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"Warriors of Chogoris! Brothers of the Great Tribe! The star hunt calls you, do you not hear it? The battle’s red edge is your home, the respect of your kinsmen your hearth. Plunge into the enemy's breast like a blade, cut out his heart, and you will know fulfillment. The Emperor has given us strength. In return we give him victory!"
— Jaghatai Khan, the Last Charge of Galathamar
Jaghatai Khan

Jaghatai Khan, Primarch of the White Scars

Jaghatai Khan, known also as "The Great Khan," and the "Warhawk," was the Primarch of the V Legion of Space Marines, the White Scars, who led them through the years of the Great Crusade and the Horus Heresy. Jaghatai fought alongside his White Scars for another 70 standard years following the end of the Heresy, eventually disappearing in 084.M31 into a region of space known as the Maelstrom, a large Warp rift in the Ultima Segmentum that is a smaller counterpart of the Eye of Terror.

Jaghatai is believed to have been in pursuit of the Dark Eldar who had savaged his homeworld of Chogoris following the Battle of Corusil V with his 1st Brotherhood when he went through a Warp Gate into the Dark Eldar portion of the Webway, ultimately vanishing forever. Jaghatai had been in pursuit of a mighty Dark Eldar lord, likely the Archon of the Dark Eldar Kabal that had attacked Corusil V and perhaps even Chogoris itself.

Jaghatai Khan has not been seen since, though the White Scars believe he is still alive somewhere within the Webway and will one day return to the Chapter in a time of great need. As a result of their Primarch's disappearance, the White Scars hold a particularly savage grudge against the Dark Eldar and will gladly seek out any opportunity to make war upon those savage and terrifying xenos.

History

Youth

"Even his brother Primarchs understand little of him. His prowess with the blade earns him their respect even as his waywardness causes them concern. Guilliman has never trusted him. Russ is exasperated by him. Lorgar despises him for an untutored savage. Only Horus sees him for what he truly is. They are kindred souls, those two: warrior archetypes, bound by shared codes of martial honour and impatient with the heavy fetters of empire."
Scars by Chris Wraight
Primarch Jhagatai Khan

An ancient illustration from Carpinus' Speculum Historiale showing Jaghatai Khan, Primarch of the White Scars Legion in all his lethal glory

It is said that after being mysteriously transported from Terra through the Warp by the Ruinous Powers of Chaos, Khan landed on a planet in the Segmentum Pacificus named by the Imperium, Mundus Planus, or as the native population called it, Chogoris. It is a fertile world with wide, open, green plains and tall, white mountains and blue seas. At the time of the Great Crusade, the Chogoran or Planan people had managed to restore their technological level to one similar to the pike-and-shot level of the late Renaissance on ancient Terra. The dominant empire was a well organized feudal aristocracy which had conquered most of the planet with well equipped and highly disciplined armies, maintaining armored horsemen and tight blocks of pike and arquebus-armed infantry. Their leader was the Palatine, and he won all of his battles with this great army.

To the west of the Palatine's empire was the Empty Quarter, a barren grassland with few resources, and as such it was never invaded by the Palatine's armies. It was home to wandering tribes of vicious horsemen who fought each other for their ancestral lands. The Palatine would sometimes lead forces into the Empty Quarter to capture slaves or merely to hunt the tribesmen for fun. Khan's legacy began here. He was found by Ong Khan, leader of a small tribe called the Talaskars, who saw the young Primarch as a gift from the gods. It is said he had a fire in his eyes, the sign of a great warrior. He was hated by the other tribes because of his ability to see beyond the constant warfare on the steppes to a vision of unity for all the downtrodden peoples of the Empty Quarter.

It is said the most influential moment in Jaghatai's life was the slaying of his adopted father by the rival Kurayed tribe. Khan, even as a young child, was the greatest warrior of the tribe and gathered Talaskar troops to avenge the death of his father. They moved on the Kurayed tribe and razed it to the ground, killing every man, woman and child in a killing frenzy. Khan took the head of the enemy tribe leader and mounted it on his tent. This is what shaped him into a man of fierce honour, loyalty and ruthlessness. From then on, he swore to end the fighting, unite all the people of the steppes and bring an end to their practice of brother fighting brother.

Khan fought hundreds of battles against other tribes and defeated hunting packs sent by the Palatine. Each tribe the Talaskars conquered was absorbed into the Talaskar confederacy and Jaghatai made military service mandatory while splitting tribes up and merging them with others to remove and ameliorate tribal differences and long-standing feuds. His warriors were fiercely loyal and Khan promoted from the ranks based on merit and ability.

Ten summers after his arrival on the world, as the tribe moved to their winter settlements, the Primarch was traveling on a mountainside with a group of his followers. A vast avalanche pushed him and his group back down the mountain, killing the normal men. Jaghatai survived, but could not get back up the mountain in time before the tribe moved on. Khan was caught by one of the Palatine's hunting bands lead by the son of that ruler. All that returned of that band was one mutilated rider with the head of the son of Palatine and a note saying that the people of the steppes were no longer his toys.

Brotherhood-of-the-storm

The Great Khan fighting against Orks on Chondax

When the snows cleared, an enraged Palatine gathered a massive army and determined to march west to wipe the tribes from the face of the planet. He had, however, underestimated the power and ability of Khan and brought his highly-disciplined army of heavily armoured warriors and arquebusiers. This proved to be his downfall as they could not catch the lightly armored Talaskar tribesmen. The constant rain of arrows from the tribesmen took their toll on the tight ranks of the Palatine's warriors. Eventually the tribesmen defeated the army of the Palatine, who escaped back to his capital with a select few bodyguards. The rest of the army was slaughtered, almost to the last man. After the battle, the tribal elders gathered and announced that Jaghatai Khan was now Great Khan of the Empty Quarter.

The Khagan now began the long process of conquering the rest of the planet, which possessed only a single continent. It was during this momentous time that Jaghatai would meet several lifelong comrades -- including Targutai Yesugai, Qin Xa and Hasik -- all of whom would fight alongside the Primarch during their conquest of Chogoris, and would eventually go on to serve the Khagan for many Terran centuries to come. Jaghatai gave those cities he besieged two choices - to surrender or be wiped out. Most surrendered, but many were destroyed, utterly wiped from the face of the planet. Eventually they came to the Palace of the Palatine, where he demanded the head of the Palatine on a spike. His request was obliged by the capital city's population, which turned on its own ruler to save their own lives from the fierce tribesmen. Jaghatai Khan adorned his tent with his greatest conquest's head, just as he had with his first enemy two decades before.

In only twenty standard years he had conquered the largest empire in his world's history. He now had the problems of ruling that empire, not something he had originally expected. His nomadic people had no wish to rule these new, settled lands, only to carry on living in their old ways. The Talaskar people dispersed back to a tribal existence and Khan ruled over them all with his generals by his side.

Six solar months later, the Emperor of Mankind arrived on the world as part of the Great Crusade and the Khan knew at once that this man could fulfill his dream, to unite all of the stars above them and all of humanity in one mighty empire. In front of all of his generals, he dropped to one knee and pledged his service to the Emperor. He was given command of the V Legion of the Space Marines, the White Scars, who had been created from his own genetic material. Though the Khagan would garner a reputation as a fierce warrior and superlative commander, he mostly kept to himself, save for his friendships with his fellow Primarchs, Horus Lupercal, Leman Russ, and Magnus the Red.

The Horus Heresy

"It is not enough to take from an enemy their life -- rather take from them also their places of safety, their allies, their homes and their loved ones. Crush all those in their care, lay their chattels to waste and then drive them alone and naked into the darkness. Take everything they have and burn it for the mere pleasure of seeing the ash crackle between your fingers, and call it nothing more than a beginning."
— Attributed to Jaghatai Khan, Primarch of the White Scars Legion
Jaghatai Khan Scars

Jaghatai Khan, Primarch of the White Scars, during the Horus Heresy

The Legion's legend grew with the events of the Horus Heresy, when the White Scars fought on hundreds of worlds for over nine standard years against the Traitor Legions and the other Forces of Chaos. Unlike many of the other Primarchs, Jaghatai never even considered betraying the Emperor for the service of the Ruinous Powers. Such a course would have been dishonourable in the extreme since the Emperor had done no wrong to his sons and also because Jaghatai so deeply believed in the Emperor's goal of reunifying the entire human race under a single ruler so that it might claim final dominance over the Milky Way Galaxy. The White Scars Legion had already been engaged for several standard years in a punishing campaign against the Orks of the Chondax System when the news of Horus' betrayal of the Imperium and the actions of the Traitor Legions at Istvaan III and the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V reached the White Scars' Expeditionary Fleet. They were urged in an astropathic message by the Imperial Fists Legion's Primarch Rogal Dorn to return to Terra to help defend the homeworld of humanity from the Traitors as soon as possible.

Jaghatai Khan Path of Heaven

Jaghatai Khan fighting against a Keeper of Secrets during the Horus Heresy.

Jaghatai was next contacted by the Space Wolves' Leman Russ who had just returned from the Burning of Prospero and the assault against the Space Wolves' old rivals the Thousand Sons Legion. Russ offered to join his Space Wolves with the White Scars so that they could face the Forces of Chaos in a united front. But Horus had anticipated this move by the two close brother Primarchs and the Warmaster deployed the Alpha Legion to launch a massive assault on Russ' outnumbered Space Wolves.

The Alpha Legion and its twin Primarchs, Alpharius Omegon, had long harboured deep grudges against the Space Wolves and Russ in particular for his criticism of their reliance upon trickery, manipulation and subterfuge to win battles rather than engaging in what the Space Wolves Primarch saw as honourable, open combat. The Alpha Legion relished the chance to prove their superiority against the arrogant Wolves of Fenris by delaying them long enough to keep them from contributing to the defence of Terra. Although he despised leaving the Space Wolves to face the Alpha Legion on their own, Jaghatai Khan felt it was more important to honour Dorn's urgent request to retreat to Terra immediately rather than first engaging in a costly (and diversionary) battle against the Alpha Legion.

Great Khan Command Throne

The Great Khan upon his command throne aboard his flagship Swordstorm, with Zadyin Arga Targutai Yesugei at his side.

The White Scars Legion, including its Primarch, was present to defend the Imperial Palace during the climactic Battle of Terra alongside the Blood Angels and Imperial Fists Legions. Such was the ferocity of the attack by the Forces of Chaos that the besiegers forced the Imperial defenders back to the walls of the Imperial Palace, where thousands died slowing the assault.

When the beleaguered forces faced a breach and potential collapse of the Imperial defences, Jaghatai decided on a change of plan. Rather than assaulting the almost-invincible flanks of the Chaos army, he redirected his highly mobile ordu and the surviving Loyalist tank divisions of the Imperial Army to the Lion's Gate Spaceport. At dawn, Jaghatai's lightning raid caught the Traitor garrison at the spaceport completely by surprise, and reclaimed the spaceport for the Emperor.

The Khan ordered his troops to reactivate the spaceport's Defence Lasers to prevent the Traitor fleet from bringing down any more troops and equipment and to form a defensive perimeter to hold their newly reconquered territory. Khan's troops repelled several frenzied counterattacks from the Traitors, and began firing on Horus' unprotected dropships. The Khan's plan worked perfectly: the flow of the Traitors' men and machines to the Imperial Palace had been cut in half at a single stroke. Inspired by this success, the Loyalists also tried to seize the Eternity Wall Spaceport, but were driven back by the Chaos forces without difficulty, as they had reinforced their garrison following the loss of the Lion's Gate.

History recorded little else of the Great Khan's actions during the Battle of Terra, but it is known that his Legion ranged the once-proud thoroughfares of the Throneworld during the campaign, engaging the Traitors in punishing hit-and-run strikes in an attempt to draw them away from the Imperial Palace and relive pressure on its defenders.

When the end finally came, when Horus died at the hands of the Emperor aboard his Battle Barge Vengeful Spirit in orbit above Mankind's homeworld, the White Scars emerged from the fires of galactic civil war bloodied, but alive. It was said that Jaghatai and his warriors fought many of the Heretic Astartes that tried to retreat to Terra's spaceports and flee.

The White Scars launched several highly-successful hit-and-run assaults against the Traitor forces and together with remnants of the Imperial Army's 1st Terran Tank Division and several infantry regiments they successfully harassed the enemy supply lines as the Chaos armies fled to the Eternity Wall Spaceport to get off-world and escape Imperial vengeance. It is said that Jaghatai led these assaults from the top of a Razorback, a tale that still elicits awe from those audiences who hear it ten millennia later. The Great Khan and his White Scars Legion must surely have been at the forefront of the Legions that pursued the defeated Traitors into the Eye of Terror during the Great Scouring of Imperial space that followed the Heresy, for the White Scars rarely allow a defeated foe to slip away once their blood was up.

Disappearance

Seven Terran years after the end of the Horus Heresy, during the period called the Reformation when the Imperium was largely guided by the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman, the White Scars adopted Guilliman's Codex Astartes and the V Legion allowed itself to be grudgingly divided into several different Successor Chapters. In order to contain the outlaws, Renegades and aliens that dwelled within the Warp rift called the Maelstrom and had taken advantage of the disruptions of the Heresy to run amok in the Ultima Segmentum, Roboute Guilliman ordered the surrounding star systems to be reinforced.

The White Scars were tasked with the main responsibility of securing the Yasan Sector -- the star systems that surrounded their homeworld. According to the writings about the Great Khan of Quan Zhou, the White Scars learned upon their return to Chogoris following the end of the Heresy that their homeworld and its people had been the target of numerous raids by the Drukhari to seize thousands of Chogorians as slaves. Jaghatai swore many oaths against the Dark Eldar because of this crime and fought them in many battles until peace had largely been restored amongst the Imperial worlds that were adjacent to the Maelstrom.

Jaghatai fought alongside his White Scars for another 70 standard years following the end of the Horus Heresy, eventually disappearing in 084.M31 when he traveled into the Maelstrom. Jaghatai is believed to have been in pursuit of the Drukhari who had savaged Chogoris following the Battle of Corusil V with his 1st Brotherhood when he went through a Warp Gate into the Drukhari portion of the Webway, ultimately vanishing forever.

Jaghatai had been in pursuit of a mighty Dark Eldar lord, likely the Archon of the Kabal that had attacked Corusil V and perhaps even Chogoris itself. None can say what befell the Primarch -- if he was lost in the Warp or if he was slain or captured at the hands of an alien warlord -- but the White Scars believe he still hunts across the galaxy, and beyond, in pursuit of his greatest foes.

The White Scars believe the Khan is still alive somewhere within the Webway and will one day return to the Chapter in a time of great need. As a result of their Primarch's disappearance, the White Scars hold a particularly savage grudge against the Drukhari and will gladly seek out any opportunity to make war upon those savage and terrifying xenos. The White Scars thus continue to fight in Jaghatai's name, destroying the enemies of the Emperor in preparation for the day when the Great Khan completes his consummate hunt and returns to once again lead his chosen warriors and begin the next Great Crusade to unify the galaxy.

Sources

  • Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition) "The Fate of the Great Khan," "Victories of the Khans," pp. 33-34
  • Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 27-28, 31
  • Horus Heresy Collected Visions (Artbook), pp. 344-345
  • Index Astartes I, "Lightning Attack - The White Scars Space Marines Chapter," pp. 40-47
  • White Dwarf 256 (US), "Index Astartes - Lightning Attack - The White Scars Space Marine Chapter"
  • White Dwarf 93 (UK), "Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader Edition Preview", pp. 33-44
  • A Thousand Sons (Novel) by Graham McNeill
  • Aurelian (Novella) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Scars (Novel) by Chris Wraight
  • The Path of Heaven (Novel) by Chris Wraight
  • Savage Scars (Novel) by Andy Hoare


Primarchs
Horus Leman Russ Lost Primarchs Ferrus Manus Fulgrim Vulkan Rogal Dorn Roboute Guilliman Magnus the Red Sanguinius Lion El'Jonson Perturabo Mortarion Lorgar Jaghatai Khan Konrad Curze Angron Corvus CoraxAlpharius Omegon