"The Flesh is Weak!"
First Founding (30th Millennium)
None / Kardan Stronos (representative to outsiders)
Black and Gray
- "Only when by the power of our hate we have truly shed the prison of our own flesh, shall we be judged worthy to stand at the side of the returned Primarch. Every foe I slay, every stone I cast down, makes my hatred purer, and the day Ferrus Manus is restored to us a day closer."
- — Iron Father Klaanu Johar
The Iron Hands are a Loyalist Space Marines Chapter and one of the original First Founding Space Marine Legions created from the gene-seed of their martyred Primarch, Ferrus Manus. Like the other Loyalist Astartes Legions, the Iron Hands would later be divided up after the Horus Heresy into multiple different Chapters, as required by the Codex Astartes, although one Chapter of the original Legion remained known as the Iron Hands and is described below. Although unwavering in their faith in the Emperor of Mankind and his dream of human unity as embodied in the Imperium of Man, the Iron Hands also believe that human flesh is weak and easily corruptible, and strive to replace their organic bodies with more "pure" bionic substitutes, thus closely emulating the faith of the Adeptus Mechanicus' Cult of the Machine.
The Iron Hands were born as the X Legion of Space Marines, engineered by the Emperor of Mankind to bring his light to the long lost human colony worlds scattered across the stars. When the Horus Heresy first erupted and plunged the newborn Imperium into a galaxy-wide civil war, the Iron Hands Legion was too far from Terra to intervene directly in the climactic battle of the conflict. Their Primarch Ferrus Manus was enraged by the weakness of those Legions who fell to Chaos, particularly with his closest brother amongst the Primarchs, Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children, and by his own inability to face the Traitors. Ferrus Manus gathered together his most Veteran Astartes and departed for the Istvaan System. It was during the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V that the Iron Hands, the Raven Guard and the Salamanders Legions were ambushed by the Traitors led by the Warmaster Horus, and though the three Loyalist Legions fought with extraordinary valour, Ferrus Manus himself was lost, beheaded by Fulgrim's Slaaneshi daemonblade which he had recovered from the xenos world of Laeran. While the Traitors declared their Primarch dead upon the blasted wastes of Istvaan V, the current Iron Hands Chapter refuses to accept this, for the Primarch's body was never recovered. For over 10,000 Terran years, the Sons of Ferrus Manus have stoked their burning hatred, drawing strength from this inexhaustible well of rage as they await their lost Primarch's return.
The unique identity of the Iron Hands is forged by their belief that all flesh is inherently weak, for it is subject to mortification, decay and temptation and is thus a weakness that must ultimately be purged if the Chapter's Astartes are to best serve the Emperor. This is a belief most probably rooted in the experiences of the Horus Heresy, but the inherent character of the people of the Chapter's homeworld of Medusa, with their stoicism and patient forbearance, also plays a part. Following the apparent death of their Primarch at Istvaan V, the surviving members of the Legion returned to their homeworld and fanned the coals of hatred that would endure across the millennia. The Iron Hands chose to isolate themselves from many of their fellow Astartes Chapters after the Second Founding and slowly became bitter recluses, wielding their anger as a protective shield against a universe of growing weakness and insanity. Unfortunately, in time, this hatred was directed at all outside the Chapter. The Traitors had renounced their oaths to the Emperor and shed the blood of their brothers, but the Loyalists had also allowed this to happen, and even the Emperor had fallen after defeating Horus. The Iron Hands harbour a special hatred for the Successor Chapters of the other two Loyalist Legions that fought with them at Istvaan V, for they believe that if those Legions had been stronger and continued to fight rather than retreating, Ferrus Manus would not have been lost and the Heresy might have ended there. This belief defies all facts to the contrary.
- "They are not my hands. This fact is forgotten by my brothers -- inexplicably, it has always seemed to me. The hands are strong, to be sure, and have created great things for us all, but they are not mine. And that counts for something. They forget that the silver on my arms comes from a beast that I vanquished. It is the mark of a great evil that I ended, and yet it persists within me...I would struggle to remove it now...I will not remove the silver from my flesh because I have learned to depend on it. The fault is with my mind. I rely on the augmentation given to me by my metal gauntlets, so much so that the flesh beneath them is now little more than a distant memory...A day will come when I will strip it from me, lest I lose the power to master myself forever. Already my Legion's warriors replace their shield hands with metal in my honour, and so they too are learning to doubt the natural strength of their bodies. They must be weaned off this practice before it becomes a mania for them. Hatred of what is natural, of what is human, is the first and greatest of the corruptions. So I record it here: when the time comes, I will strip my hands of their unnatural silver. I will instruct my Legion to recant their distrust of the flesh. I will turn then away from the gifts of the machine and bid them relearn the mysteries of flesh, bone and blood. When my father's Crusade is over, this shall be my sacred task. When the fighting is done, I shall cure my Legion and myself. For if fighting is all there is, if we may never pause to reflect on what such devotion to strength is doing to us, then our compulsion will only grow."
The Iron Hands were the X Legion of Space Marines, created from the gene-seed of the Primarch Ferrus Manus. At the dawn of the Imperium of Man, before the Great Crusade had begun, the 20 gene-children of the Emperor of Mankind, the Primarchs, were scattered across the known galaxy through the Warp in a mysterious accident due to the intervention of the Ruinous Powers of Chaos. The gestation capsules of all 20 Primarchs were stolen from the Emperor's secret gene-laboratory deep beneath the Himalayan Mountains on Terra and were flung across thousands of light years, all eventually coming to rest on backwater human colony planets. It was this first touch of Chaos before the Primarchs had even been born that may have corrupted so many of them and laid the foundation for the agonising tragedy of the Horus Heresy that was to come. One of these infant Primarchs turned up on the dark, geologically unstable Feral World of Medusa in the Segmentum Obscurus very near to the Eye of Terror, his gestation capsule burning a trail through the cloud-dominated sky as it impacted the highest mountain on the world, Karaashi, the Ice Pinnacle. The impact shattered the mountain top, burying Ferrus deep in the ice in a tremendous explosion of steam. The land shook under the impact which could be felt the world over. Mountains were toppled and great chasms were formed as the planet rumbled under the coming of the Primarch. Medusa rumbled with such ferocity that the Medusans later said that many of the world's mountains simply shook themselves to pieces.
Years later that special infant, named Ferrus Manus (High Gothic for "Iron Hand") by the Medusans, walked unscathed and already fully grown from the uninhabited mountain ranges of the far northern wastes where the Ice Pinnacle lay. The legends of the roaming clans, taught from father to son throughout the ages, revolve around the early exploits of Ferrus, who came to be regarded as a great warrior amongst the nomadic clans of Medusa. No one could match his strength of arm, try as he might to find a worthy opponent. He sought out every physical challenge that he could, always returning victorious. According to one oft-recounted myth, Ferrus once challenged a Storm Giant to a competition of strength. The giant lifted a mountain between his hands and set it back down a mile away. The giant's laugh died when Ferrus lifted the entire mountain range on his back, carrying it to a neighbouring island. The poor, humbled giant was never seen again. Ferrus travelled the length and breadth of Medusa, becoming well-known by all the clans and coming to know the land itself as no one ever had. He travelled areas that any other man would have found inaccessible. He climbed the highest mountains, he swam the deepest oceans, always pushing his levels of endurance and strength to levels unfathomable to mortal men. His strength and fury made him renowned and feared amongst the people of the clans who valued such qualities highly in their harsh environment. Ferrus was eventually adopted by the Medusan clans as one of their own. He never interfered in the various clans' conflicts, believing that such competition was healthy for his people and should be allowed to thrive. Because of this impartiality, Ferrus was ultimately accepted universally as an honourary member of every Medusan clan, and great (often exaggerated) legends like the one above were told of his deeds.
One such legend was of the titanic battle between the Primarch and Asirnoth, the Great Silver Wyrm. This tale is recounted in the Canticle of the Travels, an epic Medusan poem of unknown origin that is still taught to the children of the clans at their parents' knees. The Wyrm was said to possess a skin of living metal that was stronger than any armour. It was said that Ferrus spent many days spent tracking the beast through the legendary Land of Shadows, the fearful homeland of the ancients, a place of mystery and terror. This place, long since lost, was said to be a land forged of metal and stone relics of giant proportions, the remnants of a forgotten age in the galaxy's history. The ghost-spirits of the clans were said to roam there once they left the world of the living. Imperial academics now believe that the description of the Land of Shadows given in the Canticle makes it sound very much like the Necron ruins later encountered by the forces of the Imperium in the late 41st Millennium. As such, Asirnoth may actually have been a C'tan or Necron construct created from their Necrodermis material, which is known to act as a type of "living metal."
Ferrus was unable to defeat the beast with raw strength alone, his punches and blows having no discernible effect. Ferrus was eventually able to slay the creature, drowning it in a river of molten lava despite the agonising pain this caused him, and he bore it stoically. When Ferrus removed his arms from the lava, the Great Silver Wyrm had been completely destroyed, and he discovered that his hands and forearms were covered in the same living metal as the Wyrm's skin, which had flowed across his own flesh, protecting it, even as Asirnoth had been destroyed (or dispersed) by the heat of the molten rock. This was a substance that was as flexible as flesh yet as strong and impervious as the hardest ceramite. It is known that myths involving Ferrus and his metal hands precede the writing of the Canticle of Travels, but only in the Canticle is this explanation given as to how the living metal came to be fused to his body. The alien metal also altered the Primarch's physiology, for following the battle his eyes turned silver and seemed to lose their pupils, indicating that the necrodermis, if that is what the substance was, had also entered deep within his body. The reigning hypothesis among Imperial scholars at present is that Asirnorth was a C'tan construct, some kind of guardian creature placed on the planet to protect a possible Necron Tomb or even the resting place of a true C'tan, made of the "living metal" alloy the Necrons called necrodermis. It is possible that Ferrus was in some way polluted or corrupted by the Necron technology in the process of slaying the Great Silver Wyrm.
Ferrus returned to the Medusan clans after his travels, filled with new and wonderful ideas, which he taught to all who wished to learn. He was able to craft strange and powerful tools and objects out of metal, shaping them with his living metal hands without even the need for a hammer or forge. Under his tutelage, the clans of Medusa became much stronger than they had been before his arrival and became capable of wonders that they never could have imagined possible. It was a time of greatness for the people of Medusa—the civilisation of the clans advanced at a tremendous pace and the Medusan people became strong and proud.
The Coming of the Emperor
When the sky was split for a second time in the history of Medusa, the clans were confused, unsure of what this sign might represent. Without a word, Ferrus left the clans immediately and travelled to the landing site of the phenomenon. Weeks passed with no news of Ferrus, but before the clans decided what they should do in regard to discovering the fate of their saviour, the sky erupted with titanic electrical storms and the ground shook to savage earthquakes, terrifying everyone. These events lasted for eight days, after which the entire world was said to have fallen unnaturally silent. A single day later, Ferrus returned to the site of the clans' great meeting, escorting an awe-inspiring figure. Stories concerning what acts the two great men performed vary, but most revolve around the common theme of a battle or trial of powers, responsible for the unnatural storms. Whatever had happened up in the mountains, it was clear to everybody present that there was now a close bond of mutual respect between Ferrus and the Emperor, who had arrived in search of his son. Ferrus Manus soon left with the Emperor to visit Terra, the world of his birth, and become acclimated to the customs and technologies of the Imperium of Man. Yet he promised the clans that he would always return to Medusa, the troubled world that would remain his true home.
The Gorgon and the Phoenix
The brotherhood shared by the Primarchs Fulgrim and Ferrus Manus, the Phoenician and the Gorgon, was well known in the Imperium at the time of the Great Crusade, as the two superhuman leaders formed an instant connection upon their first meeting. This initial encounter occurred on Terra, beneath Mount Narodnya, the greatest forge of the Urals, where Ferrus Manus was busy toiling with the forge-masters who had once served the Terrawatt Clan during the Unification Wars soon after his arrival from Medusa. The Primarch of the Iron Hands had been demonstrating his phenomenal skill and the miraculous powers of his liquid metal hands when Fulgrim, the Primarch of the III Legion, the Emperor's Children, and his elite Phoenix Guard, had descended upon the sprawling forge complex.
Neither Primarch had yet met the other, but each had felt the shared bonds of alchemy and science that had gone into their making. Both were like gods unto the terrified artisans, who prostrated themselves before these two mighty warriors as though fearing a terrible battle might ensure between them. Ferrus Manus later told the tale to the Astartes of the X Legion claiming that Fulgrim had declared that he had come to forge the most perfect weapon ever created, and that he would bear it in the coming Great Crusade. Of course the Primarch of the Iron Hands could not let such a boast go unanswered, and he had laughed in Fulgrim’s face, declaring that such pasty hands could never be the equal of his own living metal appendages. Fulgrim accepted the challenge with regal grace, and both Primarchs had stripped to the waist, working without pause for weeks on end, the forge ringing with the deafening pounding of hammers, the hiss of cooling metal, and the good natured insults of the two demigods as they sought to outdo one another.
At the end of three months' unceasing toil, both warriors had finished their weapons. Fulgrim had forged an exquisite warhammer -- Forgebreaker -- that could level a mountain with a single blow, and Ferrus Manus a golden bladed sword -- Fireblade -- that forever burned with the fire of the forge. Both weapons were unmatched by any yet crafted by Man, and upon seeing what the other had created, each Primarch declared that his opponent’s was the greater. Fulgrim declared the golden sword the equal of that borne by the legendary hero Nuada Silverhand, while Ferrus Manus had sworn that only the mighty thunder gods of Nordyc legend were fit to bear such a magnificent warhammer. Without another word spoken, both Primarchs had swapped weapons and sealed their eternal friendship with the craft of their hands.
The weight of the formidable warhammer Forgebreaker was enormous and unbearable for anyone but one of the Emperor’s Astartes. Its haft was the colour of ebony, elaborately worked with threads of gold and silver that formed the shape of a lightning bolt, and the head was carved into the shape of a mighty eagle, its barbed beak forming the striking face and its tapered wings the claw. Anyone who looked upon the mighty warhammer could feel the power radiating from within it and know instinctively that more than just skill had gone into its forging. Love and honour, loyalty and friendship, death and vengeance...all were embodied within its majestic form, and the thought that the Iron Hands Primarch’s sworn honour brother had created this weapon made it truly legendary.
According to legend, Ferrus Manus was commonly referred to as The Gorgon. Some on Terra said the name was in reference to an ancient legend of the Olympian Hegemony. The Gorgon was a beast of such incredible ugliness that its very gaze could turn a man to stone. Many would be outraged at the disrespect in the implication of such a term when referring to a Primarch, but those who knew him best believed that Ferrus Manus quite enjoyed the name, because in any case, that was not where the name originated. It was an old nickname Fulgrim had given his brother after their initial meeting. Unlike the Phoenician, Ferrus Manus had little time for art, music or any of the cultural pastimes the III Legion's Primarch so enjoyed. It is said that after the two Primarchs met at Mount Narodnya, they returned to the Imperial Palace where Primarch Sanguinius of the Blood Angels Legion had arrived bearing gifts for the Emperor, exquisite statues from the glowing rock of Baal, priceless gem-stones and wondrous artefacts of aragonite, opal and tourmaline. The lord of the Blood Angels had brought enough to fill a dozen wings of the Palace with the greatest wonders imaginable.
Of course, Fulgrim was enthralled, finding that another of his brothers shared his love of such incredible beauty, but Ferrus Manus was unimpressed and said that such things were a waste of their time when there was a galaxy to win back. Fulgrim laughed and declared Ferrus a "terrible gorgon," saying that if the Primarchs did not value beauty, then they would never appreciate the stars they were to win back for their father. After that time the name stuck, and forever after Ferrus Manus was often referred to as The Gorgon.
The Great Crusade
Although torn between the people of Medusa and the needs of the greater Imperium he had been created to serve, Ferrus eventually accepted from his father the command of the X Space Marine Legion, who were re-named the Iron Hands to honour their Primarch's necrodermis-sheathed hands. The Legion quickly added their efforts to the Emperor's ongoing Great Crusade, becoming the heart of the 52nd Expeditionary Fleet. They were said to fight with valour across the galaxy, cutting a swathe through any that opposed the Emperor's word. New Aspirants for the Legion were now drawn from Medusa rather than Terra and Ferrus' early beliefs about how the Medusan tribesmen's healthy competition made them more than capable of adapting to the rigours of life as Astartes. The X Legion believed deeply in the Emperor's efforts to reunite all of humanity after the Age of Strife, and held that the greatest danger to the human race was to be found in its own divisions. Only unity—unity under the rule of the Emperor—could truly ensure the survival of Mankind in such a hostile galaxy. The Legion believed that any weakness in humanity should be stamped out, which resulted in many culls of newly-discovered populations who were unwilling to accept the Emperor's rule and the teachings of the Imperial Truth.
The Diasporex Persecution
During the latter part of the Great Crusade, the Iron Hands encountered a nomadic, fleet-based civilisation composed of both humans and xenos known as the Diasporex. The Iron Hands shared the Imperial Truth of the Emperor of Mankind and offered the human members of the Diasporex the opportunity to separate from their alien allies and to join the newly forged Imperium, but they declined the Astartes' offer. Their offer rejected, the Iron Hands passed judgement, and in the following months the Iron Hands fleet attempted to annihilate the Diasporex, but they proved to be highly skilled and experienced in the realm of naval warfare, and managed to easily evade crucial battles and even to severely damage the Iron Hands' Strike Cruiser Ferrum. The Emperor's Children of the 28th Expeditionary Fleet were called in as reinforcements, and so, a joint Imperial strike force composed of both the Iron Hands and forces from the Emperor's Children Legion launched an all-out assault against the willful Diasporex. Though the Diasporex knew that a powerful fleet of warships was hunting them and sought their destruction, they refused to leave the sector and move on to someplace safer. The Iron Hands' scout ships soon discovered the truth—the Diasporex used hidden solar collector arrays to collect fuel for their vessels from a star. This was the reason why the Diasporex remained within the sector. Attacking these vital fuel stations, the two Imperial Expeditionary Fleets drew the Diasporex fleet out into open battle as the human-alien alliance sought to avoid utter annihilation at the Imperials' hands.
During the massive naval battle that ensued Fulgrim's personal gunship, the Firebird, came under heavy attack and soon found itself in trouble. Rushing to his brother's side, Ferrus Manus' flagship, the Battle Barge Fist of Iron, came rushing to the rescue of his beleaguered brother. To restore his wounded pride, Fulgrim led a brief shipboarding action where the Emperor's Children wreaked bloody havoc on the troops of the Diasporex. But ultimate victory was robbed from him when the enemy ship's bridge was taken by one of his subordinate commanders. For months thereafter, Fulgrim would resent The Gorgon's actions, unable to truly understand the altruism of Ferrus' deed and the loss of life his selfless act had incurred on his Legion. Under the malignant influence of the daemon-possessed Laer blade that he wore at all times, Fulgrim could only see self-aggrandisement in his brother’s action, instead of the the heroic deed it had truly been. Ferrus' critical comments, the wounding darts that Fulgrim believed were meant to undermine him, were in actuality only jests designed to puncture Fulgrim's self-importance and restore his humility. What Fulgrim perceived as Ferrus’ prideful boasts and rash actions had been deeds of courage that he spitefully dismissed as the influence of Chaos began to claim the Phoenician's soul.
As the Warmaster Horus made the opening moves of his rebellion on Istvaan III, Ferrus Manus' oldest and dearest friend Fulgrim was ordered by the Warmaster to meet with the Iron Hands Primarch aboard his flagship Fist of Iron in the hope that he could be swayed to the side the Traitor Legions who now served Chaos. Fulgrim had sent the bulk of his III Legion and the 28th Expeditionary Fleet on to meet Horus and the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet in the Istvaan System while he and a small force aided the Iron Hands' 52nd Expeditionary Fleet in retaking the world of Callinedes IV from Orks. Great bonds of friendship and brotherhood had long existed between the two Legions, and Fulgrim felt that he could convince Ferrus of the righteousness of Horus' cause. Fulgrim's hope proved disastrously wrong and the meeting of the two Primarchs in Ferrus's private inner sanctum in his flagship's Anvilarium did not go well, as Ferrus was utterly outraged that his brothers would turn against their father the Emperor. The meeting ended in violence as The Gorgon made his difference of opinion over continued loyalty to the Emperor known to the Phoenician with his weapons, determined to stop Fulgrim's betrayal of the Imperium before it could begin. Ferrus attempted to use his silvery necrodermis hands to destroy Fulgrim's golden sword Fireblade, but the resulting explosion knocked him unconscious.
Fulgrim intended to kill his unconscious brother with the weapon he had forged for him, the warhammer Forgebreaker, but proved unable to kill his oldest friend despite the promptings of the Slaaneshi daemon that now corrupted his soul. Instead he took the wonderous weapon that he had once crafted in brotherhood for Ferrus as a reminder of their former friendship, and left behind Fireblade, which Ferrus had forged for him. When Fulgrim emerged from Ferrus' inner sanctum, he gave a signal to his elite Phoenix Guard, who instantly beheaded all of the Iron Hands Morlocks Terminators who served as Ferrus' own elite bodyguard with their Power Halberds. The Emperor's Children also nearly slew the Iron Hands' First Captain Gabriel Santor. Fulgrim successfully fled the Iron Hands' expeditionary fleet in his personal assault craft, the Firebird, as he ordered his warships, the Battle Barge Pride of the Emperor and its Escorts, to open fire upon the ships of the 52nd Expeditionary Fleet. This surprise attack crippled the Iron Hands force and provided a distraction while Fulgrim and the Emperor's Children warships fled into the Warp to rendezvous with the rest of their 28th Expeditionary Fleet in the Istvaan System.
Overcome with mind-numbing rage at such treachery, Ferrus and his warriors gratefully received the Emperor's orders through his brother Rogal Dorn. Together with the Raven Guard and Salamanders Legions, the Iron Hands were to confront Horus and his lieutenants on the world of Istvaan V and crush them utterly. A second wave, comprising the Night Lords, Iron Warriors, Alpha Legion and a contingent from the Word Bearers Legions, would follow them and support their initial attack. The Imperial fleet managed to make orbit over Istvaan V and the Loyalist Legions proceeded with their planetary deployment. Thousands of Drop Pods and Stormbirds were deployed for the assault. The first wave was under the overall command of Ferrus Manus and besides his own Legion, the Iron Hands, the Loyalist forces included the Salamanders led by Vulkan, and the Raven Guard under the command of Corax. Vulkan's Legion assaulted the left flank of the Traitors' battle line while Ferrus Manus, First Captain Gabriel Santor, and 10 full companies of elite Morlock Terminators charged straight through the centre of the Traitor Legions' lines. Meanwhile, Corax's Legion hit the right flank of the enemy's position. The odds were considered equal; 30,000 defending Traitor Astartes against 40,000 Loyalists. Horus was aware of the location of the Loyalists' chosen drop site and his troops fell upon the Loyalist Legions.
The battlefield of Isstvan V was a slaughterhouse of epic proportions. Treacherous warriors twisted by hatred fought their former brothers-in-arms in a conflict unparalleled in its bitterness. The mighty Titan war engines of the Machine God walked the planet’s surface and death followed in their wake. The blood of heroes and traitors flowed in rivers, and the hooded Adepts of the Dark Mechanicum unleashed perversions of ancient technology stolen from the Auretian Technocracy to wreak bloody havoc amongst the Loyalists. All across the Urgall Depression, hundreds died with every passing second, the promise of inevitable death a pall of darkness that hung over every warrior. The Traitor forces held, but their line was bending beneath the fury of the first Loyalist assault. It would take only the smallest twists of fate for it to break.
The second wave of "Loyalist" Space Marine Legions descended upon the landing zone on the northern edge of the Urgall Depression. Hundreds of Stormbirds and Thunderhawks roared towards the surface, their armoured hulls gleaming as the power of another four Astartes Legions arrived on Isstvan V. Yet the Space Marine Legions of the reserve were no longer loyal to the Emperor, having already secretly sworn themselves to Chaos and the cause of Horus. The Night Lords of Konrad Curze, the Iron Warriors of Perturabo, the Word Bearers of Lorgar, and the Alpha Legion of Alpharius represented a force larger than that which had first begun the assault on Isstvan V. The secret Traitor Legions mustered in the landing zone, armed and ready for battle, unbloodied and fresh.
Though the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders had managed to make a full combat drop and secured the drop site, known as the Urgall Depression, they did so at a heavy cost. Overwhelmed with rage, the headstrong Ferrus Manus disregarded the counsel of his brothers Corax and Vulkan and hurled himself against the fleeing rebels, seeking to bring Fulgrim to personal combat. His veteran troops—comprising the majority of the X Legion's Terminators and Dreadnoughts -- followed. What had begun as a massed strike against the Traitors’ position was rapidly turning into one of the largest engagements of the entire Great Crusade. All told, over 60,000 Astartes warriors clashed on the dusky plains of Isstvan V. For all the wrong reasons, this battle was soon to go down in the annals of Imperial history as one of the most epic confrontations ever fought.
Fulgrim smiled as his brother Ferrus Manus renewed his attack into the heart of the Traitors' defensive lines atop the Urgall Depression. Backlit by the flaring strobe of battle, his brother was a magnificent figure of vengeance, his silver hands and eyes reflecting the fires of slaughter with a brilliant gleam. For the briefest second, Fulgrim had been sure that Ferrus would pause to muster with the Raven Guard and Salamanders, but there would be no restraining his brother's aggrieved sense of honour. Around the Phoenician, the last of the Phoenix Guard awaited the blunt wedge of the Iron Hands, their golden halberds held low and aimed towards their foes.
Ferrus Manus and his Morlocks charged through the shattered ruin of the defences, his black armour and their burnished plates scarred and stained with the blood of enemies. Fulgrim’s fixed smile faltered as he truly appreciated the depths of hatred his brother held for him and wondered again how they had come to this point, knowing that any chance for brotherhood was lost. Only in death would their rivalry end. The Iron Hands pushed through the defences, the bulky Terminators unstoppable in their relentless advance. Lightning crackled from the claws of their gauntlets and their red eyes shone with anger. The Phoenix Guard braced themselves to meet the charge, fully aware of the power of such mighty suits of armour. The Phoenix Guard answered with a terrible war cry and leapt to meet the Morlocks in a searing clash of blades. Electric fire leapt from the golden edges of the halberds and the Lightning Claws of the warriors, and a storm of light and sound flared from each life and death struggle. The battle engulfed the Primarch of the Emperor’s Children, but he stood above it, awaiting the dark armoured giant who strode untouched through the lightning shot carnage as brothers hacked at one another in hatred. Ferrus had long dreamt of this moment of reckoning, ever since Fulgrim had come to him with betrayal in his heart. Only one of them would walk away from their final confrontation.
Death of Ferrus Manus
Ferrus taunted Fulgrim for his betrayal of the Emperor and siding with the Traitor Horus. He thought his brother mad, for the Warmaster was defeated—his forces routed and the power of another four Legions would soon be brought to bear to crush their attempt at rebellion utterly. Unable to contain himself any longer, Fulgrim shook his head, savouring the final act of betrayal to come, revealing to Ferrus that it was he who was naive. Horus would never be foolish enough to trap himself like this. He pointed out towards the northern edge of the Urgall Depression so that Ferrus could see that it was he and his fellow Loyalists who were undone. Ferrus looked and saw a force larger than that which had begun the assault during the first wave of attack, mustered in the landing zone, armed and ready for battle.
Dragging their wounded and dead behind them, Corax and Vulkan led their forces back to the drop site to regroup and to allow the warriors of their recently arrived brother Primarchs of the second wave a measure of the glory in defeating Horus. Though they voxed hails requesting medical aid and supply, the line of Astartes atop the northern ridge remained grimly silent as the exhausted warriors of the Raven Guard and Salamanders came to within a hundred metres of their allies. It was then that Horus revealed his perfidy and sprung his lethal trap. Inside the black fortress where Horus had made his lair, a lone flare shot skyward, exploding in a hellish red glow that lit the battlefield below. The fire of betrayal roared from the barrels of a thousand guns, as the second wave of Astartes revealed where their true loyalties now lay. Ferrus looked on in stunned horror as Fulgrim laughed at the look on his brother's face as the forces of his "allies" opened fire upon the Salamanders and Raven Guard, killing hundreds in the fury of the first few moments, hundreds more in the seconds following, as volley after volley of Bolter fire and missiles scythed through their unsuspecting ranks.
Even as terrifying carnage was being wreaked upon the Loyalists below, the retreating forces of the Warmaster turned and brought their weapons to bear on the enemy warriors within their midst. Hundreds of World Eaters, Sons of Horus and the Death Guard fell upon the veteran companies of the Iron Hands, and though the warriors of the X Legion continued to fight gallantly, they were hopelessly outnumbered and would soon be hacked to pieces. Ferrus Manus turned to face Fulgrim, his teeth bared with the volcanic fury of his homeworld. The two Primarchs leapt at one anther, Ferrus wielding Fireblade and Fulgrim holding Forgebreaker. Their weapons had been forged in brotherhood, but were now wielded in vengeance, meeting in a blazing plume of energy. The two Primarchs traded blows with their monstrously powerful weapons, Ferrus Manus wielded his flaming blade in fiery slashes, his every blow defeated by the ebony hafted hammer he had borne in countless campaigns. Both warriors fought with the hatred only brothers divided could muster, their armour dented, torn and blackened by their fury.
The two Primarchs traded terrible blows, wounding one another deeply during their fierce struggle. As Ferrus pushed himself to his feet and staggered towards the wounded Fulgrim, he cried out as he brought the flaming blade towards his brother's neck. But Fulgrim lashed out as he drew the single-edged, daemonically-possessed sword he had taken from the Laer temple and blocked the descending weapon. With the power of Chaos streaming from the blade, diabolical strength flooded Fulgrim's limbs as he pushed against the power of Ferrus Manus, feeling his brother's surprise at his resistance. Fulgrim managed to surge to his feet and lashed out, his silver blade biting deep into the breastplate of Ferrus' armour, and the Primarch of the Iron Hands cried out, falling to his knees once again. Fireblade slid from his grasp as he gasped in fierce agony. As Fulgrim raised the silver sword in preparation of delivering the deathblow to Ferrus Manus, he found that he did not possess the fortitude to deliver the killing blow. In an instant he saw what he had become and what monstrous betrayal he had allowed himself to be party to. He knew in that eternal moment that he had made a terrible mistake in drawing the sword from the Temple of the Laer, and he fought to release the damnable blade that had brought him so low.
His grip was locked onto the weapon and even as he recognised how far he had fallen, he knew that he had come too far to stop, the realisation coupled with the knowledge that everything he had striven for had been a lie. As though moving in slow motion, Fulgrim saw Ferrus Manus reaching for his fallen sword, his fingers closing around the wire-wound grip, the flames leaping once more to the blade at its creator’s touch. Fulgrim’s blade seemed to move with a life of its own as he swung the blade of his own volition. Fulgrim tried desperately to pull the blow, but his muscles were no longer his own to control. The daemonic blade sliced through the genetically-enhanced flesh and bone of one of the Emperor's sons. The Iron Hands' Primarch fell to the ground, his head decapitated. Ferrus Manus was dead by his brother's own hand and his Legion nearly shared his fate. A small group of surviving Iron Hands managed to elude the Traitors' closing trap and flee off-world, but the X Legion had been shattered in body and spirit and would play no further role in the Horus Heresy as it moved to recover from its critical losses at the Drop Site Massacre. The fate of their Primarch was a mystery to the Legion as his last known position was overrun by hordes of screaming enemy warriors. What became of the great Primarch Ferrus Manus would remain a mystery to the Astartes of the X Legion. Their enemies proclaimed the Iron Hands’ Primarch dead upon the blasted wastes of Istvaan V, but the X Legion refused to accept this for no body was ever recovered, and many Iron Hands Astartes believed that Ferrus had somehow survived. One particular Imperial legend tells that his wrecked body was rescued and restored, and that he took refuge on Mars where he resides still, though this is violently refuted by the Iron Hands themselves. Their Primarch lost, the Iron Hands despaired as to the fate of Mankind. Their distress and confusion grew further when they learned that the Emperor had fallen in a titanic battle with the corrupted Horus. For the next 10,000 Terran years, the sons of Ferrus Manus would continue to stoke the unquenchable fires of their hatred, drawing strength from their bitterness and awaiting with faithful devotion the day of their Primarch’s return.
As Horus’ rebellion ground on, the Iron Warriors took the time to humble their great enemies, the Imperial Fists, upon the isolated world of Hydra Cordatus that the Sons of Dorn had recently brought into Imperial Compliance. Following their victory, word reached Perturabo that Fulgrim and his Emperor's Children Legion, wished to rendezvous with him to discuss something of great import. Though the Phoenecian had yet to reveal the true purpose of his visit, he had promised Perturabo that it was "wondrous." Perturabo knew that his brother had a flair for the melodramatic, which only seemed to have gotten worse since the III Legion threw their lot in with the Warmaster. The Lord of Iron counted none of his fellow Primarchs as close, but the Phoenician’s adherence to perfection in all things had once provided common ground between the two superhuman warriors and allowed them to talk as trusted comrades-in-arms if not beloved brothers. What the Emperor’s Children had sought with constant movement towards the attainment of perfection, the Iron Warriors earned with rigid discipline and methodical planning; two divergent paths to the same ultimate goal.
Perturabo believed Fulgrim's visit had something to do with the inevitable campaign to be conducted against Mars. The Warmaster needed the Martian theatre fully secured before they moved against Terra, and he believed that Fulgrim was there to seek the Iron Warriors' aid in breaking open the forge-cities of the Mechanicum. If he was right, Perturabo wanted his Legion to have a plan in place to achieve that objective. Until the Iron Warriors received further orders, Perturabo would humour his brother and listen to what Fulgrim had to say. While making plans for the upcoming campaign, Perturabo received word that the Emperor's Children had arrived, unannounced, on the surface of Hydra Cordatus. Over three hundred drop-craft had landed beyond the mouth of the valley where the Iron Warriors had made their encampment.
The IV Legion quickly gathered in formation to honour the III Legion with a vanguard to receive them. Battalions of Thorakitai Imperial Army troops stood ranked in their tens of thousands. Before them stood two hundred Grand Battalions of Iron Warriors, fifty thousand warriors in amberdust-burnished warplate. Such a display of might and magnificence had not been seen since the slaughter unleashed upon the black sands of Istvaan V. Yet Perturabo and his senior officers looked on in awe at the gaudy cavalcade of noise, colour and spectacle that emerged from the III Legion's drop site into the valley. Fulgrim and his Emperor’s Children were now completely unrecognisable from the honourable warriors that had once formed the III Legion. Perturabo knew something fundamental had changed within the Emperor’s Children, but could not imagine what purpose the disfigurements and degradations its warriors now sported could possibly serve.
Fulgrim met with his brother Primarch in the private inner sanctum of his command bunker with an enticing offer that Perturabo could not refuse; the means to make it so that the Lord of Iron's every desire could be made real and would never disappoint, never fail to live up to his fondest expectations, and never, ever be eclipsed. Fulgrim came with an offer to unite their mutual forces in battle on a glorious quest. One that might tip the balance of the Warmaster’s rebellion. Though Perturabo was suspicious of his brother's intentions, perhaps this joint venture would grant understanding through common cause. Fulgrim revealed his purpose; they were to venture to the Warp Storm that had plagued Perturabo's dreams all of his life. Within it was hidden an ancient and forbidden xenos weapon known as the Angel Exterminatus. It had been hidden in the grave of its doom, a weapon of such power that the stars themselves turned upon it rather than allow it to escape its prison.
Unknown to both the Emperor's Children and the Iron Warriors, they were being pursued by a ragtag group of Loyalist Astartes who were survivors of the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V and were determined to stop the Traitors at all costs. These Loyalist Space Marines were gathered from survivors that had fought their way out of the killing ground of the Urgall Depression on Istvaan V. They had managed to escape the Istvaan System aboard an Iron Hands Strike Cruiser known as the Sisypheum. Iron Hands Astartes and their mortal serfs formed the bulk of the warship's crew, but surviving warriors of the Salamanders and a single Raven Guard Astartes were also counted among their number. In the wake of the slaughter, escape from the Istvaan System had been a nerve shredding series of mad dashes under fire and silent runs through the Traitors' orbital blockade, culminating in a final sprint to the gravipause, the minimum safe distance between a star’s mass and a vessel’s ability to survive a Warp Jump. The Sisypheum had escaped the trap, but not without great cost.
The months that followed saw the Sisypheum embark on a series of hit-and-run attacks on Traitor forces on the northern frontiers of the galaxy, wreaking harm like a lone predator swimming in a dark ocean. Traitor forces seeking flanking routes through the Segmentum Obscurus were their prey; scout craft, cartographae ships, slow-moving supply hulks heavily laden with mortal troops, ammunition and weapons. Disruption and harassment were the Sisypheum's main objective until contact had been established with disparate groups of Loyalist forces that had also escaped the massacre, and a stratagem of sorts agreed upon. With the X Legion too scattered to function in a traditional battlefield role, its surviving commanders found their own way to fight back: as the thorns in the flanks of the leviathan that distract it from the swordthrust to the vitals.
At Cavor Sarta, an Iron Hand known as Sabak Wayland and the lone Raven Guard survivor Nykona Sharrowkyn had captured an Unlingual Cipher Host -- one of the so-called "Kryptos" -- a hybrid abomination creature of the Dark Mechanicum that had previously made the Traitors' code network a cryptographic impossibility to break. With the Kryptos, Loyalist commanders were able to finally access the Traitors’ coded communications. And with this knowledge, the Sisypheum's Captain, the Iron Hand Ulrach Branthan, had ordered the Sisypheum to make the circuitous journey to Hydra Cordatus and the meeting of the Traitor Primarchs that had been indicated by the cracked communications. After learning of Fulgrim's intentions to enter the Eye of Terror and recover the Angel Exterminatus, the crew of the Sisypheum made their way towards the Warp Rift, aided by a mysterious Eldar guide with the intention of thwarting the Traitors' plan to acquire the unknown xenos weapon.
The destination of the joint fleet of Iron Warriors and Emperor's Children vessels was the lost Eldar world of Iydris, a world said to have been favoured by the goddess Lileath. Iydris was one of the legendary Crone Worlds, which once formed the heart of the lost Eldar empire before they were consumed by the creation of the vast Warp Rift that was the Eye of Terror following the birth of the Chaos God Slaanesh. The lost world was located at the heart of the Eye of Terror, somehow remaining in a fixed position keeping it from destruction in the gravitational hellstorm of a supermassive black hole that lay at the centre of the eternal Warp Storm. It was from this epicentre that the galaxy vomited unnatural matter into the void, a dark doorway to an unknowable destination and an unimaginably powerful singularity whose gravity was so strong that it consumed light, matter, space and time in its destructive core.
Their ultimate goal was within the Primarchs' grasp; the Sepulchre of Isha's Doom, which sat at the centre of the citadel of Amon ny-shak Kaelis. The citadel stood astride the entrance to the prison tomb of the Angel Exterminatus. Before launching a full planetary assault, the Iron Warriors launched a preliminary orbital bombardment around the citadel, a standard practise when preparing to assault a potentially hostile environment. A cone of fire gouged the surface of Iydris, burning, pounding and flattening in the blink of an eye structures that had stood inviolate for tens of thousands of Terran years. A barren ring of pulverised earth encircled the citadel of Amon ny-shak Kaelis, leaving its walls, towers and temples an isolated island cut off from the rest of the planet’s structures by a billowing firestorm of planet-cracking force. In the wake of this orbital bombardment flocks of Thunderhawks, Stormbirds, Warhawks and heavy planetary landers launched from crammed embarkation decks. Bulk tenders descended to low orbit and disgorged thousands of troop carriers, armour lifters and supply barques. Titanic, gravity-cushioned mass-landers moved with majestic slowness as two Titans of the Legio Mortis took to the field, and this was but the first wave of the invasion. Another eight would follow before the martial power of two entire Space Marine Legions and their auxiliary Imperial Army forces had made planetfall.
Amon ny-shak Kaelis
The Traitors' assault began five hours later, despite the full circuit of fortifications still being incomplete. For all intents and purposes, the route into the citadel of Amon ny-shak Kaelis was undefended and their route unopposed. Ever mistrustful of the lack of defences, Perturabo had his Iron Warriors dug in, assuming a perfect formation outside the walls in a layered barbican that protected the Traitor Legions' line of retreat. Fulgrim’s host broke apart into individual warbands, ranging in size from around a hundred warriors to groups of nearly a thousand. Each of these autonomous groups appeared to be led by a captain, though such was the bizarre ornamentation and embellishment on each warrior’s armour, it was often impossible to discern specific rankings. Leaving the fortified bridgehead behind, Perturabo led his Iron Warriors and the Emperor’s Children contingent into the heart of Amon ny-shak Kaelis. The Sepulchre of Isha’s Doom was a monumental palace, sprawling and richly ornamented with bulbous mourn-towers and sweeping, ivory-roofed domes. As the column of Traitors pressed onwards towards the sepulchre, they were being silently and unknowingly observed by the Loyalist Astartes of the Sisypheum. Despite being outnumbered a thousand to one, the small force of Loyalist Legionaries devised a means to find another way into the massive sepulchre.
As the two Primarchs neared their ultimate goal, Fulgrim kept pressing his stern brother with curt impatience to not linger. Perturabo took the time to study Fulgrim and his assembled host. His brother was sheened in sweat, but it was not perspiration that beaded his brow, Fulgrim was sweating light. Though it was faint, it was visible to Perturabo's gene-enhanced sight that saw beyond what even Astartes eyes were capable of detecting. He wondered if Fulgrim was aware of the radiance bleeding from him and decided he must be. His brother’s armour strained against his body and his features were drawn and tired, as though only by an effort of will was he still standing. His captains looked no better, like hounds straining at the leash. A number of Fulgrim's Lord Commanders' flesh was also suffused with a light similar to that enveloping Fulgrim, a deathly radiance that had no place within a living being. Perturabo did not trust Fulgrim one bit, knowing that inevitably he would be betrayed by his brother. The Lord of Iron pressed on, intent on bringing their quest to completion. As they neared their final destination at the heart of the sepulchre, the power at the heart of Iydris spasmed in hateful recognition of the followers of Slaanesh, known to the Eldar as She Who Thirsts, and awoke its guardians from their slumber.
Thousands of crystalline statues threw off their previous immobility. They moved stiffly, like sleepers awoken from an aeons-long slumber, and the gems at the heart of their bulbous heads bled vibrant colour into glassy bodies that suddenly seemed significantly less fragile. This army of wraiths were the Eldar dead of Iydris. Soon both the Traitor forces outside the citadel as well as those inside were attacked from all sides by the revenant army. Like automata, but with a hideously organic feel to their movements, the Eldar constructs emerged in their thousands with every passing second. As Perturabo was busy fighting for his life, Fulgrim slipped away in the midst of the fighting. Realising where he had gone, the Lord of Iron stepped into the green glow emanating from the centre of the massive chamber. Perturabo understood that this was no elemental energy or mechanically generated motive force, but the distilled essence of all those who had died there.
Perturabo descended downwards on an unending spiral towards a point of light that grew no brighter no matter how far he descended. The journey downwards was never-ending, or so it seemed until it ended. Fulgrim stood at the origin of a slender bridge that arched out to the centre of a spherical chamber of incredible, sanity-defying proportions. The footings of the bridge were anchored on the equator, and a score of other bridges reached out to where a seething ball of numinous jade light blazed like a miniature sun. Iydris, it transpired, was a hollow world, its core this colossal void with the impossibly bright sun at its heart. Perturabo confronted his brother, realising that there was never an Angel Exterminatus. Fulgrim confirmed for Perturabo that there was no such weapon yet, for he was to be the Angel Exterminatus. Perturabo responded that his brother always did have an appetite for rampant narcissism, but this was the grandest delusion yet. Unamused at Fulgrim's explanation, Perturabo took a step towards his brother, Forgebreaker in his hand, intent on killing him. Fulgrim spoke a single word, its nightmare syllables tore at Perturabo's brain, causing him to stumble and drop to one knee. Fulgrim revealed the reason for his brother being drained of energy.
When Fulgrim had arrived on Hydra Cordatus he had presented the Lord of Iron with a gift; a folded cloak of softest ermine, trimmed with foxbat fur and embroidered with an endlessly repeating pattern of spirals in the golden proportion. A flattened skull of chromed steel acted as the fastener. Set in the skull’s forehead was a gemstone the size of a fist, black and veined with hair-fine threads of gold. As they had made their way towards the heart of the Eye of Terror, the large gemstone at the centre of the skull-carved cloak pin had changed from black to a solid gold colour and pulsed with its own internal heartbeat. This was the maugetar stone, known as the harvester, which had slowly been draining Perturabo's strength and life force. With the Lord of Iron's sacrifice, Fulgrim would finally be able to achieve apotheosis. The two Primarchs ascended upwards within the shaft of light, emerging into the chaos that was happening within the heart of the sepulchre.
Apotheosis of Fulgrim
The Primarch of the Emperor’s Children hurled his brother aside, and Perturabo fell in a languid arc to land with a crunch of metal and crystal at the edge of the shaft. Blood trailed the air in a streaming red arc from Perturabo’s chest. The Lord of Iron lay unmoving, his body broken and lifeless. The attention of every Astartes within the chamber was irrevocably drawn towards the Primarch, for they recognised that an event of great moment was in the offing. The Phoenician was no longer the same being as had descended into the planet. He floated in the air above the shaft, which no longer poured its green torrent up to the restless darkness above, but simply radiated a fading glow of dying light. Fulgrim’s armour was shimmering with vitality, as though the light of a thousand suns were contained within him and strained to break free. The Primarch’s dark, doll-like eyes were twin black holes, doorways to heights of experience and sensation the likes of which could only be dreamed by madmen and those willing to go to any lengths to taste them.
Just as Fulgrim was about to achieve his ultimate desire, Perturabo had regained enough of his former strength and rose to his feet, the maugetar stone in his hand. Perturabo walked towards Fulgrim, keeping the hand holding the maugetar stone extended over the shaft in the center of the chamber. Perturabo looked his brother in the eye for some hint of remorse, a sign that he regretted that things had come to this, something to show he felt even a moment of shame at plotting to murder his brother. He saw nothing, and his heart broke to know that the Fulgrim he had known long ago was gone, never to return. He had not thought it possible that anyone could plunge so far as to be beyond redemption. Perturabo knew that Fulgrim no longer wanted to be an angel, he wanted to be a god. He informed the Phoenician that Mankind had outgrown such beings a long time ago. Disgusted by Fulgrim's desires, Perturabo hurled the maugetar stone into the deep shaft.
Suddenly, a barrage of Bolter fire erupted and a handful of Emperor's Children Astartes were pitched from their feet. Black-armoured Space Marines bearing a mailed fist upon their shoulder guards charged towards the Traitors. It was the Astartes of the X Legion, the Iron Tenth -- the Iron Hands. Soon the battle was joined, as Loyalist fought Traitor within the expansive chamber. The noose of battle was closing on the two Primarchs at its centre -- Perturabo locked on his knees, and Fulgrim hovering in the air as though bound to his brother by ties not even the call of war could break. The Iron Hands were mired in battle with the Emperor’s Children and Iron Warriors, zipping streams of fire blasting back and forth between them. During the battle, one of the Loyalist Astartes, the Raven Guard named Sharrowkyn, had acquired the fallen maugetar stone. He instinctively knew that if this stone was desired by Fulgrim, then it had to be destroyed. Taking a Bolter from a fallen Emperor's Children Astartes, he aimed the muzzle at the strange gold and black stone and pulled the trigger.
The weakened Perturabo was renewed with the sudden release of his lifeforce from the Chaotic relic. Fulgrim’s body arched in sympathetic resonance, for the maugetar stone contained more than just the strength stolen from Perturabo by Fulgrim. It contained their mingled essences, a power greater than the sum of its parts, a power to fuel an ascent so brutal that only the combined life-force of two Primarchs could achieve it. Armour burned from Fulgrim’s body, flaking away like golden dust in a hurricane, leaving his monstrously swollen body naked and his flesh blazing with furnace heat. Spectral flames of shimmering pink and purple licked around his body, a hungry fire waiting to consume him the moment his focus slipped. As the Lord of Iron finally pushed himself upright and stood fully erect, he lifted Forgebreaker onto his shoulder. Fulgrim saw his death in Perturabo's eyes and grinned, knowing that his brother had to do it. Perturabo hefted Forgebreaker like a headsman at an execution and swung the mighty hammer in a wide arc, splitting the Phoenician's body wide open. It was done.
Fulgrim’s body exploded under the impact of Perturabo’s warhammer, and the cry of release was a shrieking birth scream. An explosion of pure force ripped from the Phoenician’s destroyed flesh, filling the chamber of towers with a blinding light that was too bright to look upon, too radiant to ignore. Like a newborn sun, the wondrous incandescence was the centre of all things, a rebirth in fire, new flesh crafted from the ashes of the old. Every eye in the chamber was turned to the light, though it would surely blind them or drive them to madness. Through slitted fingers and shimmering reflections, the survivors of the fighting bore witness to something magnificent and terrible, an agonising death and violent birth combined. A figure floated in the midst of the light, and it took a moment for Perturabo to recognise the impossibility of what he was seeing. It was Fulgrim, naked and pristine, his body unsullied by any of the mawkish ornamentations with which he had defaced his flesh, as perfect as the day the Emperor had first conceived him. Fulgrim’s back arched and his bones split with gunshot cracks. His flesh, once so perfect, now ran fluid and malleable, his form moulding and remoulding as though an invisible sculptor pressed and worked him like clay upon a wheel. Fulgrim’s legs, extended like the man of Vitruvius, ran and lengthened, fusing together in a writhing serpent’s tail, the skin thickening and sheening with reptilian scales and segmented plates of chitinous armour. Perturabo took a step towards this thing being born from the death of his brother, all the while despairing that this was his brother.
Perturabo had destroyed Fulgrim’s mortal shell. This was an immaterial avatar of light and energy, of soul and desire. What was being done here was an act of will, a creature birthing itself through its own desire to exist. Fulgrim’s face was a mask of agonised rapture, a pain endured for the pleasure it promised. Two obsidian horns erupted from Fulgrim’s brow, curling back over his skull, leaving his perfect face as unsullied as the most innocent child. Fulgrim ascended into Chaos, a prince of the Neverborn, a lord of the Ruinous Powers, the chosen and beloved Champion of Slaanesh. As the newborn Daemon Prince departed, the first of the Traitor Primarchs to achieve daemonic apotheosis, he left his brother with a cryptic message that they would one day meet again, and both brothers would yet renew their bonds. Lifting his hands into the air, a curtain of light rose up from the ground and Fulgrim and all of his Emperor's Children Chaos Space Marines disappeared in a flare of arcane teleportation energy.
With the disappearance of the Emperor's Children, the Crone World of Iydris began to tear itself apart. The force at the heart of the world was no more. The strength of the lifeforces of the dead Eldar that had kept it safe was failing, and soon this planet would be swallowed by the unimaginable force of the supermassive black hole that lay at the heart of the Eye of Terror. Across the chasm, the remaining Iron Hands gathered up their wounded and fell back from the spreading fissures and heaving ruptures opening in the floor. They looked upon Perturabo with hatred, but decided to make their way off-world from the doomed planet. They knew that they could not fight the Lord of Iron and live through the encounter. Perturabo let the Iron Hands depart. Then he led his warriors out of the crumbling citadel. Once aboard his flagship the Iron Blood, Perturabo watched the final death throes of the Eldar Crone World.
The Iron Blood strained to break orbit, but the force at the heart of the Eye of Terror was reasserting its grip on reality with a vengeance. Many of the smaller vessels of the Iron Warriors survivor fleet that had followed the Sisypheum had already been dragged within its embrace, swallowed by the black hole’s powerful energies. Only the capital ships had engines large enough to resist the inexorable pull, but even they were only delaying the inevitable. Perturabo's Triarchs stood patiently around their lord, awaiting his orders. The Lord of Iron informed them that he always moved forward, never backwards. They would go into the black hole. Though his senior commanders believed that it was suicide, the Lord of Iron informed them that Fulgrim had promised that the two brothers would meet again. The Iron Warriors were not meant to die within the Eye, and there was only one way onwards. His men moved to carry out his order, and the Iron Warriors fleet plunged deep into the heart of Terror.
After the Heresy
Over the next 7 standard years, the Horus Heresy ran its inevitable course. Horus' forces attacked Terra, failed to defeat the Loyalists during the Siege of the Imperial Palace, and the Warmaster was killed and the mortally wounded Emperor was interred within the Golden Throne. These events drove the Iron Hands to despair as they returned to Medusa. This despair soon turned to anger against the Chaos Space Marines and the other Traitor Legions, an anger which the Iron Hands began to use as a driving force to recover from the trauma of the Drop Site Massacre. They started destroying any perceived weaknesses in themselves and others, believing they were performing a beneficial act for Humanity. They raged at themselves for not being on Terra in its darkest hour, believing that, had they been there, Horus would have been defeated without the Emperor's sacrifice. After the Heresy ended and the Second Founding divided up the X Legion, the Iron Hands chose to isolate themselves from the other Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes on Medusa, leaving them to their own business and maintaining minimal contact even with their own Successor Chapters.
The Moirae Schism
During the turbulent times of the Nova Terra Interregnum which took place during the early 35th Millennium, the Imperium was fractured into a number of different warring factions. The Adeptus Mechanicus was also affected during this Interregnum by division and internal warfare brought about by doctrinal differences and competing centres of power. One of the most discordant of these conflicts was the Moirae Schism, a dogmatic battle between the Martian Orthodoxy of the standard Cult Mechanicus and a far more radical creed based upon the prophetic writings of a triad of tech-mystics from the minor Forge World of Moirae. The Moirae Schism was one of the most divisive and widespread doctrinal conflicts to afflict the Adeptus Mechanicus since the Horus Heresy. These heretical writings spread like wildfire through the demesnes of the Mechanicus even after Moirae was reduced to a cinder by the Fabricator-General of Mars' Rectification Fleet.
The Moirae tech-creed was based on the prophetic wave calculations of the triad of tech-mystics who believed that they had discerned a series of predictive patterns within the micro-fluctuations of the Astronomican's psychic beacon. They believed that these geometric patterns contained the word of the Omnissiah and the God-Emperor from which the skein of future history and humanity's destiny could be read. These radical teachings included veiled references to the future overthrow of the Priesthood of Mars and the fusion of the Cult Mechanicus and the Ecclesiarchy into a unified ecclesiastical hierarchy that would govern Mankind. Such claims were predictably treated as dark sedition by the Mechanicus authorities on Mars and civil war was soon sparked between the Orthodox and radical elements of the Mechanicus.
The disruptive creed of Moirae quickly gained influence; within the Mechanicus priesthood, a number of Tech-Guard regiments and even some Titan Legions turned on the Mechanicus status quo before the conflict was transmitted even further afield to Space Marine Chapters with close ties to the Adeptus Mechanicus—and in this the Iron Hands were no exception. Championed by the infamous Omnissian mystic, the Iron Father Setol Sollex, a significant percentage of those within the Chapter embraced the radical doctrines of Moirae. As discord followed, the Iron Hands were faced with the prospect of a full-scale religious civil war within the Chapter. This was only averted by the wise counsel of the Iron Hands' Great Clan Council, which proposed a settlement. Though deemed straightforward and harsh, their solution to avoid mass bloodshed within their ranks was a simple one—exile from the Iron Hands' homeworld of Medusa for the minority who had embraced the dissident doctrines, and a binding treaty never to raise their hands against their former brothers enacted by both sides. It is believed that fully a third of the Iron Hands brethren then departed, eventually joined in time by a handful of Space Marines from other Iron Hands Successor Chapters who shared their common beliefs in the Moirae doctrines (although evidence exists that some, such as the Red Talons, mercilessly destroyed their errant brothers over this matter, rather than suffer the dissidents to live). This exiled faction still saw themselves as wholly a part of the Imperium of Man and still full members of the Iron Hands. Therefore they still sought to perform their duties for the Emperor and destroy the enemies of the Imperium.
Operating as though still a part of their mother-Chapter, the Iron Hands' exiles continued to increase their numbers and strength, commending their gene-seed to higher Imperial authorities among the Adeptus Mechanicus and conducting their duties. They continued to use the iconography and signature equipment of the Iron Hands from which they had been outcast (with some minor variations) having further divided themselves into three new Clan Companies to support their steady increase in numbers. In the early years of the 37th Millennium, matters continued in this vein until the dawning of the Age of Redemption. During this era of the Age of the Imperium, the newly resurgent High Lords of Terra re-assembled the disparate strands of anarchy that had ravaged the Emperor's realm and purged what could not be saved. The Moirae exiles of the Iron Hands, now a separate Chapter in all but name, were weighed and judged, their record examined in minute detail as was their gene-seed for corruption, Chaotic taint or mutational deviance. The exiles were found to be loyal and untainted. As a result, by a special edict of the High Lords of Terra, the Sons of Medusa were reorganised and ratified as a Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes within the Emperor's grace in 011.M37, despite protests within the Mechanicus and the grave misgivings held by numerous other Space Marine Chapters at this violation of the standard practice for Founding a new Chapter of the Astartes.
Over the following centuries, the Sons of Medusa have earned a reputation for standing against the Emperor's foes, no matter how desperate the odds, winning for themselves the grudging respect, if not the trust, of their fellow Space Marines. Yet their reputation has been long-marred by those that would call the Sons of Medusa battlefield scavengers and carrion crows. During their lean years in exile, the Chapter developed the habit of seeking out and appropriating weapons and technology from the fallen. It is said of the Chapter by their detractors that the desire to take wargear from the dead remains an underlying motive of all their actions, and a principal reason they have never shunned combat against those Space Marine Chapters who have turned Renegade or become subject to censure by the High Lords of Terra.
- Compliance of One-Five-Four-Four (Unknown Date.M31) - Shortly after the Emperor quit the Great Crusade following the triumph of the Ullanor Crusade, the Iron Hands Legion took part in a joint pacification of the Eldar-controlled world designated One-Five-Four-Four alongside the Death Guard and Salamanders Legions. Charged with bringing the desert regions of the planet into Imperial Compliance, the campaign did not bode well for the Imperial forces as they were hindered by the inhospitable terrain and the fluid battle tactics of the xenos that took a savage toll on Ferrus Manus' forces, placing him well behind schedule in purging the world. The Primarch was especially troubled by the weakness and infirmity that seemed to surround him, especially in regards to the Imperial Army forces that could not seem to overcome the harsh desert conditions of the cursed planet, proving the Iron Hands mantra that "the flesh is weak." Determined not to lose face in front of his brother Primarchs Mortarion of the Death Guard and Vulkan of the Salamanders, Ferrus decided to abandon the Imperial Army regiments if they were unable to keep up with his Space Marines. The Primarch sent of his sons, Bion Henricos, to liaise with the regiment's colonel, and informed him of the Primarch's intentions. Henricos felt a surprising twinge of remorse as he did so. Meanwhile, for reasons the Primarch could not explain, he was continuously troubled by disturbing dreams. He was also disturbed by the possibility that Eldar witchcraft might be causing his Astartes to under perform. The Primarch confessed as much to his First Captain Gabriel Santor, but he did not reveal his personal feelings that the sooner the campaign came to a successful conclusion and the X Legion left the benighted planet, the better that he would feel. Unbeknownst to Ferrus Manus, two Eldar discussed his fate. One of them decided to intervene, to ensure that Ferrus Manus walked along the more positive of the two possible paths leading to his future. The other Eldar warned against such interference, warning his companion that "Stone cannot bend, it can only break." The Iron Hands pushed on into the deep desert and arrived at a suspicious valley. For reasons that he cannot explain, the Primarch felt that this area was important somehow, but he was loath to investigate it further without a Scout force. His Legion currently lacked this important resource, and so, Brother Henricos suggested to the Primarch that it would be beneficial if they awaited the arrival of the errant Imperial Army forces. They possessed the necessary units to perform such a mission, and by using their scouts in such a way, this would help make the regiment feel that they were playing a valued role in the current campaign. But unfortunately, Henricos' suggestions were disregarded by his superiors. Unwilling to wait any longer, the Primarch ordered the Iron Hands to descend into the valley. As soon as the bulk of their forces reached the floor of the valley, a mysterious darkness engulfed them, followed by severe inclement weather. Eldar warriors lay in wait and quickly ambushed the disoriented Mon-keigh warriors in close-quarters battle. They also employed a mysterious weapon that overrode the Iron Hands' bionics, blinding those with bionic eyes and overriding and controlling bionic hands that turned their weapons upon their fellow Battle-Brothers or themselves. The Iron Hands assault force was only saved by the timely arrival of Bion Henricos' rearguard force, who took out the Eldar Warlocks responsible for the malefic psychic attack. The Eldar were forced to retreat, leaving the Iron Hands to recover. But things soon take a drastic turn when it was noticed that Ferrus Manus was missing. Ferrus found himself within a cavern and where he was assaulted by a barrage of prescient visions and perceptions of death—of his Legion, his Astartes and even himself. He also saw metaphorical representations of his fellow Primarch brothers and was perplexed by feelings of betrayal that were engendered when he gazed upon a statue of his closest brother Fulgrim. During this entire ordeal, Ferrus felt as if he was being pursued by a malevolent serpentine entity. Irritated by such sorcerous parlour tricks, the Primarch pressed onward and explored the caverns further. Meanwhile, First Captain Santor detailed 50 Morlock Terminators to help assist him in his search for the X Legion's missing Primarch, and he assigned command of the Legion to Shadrak Meduson to continue on with the Iron Hands' original mission. Meduson and the Imperial Army units were eventually able to locate the Eldar enemy's node complex that they had sought to destroy. In the meantime, Santor's force discovered signs that Ferrus Manus had somehow vanished. The initial assault by the Iron Hands strike force was temporarily halted by a powerful protective energy field that stymied their efforts as well as a powerful Eldar defence force that managed to halt the fierce and taciturn Iron Hands for quite some time. First Captain Santor eventually arrived and helped to coordinate a plan of attack. Within the cavernous depths, Ferrus Manus continued to explore until he was suddenly attacked by the serpentine creature that had been following him. The massive silver wyrm proved to be a vicious and deadly foe, and nearly slew the Primarch several times. During the ensuing battle, the Primarch was distracted by a sense of deja vu and a vague sense of prophetic vision concerning the words Angel Exterminatus, which appeared in his mind unbidden. Concocting a counter-attack against the massive creature, Ferrus was inspired by the memory of his brother Vulkan and managed to wound the serpent, forcing it to retreat. Elsewhere, the two Eldar responsible for sharing these visions with Ferrus Manus lament their allowance of an aspect of Chaos to encroach into their demesne when they kidnapped the Primarch. On the surface, Santor puts his assault plan into action. At first, the combined-arms assault goes well as the Iron Hands manage to penetrate the energy field, until the strange sorcery that afflicted their bionics earlier somehow returns, forcing them to make a tactical withdrawal. Brother Henricos once again makes an unusual request and offers to volunteer to lead a detachment of Imperial Army troops into the breached area of the shield and eliminate the Eldar threat. But to do so, Henricos detaches his only augmetic - his bionic hand - the symbolic symbol of the X Legion. At first the senior Iron Hands are initially hostile to this audacious plan, for it goes against their credo that the flesh is always weaker than the machine, but seeing no other option they reluctantly acquiesced to their subordinate's plan. Meanwhile, Ferrus Manus continued on his strange psychic journey, eventually reaching a bizarrely constructed, ancient throne with a rotting corpse sitting upon it. Coiled around it was the great serpentine wyrm that he had encountered earlier. The Iron Hands Primarch came to believe that this must be the spirit of Asirnoth, the dread wyrm of Medusa, that he had slain long ago. Wrestling with the massive creature, he was shocked by its sudden transformation as the wyrm shapeshifts into the all-too familiar form of Fulgrim, which informed the Primarch that he is not Asirnoth. Angrily, Ferrus slew the corrupted half-Primarch/serpentine beast, before tearing the corpse-king from its throne, opening a concealed doorway behind it. The Primarch then confronted his Eldar kidnappers and demanded his release, brushing aside their claims that they were merely trying to forewarn him against a likely future. Frightened for their lives, the Eldar grant the Primarch leave. On the surface, things are not going well, as Bion Henricos' non-augmented force of mortal Imperial Army troops takes massive casualties and he is sorely wounded in the process. But despite these setbacks, Henricos' force strikes a solid blow against their Eldar attackers. Before they are about to be wiped out, the Primarch appears as if from nowhere from beneath subsurface caverns and helps turn the tide of the battle. With the arrival of Santor and his heavy reinforcements, the Iron Hands quickly carry the day. As a sign of respect, the surviving Imperial Army troops are inducted as the first members of the Iron Hands mortal Auxilia forces; the Chainveil -- the adopted Sons of Medusa. They stand as a resolute reminder to the X Legion that not all flesh is weak. When asked about his recent whereabouts, Ferrus Manus refused to answer questions about his experience, claiming that nothing of import occurred. In response to vox hails from his brother Vulkan, Ferrus Manus then lead his Iron Hands into the jungle regions of the planet. In another place entirely, the two Eldar rue their failure, but take solace in knowing that even if the Primarch known as The Gorgon should fall, there is still another that would suit their purposes.
- Diasporex Persecution (Unknown Date.M31) - During the latter part of the Great Crusade, the Iron Hands encountered a nomadic, fleet-based civilisation composed of both humans and xenos known as the Diasporex. The Iron Hands shared the Imperial Truth of the Emperor of Mankind and offered the human members of the Diasporex the opportunity to separate from their alien allies and to join the newly forged Imperium, but they declined the Astartes' offer. Their offer rejected, the Iron Hands passed judgement, and in the following months the Iron Hands fleet attempted to annihilate the Diasporex, but they proved to be highly skilled and experienced in the realm of naval warfare, and managed to easily evade crucial battles and even to severely damage the Iron Hands' Strike Cruiser Ferrum. The Emperor's Children of the 28th Expeditionary Fleet were called in as reinforcements, and so, a joint Imperial strike force composed of both the Iron Hands and forces from the Emperor's Children Legion launched an all-out assault against the willful Diasporex. Though the Diasporex knew that a powerful fleet of warships was hunting them and sought their destruction, they refused to leave the sector and move on to someplace safer. The Iron Hands' scout ships soon discovered the truth—the Diasporex used hidden solar collector arrays to collect fuel for their vessels from a star. This was the reason why the Diasporex remained within the sector. Attacking these vital fuel stations, the two Imperial Expeditionary Fleets drew the Diasporex fleet out into open battle as the human-alien alliance sought to avoid utter annihilation at the Imperials' hands. During the massive naval battle that ensued Fulgrim's personal gunship, the Firebird, came under heavy attack and soon found itself in trouble. Rushing to his brother's side, Ferrus Manus' flagship, the Battle Barge Fist of Iron, came rushing to the rescue of his beleaguered brother. To restore his wounded pride, Fulgrim led a brief shipboarding action where the Emperor's Children wreaked bloody havoc on the troops of the Diasporex. But ultimate victory was robbed from him when the enemy ship's bridge was taken by one of his subordinate commanders. For months thereafter, Fulgrim would resent The Gorgon's actions, unable to truly understand the altruism of Ferrus' deed and the loss of life his selfless act had incurred on his Legion. Under the malignant influence of the Daemon-possessed Laer blade that he wore at all times, Fulgrim could only see self-aggrandisement in his brother’s action, instead of the the heroic deed it had truly been. Ferrus' critical comments, the wounding darts that Fulgrim believed were meant to undermine him, were in actuality only jests designed to puncture Fulgrim's self-importance and restore his humility. What Fulgrim perceived as Ferrus’ prideful boasts and rash actions had been deeds of courage that he spitefully dismissed as the influence of Chaos began to claim the Phoenician's soul.
- Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V (Unknown Date.M31) - The early battle of the Horus Heresy that would become known as the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V was a disaster of unimaginable proportions for the X Legion. Fuelled by anger and a sense of betrayal after Fulgrim revealed the Traitors' plans to overthrow the Emperor under the leadership of the Warmaster Horus, Ferrus Manus urged Corax of the Raven Guard Legion and Vulkan of the Salamanders Legion to launch the attack on the Traitors at Istvaan V before the other four Loyalist Legions assigned to the assault had arrived. So it was that the Raven Guard and Salamanders joined with the Iron Hands and assaulted the bloodied and diminished World Eaters, Emperor’s Children, Sons of Horus and Death Guard on the desolate plains of Istvaan V. The Traitors had been greatly reduced in strength due to the fighting on Istvaan III with the Loyalist members of their own Legions but it still proved a tough and gruelling battle, with less than three Legions pitted against four. The Loyalists' attack plan ultimately relied on the reinforcements provided by the second wave of Loyalist Legions assigned to bring Horus to heel, which included the Night Lords, Word Bearers, Iron Warriors and the Alpha Legion. The Iron Hands' elite Morlocks Terminators, led by Ferrus Manus, formed the centre of the Loyalists' assault as the Primarch of the X Legion sought out his fallen brother Fulgrim. Finally the forces of the Emperor’s Children and the Morlocks came together in a riot of bloodshed and death. The Morlocks' superior armour and experience gave them an advantage over the rank and file Astartes of the Emperor’s Children, but they were greatly outnumbered. While Ferrus Manus and Fulgrim clashed in a final confrontation, the Morlocks were slowly cut down, one by one. In the end, Fulgrim lost his soul to a powerful daemon of Slaanesh that inhabited the daemonsword he had claimed from the xenos world of Laeran after he beheaded his former brother Ferrus Manus. The daemon took possession of Fulgrim's body, defiling the head of his fallen brother and delivering it to Horus after the battle in a box—though the Warmaster was disgusted by the gift and vowed to drive the daemon from his brother's body once the Emperor had been overthrown and he no longer needed the aid of the Ruinous Powers.
- Assault on Iydris (Unknown Date.M31) - In the wake of the terrible slaughter of Loyalists at the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V, a small fleet of Astartes from the ravaged Iron Hands and Raven Guard Legions managed to flee off-world. Among these vessels was the Sisypheum, a Strike Cruiser commanded by the mortally wounded Iron Hands Captain Ulrach Branthan. Determined to continue to strike against the Traitor Legions wherever and whenever they could, the crew of the Sisypheum eventually manged to intercept the encoded communications of the Traitors and learned that the Traitor Primarchs Fulgrim and Perturabo were leading their Emperor's Children and Iron Warriors Traitor Legions, respectively, into the Warp Rift later named the Eye of Terror by Perturabo in search of an unknown Eldar weapon known as the Angel Exterminatus which could decisively tip the balance of the Horus Heresy in favour of the Traitors. The Iron Hands eventually assembled a small fleet of similar Loyalist survivors of the Drop Site Massacre and made their way into the Eye to stop the Traitors from acquiring this weapon. Once within the Eye, Fulgrim led the combined Traitor Legion forces to the ancient Eldar Crone World of Iydris, into the citadel known as Amon ny-shak Kaelis where the Angel Exterminatus was supposedly located. The Traitors were forced to repel countless attacks by the ancient Eldar defense systems and by attacks from Eldar constructs animated by the ountless dead Eldar souls of the Crone World. In truth, the entire quest for the Angel Exterminatus had been a ruse perpetrated upon Perturabo and the Iron Warriors by Fulgrim and the Emperor's Children. Fulgrim, now a Champion of the Chaos God of Pleasure, Slaanesh, sought apoetheosis to become a Daemon Prince of the Prince of Chaos. But he needed the power provided by the life force of a Primarch and the sacred energies of a place like an Eldar Crone World that was sacred to Slaanesh to complete his ascension to daemonhood. Fulgrim had given to Perturabo a cloak, to which was affixed a skull-shaped pin carrying a relic known as a maugetar stone. As long as Perturabo was within the confines of the Eldar citadel the stone slowly absorbedhis life force and fed these energies to Fulgrim. Once Perturabo discovered his brother's perfidy, the Iron Warriors launched an assault upon the Emperor's Children, and a three-way battle soon developed as the Iron Hands from the Sisypheum and its small flotilla of Loyalists entered the fray against both Traitor forces, unaware of what was truly happening. In the course of the combat that followed, Perturabo slew Fulgrim's mortal body with the great warhammer Forgebreaker, which ironically had originally been forged for Fulgrim by Ferrus Manus. But this action was only the final component in Fulgrim's ritual of apoetheosis, and his body remade itself into the twisted, serpentine form of a Slaaneshi Daemon Prince. Fulgrim became the first of the Traitor Primarchs to ascend to daemonhood, but he would not be the last. His goal achieved, Fulgrim had teleported his Emperor's Children away from Iydris and the Crone World began to collapse as the potent life forces of the dead that had long sustained it were drained away by Fulgrim's ascension. The Iron Hands and Perturabo's Iron Warriors successfully fled the crumbling planet, though Perturabo escaped by taking his fleet deeper into the black hole that lay at the centre of the Eye of Terror. For the first time, one of the Traitor Legions had turned on another, a situation that was to become all too common as the Dark Gods of Chaos tightened their grip on Horus' followers.
- Battle of Tallarn (Unknown Date.M31) - To this day the largest tank battle ever conducted in Imperial history remains the Battle of Tallarn. During the Horus Heresy, the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion launched a massive assault on the world of Tallarn. To soften up the Loyalist resistance, the Iron Warriors virus-bombed the former Agri-world, and the Life-Eater virus turned the once lush and productive breadbasket world into a wasteland of endless desert in short order. The few surviving Imperial citizens emerged from underground shelters to oppose the Iron Warriors' attack and soon reinforcements landed on the Desert World for both sides. Elements from the Iron Hands and Imperial Fists Legions arrived to oppose the invasion but the now-hazardous environment forced both sides to fight within the environment-sealed confines of their battle tanks. Both the Loyalists and Traitors committed armoured fighting vehicles of all sizes and configurations to the conflict in numbers never before seen in a single battle. The resulting fighting was fierce and merciless with both sides taking horrendous casualties. Eventually the Iron Warriors were forced from the planet by the Loyalist counter-attack. In the aftermath of the fighting, over a million wrecked tanks littered the surface of Tallarn, rusting in the endless dunes and wasting sands of the devastated planet. The ruination of Tallarn is a slight against the Imperium the Iron Hands and Imperial Fists have never forgotten. It was not until many centuries later that the people of Tallarn learned to their horror why the Iron Warriors had invaded their world—they had come seeking the Cursus of Alganar, an ancient Chaotic artefact that acted as a gateway into the Realm of Chaos within the Warp.
- Damocles Gulf Crusade (742.M41) - In 742.M41 the Imperium launched what became known as the Damocles Gulf Crusade against the newly arisen xenos threat of the Tau race. The Crusade was launched into the Lithesh Sector that stretched between the Damocles Gulf and the Perdus Rift Anomaly in the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy. The Crusade was tasked with repulsing a number of Tau incursions into the sub-sectors of the area and with pushing the xenos back to their homeworld where they would be purged from existence. To accomplish this, the vanguard of the Crusade was formed around twelve capital ships of the Imperial Navy and five Crusade Companies of the Adeptus Astartes including elements from the Ultramarines, Scythes of the Emperor, White Scars and Iron Hands Chapters. Rounding out the Crusade’s fighting strength were 19 regiments of the Imperial Guard, 7 of which were raised from the Ecclesiarchy world of Brimlock. The Crusade was to receive significant reinforcements after establishing a foothold in Tau space. The conflict essentially ended in a stalemate, as the Imperium was forced to conclude its military offensive on the Tau Sept World of Dal'yth early to deal with the encroaching Tyranid threat of Hive Fleet Behemoth while the Tau sought to open diplomatic negotiations with the Imperium. The Tau forces sensibly realised that getting in the way of an Imperial withdrawal from their space would serve no purpose and they allowed the Crusade's forces to withdraw unopposed. In this way, the first major engagement between the Tau xenos and the Imperium came to its conclusion. Though the objective of the Damocles Gulf Crusade had failed, the Astartes and other Imperial forces learned valuable lessons from this Crusade that would later see use in other conflicts against the Tau on Nimbosa and Medusa V.
- Purge of the Contqual Sub-Sector (812.M41) - The Iron Hands have long been renowned and feared as a wrathful and merciless Chapter. Many would-be Heretics and Traitors have thrown down their arms and renewed their faith in the Emperor rather than face the fury of the Iron Hands. The Purge of the Contqual Sub-sector was a sterling example of the consequences of inciting the retribution of the sons of Ferrus Manus as they concluded the campaign with a swiftness and fury that has long been a hallmark of the Iron Hands. As far as Imperial scholars can determine, the taint of the Contqual Sub-sector began late in the year 812.M41 when the Contqual High Governor fell easy prey to the corruption of the Chaos God of Pleasure, Slaanesh. From their High Governor's court the taint spread quickly and within a single month the entire Sub-sector seethed with the corruption of Chaos. The cleansing of Contqual was tasked to the Iron Hands who have always burned with hatred for Chaos in all its myriad forms since the disaster on Istvaan V. The Iron Hands stormed into the Contqual Sub-sector with a speed akin to chained lightning, seizing several planets before resistance could even be organised by the region's Forces of Chaos. In short order, the Iron Hands of Clan Raukaan, under the command of Lord Clan Commander Arven Rauth, moved against the focal point of the Chaotic taint in Contqual, the Hive World of Shardenus, where the world's large body of Chaos Cultists, making use of forbidden sorcerous rituals, had torn a hole straight through the space-time continuum and into the Warp. From this horrific Warp portal streamed all manner of daemonic monsters to pollute the realm of the Emperor. Though massively outnumbered and sustaining significant losses, the Iron Hands cut through the Heretics and their daemons like an ebon-armoured storm. The world was brought to heel in short order with the rest of the Sub-sector falling to the fury of the Iron Hands with equal speed, the citizens of many worlds turning on their tainted masters and pleading with the Iron Hands for mercy. But the sons of Ferus Manus are not known for their forgiveness and the Chapter fell on the worlds of the Sub-sector with a cleansing wrath, executing one in every three civilians in a great and bloody purge, which the Chapter intended to serve as a righteous punishment for allowing the taint of Chaos to sweep over the worlds of the Contqual. Just a few weeks after their arrival, the Iron Hands departed, leaving a Sub-sector that would become one of the most devoted of all those in the Imperium to the God-Emperor in their wake. For none of the survivors of the Iron Hands' purge doubted the cold retribution they would face should their faith waver ever again.
- 13th Black Crusade (999.M41) - When the forces of Abaddon the Despoiler spilled forth from the Cadian Gate in 999.M41 to launch his 13th Black Crusade, the Iron Hands knew that Medusa faced imminent invasion due to their close proximity to the Eye of Terror, and so the Chapter scrambled to prepare their defences. Given that Medusa is the only world from which the lron Hands recruit new brethren, they were forced to defend it above all other considerations. While it is known that two of the Clan Companies were deployed elsewhere in the defence of the region, the greater strength of the Chapter was used in the defence of their homeworld. The largest battle in the defence of Medusa came when all 10 of the gargantuan tracked fortresses of the Clan Companies faced the invading Traitor Guardsmen of the Haradni 13th Heavy Armoured Regiment. The plains of Medusa played host to one of the largest armored clashes the galaxy has seen since the infamous Battle of Tallarn during the Horus Heresy, when over 10,000 Traitor tanks stormed towards the waiting Iron Hands. The ensuing battle raged for five days and five nights, as the Traitors closed within firing range of the Iron Hands mobile fortresses. When the Iron Hands opened fire, it is said that over a hundred tanks were destroyed in the first volley, for each Clan Company commanded firepower equal to a Centurio Ordinatus of the Adeptus Mechanicus. On the fifth day, at the height of the battle, the Traitors broke through the Iron Hands' lines, and an armoured company of Traitors outflanked one of the Chapter's mobile fortresses and fired shell after shell into it at nearly point blank range. The Iron Hands responded by launching a furious counter-attack spearheaded by Assault Squads armed with Melta Bombs leaping from the crenelated towers of the mobile fortress to land atop the enemy tanks. Though many Astartes lost their lives in the attack, shot down by pintle-mounted weapons or ground beneath the enemy vehicles' armoured tracks, their counter-attack was successful in disabling or destroying the majority of the Traitor armour and sending the rest into a disorderly retreat. It was then that the Iron Hands launched an armoured assault of their own, as whole formations of Predator Annihilator tanks disgorged from the mobile fortresses to run down and destroy the Heretic tanks with ravening beams of Lascannon fire. The Iron Hands managed to secure Medusa by the midpoint of the campaign and were able to deploy several Clan Companies to the defence of the Cadian System and an Iron Hands naval task force was dispatched to reinforce the naval world of Vigilatum.
During the Second Founding that took place early in the 31st Millennium after the Horus Heresy, the remaining Astartes of the ravaged Iron Hands Legion split into 5 separate Chapters. Four new Chapters named the Red Talons, Brazen Claws, Emperor's Shadows and Red Wolves departed Medusa forever and went to establish their own homeworlds and fortress-monasteries across the galaxy. In time, all four Successor Chapters became increasingly reclusive. One of the 5 Chapters retained the original name and heraldry of the X Space Marine Legion and remained on Medusa. Since its inception, the Iron Hands Chapter has increasingly diverged from the standard Codex Astartes-compliant organisation of most Adeptus Astartes Chapters, changing to reflect the culture of the native nomadic clans of Medusa who provide all of the Chapter's Astartes. Contact between the Successor Chapters of the X Legion slowly deteriorated as they all became increasingly insular in nature, while simultaneously contact with other Chapters drawn from the other original First Founding Space Marine Legions virtually ceased entirely as the Iron Hands became ever more insular following the terrible defeat at Istvaan V.
The Great Clan Council
The Chapter drew much of its organisation from the political structure of the clans of Medusa. Each of the 10 Clan Companies of the Chapter is a single entity, possessing its own command hierarchy, Veterans, beliefs and clan traditions. One warrior of each Clan Company is nominated to represent their peers at the Great Council of the Iron Hands. The Iron Hands have no Chapter Master and are instead led by the Great Council of the most senior and respected members of each Clan Company. The Iron Hands view the council as a strength, for no individual can lead the Chapter astray like they have seen happen all too often. It is common for members of the council to be ancient and revered Dreadnoughts who have long been free of their frail mortal flesh. This precaution was implemented so that no one man could ever lead the entire Chapter astray, as happened during the Horus Heresy to the X Legion's closest allies, the Emperor's Children Legion.
Clan Company Autonomy
There are ten Clans which act in much the same way as the Battle Companies of traditional Codex-compliant Chapters, being versatile and capable in any given situation. However, where traditional Codex-compliant Chapters have a distinct separation and differing specialisations between the various companies that form it, such as the 10th Company always being formed of Scout Marines, the Iron Hands Chapter is made up solely of its ten Clan Companies. These generally act as completely separate entities in their own right, and it is not unknown for minor skirmishes to break out between Clan Companies in certain circumstances. This is encouraged, so as to keep the Space Marines strong and vigilant in accord with the original beliefs of Ferrus Manus.
Each Clan Company has its own hierarchy, and is responsible for the recruitment of new Space Marines in order to keep the Clan's numbers at the required level. These new recruits are taken from the mortal clans of Medusa who embrace their new Clan Company and the Chapter as a whole. The Clan Companies are nomadic, much like the clans they are recruited from. They travel the galaxy, following their continuing crusade against weakness and corruption. Unlike in standard Chapters, the squads which make up each Clan Company are referred to as claves.
When the Iron Hands return to Medusa they travel the inhospitable Medusa landscape seeking Aspirants, remaining ever vigilant against weakness in any guise appearing on their homeworld. The Iron Hands do not maintain a fortress-monastery as such, for the shifting lands produced by Medusa's constant seismic instability would inevitably make any such structure temporary. Rather, each individual Clan maintains a mobile version of a fortress-monastery, great Land Behemoths that constantly traverse the treacherous landscape. These fully automated creations, arcane wonders crafted long ago by the Adeptus Mechanicus, are serviced by great armies of mechanical Servitors, who keep them in perfect working order during the Chapter's absence. The Chapter's fleet disposition and how its starships are administered, insofar as whether or not they are pooled to serve the entire Chapter or each Clan maintains its own vessels separately, is unknown.
Known Clan Companies
There are 10 Clans that comprise the Iron Hands Chapter. Only 6 of those are already known to Imperial records and include the:
- Avernii Clan - First Captain Gabriel Santor was a member of the Avernii Clan.
- Garrsak Clan
- Kaargul Clan - The Kaargul Clan was led by the Venerable Dreadnought Warleader Bannus.
- Raukaan Clan - Captain Dozeph Imanol is the current Clan Commander of the Raukaan Clan. Clan Raukaan's symbol is a skull placed within a cog.
- Sorrgol Clan
- Vurgaan Clan - The Vurgaan are based out of the Weyland Land Behemoth and led by Captain Pelles. The Clan Company's badge is a lightning strike within a cog.
Clan Raukaan Order of Battle
While each Iron Hands Clan maintains its own autonomous make-up, an example of an Iron Hands Clan's order of battle can be seen in the forces deployed by Clan Raukaan during the campaign in Sub-sector Contqual. At this time, Clan Raukaan maintained 136 Space Marines divided between 11 claves, the Clan Commander's retinue and the Clan fleet, as well as a small Clan pool of vehicles and 23,451 mortal auxiliaries drawn from Medusa's natives and primarily deployed with the Clan fleet. Clan Raukaan's Order of Battle at that time was as follows:
- Clan Command: Lord Clan Commmander Arven Rauth, Captain of Clan Rauvaan
- Clan fleet
- 5 starships, including Strike Cruiser Kalach
- Clave Prime (Veterans)
- I. Clave Taloch (Tactical)
- 1 Sergeant in Terminator Armour
- 9 Tactical Marines
- II. Clave Riis (Tactical)
- 1 Sergeant in Terminator Armour
- 9 Tactical Marines
- III. Clave Arx (Tactical)
- 1 Sergeant
- 9 Tactical Marines
- IV. Clave Nycter (Tactical)
- 1 Sergeant
- 9 Tactical Marines
- V. Clave Kalag (Tactical)
- 1 Sergeant
- 9 Tactical Marines
- VI. Clave Broesus (Assault)
- 1 Assault Sergeant
- 9 Assault Marines
- VII. Clave Neim (Assault)
- 1 Assault Sergeant
- 9 Assault Marines
- VIII. Clave Kebire (Devastator)
- 1 Sergeant
- 4 Devastator Marines
- 6 Tactical Marines
- IX. Clave Selox (Devastator)
- 1 Sergeant
- 4 Devastator Marines
- 6 Tactical Marines
- X. Clave Valan (Scout)
- 1 Scout Sergeant
- 9 Scout Marines
- 7 Dreadnoughts
- 1 Thunderhawk gunship
- 1 Land Raider
- 1 Drop Pod
- 1 Rhino
- 1 Razorback equipped with twin-linked Lascannons
- 1 Razorback equipped with twin-linked Heavy Bolters
- 1 Razorback equipped with twin-linked Multi-Meltas
Iron Hands Librarians
Like their fellow Astartes Chapters, the Iron Hands also maintain a Librarium of potent psykers that are highly talented and trained to master the power of the Warp at the highest levels. As Iron Hands, they too abhor weakness and infirmity in all its forms. Therefore, they train their minds constantly to reinforce their willpower to control their powerful psychic abilities as stoically and unyielding as Adamantium. Though they stand apart from their fellow Battle-Brothers because of their innate abilities, the need for vigilance is never treated lightly, and the Librarians of the Iron Hands Chapter routinely engage the minds of its Space Marines in order to ensure their purity and fortitude. Like their fellow battle-brothers, they too, are driven to replace the weak biological matter borne by all men, replacing their flesh, limbs and organs with bionic augmetics, each inherently superior to the original in an effort to purge themselves of any perceived weakness of the body.
They are meticulous in their record keeping, chronicling any discovered genetic deviancy for future reference. Battle-Brothers who have been exposed to particular psychic strain and trauma, such as through contact with alien horrors or the warping influence of Chaos, must undergo a series of strict screening and cleansing rituals conducted by the Librarians in order to confirm the integrity of their gene-seed. Like all Space Marine Chapters, the Iron Hands believe that their gene-seed is the Chapter's life-blood, the most invaluable of possessions, and must be kept pure at all costs. Any trace of perversion or corruption within the gene-seed must be eradicated utterly of any weakness or deficiencies if the Chapter is to remain strong and survive. Iron Hands brethren are known to abhor any trace of weakness, even more so than other Astartes Chapters. They are extremely puritanical in their drive to identify and purge weakness.
The Iron Hands' Librarium housed the collective knowledge that the Chapter has acquired over the millennia. Scribes work ceaselessly within its walls, labouring to duplicate the older texts as they are gradually destroyed by time. The Librarians of the Chapter are charged with the upkeep of the Librarium, and it is their responsibility to maintain its integrity.
Like their fellow Space Marine Chapters, the Iron Hands Librarians have a number of unique psychic abilities only used by the psykers of this Chapter:
- Deus Ex Ferrum - When an Iron Hands Librarian focuses his mind, he is able to link his iron will to the strength of his augmetics, bolstering himself and his allies, enabling them to shrug off dire wounds that would halt a normal Space Marine.
- Betrayal of Flesh - Harnessing his hatred for weakness, the Iron Hands Librarian is able to sunder the flesh of his enemies with a blast of pure Warp energy, reducing his enemies to dust.
- Punish the Weak - After fighting alongside his Iron Hands Battle-Brothers for countless battles, the Librarian has learned how to spare their mechanical bodies while assailing his enemies. He is able to summon forth a roiling tornado of force around himself, harshly tearing at the flesh of anyone not strong enough to stand against its assault.
- Iron Father - A further departure from the doctrines of the Codex Astartes is the Iron Hands Chapter's complete lack of Chaplains. Given the atypical nature of the Iron Hands’ Chapter dogma, it is not surprising that they espouse a highly divergent form of beliefs. Instead of the conventional Chaplains fielded by most Chapters, the Iron Hands maintain a special cadre of officers known as the Iron Fathers. These individuals combine the qualities of a Chaplain and a Techmarine. To the Iron Hands, the duties of both roles are intricately intertwined. The Iron Fathers oversee the Chapter’s spiritual health, but they also guide the Battle-Brothers in their journey from a being of biological weakness to a warrior of rage and iron. It is the Iron Fathers who administer and oversee the Neophytes' ascension to full Initiate, and who, along with the Chapter’s Apothecaries, conduct the many and escalating cybernetic augmentation surgeries a Battle-Brother undergoes throughout his service. The Iron Fathers are inspirational figures to their charges, shining exemplars of all that the Chapter holds dear. They preach unyielding hatred for the foes of the Emperor, and promise that one day their lost Primarch will return, to bring light to the benighted Imperium as he did to gloomy Medusa over 10,000 Terran years ago. The Iron Father is considered the representative to the Chapter of both the Emperor of Mankind and the Adeptus Mechanicus' Cult Mechanicus. Unlike the Chaplains of other Chapters, however, the Iron Fathers do not receive a Rosarius from the Ecclesiarchy because of the perceived heresy of the Iron Hands' belief in the doctrines of the Omnissiah rather than the standard Imperial Creed. The Iron Fathers are schooled in the mysteries of the Machine Cult to a far greater degree than the Techmarines of most other Chapters. Like all Techmarines, they undergo a portion of their instruction under the supervision of the Tech-priests of the Cult Mechanicus. Yet, while most Techmarines maintain a mutually reserved distance from the Cult of Mars, the Iron Fathers appear to have far closer links, and are schooled in the most obscure of disciplines. Bionics are common place in the Imperium, yet the Iron Fathers are able to reconstruct the bodies of their charges right down to the cellular level, replacing the tiniest of biological functions with far superior mechanical components. It is only by way of the arts of the Iron Fathers and the skills they are taught by the Adeptus Mechanicus that an Iron Hands Space Marine may be transformed from a genetically enhanced warrior to something not far from a pure machine, without losing the essence of what it is to be Adeptus Astartes. A fully mechanised Iron Hands Battle-Brother is far more than an automaton controlled by a scrap of grey matter—he is an unstoppable machine of war fuelled by faith and hatred, and utterly convinced in the purity of the dogma that the flesh is weak, and that iron is strong.
- Morlocks - The Morlocks were the Veteran Space Marine Battle-Brothers of the Iron Hands Legion who served as Primarch Ferrus Manus' personal honour guard. These elite Veterans of the Iron Hands' 1st Company were so-named for the fearsome visage they presented like the vengeful predators of the same name that howled across the frozen tundras of their Legion homeworld of Medusa. The Morlocks were the deadliest and most experienced warriors of the X Legion, and whatever force was arrayed against these black-coloured Terminators could not hope to survive their wrath. The Morlocks were the bloody tip of the spear that drove hard into the vitals of the X Legion's foes. It is unknown whether the Morlocks were reconstituted by the Iron Hands Chapter after the events of the Horus Heresy.
The disastrous Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V cost the Iron Hands many, if not most of their Dreadnoughts and suits of Terminator Armour. The limited number that remained became important relics to the Chapter, particularly the mighty Dreadnoughts who symbolise the epitome of the symbiosis of man and machine. Because of this ironic deficiency for a Chapter so dedicated to the pursuit of high technology, the Iron Hands rarely field squads of Terminators, preferring instead to equip Clan Company officers and Veteran sergeants with the precious Terminator Armour to spread its inspirational and uplifting influence to the Astartes of the entire Chapter. It is also rumoured that there may be as few as 8 Dreadnoughts in the entire Chapter, but it is unknown if this is actually true or merely a myth.
As the volcanic and earthquake-prone geology of Medusa is too unstable to support and maintain a structure the size of a fortress-monastery, the Chapter has been forced to create massive, nomadic bases for each Clan Company. These mobile fortresses, called Land Behemoths, continually traverse the surface of the planet, and are fully automatic, allowing the Behemoth to stay on the move while the entire complement of the occupying Clan Company is off on one of their many crusades across the galaxy against weakness and corruption.
There is no Scout Company for Iron Hands Neophytes; instead, each Clan Company must recruit its own Neophytes from the Medusan clans linked to the company to remain at strength. Upon indoctrination, the left hand of each Neophyte is replaced with a cybernetic replacement, the beginning of a process of augmetic replacement that will continue for the rest of their lives.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
The hatred the Iron Hands feel towards weakness and corruption has an effect on the Chapter's doctrine and operations, a belief that even extends to their own bodies. As an organic form, even the superhuman flesh of the Astartes, can be injured, broken, or led into the temptations or corruptions of the flesh caused by Chaos, the Iron Hands seek to eliminate any perceived fault within themselves through any means possible, usually cybernetic replacement of the body part. In the minds of many Iron Hands, the machine is the ideal. This hatred of all human weaknesses is harnessed and focused by the Iron Fathers for use in battle, where the Chapter will fight with renowned intensity and determination, regardless of the opponent. These bitter Astartes will advance in a machine-like and relentless fashion, throwing themselves violently at the enemy.
Other Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes go into battle differently than the Iron Hands. Each of those other Chapters launch themselves into combat with cries of rage ringing from their Voxcasters, invoking the names of the Emperor and their Primarch to stoke their battle-fury. The Iron Hands are different. In truth, all Medusans are different, raised as they are on a world so choked with scouring winds that opening one’s mouth to shout anything in battle results in nothing more than a mouthful of grit. So the Iron Hands always prepared and trained for combat in silence. When the moment came, they would disembark from their transports in silence, keeping their communications channels free for essential battle signals. When the Iron Hands went to war, the only sound to be heard was the low machine hum of each Battle-Brother's Power Armour. When the Iron Hands advanced, they strode forwards in silence, progressing steadily, soundlessly, moving methodically like the red-eyed golems of ancient Terran legend, laying down Bolter volleys in careful, disciplined bursts. The Iron Hands always advance like automata, never speeding up nor slowing down. They storm across each defensive perimeter they come to, cutting down any who stand in their way. Losing themselves in their hate, an Iron Hands warrior's thoughts in battle are only fosuced on efficiency and slaughter in the pursuit of perfection.
Despite the appearance of moving slowly and methodically in battle, the Iron Hands have the ability to instantly switch to different styles of fighting, as if a switch had been thrown somewhere deep within their black-armoured shells. When the situation warranted it, the Iron Hands had the ability to cast-off their fetters and abandon control. Only rarely did the Sons of Ferrus Manus abandon their meticulous way of war and adopt the ancient rage that lay deep in the gene-heritage of all the Adeptus Astartes. When that happened, there were few forces in the galaxy capable of resisting it: ten thousand years of anger, of rage, of bitterness, all concentrated into a single, machine-augmented storm of vengeance. Despite the massive size of their Power Armour, the rate of acceleration of these deadly warriors during an assault charge is often extraordinary, as the Iron Hands tear across the short distance to their enemies' barricades, swerving with uncanny accuracy around the lines of incoming fire. Once they reach the obstructions erected by their foes, bedlam is unleashed. Still in complete Vox-silence, they rip up ferrocrete barriers with thundering blasts of Bolter fire. They crack open their foes' armour with vicious, sweeping blade movements, lashing out with bionic fists, crunching down with armoured boots and unleashing hurricanes of heavy weapons fire. The Iron Hands rip through enemy resistance like a swollen storm wave crashing into an unprepared coast.
Dreadnoughts and Terminators are rarely used by the Iron Hands because many of these Veteran cybernetic combat walkers and the ancient suits of Tactical Dreadnought Armour used by Terminators were lost in the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V at the start of the Horus Heresy. Due to their combination of the organic and the mechanic, the suits of Terminator Armour that remain are treated with great respect. Entire squads of the Iron hands' elite Morlocks Terminators will rarely be fielded, but the inspirational feeling they create among the rank-and-file is harnessed by allowing Veterans equipped with Terminator Armour to lead squads of Tactical Marines. For similar reasons, Dreadnoughts will lead forces when the occasion demands, and several of the Clan Companies' leaders are contained within the armoured sarcophagus of a Dreadnought. Needless to say, the Iron Hands' reclusiveness, obsession with replacing their flesh with bionics and their unusually close relationship with the Adeptus Mechanicus are often viewed as unhealthy by other Astartes Chapters and other Imperial Adepta like the Inquisition and the Ecclesiarchy.
All Iron Hands brethren are bionically enhanced in some way, for even the most recently initiated Battle-Brother has had his left hand replaced with the iron-sheathed cybernetic gauntlet that marks his acceptance into the ranks of the Chapter. Within a few years of their initiation, most Battle-Brothers sport a burgeoning array of cybernetic augmentations, many of which stay hidden under their Power Armour. In many instances, these enhancements bolster the Battle-Brother’s combat effectiveness in some manner, influencing the tactics he utilises on the battlefield. At the very least, replacing organic flesh with steel increases the body’s resistance to physical trauma. Individual Iron Hands brethren utilise a wide range of bionics that afford them capabilities beyond that of even the already superhuman Space Marines, including highly esoteric Augur receivers bonded directly to the nervous system, inbuilt weaponry, and even, in some cases, additional limbs granting the Battle-Brother the ability to carry especially cumbersome weaponry.
The exact nature of the enhancements an Iron Hands Battle-Brother undergoes is unique to himself, a lifelong program coordinated according to the arcane counsel of the Iron Fathers. Even within the ranks of a single squad of Battle-Brothers initiated at around the same time, there is little cohesiveness. On very few recorded occasions, Battle-Brothers with a complementary range of enhancements have been grouped together into a single squad, or else squadmates have undertaken to coordinate their surgeries. Such squads rarely adhere to any particular pattern or standard doctrine and their composition may never be repeated again.
It is said that the bitter rage of the Iron Hands was born in the fires of betrayal upon Istvaan V. The most horrific loss in that battle was the loss of Ferrus Manus, the Iron Hands' Primarch. He disappeared during the massacre following his combat with the Emperor's Children's Primarch Fulgrim, and his body was never found or recovered. Rather than fall into despair, the Iron Hands took refuge in their hate, and they have used that hatred to eliminate any perceived weakness so that they may remain strong. By removing the dangerous failings of the flesh, the Iron Hands believe that they are eradicating any threats to the eventual dominance of Mankind over the galaxy.
The Iron Hands are ultimately defined by their hatred of weakness of any kind, a hatred that extends to their own bodies, for they hold that all organic bodies, even those of a genetically-enhanced Space Marine, are ultimately frail and subject to the weaknesses brought on by age and disease. The Iron Hands are compulsively driven to replace their own biological flesh with cybernetic replacements, a practise that begins as soon as a Neophyte is initiated into the Chapter. The Initiate's left hand is surgically removed and replaced with a Bionic prosthesis in a ritual inspired by the tale of Ferrus Manus' own hands becoming encased in "living metal" after the mythical battle with the great serpent on Medusa composed of the same material. Some Initiates choose to sever their own hands during the ceremony, whilst others plunge it into the searing lava that flows from the volcanoes on Medusa, bearing the pain as their hand is burned away, and transforming it into the first brick in their wall of hate.
Iron Hands brethren abhor any trace of weakness, even more so than other Chapters. They are extremely puritanical in their drive to identify and purge weakness, and they are damning when they perceive it in others around them. They are quick to anger, even if their anger is sometimes expressed in coldly flat, mechanical tones. They are blunt and uncaring of any offence they might give in their criticisms of others, even the staunchest of allies. When confronted with allies who themselves are quick to anger, it is not unheard of for bitter arguments to erupt, and even for blows to be struck. In battle, the Iron Hands are coldly resolute, seemingly unmoved by their own losses. They utilise their anger and their hatred of weakness, identifying their enemy’s vulnerabilities and exploiting them ruthlessly. While the Iron Hands seek ultimately to purge and militate against what they perceive as their own weakness, they also seek out the weakness in their foes in order to punish it without mercy. Many Iron Hands Battle-Brothers scourge their flesh, inflicting pain and scarring on themselves as a constant reminder of the weakness of organic bodies. As more of their bodies are augmented, the areas of available flesh are reduced, until those few that are still visible are a mass of scar tissue. Only when even these last few shreds of the Space Marine’s biological inheritance is gone is he truly free of physical pain, for their implants may be sensate, but they can never know true hurt.
Throughout an Iron Hand's lifetime, he grows ever more angry towards his foes and even more resentful of his own remaining organic flesh. He appears to actually come to hate himself, or at least his biological form, as if he were forcibly garbed in filthy, unclean garments. More of his organs and limbs are replaced with bionic augmetics, each of which is inherently superior to the biological original. To many outsiders, this process can even be considered a form of blasphemy, for many of the organs that have been discarded are those that make an Astartes the genetically-engineered marvel that he is and which are derived from the sacred genomes of the Emperor and his gene-sons the Primarchs. However, a Veteran Battle-Brother of the Iron Hands who has served the Chapter for several Terran centuries is likely to be almost entirely inorganic in nature with every visible swathe of flesh replaced by gleaming metal. Many Iron Hands officers' biological bodies consist of nothing more than the brain and a few remaining major organs like the heart. It is believed by some Imperial savants that the oldest Iron Hands, who survive countless battles and the strains of their own self-hate-induced transformation into cybernetic beings, are no more than a human brain encased within the Ceramite shell of their Power Armour.
Because of this unique drive towards the replacement of their own flesh with the mechanical, many of the Chapter's leaders are entombed within the metallic sarcophagus of a Dreadnought, which is considered a great honour of the Chapter and the primary path to leadership. These Dreadnoughts form the Chapter Council, as the Iron Hands have no individual Chapter Master. Each company of the Chapter is actually a semi-independent body of its own, maintaining a mobile fortress-monastery that trawls across the endless volcanic wastes of Medusa to protect its people from their own weakness and recruit the strongest amongst them into its ranks as Neophytes.
Some claim that the Chapter's hatred for the flesh is the manifestation of a strange psychological corruption to be found within their gene-seed and certainly the Iron Hands Legion sired only a few Successor Chapters that can be definitively linked back to the get of Ferrus Manus. Whatever the cause of this strange affliction, the Iron Hands' determination and effectiveness as defenders of the Imperium cannot be questioned, as so many of the Emperor's foes have learned to their regret over the centuries.
The extreme hatred the Iron Hands hold for the weaknesses of the flesh is believed to gloss over an underlying psychological fear of their physical form. As an Iron Hands Space Marine matures, that hatred and fear grows ever stronger, resulting in more extreme mechanisations of the Astartes' body. It is unclear from where this fear may originate, though many in the Adeptus Mechanicus believe that the source is a flaw in the gene-seed of the Chapter that originated some time after the death of their Primarch on Istvaan V. This flaw seems to be controlled or at the very least made moot by the increasing mechanical augmentations Iron Hands Astartes undergo.
Despite their own opinions to the contrary, the Iron Hands are still human beings, however augmented, and they shared in the full range of blessings and curses of that particular state. Among the psychological states that afflict Mankind are those in which a healthy subject comes to harm himself. A person lets himself waste away through neglect, or cuts his own flesh, or desires to have limbs amputated where no wound has been inflicted. The image he has of his body is distorted, and it is difficult for others to understand such an impulse, since they can have no insight into what he sees when he stands before a mirror.
The body of a Space Marine is the most perfect human form ever created, given every augmetic aid known to the Adeptus Mechanicus. Nothing can be compared to it in power and facility. An ordinary human could not imagine what degree of mental trauma would be required for a human to give up such a gift, to mutilate themselves and replace their priceless gene-forged heritage with mechanical parts. Those of the Machine Cult take ordinary bodies of flesh and blood and improve upon them. They do so because they desire to improve on what they were born with. The Iron Hands cannot make their bodies better, since they are already nearly perfect expressions of the human form. Nevertheless, they choose to amputate their limbs in favour of metal parts and aspire to the state of machine-hood. They do so because they fear their flesh. They look at it in the mirror of their minds and they see something loathsome. This condition gets worse the longer they serve as Astartes. Some individual Battle-Brothers of the Chapter recognise this as the flaw that it is, while others do not. Eventually this compulsion claims them all.
There is a myth, a rumour, still repeated amongst the Tech-priests of Mars, that the Iron Hands' Primarch knew of this weakness and wished to purge it. Many within the senior circles of the Mechanicus had seen scrolls, purportedly written in the hand of Ferrus Manus, that stated the matter clearly. No one knew if these scrolls were genuine. Even if Ferrus intended it, he died long before he could accomplish it. The Iron Hands no longer place trust in their gene-wrought perfection. They do not see the universe in the way that most of humanity does. When an Imperial ally advocates a course of action that seems prudent -- to slow the pace of the attack, to conserve strength, to protect their exposed flanks -- they see only weakness. It reminds of them of their own inherent bodily weakness, and so they recoil from it, unaware that their own morbid fear of weakness is in fact the most obvious expression of that which they so fear.
The Iron Hands Chapter has become increasingly reclusive and hostile towards outside interference since the Horus Heresy. Though the Inquisition continually investigates the Iron Hands, the Chapter bears such scrutiny with unconcealed disdain. Strangely, the Inquisition does not appear very concerned with the Iron Hands Chapter's many deviations from standard Adeptus Astartes and Imperial practice. Despite having apparently identified some aberrations within the Iron Hands, the Inquisition has chosen not to act against them, seeing their existence as a useful way to later enforce their will upon the Chapter, if necessary. The Inquisition seems to have decided the flaws within the Iron Hands are not particularly dangerous to the Imperium and the effectiveness of the Iron Hands as defenders of the Imperium cannot be questioned. The peculiar traits of the Chapter have precluded the Adeptus Mechanicus from making use of the Chapter's gene-seed in new Foundings and so only a few other Iron Hands Successor Chapters have been created in the centuries since the Horus Heresy.
Notable Iron Hands
- Ferrus Manus - Ferrus Manus, also known as The Gorgon, was the Primarch of the X Legion, a master smith known for creating weapons that were able to inspire awe in any who saw them. Ferrus' hands were covered in the metallic substance known as necrodermis and he needed no hammer or flame to create beauty through metallurgy, using only his exceptionally powerful hands to mold and shape molten metal. Ferrus forged his closest bond with his brother Primarch Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children Legion, but this relationship ultimately ended in tragedy after Fulgrim fell to Chaos during the Horus Heresy. During the tragic Drop Site Massacre on the world of Istvaan V at the start of the Heresy, Fulgrim and Ferrus met in mortal combat. But ultimately, Fulgrim emerged triumphant when he decapitated Ferrus's head with the daemonic sword he had taken from the xenos world of Laeran.
- Captain Kardan Stronos - Though the Iron Hands technically have no true Chapter Master, the Veteran Captain Kardan Stronos serves as the Clan Council's emissary when dealing with outsiders, including other Space Marine Chapters and Adepta of the Imperium, and so is listed in many official Imperial sources as the Iron Hands' Chapter Master.
- Captain Pelles - Commander of the Vurgaan Clan Company. Pelles was recruited at the same time as Iron Father Gdolkin and sports two service studs denoting over two hundred years of service to the Chapter. Where Gdolkin showed an aptitude for machines, Pelles showed an innate understanding for tactics and command, leading to his rise to command of the Vurgaan Clan Company.
- Captain Arven Rauth - Arven Rauth is the Lord Clan Commander of the Raukaan Clan. Once set to a purpose, he will not stop until his objective has been achieved. He will neither deviate from his goal nor slacken. This is not a trait unique to him, but a characteristic of the entire Iron Hands Chapter. Rauth led the Raukaan Clan in the Purging of Contqual on the world of Melamar Secundus, against the Forces of Chaos in 812.M41. Later, the Raukaan Clan would take part in the Battle of Medusa, defending their Chapter homeworld during the 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41.
- Captain Dozeph Imanol - A former Lord Clan Commander of the Raukaan Clan and predecessor of Arven Rauth.
- Captain Rumann - Given overall command of the Astartes elements of the Damocles Gulf Crusade.
- Captain Sien - Captain Sien commanded the small Iron Hands force present during one of the largest armoured battles in Imperial history at the Battle of Thranx in the 36th Millennium.
- Iron Captain Strake - Strake was the Captain of the Strike Cruiser Ajax since the Grailsword Campaign. Captain Strake lost his legs during a battle with a Tyranid Hive Fleet when the Ajax was crippled and nearly destroyed. Strake survived the combat, but instead of having his legs replaced with augmetics he requested he be fitted to an anti-gravity platform with technology based on that used in Servo-skulls.
- First Captain Gabriel Santar - Gabriel Santar was from the Avernii Clan on the X Legion's homeworld of Medusa. He served as the First Captain of the elite 1st Company of the Iron Hands Legion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras of the early 31st Millennium. Santar also served as Equerry to the Legion's Primarch Ferrus Manus. Shortly after Primarch Fulgrim's corruption, he was ordered by the Warmaster Horus to rendezvous with the Iron Hands' Primarch and attempt to sway his closest brother towards their cause. The two Primarchs met aboard Ferrus Manus's flagship, the Battle Barge Fist of Iron. Great bonds of friendship and brotherhood had long existed between them, and Fulgrim felt that he could convince Ferrus of the righteousness of Horus's cause. Fulgrim's hope proved disastrously wrong and the meeting of the two Primarchs in Ferrus' private inner sanctum in his flagship's Anvilarium did not go well as Ferrus was outraged that his brothers would turn against their father the Emperor. The meeting ended in violence as The Gorgon made his difference of opinion over continued loyalty to the Emperor known to the Phoenician with his weapons, determined to stop Fulgrim's betrayal of the Imperium before it could begin. Ferrus used his silvery necrodermis hands to attempt to destroy Fulgrim's sword Fireblade, but the resultant explosion knocked him out. Fulgrim intended to kill his brother with his own weapon, the warhammer Forgebreaker, but proved unable to kill his oldest friend despite the promptings of the Slaaneshi daemon that now throttled his soul. Instead he took the Gorgon's beloved warhammer, a reminder of the bond the two Primarchs once shared. When Fulgrim emerged from Ferrus' inner sanctum, he gave a signal to his Phoenix Guard who instantly beheaded all of the Iron Hands' Morlock Terminators who served as Ferrus Manus' bodyguard with their Power Halberds. The Emperor's Children's First Captain Julius Kaesoron struck out against his Iron Hands counterpart and very nearly killing him with his Lightning Claws. Fulgrim successfully fled the Iron Hands' expeditionary fleet in his personal assault craft, the Firebird, when he ordered his flagship, the Battle Barge Pride of the Emperor and its Escorts, to open fire upon the ships of the 52nd Expeditionary Fleet. This surprise attack crippled them and provided a distraction while Fulgrim and the Emperor's Children fled into the Warp to rendezvous with the rest of their 28th Expedition in the Istvaan System. Things eventually came to a head at the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V, when the two First Captains confronted one another once again. But Kaesoron no longer bore the proud countenance of a regal Adeptus Astartes, for he had been recently transformed into one of the first Noise Marines. Screaming like a madman, the insane Emperor's Children Space Marine lept nimbly around the battlefield. In the ensuing battle the two Space Marines were mortally wounded and left in agony. Enthralled with the exquisite feeling of agonising pain, Kaesoron thanked the Iron Hand, "Thank you...that was exquisite..." and these were the last words Santar heard before he died.
- Captain Ulrach Branthan - Ulrach Branthan was the revered Captain of the Iron Hands' 65th Company, an iron-blooded son of the Nirankar Clan. He had survived the massacre of the killing grounds of the Urgall Depression on Istvaan V during the Drop Site Massacre, sustaining horrific wounds that left him in permanent agony. Both his legs were horribly mutilated, one little more than stringy sinews of ruptured meat and heat-fused bone, the other severed just above the knee. One arm was held to the body by a splintered nub of bone and tattered scraps of skin. His arm was missing much of its mechanical structure and all but one of the fingers had been broken off in the flight from the Istvaan System. Branthan’s chest was a ruin of four Bolter impact craters that ran in a ragged line from hip to sternum. Gathering with the remnants of the Iron Hands Legion that had fought their way off of Istvaan V, Branthan joined the ad hoc group of survivors of that battle aboard the Iron Hands Strike Cruiser Sisypheum as it fled the Istvaan System. Under normal circumstances the Captain would have been accorded the honour of being interred within the cybernetic chassis of a Dreadnought, but such an option was unavailable due to the X Legion's severely limited resources. Though there were those amongst the surviving Iron Hands that demanded the Captain be removed from his stasis sarcophagus and allowed to live again as their only functional Dreadnought, Branthan had graciously declined the offer. The only thing that kept him alive was his own indomitable will and the miraculous arcane cybernetic replacement organ known as the Heart of Iron, as well as the stasis field generated within his casket. Despite his condition, he took command of the desperate survivors of the Drop Site Massacre aboard the Sisypheum and led them in a successful series of hit-and-run attacks against the hated Traitors in service to Horus over the months after the disaster on Istvaan V.
- Captain Balhaan - Balhaan was a Captain of the Iron Hands Legion during the Great Crusade and commander of the Primarch's temporary flagship, the Strike Cruiser Ferrum. Like the vessel he commanded, Baalhan was stark and unforgiving, as befitted a warrior of the Kaargul Clan. No man who served under him had ever dared question his orders and no man had ever failed him. His Mark IV Power Armour was polished a lustrous black, and a white, wool cloak embroidered with silver thread hung to his knees. An Orks' cleaver had taken his left arm and a Deuthrite flenser his right. He had received the Blessing of Iron; both his arms were heavy augmetics of burnished iron. Balhaan welcomed his new mechanised limbs, for flesh, even Astartes flesh, was weak and would eventually fail.
- Vermanus Cybus - Vermanus Cybus was the senior surviving Morlock veteran of the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V. Gathering with the remnants of the Iron Hands Legion that had fought their way out of the killing grounds of the Urgall Depression on Istvaan V, he joined the ad hoc group of survivors of that battle aboard the Iron Hands Strike Cruiser Sisypheum as it fled the Istvaan System. Cybus possessed multiple chimeric bio-modifications and had been viewed as nearly pathological in his reverence for the machine and his loathing for flesh. In truth, Cybus was a warrior not even his Battle-Brothers could be around for any length of time, for adherence to the doctrines of augmetic superiority had already spread through many of the Battle-Brothers of the Iron Hands Legion even before the death of Ferrus Manus and his warning against such beliefs to the X Legion. Before the betrayal at Istvaan, Cybus had fought beside the warriors of the Emperor's Children Legion on numerous occasions. He had always respected the III legion's devotion to the attainment of perfection, finding much to admire in the Emperor's Children's martial ethos. Many years earlier, Cybus had argued long into the night with a young officer of the III Legion named Rylanor on the merits of organic strength against augmented power, mocking the Legionary’s faith in his flesh while extolling the virtue of iron. Cybus was an uncompromising man of little personal charisma, but he had a secutor's grasp of the methodology of combat.
- Septus Thoic and Ignatius Numen - This duo of Morlocks veterans were some of the very first Iron Hands warriors to make planetfall on Istvaan V, having marched alongside the best and bravest of the X Legion. Gathering with the remnants of the Legion that had fought their way out of the killing ground of the Urgall Depression on Istvaan V, they jjoined the ad hoc group of survivors of that battle aboard the Iron Hands Strike Cruiser Sisypheum as it fled the Istvaan System. The Iron Hands and their mortal serfs formed the bulk of the survivors to take refuge on that starship, but warriors of the Salamanders and a single Raven Guard Astartes were counted amongst their number as well. The months that followed saw the Sisypheum embark on a series of hit-and-run attacks on Traitor forces on the northern frontiers of the galaxy, wreaking harm like a lone predator against the hated Traitors of Horus. Like all those who had escaped the Drop Site Massacre, they had cut their warplate with the names of the fallen, and the black armour of these two Morlocks was inscribed with intricate scriptwork, each name inscribed over the cuts, tears and burns inflicted on Isstvan V. But these warriors had a name acid-etched on their shoulder guards that marked them out as special even in a brotherhood of remarkable warriors, that of Ferrus Manus, for they had seen their Primarch die at the treacherous hands of his brother Fulgrim. Like other veterans of the X Legion, they had refused to repaint or repair their armour until the Traitor who had murdered the Iron Hands' Primarch was dead. Thoic’s face was bisected by a curling series of scars inflicted by a laughing swordsman of the Emperor's Children, while Numen’s features had the plasticised sheen of synth-skin after a close-range plasma detonation had seared the ceramite of his battle helm to his skull. His flash-burned eyes had been replaced by simple targeting optics, but his hearing was almost entirely gone.
- Venerable Dreadnought Axagoras - The third Iron Hands Dreadnought currently serving on the Clan Council. Axagoras is a legendary figure in the Chapter whose most notable accomplishments include his battles against the Kartha and Sheed xenos of the Durian Sub-sector and his command of the Xerxes Campaign. The tactics Axagoras developed in the Xerxes Campaign are now mandatory study for new Initiates to the Chapter. Axagoras favors a Plasma Cannon weapon mount.
- Venerable Dreadnought Bannus - Bannus served his Chapter as a Captain of a Clan Company for many centuries, nearly losing his life on the industrial world of Kaladrone, he was saved by the legendary Iron Father Paullian Blantar. Eventually Bannus was interred within an ancient Dreadnought sarcophagus and now serves as one of the most respected figures in the Iron Hands Chapter, a voice of great wisdom on the Great Council and a war leader of supreme skill.
- Venerable Dreadnought Anatolus Gdolkin - Iron Father Anatolus Gdolkin was given command of the Strike Team sent to aid Magos Omega Thule during the 13th Black Crusade. Gdolkin was accompanied on the mission by his blessed Combat Servitors Gideon XII, Joab XIII, Gibal 674, and Ishmael 192. While critically wounded in combat against the Word Bearers Dark Apostle Iscariot, Gdolkin survived his mission and was interred within a venerable and sacred Dreadnought of the Chapter.
- Venerable Dreadnought Talumech - A member of the Chapter Council and a revered Dreadnought-Brother of the Chapter, Talumech goes to war armed with a mighty twin-linked Lascannon in addition to the close combat weapon borne on the left arm of all the Chapter’s Dreadnoughts.
- Dreadnought Comech - Dreadnought of the Iron Hands Legion during the Horus Heresy.
- Master of the Forge Xerill - Xerill is an Iron Father of the Iron Hands Chapter who is currently seconded to the Deathwatch and has served as a Master of the Forge for close to eight Terran decades. He joined a handful of like-minded, inquisitive Deathwatch Space Marines that have been drawn back to the study of nearly-deserted Watch Stations, now known as the Dead Stations, and the ancient traces of knowledge and prophecy they contained. These few members have since dedicated their lives to finally unravelling the enigma of the Jericho Reach known as the Dark Pattern -- a series of mysterious events that continue to unfold, presaged in numerous ancient prophecies foretelling of great strife and darkness are coming to pass in this area of space. Thanks to their interest in the Dead Stations, their peers refer to them as the "Dead Cabal." Xerill was inducted into their ranks fifty standard years ago after he recovered a series of Eldar Spirit Stones. His passion for understanding and unlocking the knowledge contained within xenos artefacts drew the attention of Inquisitor Ramaeus, who had him reassigned to permanent detail on the Dead Stations Vigil. Since that time, Xerill has embraced the Dead Cabal and has dedicated his tenure with the Deathwatch to studying as many xenos artefacts as he can. He is especially fascinated by anything relating to the Necrons and has undertaken many missions based on the slightest inclination that there could be Necron activity involved.
- Iron Father Paullian Blantar - Paullian Blantar is an Iron Father from the Kaargul Clan Company. This inspirational figure embodied every one of the Chapter’s teachings, from the utter certainty that Ferrus Manus would day return, to the hatred of all that is of the flesh. His knowledge of bionic enhancement is unparalleled, and his refinements of the augmentation process distinctly affected the direction of the Chapter. He led the dramatic counter-attack against the insidious Dark Eldar on the industrial world of Kaladrone, rescuing the badly wounded Warleader Bannus. Blanter personally performed the augmetic surgeries and augmentations that enabled the crippled form of Bannus to survive and go on to lead his company for many centuries to come. In fact, Bannus still leads his Clan Company as an ancient Venerable Dreadnaught and is an integral part of the current Great Council. Bannus’ wisdom and experience continue to serve the Chapter to this day. Of equal legendary status was Blantar's disdain for his own organic body. Blantar constantly flayed his own body of the flesh he was born into, until eventually, towards the end of his extremely long and successful life-span, only his mind remained. This was implanted into the towering frame of a mighty Dreadnought, and some say that in so doing his very soul was ex-loaded into the machine’s systems so that not a scrap of biological matter remained. Blantar serves as a permanent member of the Chapter Council, having transcended the limits of his flesh and effectively attained immortality. Should Ferrus Manus ever return, as Chapter dogma asserts he will, it is certain that Paullian Blantar and any others who replicate his feat will be there to greet their Primarch, and to fight at his side in the final battle. To this day Iron Fathers ritually scar their flesh in honour of one of the Chapters most renowned Iron Fathers of all time.
- Iron Father Gebren - Ever since the dawn of the Great Crusade, the most technically adept members of the Astartes Legions have been sent to Mars to be trained as Adepts in the Cult Mechanicus, and Iron Father Gebren was one of the first and best. Gebren served during the Great Crusade and on through the dark days of the Horus Heresy. Gebren was trained by none other than Fabricator Locum Kane, who would later become the Fabricator-General of Mars after the betrayal of Kelbor-Hal during the Schism of Mars.
- Frater Thamatica, "Ironwrought" - Frater Thamatica was an Iron Father of the Iron Hands Legion, a member of the Morlocks, and a survivor of the killing fields of the Urgall Depression on the world of Istvaan V. It was Thamatica who helped establish contact with the disparate groups of Loyalist forces whohad escaped the Drop Site Massacre, and he helped develop a stratagem for their survival. With the X Legion too scattered to function in a traditional battlefield role, its surviving commanders found their own way to fight back. Thamatica escaped alongside the remnants of the X Legion and joined the ad hoc group of survivors of that battle aboard the Iron Hands Strike Cruiser Sisypheum as it fled the Istvaan System. Following the Drop Site Massacre, Thamatica had become the longest-serving Iron Father left alive in the X Legion.
- Iron Father Diederik - Iron Father Diederik served with Captain Balhaan during the Great Crusade aboard the Strike Cruiser Ferrum.
- Librarian Madeus - A member of the Clan Council, Madeus has the honour of wearing a suit of modified Terminator Armour.
- Librarian Melchor - Librarian attached to Iron Father Gdolkin’s Strike Team during the Thirteenth Black Crusade. Melchor sacrificed himself to teleport the survivors of the Strike Team to the bridge of the Strike Cruiser Ajax. Melchor had the honour of wearing a suit of revered Terminator Armour.
- Apothecary Caduceus - Apothecary of the Vurgaan Clan Company and member of Gdolkin’s Strike Team during the 13th Black Crusade. Caduceus was one of the few survivors and was also a member of the Strike Team’s Command Squad.
- Veteran Sergeant Miel Erastus - Member of Iron Father Gdolkin’s Strike Force during the 13th Black Crusade, one of the few members of the Strike Force to survive the mission and return to Medusa. Sergeant Erastus fought alongside Gdolkin on numerous occasions, including the battle for the Diocletian Gate on the Chaos-contested Hive World of Manastus VII where the sergeant lost his left hand a second time while defending the last operational spaceport.
- Veteran Brother Avidan - A respected and legendary warrior within the Iron Hands Chapter, Brother Avidan wears one of the Chapter’s revered suits of Terminator Armour and holds a seat on the Clan Council.
The following vessels were a part of the Iron Hands Legion fleet during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras or the Iron Hands Chapter fleet after the Second Founding:
- Fist of Iron (Gloriana-class Battleship) - Former flagship of the X Legion and its Primarch Ferrus Manus.
- Metallus (Battle-Barge) - Vessel that was destroyed during the Imperial Compliance action against the xenos-human alliance of the Diasporex during the Great Crusade.
- Ajax (Strike Cruiser) - Attached to Iron Father Gdolkin’s Strike Team during the 13th Black Crusade.
- Armourum Ferrus (Strike Cruiser) - This vessel participated in the Imperial Compliance action against the Diasporex during the Great Crusade.
- Ferrum (Strike Cruiser) - Named for the X Legion's Primarch, the Ferrum participated in the Imperial Compliance action against the Diasporex during the Great Crusade. During this era, the Ferrum had served faithfully in the Iron Hands' 52nd Expeditionary Fleet for almost a standard century and a half. For sixty of those years it had been under Captain Balhaan’s command and he prided himself on the fact that it was the best starship and possessed the best crew in the Iron Hands' Expeditionary Fleet.
- Heart of Gold (Strike Cruiser) - Vessel that was destroyed during the Imperial Compliance action against the xenos-human alliance of the Diasporex during the Great Crusade.
- Iron Dream (Strike Cruiser) - Vessel that was destroyed the Imperial Compliance action against the xenos-human alliance of the Diasporex during the Great Crusade.
- Kalach (Strike Cruiser) - The Kalach was the vessel that served as the flagship for the 5-ship Clan fleet of Clan Raukaan during the Purge of the Contqual Sub-sector.
- Medusa's Glory (Strike Cruiser) - Vessel that was destroyed the Imperial Compliance action against the xenos-human alliance of the Diasporex during the Great Crusade.
- Omnissiah's Might (Strike Cruiser)
- Sisypheum (Strike Cruiser) - The Sisypheum was a Strike Cruiser of the Iron Hands Legion that helped some of the X Legion's survivors flee from Istvaan V after the Drop Site Massacre. Under the command of the terribly wounded Captain Ulrach Branthan, the Sisypheum carried out a series of successful hit-and-run raids against the Traitor Legions in the months following the massacre and the death of Ferrus Manus.
- Glory of Victory (Unknown Class) - Served in the X Legion's fleet during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras.
- Veritas Ferrum (Unknown Class)
- Artificer Bionics - The Iron Hands are masters of bionics and often replace undamaged limbs with cybernetics to enhance themselves with greater strength, speed, or endurance. Artificer Bionics represents the height of this craft and the greatest examples of cybernetics available to the forces of the Imperium.
- Digital Housing - Unlike limbs of flesh and blood, bionic attachments can often be modified, changed, or altered prior to battle simply by removing a few bolts. Originally used by Deathwatch Forge Master Harl Greyweaver when he waded into combat, a Digital Housing is an upgrade for a bionic arm which allows the user to incorporate an Astartes Digital Weapon into his cybernetic limb. Those Iron Hands that make a name for themselves at Watch Fortress Erioch have a chance to acquire one of the few Digital Housings that have been crafted by the Forge Master in his time in service to the Deathwatch.
- The Heart of Iron - A relic of the Dark Age of Technology, the Heart of Iron is a bionic of a kind unknown outside the vaults of the Iron Hands. Worn under armour, it looks not unlike a mechanical spider wrapped around a Battle-Brother’s chest, where it links to his organs via monofilament tendrils and maintains his life (keeping his twin hearts beating) despite even the most terrible of injuries. The heart comes at a cost however; if it is worn for lengthy periods it slowly drains a Battle-Brother’s vitality even as it strives to keep his organs functioning.
- Recoil Baffling - Iron Father Erastus was amongst the Iron Hands accompanying the Achilus Crusade in its assault of the Jericho Reach. The Iron Father is well known for the ancient upgrades and modification techniques he has learned throughout his long life. Among these is the Recoil Baffling, a combination of compensation servos and suspensor cushions that makes rapid fire weapons easier to control and easier to fire on the move. After seeing the looming threat Hive Fleet Dagon posed, Erastus decided to share this technology with the Deathwatch in the Jericho Reach, believing that only they could truly stand in the way of the Great Devourer.
The appearance of the Iron Hands has remained constant since the Legion's foundation. Their Power Armour is painted black, with white insignia and squad markings. Each Clan Company has an individual symbol, which is worn on the shoulder plate opposite the Chapter's badge, while squad markings are placed on the lower left leg. Apothecaries of the Iron Hands have the entire right arm including the shoulder guard painted white as well as the backpack. A white stripe is also painted vertically down the helmet.
The badge of the Chapter is an iron gauntlet, symbolic of Ferrus Manus' metal-covered hands.
Strong links are suggested between the Iron Hands and the C'tan and their Necron servants, largely because Ferrus Manus' hands may have been covered in the same necrodermis living metal that makes up the C'tan's physical bodies and the armoured shells of the Necrons. Their close links with the Adeptus Mechanicus and their devotion to cybernetic and mechanical augmentation possibly link them with the Void Dragon, a C'tan (that may or may not be the true Machine God of the Adeptus Mechanicus) who is believed to lie dormant beneath Mars. Some within the Imperium believe that Ferrus Manus is not only still alive, but resting deep within the Red Planet himself. This belief is violently refuted by the Iron Hands themselves as Ferrus Manus is known to have been beheaded by his brother Primarch Fulgrim during the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V at the start of the Horus Heresy.
Another interesting side note is that the etymology of the Iron Hands Primarch's name—Ferrus Manus—when translated from Latin means, 'Iron Hand'.
- Apocalypse (4th Edition)
- Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition), p. 16
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 8, 27, 30, 45
- Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 8, 45, 72
- Codex: Tau (4th Edition)
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 6-13
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 20-21
- Games Day UK Pamphlet (2005)
- Hammer & Bolter Issue 7, "Flesh" by Chris Wraight
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- How To Paint Space Marines
- Index Astartes III, "Hand of Justice - The Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter"
- Planetstrike (4th Edition)
- Warhammer 40,000: Compendium (1st Edition)
- Warhanner 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition)
- White Dwarf 290 (US), "The Flesh Is Weak"
- White Dwarf 286 (US), "The Eye of the Storm: Space Marine Chapters fighting in the Eye of Terror", pp. 66-71
- White Dwarf 281 (US), "Codex Eye of Terror: The 13th Black Crusade"
- White Dwarf 263 (AUS), "Index Astartes – Iron Hands"
- White Dwarf 262 (US), "Index Astartes First Founding: Hand of Justice, The Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter"
- White Dwarf 197 (US), "For They Shall Know No Fear", pp. 22-29
- Fulgrim (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Promethean Sun (Novella) by Nick Kyme
- Age of Darkness (Anthology) Edited by C.Z. Dunn, "Little Horus" by Dan Abnett
- The Primarchs (Anthology), "Feat of Iron" by Nick Kymes and "The Lion" by Gav Thorpe
- Kryptos (Ebook) by Graham McNeill
- Angel Exterminatus (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Brothers of the Snake (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Innocence Proves Nothing (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Iron Hands (Novel) by Jonathan Green
- Mechanicum (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Rogue Star (Novel) by Andy Hoare
- Scourge the Heretic (Novel) by Sandy Mitchell
- Star of Damocles (Novel) by Andy Hoare
- Wrath of Iron (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- Iron Warriors (Novella) by Graham McNeill
- Flesh (Ebook) by Chris Wraight
- The Heraclitus Effect (Ebook) by Graham McNeill
- Veritas Ferrum (Audio) by David Annandale
- Waiting Death (Audio) by Steve Lyons