"Iron Within, Iron Without!"
First Founding (30th Millennium)
Silver Armour, Gold Trim, and Black Shoulder Plates
- "From iron cometh strength! From strength cometh will! From will cometh faith! From faith cometh honour! From honour cometh iron!"
- —Unbreakable Litany of the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion
The Iron Warriors are one of the 9 Traitor Legions of Chaos Space Marines that turned to the service of Chaos during the Horus Heresy and now fight to overthrow the Imperium of Man. The Iron Warriors, who were originally the IV Space Marine Legion, specialised in the breaking of sieges and assaults on static fortifications, which made them great rivals of the Imperial Fists Legion, which was said to construct the greatest static defences in the Imperium. It was this rivalry between the Legions, and between their Primarchs Perturabo and the Imperial Fists' Rogal Dorn, that helped turn the Iron Warriors to Chaos. Like the members of the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Loyalist Iron Hands Chapter, the Iron Warriors have a strong predilection for replacing parts of their body with cybernetic enhancements. When struck with a mutational "gift" from the Ruinous Powers, most Iron Warriors simply cut off the mutated appendage, if possible, and replace it with a mechanical one.
For decades the Iron Warriors Legion were the battering ram of the Great Crusade, a maul used to tear down every impregnable fortress or unassailable citadel that dared to stand in the path of the Emperor's will. The IV Legion became a byword for punishing warfare and for mastery in siege craft, both in defence and assault. Its Primarch Perturabo was likewise known as a ruthless and effective warlord; a master strategist whose razor-edged mind could fathom the hidden weakness in any foe and exploit it with savage and decisive action -- a general to whom defeat was anathema and victory worth any price paid in blood to gain it. This lauded record masked a long-simmering discord within the IV Legion itself however. A discord bred by ill use and slights both real and imagined which, as time went on, was given outward sign by a marked distance and growing distrust between the Iron Warriors Legion and the Great Crusade it served. A growing bitterness festered in the hearts of its increasingly paranoid and withdrawn Primarch. When the treachery of Horus was revealed at Istvaan III, the Iron Warriors were already a Legion in crisis, scattered over the stars, divided between a hundred different deployments and still reeling from a brutal act of savage suppression carried out against their own homeworld of Olympia, but they answered the call to punish the Traitor without hesitation. But when Perturabo, the Iron Lord of the IV Legion led the bulk of his Legion to Istvaan V, it was to unleash the Iron Warriors' fury not against the Traitors, but against those who had remained loyal. The poison that had long festered within the Legion's soul had at last born its bitter fruit and in the dark years that followed, billions would suffer for it.
Serried Ranks and Steel Banners
Founded as its brother-Legions were on Terra during the closing stages of the Unification Wars which presaged the Emperor's Great Crusade in the middle centuries of the 30th Millennium, considerable surface level detail on the origins of the IV Legion remains. Its first muster grounds are noted to have been founded atop the wreckage of a recidivist fortress on the Auro Plateau of Sek-Amrak. The warlike gun-tribes, blood grieves and Tek-enclaves in the surrounding area provided the Legion with much of its earliest waves of recruits as the recalcitrant region was brought fully into the fold of Terran Unification, rapidly becoming one of the most stalwart of Loyalist domains. Documentary evidence attests that the IV Legion gene-seed showed an above-average adaptability and rates of implant rejection were notably low, particularly in comparison with difficulties in large scale implantation encountered with other Progenoid types, which would not be eliminated until the acquisition of the gene-labs of Luna. This advantage meant that the IV Legion's fighting strength was built rapidly, expanding to several fully battle-ready battalions in size while some of the other nascent Legions were still yet unable to field more than an active century. This in turn meant that the IV Legion was very swiftly put to active-service alongside the I Legion (Dark Angels) and V Legion (White Scars).
The Legion fought first on Terra in the destruction of the final resisting elements there and then throughout the pacification of Terra's Solar System. Testament to this fact can be found in surviving frescoes in the Imperial Palace, according them with the battle honours of the Cydo-Tyre Orbital, the Zidex Archipelago, Ice Station Echo and Mehr Yasht. The lattermost of these names, Mehr Yasht, is perhaps the most noteworthy as it was the key battle of the punishing Venusian campaign and its citation accords "...the serried ranks and proud steel banners of the IV Legion..." as going forth and into battle under the direct command of the Emperor Himself to break the back of the deadly Litho-Gholem armies of the War Witches. It appears that the IV Legion's early successes were accordingly rewarded with primary resupply of newer classes of weapons and war machines as they were made available from the Emperor's alliance with Mars, as well as a noteworthy short-term increased intake of Terran recruits originally intended for the III Legion (Emperor's Children), swelling its numbers further to replace ongoing losses accrued in battle. (The difficulties caused by the catastrophic near-loss of the III Legion's gene-seed to suspected sabotage are dealt with elsewhere in Imperial historical records). It was by this gene-seed adaptability and proven success in battle that the IV Legion became one of the most numerous of the Legiones Astartes during the earliest years of the Great Crusade, enabling its forces to successfully split between several substantial early Expeditionary Fleets.
Most notable of these was the 8th Expeditionary Fleet, in which it formed the key and leading elements. This force conquered or reclaimed twenty-nine coreward system-clusters and annihilated several interstellar xenos realms in a protracted eleven-year campaign which played a key part in the establishment of the Imperium's control of the Segmentum Solar. All were achievements for which it was recognised and commended by the Emperor in turn. The IV Legion took from the 8th Expeditionary Fleet the emblem of the Winged Bolt as its first heraldic device and displayed its battle honours with pride, carrying them as vexilla standards before the dauntless columns of its Legionaries as they advanced into shot and shell across dozens of worlds conquered by the force of the IV Legion's arms.
As the forces of the Great Crusade went beyond the boundaries of the Segmentum Solar, pushing onwards with the Great Crusade's expansion, several sources note that the IV Legion -- which was not to be united with its Primarch until the late 840s.M30 -- had quickly lost any specific ties to Terra, either by culture or indeed recruit intake pattern, although as it pushed ever onwards at the forefront of expansion, its military formation remained rigidly unchanged. The IV Legion's adherence to the organisational structures, fighting methods and panoply laid out as a pattern for the Legiones Astartes at the very beginning of the Great Crusade remained consistent, with no fresh "stamp" of culture brought by interaction with a Primarch for many Terran years.
As a result, its methods of warfare too went largely unaltered, regardless of circumstances or enemy, and the Legion was wont to overcome any obstacles or difficulties they faced with relentless and meticulously applied force of arms alone rather than cunning stratagem or bloody handed heroics. These combined factors set them out as being increasingly different from many of their brother-Legions as by this period of the Great Crusade, most Space Marine Legions were now divergent from the basic Terran pattern set as the template during their first muster, regardless of whether or not they had been united with their Primarch. Unlike the IV Legion, their brother-Legions had, within the space of a few short decades, evolved to demonstrate recognisable and, in some cases, extreme character traits and modes of warfare of their own that erred considerably from the basic pattern, and to these the constancy and pragmatism of the IV Legion's operations stood out in contrast.
These traits labelled them as unimaginative, mechanistic and even honourless fighters in the minds of certain other Space Marine Legions and their masters -- not least of all Horus -- it has been said. Conversely, to some within the Great Crusade's High Command however, these traits were positive factors, making the IV Legion arguably more reliable in deployment than some of the more esoteric Legions and more ready to meet commands from outside their own Legion without complaint. Accordingly, the IV Legion was increasingly used to fight often inglorious but vital campaigns of backbreaking attrition and drawn-out bloodshed, and they became in short a "workhorse" Legion, relied upon both for their martial power and their reliability in following orders to the letter.
Furthermore, whereas substantially sized Legions such as those of Leman Russ of the Space Wolves, Ferrus Manus of the Iron Hands, and Horus and his Luna Wolves refused to split their forces at the behest of minor -- and merely human -- theatre commanders, the IV Legion did not baulk at any duty to which they were lawfully tasked. They fought repeatedly in thankless sieges and protracted suppression campaigns which demanded the might of the Legiones Astartes to secure victory, but which carried little renown. They also undertook the garrisoning of worlds too dangerous for any but the Legiones Astartes to hold. The IV Legion had a single charted course whose direction lay in the hands of others; to follow the orders of the Great Crusade whether it was tasked to go and to fight and die as it must. From war zone to war zone the IV Legion went without respite or fanfare, taking bleak pride in its largely thankless work. So the Legion subtly began at last to change, just as its formerly great strength in numbers was bled through attrition and brother-Legions outpaced it in glory. With the benefit of hindsight, it is perhaps possible to see that it was during these times, before even they were reunited with their Primarch, that a subtle-wedge had been driven between the IV Legion and its brother-Legions, creating a fracture that would only worsen in time.
The Price of Victory
The IV Legion from their earliest days operated with determined and disciplined force, as solid and unyielding as the metal that they would later take as part of their name. They were known to be among the more technologically able and proficient Legions by inclination -- although were overshadowed in this somewhat by the X Legion (Iron Hands) during the Great Crusade's early years -- and preferred to strike always from a position of overwhelming superiority where able, bringing maximum force directly to bear on a foe. As its role developed as a main-line fighting force, often shouldering the brunt of extended combat operations, the IV Legion increasingly put great store by the formulation of pre-battle strategy in detail and the use of massive, focused bombardment as a precursor to attack: the calculation of fields of fire, the use of high-intensity shelling, and the deployment of heavy armour and mechanised forces to spearhead attacks became the IV Legion's stock-in-trade. In order to serve this bias, the IV Legion also amassed the largest dedicated artillery train of perhaps any Legion in the Great Crusade's history.
But while these tactics spoke of a cerebral, pragmatic and calculated approach to warfare, it was equally true of the Legion that once the battle had commenced, they would not relent from their attack for anything save direct order from the highest level to withdraw, even though suffering sudden reversals of fortune or unexpectedly high -- even staggering -- casualties. This bitter stubbornness grew over time within the IV Legion, and became a point almost of pride with them -- they refused to fail, regardless of the cost in lives and to claw victory against any odds by sheer dint of discipline and firepower. As the Legion's victories, often unsung, were many, so was their price high. The seeming paradox of pronounced reliance on rationality and intellect set against infrequent but telling episodes of bloody-minded stubbornness in the Legion's behaviour was never more apparent than during the liberation of the war-torn Forge World of Incaladion in a gruelling campaign lasting between 842-843.M30. Although victory was at last achieved, the war would see the near annihilation of the 8th Expeditionary Fleet's frontline forces in what was arguably a needlessly costly fashion.
In the aftermath, several critical voices in the Imperial Court and among the Primarchs opined that defeat had been deliberately courted by the IV Legion in order to prove that they alone could do what was asked of them, no matter the odds. During this battle, the Legion refused to withdraw from the field after an initial assault unravelled spectacularly in the face of unprecedented and unexpected enemy counterattack; they fought on regardless, adhering to a battle plan already in tatters. Nearly 29,000 of their number fell in the single engagement before enemy forces were worn down by bloody attrition, including many of the Legion's most veteran units, making the battle one of the most costly of its age.
What remained of the IV Legion after Incaladion was a Legion no longer in favour and without a Primarch yet to speak of. By the end of that decade, it is perhaps accurate to say that the IV Legion's star had waned greatly as others rose. Incaladion had cast a pall over the IV Legion's early successes and seen many of their most senior commanders slain, as well as the wholesale slaughter of over two million mortal Imperial Army soldiers under their command. While once the IV Legion had been amongst the most numerous of the Space Marine Legions, constant warfare and attrition had eroded their numbers -- not dangerously to their existence, as the IV Legion's gene-seed continued to prove of the highest quality as far as ease of implantation went -- but at least to the point where several others had since eclipsed them in size and range, while certain other Legions, most notably the Luna Wolves and Dark Angels, outshone them in the glory and in the majesty of their conquests. It was to this IV Legion, damaged, disabused and without a clear direction of its own, that their Primarch finally came.
The Lord of Iron
When the twenty infant Primarchs were scattered across the galaxy from Terra still in their gestation pods by the power of the Chaos Gods, the young child who would become known as Perturabo was discovered on the world of Olympia, a mountainous planet divided into constantly warring city-states. The infant was found by the servants of Dammekos, the so-called Tyrant of Lochos, while climbing the sheer cliffs below the city-state of Lochos. The city guard brought the child before the Tyrant. Intrigued by this odd boy who showed such skill and talent for an unknown orphan, Dammekos adopted him into his family and raised him as his own. Perturabo never trusted the Olympians and, although Dammekos took time and trouble to win the trust and affection of the boy, Perturabo never responded to his foster father with any warmth. Many saw him as a cold youth, dark and melancholy, but with a mind as sharp as a razor. Despite his aloof demeanour, Perturabo learned from the culture in which he found himself the arts of the siege, for Olympia's warring city-states afforded plenty of opportunity to study both the theory and the practise of this highly specialised branch of warfare.
Such evidence that remains of the recovery of Perturabo and his installation in the forces of the Great Crusade indicates that the process occurred swiftly, and with immediate acceptance on Perturabo's part, in marked contrast to several other Primarchs. It is likely that the tyrant Dammekos was more than willing to bring Olympia into the Imperium's fold, as its satrap, and the price of voluntarily releasing Perturabo from his service was but a small due to pay. Perturabo for his part, it is believed, had already reasoned out his true nature, at least in abstract, as an artificial posthuman being, and indeed expected his creator to one day be revealed to him, even though the particulars no doubt remained a mystery until the Emperor Himself appeared in orbit with his fleet.
It was remarked upon at the time of his early reception in a number of sources, just what a ravenous mind the new-found Primarch possessed. While all of the Emperor's posthuman sons displayed an intellect and capacity to absorb and adapt to new knowledge that surpassed that of an unmodified human, Perturabo's capacity for learning was truly incredible, and it swiftly came to be said that of all of the Emperor's sons, he was the most gifted in terms of raw scientific and technical intelligence. Much of this sagacity was turned inwards however, and Perturabo was from the outset a distant, calculating mastermind who cared little for the society of others, nor readily deigned to explain his actions or intentions to those around him, even to his fellow Primarchs upon meeting them, who he was cold and guarded against to the point of bristling indifference. To the Emperor such foibles mattered little, and in Perturabo He found a new weapon for the arsenal of the Great Crusade, a warlord and general whose savage might was only eclipsed by his razor-keen intellect. To Perturabo each battle and each campaign was no more than a problem to be objectified, deconstructed and overcome, and it would not be long before the first of Mandkind's fores would feel the terrible power of this murderous mind at work.
Iron Within, Iron Without
After a brief period in the Emperor's company fighting alongside Him and consuming knowledge of the Great Crusade, its history, war machinery and operations, Perturabo was handed the command of the IV Legion which bore his gene-seed, and the transition of authority to him was swift and absolute. At the time, around 35,000 Astartes of the IV Legion had been mustered to create his independent command, with perhaps half that number again scattered across the conquered domains of the Imperium in smaller independent garrisons and detachments bound to their watches and their duties. Having instituted a full review of the IV Legion's war record, doctrines and practices and having compared those with the other Legions, Perturabo found his sons wanting and acted accordingly. His punishment was decimation. For the Legion's failing all would suffer, all were guilty. As the edict of decimation would state, "War is unequivocal, uncaring, unforgiving and blind. Blind also will be the selection of those who will pay the blood price for the greater failure of your record." One in ten of the Legion, determined by lottery, was put to death without honour, a deed carried out by each Legionary's own comrades with their bare hands. At this bloody edict some within the Imperial Court protested, believing that the Emperor had given absolute power of a Space Marine Legion to a madman, while others, more guarded in their criticism, opined only that command had been given too soon to the Primarch -- unused as he was to the ways of the Imperium. Loudest of these critics was Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines, who bridled at the ignominy of the deaths to which valiant Astartes -- warriors alongside which his own Legion had often fought -- had been thus consigned. It was a spur of discord between the two Primarchs that, though later eclipsed by other rancours and feuds among the Emperor's sons, would be one that neither would ever forget. All such criticism the Emperor silenced.
To those who survived the IV Legion's self-decimation, the lesson was plain: such was to be the rule of Perturabo, ruthless and unforgiving, and without favour or preference. Death would be the price of failure in Perturabo's service and war was to him a binary equation. Their sin was not that they had failed in the Great Crusade's service -- for by no measure had this been the case, but instead that they had not reached their full potential. It was not enough for Perturabo that they were merely superior, their fault lay in that among the Legions they were not already supreme. Perturabo demanded that his Legion would be a peerless engine of war, and he immediately set about fashioning it into the weapon he desired it to be, a weapon whose edge he would first test against the rest of the Meratara Cluster at whose edge the Olympia Majoris star system sat.
The Fall of the Black Judges
The first major engagement of the IV Legion under the direct command of their Primarch was the attack against a foe who would sorely test the Legion's mettle and open the campaign to bring the Mertara Cluster into Imperial Compliance. Taking his newly constituted Expeditionary Fleet, Perturabo drove straight for the heart of the cluster and the hostile power he knew resided there. On Olympia the enemy Perturabo sought had been little more than legend, but the last time their shadow had fallen on that world, their coming had led to the slaughter and enslavement of tens of thousands before their demanded tribute was paid. They were the self-styled "Black Judges" -- self-appointed arbiters of human purity, life and death. Twisted and withered creatures that had once been human in ages past, they had extended their lifespans into millennia with the help of technology as ancient as it was dark. Now their shrivelled and time-ravaged forms were encased in mechanised war machines controlled by cybernetic implants. In order to live, they required regular infusions of fresh human genetic material acquired by an agonisingly fatal extraction process, and from their base upon a barren, ravine-hollowed moon known as the "Rock of Judgement", they held sway over a dozen nearby human-inhabited worlds through terror, offering a devil's bargain of protection from xenos assault in return for a tribute of the young and healthy. The IV Legion, reeling from its punishment at its new master's hands, was shamed into a desperate desire to prove itself to its Primarch, and it was to be the Black Judges that were to suffer its pent-up hatred and wrath.
The orbital assault on the Rock of Judgement was a direct and brutal affair. Well-defended by defence laser batteries and swarms of drone-fighter craft and the Black Judges' own Warp-capable battleships, it had withstood marauders and vengeful enemies for millennia, but against the fury of the IV Legion it could not prevail. Smashing through the blockade line of warships heedless of the losses they incurred, with a score of Legion Strike Cruisers and a dozen Battle Barges burned from stem-to-stern, the Legion grappled their foe at close-quarters, launching crippling boarding actions and barrages of Melta warhead torpedoes at point-blank range. With the line broken, the IV Legion fleet pushed through, using the armoured prows of their largest capital ships and the bulwark Void Shields of siege frigates to weather the storm of ground fire and force a landing.
Although their true technology carried with it much of the strength of Mankind's mastery over the stars before the Age of Strife, the Black Judges were few in number, even accounting for the tens of thousands of sable-robed Accusators and functionaries gene-bred to serve them, and so relied heavily upon static defences and automated sentry guns for protection. Spearheaded by Land Raider phalanxes and Shadowsword companies, the IV Legion surged forward, methodically eliminating all resistance in a storm of energy blasts, while behind them came wave after wave of mobile siege guns and artillery whose pulverising shellfire shattered and brought down mountain-faces, burying gun-bastions below in choking rubble. Such was the apocalyptic firepower of this rolling advance that it obliterated the Black Judges' vaunted defences metre by metre, erasing them from existence.
It was then the Space Marines smashed their way into the lightless inner sanctums of the Night Courts at the heart of the towering citadels of obsidian that the bitterest fighting took place. Swept by batteries of lethal neutron rays and assailed by suicidal mobs of Accusators armed with powered chain-hammers able to split even Legiones Astartes plate, the casualties mounted, but the IV Legion did not falter. Once the fanatics had been slaughtered, the leading elements of the assault wave forced their way bloodily on through abyssal chambers of nightmarish surgical theatres and abhorrent instruments of the "justice" these debased oppressors enacted, to their final confrontation with the Black Judges themselves.
Sustained by their dark sciences, each of the Black Judges' armoured life support frames were all but impervious to Bolter fire, while their razor scourges and ray cannon made each the equal of a Legiones Astartes Dreadnought in firepower -- and there were hundreds of them. Against these mechanoid killers the warriors of the IV Legion would not give ground, although the Legionaries themselves fell in droves, cut into bloody hunks of meat or incinerated in the molten coffins of their Power Armour. The darkness soon became a storm of muzzle flash and thunder, pierced by the screams of the dying and the high-pitched screeching of diseased minds that had lived far beyond human sanity for centuries. As the battle raged on, the Legionaries took to using mounds of their own dead as cover from the sweeping hellish rays, and rallied again and again to charge the blackly glittering judgement engines, suffering the Black Judges' murderous fury to plant Krak Grenades or discharge point-blank Melta blasts to bring their enemies down. For an age, the battle hovered on a knife edge; in the confines of the vaults and corridors, the Black Judges had the advantage, and for every one of them that fell, a dozen or more Astartes also fell to pay the price. It was then that Perturabo struck.
Having observed the unfolding battle, his superhuman intellect had discerned patterns and vulnerability amid the chaos and din of war, and had calculated the precise point at which to attack to the greatest effect. The Primarch himself struck the ranks of the Black Judges like a thunderbolt, throwing them into disarray. Like a vengeful god he ploughed into the heart of them, blasting and burning them, ripping their machine-frames apart and tearing out the withered bodies from within with his own gauntleted hands. As the Black Judges reeled in shock and sought to realign their counter-attack against this new and terrible threat, the gears of Perturabo's plan turned and the elite heavy weapons support units of the IV Legion, already known by the informal title of "Havocs", advanced in precisely co-ordinated attack patterns that predicted their foes' response with preternatural accuracy. Isolating and blindsiding the Black Judges, the Havocs advanced implacably and ended their baleful rule, pronouncing sentence of their own with crossfire storms of Autocannon shells and plasma bolts.
By Perturabo's design the enemy was crushed without mercy and their domains were stripped of every valuable resource and technology; wreckage and weapons flowed to Olympia and the Black Judges' long-guarded secrets fell also to the newly renamed Iron Warriors and their master, who shared them with the Mechanicum in return for their aid. With the world stripped of its resources, the orbital shipyards of the Rock of Judgement, themselves relics of the lost human age of interstellar conquest, were finally set in orbit afresh around Olympia and set to work fashioning a new generation of warships under Perturabo's seal.
Conquering the Meratara Cluster
First, Perturabo overthrew the vaunted "Black Judges" and claimed their once-held domain for the Imperium, before purging the xenos Ecto-Saurids of Verikhonia and subjugating the Renegade Knight-fiefdom of Lyxos, completing his conquest of the cluster. In this last conflict, Perturabo's Legion ended by force a schism that had lasted for millennia back into the Age of Strife between the fragmented empire and its former masters in the Mechanicum, winning the Legion much favour with the Lords of Mars. This period was for the IV Legion a winnowing; a time of trials and testing at their Primarch's hand. With calculated forethought and savage experiment, Perturabo remade the Legion to his own image -- an image not echoing the Olympian or Terran ideal -- but one fashioned purely from his own bleak and unflinchingly ruthless psyche. At the end of the Meratara Cluster campaign, the IV Legion of old was no more, and the Iron Warriors had been forged from blood and fire in their place.
By the time Perturabo returned again to Olympia with his renamed force, the machinery of his plans was well into effect. In alliance with the Mechanicum, new orbital shipyards and foundries burned with frenetic activity, many had been torn from dead orbits around conquered stars, dragged to Olympia and refitted and expanded to his Legion's purpose. The worlds of the Meratara Cluster too now paid their tribute of flesh and blood to the Lord of Iron to feed his Legion's hunger for fresh warriors, weapons and munitions. All was by Perturabo's hand and design. In the crucible of war, the Iron Warriors had undergone its reshaping, with the changes that had occurred seen in many ways to have amplified what was already present in the IV Legion rather than changing it beyond recognition; where once the Legion had been ruthless in its willingness to accept losses in return for victory, now it was utterly driven to the point where such considerations were as beneath it as mortal fear. War had become a deadly equation which the Iron Warriors were supremely suited to solve; a relentlessly unyielding engine of war, a beast of steel and fire which swept worlds clean and devoured whole armies.
At the head of a newly constituted force, the 125th Expeditionary Fleet, into which Perturabo drew the bulk of his Legion's strength, the Primarch had command of a force which quickly became the battering ram of the Great Crusade. As they fought alongside each of their fellow Legions in turn, they gained an unmatched reputation for brutal efficiency in battle, mastery of armoured warfare and as artillerists without peer among the Legions. It was said of the Iron Warriors that there was no fortress built by the hand of humanity or that of the xenos they could not smash down, no stronghold they could not storm and no army they could not drown in its own blood through shot and shell.
The wedge that had been hammered between the Iron Warriors and the other Space Marine Legions, however, was only driven home further as time passed, and resentment, pride and paranoia gathered in the hearts of many within the IV Legion. By his grim methods and savage example, Perturabo had awoke in his warriors a reflection of his own dark soul, and within them his own suspicions, malevolent distrust and callous indifference to life grew alongside the ruthless determination, cold intellect and strength he wished to unlock there. It is then not perhaps unsurprising, given the IV Legion's predilection for open battle, its employment in siege assault -- the most dangerous and unpredictable of all forms of line warfare -- and its willingness at every level from its Primarch downwards to accept attrition as the price of victory, that the Iron Warriors are estimated in many sources to have suffered the highest overall number of casualties taken over time of any of the Legions in the Great Crusade. It is also similarly a testament to them and the cold and cruel genius of their Primarch, that such losses were routinely absorbed by the Legion without serous lasting depreciation of the Iron Warriors' strategic fighting power and that high casualties rarely resulted in defeat for the IV Legion. However, despite their genetically enhanced resilience to mental trauma and psycho-indoctrination, it is believed that such a continuous exposure to loss and destruction worked a slow and bitter corrosion on the Legion's psyche.
Perturabo and his Legion sought no friends or allies amongst those they served with, save perhaps the agents of the Mechanicum who aided them in the pursuit of ever more powerful and efficient means of waging war. In their fellow Legions they saw weaknesses bred by self-deceit, lack of discipline, false mysticism and vanity, and they also saw insults and slights by them, both real and imagined. Even many factions of the Mechanicum, to whom Perturabo's technological intellect was a wonder, did not trust him or his Legion fully, dangerously self-sufficient and adept as they were, and ignorant of the Omnissiah's faith. To the forces of the Excertus Imperialis -- the hosts of the Imperial Army and its auxiliaries -- the Iron Warriors' repute was a dark one indeed. More than any other Legion, the Iron Warriors were seen as not only willing to use the lives of human auxiliaries as a strategic resource, but as deliberate expenditure, as cannon fodder to deplete an enemy's fire power, in sacrificial waves by the thousand to bring out a foe from their defences, or simply to gauge an enemy's strengths by observing how fast they could annihilate them.
Such repeated incidents only served to further taint the hated epithet the "Corpse Grinders" among the common soldiers of the Great Crusade. Open mutiny, put down with predictably thorough slaughter, grew increasingly frequent in war zones where Excertus Auxillia were under the Iron Warriors' command and until, by the Warmaster Horus' edict, a standing order was effected to ensure that the bulk of such troops given to the Iron Warriors command were to be either indentured criminals or enslaved non-Compliants to ameliorate the corrosive effect on wider morale. By the last decades of the Great Crusade, rivalries as well as often mutual simmering disdain, such as the antipathy between the Iron Warriors and Raven Guard Legion brought on by friction during the Icessunder War, and an increasingly bitter rivalry between the Iron Warriors and the Imperial Fists, characterised the Iron Warriors' relationship with its fellow Legions. Indeed, even where the Iron Warriors and their Primarch fought successfully alongside their fellow Legions, such as in the critical war agains WAAAGH! Mashogg, their part was often treated with indifference or guarded disdain by the IV Legion's contemporaries.
In this latter incident for example, although before Perturabo and the Iron Warriors' arrival in the war zone, Overdog Mashogg's vast orbital fortifications had previously repulsed attack after attack from both the Space Wolves and the White Scars Legions. Perturabo, whose plan succeeded at last in breaking the line and allowing for the Orks slaughter is recorded in the contemporary chronicles of his brother-Legions only as a nameless "comrade-in-arms." This growing schism, perhaps more obvious in hindsight than it would have appeared at the time, was further exacerbated after the appointment of Horus as the Imperial Warmaster. This major re-alignment in the deployment of the Great Crusade saw the renewal and issuing of a string of directives and disposition orders, some from Terra and others from the Warmaster. These orders continued to bleed the Iron Warriors Legion and scatter a good part of its strength across a myriad of splinter Expeditionary Fleets, thankless sieges and garrison postings in the most dangerous, forlorn and isolated corners of the ever-widening Imperium.
Meanwhile, Perturabo's own 125th Expeditionary Fleet was driven into the teeth of deadly foe after deadly foe, neither asking for, nor being sent reinforcements or additional resources, save for those it could itself generate and acquire. Perturabo, bitter but iron in his word, complied. Such events in retrospect only served to foment and amplify the resentment and discord within the IV Legion and split it from the Imperium it served, and increasingly to derange its warriors in the face of some of the worst horrors the Great Crusade would ever face. Indeed, such may have very well been Horus' plan.
As the Great Crusade moved forward, many Iron Warrior citadels were established on liberated worlds, guaranteeing a safe line of communications and an Imperial occupational force for the planet. Small units of Iron Warriors were garrisoned in these new fortifications, sometimes in ridiculously small numbers. One often-cited example was the Iron Keep on Delgas II, where a single Tactical Squad of ten Iron Warriors was stationed, despite the world having a disgruntled population of almost 130 million people. Where other Primarchs like Leman Russ, Vulkan and Magnus the Red refused to split their forces, Perturabo obeyed his orders with increasing bitterness. The Iron Warriors were being turned into a garrison Legion, with tiny deployments all over the Imperium. The Iron Warriors' indisputable success in siege warfare led to them being "typecast" so that they became the automatic choice for any siege or garrison mission, ignoring the basic needs of all the Legion's Astartes for rest and reorganisation. Resentment against the Emperor's relentless demands began to build up throughout the IV Legion, and particularly within Perturabo himself.
The Hollow Crown
More so than many of those who would eventually turn Traitor and side with Horus, the motivations and path of damnation pursued by the Iron Warriors remains perhaps the most unknown and uncertain, save perhaps that of the history of the Alpha Legion around who little but lies circle. Once faultlessly loyal, they did not bend but seemed to outsiders instead to suddenly and inexplicably shatter in their allegiance. Many who view the matter with enough dispassion see, rightly or wrongly, a Legion eroded by too much horror, too much attrition and death in the service of a cause to which they went unheralded and unthanked. They see a Primarch and his sons who were slowly laid low with suspicion, malcontent and a growing madness. But here remains scant evidence of wholesale corruption of the body or the insidious hand of the Ruinous Powers at work among them, let alone any actual traffic with dark forces before the cataclysm of galactic civil war engulfed the Imperium. For others the answer is more simply that there grew in the IV Legion a savage, jealous arrogance born of nothing more than base bloodlust and malcontent which led the Iron Warriors down the path to their ruin. There have been some who have contended that the Iron Warriors' fatal flaw was instead a lack of faith at a fundamental level, that they did not truly believe in the cause of the Great Crusade or the Emperor that they served, or that they themselves were anything more than machines built to kill. It might then be viewed that ultimately they were undone by the very pragmatism and logic that had made them such ruthless and effective soldiers, but left them ill-equipped to fight an enemy as existential as doubt and mortal terror. If this is true then for Perturabo, his Primarch's mantle became nothing but a license for slaughter without a higher purpose, his conquests empty and victories hollow. It has been further contended that this was what ultimately deranged and destroyed them from within, leaving nothing but empty vessels to be filled with the uncaring savagery and the mirror of the horrors they had borne.
The Horus Heresy
As the tragic outbreak of the Horus Heresy grew closer, it appears that Perturabo was put under ever-increasing pressure, and as a result the fires of his bitterness were stoked to a raging inferno. Some have postulated that it was the Warmaster Horus who, time after time, engineered events and adjusted deployments to the Primarch's detriment. For the Iron Warriors Legion the Horus Heresy came as the culmination of a series of reversals and fell tragedies that had occurred in the latter years of the Great Crusade, stalked the Legion and by their effect both deranged and twisted is Legionaries. Foremost of these had been the rebellion of Olympia, the seat of the Legion's domain in the Meratara Cluster and foundling homeworld of their Primarch Perturabo. With the death of the long-lived Tyrant of Lochos and Satrap of Olympia finally dead, the duplicitous and viperous politics of Olympia had severely developed into infighting and insurrection. The violence and division flared up worse than ever before because of the changes the Imperium had wrought onto Olympia, and the discontent grew, due to generations of the planet's finest youth having been tithed for the IV Legion, never to return. The shocking start of the rebellion struck at the heart of the Legion and its master, and could not have come at a worse time, but over a year, the Iron Warriors Legion had been engaged in the almost single-handed suppression of a major infiltration of the infamous xenoform known as the Hrud. All such actions in the history of the Great Crusade have proved costly both in terms of lives and the sanity of those who must fight such nightmares, and this was to prove the exception.
In the midst of the cleansing of the Hrud Warrens on the world of Gugann, the IV Legion was notified of the rebellion of its homeworld. It was Horus himself who broke the news to Perturabo that his homeworld of Olympia was in rebellion against the Imperium. Dammekos had died and the population had taken up arms against the Imperium following years of relentless anti-Imperial propaganda by the dead Tyrant. Perturabo was by this time tired of repeatedly having to prove his worth, and the thought of being the Primarch of the only Space Marine Legion unable to hold its own homeworld appalled him. Horus bade Perturabo to return to his place of discovery and presented him with the Power Hammer Forgebreaker, which is believed by some Imperial scholars to have acted as a conduit through which the Ruinous Powers could manipulate the Iron Warriors' Primarch.
Perturabo's anger was finally unleashed, and upon his return to his homeworld, the Primarch enacted such fearsome vengeance that countless innocents were slaughtered and entire cities burned. Perturabo and the Iron Warriors brutally suppressed the rebellion on the streets of the city-states of Olympia. No one was spared. It was the principle of surrender or no quarter, and the Iron Warriors had grown accustomed to granting no quarter. Perturabo watched as the Olympian fortifications in which he had once taken such pride were overcome. By the time the massacre was over, Olympia had been culled into slavery. Five million civilians had been killed in the process.
As the pyres burned through the long Olympian night, the Iron Warriors slowly realised the extent of what they had done. One moment they were humanity's heroes assaulting the hideous alien Hrud and the next they were committing genocide against their own people. In the aftermath of his vengeance, Perturabo knew utter despair, barely able to comprehend the crimes he had committed in his rage. He knew that the Emperor could never forgive him for his crimes. In the wake of this tragedy, the IV Legion retreated further into a private world of stark violence and bitter paranoia. Its brutality suppressed the worlds it garrisoned with renewed savagery and unleashed genocidal force upon the first hints of open rebellion, with many of its commanders growing ever more unhinged and isolated from the Imperium they served. But before Perturabo could set about righting his terrible deed, word came of Horus' virus-bombing of the Traitor Legions' remaining Loyalists at Istvaan III, and the Iron Warriors were ordered by the Emperor to confront the Traitors and bring them to justice. The Iron Warriors also received news of the most inconceivable kind: Astartes had slain Astartes. The news would have been shattering under normal circumstances, but when heard amidst the ruins of a world that were thick with the stench and corpses of the dead, it was apocalyptic. Not long after, news arrived that Leman Russ had led his Space Wolves in an attack upon Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons upon their homeworld of Prospero for Magnus' continued violation of the Imperial Edicts of Nikaea forbidding the use of psykers by the Astartes.
Horus had turned Traitor to the Emperor along with his own Sons of Horus Legion. Angron's World Eaters and Mortarion's Death Guard were also now Traitor Legions. Fulgrim and the Emperor's Children had also declared their allegiance to Horus' cause and Chaos, and the Renegade Primarch had unsuccessfully tried to turn Ferrus Manus of the Iron Hands to the worship of the Ruinous Powers. The Iron Warriors were ordered to join the Iron Hands and five other Loyalist Legions in a task force intended to crush the nascent rebellion against Imperial rule in the Istvaan System.
Between their bitter rivalry with the Imperial Fists and the guilt derived from their butchery on Olympia, in retrospect it was no surprise that Perturabo and the IV Legion turned Traitor to the Imperium. History records little of the machinations Horus must surely have enacted in order to turn the bitter Perturabo to the cause of the Traitors, but whatever the truth, the Iron Warriors turned upon their brothers at the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V, and in so doing sealed their damnation for all time. The Iron Warriors, the Night Lords, the Word Bearers and the Alpha Legion were held in reserve, while Ferrus Manus led his own Iron Hands, along with the Raven Guard and the Salamanders, against the Traitor positions in the first Loyalist wave. After being heavily engaged with Horus' forces, the surviving Loyalists eagerly sought the shelter of the Iron Warriors' trenches and bunkers, only to be mercilessly gunned down by their erstwhile allies. Henceforth, the Iron Warriors have always been known as the Betrayers of Istvaan in the wider Imperium.
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. The Iron Warriors made planetfall in the wake of a saturation bombardment that reduced the valley where the planet's lone formidable fortress, known as the Cadmean Citadel, was situated and the agri-settlements filling its fertile deltas to ash. Magma bombs and mass drivers boiled away the rivers and reduced fecund earth to arid dust. The Cadmean Citadel was left untouched, and the small garrison of Imperial Fists Legionaries that Rogal Dorn had left behind still found it difficult to believe that such a precise bombardment was possible. But the Iron Warriors had purposely done this in order to show the Imperial Fists that they were superior to them in every way. The technological cunning of the ancient fortress builders, married to the artfully wrought geography and the courage of the defenders, proceeded to keep the Iron Warriors at bay for almost three months. Every day the Loyalist warriors stayed alive, it kept the enemy from redeploying and bringing their strength to bear elsewhere against the forces of the Imperium. Yet, when the Iron Warriors finally overcame the citadel’s ancient defences and broke open its walls they ran amok. They slaughtered the remaining Imperial Fists Legionaries, the heroic men and women of Hydra Cordatus that had chosen to stand with them, and the refugees from the devastated fields below the fortress. Fifty-two Imperial Fists and thirteen thousand men, women and children were crammed within the citadel’s walls. When the final assault came, the Lord of Iron himself spearheaded the audacious attack upon the citadel's defenders, and slaughtered over thirty Imperial Fists Astartes in a span of only a few minutes. The rest of the Cadmean Citadel's defenders were slaughtered to a man and the surviving mortal refugees were enslaved by the Iron Warriors before they moved on to their next objective. Hydra Cordatus was reduced to a barren desert world by the Traitor Legion's assault.
Following their victory on Hydra Cordatus, word reached Perturabo that Fulgrim and his Emperor's Children Legion wished to rendezvous with him to discuss something of great import. Though the Phoenician 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 was 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.
Battle of Terra
At last freed of the constraints that had bound him, Perturabo gave free reign to his most destructive urges, laying waste to world after world in Horus' service. Following the Drop Site Massacre the IV Legion proceeded to transform Olympia and its surrounding star systems into an Empire of Iron. On a dozen worlds, an Iron Warriors Warsmith replaced the true Imperial Planetary Governor and tithes were paid to the new rulers under the shadow of fortified battlements. The worlds of Yarant and Vanaheim saw horrific fighting between the Iron Warriors and the Loyalist forces of the Imperium; Tallarn was transformed by Iron Warriors virus bombs from a paradise world into the sandy deserts that it is famous for today. After seven standard years of bitter civil war, a large contingent of the IV Legion accompanied Perturabo himself to Terra, where he supervised the siege of the Imperial Palace during the Battle of Terra. The Iron Warriors found a sublime pleasure in tearing the edifices of the Imperium down.
The Iron Cage
It cannot be known whether Dorn’s masterfully constructed defences would ultimately have proved the undoing of the Iron Warriors, for Horus was slain by the Emperor aboard his Battleship in orbit of Terra before the matter could be fully decided. Those Iron Warriors who had taken part in the Battle of Terra fled to the Eye of Terror with the remainder of the Traitor Legions, but not before fighting a long rearguard action against the Loyalist forces of the Imperium during the Great Scouring in an attempt to hold on to the pocket empire they had forged out of the star systems surrounding Olympia. During this period, the sons of Perturabo found themselves finally free to test themselves against those of Rogal Dorn. Before his Legion followed suit, Perturabo devised and enacted the one real victory for the Iron Warriors in the aftermath of the Horus Heresy. He crafted a trap on the world of Sebastus IV designed to ensnare Rogal Dorn and the Imperial Fists, with whom Perturabo and his warriors had long harboured a bitter rivalry that had stemmed from each Legion claiming to be the best force in the Imperium at laying and defending against sieges. The trap was known as the Eternal Fortress, a keep centered within twenty square miles of bunkers, towers, minefields, trenches, tank traps and redoubts. Upon hearing of this, Rogal Dorn publicly declared that he "would dig Perturabo out of his hole and bring him back to Terra in an iron cage".
Rogal Dorn expected an honourable battle, but this was not to be. Beginning by isolating the four companies of the Imperial Fists that made planetfall from their orbital support, Perturabo began to carefully divide his enemy and destroy them piecemeal. Some Imperial Fists Astartes managed to penetrate the defences and reach the center of the Eternal Fortress, only to find there was no central keep -- simply an open space watched by yet more defences. The fortress was a decoy of no real value. By the sixth day of the siege, Imperial Fists Astartes were fighting individually, without support, using the bodies of their own Battle-Brothers for cover.
The siege of the Eternal Fortress, later referred to simply as the "Iron Cage" by the Imperial Fists, lasted for a further three weeks. Relief came in the form of Roboute Guilliman and the Ultramarines, but the siege left Dorn a broken man, rendered the Imperial Fists Chapter unable to fight for nineteen standard years until they had made good their terrible losses, and paved the way for Perturabo's ascension to the rank of Daemon Prince of Chaos Undivided, after the sacrifice of over four hundred Loyalist Space Marines on the bloody landscape of Sebastus IV. This most infamous of campaigns was the deed that earned Perturabo the dark blessing of apotheosis to become a Daemon Primarch.
Scouring of Olympia
Under the command of their new Daemon Primarch, the majority of the Iron Warriors fled to the Eye of Terror and secured the Daemon World of Medrengard after the battle of the Iron Cage, from where they could brood on the turn of events and plot vengeance on the Imperium. Those Iron Warriors who had established their own empire around Olympia prepared themselves for the inevitable assault by the Loyalist Legions. There was to be no refuge from the retribution of the Loyalists during the campaigns known as the Great Scouring. The Imperial Fists supported the Ultramarines in a decade-long campaign to liberate the subjugated worlds. In a reversal of fortune typical of the grim epoch that ushered in the Age of the Imperium, the Imperial Fists were amongst those who laid siege to these remaing Iron Warriors strongholds, and while the Traitors were eventually dislodged, it was only after a decade-long campaign that culminated in the Iron Warriors detonating their nucleonic stockpiles and reducing Olympia to a blasted waste. Their homeworld was left as a blasted, nuclear wasteland that was quarantined by the Imperium and listed as Perdita by the Inquisition, and no further mention of Olympia has been found in the Imperial records for more than 10,000 standard years.
Second Siege of Hydra Cordatus
During Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41, the Iron Warriors, under the command of Barban Falk, attacked the Adeptus Mechanicus Forge World of Hydra Cordatus which supplied weapons and other war materiel to the Imperium of Man at large, and was one of the few locations in the galaxy where the Mechanicus secretly stored its tithes of Space Marine gene-seed. Alongside his chief rivals Forrix and Kroeger, of the 1st and 2nd Grand Companies, respectively, Honsou was one of three champions of the Warsmith that laid siege to the large citadel and manufactorum complex known as the Tor Christo. Deep within this formidable Imperial citadel lay the stasis vaults which contained the genetic material drawn from the Iron Warriors' most hated and ancient rivals, the Imperial Fists.
The Iron Warriors desperately needed the Astartes' pure gene-seed to reconstitute their numbers as the corrupting power of Chaos tended to mutate their own gene-seed to the point that it was unusable to replenish their ranks with new Chaos Space Marines. Honsou was often belittled be his fellow Iron Warriors for having mixed gene-seed which consisted of spliced Iron Warriors and Imperial Fists genetic material. He was referred to by his fellows as a "half-breed", due to his gene-seed's mixed heritage. Despite the Imperial forces arrayed against them, including a large garrison of Imperial Guard troops and even a small detachment of Titans of the Legio Ignatum protecting its precious contents, in the end the Iron Warriors emerged triumphant. They defeated the Imperial forces defending Tor Christo as well as an entire company of Imperial Fists whom had arrived as reinforcements to try and prevent the theft of their genetic legacy.
Having greatly pleased the Chaos Gods through his monumental victory over the Imperium, the commanding Warsmith was allowed to ascend to become a Daemon Prince. Before his final ascension to daemonhood, the Warsmith appointed Honsou as his successor, handing him command over his Grand Company. He then commanded Honsou to take the stolen Imperial Fists gene-seed back to the Iron Warriors' Daemon World of Medrengard within the Eye of Terror. After the Iron Warriors withdrew from Hydra Cordatus they bombarded the remains of the citadel to dust, leaving behind a lone Imperial survivor to tell the tale of what had occurred.
When Honsou returned to the Iron Warriors' homeworld of Medrengard within the nightmarish realm of the Eye of Terror, he sent the newly obtained gene-seed to the Forces of Chaos' Warmaster Abaddon the Despoiler as was required, but he secretly kept a small portion of the pure genetic material for himself. With his ill-gotten gains, Honsou set about constructing an usual genetic system known as the Daemonculaba -- which combined the application of technology and the arcane to create new Astartes to swell the ranks of the Iron Warriors. This process required an adolescent human boy to be sealed within the womb of a genetically-modified human female slave, known as a Daemonculaba, who had been impregnated with the stolen Astartes gene-seed. The Daemonculabas either produced horribly mutated freaks known as the Unfleshed (who were cast out into the wastelands of Medrengard) or a new Chaos-corrupted Astartes ripe for incorporation within the Iron Warriors' ranks. The Daemonculaba hosts were kept within Warsmith Honsou's fortress of Khalan-Ghol.
Refusing to uphold his predecessor's promise to share the stolen gene-seed amongst his fellow Iron Warriors commanders, Honsou led his warriors in a brutal civil war with two rival Warsmiths -- Lord Toramino and the Chaos Dreadnought Berossus. Recently exiled from the Ultramarines Chapter for violating the Codex Astartes, Captain Uriel Ventris and his best friend, the Veteran Sergeant Pasanius Lysane, were tasked to fulfill a Death Oath sworn by their Chapter Master Marneus Calgar. They accomplished this by traveling aboard the ancient Daemon Engine Omphalos Daemonium into the Eye of Terror and infiltrating Medrengard. Once there, they were tasked with the impossible mission of seeking out and destroying the Daemonculaba.
Engulfed by the Iron Warriors' civil war, Khalan-Ghol was under seige by the Warsmiths Toramino and Berossus. The Ultramarines enlisted the help of the Raven Guard Renegade Ardaric Vaanes and his group of fellow Space Marine Renegades, infiltrating the fortress at the height of the siege. However, the group was soon captured by Honsous's daemon-possesed Iron Warrior bodyguard, Onyx and taken to the halls of the Savage Morticians, Dark Mechanicus Tech-priests that had created and oversaw the Daemonculaba process. Once there, Uriel was entombed inside the womb of one of the Daemonculaba. Honsou showed great interest in Pasanius' bionic arm of living metal, which was made from Necrodermis, the living metal that comprised the cybernetic bodies of the Necrons and their C'tan Shards. Pasanius' bionic arm was removed and reattached to Honsou for him to use. This enraged Pasanius against the Savage Morticians who had performed the surgery, even as Uriel miraculously fought free of the Chaos-corrupted womb and made good his escape, along with a few survivors, down a sewage chute.
In the meantime, making one final push against Khalan Gol, the forces of Lord Berossus stormed Honsou's citadel. The two rival Warsmiths fought a titanic duel, but with the help of his daemon-possessed bodyguard, Honsou eventually emerged triumphant. With the death of their lord, Berossus' men defected to the forces of the victorious Honsou, and joined his forces against the rival Toramino. Leading a band of the mutant Unfleshed, Uriel once again infiltrated Honsou's citadel and successfully destroyed the Daemonculaba. Uriel also freed the Heart of Blood, one of the most favoured daemonic avatars of the Blood God Khorne, which had been imprisoned by the Iron Warriors and forced to create and sustain an unbreakable psychic barrier around the fortress of Khalan-Ghol for over ten thousand Terran years. With the psychic barriers broken, the Chaos Dreadnought Warsmith Toramino was able to employ psychic attacks against his rival's citadel.
During the ensuing melee, Honsou and his retinue discovered and cornered both Uriel and Pasanius before they could flee the citadel. But before the Warsmith could have his retinue slay the upstart Ultramarines, the Unfleshed arrived on the scene and viciously attacked the Iron Warriors and slew them. Fleeing from the battle, Captain Ventris caught up to Honsou and shot him in the head with his Bolter. Having fulfilled their Death Oath, the two Ultramarines returned to their Chapter on Macragge. After their departure, by some dark miracle, Honsou managed to survive the near-fatal wound. The wounded Warsmith then discovered the Heart of Blood, thoroughly exhausted from its battle with a daemonic rival, and collapsed upon the floor of the ruined citadel. Employing the formidable powers of the Heart of Blood against Toramino's attacking forces, Honsou eventually emerged triumphant. The slaughter and destruction the daemon had unleashed was unlike anything the Warsmith had ever seen before, its ancient fury deeper than the darkest chasm in the Daemon Primarch Perturabo's lair. It had reduced everything before it to utter ruin and Medrengard's blazing black sun had gorged on the souls released into the dead sky.
The Warsmith's Wrath
Though Honsou had emerged as the victor in the brutal conflict between the Iron Warriors Warsmiths, it was a pyrrhic victory at best. Most of his forces has been smashed by the two rival Warsmiths and their armies during the internecine war. Despite the losses to his troops and the destruction of the Daemonculaba, Honsou began the task of rebuilding his forces. He accomplished this by inviting those surviving Chaos Renegades into his growing army. These Renegades included the likes of the infamous Chaos Space Marines Ardaric Vaanes and Cadaras Grendal as well as a loathsome creature known as the Newborn -- a genetic clone of Uriel Ventris who had been created by a Daemonculaba before their destruction.
The recent destruction of Khalan-Ghol on Medrengard made the Warsmith seethe with rage at the bitter defeat by the hands of Uriel Ventris. Honsou plotted his vengeance against the upstart Ultramarines captain and his Chapter. Honsou knew he would not be satisfied until he had inflicted the most wretched humiliations on the one enemy who had escaped him. Honsou attacked Defence Platform Ultra Nine, an Imperial space station that orbited above Tarsis Ultra, the sight of Captain Ventris's stunning victory over the Tyranids a few short years before. Honsou's warband slaughtered everyone aboard the station and seized control of its deadly missile payload.
A salvo of sixteen orbital torpedoes surged from the station's launch bays, followed by another rippling salvo seconds later. Another three salvos launched until all but one of the platform's entire payload of missiles was expended. Each missile dropped away rapidly from the platform in a ballistic trajectory towards the planet's surface. As the missiles reached a predetermined altitude over the planet's surface, each one exploded and spread its viral payload into the air. Vast quantities of the experimental Heraclitus viral strain were released into the atmosphere. All across the planet, a terrible rain fell, wreaking terrible damage as the insidious microbes went to work on Tarsis Ultra's indigenous and xenos vegetation.
The world of Tarsis Ultra had suffered the horror of invasion by the monstrous swarms of the Tyranids. Though the invasion had been defeated, the dreadful legacy of the alien invaders remained to taint the planet's ecology forever. From pole to pole, horrific spires of dreadful alien vegetable matter towered over the landscape, slowly choking the life from the natural landscape. The alien flora had subsumed entire continents, a rapacious instinct to devour encoded in every strand of its genetic structure. Nutrients were leeched from the soil and used to create hyper-fertile spore growths that drifted on the heated currents of the air to seed new regions and pollute yet more land.
The Heraclitus virus had been developed from a partial fragment of ancient research conducted by the Mechanicus' Magos Heraclitus. The bio-toxins were intended to increase the growth rate of crops on Agri-worlds, and were designed to increase the productivity of such worlds a thousand-fold. Within seconds of the Heraclitus strain's release into the atmosphere, the alien growths reacted to its touch, surging upwards and over the planet's terrain. Overwhelmed by mutant growths, poisonous plant life expanded whole kilometres in seconds as the virulent growth strain sent its metabolism into overdrive.
Huge amounts of nutrients were sucked from the ground and released as enormous quantities of heat, raising the ambient temperature of the world in a matter of moments. Oxygen was sucked greedily from the atmosphere by horrifyingly massive spore chimneys and the planet's protective atmospheric layers were gradually stripped in an unthinking biological genocide. This was not the rapid death of Exterminatus, but ecological death of global proportions. Panicked messages were hurled out into the Immaterium and only those with the money, influence or cunning escaped on hastily-prepared starships that fled the planet's destruction.
In the wake of the attack, billions had been left behind and, weeks later, as the last of the planet's atmosphere was stripped from it by the hyper-evolved alien biology, hard stellar radiation swept the surface, killing every living thing and laying waste to all that remained. Months after the launch of the Heraclitus missiles, nothing remained alive, the deadly alien vegetation killed by lethal levels of radiation and the frigid cold that gripped the planet without its protective atmosphere. All that now remained of the planet was a dead, lifeless ball of rock, its surface seared and barren, with only the skeletal remains of its blackened cities left as evidence that human beings had once lived upon it.
After the death of Tarsis Ultra, Magos Locard of the Adeptus Mechanicus and members of the Skitarii landed upon the dead planet, attempting to investigate what occurred. Following a lone beacon, the Explorator team found a lone battered orbital torpedo. Removing the payload bay of the torpedo, the Magos reached inside and removed its contents -- a cracked helmet, the paint chipped and one eye lens missing. The helmet was a deep blue and bore the badge of the Ultramarines Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. The helmet was meant to send a message to Uriel Ventris -- that you don't walk away from a fight with the Warsmith Honsou without paying a price.
The Skull Harvest
In order to rebuild his forces, Honsou travelled to the Badab Sector, the site of the infamous Badab War, to the heart of the Warp rift called the Maelstrom. Within the heart of this hellish realm lay New Badab, the homeworld of Huron Blackheart, the infamous Tyrant of Badab and now the leader of the Red Corsairs. Honsou attended the Skull Harvest, a contest hosted by Blackheart between Chaos warbands where Chaos Champions vied with one another for supreme dominance, until only one victor emerges. The reigning Champion than took total control of the losing Champions' warbands. The Skull Harvest took place within the Arena of Thorns, the large venue that hosted the murderous contest; the decapitated heads of the fallen were mounted and displayed upon spikes. Blood would be spilled, the weak would die and the victor would benefit greatly from the Tyrant of Badab's patronage. Honsou was determined to win the murderous contest at any cost, for he possessed a grand vision of revenge.
With the victories the Warsmith and his champions had won over the following days, Honsou's force had grown exponentially in size, numbering somewhere in the region of 5,000 soldiers. Scores of armoured units and fighting machines, as well as all manner of xenos and corsair troops were now his to command. The swords of seventeen warbands now belonged to Honsou and, by any measure of reckoning, he had a fearsome force with which to wreak havoc on his enemies. But the Skull Harvest was not yet over and the Tyrant's rule decreed that there could be only one champion left standing at its end.
As the fourth day of killing drew to an end only the armies of three Champions remained. There were the forces of Honsou, those of the Blood God Khorne's Champion, Pashtoq Uluvent and his force of 6,000 blood-hungry skull-takers, and the Pleasure God Slaanesh's Champion, Notha Etassay and his procured warband of 5,000 fighters. And Warsmith Honsou's warband of Iron Warriors. On the final day of the Skull Harvest, the three warriors stepped into the arena, clad in their armour and each armed with their weapon of choice. This stage of the battle would be where each warrior sought to gauge the measure of the other, searching for signs of weakness or fear to be exploited. Honsou knew he would find neither in these two opponents, warriors hardened by decades of war and devotion to their Gods. Honsou cared nothing for the thrill of the fight, nor the honour of the kill. This entire endeavour was a means to a single end.
The Slaaneshi Champion was quickly bested, and Honsou then faced the berserk Uluvent. In the ensuing battle, Honsou managed to destroy the Khornate Champion's weapon, forcing him to grapple with his opponent in bloody close quarters. The sheer ferocity of Uluvent's attack nearly overwhelmed Honsou, who only just managed to free his necrodermis arm and use it to rip open a jagged wound in Uluvent's neck. Weaponless and bleeding out quickly, the Khornate Champion called for another weapon to finish the dual between himself and the Warsmith. As he reached for a sword from his ally, the apparent turncoat Cadaras Grendel (who had recently served Honsou, but had changed allegiances), Grendel reversed his grip and rammed the blade into the Khornate Champion's chest. The tip of the weapon ripped through the back of Uluvent's armour and the mighty warrior staggered as Grendel twisted the blade deeper into his chest. Honsou gave him no chance to recover from his shock and pain, and brought his axe down upon the Khornate warrior's shoulder, the dark blade smashing the warrior's shoulder guard to splinters and cleaving the champion of the Blood God from collarbone to pelvis. Honsou then honoured the former Champion's last request, and took his skull off his neck with a sweep of his axe. Honsou emerged as the sole victor of the Skull Harvest.
At the final tally, Honsou left New Badab with close to 17,000 Chaotic warriors sworn in blood to his cause. Pashtoq Uluvent's warriors, and the others that he had won, were now Honsou's, their banners now bearing the Iron Skull badge of the Iron Warriors. The Slaaneshi Champion Notha Etassay survived the final battle and then willingly swore allegiance to Honsou. As the Warsmith's starship broke orbit over New Badab, numerous other vessels now accompanied it, gifts from the Tyrant of Badab to be used for the express purpose of dealing death to the hated forces of the Corpse Emperor. In addition, a ragtag, yet powerful fleet of corsairs and Renegades also formed up around Honsou's flagship. The Warsmith's fleet departed the Tyrant's domain and set course for the Eastern Fringe and the Realm of Ultramar.
Ultramar and the 13th Black Crusade
With his army assembled, Honsou was finally ready to unleash his audacious plan for revenge against Uriel Ventris by completely destroying the Realm of Ultramar. He would enact his plan with the help of the Daemon Prince M'kar the Reborn, who had once been Maloq Kartho, a Dark Apostle of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion during the Horus Heresy. Learning of the vile daemon's long-standing hatred for the Ultramarines, Honsou was able to enlist the aid of Abaddon the Despoiler's damned seer Moriana to help free the daemon's spirit from its prison, which had been trapped within the Warp core of the Star Fort Indomitable by the Ultramarines' Chapter Master Marneus Calgar decades earlier, in 935.M41.
With his formidable army of Chaos Renegades, Honsou easily captured the Star Fort and was able to free M'kar from his prison. The Daemon Prince then possessed the armoured Dreadnought chassis of Brother Altarion, an Ultramarines Astartes assigned to guard the fort. M'kar used Altarion's once-sacred shell as his host-body in order to remain in the material universe. With his army ready, Honsou's forces first struck within the Realm of Ultramar on the arid Imperial Agri-World of Tarentus. The newly freed M'kar bound the Indomitable to a Warp Gate and called forth a huge army of daemons to attack the cities of the planet from within, slaughtering the entire world's population. When the Ultramarines Chapter responded to the dire threat that Honsou's forces presented, the Warsmith left a trap for them in the planet's capital city of Axum, which nearly annihilated Captain Uriel Ventris and the entirety of his 4th Company.
After their success on Tarentus, Honsou's forces next assaulted the Imperial Ocean World of Talassar. After laying siege to the planet, M'kar quickly forced himself into a position of shared command of the Warsmith's Chaotic army and divided its forces amongst the various Chaos Champions, a situation neither Chaos Lord could tolerate for any length of time. The Forces of Chaos gathered by Honsou were dubbed by the Daemon Prince as the "Bloodborn," much to the Warsmith's resentment. Each subordinate commander was then assigned a different strategic target.
M'kar convinced Honsou to travel to Ventris' homeworld of Calth, with explicit instructions from M'kar to destroy the Tomb of Ventanus -- the famed Ultramarines Captain who slew the Daemon Prince when he was still a mortal and a former Dark Apostle of the Word Bearers during the Horus Heresy. M'kar could not himself go near the tomb, which radiated the power of Imperial faith in the Emperor and was thus anathema to a creature of the Warp. Armed with the knowledge of Ventris, the clone known as the Newborn were able to find the location of the subterranean tomb within the Cavernas Draconi on Calth. Hounsou and his ally Grendel were led by the Newborn and eventually discovered the tomb's exact location. As they prepared to destroy it, the keen mind of Honsou perceived that there was more to M'kar's reluctance to come near the world of Calth than the foul creature had admitted. Therefore, the Warsmith decided to investigate further and soon discovered that there was an artefact, a Combat Knife, buried with the long-dead Ultramarines captain that was known as the Shard of Erebus. Honsou realized that the simple blade was capable of badly harming the Daemon Prince because of the faith that had been invested within it after so many millennia of devotion. But before the Warsmith could capitalise on the newly acquired weapon, Captain Ventris and a Command Squad of Ultramarines arrived and began attacking Honsou's forces. Honsou tasked the Newborn to kill Ventris, but in the ensuing battle the Ultramarines captain was able to defeat his corrupted clone.
At the height of the battle, the Iron Warriors were overwhelmed and defeated by what appeared to be the ghosts of Captain Ventanus and his fellow Ultramarines that were housed within the tomb. With his men dead and his quest for vengeance foiled, Honsou activated the trigger for explosives intended to destroy the tomb. The resulting explosion buried Captain Ventris and his men, but he and the majority of his allies managed to survive the explosion and subsequent cave-in. Upon further investigation, the body of Honsou was never found. However, there is ample evidence that indicates that the wily Iron Warrior may have survived. A drilling machine that had been used by the Iron Warriors to reach the tomb complex had also disappeared, indicating that Honsou had probaly escaped his well-deserved fate, yet again.
M'kar survived to eventually face Marneus Calgar once more on the planet Talassar, but his essence was completely annihilated after Calgar struck him with the Shard of Erebus -- the same blade that Captain Ventanus had used to slay M'kar's human form of Maloq Kartho on Calth during the Horus Heresy.
- The Fall of the Black Judges (Unknown Date.M30) - This was the Iron Warriors' first Imperial Compliance campaign under the direct command of their Primarch, which was conducted against the barren, ravine-hollowed moon known as the "Rock of Judgement" and its masters, the heretical Black Judges. These self-appointed arbiters of human purity, life and death, were twisted and withered creatures that had once been human in ages past. They had extended their lifespans into millennia with the help of technology as ancient as it was dark. Encased within mechanised war machines controlled by cybernetic implants, in order to live they required regular infusions of fresh human genetic material extracted through a painful, fatal arcane process. From the Rock of Judgement they held sway over a dozen nearby human-inhabited worlds through terror, offering a devil's bargain of protection from xenos assault in return for a tribute of the young and healthy. The IV Legion, reeling from its enforced Decimation as punishment at its new master's hands, was shamed into a desperate desire to prove itself to its Primarch, and it was the Black Judges that were to suffer its pent-up hatred and wrath. By Perturabo's design the enemy was crushed without mercy and their domains were stripped of every valuable resource and technology; wreckage and weapons flowed to Olympia and the Black Judges' long guarded secrets fell also to the newly renamed Iron Warriors and their master, as well as to the Mechanicum in return for their aid. With the world stripped of its resources, the orbital shipyards of the Rock of Judgement were finally set in orbit afresh around Olympia and set to work fashioning a new generation of warships under Perturabo's seal. The newly-inducted Astartes recruits from the Iron Warriors' homeworld of Olympia acquitted themselves well and their triumphant return was celebrated in the famous Palimodes Fresco, now known only through fragmented holo-recordings.
- Pacification of Schravaan (Unknown Date.M30) - This was a joint Imperial Compliance campaign conducted by the Iron Warriors, Imperial Fists, Emperor's Children and the Luna Wolves Legions against the xenos Badoon on the world of Schravaan. The Iron Warriors won a great victory when they stormed the final refuge of the Badoon. They breached the defences and held while the other Legions carried the city beyond. During the following victory feast, Horus proclaimed Perturabo the greatest master of siege warfare in the Great Crusade. Fulgrim, the Primarch of the Emperor's Children Legion, then inquired to his brother Dorn whether he thought even the defences of the Imperial Palace could resist the Iron Warriors, in which Dorn replied that he regarded the defences as being proof against any assault if well-planned. Perturabo flew into a rage and unleashed unfounded accusations against his brother. After this the two rarely spoke, and their Legions did not serve in the same campaign for the remainder of the Crusade.
- WAAAGH! Mashogg (Unknown Date.M30) - In one famous instance, a joint Imperial Compliance campaign was conducted by the Iron Warriors, Space Wolves and White Scars Legions against the Greenskins. Legends record that it was the Primarchs Leman Russ and Jaghatai Khan who routed the Orks of Overdog Mashogg's WAAAGH!, while Perturabo was featured only as the "comrade" who calculated the optimum way to bypass Mashogg's low orbit defences.
- Compliance of the Araaki Spiral (Unknown Date.M30) - A joint Imperial Compliance campaign was conducted by the Iron Warriors, Imperial Fists, Dark Angels and White Scars Legions in a region of space known as the Araaki Spiral. The Araakites were well-versed in the art of building fortresses, and their strongholds were dug deep around narrow passes, remote hilltops and natural barriers in the landscape. Once again, the Iron Warriors were sent to a resistant star system to conduct brutal siege-warfare against formidable fortress-builders. The Araakites knew their craft well and the campaign to take their world for the Imperium proved both bitter and hostile. It would take many years for the IV Legion to regain its former strength from the losses sustained during the drawn-out war of attrition that its Astartes suffered in the Araaki Spiral. In the wake of the inevitable Imperial victory, great works of art and heroic verse were composed, celebrating the courage of the other Space Marine Legions, but nowhere in the reams of poetry and artwork were the grim labours of the Iron Warriors judged worthy of note. Only in a predella to a larger work painted by a notable Imperial artisan were the warriors of the IV Legion displayed; it illustrated a lone Iron Warriors Apothecary removing the gene-seed of a dying Legionary as the flag of the IV Legion's greatest rivals, the Imperial Fists, flew over a captured fortress. Perturabo sought out the artist to procure the piece for himself, only to have it put it to the torch once he had done so. If his sons would not be honoured properly, he told the horrified artist, then they would not be a part of a record that glorified another. Afterwards, Rogal Dorn had offered a rich commission for the artist to repaint the predella, but the artisan wisely refused.
- Vulpa Straits Hrud Migration (004.M31) - Commanding the 51st Expeditionary Fleet, the Warsmith Barabas Dantioch led a large Iron Warriors contingent against a massive xenos incursion known as the Vulpa Straits Hrud Migration. Upon the Fortress World of Gholgis the Hrud infiltrated and destroyed the Iron Warriors garrison. The intense entropic fields generated by the migratory Hrud swarms caused stone to age and brought flesh to ruin, turning the Astartes warriors into so much dust and bones, rusting their armour and jamming their Bolters as the Iron Warriors' fortress crumbled all about them. Only then did the rachidian beasts creep out of every nook and crevice to attack, stabbing and slicing with their venomous claws. This left Warsmith Dantioch prematurely aged and crippled. Very few survivors made it out alive as Stormbirds extracted the survivors from the remains of Gholgis. Many of the Astartes died from premature aging or were left in aged, superhuman bodies. In the Hrud Migration's aftermath, the worlds of Krak Fiorina, Stratopolae and Gholghis were lost. The Warsmith questioned Primarch Perturabo's prosecution of the Hrud extermination campaign, which left half a Grand Company dead. Dantioch soon found himself relieved from command of the 51st Expeditionary Fleet and permanently garrisoned to the world of Lesser Damantyne for his presumption.
- Pacification of Gugann and the Olympia Genocide (004.M31) - The Iron Warriors conducted a campaign against the xenos known as the Hrud upon the world of Gugann. It was during this campaign that Warmaster Horus broke the news to Perturabo that Olympia was in rebellion. The appointed Imperial Planetary Governor Dammekos had died and the population, incited by demagogues, had taken up arms. The thought of being the only Legion unable to hold its own homeworld appalled and infuriated Perturabo. By this time, Horus was fully corrupted by Chaos, and he sought to make the most of this opportunity. He presented Perturabo with the hammer Forgebreaker as a mark of respect, signalling the pact between the two Primarchs. There is still much debate whether this weapon was some kind of conduit through which the Ruinous Powers could manipulate the Iron Warriors Primarch. The Iron Warriors would go on to brutally suppress the population on their homeworld, committing genocide against 5 million civilians. This would seal their fate as the Iron Warriors become fully corrupted by Chaos during this campaign and they were easily swayed to join Horus' cause.
- Battle of Phall (005.M31) - During the Horus Heresy, at the command of Horus, a large Iron Warriors contingent was sent to halt the encroaching Imperial Fists fleet that had originally been sent to Istvaan III to reinforce the beleaguered Loyalists. The Traitors could not allow such a strong complement of Astartes to infiltrate their controlled area of space, for they could seriously disrupt preparations for the Traitors' attack on Terra. Commanding over twenty large warships, Perturabo led his fleet in a sudden and devastating attack upon the Imperial Fists fleet in what became known as the Battle of Phall. Over a dozen vessels were ripped apart by the brutal hail of fire from the Traitor vessels. The Imperial Fists fought back, devastating the lead ships of the Iron Warriors' fleet, tearing them apart in a vicious firestorm. The Loyalists gained the initiative in the battle and managed to repel the Traitors' surprise attack, despite severe losses at the start of the engagement. Launching a counterattack, the Imperial Fists drove off the embattled Traitor fleet and managed to break orbit and manoeuvre to their jump points, to enter the Warp and make for Terra.
- Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V (006.M31) - Noted as one of the most devastating defeats in the history of the Adeptus Astartes, the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V saw the Raven Guard and Salamanders Legions nearly annihilated as effective fighting forces and only the quick thinking and initiative of the Salamanders allowed a bare few Space Marines of these two Legions to escape that dreadful day. In response to the treachery of the Warmaster Horus and his betrayal of the Loyalist Astartes in the Sons of Horus, Emperor's Children, World Eaters and Death Guard Legions at Istvaan III, the Primarch of the Imperial Fists Legion, Rogal Dorn, on the direction of the Emperor who had learned of Horus' actions from the Loyalist survivors aboard the Eisenstein, ordered 7 Loyalist Space Marine Legions to Horus' base on the world of Istvaan V to challenge the Traitors. They would attack in two waves and fall under the supreme command of the Iron Hands' Primarch Ferrus Manus. The Legions comprising the first wave were the Iron Hands, Raven Guard and Salamanders. The Legions comprising the second wave were the Iron Warriors, Alpha Legion, Night Lords, and a large contingent of Word Bearers that their Primarch Lorgar had stationed in the star system. Unknown to Dorn and Ferrus Manus, the Night Lords, Alpha Legion, Iron Warriors and Word Bearers had all turned from their service to the Emperor and secretly pledged their loyalty to Horus, and been instructed to keep their new allegiance to Chaos a secret. The Iron Hands, Salamanders and Raven Guard were deployed in the first wave of the assault. After they secured the drop site, they were to have been followed by the arrival of the other four Legions. The first wave secured the drop site, known as the Urgall Depression, though at a heavy cost. Horus ordered his front line troops to fall back in a feint, tempting Ferrus Manus to overstretch his already thin lines. Against the advice of Corax and Vulkan, Manus led his Veterans against the fleeing Traitor Marines unsupported. Manus then brought his brother Fulgrim to combat. As the two Primarchs drew their weapons, the Raven Guard and Salamanders fell back to regroup and allow the second wave's Legions to advance and earn glory. The secret Traitor Legions mustered in the landing zone, armed and ready for battle, unbloodied and fresh. The Iron Warriors had claimed the highest ground, taking the Loyalist landing site with all the appearance of reinforcing it through the erection of prefabricated plasteel bunkers. Bulk landers dropped the battlefield architecture: dense metal frames fell from the cargo claws of carrier ships at low altitude, and as the platforms crashed and embedded themselves in the ground, the craftsmen-warriors of the IV Legion worked, affixed, bolted and constructed them into hastily-rising firebases. Turrets rose from their protective housing in the hundreds, while hordes of lobotomised Servitors trundled from the holds of Iron Warriors troopships, single-minded in their intent to link with the weapons systems’ interfaces. The Word Bearers bolstered their brother Legions on one flank of the Urgall Depression while the Night Lords took positions on the opposite side. Down the line, past the mounting masses of Iron Warriors battle tanks and assembling Astartes, First Captain Sevatar of the Night Lords and his 1st Company elite, the Atramentar, took up defensive positions. Both the Word Bearers and the Night Lords were to be the anvil, while the Iron Warriors would be the hammer yet to fall. The enemy would stagger back to them, exhausted, clutching empty Bolters and broken blades, believing their presence to be a reprieve. Though the Salamanders and the Raven Guard voxed hails requesting medical aid and re-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. At the same time, the apparent rout of the Sons of Horus, the World Eaters, Death Guard and Emperor's Children suddenly halted and the Traitors pressed their attack. As Horus pressed the counterattack he managed to sandwich the Loyalists between the two Traitor forces, killing most of them. Meanwhile, the Iron Hands were cut off and slaughtered to a man -- the Veteran Morlock Terminators cut down and the Primarch Ferrus Manus beheaded by Fulgrim. The Salamanders and Raven Guard could do nothing to help the Iron Hands, and were forced to make a costly break-out with precious few of their forces. Those Thunderhawk and Stormbird gunships that lifted off and escaped Istvaan V were far fewer than those that had landed. Corax, the Primarch of the Raven Guard, was badly wounded and Vulkan's fate was unknown for some time. The remainder of the Iron Hands' Legion arrived to find their Veterans and Primarch dead and the Salamanders and Raven Guard reduced to a fraction of their full strength, with both Legions nearly wiped out.
- First Siege of Hydra Cordatus (Unknown Date.M31) - Unknown to Captain Cassander, the Imperial Fists officer who had been left in command of the detachment of Space Marines that remained behind on Hydra Cordatus after the Imperial Fists' Expeditionary Fleet left, the Warmaster Horus had fallen to the corrupting influence of Chaos and had instigated a galaxy-wide rebellion in order to overthrow the Imperium of Man and raise himself up as the new Master of Mankind. Shortly after the disastrous events of the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V had played out to their tragic conclusion, the traitorous Iron Warriors Legion saw the opportunity to humble their hated rivals, the Imperial Fists, upon the isolated world of Hydra Cordatus which had only recenntly been brought into Imperial Compliance. When the order came from Rogal Dorn for all of the Imperial Fists to return to Terra to begin overseeing the defence of the Imperial Palace, Captain Cassander had begun preparations to depart immediately, but the sudden death of his vessel's Navigator had left the detachments of the Imperial Fists upon Hydra Cordatus stranded until a replacement could be dispatched. The following day, word of the Warmaster's treachery and the massacre on Istvaan V reached Hydra Cordatus. Pride in an honourable assignment was replaced by frustration and bitter disappointment that the Imperial Fists present on the world could not fight alongside their Battle-Brothers, and could not call Horus to account for his perfidy and punish those who had trampled their oaths of loyalty to the Emperor into the dust. But the chance to make war on the traitorous allies of Horus came soon enough. The Iron Warriors made planetfall in the wake of a saturation bombardment that reduced the valley where the Cadmean Citadel was situated and the agri-settlements filling its fertile deltas to ash. Magma bombs and mass drivers boiled away the rivers and reduced fecund earth to arid dust. The Cadmean Citadel was left untouched, and Cassander still found it difficult to believe that such a precise bombardment was possible. But the Iron Warriors had purposely done this in order to show the Imperial Fists that they were superior to them in every way. The technological cunning of the ancient fortress builders, married to the artfully wrought geography and the courage of the defenders, proceeded to keep the Iron Warriors at bay for almost three months. Every day Cassander’s warriors stayed alive kept the enemy from redeploying and bringing their strength to bear elsewhere against the Loyalists. Yet, when the Iron Warriors finally overcame the citadel’s ancient defences and broke open its walls they would run amok. They would slaughter the remaining Imperial Fists Legionaries, the heroic men and women of Hyrdra Cordatus that had chosen to stand with them, and the refugees from the devastated fields below the fortress. Fifty-two Imperial Fists and thirteen thousand men, women and children were crammed within the citadel’s walls. When the final assault came, the Primarch Perturabo himself spearheaded an audacious attack upon the citadel's defenders, and slaughtered over thirty Imperial Fists Astartes himself in a span of only a few minutes. The rest of the Cadmean Citadel's defenders were slaughtered to a man and the surviving refugees were enslaved by the Iron Warriors before they moved on to their next objective. Hydra Cordatus was reduced to a barren desert world by the Traitor Legion's assault, and after the end of the Heresy was repopulated as an Adeptus Mechanicus research station and as a depository for the Imperial Fists Chapter's gene-seed.
- 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 managed 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 countless 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 apotheosis 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 absorbed his 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 apotheosis, 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.
- Siege of Lesser Damantyne (Unknown Date.M31) - Commanding the 51st Expeditionary Fleet, Warsmith Barabas Dantioch led a large Iron Warriors detachment in bringing the world of Lesser Damantyne into Imperial Compliance. The Warsmith would later be laid low during a massive Hrud infestation on the world of Gholghis which left him prematurely aged and crippled by the attack of those foul xenos. Warsmith Dantioch left the 51st Expedition to garrison the world of Lesser Damantyne, becoming the planner and architect of the superbly fortified Schadenhold fortress. During the many months the small Iron Warriors detachment had garrisoned the planet, they heard disturbing rumours of the galaxy being conquered by the Traitor forces of the Warmaster Horus. Dantioch suspected that the bulk of the IV Legion had willingly joined the Warmaster's cause. When Warsmith Krendl arrived at Lesser Damantyn with the 51st Expeditionary Fleet, he came to the Schadenhold with new orders for the Iron Warriors garrison. They were ordered by their Primarch to prepare for the Traitors' offensive against Terra. Lesser Damantyne would be used as a resupply point for Horus' forces. Dantioch refused to acquiesce to his Primarch's orders for the Iron Warriors on Lesser Damantyne remained Loyalists and would not share in their traitorous brethren's damnation. Krendl vowed to destroy Dantioch's beloved fortress in the name of Horus. Dantioch commanded his meagre forces against the entire might of the 51st Expeditionary Fleet and the 14th Grand Company of the Iron Warriors for 366 standard days, until the Traitors deployed an Imperator-class Titan to destroy the Schadenhold. Just before the fortress fell, Dantioch and the surviving Loyalist Iron Warriors teleported aboard the Traitor's flagship and commandeered it. The Warsmith then set course towards Terra with the aim of helping to fortify and defend the Emperor's Imperial Palace against the forces of the Traitor Legions. Dantioch's ultimate fate remains unrecorded in Imperial records at this time.
- Battle of Terra (014.M31) - As the events of the Horus Heresy neared their tragic conclusion seven years after the fateful betrayal at Istvaan III, those Loyalist Legions not committed to the defence of Terra raced through the Warp, converging on the homeworld of Mankind. The Traitor Legions also massed above Terra to assault the Imperial Palace. The Battle of Terra was the final confrontation of the Horus Heresy that raged on Terra itself between the Forces of Chaos led by the Warmaster Horus and the Loyalist armies of the Imperium of Man led by the Emperor of Mankind himself. The Sons of Perturabo would at long last be able to test themselves against those of Rogal Dorn. The Loyalist forces ultimately proved victorious in their defence of the Imperial Palace, though only just barely, and Horus was ultimately slain by the full psychic powers unleashed by the Emperor on the deck of his massive Battle Barge the Vengeful Spirit, though the Master of Mankind was mortally wounded and had to be interred within the cybernetic life support mechanisms of the advanced psychic augmentation technology known as the Golden Throne. It cannot be known whether Dorn’s masterfully constructed defences would have proved the undoing of the Iron Warriors, for the Warmaster was slain before the matter could be fully determined. The outcome of the Battle of Terra shaped the destiny of humanity for the next 10,000 standard years. The Traitor hosts began their fighting withdrawal, and in the anarchy and confusion Horus’ body was recovered by his Legion from his flagship. Having fought their way clear of the Sol System the IV Legion fled for the Eye of Terror where they eventually established the daemonic Fortress World of Medrengard. Those Iron Warriors that had established their own empire around Olympia prepared themselves for the inevitable assault by the Loyalist Legions. In a reversal of fortune typical of the grim epoch that ushered in the Age of the Imperium, the Imperial Fists were amongst those who laid siege to these Iron Warriors, and while the Traitors were eventually dislodged, it was only after a decade-long campaign that culminated in them detonating their nucleonic stockpiles and reducing Olympia to a blasted waste.
- Battle of the Iron Cage (Unknown Date.M31) - Upon the world of Sebastus IV the traitorous Iron Warriors, bitter archenemies of the Imperial Fists, laid an ingenious trap to ensnare Rogal Dorn and his Legion. Heedless of the inherent danger, the Primarch ordered the Imperial Fists to attack the Iron Warriors' Eternal Fortress -- later referred to as the "Iron Cage" by the surviving Astartes of the VII Legion. The battle should have favoured the treacherous trench-fighters of the Iron Warriors, but the Imperial Fists endured. For all their skill and ferocity, as devotees of Chaos, the Iron Warriors lacked the faith required to make the ultimate sacrifice that victory -- and the Ruinous Powers -- demanded. While they paused, the Ultramarines Legion intervened; Roboute Guilliman had decided that Perturabo's destruction was not worth the loss of Rogal Dorn and had brought his Astartes to drive off the Iron Warriors.
- Scouring of Makenna VII (Unknown Date.M41) - This campaign was conducted by various factions of the Forces of Chaos under the command of the Chaos Lord Davroth of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion. The Forces of Chaos sought to conquer and enslave the Imperial Mining World of Makenna VII. An outcast from the Iron Warriors since his defeat at the Fortress of Ventemar on the Iron Warriors' Daemon World of Medrengard, Warsmith Baldarun sought the means to rebuild his standing, and to do so he sought to take part in the Chaos campaign on Makenna VII. He became the leader of a Renegade Space Marines warband known as Abrial's Claw after swearing an oath of brotherhood to its former Lord, Abrial Shard. In return, Baldarun relinquished the secrets of his beloved technovirus to Shard's men.
- Siege of Vraks (813-830.M41) - The Iron Warriors warband known as the Steel Brethren took part in the Siege of Vraks upon the Imperial world of Vraks Prime, in which the Forces of Chaos, led by the Heretic Cardinal-Astra Xaphan, sought to defend the planet from an assault by the Imperial 88th Siege Army. After 17 standard years of brutal attrition, Vraks Prime's entire original population of 8 million souls had been consumed in the violence or exterminated by the Imperium after they fell to Chaos corruption. The world was then declared Perdita (a Dead World) by the Imperium and placed under an interdiction to cordon it off from the rest of human space as ordered by the Ordo Malleus' Inquisitor Lord Hector Rex.
- Invasion of Ultramar (999.M41) - The Invasion of Ultramar occurred when a large Chaos warband known as the Bloodborn invaded the Ultramarines' Realm of Ultramar, headed by the Iron Warriors Warsmith Honsou and the Daemon Prince M'kar the Reborn, both servants of the Ruinous Powers who had sworn revenge against the Ultramarines for the past wrongs they believed had been done to them. The Chaos invasion occurred roughly concurrently with Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade in 999.M41, though the Bloodborn's invasion was not officially a part of the Black Crusade's forces. Ultimately this quest for vengeance was foiled as Honsou escaped and M'kar was banished back to the Warp by the Ultramarines.
- 13th Black Crusade (999.M41) - The Iron Warriors Traitor Legion deployed in its entirety to take part in Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade against the Imperial Fortress World of Cadia. This resulted in the largest mobilisation of both Imperial and Chaotic forces seen in the Milky Way Galaxy since the Horus Heresy. The Forces of Chaos conquered large portions of Cadia for the first time, but remain trapped on the world by overwhelming Imperial naval superiority in the Cadian Gate.
- Second Siege of Hydra Cordatus (999.M41) - During the 13th Black Crusade a large Iron Warriors warband under the command of Warsmith Barban Falk and supported by a battlegroup of Chaos Titans from the Legio Mortis, including the infamous Imperator-class Titan Dies Irae, attacked the Adeptus Mechanicus Forge World of Hydra Cordatus which supplied weapons and other war materiel to the Imperium of Man at large. Hydra Cordatus was one of the few locations in the galaxy where the Mechanicus secretly stored its tithes of Space Marine gene-seed. Alongside his chief rivals Forrix and Kroeger, of the 1st and 2nd Grand Companies, respectively, Honsou was one of three champions of the Warsmith that laid siege to the large citadel and manufactorum complex known as the Tor Christo. Deep within this formidable Imperial citadel lay the stasis vaults which contained the genetic material drawn from the Iron Warriors' most hated and ancient rivals, the Imperial Fists. The Iron Warriors desperately needed this pure gene-seed to reconstitute their numbers as the corrupting power of Chaos tended to mutate their own gene-seed to the point that it was unusable to replenish their ranks with new Chaos Space Marines. Honsou was often belittled by his fellow Iron Warriors for having mixed gene-seed which consisted of spliced Iron Warriors and Imperial Fists genetic material. He was referred to by his fellows as a "half-breed," due to his gene-seed's mixed heritage. Despite the Imperial forces arrayed against them, including a large garrison of Imperial Guard troops and even a small detachment of Titans of the Legio Ignatum protecting its precious contents, in the end the Iron Warriors emerged triumphant. They defeated the Imperial forces defending Tor Christo as well as an entire company of Imperial Fists whom had arrived as reinforcements to try and prevent the theft of their genetic legacy. Having greatly pleased the Chaos Gods through his monumental victory over the Imperium, the commanding Warsmith of the attack on Hydra Cordatus was allowed to ascend to become a Daemon Prince. Before his final ascension to daemonhood, the Warsmith appointed Honsou as his successor, handing him command over his Grand Company. He then commanded Honsou to take the stolen Imperial Fists gene-seed back to the Iron Warriors' Daemon World of Medrengard within the Eye of Terror. After the Iron Warriors withdrew from Hydra Cordatus they bombarded the remains of the citadel to dust, leaving behind a lone Imperial survivor to tell the tale of what had occurred to his masters.
Within the Iron Warriors Legion Perturabo's word was law. To him there was never any differences between Terran and Olympian; all were his Iron Warriors, grist for the bloody mill of war. Although for many decades the IV Legion had been rigidly dogmatic in its adherence to the patterns set out for the nascent Legion at the start of the Great Crusade, Perturabo's intervention was to write significant and far-ranging changes upon his Legion, but not one that by any means changed it beyond all recognition from what had gone before. This was a process that was swift and thorough as well as entirely done to the Primarch's exacting planning. While informed by the sophisticated martial culture of Olympia of which Perturabo had been a part, it also had its origins in Perturabo's rapacious learning in the time he spent at the Emperor's side and on Terra itself. Here he is known to have devoured much of humanity's known martial traditions and histories, transforming that learning with his own inherent genius and predilections into what would become the template for the Iron Warriors.
The resulting principal strategic building block of the Iron Warriors Legion was the Grand Battalion. This formation, although roughly analogous in organisation role to the Chapters as envisioned in the Principa Belicosa with 1,000 Space Marine Legionaries as its notional strength, also incorporated a very substantial portion of standing armour, artillery and logistical support elements, far beyond that found in other Legions at the same level. Furthermore, allowing for the higher than standard state of attrition in the Iron Warriors Legion, particularly among Initiates in the first years of their service, recruitment and reinforcement into a Grand Battalion in a war zone was continuous, which caused the strength of any given Grand Battalion to fluctuate widely. This was particularly the case in more extreme circumstances where severely depleted Grand Battalions were simply folded into other active units. Documentary evidence exists of particular Grand Battalions operating with as little as 500 Legionaries and as many as 5,000 in extreme cases.
Organisation below the strategic level was highly stratified, but just as equally and pragmatically varied by the demands of the particular operations and deployments, with common divisions rated as Cohorts or Grand Companies (heavily mechanised and reinforced units comprising three to five line companies of Legionaries and their attendant human auxiliary troops, Mechanicum detachments and integrated support structures). Below this were the Line Companies and Armour Centuries, comprising roughly 100 Legionaries or 20-50 armour units, down through sections and individual squads. Whilst across the Legion's Grand Battalions were seeded elements of the Tyranthikos -- the "Dominators" -- a Veteran core of line breakers and assaulters who had each survived a score of desperate and bloody sieges to receive the name, and were the foremost proponents of Terminator Armour within the Legion.
At every level the Iron Warrior Legion was formidably provisioned in arms and wargear, from several thousand operational suits of Tactical Dreadnought Armour of every pattern to munitions reserves estimated to exceed that of several other Legions combined. The technical aptitude of each Iron Warrior was also formidable, furthering the functionality and customisation of their personal panoply of war. In a customarily practical approach, the IV Legion made extensive use of both specialised systems (such as dedicated sections equipped with portable Lascannons for anti-armour warfare and Mark III Power Armour for siege assault units) and patterns selected foremost for reliability and ease of repair for mass deployment and reserve supply on protracted campaigns. Merely aesthetic damage to wargear was deemed irrelevant, and while a Grand Battalion's muster might see rank upon rank of glittering steel presented for their commanding Warsmith's inspection, a war zone's privations would see the Iron Warrior's armour increasingly bloodied, burned and battered over its duration, attended to only to restore functionality until victory was achieved.
Of singular note within the IV Legion was the range, number and diversity of the armoured vehicle and artillery support assets fielded by the Iron Warriors. These were known to include the full breadth of general patterns and designs operated across the Imperium by the Legiones Astartes, with tactical emphasis placed on heavy units such as the Land Raider and super-heavy war machines such as the Typhon, Stormblade and Mastodon. Additionally, the employment of very large numbers of "lesser" classes such as the Rhino, Basilisk and Predator was also common. These the IV Legion largely considered disposable in practice, owing to their capacity to replace these patterns with ease thanks to the Mechanicum manufactoria permanently geared to their production in the Legion's service. In addition, the Iron Warriors were known to operate large numbers of more unusual variant tanks and specialised war machines such as the Cerberus Heavy Tank Destroyer, Whirlwind Scorpius and Thunderstrike tanks. This bias and capacity of construction, alongside the integration of armoured and artillery formations at every level of the IV Legion meant that the Iron Warriors had the largest armoured reserve and ordnance capacity of any of the Legions of the Great Crusade.
A particular example of this was a specialised formation within the IV Legion known as the Stor-Bezashk. In a Legion renowned for the power of its ordnance and its consummate skills in siege warfare, the Stor-Bezashk were the masters of destruction, tasked with the maintenance, construction and use of the deadly siege weapons and singular relics of destruction in the Legion's armoury. The siegemasters of the Stor-Bezashk had command of weapons and war engines unseen outside of the ranks of the Mechanicum's Ordo Reductor and direct battlefield command of the Legion's extensive stockpiles of atomic shells, phosphex reserves and core gravitic munitions, and power of life and death over those Legionaries assigned (often as punishment) to the Destroyer cadre under the siegemasters' control. The Stor-Bezashk served both as a specialised siege breaking force in its own right and, broken into its component parts, as specialised reinforcements for the Legion's Grand Battalions in the field.
Perturabo's ideal for the Iron Warriors can therefore be seen as that of an integrated, disciplined and unstoppable aggressive force. It was one that mastered warfare both in attack as well as defence, but if any single factor could be said to typify the Iron Warriors, it was their calculated savagery. Their bombardments were murderous works of art, precisely configured to overwhelm and to shatter. Their assaults were faultlessly choreographed exercises in armoured tactics and manoeuvre, supported by remorseless infantry advances that did not falter, regardless of the fire and fury with which they were met. When at last, after the storm of firepower and the crushing assault of the tanks, matters came to the bloody press of hand-to-hand were the darkest tempers of the Iron Warriors shown in a hateful ferocity the match of the burning rage of Angron's near-berserk World Eaters or the dolorous blade-work of Lion El'Jonson's Dark Angels. But even this last extreme of violence could be checked as abruptly as the throwing of a switch, such was the inhuman discipline that Perturabo both installed and enforced on pain of death from his Legion.
It is clear that Perturabo saw his Legion not as a collective of individual members but as a cohesive and unified whole. An army whose task was to overwhelm their foes by the most efficient and direct methods of possible, destroy that enemy's ability to resist and, where needed, to exterminate them utterly. Glory and honour belonged to the IV Legion as a whole, not to its rank and file or its individual warriors. More perhaps than any Primarch save Angron, it has been said that no Primarch saw his own Legionaries with so little regard as Perturabo, to him they were a resource to be spent to achieve victory, a resource which did have undeniable value, but a resource to be expended never-the-less.
This thinking was reflected in the structure of the Iron Warriors Legion itself, which was stratified and operated in such a way as to absorb loss and create identity at a strategic, rather than tactical level. The IV Legion itself was both a pioneer and proponent of the accelerated recruitment and creation of the Legiones Astartes, and an Iron Warriors Space Marine Legionary could expect to serve in a myriad of different units and roles, and under a number of differences to the more ritualised formation of many other Legions. Promotion and advancement in the Legion's tanks were a matter in the first part of survival, and in the second of specialisation should a Legionary display particular talents and aptitudes. Mere martial ability was not enough to measure a Legionary's fitness to serve, and each Iron Warrior was required to be an artisan of metal, machine and stone just as they were a line fighter, close-quarter killer and artillerist. In this their Primarch's gene-seed was evidenced and as well as technological aptitude, many Iron Warriors displayed extraordinary skill at rapid data-analysis, comprehension and abstract reasoning, and were likewise psychologically marked by a tendency towards suspicion, distrust and viciousness of temper, even among their own.
While honourific and commendations in general meant little to the Iron Warriors at an individual level, technological skill and the ability to wage warfare in the manner which Perturabo favoured was recognised and rewarded. This was most evident in the rank of Warsmith within the Legion. In Perturabo's Legion, the title of Warsmith grew to largely replace that of Praetor and Lord Commander, and it carried with it much of the role of a traditional Olympian warlord as well as an embodiment of the Iron Warriors' strategic doctrines. A Warsmith was -- as perhaps the title implies -- required to fashion and mould a battlefield to their will, not simply to excel at fighting or indeed leading those who fought. They were expected to have a complete mastery of logistics, siegecraft, ordnance and the cerebral comprehension of war; from planning campaigns of planetary conquest to the rapid calculation of tactical fire zones in a shattered urban ruin. Unlike those of the lower ranks who fought at their command, a Warsmith was an individual in whose hands a battle rested, and the success or failure of the forces under their command was theirs to carry, to the good or ill of their own fate -- Perturabo being renowned as unforgiving of failure.
This system made the Warsmiths a grim, self-possessed, often paranoid and highly independent class of savant-warlords within the IV Legion. It winnowed the weak and the ill-fortuned form their number and left those who remained as the most adept, ruthless and intelligent the Iron Warriors Legion had to offer. The ranks of the Warsmiths, which fluctuated in number and seniority between them, was not clearly defined, leading to rivalries and feuds between them. The majority of Warsmiths commanded Grand Battalions of their own, making up the core of the Legion's strategic command structure, while others had command of specific strategic formations such as the Stor-Bezashk, important garrison posts and splinter Expeditionary Fleets, or held satrapies of Armoury Worlds and other detached commands. Three Warsmiths, granted particular favour by Perturabo, were exalted to a further rank, that of Triarch. These three senior Warsmiths formed the Trident, who nominally served as their Primarch's council of advisors, but more commonly served to convey his will and direct orders to those below them. Such proximity to the IV Legion's increasingly dark-hearted master, in particularly in later years, is reputed to have held dangers of its own.
At the time of the outbreak of the Horus Heresy, the Iron Warriors Legion is estimated to have had an active strength of between 150,000 and 180,000 Astartes, along with a very substantial war fleet of over a hundred capital class vessels. More accurate assessment than this is, however, impossible given the considerable portion of sub-deployments and garrisons that were maintained by the IV Legion scattered across the Imperium and its increasingly isolationist tendencies in the years before the civil war. It is believed that the Legion had further accelerated its indoctrination and recruiting program, as well as local shipbuilding at Olympia in the lead-up to the rebellion, and so the lower division of these estimates may indeed be erroneous.
Further to this the Legion, according to evidence uncovered later, appears to have increased in ties to certain factions of the Mechanicum and the Legio Cybernetica in particular during this period, and is believed to have begun to shelter some Renegade or outcast elements of the Machine Cult under Perturabo's protection. It is also known to have raised up from the ashes of Olympia a fanatically loyal and highly trained human auxiliary force, the Thorakara, as a tool of oppression and client army in its own right to serve the IV Legion. These measures can now be seen as the beginning of the bloody Empire of Iron, centred on damned Olympia, that was to take root in the years that followed of rebellion and civil war.
So it was that, rotting from within with loathing and bitter spite, the iron facade the IV Legion presented to the Imperium and the extent of how rapidly and how deeply it had descended into homicidal madness until at last it was called on to help in the punishment of the rebellious Warmaster Horus at Istvaan V, and the dark truth of its true allegiance was revealed.
Specialist Ranks and Formations
- The Trident - The Trident was composed of three exalted Warsmiths of the IV Legion known as the Triarchs who attended Perturabo as his personal advisors. The Trident existed outside the rest of the IV Legion's regular command structure. Together the Trident functioned as the soul of the Iron Warriors, supporting their Primarch and steering theIV Legion's temperament and decisions. Only those Warsmiths who possessed the necessary qualities of strength and charisma were ever allowed to serve at their Primarch's side. The Lord of Iron expected nothing less than the most extreme discipline and loyalty from his Triarchs, but most of all he expected an unbending obedience to the orders he gave. Each blade of the Trident was as solid and unbending as the hand that wielded it.
- Triarch - An honourary rank reserved only for each of the three exalted Warsmiths who composed the IV Legion's advisory Trident.
- Warsmith - The title of Warsmith was an honourary rank held by the senior Astartes Captains who commanded the IV Legion's Grand Battalions. It was granted for exceptional skill and valour in carrying out the Legion's assaults and gave its bearer command over several of the IV Legion's companies, which were combined into the larger unit known as a Grand Battalion. After the end of the Horus Heresy, the title would later be the name given to the Chaos Lord who commanded each of the Iron Warriors' myriad warbands of Chaos Space Marines.
- Honourable - An honourary rank held by the esteemed member of the Iron Warriors that conducted the meetings of the Dodekatheon.
- Tyranthikos - The Tyranthikos or "Dominators" were a Veteran core of line breakers and assaulters who had each survived a score of desperate and bloody sieges to receive the name, and were the foremost proponents of Terminator Armour within the Legion. They were seeded throughout the ranks of the Grand Battalions.
- Iron Circle - Formed in the wake of the attack aboard Perturabo's flagship, the Iron Blood, during the Battle of Phall, the Iron Circle was a self-sustaining unit of implacable killers, devoted servants and incorruptible praetorians all in one. The Iron Circle was composed of six Colossus-class battle robots who served as the Primarch Perturabo's Shield Breakers and personal Honour Guard during the Horus Heresy. Each automaton bore the heraldry of a IV Legion warrior, and their cold machine hearts were loyal in the way it was only a possible for an unthinking machine to be.
- Stor-Bezashk - The Stor-Bezashk were the siege masters of the Iron Warriors Legion, a host of ordnance and heavy artillery specialists who commanded firepower like no other. The Stor-Bezashk were also high explosive ordnance experts and were responsible for crafting the necessary earth-breaching charges used by the Iron Warriors' massive siege-works once the most functional and desirable location for the breach in the enemy's defences had been identified.
- Pneumachina - The Tech-priests of the Mechanicum that attended the Iron Warriors Legion were known as the Pneumachina and crafted hybrid machines fashioned from the wreckage of damaged vehicles and strange machinery torn from the citadels of conquered foes. The Pneumachina constantly worked with feverish intensity in their sealed forges, crafting ever-more lethal machines, some blatant in their purpose, but others less obvious. They also performed most of the laborious functions required for the construction of citadels on newly conquered worlds as well as general repair and maintenance functions for the IV Legion as a whole.
- Selucid Thorakite - The Selucid Thorakite was composed of Imperial Army regiments raised from natural-born, mortal Olympian soldiers who had joined with the Iron Warriors in the genocide of their homeworld in the days just before the IV Legion went over to the cause of Horus. The Thorakitai were grim-faced men and women who wore faded khaki, scaled breastplates and combat helms fashioned in the image of the helms used as part of the Astartes' suits of Mark IV Power Armour.
The Brethren of the Iron Warriors
There existed in the ranks of the Iron Warriors a series of long-standing warrior societies that existed outside of the Legion's military order and command structure, and which seldom became known to outsiders. By some accounts these were so firmly entrenched that they resisted the outside and corrosive influence of Horus' Warrior Lodges, and by other accounts became the vector of the IV Legion's corruption. These warrior societies included the following:
- Dodekatheon - The Dodekatheon, also known as the Brethren of Stone, was the oldest, most numerous and influential of the warrior societies of the IV Legion. The Brethren of Stone was an order of masons and strategists whose origins predated the Legion's connection to Perturabo and Olympia. Originating first as a tactical symposium in the style of the Warcaste Metistaad culture of Terra, it focused on siege craft as well as the field of military architecture. Upon Perturabo's re-joining with the IV Legion, the Primarch massively expanded the organisation, renaming it as the Dodekatheon after the cultural and political traditions of Olympia. The Olympian Dodekatheon was a cyclical gathering of the twelve greatest Tyrant households of Olympia for the purposes of resolving disputes and forging allegiances. It also featured extensive wargames and tournaments between the households present, and the matter of artisans and warriors, who would show off their skills either to the glory of their patrons or in the hopes of employment. The Legion's Dodekatheon took on these trappings, becoming over time a venue of contest and exchange for its foremost warriors, officers, builders and strategists -- met without rank and on equal footing -- to test their mettle and further their learning. It was where its members fought and re-fought bloodless wars in simulation, unveiled new designs, poured over battle reports and military intelligence, and vied for position and the respect of their peers and their Primarch. Although Perturabo enforced rigid discipline in his Legion and would countenance no disruption due to vendetta, the Dodekatheon served as a well-spring of value for the Legion's internal rivalries as much as an academy of war. In theory the Dodekatheon was open to all Iron Warriors, but in practice only those who had distinguished themselves in war attended, others did not, rather than risk offending their Primarch.
- Apolakreon - The Apolakreon, known as the Brethren of Steel, was a smaller shadow organisation which operated in many ways as a division of the larger Dodekatheon; the Apolakreon's particular focus was on machine-craft; Battle-automata, both in their construction and maintenance, and their employment in war. It existed in an uneasy alliance with the Mechanicum, save those Tech-priests who had long-served the Iron Warriors directly and was viewed with particular suspicion by elements of the Legio Cybernetica, who saw it not as a kindred group, but rather a rival to their monopoly on the arcane knowledge they held.
- Kheledakos - The Kheledakos, known as the Brethren of Cold, owed its origins to the aftermath of the IV Legion's early campaigns under Perturabo, the Kheledakos, although led and commanded by Astartes, also encompassed the senior officers and Mechanicum magi, engineers and shipwrights who maintained and crewed the Legion's warships. Its base of operations was the Black Citadel, Olympia's principal and most heavily fortified orbital shipyard, and void warfare and the construction and design of warships and assault craft were its obsession.
- Lyssatra - The Lyssatra, known as the Brethren of Thunder, were the most obscure and cult-like of the Legion's warrior societies, and were disparagingly known within the IV Legion as the "burned men." It was something of a pariah group whose members contained some of the Legion's more unhinged and war-brutalised gun-crafters, weaponsmiths and ordnancers. Their obsession was creating destruction and devastation, far beyond what even the rest of the Legion generally considered sane or practical, and were darkly rumoured to have had truck with strange occult ideology and xeno-technology in secret long before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy.
The Iron Warriors Legion of the 41st Millennium is organised into a number of large warbands known as Grand Companies, each commanded by a Chaos Lord who bears the title of Warsmith. Originally each Grand Company would have been similar in size and organisation, totaling approximately a thousand Space Marines, but now they vary in size enormously after ten millennia of battle and losses. The Warsmiths themselves are all extremely gifted in combat engineering, many maintaining a large contingent of slave-mechanicians to perform the more menial work.
It is uncertain how many Grand Companies there are at any given time. At the time of the Horus Heresy, the IV Legion had an added layer of organisation known as a Grand Battalion, which contained several Grand Companies and was commanded by a senior Astartes Captain who bore the honourary rank of Warsmith. At the time of the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V there were at least twelve Grand Battalions in the IV Legion, although with the widespread deployment of many garrison forces in that era, it is impossible to be sure.
Like many of the Traitor Legions of Chaos Space Marines, the Iron Warriors' current organisation is completely non-standard. A Grand Company will often be divided into component detachments led by lesser Chaos Champions. There is a tendency to operate in multiples of three. Suitable recruits are taken (willingly and unwillingly) to Medrengard where they are selected periodically by various Warsmiths for their Grand Company and subjected to ordeals until they prove themselves worthy of being implanted with the Legion's Chaos-corrupted gene-seed.
Olympia was, before the time of the Great Crusade, a rugged and mountainous world, its population concentrated within a multitude of city-states. The ready availability of quarried stone and the terrain made the control of strategic passes and high ground the key to military security.
Olympia was destroyed shortly after the end of the Horus Heresy by its Iron Warriors garrison, and like the other Traitor Legions, the Iron Warriors seized a planet within the Eye of Terror to make into their new homeworld. Knowledge of the worlds within the Eye of Terror is scant at best and the realm of Chaos rarely stays the same for long. The Iron Warriors' homeworld, Medrengard, is frequently depicted as a world with a black sun and a white sky, its surface turned into a vast fortress, all trace of its original form lost under mountains of impossibly high towers, its core penetrated by plunging dungeons. Medrengard has been described as a bleak jail world where slaves toil endlessly for the glory of Perturabo. Great Chaos warships are tethered to the tallest fortress towers, wherein reside the Iron Warriors themselves.
Legion Combat Doctrine
The Iron Warriors follow a simple method. They commence battle with a sustained artillery bombardment, utilizing every weapon at their disposal. The basis of this is a complex fire plan in which every weapon is directed with utmost care at the optimum target, for maximum effect. Where possible, the Iron Warriors will coordinate with Traitor Titan Legions to add to their own considerable firepower. This emphasis on artillery and mechanized warfare means that Iron Warrior forces often fare best in siege warfare and armored advances on enemy territory.
Where possible, field fortifications will be used. Iron Warrior doctrine includes extensive use of fortifications to occupy the maximum number of opponents while using the absolute minimum number of troops. This in turn keeps the bulk of the Iron Warriors Marines fresh and available for assaults, and allows them to achieve superiority elsewhere.
When an Iron Warriors force launches a planetary assault, they begin with an intense orbital bombardment (be it nuclear, plasma, viral or chemical) which could pressure the enemy into surrender without a single Iron Warrior having to land on the surface.
However, stronger, well-defended worlds are unlikely to surrender so readily. If the planetary bombardment is indecisive, a landing force will be launched from the Iron Warriors' fleet. The first wave of atmospheric fighters, gunships, and bomber craft will saturate landing zones and launch raids on enemy bases and supply lines. All efforts are made to demoralize and weaken the enemy to the point of destruction before any troops are landed. Sometimes, however, this hammer-blow approach is unsuitable and instead the Iron Warriors will resort to covert insertion of select Iron Warriors on-world to scout and secure a landing zone in a surprise assault, preferably while also eliminating as much of the enemy's defensive capability as possible.
Once the first wave has caused sufficient damage to enemy defenses (or secured a suitable landing area), a second wave is launched. This consists of construction craft, heavy transports and bulk freighters, carrying supplies, prefabricated fortifications, heavy machinery and construction personnel to the surface. The heavy craft used in this wave are large, well-armored and equipped with formidable defensive weaponry, but still require support in the form of escort flyers from the first wave.
Upon landing, the second wave will compound the damage caused by the orbital bombardment and bomber attacks with a secondary artillery barrage, scattering any enemy forces trying to mount a defensive effort in the area. The larger transport and freighter ships land first, their crews immediately disembarking and beginning the construction of walled trenches, bunkers, living quarters and artillery positions, the latter of which are then filled by the massive weapons brought in by the artillery ships. Selected Iron Warriors with incredible logistic skills will direct this complex and dangerous operation. By the time the third wave is launched, the landing zones will be a dense midden of fully-stocked fortifications.
The third wave is made up entirely of troop transports and orbit-to-ground drop pods. The troops deployed will consist of several hundred Iron Warriors Chaos Space Marines backed up by a vastly greater number of lesser troops. Iron Warriors armour will also be deployed at this time. Having occupied the newly-built ground fortifications, the commanders will proceed to plan out the destruction of the remaining enemy forces. Over a period of time ranging from months to mere hours, this formidable Iron Warriors incursion will then engage in a series of lightning-fast strikes, armored advances and carefully-laid sieges, until no enemy resistance remains.
Siege warfare follows a very simple but effective set of general tactics. When a breach has been forced in the enemy defences it will initially be probed by veterans and infiltrated, then the gap will be pried open with firepower until a storming force can be unleashed. These storming forces are based around fast-moving heavy armor which can move instantly from relentless barrage to lightning-fast advance. Breaches are then widened until the defenses are shattered. For the key moments in battle when a position absolutely must be taken, the Iron Warriors adopt an ice-cold ferocity that is comparable to that displayed by the Blood Angels or the World Eaters, but only when the moment is right and never for longer than necessary.
In combat, Iron Warriors are terrifyingly adept at both ballistic warfare and close-range melee bloodshed, and use a mixture of the two to slaughter opponents in vast numbers. The typical Iron Warrior is armed with a powerful bolter, plasma gun or other such ranged weapon, as well as a close-combat Power Blade or chainsword.
The Iron Warriors have a special association with the Obliterator cult. They have extensive access to the hulking combination of armor, weapons, and Marines, more so than any other Traitor Legion, and the first observance of Obliterators was among the Iron Warriors.
The Iron Warriors are expert sappers, engineers and miners and have acquired a formidable siege train of specialist equipment over the centuries. This includes Termite tunnelers, a Leviathan transport, Dreadclaw assault boats adapted for planetary landings and a large assortment of Imperial-built artillery. These are used very sparingly and are maintained and guarded by the Iron Warriors' 1st Company. Additionally they have a number of Corvus assault pods which allow them to make use of any supporting Traitor Titans as siege towers. The Iron Warriors are so frequently supported by Traitor Titans that some Imperial experts have asserted that they are part of the same formation.
The Iron Warriors are resolute in their beliefs that the Emperor thoroughly used their Legion to fight the bloodiest and most brutal battles of the "Great Crusade," then he let the other, more favoured Primarchs take all the glory, whilst they remained behind to garrison the newly conquered worlds and fade into obscurity. They also believe that the Imperial Fists Primarch Rogal Dorn incited the people of their homeworld Olympia against them, disgracing them further and having them discarded after they had served their purpose. They have sworn to enact their vengeance upon both.
They see themselves as titans of ancient Terran legends; running amok in the universe, reaving and pillaging, knowing that no natural or man-made law can stop them. Though they honour the Ruinous Powers as a pantheon they are not truly devout themselves. Their greatest loyalty remains to Perturabo whom they believe saved them from being sacrificed upon the altar of lies of the false emperor.
Since turning to Chaos, the Iron Warriors have been subject to varying degrees of mutation and have been known to replace mutated limbs with cybernetic ones. The Iron Warriors' gene-seed produced a marked tendency towards suspicion and paranoia within the Astartes of the IV Legion but also was known to create Space Marines who were extremely intelligent and possessed naturally well-developed problem-solving abilities.
Like many of the other Traitor Legions, the Iron Warriors steal the gene-seed of Loyalist Astartes whenever possible since their own gene-seed is now too corrupted by exposure to the Warp to successfully produce new Astartes from human stock. However, they do this only begrudgingly. Within the Legion, any new Iron Warriors created through the use of non-iron Warriors gene-seed is regarded as a "half-breed." Reviled and hated by their supposed Battle-Brothers, half-breeds are seen as a necessity for the Legion's continued existence, but are not considered true Iron Warriors by the IV Legion's ancient veterans who fought beside Perturabo during the Horus Heresy. While it is not impossible for a half-breed to rise in rank or prestige, it is extremely difficult, as all but a few of his surrounding brothers will hold some measure of resentment against him. One exception to this general rule was the Warsmith Honsou, who rose from half-breed stock tainted by the gene-seed of the Iron Warriors' ancient foes, the Imperial Fists, to become one of the greatest Chaos Lords of the Legion.
Legion Battle Cry
A monotone chant of "Iron Within, Iron Without!" is repeated during the beginning of combat operations by the Iron Warriors. Saying "Iron Within" to elicit the response "Iron Without" is sometimes used by the Iron Warriors to identify each other, especially in confused combat, such as that in tunnels or during combined operations with other Chaotic forces. The chant is also used as a demoralizing chant for the enemy and a rallying chant for the Legion's troops, whether they are Chaos Space Marines, Traitor Guardsmen, Chaos Cultists or Traitor Titan crews.
The Iron Warriors are known to have possessed the following vessels within their Legion fleet:
- Iron Blood (Gloriana-class Battleship) - A formidable vessel built within Olympia's orbital fleet yards, it served as Perturabo's flagship during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras.
- Deathwind (Battle Barge)
- Contrador (Legate-class Battle Barge) - The Contrador served during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras as the flagship of the IV Legion. The vessel was present at the Battle of Phall during the opening days of the Horus Heresy.
- Benthos (Grand Cruiser) - Served as the flagship for the Iron Warriors 14th Grand Company during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy.
- Calibos (Grand Cruiser) - Destroyed at the Battle of Phall during the opening days of the Horus Heresy.
- Dominator (Grand Cruisder) - Served during the Great Crusade; instrumental in breaking the xenos lines above the world of Calyx. Destroyed at the Battle of Phall during the opening days of the Horus Heresy.
- Stheno (Grand Cruiser) - Destroyed at the Battle of Phall during the opening days of the Horus Heresy.
- Ferrous Malice (Grand Cruiser)
- Tyche's Lament (Unknown Class) - Flagship of Warsmith Kyr Vhalen and his 77th Grand Battalion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras.
- Indomitable (Ramilies-class Star Fort)
Notable Iron Warriors
- Perturabo - Perturabo is the Primarch of the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion. He and his IV Legion of Astartes sided with Chaos during the Horus Heresy and he has since ascended to become a Daemon Prince of Chaos Undivided. He, like his Iron Warriors, has a natural affinity towards the intensive use of technology in combat and a cold, emotionless logic when dealing with others, but he lacked the strength of faith in either the Emperor of Mankind or the Chaos Gods to whom he later swore his soul which was common amongst most of the other Primarchs, Traitor and Loyalist alike. Perturabo's greatest foe was Rogal Dorn, the Primarch of the Imperial Fists Legion, and it was this simmering rivalry that helped lead Perturabo and his Legion to the service of the Dark Gods.
- Warsmith Forrix, "The Breaker" (Deceased) - Forrix, known as "The Breaker," was an Iron Warriors Warsmith, First Captain of the 1st Grand Battalion and a member of Perturabo's inner circle of advisors known as the Trident. He was a formidable warrior and Imperial hero during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. It was Warsmith Forrix's primary responsibility for planning the Iron Warriors' attack on the marooned Imperial Fists' Retribution Fleet during the Battle of Phall. At the conclusion of the Horus Heresy, it would be Forrix who led the retreat of the Iron Warriors Legion following their disastrous defeat at the Battle of Terra. Ten millennia later, Forrix had become disillusioned and jaded from the constant fighting of the Long War and was deemed an unworthy successor to the Iron Warrior Chaos Lord Barban Falk, "The Warsmith". Forrix met his ultimate fate while fighting in the 13th Black Crusade during the siege of Hydra Cordatus, where he was killed by an Imperial Warhound-class Titan.
- Warsmith Berrosus (Deceased) - Berrosus was an Iron Warriors Warsmith of the 2nd Grand Battalion. During the Battle of Phall he had the misfortune of bringing ill-favoured news to Perturabo, whose volatile moods had steadily worsened since the slaughters of Istvaan V. He had hoped his position as a Warsmith would keep him from harm, but it was to be a fool's hope, for Perturabo's rages fell on high kings and holy fools alike. On the orders of his Primarch, Berossus was eventually encased within the shell of a Chaos Dreadnought to be tormented across the centuries. In the late 41st Millennium, on the Daemon World of Medrengard, Berrosus and his fellow Warsmith Toramino were angered over Warsmith Honsou's refusal to share the Imperial Fists gene-seed that was stolen from Hydra Cordatus during the 13th Black Crusade, and so declared war against him. The aggressive Berrosus had his Grand Company lay siege to Honsou's citadel, and though losses proved high (one thousand Astartes) he succeeded in breaching the citadel's walls. Facing Honsou in close-combat, Berrosus nearly killed Honsou with a siege drill. Unfortunately, victory was torn from his grasp when Honsou's life was saved by his daemonic life-ward Onyx, who managed to breech Berrosus' Dreadnought carapace. Honsou then reached inside the Dreadnought shell and ripped out its Mind Impulse Unit and pulped Berrosus' head before all to see. Berrosus' warband then defected to the service of Honsou shortly thereafter.
- Warsmith Barabas Dantioch - Warsmith Barabas Dantioch once commanded the 51st Expeditionary Fleet of the Iron Warriors Legion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. He was the favoured son of Perturabo due to his supreme tactical acumen and skill at building formidable fortifications. He had been laid low during a massive Hrud infestation on the world of Gholghis. Dantioch had been left prematurely aged and crippled by the attack of the xenos. After the incident, he chose to wear no helmet, for his face and skull were enclosed within an iron mask he had crafted. The faceplate was a work of brutal beauty, an interpretation of the Legion’s badge, the very same iron mask symbol that adorned his shoulder. It was whispered that Dantioch had worn the mask immediately after he pulled it glowing from the forge, the better to hammer it into shape around his shaven skull. He then plunged head and iron mask alike into ice water, fixing the beaten metal in place forever around his equally grim features. Dantioch left the 51st Expedition to garrison the world of Lesser Damantyne, becoming the planner and architect of the superbly fortified Schadenhold fortress. After the triple disasters of Gholghis, Stratopolae and Krak Fiorina the name of Dantioch and his legacy was utterly expunged; his name a byword for failure on an epic scale. During the many months the small Iron Warriors detachment had garrisoned the planet, they heard disturbing rumours of the galaxy being conquered by the forces of the Warmaster Horus. Dantioch suspected that the bulk of the IV Legion had willingly joined the Warmaster's cause. When Warsmith Krendl arrived at Lesser Damantyne with the 51st Expeditionary Fleet, he came to the Schadenhold with new orders for the Iron Warriors garrison. They were ordered by their Primarch to prepare for the Traitors' offensive against Terra. Lesser Damantyne would be used as a resupply point for Horus' forces. Dantioch refused to acquiesce to his Primarch's orders for the Iron Warriors on Lesser Damantyne remained Loyalists and would not share in their traitorous brethren's damnation. Krendl vowed to destroy Dantioch's beloved fortress in the name of Horus. Dantioch commanded his meagre forces against the entire might of the 51st Expeditionary Fleet and the 14th Grand Company of the Iron Warriors for 366 standard days, until the Traitors deployed an Imperator-class Titan to destroy the Schadenhold. Just before the fortress fell, Dantioch and the surviving Loyalist Iron Warriors teleported aboard the Traitor's flagship and commandeered it. The Warsmith then set course towards Terra with the aim of helping to fortify and defend the Emperor's Imperial Palace against the forces of the Traitor Legions. Dantioch's ultimate fate remains unrecorded in Imperial records at this time.
- Warsmith Kroeger (Deceased) - Kroeger was an Iron Warriors Warsmith of the 23rd Grand Battalion and a member of Perturabo's inner circle of advisors known as the Trident during the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. Originally, he served as a simple line warrior; a plain-speaking, bloody-handed brawler who excelled at assault actions. During the campaign against the Cadmean Citadel upon the Imperial Fists-controlled world of Hydra Cordatus, by the direct command of his Warsmith, he spearheaded an ill-advised assault against the formidable fortress. He was the lone survivor of the disastrous assault and was grievously wounded by the superior numbers of Imperial Fists Legionaries, and was only saved by the timely intervention of Perturabo and his Iron Circle of robotic praetorians. Recognising the warrior's raw talent and lack of ambition for glory's sake, Perturabo made Kroeger the new Warsmith of the 23rd Grand Battalion and a member of his inner circle of advisors known as the Trident. Ten millennia later, Kroeger would meet his ultimate fate, once again, upon the world of Hydra Crodatus during the 13th Black Crusade. By this time, Kroeger had given into his violent tendencies and had become a borderline berserker, though he was unlike the blood-crazed fiends of the World Eaters, as he seemed able to control his fury. He was killed during this campaign; his own Power Armour (possessed by a Lesser Daemon) decided to "bond" with a new owner, a former Imperial Guard Captain named Larana Utorian, who was Kroeger's personal slave. She donned her former master's armour and became fully possessed by the daemonic entity and subsequently killed Kroeger.
- Warsmith Harkor - Harkor was a former Iron Warriors Warsmith of the 23rd Grand Battalion and a member of Perturabo's inner circle of advisors known as the Trident during the Great Crusade and the opening days of the Horus Heresy. Warsmith Harkor was an Olympian of the old ways, a warrior who knew the value of occasionally strengthening the mettle of his subordinates by plunging them into the fire and beating them upon the anvil of war. During the campaign against the Iron Warriors' hated rivals upon the Imperial Fists-controlled world of Hydra Cordatus during the Horus Heresy, Harkor overstepped his authority and ordered an escalade against his Primarch's orders. Though the Iron Warriors were victorious, Perturabo was furious with Harkor. Since Istvaan V, Perturabo had become a giant of terrible rages and spontaneous violence, and Harkor had gambled that his humbling of Dorn’s sons would quench that molten anger. He was wrong, as the Primarch formally rebuked him for countermanding his direct orders and devising stratagems of his own. Perturabo disapproved of having his warriors' lives wasted while Harkor watched from the relative safety of a gun battery. The Lord of Iron stripped the former Triarch of his armour and all rank. He was made a simple line warrior of the fighting ranks within the 23rd Grand Battalion. A lone surviving warrior of Harkor's ill-advised assault named Kroeger, was chosen by the Primarch to become the new Warsmith of the 23rd Grand Battalion and the third blade of his Trident.
- Warsmith Soltarn Vull Bronn, "The Stonewrought" - Vull Bronn, known as "The Stonewrought," was a warrior of the 45th Grand Battalion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy, whose understanding of stone was such that some whispered it spoke to him, confiding its secrets and opening up its geological wonders to the touch of his entrenching tool. Perturabo, ever quick to recognise raw talent, favoured Vull Bronn as an adviser, despite the inferiority of his rank next to the three exalted Warsmiths of the Trident who normally attended upon him.
- Warmsith Barban Falk, "The Warsmith" - Barban Falk was a Warsmith of the Iron Warriors 235th Grand Battalion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy and later became a member of Perturabo's inner circle of advisors known as the Trident. During the Horus Heresy, Falk and his fellow Iron Warriors undertook a mutual quest with their brother Legion, the Emperor's Children, into the Eye of Terror to discover the lost Chaos artefact known as the Angel Exterminatus. Upon the Eldar Crone World of Amon ny-shak Kaelis, Falk was contacted by a mysterious daemonic entity which enabled him to utilise the Warp entity's formidable power to command the Iron Warriors under his command. After escaping from the Eldar world, he no longer referred to himself as Barban Falk, and forever after was known simply as "The Warsmith." Millennia later in 999.M41, The Warsmith, now a formidable Chaos Lord, led a large Iron Warriors warband during the 13th Black Crusade to the Imperial world of Hydra Cordatus. The lone Imperial citadel they assaulted secretly housed a large cryo-storage unit containing samples of the Imperial Fists Chapter's gene-seed. The Warsmith, having greatly pleased the Chaos Gods through his victory, was granted his final apotheosis into a daemon and departed for the Eye of Terror. Before his final ascension as a new Daemon Prince, he gave command of his warband to his chosen champion Honsou, who would take the stolen Imperial Fists gene-seed back to the Iron Warriors' Daemon World of Medrengard within the Eye. After the Forces of Chaos withdrew from Hydra Cordatus, they bombarded the remains of the citadel to dust, leaving only a single survivor to bring word of the disaster to the Imperium.
- Warsmith Honsou, "The Half-Breed"- Honsou, known as the "half-breed," was the leading Iron Warriors Warsmith at the end of the 41st Millennium. He first came to prominence during the iron Warriors' assault on the Adeptus Mechanicus fortress on the world of Hydra Cordatus that housed a large cryo-storage unit containing samples of the Imperial Fists Chapter's gene-seed. At this point, Honsou was the captain of one-third of Barban Falk´s Grand Company. Honsou had managed to claw his way to that position despite heavy prejudice from other Iron Warriors for being a 'half-breed'; when he had been transformed into a Chaos Space Marine, Honsou's gene-seed had been "tainted" through the use of captured genetic material from the hated Imperial Fists, the Iron Warriors' most hated and ancient foe. Despite his fellows' prejudice, his abilities and tenaciousness helped him succeed in capturing the gene-seed held in stasis on Hydra Cordatus. With this victory, Honsou's Warsmith successfully ascended to daemonhood and appointed Honsou (the only surviving captain) as his successor. The newly appointed Warsmith Honsou returned to the Iron Warriors' Daemon World of Medrengard in triumph but snubbed two of his fellow Warsmiths when he decided to renege on their agreed upon promise of sharing the gene-seed captured at Hydra Cordatus so that all the Iron Warriors Grand Companies could create new Astartes. This decision lead to a civil war within the Iron Warriors' ranks. The two rival Warsmiths and their Grand Companies laid siege to Honsou's citadel of Khalan-Ghol and eventually breached it. Honsou was nearly killed by the Warsmith Berrosus but was saved by his life-ward and killed the Dreadnought Warsmith. Yet, the war continued and eventually most of Honsou's forces had been smashed by other Warsmiths seeking to claim the unspoiled gene-seed and their armies in their internecine warring that spread across Medrengard. Honsou eventually found himself within the Maelstrom on the world of New Badab during the Skull Harvest, an annual event hosted by the despicable Chaos Lord Huron Blackheart. Rival Chaos Lords brought their warbands to New Badab and fought one another during the Skull Harvest. When a Chaos Lord is slain, the victor acquires their opponent's warband. Honsou took the opportunity to take part in the harvest. Eventually he emerges on top as the victor, and his army swells into the tens of thousands. With his army assembled, Honsou was finally ready to unleash his audacious plan for revenge against Captain Uriel Ventris and the hated Ultramarines by completely destroying the Realm of Ultramar. He would enact this plan with the help of the Daemon Prince M'kar the Reborn, who had once been Maloq Kartho, a Dark Apostle of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion during the Horus Heresy. But ultimately, Honsou's plans to invade Ultramar were thwarted and the Iron Warriors were routed back to Medrengard while M'kar was banished to the Warp.
- Warsmith Kolvax (Deceased) - Kolvax was the commander of a Grand Company based in the mighty fortress known as the Ironblood Citadel on Medrengard, a superb fortification that was the epitome of the Iron Warriors' ingenuity and engineering genius. The Ironblood Citadel was said to rival Perturabo's own citadel on Medrengard. Kolvax and his warband were based on the ancient Fortress World of Forgefane during the invasion of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Leviathan. Kolvax was slain by a Trygon that he had arrogantly boasted that he would defeat in single combat. Instead, he was swallowed whole by the beast.
- Warsmith Koros - Koros is a Warsmith of the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion and is said to be a veteran of one thousand and one sieges. As such he is a master of attacking and defending every manner of citadel. He is also a veteran of the terrible ancient campaign known as the Iron Cage, and one of the Daemon Primarch Perturabo’s lieutenants, having proved himself worthy of command of one of the Iron Bastions on Medrengard, the Daemon World which is home to his Legion. Koros was dispatched to the Jericho Reach in order to oversee the fortification of numerous worlds near the Hadex Anomaly, and to lend his assistance to the Forces of Chaos in the planning of a grand counter-strike against the forces of the Imperium. What price the various factions opposing the Imperium have agreed to pay in return for the Iron Warriors’ aid is not known, but it must certainly be high. Warsmith Koros is known to be in league with the corrupted Dark Mechanicus of the heretic Forge World of Samech, who have equipped him and his forces with numerous items of tech-heresy, some of which was undoubtedly constructed according to his own specifications. It is now suspected by several within the Watch Fortress Erioch's Chamber of Vigilance that Warsmith Koros and the Dark Mechanicus of Samech have entered into an unholy alliance, the only result of which can be the creation of a new generation of previously unseen and abominably powerful weaponry. Armed with the twisted fruits of such a dark union, the servants of the Ruinous Powers might finally be able to break the deadlock that has befallen the Acheros Salient of the Achilus Crusade, and begin to push the lapdogs of the Corpse Emperor back to the Well of Night, finally expelling them from the Jericho Reach.
- Warsmith Toramino - Toramino was a Warsmith of the Iron Warriors and the leader of the Stor-bezashk, the IV Legion's masters of ordnance and siege breaking during the era of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. By the 41st Millennium, he had become one of the Iron Warriors' most powerful surviving Warsmiths. He was the ruler of an ancient and mighty fortress on the Iron Warriors' daemonic homeworld of Medrengard. When the Warsmith Honsou was successful in obtaining a large stock of gene-seed from the hated Imperial Fists on the world of Hydra Cordatus, Toramino and his Grand Company wanted their promised share of the precious genetic material required to swell their numbers. When Honsou reneged on the deal and kept all of the gene-seed for his own Grand Company, Toramino declared war against his wayward comrade. Toramino and his fellow Warsmith Berrosus brought their armies to lay siege to Honsous's fortress of Khalan-Ghol. Toramino allowed the more aggressive Berrosus and his Grand Company take the brunt of the fighting. Berrosus' army breached the walls of Khalan-Ghol and the Chaos Dreadnought Warsmith nearly succeeded in killing Honsou. But Honsou's daemonic life-ward breeched Berrosus' Dreadnought carapace and Honsou proceeded to kill Berrosus' vulnerable organic components. Toramino then decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and fled for his life. But civil war continued to engulf Medrengard.
- Warsmith Khr Vhalen - Warsmith of the Iron Warriors 77th Grand Battalion during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy, Khr Vhalen was a name of relative obscurity before the events of the Great Betrayal was to thrust upon him the mantle of greatness. He was neither Terran nor Olympian by birth, having been recruited as an adolescent from the formerly xenos-enslaved world of Meru at the edge of the Yetzirah Abyss. Initiated into the 77th Grand Battalion, he fought his way up through its rank by dint of excellence and sheer bloody will to survive, gaining the epithet of "Shatterblade" after fighting through a nine hour battle with the broken remains of a Xenarch sabre impaled through his chest. The 77th, like a number of Iron Warriors detachments dispersed across the Imperium and all but forgotten, had become almost completely self-sustaining by the end of the Great Crusade, and when the Horus Heresy came, he and his forces were utterly ignorant of their Legion's betrayal. At the Battle of Paramar, he and his Legionaries would take bitter pride in their stubborn loyalty to the Great Crusade as brother turned against brother.
- Warsmith Zhorisch - Zhorisch is an ancient master of scientific and technical pursuits as well as a cunning practitioner of the art and science of siege warfare. Warsmith Zhorisch was a member of the original Iron Warriors Legion raised up by Perturabo, and he was initially a pre-cursor of the modern Techmarine, a highly trained fighting engineer. Born and raised on the Iron Warriors’ homeworld of Olympia, young Zhorisch was chosen for Iron Warriors Legion service and sent for training on Mars. While never outstanding as either a warrior or enginseer, during the Great Crusade he proved himself competent enough and showed a dogged perseverance and real gift for leadership. He served with distinction, rose through the ranks, and was wholly dedicated to his beloved Primarch. As the IV Legion slowly fell into bitterness and treason, he gleefully followed his leaders into rebellion against the Emperor. Zhorisch saw action at many of the bloodiest battles during the Horus Heresy. He patched up IV Legion heavy armour after the Drop Site Massacre, and smashed Loyalist fortifications on Yarant and Vanaheim. He fought the Imperial Fists in the killing trenches of the Iron Cage with distinction, proving to be a persistent and implacable foe. Over the millennia following the Horus Heresy, he rose in power with guile and cunning, eventually reaching the rank of Warsmith and leading his own warband. As a Warsmith, he developed his well-known lust for hidden knowledge, leading many a campaign of terror against unsuspecting Imperial worlds in pursuit of secrets both academic and technological. When he was given the chance to take the Obsidian Forge at Imbru, located in the Jericho Reach, and loot what he believed to be a treasure trove of Imperial secrets, he immediately accepted the task. In the aftermath of his invasion, he found all that he was looking for and more. Not only did he have the entirety of an Imperial forge to sift through, but it was a forge with a curious secret, one of the ancient Chaotic xenos artefacts known as the Javar Gates. Now, after centuries of study and experimentation, the Javar Gate has come to life, much to the delight of the Warsmith.
- Commander Zhigo Trador - Zhigo Trador was the cold-hearted commander of the 23rd Armoured Company during the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V. One of the very first Iron Warriors armoured units to surge forth when their treachery was revealed to begin the slaughter was none other than the 23rd Armoured Company. So fiercely did Commander Trador press the assault on the Loyalists at the Drop Site Massacre, the 23rd Armoured Company suffered overwhelming losses, effectively ceasing to exist as a Chapter-level formation by the close of the operations. It is said that the Primarch's displeasure at Trador's self-imposed losses was so great, the commander was fortunate indeed to come away with his life. Instead of execution, Commander Trador, along with several hundred other officers and Legionaries who had earned Perturabo's censure, were ordered to gather what remained of their units and to take them out into the Urgall Wastes in pursuit of Loyalist survivors. It is doubtful if any arrangements to reunite these forces with the parent Legion were ever made and many historator-savants hold the belief that Perturabo had no expectation or desire to see them return. This ad hoc formation, known as "Armoured Purgation Group Trador," led the pursuit and extermination phases of the Drop Site Massacre aftermath and is thought to have accounted for several thousand Loyalist deaths. Trador's campaign of bitter slaughter came to an abrupt end when the force was ambushed by Raven Guard survivors in the depths of the Illium Rifts. The ultimate fate of Commander Trador himself is unknown, but it is certain that the last tank of the 23rd Armoured Company burned at the hands of the vengeful warriors of Corvus Corax.
- Captain Erasmus Golg - Captain of the Iron Warriors 11th Grand Company and commander of the starship Contrador during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy, following his Primarch's Edict of Decimation, Erasmus Golg stove to epitomise the ruthless efficiency Perturabo sought in his warriors. Embracing the heartless drive for victory at any cost in a manner that even fellow Iron Warriors found extreme, Golg was a brutal commander, whose only punishment for failure was death. Despite his dedication, Golg never ascended to the inner circle of the Iron Warriors leadership. Deemed flawed, but useful by his Primarch, Golg was summoned when the Lord of Iron wished to make an example of an enemy through direct and unsubtle assault. Golg was ever at the forefront of any battle that his Grand Company was involved in, leading his massed Terminator forces in the heat of battle.
- Jharek Kelmaur - Jharek Kelmaur was a Chaos Sorcerer of the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion who served the Chaos Lord Barban Falk, "The Warsmith" during the siege of the Imperial Fortress World of Hydra Cordatus. Kelmaur aided the Warsmith in obtaining the hidden stores of Imperial Fists gene-seed kept there. The Imperial Fists had always been the most hated foes of the Iron Warriors since the days of the Horus Heresy but the Iron Warriors needed fresh Astartes gene-seed to grow their numbers since the power of Chaos tended to mutate their own gene-seed to the point that it was unsuitable to create new Chaos Space Marines. The Iron Warriors Sorcerer served as an advisor on all matters psychic and would often receive and interpret visions by communing with the Ruinous Powers. During the siege of the large Imperial citadel and manufactorum complex on Hydra Cordatus known as the Tor Christo, Kelmaur neglected to inform the Warsmith of a faint psychic beacon that had managed to be sent from the surface of the planet. Keeping this information to himself, the sorcerer thought it best if he handled the manner personally. Kelmaur attempted to send the Iron Warriors flagship Stonebreaker to the system's warp translation point in order to intercept any Imperial reinforcements. This action would prove dire to the scheming Kelmaur, who in his arrogance, allowed an Imperial Fists company to slip past the Stonebreaker and infiltrate to the planet's surface and reinforce the besieged garrison. For his duplicity and arrogance, the Warsmith transformed Kelmaur into a Chaos Spawn after he had served his purpose.
- Legionary Dionor - Legionary Dionor was a Terran and a veteran of the IV Legion's numerous campaigns, attaining the rank of Captain. Dionor was assigned to the command of the 5th Grand Company of the 3rd Grand Battalion, a formation that had been judged wanting and suffered greatly during the Primarch's Decimation of the Legion, and Dionor was punished by demotion to the ranks. Dionor's Grand Company was held in reserve during the Drop Site Massacre, only being committed to action in the aftermath. When the bulk of the IV Legion was withdrawn, much of the 3rd was left behind in continued punishment for their Primarch's ill-favour. Legionary Dionor is known to have taken command of his squad at some point in the early stages of the scouring of the Urgall Depression. It is likely that Dionor forcibly took command of his squad from its previous squad sergeant, exerting his formidable will upon his fellows before focusing on the hunt for the Raven Guard. Dionor's ultimate fate remains unknown, but there has been some evidence he rejoined his Legion and was once more elevated to command rank.
- Legionary Khorius Rex - A veteran of the Tyranthikos -- informally known as the "Dominators" -- Legionary Khorius Rex trod a hundred worlds and more in the service of the Great Crusade. Assigned to the 3rd Grand Company, 7th Grand Battalion, Rex was no ideologue, for him the Imperial Truth was long rendered down to but a kernel of cold, hard fact; the galaxy is no place for the weak and only those prepared to endure any hardship have any right to prevail. This moment of utmost clarity came when the 7th Grand Battalion was recalled to Olympia and bore witness to the rebellion that had gripped the IV Legion's homeworld. In the bloodshed that followed, the man Khorius Rex had once been died forever, to be reborn and recast into a warrior whose heart was as cold and as hard as the Ceramite skin of his Cataphractii Pattern Terminator Armour. Legionary Rex took part in the Iron Warriors Legion's extermination operations in the aftermath of the Drop Site Massacre. Like many his master considered lacking or unstable, he was abandoned on Istvaan V when the bulk of the IV Legion was pulled out to pursue the Warmaster Horus' war against the Imperium. As far as existing records indicate, he chose to remain, and his final fate is unrecorded.
- Legionary Zhinnon - Legionary Zhinnon was recruited into the IV Legion in 849.M30, the very same year that Lord Perturabo took control. Though untested in battle at that time, Zhinnon's native martial bearing saved him from being swept up in Perturabo's purge of the IV Legion. Zhinnon saw extensive service throughout the five decades of the Great Crusade preceding the Triumph of Ullanor, and at the time of the Warmaster's great betrayal was serving under Warsmith Vhalen in in the 77th Grand Battalion, 5th Counter-Armour Wing, 30th Squad, and is known to be one of the few Loyalist survivors of the First Battle of Paramar.
- Ancient Vhakis - Ancient Vhakis was born heir to one of the many warlords of Olympia, his father forced to bend knee to the Primarch Perturabo. When the Imperium came to Olympia and Perturabo took his place amongst his true-father's Primarch sons, Vhakis was judged worthy of joining the IV Legion and underwent the arduous transformation into a Space Marine of the Legiones Astartes. He served for seven standard decades before falling whilst leading the final assault on the Aetheral Bastion, his stoic devotion to duty and his unquestioning loyalty to Perturabo earning him internment within the armoured sarcophagus of a mighty Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought. Assigned to the 7th Assault Cohort, 23rd Grand Battalion, Vhakis was known to utilise his favoured weapon -- a rare and highly valued heavy Conversion Beamer -- to deadly effect upon the black sands of the Urgall Depression during the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V. He is believed to have slain scores of Loyalist Astartes during the three solar hours of intense fighting, primarily the Astartes scions of The Gorgon (Iron Hands). Much later, he committed himself with cruel single-mindedness to the hunt for the elusive Raven Guard survivors before he fell in battle alongside a dozen other Iron Warriors Dreadnoughts deep in the Illium Rifts.
The Iron Warriors do not accept mutation among their ranks as willingly as some of the other Traitor Legions, instead choosing to remove the corrupted limbs and replace them with powerful, infallible cybernetics, as do the Loyalist Iron Hands. This is consistent with their beliefs, as they are not devout worshipers of the Chaos Gods like some of the other Traitor Legions, instead honouring their power and using the benefits offered by allegiance to Chaos to empower themselves rather than worshiping it. Due to a few Chaotic corruptions in their gene-seed, they often suffer from deformed limbs, but this too is usually corrected with cybernetics. They retain their Primarch's cold intelligence, paranoia, dark skin and dark eyes, and are noted for a preference for technological methods of warfare.
Prior to the Horus Heresy, the Iron Warriors wore silver-colored Power Armour, trimmed with gold. This has changed very little in the millennia since save to display iconography with Chaotic symbolism, such as the Chaos Star, the most infamous of the Marks of Chaos.
Pre-Heresy Iron Warriors Legion Tactical Markings
Like most of the Legiones Astartes, the Iron Warrios employed a wide range of symbols, icons and heraldry, much of it derived from the earliest precepts of the Dictorum Armourial, some from the cultural idioms of the world on which their Primarch was discovered and still some more evolved as the Legion developed its own unique identity. The Iron Warriors were notable for their characteristic focus on brutally functional icons devoid of superfluous embellishment and a relative lack of individualism or personal ornamentation, traits very much in line with the personality of their Primarch.
The Legion's badge is that of an iron mask formed into a shape of a skull. Upon seeing this symbol, few could doubt the intent and grim determination of this stalwart Legion. When the Iron Warriors turned to Chaos, this symbol was slightly redesigned, and is now superimposed over the symbol of the eight-pointed Chaos Star. Both before and after the Horus Heresy, Iron Warriors often painted and continue to paint their weapons and other heavy equipment with black and yellow construction chevrons to emphasize their tendency to construct their own fortifications while demolishing their enemies'.
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 12, 22,
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 13, 20
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines, (3rd Edition, Revised Codex), pp. 5, 41
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pp. 16-17
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), pg. 17
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 92-94
- Deathwatch: Rising Tempest (RPG), pg. 104
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- Index Astartes I, "Bitter and Twisted - The Iron Warriors Space Marine Legion"
- Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness, pg. 166
- The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination (Imperial Armour), pp. 104-121, 250-257
- The Sabbat Worlds Crusade (Background Book) by Dan Abnett, pg. 87
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 231
- White Dwarf 274 (US), "Iron Within, Iron Without"
- White Dwarf 257 (AUS), "Index Astartes – Iron Warriors"
- Age of Darkness (Anthology), "The Iron Within" by Rob Sanders
- Shadows of Treachery (Anthology) edited by Christian Dunn and Nick Kyme, "The Crimson Fist" by John French, pp. 35-54
- Angel Exterminatus (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Iron Warrior (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Storm of Iron (Novel) by Graham McNeill
- Dead Sky, Black Sun (Novel) by Graham McNeill