The Legio Atarus (Firebrands) are a Loyalist Titan Legion of the Collegia Titanica, one of the military arms of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Founded by exiles from the Forge World of Phaeton, the Firebrands were considered by some to be a particularly fractious and ill-disposed Titan Legion before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. Distrusted and looked down upon by many of their bretheren in the Ordo Titanicus, the Firebrands would go on to prove their mettle where other, more lauded names, would ignominiously fall.
Before the dark treacheries of the Warmaster Horus plunged the entire galaxy into bloodshed, the Firebrands were considered by some to be a particularly fractious and ill-disposed Titan Legion. Distrusted and looked down upon by their fellow Titan Legions, the Legio Atarus would go on to prove their mettle, their loyalty and unswerving dedication to the Emperor. The seeds of the Firebrands' ill-repute during the Great Crusade can be traced to the highly unusual circumstances of their inception. In the early years of the Great Crusade, one of the first tasks of Imperial expansion from Terra was to link up with a number of key domains within the Segmentum Solar identified as vital to the Great Crusade's success. Critical among these were several Forge Worlds with whom the Mechanicum of Mars had maintained some relationship throughout the tribulations of the latter Age of Strife. In many cases, these inclusions went without difficulty, such as with the world of Voss whose masters had bent the knee to Mars without qualm, but in others such as Phaeton, inclusion was the matter of some negotiation and difficulty, and the final acquiescence bought with considerably more autonomy than the Fabricator-General of Mars would perhaps have preferred from a vassal-domain.
What began as a coldly cordial relationship quickly grew into one of veiled and open rivalry, with Phaeton's position being further strengthened by it quickly becoming perhaps the second most productive Forge World of the Great Crusade until the later discovery of mighty Anvilus. Although never faltering in its commitment to the Great Crusade, machinations by the authorities of Mars brought matters close to outright conflict over religious doctrine and subtle accusations that Phaeton was building its military assets to threatening levels, and this began to have a corrosive effect on the Forge World's reputation -- to the point where the storm clouds of hostile censure and perhaps even armed retribution gathered. At last, the Revered-Comptroller of Phaeton Prime, realising that his domain could not stand before such power, brokered a compromise, offering publicly to give up a full third of his world's war engines, armed forces and chattels in the interests of equanimity with Mars. This was quickly agreed, but as the Fabricator-General, no doubt with some lust for the task, despatched an assayance taskforce to Phaeton, he discovered that he had been outmanoeuvred. Rather than give up its lore and dominion to Mars, Phaeton had created a fleet of vast Explorator Arks, and into these were divided an equal third part of its priesthood, chattels and machineries, and even as the Martian emissaries looked on, despatched them into the void.
Conflict was averted, Phaeton diminished and its subservience was assured, but it and its allies gained a long-burning enmity of Mars and its masters. After a long and perilous journey through the Warp, the Phaetonite Covenant alighted in the vicinity of the white super-giant star Atarath, on what was then the edge of known space. Here they founded the fledgling Forge World of Atar-Median in its shadow, on one of the many rogue planets caught in the colossal star's gravitational pull. With frightening swiftness the transplanted Magi rose up from their domain of steel and fire, and using as its core ancient God-Engines taken from Phaeton in the anarchy of Old Night, it founded the Legio Atarus as its shield and sword.
Counted then as one of the younger Titan Legions, the Legio Atarus were looked down upon by many among the more ancient Legios, and distrusted for their origins by some with close ties to the Fabricator-General's faction on Mars, where a bitter humour over Atar-Median's founding still lingered. The Legio Atarus therefore was always a force who had much to prove. They responded to this disregarded status both by the eagerness and devotion which they displayed for the Great Crusade and its cause (over and above the fealty they owed to the Martian Mechanicum), and by displaying defiance and swift anger when they felt themselves slighted by any other Legio. Their zealous impetuousness in battle and the open belligerence and pride in arms they displayed, combined with the symbol of the burning blade they had adopted as their heraldic device, quickly set the cognomen by which the common soldiery of the Imperium would know them -- the Firebrands.
For much of the latter third of the Great Crusade, it was common for the Firebrands to operate several seperate Demi-Legio as was the common case with many Secundus class Titan Legions, and seldom came together en masse for battle. It was commonly the case for one Demi-Legio to be rotated through deployment on Atar-Median for repair and refit between major engagements, with the bulk of the legio deployed to different warzones as needed as part of the overall Imperium military reserve, and seldom stayed attached to a particular Expedition fleet for long. Particular campaigns which saw the notable actions of the Firebrands during this period included the Liberation of Vayber and the 2nd Gehenna Campaign, the great Ullanor Crusade and the Lament of Shedim. In this last campaign, a notable incident occurred which was to have a later bearing on events of the Horus Heresy and accounted, in part, for the presence of Demi-Legio Karkanos of the Firebrands at Istvaan V.
During the war in the Shedim Drifts against the Eldar, a mighty clash occurred on the arid world of Anark Zeta between the forces of the Craftworld of Mór-ríoh'i and the Great Crusade. The vast Imperial force raised to destroy the marauding Craftworld included detachments from no fewer than four Titan Legions: the Legio Mortis (the Death's Heads), the Legio Fureans (the Tiger Eyes), the Legio Osedax (the Cockatrices) and the Legio Atarus, and was under the overall direct strategic command of Horus Lupercal and his (then) Luna Wolves Space Marine Legion. During the apocalyptic battle which raged on the planet's surface, the Legio Atarus was used as part of a probing attack against the Eldar Warp Gates. This was successful in drawing forth the ash-grey and crimson Titans of the enemy in open battle. Heavily engaged and outnumbered by the ghostly war machines of the xenos, the promised support of the Death's Heads did not materialise, while the Titans of the Tiger Eyes, holding the Firebrands' flank, crumbled under the Eldar assault and retreated, leaving a full demi-Legio of the Firebrands to be encircled and all but destroyed, with only a single Warhound-class Scout Titan surviving the engagement still able to fight.
In the aftermath it was revealed that the attack had been a ruse, a distraction planned by the Lupercal to divert the strength of the enemy away form the direct defence of their Craftworld while his Legion undertook a surprise-assault against it. The war of the Shedim Drifts was a great victory for Horus and all those of the Imperium who fought in the campaign gained glory because of it, but to attain that victory the Legio Atarus had been cruelly used without its foreknowledge or consent, and its losses worsened by the callous scorn held for it by the Legio Mortis and the Legio Fureans in their refusal to stand beside them in battle. It was not an injury the Firebrands would not forget.
- Ullanor Crusade (c. 000.M31) - The Ullanor Crusade was a vast Imperial assault on the Ork empire of the Overlord Urrlak Urruk during the Great Crusade of the late 30th or early 31st Millennium. Ullanor, the capital world of this empire, and the site of the final assault, lay in the Ullanor System of the galaxy's Ullanor Sector. The Crusade included the deployment of 100,000 Space Marines, 8,000,000 Imperial Army troops, and thousands of Imperial starships and their support personnel. The main attack force dedicated to capturing the capital planet of the Ullanor System consisted of the entire Luna Wolves Legion, over 2 million Imperial Army soldiers, one hundred Titans of the Collegia Titanica, including Titans from the Legio Atarus and the infamous Legio Mortis.
- Lament of Shedim (Unknown Date.M31) - This was an Imperial Compliance action carried out against the Eldar upon the arid world of Anark Zeta between the forces of Craftworld Mór-ríoh'i and the forces of the Great Crusade, which included detachments from no fewer than four Titan Legions: the Legio Mortis, Legio Fureans, the Legio Osedax and the Legio Atarus. Overall command fell to Horus Lupercal, most-favoured son of the Emperor and Primarch of the Luna Wolves Legion. During the apocalyptic battle, the Legio Atarus was cruelly used, and without their foreknowledge they were sent to probe the enemy lines of the Eldar and were subsequently destroyed. The grievous losses suffered by the Firebrands due to the Legio Mortis and the Legio Fureans refusal to fight alongside them due to internal Mechanicum politics, was a grievous injury not soon forgotten.
- Dropsite Massacre of Istvaan V (566.006.M31) - War Maniple Red Naga, a Demi-Legio of the Legio Atarus were deployed in support of the Loyalist forces on Istvaan V. Demi-Legio Red Naga was destroyed fighting against the treacherous Legio Mortis, after which it was considered to have martyred itself in the holy cause of the Omnissiah by the Magi of Altar-Median. The unique designation and titles of the Demi-Legio's God-Engines were afterwards recommissioned and kept in continuous service by the Legio Atarus.
- Battle of Tallarn III (Unknown Date) - Titans of the Legio Atarus supported a unit of Salamanders Space Marines in battle against a force of Word Bearers Chaos Space Marines and the Fire Masters Traitor Titan Legion.
Counted by the assessors of the Divisio Militaris as a fully operational Titan Legion of the second rank, the Legio Atarus was estimated to have between 100-130 God-machines in active service at the time of the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. It was also known to possess a highly respected armoured support battalion and Skitarii Auxillia Legion as part of its retainer forces (known collectively as the "Brotherhood of Axxos.") Like many Secundus-rated Titan Legions, Legio Atarus' principal strength in number ranged across the mid-classes of Titan, with Reaver, Nightgaunt and Carnivore-classes making up the majority of its ranks, with sizable contingents of the Warlord and Warhound-classes constituting the balance of their Titan forces. It is believed the Legio Atarus possessed a single Nemesis-class Titan, the Immaculata Athartus, which stood both as the God-Engine of the Legio's Grand Master Everard Mazarin, and defender of the Forge World of Atar-Median. In times of war or when the Forge World itself came under threat, the Legio could also call upon its allies of the Col'Khak Collective, a Knight Household established on the nearby planet of Atar-Planitia.
- Red Naga- A Reaver-class Titan of the Legio Atarus which took part in the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V .
- Bellum Sacrum - A Reaver-class Titan of the Legio Atarus which took part in the Drop Site Massacre.
- Enervatus - A Warhound-class Titan of the Legio Atarus which took part in the Drop Site Massacre on Isstvan V.
- Iron Hunger - A Warhound-class Titan of the Legio Atarus which took part in the Drop Site Massacre on Isstvan V.
- Mandragorax - A Warhound-class Titan of the Legio Atarus which took part in the Drop Site Massacre on Isstvan V.
- Grand Master Erwin Malky - Erwin Malky served as the Grand Master of the Firebrands Legion.
- Princeps Marakaru- Commander of War Maniple Red Naga, which fought at the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V.
The colours of the Firebrands are red, white, black & gold .
The heraldic device of the Legio Atarus is the symbol of a burning blade surrounded by the Opus Machina. This symbol earned them the surname Firebrands.
- The Horus Heresy - Book Two: Massacre, by Alan Bligh, pp. 156-159
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest, by Alan Bligh, pp. 98-99
- White Dwarf 111 (UK), " 'Eavy Metal", pp. 77-78
- White Dwarf 110 (UK), "Adeptus Titanicus", pg. 41
- White Dwarf 109 (UK), "Adeptus Titanicus", pp. 14-15, 22