mutation, with all nineteen implants functioning with commendable efficiency. Of particular note is the startlingly acute night-vision displayed by the Night Lords, which is believed to be due to a particularly fortuitous interaction between their Occulobe and the black, iris-less eyes of the Nostraman population. While this gift has helped to shape the tactics used by every Night Lord, there is another, far more extraordinary inheritance passed down from Konrad Curze to but a select few of his brethren the power of prophesy. Such are the stresses that these visions place upon both body and soul that their bearers can be readily identified by their haunted, even haggard appearance. Because of the huge role that these warnings play in the psyche and effectiveness of the legion a staggering amount of research has gone into understanding how to increase the number of individuals able to harness this invaluable talent. Over the centuries innumerable approaches have been championed, and yet in truth the proportion of individuals with this talent has barely kept pace with the expansion of the Legion.

Credits

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